Millennials discount railcard for 26 to 30-year-olds to launch early next year

(qlmbusinessnews.com via standard.co.uk — Fri, 20 Oct 2017) London, Uk —

Millennials could soon be entitled to their own discount railcard offering 26 to 30-year-olds a third off all train journeys.

Train company Greater Anglia Railways will trial a new card for young people from December before the scheme is rolled out nationally early next year, a leaked staff briefing suggested.

A document circulated on a UK rail forum, which appears to have been sent to Rail Delivery Group (RDG) staff, says that the scheme will go national in early 2018.

Greater Anglia Railways will initially offer 10,000 cards, according to Moneysavingexpert.com. The briefing document adds that this will be increased in 2018.

The unverified document also said that the new pass will be based on the existing 16-26 railcard, which gives a third off most fares, the Telegraph reported.

There is likely to be a £12 minimum fare for tickets (other than advanced fares) between 4.30am and 10am Monday to Friday – excluding public holidays and dates in July and August.

The RDG, which represents train companies, has declined to comment on plans for the wider launch, according to the Telegraph.

Similar railcards cost around £30-a-year, with frequent discounts available.

Millennials, which are the first generation to earn less than their parents, are likely to welcome the announcement.

Research published earlier this year showed men born between 1981 and 2000 earn an average of £12,500 less by the time they are 30 than the previous generation.

Millennials are said to fare significantly worse than their parents during their first years of employment, according to research by the Resolution Foundation. Young Brits earned £8,000 less during their 20s than their parents.

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said it will be trialling the railcard from December, and said passengers will be able to sign up for it via the Railcard app on Apple or Android.

She said: “We are delighted to be at the forefront of this innovative trial, bringing better value fares and more convenience to rail passengers in East Anglia.”

By Ella Wills

Marks & Spencer banking arm announced plans to launch mortgage range

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 20 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

You will soon be able to buy a house with Marks & Spencer, after the retail giant’s banking arm announced plans to launch a mortgage range.

The company better known for selling groceries and underwear will roll out its first mortgage products early next year, subject to regulatory approval.

The M&S Bank products will be targeted at both first-time buyers and home movers, with rates and further details to be announced next year.

Sue Fox, chief executive of M&S Bank, said: “Many of our customers have shopped with M&S their whole lives, feeling the comfort of the brand at every key life event.

“We’re now in a position to support our customers with the biggest financial decision they’ll ever make – their home.”

M&S Bank, which launched in 2012 and has four million customers, currently offers credit cards, loans and current accounts. Its number of current account customers has grown 60pc over the last two years.

The bank has its roots in the financial services division of M&S, which was founded in 1985.

It is a joint venture between HSBC and M&S, although it has its own banking licence and its own board. It has 29 branches and over 120 bureaux de change in M&S stores.

By 

Banks may soon implement ‘hotline’ for victims of financial fraud

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Thur, 19 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Victims of financial fraud might soon be able to call for help via a new telephone hotline, similar to the 999 emergency service.

Under the plan anyone worried about scammers would be able to dial 555.

The idea – which is in its early stages – is being examined by Financial Fraud Action UK, and has backing from the Home Office.

Victims could be transferred immediately to their bank’s fraud department or to the Police.

The information could also be used to help build up a database of incidents.

  • ‘Turn off debit card to beat scams’
  • Banks told to take action to protect fraud victims

In the first half of 2017 there were over 937,000 cases of fraud, many of which involved scammers trying to persuade victims to transfer their money into other accounts.

In such cases, prompt action is vital, allowing banks to freeze accounts and stop cash being moved.

“Protecting customers from fraud is a top priority for all banks and the industry is always investigating new ways to improve its response,” said a spokesperson for UK Finance.

“This is one potential idea that is at the very early stages of being explored.”

By Brian Milligan

UK Fintech firms set for a record breaking year of investments

(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Thur, 19 Oct2017) London, Uk – –

Fintech startups in the UK are on track to attract a record amount of investment in 2017 new figures reveal, bucking concerns that Brexit could derail the star sector.

More than $1bn (£760m) has already been ploughed into technology firms hoping to disrupt finance this year by venture capital investors, more than double the amount this time last year according to fresh data from London and Partners and Pitchbook.

Read more: City calls for fintech sector deal to ensure UK remains leader after Brexit

Investment is set to smash 2015 when $1.16bn was invested in UK fintech, cementing London’s position as the fintech capital of Europe and a global hub. It hit a five quarter high in the third quarter, with 37 deals worth $358m separate figures published by CB Insights show.

The data also predicts that investment across Europe could break the $2bn barrier for the first time in 2017, having already hit a record of $1.8bn across 216 deals in the first three quarters of the year.

The already bumper year has been largely driven by the UK, accounting for around half of investment and eight of the 10 biggest deals of third quarter. They include $66m for digital challenger bank Revolut, $50m for accountancy software firm Receipt Bank and $40m for lending platform Prodigy Finance.

Along with investment in China expected to hit new highs, it puts fintech investment globally on track for a record year. So far this year, firms around the world have raised $12.2bn across 818 deals. However, analysts believe the cash going into fintech in the US will be off record highs for a second year in a row. The country’s still expected to grab the lion’s share of cash, followed by China and the UK.

Meanwhile, a separate soon-to-be published report from Investec has noted increasing interest from new investors. “Reaffirming the global appeal of London’s fintech sector, in 2017 we have seen a large number of international investors invest in London fintechs who have not invested in London previously,” said co-head of emerging companies Kevin Chong.

Read more: Open Banking comes another step closer: Fintechs can apply for FCA approval

Deputy mayor for business Rajesh Agrawal said the figures were “yet more proof that global investors believe London will remain a leading fintech hub for many years to come”.

“Clearly, Brexit poses major challenges – but London’s position as a global financial centre and world-class technology hub is built on strong foundations which cannot be replicated anywhere else: access to more software developers than Stockholm, Berlin and Dublin combined, Europe’s largest fintech accelerator Level 39, and the continent’s only truly global financial market.”

He added: “This highlights the need for a Brexit which enables London to maintain its place at the heart of the single market, as Europe’s financial capital.”

By Lynsey Barber

Amazon and eBay warned over VAT fraudsters by MP

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 18 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Amazon and eBay are profiting from sellers who defraud UK taxpayers by failing to charge VAT, according to a report by MPs.

The report estimates up to £1.5bn has been lost from third-party sellers on online marketplaces not charging the tax on sales they make in the UK.

MPs in the Public Accounts Committee criticised HMRC for being “too cautious” in pursuing the “fraudsters”.

Amazon and eBay said they were working with HMRC on the issue.

Labour MP Meg Hillier, who chairs the committee, called online VAT fraud “hugely damaging” for British businesses and taxpayers.

She added that “the response of HMRC and the marketplaces where fraudsters operate has been dismal”.

‘Bewildering’

The fraud has increased because foreign firms selling goods to UK shoppers – usually via online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay – are keeping some of their stock in UK warehouses to provide next day delivery.

If items are dispatched from UK soil, the sellers have to charge VAT at 20%.

But many have not been, so undercutting genuine UK suppliers and reducing tax revenue, the committee’s report found.

Brexit will make the issue more complicated because of uncertainty over trading and customs, it added.

Both Amazon and eBay told the committee they took action to remove “bad actors” from their sites.

But the report said it was “bewildering that these big companies have taken such little action to date”.

It added that Amazon and eBay, amongst other online marketplaces, “continue to profit from fraudulent activities taking place on their sites” by charging the sellers a commission.

In the hearings a pack of lightbulb socket converters and a hose for a Dyson vacuum cleaner were held up as examples of products sold without VAT.

‘Above and beyond’

The report’s conclusions include:

  • The UK’s tax agency, HMRC, should set up an agreement with online marketplaces by March next year to tackle the issue
  • The websites should require non-EU sellers – which dispatch goods already in the UK – to provide a valid VAT number
  • HMRC should “inject more urgency” by making more extensive use of its existing powers

HMRC said it had introduced new rules last year to hold online marketplaces liable for unpaid VAT by overseas sellers, leading to a ten-fold rise in the number of sellers registering for VAT.

“The new reforms will secure an extra £875m in tax to help pay for vital public services,” an HMRC spokesman said.

In a statement Amazon said it was reviewing the report and supported efforts to ensure sellers across all marketplaces were VAT compliant.

An eBay spokesperson said it was going “above and beyond” HMRC’s requirements to provide a “fair marketplace for all our buyers and sellers”.

Sainsbury’s to axing 2,000 jobs in cost cutting overhaul

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Wed, 18 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Sainsbury’s is axing 2,000 jobs as the supermarket attempts to slash £500m of costs as it struggles with rising pressures from the return of  food inflation and soaring wage bills.

The grocer, which paid £1.4bn for Argos last year, has launched a radical staffing overhaul which will mean 1,400 payroll and human resources jobs will be scrapped. The retailer is also restructuring its human resources functions at its banking arm and Argos, which could lead to a further 600 job losses, a Sainsbury’s spokesman confirmed.

In August, the Sunday Telegraph revealed that the supermarket had drawn up a staff reduction plan to meet its cost cutting target. Sainsbury’s employs 3,000 staff outside of its stores, including at its Holborn base in London. It also has a separate human resources centre in Manchester, an IT team in Walsgrave, Coventry, and a banking division in Edinburgh.

The staffing shake-up comes as the supermarket grapples with lower profits due to the price-war launched by discounters Aldi and Lidl whilst facing rising costs related to a weaker pound, the living wage and apprentice levy which is thought to have added tens of millions of pounds to its staffing bill.

Sainsbury’s has already cut 400 jobs in March while a further 4,000 employees were told they face major changes to their working hours in a shake-up of night shift work at 140 stores. Sainsbury’s follows Tesco in swinging the axe over its back-office staff. Britain’s biggest retailer unveiled 1,200 head office redundancies in June, just one week after it cut 1,100 jobs at a Cardiff call centre.

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “The UK grocery market is changing at a rapid pace and it’s crucial that we transform the way we operate to meet future challenges and continue to provide customers with best in class service.

“Following a comprehensive review, we are proposing some updates to our HR structures and systems, as well as changes to a number of other support roles, subject to consultation.”

By 

FTSE edges down, Merlin Entertainments suffers collapse on poor summer trading

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 17 Oct, 2017) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – UK shares edged lower on Tuesday, with a flurry of trading updates animating early deals, such as tourist attractions operator Merlin Entertainments, which saw its shares collapse on disappointing summer sales.

The FTSE .FTSE had retreated 0.20 percent by 0839 GMT, barely moved by fresh data which showed British inflation rose to its highest level in more than five years and could make the Bank of England more likely to raise interest rates next month.

Shares in Merlin (MERL.L) plunged as much as 21 percent, its biggest fall ever, after the operator of Madame Tussauds waxworks blamed a series of attacks in Britain and unfavourable weather for a dip in trading in its key summer period.

“Given all this additional uncertainty we see less and less reasons to own the shares,” Liberum analysts said as the shares, trading at about 355p, touched three years low levels.

Mediclinic (MDCM.L) retreated 3.5 percent after a trading update and there was no bounce back for Convatec, still down 0.8 percent, after a profit warning triggered a sell-off on Monday and a 26.6 percent fall.

“While the market may be quiet, it is currently extremely intolerant of any company that dares to miss forecasts”, Chris Beauchamp, an IG market analyst, wrote about the slump of Convatec on Monday.

British education group Pearson (PSON.L) on the other hand was the FTSE 100 top performer, with a 5.2 percent rise, after it said it expected full-year operating profit to come in at the top half of its forecast range.

British challenger bank Virgin Money (VM.L) also shone after reporting gross mortgage lending of 6.5 billion pounds to the end of the third quarter and said it had seen robust customer demand due to low unemployment and a resilient housing market.

Investec analyst Ian Gordon said he expected the “stunning performance” to lead to new consensus upgrades on the stock.

Golba miner Rio Tinto (RIO.L) was up 0.3 percent after it said it lifted third quarter iron ore shipments by 6 percent after modernising its haulage railway in Australia’s outback.

British online fashion retailer ASOS (ASOS.L) which increased its outlook for sales growth in its 2018 financial year, saw its shares rise by 1 percent.

By Julien Ponthus

Automation to effect one in five job across the UK according to new research

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 17 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Workers in shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s constituency face highest risk of being replaced by robots, says research

Workers in the constituency of shadow chancellor John McDonnell are at the highest risk of seeing their jobs automated in the looming workplace revolution that will affect at least one in five employees in all parliamentary seats, according to new research.

The thinktank Future Advocacy – which specialises in looking at the big 21st century policy changes – said at least one-fifth of jobs in all 650 constituencies were at high risk of being automated, rising to almost 40% in McDonnell’s west London seat of Hayes and Harlington.

The thinktank’s report also found that the public was largely untroubled by the risk that their job might be at threat. Only 2% of a sample of more than 2,000 people were very worried that they might be replaced by a machine, with a further 5% fairly worried.

Future Advocacy’s report has been based on a PWC study earlier this year showing that more than 10 million workers were at risk of being replaced by automation and represents the first attempt to show the impact at local level.

The thinktank said McDonnell’s seat would be affected because it contains Heathrow airport, which has a large number of warehousing jobs that could be automated. Of the 92,150 employees in Hayes and Harlington in 2015, 36,170 (39.3%) were at high risk of having their jobs automated by the early 2030s. Crawley – the seat that includes Gatwick airport – was seen as the second most vulnerable constituency.

Future Advocacy said its report was an “attempt to encourage a geographically more sophisticated understanding of, and response to, the future of work, and also an attempt to encourage MPs to pay more attention to this critical issue”.

Opinion is divided on the likely impact of the artificial intelligence revolution on jobs. Optimists have said that the lesson from history is that technological change leads to more jobs being created than destroyed, while pessimists have argued that AI is different because the new machines will be able to do intellectual as well as routine physical tasks.

“One thing that almost all economists agree on is that change is coming and that its scale and scope will be unprecedented. Automation will impact different geographies, genders, and socioeconomic classes differently,” the report noted.

It added that “the highest levels of future automation are predicted in Britain’s former industrial heartlands in the Midlands and the north of England, as well as the industrial centres of Scotland. These are areas which have already suffered from deindustrialisation and many of them are unemployment hot spots.”

Olly Buston, one of the report’s authors, said it was vital that lessons were learned from the 1980s. “Let’s not have a repeat of the collapse of the coal-mining industry,” he said. “Instead, we should have a smarter strategy.”

Noting that there would be a political pay off for the party that came up with the best strategy for coping with the robot age, the report makes a number of recommendations for the government.

They include: publishing a white paper on adapting the education system so that it focuses on creativity and interpersonal skills in addition to the stem subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths; developing a post-Brexit migration policy that allows UK-based AI companies and universities to attract the best talent; exploring ways to ensure the benefits of the AI revolution are spread through research into alternative income and taxation models, including investigation of a universal basic income; and conducting further detailed research to assess which employees were most at risk of losing their jobs.

The report said that it was “arguably automation – rather than globalisation – that has created the economic and social conditions that led to political shockwaves such as the election of Donald Trump and the vote for Brexit.

The report found that the leaders of the four main Westminster parties represented seats where more than 25% of jobs were at high risk of being automated, while the constituency with the lowest proportion of high-risk jobs was Labour-held Edinburgh South.

High-risk constituencies typically contained large numbers of people working in transport or manufacturing, while lower-risk constituencies – including Edinburgh South, Wirral West and Oxford East – had high concentrations of workers employed in education and health.

By Larry Elliott

Facebook to invest £1 million in Uk’s schools to help pupils become “digital safety ambassadors”

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Mon, 16 Oct, 2017) London, Uk – –

Facebook says tens of thousands of children in secondary schools could be taught to counter cyber bullying by the social network.

The company is investing £1 million in helping pupils in the UK’s 4,500 secondary schools to become “digital safety ambassadors” – young people trained on how to counter online abuse.

Facebook lets anybody aged 13 or over to have a Facebook or Instagram account, but up to one in four children have experienced online bullying, according to the UK Council for Child Internet Safety estimates.

According to research released on Monday, more than half would prefer to deal with bullying online instead of turning to an adult, but are more likely to seek the advice of friends.

Facebook says it is providing online help on how to combat cyber bullying, and funding youth charities to carry out face-to-face training in classrooms. It has partnered with the Diana Award, an anti-bullying charity set up in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Childnet International.

The social network’s head of safety Antigone Davis said: “Over the last decade, we have developed a wealth of innovative resources on Facebook that enable young people to look after themselves and their peers, from our updated Safety Centre, to our online reporting tools. By offering trained digital safety ambassadors to every UK secondary school we are now taking this commitment offline too.”

 The company says it wants trained pupils in every school, ultimately meaning tens of thousands will be taught.

Last week, the Government promised to make Britain the “safest place in the world to be online” with a new internet safety strategythat would include an industry-wide levy to fund anti-bullying measures.

New data protection laws will also require social media sites like Facebook to delete posts made about a user before they turned 18 if they demand it.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said on Monday: “The internet has many amazing opportunities for our young people but what is unacceptable offline needs to be unacceptable on a computer screen.

“Our Internet Safety Strategy aims to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online and working together with companies like Facebook is how we can all contribute to a positive online environment.”

By 

Financial Conduct Authority chief exec warns of a “pronounced” build up of debt among young people

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 16 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

The chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority has warned of a “pronounced” build up of debt among young people.

In an interview with the BBC, Andrew Bailey said the young were having to borrow for basic living costs.

The regulator also said he “did not like” some high-cost lending schemes.

He said consumers, and institutions that lend to them, should be aware that interest rates may rise in the future and that credit should be “affordable”.

The head of the FCA was talking to the BBC as part of its ‘Money Matters’ coverage, looking at the issues of credit and debt in the UK.

Mr Bailey said action was being taken to curb long-term credit card debt and high-cost pay-day loans.

The regulator is also looking at charges in the rent-to-own sector which can leave people paying high levels of interest for buying white goods such as washing machines, he added.

“There is a pronounced build up of indebtedness amongst the younger age group,” Mr Bailey said.

“We should not think this is reckless borrowing, this is directed at essential living costs. It is not credit in the classic sense, it is [about] the affordability of basic living in many cases.”

‘Generational shift’

Although Mr Bailey said that high levels of consumer debt was not a crisis “in the macro-economic sense”, it did matter to struggling individuals whose stories he had listened to during visits to debt management charities.

“There are particular concentrations [of debt] in society, and those concentrations are particularly exposed to some of the forms and practices of high cost debt which we are currently looking at very closely because there are things in there that we don’t like,” Mr Bailey said.

“There has been a clear shift in the generational pattern of wealth and income, and that translates into a greater indebtedness at a younger age.

“That reflects lower levels of real income, lower levels of asset ownership. There are quite different generational experiences,” he said.

Mr Bailey was speaking as research shows young people in particular are concerned about the amount of debt they are carrying and their ability to repay that debt

He said the high price of renting and lack of income growth meant that more people had to use credit to make ends meet.

Gig economy

Recent Bank of England figures show that consumer debt, excluding mortgages, now totals over £200bn and is approaching levels not seen since the financial crisis.

The increase in what is known as “unsecured lending” on credit cards, car loan schemes, personal loans and overdrafts is running at 10% a year.

People are also saving less as ultra low interest rates eat into returns.

“Obviously we all question how long this can that go on for,” Mr Bailey said. “But in aggregate it isn’t on its own something that we should be describing as a crisis.”

He added: “I am not of the school of thought that credit should not be available to this section of society because credit should be there to smooth income in the classic sense, and we know there are more people with erratic income flows, that is one of the features of the so-called gig-economy.”

Mr Bailey said that “sustainable credit is a necessary part of society”.

By Kamal Ahmed


 

Meet the company where luxury and philanthropy go hand in hand

(qlmbusinessnews.com via livingit.euronews.com – – Sat, 14 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Want to spice up your next trip by making a contribution to the local population? You will return home with the best souvenir: the satisfaction of knowing you made a difference. An ever-growing group of socially engaged travelers has already changed thousands of people’s lives.

There is no better place to watch whales than the island where locals have strong cultural affinities with these beautiful marine creatures. In New Zeland, the indigenous Māori people have a long history with whales: local legend says that their ancestors arrived on the island on the back of a whale. The locals believe in a spiritual bond with the animals.

Today, this tribe happens to possess one of the most successful companies organizing whale watch tours, among other activities, in the local town of Kaikoura. In fact, the local community trust, founded in 1987 by four Maori families, has played a huge role in reviving the town’s declining economy. They have transformed Kaikoura into a leading eco-tourism destination and the Whale Watch Kaikoura became the largest employer of the season. The enterprise invests a huge part of their annual profit in supporting the community, education, employment, and protecting the environment.

The company offers up-close encounters with giant sperm whales and strives to minimise their impact on the environment. It also runs educational programmes on how to save the environment as well as eco-friendly activities for visitors, such as planting your own tree.

By Doloresz Katanich

 

FCA attracts controversy in allegedly seeking to water down rules to lure Saudi oil giant’s IPO to London

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 13 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Regulator has attracted controversy by allegedly seeking to water down rules to lure Saudi oil giant’s IPO to London

The chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority has admitted meeting officials from Saudi Aramco before publishing plans to water down rules in a move intended to lure the $2tn (£1.5tn) stock market listing of the oil giant to London.

Andrew Bailey told MPs that the meeting with officials from the Gulf kingdom’s state oil company – which is planning the world’s biggest ever flotation – took place in the early part of this year.

In July the FCA launched its consultation on creating a new category for firms listing on the stock market that are controlled by a sovereign country. It has faced criticism that the weakening of the rules will damage London’s reputation for protecting shareholders in companies with dominant owners.

But Bailey insisted the new category would not weaken protection for investors and that those who did invest in companies in the new group would know what they were buying.

He was replying to a letter from Nicky Morgan, the Conservative MP who chairs the Treasury select committee, and Rachel Reeves, the Labour MP who chairs the business, energy and industry committee, about the background to the proposed changes and whether there had been any political interference.

His response is likely to inflame the row at a time when London is vying with New York for the lucrative listing in a battle that is regarded as a key challenge for the City in the run-up to Brexit. In April, Theresa May and Xavier Rolet, chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, visited Riyadh to meet Aramco’s chief executive, Khalid al-Falih, who is also the kingdom’s energy minister.

Bailey said Treasury officials had been informed about the consultation in March and that the economic secretary to the Treasury had been told because he was having an introductory meeting with the new City minister, Stephen Barclay, 48 hours before the publication was launched. Other than that, Bailey said, he had not conversations with ministers on the subject.

He said the FCA routinely had meetings with companies considering a flotation in London and would not usually disclose these meetings. “However, given the public discussion of these events we can confirm that we held conversations with Saudi Aramco and their advisers in light of their interest in a possible UK listing in the early part of this year. We emphasised during those conversations that we were reviewing the listing regime,” Bailey said.

But Morgan said: “Questions remain about the level of political involvement in the consultation. The UK’s world-class reputation for upholding strong corporate governance mustn’t be watered down.”

Reeves added: “What may well be good for City traders is not necessarily good for the rest of the country’s economy or investors.”

The FCA’s consultation ends on 13 October and investors and trade bodies have continued to raise their concerns. Ashley Hamilton Claxton, corporate governance manager at Royal London Asset Management, said: “While we fully support the case that the UK must stay competitive in a growing global marketplace, we do not think rewriting the rules is the correct way to go about it.”

Stephen Martin, the director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “We see no overwhelming reason to believe that states should be treated differently to other controlling shareholders. If anything, the risk for minority investors of having their interests ignored are greater, as the state will be subject to other domestic pressures.”

Bailey said in his letter that the proposals matched recommendations made by the Treasury to the FCA at the time of the budget in March. “The recommendations include the point that London retaining its position as the leading international financial centre supports the aim of sustainable economic growth,” said Bailey.

The FCA proposals would enable state-owned companies to qualify for a premium listing – which has more onerous corporate governance rules and is valued by investors – but escape two key hurdles. One relates to how the company and the controlling shareholder conduct deals with each other; the second allows investors a vote on independent directors.

By Jill Treanor

 

Samsung chief exec resigns citing an “unprecedented crisis”

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 13 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

The chief executive of Samsung Electronics has resigned, citing an “unprecedented crisis” around the smartphone giant.

Kwon Oh-hyun, who has been with the company for 32 years, said he would step down as chief executive and vice chairman in March. His departure comes despite Samsung Electronics projecting record quarterly profits

The company’s sales are booming thanks to record demand at its microchip and display units and improving sales of its latest smartphones, but it has been hit by a corruption scandal at the highest level.

Jay Y Lee, the heir to the Samsung empire, was sentenced to five years in prison in August for bribery and perjury after he was accused of overseeing large payments to foundations run by South Korea’s former president Park Geun-hye.

Mr Lee is vice-chairman of both Samsung Electronics and the wider Samsung conglomerate, which includes interests in property, financial services and healthcare. But the electronics company, best known as the world’s biggest smartphone seller, is its crown jewel.

“As we are confronted with unprecedented crisis inside out, I believe that time has now come for the company start anew, with a new spirit and young leadership to better respond to challenges arising from the rapidly changing IT industry,” Mr Kwon said in a letter to staff.

 “It is something I had been thinking long and hard about for quite some time. It has not been an easy decision, but I feel I can no longer put it off.”

Samsung did not announce a successor. It technically has three chief executives but the other two, Jong-Kyun Shin and Yoon Boo Keun, have stepped back from the day-to-day running of the company.

“With Jay Y Lee also likely to be out of the picture for a few years, the way is open for new blood to take the helm of Samsung and clean-up these long-standing issues,” said Richard Windsor of Edison Investment Research.

It came as Samsung Electronics announced that it expected to report revenues around 62 trillion won (£41bn) in the third quarter, up from 47.8 trillion in the same period last year when the company was engulfed by the crisis of its faulty Galaxy Note 7.

It said operating profits would be around 14.5 trillion won, compared to 5.2 trillion won a year ago. While it has seen record demand for its latest Note 8 phone, the biggest driver of revenues have been its memory and display divisions.

By 

UK lenders to set biggest reduction in consumer lending since late 2008

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 12 Oct 2017) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British lenders are planning the biggest reduction in the availability of consumer lending since late 2008, when the economy was in the depths of its worst post-war recession, a Bank of England survey showed on Thursday.

The BoE’s net balance of lenders’ expectations for the availability of unsecured lending over the next three months fell to -28.6 from -16.2, signalling the steepest contraction since the fourth quarter of 2008.

Lenders said they expected the availability of mortgages and loans to businesses to remain broadly steady over the next three months.

However, they expected demand for loans for capital investment in businesses to fall at the fastest rate since the third quarter of 2011.

By Andy Bruce

Booker 3.7bn takeover by Tesco expected to close early 2018

 

 

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via independent.co.uk – – Thur, 12 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Wholesaler Booker said on Thursday it expected its £3.7bn pound takeover by Tesco to complete early next year, as it reported a 9 per cent rise in first-half profit.

The agreed deal is currently being investigated by regulator the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and provisional findings are expected by the end of the month, ahead of a final report by the end of the year.

“It is expected that the merger will complete in early 2018, subject to, amongst other things, the necessary shareholder approvals,” Booker said.

The group supplies the Budgens, Londis, Happy Shopper and Premier convenience chains, catering firms such as Wagamama and Carluccio‘s, and also operates cash and carry business Makro.

Booker said it made a pretax profit of £88m in the 24 weeks to September, up from £81m in the same period last year. Total sales rose 2.5 per cent to £2.6bn with progress in both the catering and retail sides of the business.

It said non-tobacco revenue in the first four weeks of its new financial year is ahead of last year.

Booker said it will not be making forward looking statements for the duration of the Tesco offer period.

Shares in Booker, up 21 per cent over the last year, closed at 205.3 pence on Wednesday, valuing the business at £3.66bn.

For each Booker share Tesco is offering 0.861 new Tesco shares and 42.6 pence in cash.

 

CEO of UK wealth management firm warns bond markets creating the biggest financial crisis of our life time

(qlmbusinessnews.com via cnbc.com – – Wed, 11 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

The CEO of a U.K.-based wealth management firm has warned that an unruly end to monetary stimulus from global central banks could lead to pensioners and retail customers suffering the biggest financial crisis of their lifetimes.

Brian Raven, group chief executive at Tavistock Investments, believes that bond markets will be the source of the problem and are primed for a sharp reversal.

“This is the biggest financial crisis of our lifetime, because it affects the average person,” Raven told CNBC over the phone. Tavistock is focused on the U.K. but Raven said the problem could be felt more broadly around the world. He argued that bond markets are in a state “never seen before” which could soon trigger a financial shock bigger than in 2008.

Bonds — pieces of paper that companies, governments and banks sell to raise money — have seen three decades of price gains and are perceived to be a safe haven in times of economic stress. They also traditionally perform poorly in times of rising inflation. In the last 10 years, central banks have been busy buying up bonds in an effort to boost the global economy and increase lending. This has further accentuated the move higher for bond prices and many economists now believe the market has become distorted.

With central banks preparing to put an end to ultra-loose monetary stimulus, and with inflation recently seeing a pickup, there are concerns that bonds could lose value quickly in a market that is not very liquid. There are also concerns that bondholders aren’t fully aware of the risks.

“The more conservative central banks ( e.g. Bundesbank ) that have been skeptical of quantitative easing have long warned that long periods of low interest rates can sow the seeds of the next crisis by smothering relative prices in the financial markets — but it is difficult to tell where ahead of time because of the ‘fog’ created,” Jan Randolph, director of sovereign risk at IHS Markit, told CNBC via email.

“There is a risk of a sharp rebound in prices as monetary policies tighten and liquidity problems if investors stampede out these more risky markets when risks start to crystallize,” he added.

While there’s been many gloomy forecasts for the bond market, not everyone agrees that they’ll definitely see significant losses as central banks reduce their bond-buying programs. Mike Bell, a global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, told CNBC Monday that this monetary tightening creates a risk but believes that the recent economic recovery should be enough to offset the impacts of lower bond prices.

“Eventually tighter monetary policy could tip the U.S. economy into recession, but we believe that the economy and equity markets can withstand at least the next year’s worth of monetary policy tightening,” he said.

“We certainly don’t expect the next bear (negative) market to be as bad as the financial crisis in 2008 as banks are much better capitalized than they were in 2008. We therefore expect the next bear market to be a more classic recession rather than a full-blown financial crisis,” he added.

Central banks are unlikely to change their strategy and so investors will be likely face higher interest rates and higher inflation. Therefore, Tavistock’s Raven told CNBC that investors should adapt and diversify their investments. Bonds with short durations, high-yielding bonds and emerging market bonds are all potential options for investors, according to Raven.

By Silvia Amaro

Banks losing out on £130bn business opportunity by failing to connect with women


(qlmbusinessnews.com via independent.co.uk – – Wed, 11 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Banks are failing to connect with women who view financial advisers as arrogant, self-interested and untrustworthy, according to new research.

The report from insight and consultancy business Kantar, showed that financial institutions are losing out on a £130bn business opportunity by not appealing to women.

“In failing to develop client experiences rooted in men and women’s fundamentally different perspectives on finance, financial services institutions are missing a very significant business opportunity,” said Bart Michels, UK country leader for Kantar.

“Financial institutions are focusing their efforts on the confident, rather than the competent.”

The research, based on interviews, social media analysis and data from target group index (TGI), which is part of Kantar Media, showed that banks’ advertising fails to consistently communicate qualities including ‘trustworthiness’, ‘understanding’, ‘dependability’ and ‘accessibility’ to women when tested using facial recognition technology.

According to the report, women tend to focus more on relationships and family life when dealing with finances than men, who are interested in products and price. Women also have less time than men to plan for their future.

But women are an attractive prospect for banks. By 2020, they will hold over half of investable assets.

The report shows that satisfied female clients are twice as likely to recommend their bank, they typically hold more savings, mortgage and general insuranceproducts than men and are more loyal.

Women were also shown to be more responsible borrowers with a more conservative approach to the financial barriers to homeownership – two thirds of men under-estimated the cost of buying their home compared to half of women.

However, Kantar’s research shows that women are less financially confident. Among female customers, 65 per cent were found to have low financial confidence compared to 55 per cent of men.

Amy Cashman, UK managing director of financial services and technology at Kantar TNS and the study’s lead author, said: “Women’s lower engagement is also a major factor behind their concerns and shortfalls in retirement income.”

Men’s average retirement savings of £73,600 were three times more than women’s at £24,900, she said.

“This makes improved engagement of women in the financial sector a social imperative as well as commercial opportunity.”

To find out the differences between men’s and women’s relationship to finance, the report’s authors interviewed over 2,000 men and women, analysed over 1.5 million social media posts, used facial recognition technology to analyse reactions to adverts and analysed TGI data, which offers a complete view of consumer behaviour and motivations.

Most research was conducted between May and September 2017 while the social media data was gathered over the past year.

By Emma Featherstone

Tourism booming in the UK with nearly 40 million overseas visitors

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Tue,10 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Tourism is booming in the UK with nearly 40 million overseas people expected to have visited the country during 2017 – a record figure.

Tourist promotion agency VisitBritain forecasts overseas trips to the UK will increase 6% to 39.7 million with spending up 14% to £25.7bn this year.

Britons are also holidaying at home in record numbers.

British Tourist Authority chairman Steve Ridgway said tourism was worth £127bn annually to the economy.

He called the sector an “economic powerhouse” and a “job creator right across Britain”.

“Two-and-a-half times bigger than the automotive industry, employing three million, tourism is one of our most successful exports and needs no trade deals to compete globally.”

The UK has become a cheaper place to visit for tourists from overseas following the fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote last year.

But Mr Ridgway said: “Tourism is a fiercely competitive global industry and you cannot just build a strong, resilient industry on a weaker currency.

“We must continue to invest in developing world-class tourism products, getting Britain on the wish-list of international and domestic travellers and we must make it easy for visitors to make that trip.”

Tourism Minister John Glen said: “Tourism contributes billions to the UK economy and supports millions of jobs.”

He added that the record figures for overseas and domestic holidaymakers were “testament to our world-class attractions and the innovation of our tourism industry”.

During the first six months of the year there were a record 23.1 million overseas visits to the UK – up 8% on the same period in 2016 – and the figures for July topped four million for the first time, with only a slightly smaller number of visits made during August.

Britain’s beaches and attractions have also attracted more domestic users with “staycations” on the rise.

From January to June this year, domestic overnight holidays in England rose 7% to a record 20.4 million with visitors spending £4.6bn – a rise of 17% and another record.

On Monday, figures from trade body UK Finance showed UK tourists’ debit card spending when abroad was down sharply compared with last summer, providing more evidence of the trend towards holidaying at home.

Spending on UK debit cards overseas was down nearly 13% in August compared with the same month in 2016.

 

Sky take over bid face assessment by competition Watchdog

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 10 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Competition and Markets Authority details scope of investigation into Murdochs’ potential to control editorial decisions

The competition watchdog has said it will assess whether Rupert Murdoch would be able to control or influence editorial decisions at Sky News as one of the key points of its investigation into his £11.7bn Sky takeover bid.

On Tuesday, the Competition and Markets Authority outlined the scope of its inquiry into how the deal would affect UK media plurality and broadcasting standards, and invited submissions for the six-month investigation.

Among the areas the CMA will look at is whether the Murdoch family’s ability to control or influence editorial and commercial decisions at Sky News will change, and how, if 21st Century Fox’s attempt to buy the 61% of Sky it does not own is successful.

The regulator will also assess their ability to “influence the political agenda” and how this could change after a takeover, alongside more general scrutiny of the potential effect on the number and variety of British media, including the “range of viewpoints”.

Fox and Sky’s broadcasting standards will be scrutinised, with the CMA saying it will look at whether the merged group would have a “genuine commitment” to the standards, while giving consideration to their track record.

Corporate governance and the treatment of employees in the UK and overseas are also to be assessed.

Karen Bradley, the culture secretary, referred Fox’s proposed takeover of Sky to the CMA last month for a full inquiry, after a three-month investigation by Ofcom.

While Ofcom raised concerns over media plurality, it found there was no reason to block the takeover bid on the grounds of broadcasting standards.

Anne Lambert, the CMA panel chair, said: “The CMA will use its extensive experience of investigating different issues in a wide range of sectors to thoroughly and impartially investigate the proposed takeover of Sky Plc by 21st Century Fox.

“Once the investigation is complete, we will report back to Karen Bradley for her to make a final decision.”

Bradley will appear at a select committee hearing on Wednesday, while Sky is to face shareholders for its annual general meeting on Thursday.