Western powers are scrambling to increase their energy defences as the risk grows of a Russian halt to gas supplies. Travelling to Ukraine US Vice-President Joe Biden has already warned Russia that it would pay a very high price unless Moscow moves those troops which it has deployed on its western borders. Thus, European companies are increasing their stocks of natural gas (LNG), with gas flows from Britain to Europe having tripled over the past three weeks. Fresh cargoes of LNG from Qatar have been arriving at the UK's South Hook terminal. European LNG inventories have risen by 20 per cent since the end of March.
Stock in Quindell plunged yesterday after a barely known American investor, Gotham City, issued a damning report on the AIM-quoted outsourcing company, labelling it a "country club built on sand". The company's lawyers promptly replied, indicating that the claims were "false and malicious". The US website responded by calling those allegations "defamatory". The London listed firm has had a difficult year, with its share price having been punished by an opaque derivatives deal. As well, critics point to the poor track record of its founder at other quoted companies, such as The Innovation Group, The Times writes.
The US has dispatched hundreds of troops to Eastern Europe for manoeuvres. The order came after Kiev accused pro-Russian separatists of torturing and killing two persons and having shot at one of its aircraft. Hence the decision to try and reassure America's allies in the region. The Kremlin issued no response, The Wall Street Journal Europe reports.
Business Secretary Vince Cable has issued a warning to the paymasters at Britain's largest companies that they must do more to keep a lid on executives' pay, lest he be forced to take "further action". It is for this reason that the government will be scrutinising this year's AGM season, he said in a letter to the Chairman of the remuneration committees of the FTSE 100. His hope is that a "new approach" will be self-evident, The Daily Telegraph.
Energy market regulator Ofgem has embarked on a campaign urging customers to shop around more, in an attempt to challenge the current culture of apathy. That follows on the heels of research showing that 45% of users believed that they had little to gain from switching suppliers. Dermot Nolan, Ofgem's new chief executive, said: "We shop and compare prices for many things in life, yet we often don't think to do the same when it comes to our energy bills, even when we could be saving around £200," The Times reports.
In year-on-year terms net lending to businesses contracted by £500m during the three months to February. That marks an improvement on the £3.3bn annual fall seen in the three months before that. However, the bank funds which are vital to credit starved small and medium-sized businesses continue to be denied, forcing those towards other avenues to finance their growth. That was the conclusion reached by IHS Global Insight's Howard Archer, although Bank did highlight that an increase in repayments by the property sector had contributed to the fall, The Times reports.