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Game of thrones: Kings and queens grapple with austerity Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Thursday, June 6, 2013.

Follow Michael Babad and the Globe’s top business stories on Twitter.

Game of thrones
No, they’re not like the rest of us, but kings and queens are grappling with austerity, too.

In Britain, the royal family has faced cutbacks and the way in which it is paid in the post-crisis era, and is under scrutiny for expenses.

In Spain, according to The Telegraph, King Juan Carlos decided recently to forego the €21-million ($28.4-million Canadian) royal yacht. (I know, right? Unemployment in Spain is at 27 per cent.)

And now, the royals of Belgium are going to have to pay taxes for the first time, Reuters reports.

This follows a controversy surrounding Queen Fabiola and her reported plans to skirt taxes via an estate transfer.

According to the report, the queen’s funding will also be slashes to €450,000, or some $590,000 U.S. from €1.3-million. (I know, right?)

Back to the Commonwealth, here’s what the Monarchy says on its official website: “The Monarchy has sometimes been described as an expensive institution, with Royal finances shrouded in confusion and secrecy. In reality, the Royal Household is committed to ensuring that public money is spent as wisely and efficiently as possible, and to making royal finances and transparent and comprehensive as possible.”

Public Mobile sold
The ground continues to shift under Canada’s wireless industry.

Public Mobile, one of the upstarts formed in 2008, said today it’s being taken over by two investment firms, Thomvest Seed Capital Inc. of Toronto and Cartesian Capital of New York.

This is the latest in a series of developments in the wireless world, following the Canadian government’s decision to nix a deal between Telus Corp. and troubled Mobilicity, another of the new entrants, and a new code of conduct for wireless carriers unveiled by the telecom regulator.

“Despite the current uncertainty in the Canadian wireless industry, Public Mobile’s strong performance and rapid growth continue to attract financial backing from blue chip investors,” said chief executive officer Alek Krstajic.

“This financing is an enormous vote of confidence in Public Mobile’s business and a significant milestone in our company’s history. The support of Thomvest and Cartesian enables Public Mobile to continue the rapid expansion of our subscriber base from a strong and well-funded position.”

Thomvest will be the controlling shareholder in the company, the three said in a statement that projects further turmoil in the sector.

“In the coming months, the Canadian wireless industry will see consolidation, and an important spectrum auction,” said Cartesian partner Paul Pizzani.

Markets mixed
Japan’s benchmark stock index slipped again, though other markets are holding their own.

Tokyo’s Nikkei shed 0.9 per cent, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 1.1 per cent.

In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.2 per cent and 0.6 per cent by about 8:15 a.m. ET.

Dow Jones industry average and S&P 500 futures edged up.

Central banks hold line
Both the European and British central banks held the line on interest rates today, as markets await the first public policy pronouncements by the new governor of the Bank of Canada.

The European Central Bank held its key rate steady at 0.5 per cent, while the Bank of England held its at the same level.

“As Europe faces rising unemployment and contained inflation … the ECB has the opportunity to maintain a dovish stance,” said chief currency strategist Camilla Sutton of Bank of Nova Scotia.

“We expect the central bank to move slowly and that this ultimately weighs on [the euro].”

Up next is Stephen Poloz, the new Canadian central bank chief, who will be grilled by the Commons finance committee this morning.

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