What were the top business stories of 2013?


Horse meat found in beef products

From revelations about Findus products containing horse meat at the start of the year to Lloyds Banking Group being hit with a record fine earlier this month, the business world has had its fair share of scandals this year.

Let's take a closer look at 10 of the biggest business headlines of 2013.

1. Findus horse meat scandal
Food giant Findus hit headlines around the globe in February when some of its "beef" products were found to contain horsemeat.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said at the time that Findus had tested 18 of its beef lasagne products and found 11 meals containing between 60% and 100% horsemeat. Findus argued that it was a victim of food fraud.

2. Top accountants criticised
Britain's four biggest accountancy firms also came under fire in February. This time from the Competition Commission, which accused PWC, Ernst & Young, Deloitte and KPMG of being too dominant and not always meeting a shareholder's needs.

3. Apple accused of dodging tax
Apple hit a low point this year, when it was accused of being "among America's largest tax avoiders" by the US Senate, which said that Apple paid little or nothing on billions of dollars in profits placed in Irish subsidiaries.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has since found that the company complied with American tax laws. But the story raised some difficult questions about corporate tax avoidance nevertheless.

4. Co-operative bank bailout and sex scandal
The Co-operative Bank's problems first came to light in March, when the bank reported a £673.7m loss for the year to December 31, 2012.

By June, the bank had unveiled a "bail-in" rescue plan designed to plug the £1.5bn hole in its balance sheet while allowing it to retain its ethical approach.

However, such claims have since been soured by revelations about the sex life and alleged drug use of the bank's former chairman Reverend Paul Flowers.

5. Eurozone edges out of recession
Figures showing that the eurozone's GDP grew by 0.3% in the second quarter of 2013 led to claims that the economic area had emerged from recession after 18 months.

However, more recent statistics have prompted fears about the tentative recovery stalling.

6. The rise of Bitcoin
So-called virtual currency Bitcoin had a bumpy ride in 2013. If it wasn't hitting the headlines for its soaring value, it was in the news due to its links with internet criminals such as those buying and selling drugs on the dodgy, now defunct Silk Road website.

The value of a Bitcoin surpassed $1,000 (£613) for the first time in November.

7. Royal Mail privatisation
The government announced plans to privatise Royal Mail in September, and the newly stock market listed company's share price has soared since its float in October.

It has since shot into the FTSE 100 index of Britain's biggest listed companies as a result of its strong performance.

8. British Gas Twitter backlash
British Gas scored a spectacular own goal after trying to stave off criticism of an almost 10% price hike using the website Twitter in October.

The company's decision to invite questions from customers backfired when it was bombarded with nearly 16,000 Twitter comments – most of them vitriolic – in one of the biggest PR disasters in social media history.

9. UK recession over
The UK economy will finally surpass its pre-recession peak next year, according to December figures from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which also now believes that the UK's GDP is will grow by 2.7% in 2014, an improvement on its previous prediction of 2.2%.

BCC head John Longworth said: "It is really great that next year the UK economy is finally expected to bounce back from the deepest recession in modern times."

10. Record fine for Lloyds
Earlier this month, it emerged that Lloyds Banking Group was being fined £28m - the largest amount ever demanded by the City regulator for issues relating to dealings with retail customers.

The fine, ordered by the Financial Conduct Authority, is due to a Lloyds bonus scheme that pressurised staff to hit sales targets or risk being demoted and having their pay cut. Lloyds accepted the regulator's findings and apologised to its customers.