UK employment rate rises to record high
LONDON • United Kingdom unemployment declined and a measure of the number of people in work rose to a record high, pushing the labour market closer to "full capacity", according to the statistics office.
The number of jobless fell 7,000 in the fourth quarter to 1.6 million people, leaving the unemployment rate at 4.8 per cent, the lowest in more than a decade.
Employment increased by 37,000 to 31.8 million, and the rate rose to a record 74.6 per cent, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said yesterday.
Despite labour shortages in some areas, firms told Bank of England agents recently that they expect wage growth to slow to about 2.2 per cent this year.
The ONS data also said that the claimant count - a narrower measure of unemployment - plunged 42,400 last month after a revised 20,500 drop in December. That office said changes to Universal Credit benefits are affecting its seasonal adjustments, which means that the data can be volatile from month to month.
Banks vie for advisory role in big merger
HONG KONG/MUMBAI • Bank of America Merrill Lynch, UBS and Standard Chartered are among the banks scrambling to win advisory roles in a potential merger involving Vodafone in India, sources said, as they chase a rare, big deals-related payday in the country.
Britain's Vodafone Group said last month that it was in talks to merge its Indian subsidiary with Idea Cellular in an all-share deal. The merger will create India's largest mobile operator, with about US$12 billion (S$17 billion) in sales.
The banks picked to advise on the deal could end up sharing as much as US$40 million, according to Freeman Consulting. That is about 10 per cent of the total investment banking fee pool last year in India, where advisory fees are among the lowest compared with other major global markets.
In India, the total fee earned from investment banking services, including mergers and acquisitions, equity and bonds, fell to US$462.6 million last year, from US$491 million a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters data.