Business news in brief

Bankers head overseas; Call for tax relief on mortgages; Over 20% of Heathrow flights delayed and GM in talks with Peugeot Citroen

Bankers heading for foreign shores

The boss of recruitment firm Hays yesterday said there was still evidence that bankers were heading overseas as hiring in the sector fell around 10 per cent and pushed its UK division to a £3 million loss. Chief executive Alistair Cox said the recruitment squeeze in the banking industry would persist for “some time” and had spread beyond the UK to markets such as Hong Kong. The slowdown was behind a 1 per cent drop in private sector fees, which make up 78 per cent of UK revenues.

Call for mortgage interest tax relief

The head of Travis Perkins, the British builders’ merchant and DIY retailer, has called on Chancellor George Osborne to re-introduce mortgage interest tax relief for first-time buyers to release pent-up demand in the housing market.

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“The housing market is so important to the UK economy, it’s operating at such low levels at the moment and there’s huge pent-up demand,” chief executive Geoff Cooper said yesterday. “We have to find a way of releasing that pent-up demand.”

21% of Heathrow flights delayed

More than a fifth of flights departing from Heathrow airport were delayed last year, operator BAA said yesterday, although this was an improvement on snow-hit 2010.

It said 21 per cent of flights left Heathrow 15 minutes or longer after the scheduled departure time in 2011, although this was better than 29 per cent the previous year. The delays came as Heathrow handled 69.4 million passengers in 2011, helping BAA to narrow its losses from Heathrow and Stansted to £255.8 million, from £316.6m.

GM in talks with French carmaker

General Motors and European peer PSA Peugeot Citroen were last night thought to be discussing a manufacturing alliance designed to stem losses in Europe and reduce production costs elsewhere.

Talks between GM, the world’s biggest carmaker, and European No2 Peugeot focused on sharing vehicles and parts rather than swapping stakes, according to sources. Any new shareholdings that emerged are likely to be small. Like Peugeot, GM’s European division already faces heavy restructuring.

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