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'More needs to be done to lower industry's energy costs'

Business Secretary Sajid Javid has said that more needs to be done to lower British industry's energy costs, in order for UK businesses to compete in Europe.

He was responding to the Business Select Committee's questions over the steel crisis after Tata Steel's CEO pointed out Germany's lower prices.

Bimlendra Jha said that if UK energy prices were the same as in Germany, Tata Steel would be £40 million better off.

Business Secretary grilled by MPs over steel crisis

The business secretary has said that he would not have travelled to Australia and missed crisis talks over the sale of British steel plants, "if he had known how it would be reported."

Appearing before the Business Select Committee today, Sajid Javid said he did not believe a decision to immediately close the plants would be taken when he went on the March 29 trade mission.

"Obviously it was very far from home," he said. "I turned around and came back as quickly as I could."

He faced calls to quit after taking his teenage daughter on the trip to Sydney, instead of attending a meeting in Mumbai about the South Wales plant.

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Tata Steel warns of 'huge economic disaster' over pensions deficit

Credit: PA

Tata Steel has warned of a "huge economic and social disaster" if steps are not taken to solve Port Talbot's pension fund liability.

Bimlendra Jha, the firm's new chief executive, told MPs today that the South Wales plant's pension fund liability must be taken care of in order to find a buyer for the steel plant.

He said that there are solutions that would not involve public money.

The government has already said it looking at "separating" the old British Steel pension scheme, which has 130,000 members and is around £500 million in deficit, from Tata Steel.

If we don't solve it we are staring at some very bad consequences for the taxpayer ... We are staring at a huge economic and social disaster.

– Tata Steel CEO Bimlendra Jha

Tata Steel: We won't split up UK assets for a sale

Bimlendra Jha, CEO of Tata Steel UK (left) and Marc Meyohas of Greybull Capital give evidence today to the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Credit: PA

Tata Steel has said that is not prepared to split up its main UK assets for a sale.

Bimlendra Jha, the firm's new chief executive, told MPs: "We would not deal with ... somebody saying leave alone Port Talbot and give us the rest - that is not a solution that's acceptable."

He added that the company might consider selling off small independent assets individually.

He told MPs there was no set deadline for selling the loss-making assets, but made it clear that Tata Steel cannot continue to "bleed" indefinitely.

Tata Steel: UK steel plants have 'structural disadvantages'

Port Talbot is one of the at-risk plants if a buyer cannot be found Credit: PA

The new CEO of Tata Steel UK has said that British steel plants have "structural disadvantages" that makes production unprofitable and has forced the company to put its assets up for sale.

Bimlendra Jha said that if energy prices were the same as in Germany for example, Tata Steel would be £40 million better off.

When you get headwinds such as a stronger currency, you only have to go over the Channel to buy products in an open market.

– TATA STEEL CEO BIMLENDRA JHA

He told a committee of MPs that the firm is "determined" to find a credible buyer, but said the government will probably have to do more to help secure a sale.

Jha, who oversaw the sale of Tata Steel's Scunthorpe works earlier this month, said the firm has not discussed closing Port Talbot steelworks, which employs around 750 workers.

He said there is no "dead drop" deadline for the sale of Tata Steel's steel assets, but stressed that is a "matter of urgency" for the company.

Lloyds Bank posts 6% fall in profits in first quarter

Lloyds Banking Group

Lloyds Banking Group has posted a 6% fall in underlying profits to £2.1 billion for the first quarter of the year, down from £2.2 billion a year earlier.

It hailed a "robust" performance in the first three months of 2016.

It said that, excluding the TSB business, which it sold last year, profits were "stable" on a year earlier.

The lender has escaped the hefty profits hit suffered by its investment banking rivals, with Barclays posting a 25% fall in first-quarter profits on Wednesday.

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Sir Philip Green asked to appear at second committee

Sir Philip Green has been asked to speak before a second committee of MPs, as questions mount as to his part in the collapse of BHS.

Iain Wright, from the Business, Innovations, and Skills Committee, told ITV News: "It's important that in terms of salvaging a reputation, he comes before Parliament and answers questions from MPs."

ITV News Business Editor Joel Hills reports:

Osborne: 'Independent bodies should look at BHS'

George Osborne has insisted "independent bodies" should investigate the situation at BHS, and would not be drawn on whether its billionaire ex-boss has questions to answer.

"I don't think as the country's Chancellor of the Exchequer, I should judge what has gone on in a company, before the independent bodies we have created have done that work," the chancellor told ITV News.

Mr Osborne was speaking to our Business Editor Joel Hills.

Barclays pre-tax profits fall 25% to £793 million

Barclays reported a 25% fall in first quarter pre-tax profits Credit: PA

Barclays has reported a 25% fall in first quarter pre-tax profits to £793 million, down from £1.1 billion a year earlier.

The banking giant has been hit by tough trading in its investment banking arm.

Barclays also announced talks with AnaCap Financial Partners to sell its 74-branch business in France as boss Jess Staley continues to overhaul the lender.

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