Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Big Guns Ready to Reveal Festive Trading Results

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Big Guns Ready to Reveal Festive Trading Results

Article excerpt

Byline: Iain Laing

THE retail sector's all-important Christmas results season will gather pace this week with updates from the likes of Tesco, HMV and Game.

Top brass from the UK's nationalised and part-nationalised banks will be under the spotlight tomorrow as they face scrutiny from MPs on the Treasury Select Committee.

Chief executives from Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group and Northern Rock are all likely to face questions on bank pay, lending to small businesses and their eventual return to the private sector.

With the bonus season looming large, RBS boss Stephen Hester is likely face several questions about the pay-outs expected in its investment banking division.

This has profited from the one-off support to the economy launched by governments around the world as well fundraising by banks, so the prospect of huge payouts at a bank saved from oblivion by state support has caused outrage.

The row was stoked before Christmas when the board of RBS reportedly threatened to resign en masse if the Government intervened to cut its bonus pool, although chairman Sir Philip Hampton denied this.

RBS has nonetheless warned that Treasury control over its bonus payments could place it at a "significant competitive disadvantage".

Both RBS and Lloyds will also be quizzed over progress on the lending commitments they made in return for state support as well as the restructuring plans imposed by the European Commission.

Recent speculation over an imminent sale of Northern Rock is also likely to be on the agenda following the Newcastle-based lender's split into a "good " and "bad " bank earlier this year. Supermarket giant Tesco offers its review of the Christmas season when it reveals sales figures for the six weeks to January 9 tomorrow. It is up against tough competition this year, given record-breaking festive results from rivals Sainsbury's and Waitrose.

Figures from market research company Nielsen suggested it was a robust Christmas across the entire sector, revealing 6. …

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