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This is Business Live from BBC
News with Alice Baxter
and Sally Bundock.
The fight for clean
air goes to court -
a landmark ruling on whether cities
can ban diesel cars in Germany
is imminent and being watched
closely by the global auto industry.
Live from London,
that's our top story
on Thursday 22nd February.
If the ban is approved,
other major European
cities could follow suit.
It'll be a pivotal moment
for European citizens
as three-quarters of all the world's
diesel cars driven on their roads.
Also in the programme,
Will Unilever ditch
the UK for Netherlands
for its new HQ amidst
the uncertainty created by Brexit.
Markets in Asia sank
overnight on fears of further
US interest rate hikes.
Here in Europe, the focus is on Q4
earnings in full swing today.
And we'll be getting
the inside track on unleashing
the Beethoven in your babe.
Did you know there's a simpler way
to teach music to your child?
We speak to the inventor
of the novel musical
And we want to know what you think
about the diesel debate.
Are you ditching your diesel?
Should the government
decide whether to ban
the most polluting vehicles?
Let us know.
Just use the hashtag BBCBizLive.
Hello and welcome to Business Live.
Europe's car industry
is on tenterhooks today,
awaiting a German court ruling
on whether cities are allowed
to ban diesel cars.
If it's approved, other big European
cities are likely to follow suit.
In fact some have
already made moves.
The leaders of four major global
cities pledged to ban
all diesel-powered cars and trucks
by the middle of the next decade.
Paris, Mexico City, Madrid
and Athens all say they're doing it
to improve air quality.
London's mayor Sadiq Khan
has introduced a £10
"toxicity charge" for older petrol
and diesel cars.
And two of London boroughs have
banned petrol and diesel
cars during peak times.
Oslo is going one step further.
It plans to ban all cars
from its city centre by 2019.
of all the world's diesel cars
are driven on European roads,
but other highly polluted
cities and countries
are also making big changes.
India's government vowed to start
selling only electric cars by 2030,
saying not a single petrol or diesel
car should be sold after that.
Our reporter Jenny Hill has been
following this story
from the German capital.
Good to see you. It's
Good to see you. It's very
interesting this happening today in
Germany where the car industry is
pivotal to the economy and also
quite a powerful lobby.
It's a huge debate because of
course, there are many here who say
that the German government simply
hasn't done enough and has taken a
small German environmental group to
effectively bring an action against
individual German regions. It's a
complicated process and the end
result is that today a court is
going to rule on whether it is
legally possible for German regions,
German cities, to impose a diesel
band. They say they are not going to
have a court ruling that says you
have to get your cars out of the
city has from today, it's not as
simple as that. But it does open the
door to diesel vehicles being banned
from a number of German cities and
as you say, the knock-on effect is
widespread. If cities like Stuttgart
and Russel Dorf bans certain types
of diesel vehicles, many other
European cities will follow suit --
Dusseldorf. The German population is
split on whether they think it is a
good idea. In one corner there is
the German love affair with the
motor car and the fact that cities
will be potentially paralysed
economic league by such a move. In
the other corner are the statistics
and we had these from the Federal
Environment Agency saying that is up
to 8000 people die every year just
from cardiovascular diseases linked
to nitrogen dioxide emissions. There
is a huge lobby that says it is time
to clean up the air in the cities.
But at the same time, car-makers in
Germany talk about potential job
losses if radical plans are
implemented with regard to diesel
Yes, and that is a headache
for the German government as 800,000
people are employed by the car
industry in Germany. Looking at the
sales of diesel, they have slid
dramatically ever since the
Volkswagen emissions scandal. Down
45% to 33% of the market this year,
so it's a huge problem for the
manufacturers and another
interesting statistic is that
somebody survey German drivers about
what they think of the car
manufacturing industry and found 87%
of Germans simply don't trust car
manufacturers to reduce emissions
and that's one of the reasons why we
are looking at the judgment today.
Many will say it is too little, too
late. There are other measures in
place in German cities to try to
clean up the air but it's simply not
enough and is not getting the target
down. They still far exceed EU
guidelines and some will argue those
thresholds are far too high in the
first place. That is why many cities
feel that of the judgment goes
against them today they will have to
impose a ban on certain diesel
Jenny, thank you very
much. When we do get the
announcement from the court in
Leipzig, we will update you.
Let's take a look at some of
the other stories making the news.
The British government is bracing
for one of the country's biggest
companies to up sticks.
Unilever may shift its headquarters
to the Netherlands after months
of political pressure
from both sides.
The company has so far
declined to comment.
Ford says its president
for North America - Raj Nair -
will leave immediately.
It says an investigation
found his behaviour was inconsistent
with Ford's code of conduct,
but wouldn't comment
on the inappropriate
Barclays has reported a 10% rise
in annual pre-tax profit
to $4.9 billion.
The bank was boosted by a reduction
in costs over the year and the rise
in the value of the dollar and euro
against the pound.
Today is one of those very busy days
as so many companies have come out
with the latest results and
announcement. Among them,
Anglo-American with profits
doubling, no surprise there. It's a
similar story with commodity prices
going up. Heathrow reporting
results, a fall in profits, and
revenues were something like $2.9
billion up, by 3% but pre-tax profit
was down. The number of customers
going through the airport group to
78 million. That is a lot of people.
If you go to Heathrow, you know
about that. The fourth quarter
earnings out in four -- full swing
Markets have fallen in Asia,
following similar moves in the US,
after the Federal Reserve gave
an upbeat view of the economy,
fuelling fears of more
interest rate rises.
First, let's go to our Asia
business hub in Singapore
where Leisha Santorelli
is following the story.
Nice to see you. No surprise in
Asia. That is a fear factor, if
rates go up significantly in the US,
Asia is one of the losers.
Absolutely and we have questions
around US inflation and questions
around what the rates will be for
the rest of the year and investors
in Asia did not find any clarity in
the results released earlier so we
are seeing a lot of risk appetite
weakened because of concerns that we
will see it will go up by more than
expected. Markets see a 90% chance
that federal rates will go up from
the March meeting but it was a merry
picture in the Chinese markets
because they have reopened after the
week-long New Year holiday and they
scored their best growth in 18
months and the investor mentality
was to buy. The best performers were
consumer and transport related
stocks like Qantas, and the
rationale is clear as we saw
millions of Chinese take trips
overseas and they are spending a lot
of money shopping and eating out at
restaurants. Aside from China,
pretty dismal in the Asian markets
but we will see how we go tomorrow.
Many thanks for that.
Most Asian markets sank on Thursday,
fuelling fears of fresh volatility
after Federal Reserve minutes raised
expectations US interest
rates would rise further.
US stocks were in positive territory
most of the session on Wednesday,
but began falling about 40 minutes
after the Federal Reserve
released the minutes of last
month's policy meeting.
The much-anticipated notes showed
the board thought Donald Trump's
sweeping tax cuts could fire up
the already humming economy,
pushing inflation higher.
So Tokyo stocks dropped
following falls on Wall Street
as market sentiment remained fragile
after recent volatility.
Here in Europe markets have opened.
It's busy day on markets
with lots of earnings out today -
Barclays, Centrica, Astrazenica -
offering precious indications
as to whether fourth quarter
was indeed a strong vintage.
Clues are expected on the health
of sectors which have suffered
recently, such as telecoms,
utilities or consumer
staples but also areas
where optimism has risen,
such as banks, thanks
to Lloyds, and miners with
Joe Miller has the details
about what's ahead
on Wall Street Today.
On Thursday Hewlett-Packard
enterprise company which provides IT
solution is expected to report a
fall in first-quarter revenue and
profit. It's been heard by lower
sales in its networking and data
storage equipment business. The firm
has been trying to find its footing
after a high-profile executive
resigned suddenly last November and
now it also has another rival to
contend with after its nemesis, Dell
acquired EMC. Hewlett-Packard split
into two a few years ago and the
other half of the HP empire which
still makes PCs is expected to fare
better when it reports its results.
And we will see what the tariff
effect on imports of solar panels is
having for US manufacturers as first
Sola reveals its accounts.
Mike is a
managing director at Pimco, and it's
Better to be busy than
not. We don't mind busy.
about Barclays Bank, various issues,
PPI still bothering it, the payment
and a lot of the UK banks have a
similar story which is the actual
bank itself is now doing very well
and you saw a 10% rise in underlying
profit, £3.5 billion made last year
so the company is doing well and yet
they still have these ongoing fines
from things they did in the past,
the sins of the past, so to speak,
so you have this drag which has put
pressure on their share price, and
even now it's down 10% over the last
12 months but today's news was taken
pretty well because may leave the
underlying bank itself, if you look
forward, things are going well and
profits are up so the stock was up
They also pledging to restore
their dividend pay-out.
That will do
the share price wonders. That's
another indication of the health of
the company. Once you get back to
dividend growth, and potential
buy-backs, that's a good indication
that the company is fully
capitalised, comfortable with the
growth story and they feel they can
In the meantime,
companies like Centrica, 4000 jobs
Not a good story,
unfortunately. 4000 job losses this
time Centrica and there are a couple
of stories going round and one say
this might be to do with the utility
price bill which has been in the
news in the last few years and they
are trying to cut costs now, which
means job losses so they have
announced job losses. They will try
to do that in the next 12 months to
get the costs down and profitability
up, and ideally get the utility
bills down as well.
Mike, thank you for now. Mike, or we
will come back to stories about
Unilever moving headquarters. Stick
around for that. As well as Mike.
How to unleash the
Beethoven in your babe.
There's a simpler way
to teach music to you child based
on building blocks and
we speak to the creator.
And we might have a play as well.
That is all coming.
Let's talk more about Centrica.
British Gas owner Centrica has
announced today that it's cutting
4,000 jobs after losing 10% of it's
UK customers last year.
Group profits also fell 17%
last year to £1.25bn.
Earlier, our business
correspondent, Emma Simpson,
spoke to Centrica's chief
executive, Iain Conn.
We have announced further efficiency
measures that we are driving. We did
announce all so that we have
achieved our first phase of
efficiencies, three years early. But
the reason we announced a further
£500 million per year of planned
efficiencies in 2020, regrettably,
another 4000 job losses as well, is
in response to three things.
Firstly, competition is very intense
and the second thing is that our
customers are actually interacting
with others in a different way,
moving more to digital which is
changing the way and then the third
reason is to drive more efficiencies
in advance of the likely price cap
in the UK.
So there is a direct link
between the job cuts and the looming
price cap? Presumably to give you a
bit more headroom?
As I say, it is
three reasons. It's about
competition and what customers want,
but there is a third reason, there
is a link between cost efficiency
programmes and preparing for any
price gap in the UK. We have got to
be competitive, and this measure
means we have to drive more
Iain Conn talking to our
correspondent. Much more about
Centrica on the Business Live page.
Something else to mention. I know
that we have it on our business
pages, the auditors of Carillion
will face a grilling in front of
politicians today. Another one to
watch. Two select committees will
also question to light and the
pensions regulator as part of the
joint inquiry into the crisis that's
been going on since its collapse.
The work and pensions and business
committee says it has a growing pile
of evidence, the accounting firm
also facing investigation by the
accounting Council over that.
You're watching Business Live.
Our top story.
for clean air goes to court -
we await a landmark German
ruling on whether cities
can ban diesel cars.
It's being watched closely
by the global auto industry
and other big European cities.
Because most diesel cars are driven
on European roads.
Learning a new musical
instrument can be a chore,
espcially if you're a young child.
I know I found it difficult!
the piano or violin.
But musicality starts
young, so are traditional
techniques too tough?
Our next guest is the brains
behind a new type
of music education devise
that is based on building blocks.
Soundbops aims to tap
the $63 billion market
for educational technology.
Its founder won the Royal Academy of
competition in 2016.
The musical toy is in
the final stages of design,
with the first batch due to be
delivered in time
for this Christmas.
Would imagine that's pretty
critical. The award winner,
Soundbops CEO and creator
Michael Tougher joins us now.
you have the one that hopefully will
be on sale at Christmas, in the
meantime we've got one here that we
can play with. This is the first
prototype. You can tell we're very
musical! Tell me why this will help
me learn to play an instrument
because to me it just looks like
mice colourful things that make a
sound. You said as a child who
learned the violin, how do you make
Playing instruments is
hard, so early, when you are three,
four or five years old you have a
positive introduction to music, you
learn the notes and cause gum you
play with your family and friends.
You learn the fundamentals and also
the notations are when you move to
an instrument you have that backing
and you can choose which one to
I've got three boys, Alice
has one, we've had tonnes of toys
that make noises, building blocks,
things you bash, things you play,
including smart devices that all
make noises, and buttons that you
push, how is this different? How
will this make a difference to
children learning a musical
As you know, lots of
toys make lots of noises. We do have
a headphone socket! Each block is a
different note, so when the child is
exploring, they are learning which
lets go together, which chords go
together. So you can transfer that
Assuming a child of three
known the letters, some don't.
young child learns colours and as
the child grows older, they can
start to learn the letters and
understand how they all work
together. It's that positive
introduction to music.
This is a
very young kids, starting aged about
three. How did you get going in this
because you won this competition in
2016 which gave you some cash and
some fallible mentoring. Yet you got
your initial £50,000 which enabled
you to build this prototype from
Yes, we are active on
Twitter, we have been shedding a lot
about the product and a Belgian
company invests in music, phoned me,
went and invested quickly. I have
been brushing up on my French, it's
been a lot of fun. They see a lot of
value in this product, and in the
market, and they've partnered with
me on this, which has allowed us to
launch the kick starter. We are 30%
to our target in a few days.
you in the green room how much it
would cost and you told me £70.
That's quite a lot of money for a
toy that may or may not teach your
child how to play an instrument aged
The ability to have a young
child playing songs and three is
valuable for parents. It is very
much like languages, there's a gap
when a young child can get
interested, so the value of music is
that it gets the kid into music
early so they can enjoy that for
life. And it's a very innovative
high quality product. And as we grow
and create other products...
a guitarist as well.
Guitar, my dad
taught me get out when I was younger
and as a family we played and sang
together. I want all children do
have the joy of music when they are
Fascinating stuff. Thank
you for coming in, Michael.
In a moment we'll take a look
through the Business Pages but first
here's a quick reminder of how
to get in touch with us.
Stay up-to-date with all the news on
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Business Live. What you need to
know, when you need to know. That's
sound like similar Hussein from New
York. I'm right! We asked you to
tell us what you thought about the
decisions being taken in Germany. Is
back. Should governments tell us
what we can and can't drive in
If you take the UK example
it's unfortunate because we were
encouraged to buy diesel cars. I
bought one. And now unfortunately we
are told that they are not good...
With you ditch yours, I am ditching
We've got an electric car as
well. Diesel cars can be expensive
Hot topic. We've had loads
of tweets. One suggests that
developing countries would expect
subsidies from the government as
external support to start buying
electric vehicles is expensive,
another one, from Shaun Perry, says
the government should not start
implementing changes on banning
diesel cars. One viewers says why is
it not OK for us little people to
drive diesel cars and big people to
operate jets in the skies every day.
Many of you have been in touch,
thank you so much for getting in
touch. Now the other stories.
Theresa May braced for the Unilever
decision on headquarters. Unilever
is a massive company. It's perhaps
moving its HQ to the Netherlands.
You don't believe this is a Brexit
It is not necessarily
a Brexit story. At the moment
Unilever has a headquarters in the
UK and one in Holland and they are
deciding to have one single
headquarters. I think that pressure
has come more from shareholders,
there was a takeover attempt by
Kraft Heinz last year, and I think
this is more about cost pressure
than about Brexit. They have to
choose a headquarters. It happens to
come at a time when Brexit is in
full flow although I think this is
as much about cost is about Brexit.
It would have happened anyway?
decision is to go to one place with
And another story
claims the antidepressants actually
do work. Music to the years of the
also to the ears of people who need
these treatments. It's a big issue
and hopefully this study has put to
bed a question of whether they work
Presumably they will be more
widely prescribed, which will be
more costly to the NHS.
was pretty in-depth.
Will have to
leave it there, many thanks to Mike
Amey. From Sally and I, many thanks
for joining us