Barclays clients complain most

Barclays Bank topped the list of the most complained-about British bank, although the number of reported grievances against financial services companies has fallen 15 percent overall. The Financial Conduct Authority said yesterday that almost 310 000 new complaints from retail clients had been opened against Barclays from July to December last year. That marked a fall of 17 percent from the first half, but was about 50 000 more than second-ranked Lloyds Bank. Lloyds was the only financial services firm to see complaints edge a fraction higher. Credit card issuer MBNA, Lloyds-owned Bank of Scotland and National Westminster Bank, owned by part-privatised Royal Bank of Scotland, took the next three slots in the list. – Reuters


Progress in gas deal with China

Russia’s Gazprom and China might sign a landmark gas supply deal next month, a Russian official said yesterday, marking progress in a long-stalled agreement that would boost Moscow’s efforts to turn eastwards away from Western sanctions. The deal is the Holy Grail for Moscow after at least 10 years of talks, and would mark a victory for President Vladimir Putin who has warned the West that attempts to isolate Russia over its annexation of Crimea would backfire. Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich was quoted as saying during a visit to China that Gazprom and Beijing were close to reaching agreement, paving the way for the construction of a pipeline to carry 38 billion cubic metres of gas a year. – Reuters


Law to restrain executive pay

Listed companies across the EU must get shareholder approval on pay policy for top executives under a draft EU law aimed at making firms more answerable to their owners. EU financial services chief Michel Barnier has proposed toughening up the 28-country bloc’s law on shareholder rights to end “short-termism”, though stopping short of capping pay in the way he has done for banker bonuses. “Today’s proposals will encourage shareholders to engage more with the companies they invest in, and to take a longer-term perspective of their investment.” The plans need approval from EU states and the European Parliament to come into force, with changes likely. Under the proposals, the bloc’s 10 000 listed firms would have to publish clear and comparable information on their remuneration policy for executives and seek shareholder backing for it every three years. – Reuters