Budget 2015: The stories that broke during George Osborne's speech

Joe Hall
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Here's what happened while investors' eyes were diverted. (Source: Corbis)

The announcement of the UK government’s annual budget is one of the biggest dates in the financial calendar.

City hacks' ears were tuned into George Osborne’s speech this lunchtime, as eyes were glued to Twitter for all the breaking hot takes on the chancellor’s tie colour and fingers were madly typing away to produce a story to their editor’s deadlines.
So with tomorrow’s headlines due to be accompanied with yet another picture of Osborne awkwardly holding up a briefcase, it’s no wonder a number of companies and institutions chose to avoid some heat by posting news to the London Stock Exchange while everyone’s distracted.
Today was no exception. Here’s all the business news that broke while the House of Commons whupped, cheered and booed along to Osborne’s speech.

BAE's boss received a 41 per cent rise

UK defence group BAE Systems granted chief executive Ian King a 40.8 per cent pay rise in 2014, bringing his total take-home pay for the year to £3.5m.
King received an almost £1m bump on the £2.5m he earned in 2014 (thanks to a bonus increase from £1.2m to £1.6m) despite a 12 per cent fall in underlying earnings before interest, tax and amortisation to £1.7bn and a 8.5 per cent fall in revenues to £16.6bn.
BAE Systems has announced a number of jobs cuts in the last year in a bid to cut costs.

Riksbank cut Swedish interest rates (again)

Sweden’s central bank has cut interest rates to -0.25 and expanded its quantitative easing programme as it looks to halt the krona’s strengthening against major global currencies.
Interest rates will be cut to 0.25 per cent until at least the second half of 2016, taking it further away from its two per cent target.
The Riksbank said in a statement:
There are signs that inflation has bottomed out and is beginning to rise, but the recent appreciation of the krona risks breaking this trend.
These measures and the readiness to do more at short notice underline that the Riksbank is safeguarding the role of the inflation target as a nominal anchor for price setting and wage formation.
The Swedish stock market jumped to a near record high in reaction to the move.

HSBC confirmed it will swap its auditors

HSBC confirmed PricewaterhouseCoopers will take over as its auditor from KPMG at the end of its month.

General Motors decided to close its Russian plants

US carmaker General Motors will scale back its Russian business by shutting its assembly plant in St Petersburg by the middle of this year.
As economic sanctions continue to weigh on the country’s long-term prospects, GM will cut production of Opel and Chevrolet cars in the country.
The restructuring will result in a hefty $600m charge in its first quarter results, but the company said it still expects to return its European business to profitability to 2016.

And elsewhere…

Beyond the business world, news broke of a deadly shooting at the Tunisian parliament in capital city Tunis, and a hostage crisis in a nearby museum. At least seven foreign tourists and a Tunisian have been killed, officials confirmed.
Uber was banned in Germany for the second time in a year after a Frankfurt regional court imposed an injunction on transport services using the Uber and “UberPop” apps. Transport services will now face fines of €250,000 (£180,862) every time they operates the service in violation of its ban.
But undoubtedly the biggest revelation of all came from Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge who “told someone at a children’s centre her baby is due in the mid to end of April”, according to the BBC’s Peter Hunt.

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