Facebook pledged to hire 800 new staff in the UK over the next year

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Mon, 4 Dec 2017) London, Uk – –

Facebook has opened a new office in London and pledged to hire 800 new staff in the UK over the next year.

The social media giant said the seven-storey building in central London, one of a number of offices it has opened in recent years, would make the capital its largest computer engineering base outside of the US.

In a first for the company, it is also promising to house technology start-ups in the new building, running an “incubator” designed to foster young companies.

Facebook, which has been criticised over its UK tax arrangements, has often highlighted its investment in staff. It opened its first office in London 10 years ago and will employ 2,300 in the UK by this time next year.

The 247,000 sq ft building in Rathbone Place, off Oxford Street, designed by Frank Gehry, the architect, will house developers and sales staff. Services developed in the UK include Workplace, its office communication tool, and part of Facebook’s Oculus virtual reality team.

The start-up incubator, called “LDN LAB”, will mark the first time that Facebook has housed start-ups in its offices. It will not take equity in the companies but a spokesman said it would share “expertise and mentorship” and that it would be looking for companies dedicated to Facebook’s mission of “building communities”, suggesting the lab could be a pre-cursor to acquisitions.

“Today’s announcements show that Facebook is more committed than ever to the UK and in supporting the growth of the country’s innovative start-ups,” said Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “This country has been a huge part of Facebook’s story over the past decade.”

The move is the latest commitment to the UK from a large Silicon Valley company. Google, Apple and Snap have all expanded in London since last year’s Brexit vote.

Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, said: “The UK is not only the best place to start a new business, it’s also the best place to grow one. It’s a sign of confidence in our country that innovative companies like Facebook invest here, and it’s terrific news that they will be hiring 800 more highly skilled workers next year.”

By 

UK’s growth figures increase likelihood of rate rise

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 25 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

The UK’s economy had higher than expected growth in the three months to September – increasing the chances of a rise in interest rates in November.

Gross domestic product (GDP) for the quarter rose by 0.4%, compared with 0.3% in each of 2017’s first two quarters, according to latest Office for National Statistics figures.

Economists said the figures were a green light for a rate rise next week.

If it happens, it will be the first rise since 5 July 2007.

The financial markets are now indicating an 84% probability that rates will rise from their current record low of 0.25% when the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meets on 2 November.

Governor Mark Carney indicated to the BBC last month that rates could rise in the “relatively near term”.

UK economist Ruth Gregory, of research company Capital Economics, said the figures “have probably sealed the deal on an interest rate hike next week”.

While many economists echo that view, some think the Bank of England will keep rates where they are.

“If all we can muster… is an acceleration in economic growth that’s so small you could blink and miss it, the Bank of England could still think better of a rate rise next week,” said Ross Andrews from Minerva Lending.

Will interest rates rise next week? Analysis by economics editor Kamal Ahmed

The slightly better growth figures will strengthen the arguments of the interest rate hawks on the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee.

Next Thursday, the Bank’s rate setting committee meets to decide whether to raise interest rates for the first time in more than a decade.

With inflation at 3%, Mark Carney, the governor, has signalled that an increase is on the cards.

And with economic growth more robust than many economists expected, those who support that direction of travel on the MPC will be emboldened.

To be clear, any rate rise will be small. And future rate rises will be gradual.

But the Bank is sending a clear message – slowly, eventually, the period of historically low interest rates is coming to an end.

The pound rose more than a cent against the dollar and nearly a cent against the euro in the first couple of hours of trading after the announcement.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “We have a successful and resilient economy which is supporting a record number of people in employment.

“My focus now, and going into the Budget, is on boosting productivity so that we can deliver higher-wage jobs and a better standard of living.”

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “The UK is not growing as fast as many of our trading partners in the EU or the USA.

“The Chancellor cannot keep hiding from the facts, as his approach of carrying on as usual is seriously putting working people’s living standards at risk.”

The biggest contributor to growth in the third quarter was the service sector, which expanded by 0.4%.

In particular, computer programming, motor traders and retailers were the businesses that showed the strongest performance.

Manufacturing expanded by 1% during the quarter – a return to growth after a weak second quarter.

However, construction contracted by 0.7% in the quarter, accelerating from the 0.5% decline recorded in the previous three months.

City investors overjoyed after dividends reached a record £28.5bn in the first quarter

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Mon, 23 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

City investors are enjoying a bumper payday after dividends reached a record £28.5bn during the third quarter of this year.

Despite some currency gains fading in the third quarter, which boosted British blue-chips earlier this year, dividends still rose by 14.3pc in the third quarter, said Capita Asset Services.

The surge in payouts has meant that this year is comfortably on track to smash the previous annual record for dividends set in 2014.

Capita has upgraded its forecasts by £3bn and now expects dividends to reach £94bn in 2017, a 11pc rise on last year.

The level has been partly boosted by a £1.5bn hike in special dividends, which were two-fifths higher than the year. Catering company Compass helped lift that figure by awarding £960m to shareholders.

The sizeable special dividend came after Capita announced it would return 61p-a-share to investors in May after being unable to find large-scale deals on which to spend its excess cash. Recruitment business Hays also issued its first-ever special dividend in August on the back of strong international fees, despite a steep fall in the UK market.

Special dividends have become increasingly common as companies seek to reward investors but still want financial flexibility given the uncertain economic backdrop.

Awarding special dividends means that companies are not under pressure to continue increasing normal dividend payments should their financial performance worsen. Underlying dividends reached £17bn during the third quarter, with two-thirds of payouts coming from the mining sector, which has enjoyed a return to growth after a sustained commodity slump.

“We had high hopes for 2017, but the dividend seam is proving even richer than we expected, as the mining sector finds its footing again,” said Justin Cooper, chief executive of Capita’s shareholder solutions.

By 

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

The interactive ping pong table with a digital twist to traditional table tennis

 

Wonderball is an interactive ping pong table which adds a digital twist to traditional table tennis.

The hi-tech table uses digital projectors and sensors which track the movements of the ball, allowing many different games to be played on it.

Wonderball can be played by up to 20 people at a time, allowing friends and spectators to join in and play together.

You can find the table in London bar Bounce Ping Pong.

Robinsons squash maker Britvic announced plans close factory after more than 90 years

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com- – Tue, 3 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Production is to be moved away from the Norwich site where the squash has been produced since 1925.

Robinsons squash maker Britvic has announced plans to close the factory where the drink has been produced for more than 90 years, putting 242 jobs at risk.

Britvic said it planned to transfer production of Robinsons and another drink, Fruit Shoot, away from Norwich to sites in east London, Leeds and Rugby.

Robinsons squash moved to its factory in the city in 1925. The popular brand is well known to tennis fans through its sponsorship of the Wimbledon Championships.

Chief executive Simon Litherland said: “Britvic is proud to be a British manufacturer and Norwich has been an important site for our business for many years.

“This is not a proposal that we make lightly and we know this is upsetting news for our colleagues.”

Britvic said the aim was to improve efficiency and productivity and the plans would see the site close towards the end of 2019.

Mr Litherland also said there would be environmental benefits and that it was part of wider changes to ensure the company had the “flexibility and capability” to respond to changing consumer trends.

The company said affected employees would be offered support including redeployment at other sites and services to find alternative employment.

Costs related to the closure will be detailed in Britvic’s annual results in November.

The group said it remained committed to a three-year £240m investment in its British manufacturing operations, announced in 2015.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

 

Lloyd’s of London to expect net losses of $4.5 billion from hurricanes Harvey and Irma

Phil Holker/flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 28 Sept 2017) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Lloyd’s of London SOLYD.UL expects net losses of $4.5 billion from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which analysts said would eat into the insurer’s capital and hit its profitability.

Although losses from natural catastrophes have been low in recent years, including in the first half, that is set to change in the second half of the year, Lloyd’s chief executive Inga Beale said following Thursday’s results.

“There was limited major claim activity in the first half. There’s a very different second half emerging – it’s not only the hurricanes but we’ve got the Mexican earthquakes, floods in Asia, typhoons in Asia,” Beale told Reuters.

“The hurricane season is still in play, earthquakes can happen at any time,” Beale said as Lloyd’s reported a 16 percent profit fall in the first half of 2017.

Lloyd’s 80-plus syndicates have already paid out more than $160 million in claims from Harvey and more than $240 million from Irma, Beale said. The $4.5 billion net loss estimate was based on modeling of “known exposures”, she added.

“Given that the Lloyd’s of London market typically produces earnings of 2.1-3.5 billion pounds, it is highly likely that the market faces a capital loss,” Jefferies analysts said in a note.

Modeling firm RMS estimates total insured losses from Harvey and Irma of up to $80 billion.

Meanwhile, Beale said it was too early to assess losses from Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico last week and which some analysts have predicted will lead to greater insurance losses than Harvey and Irma.

Lloyd’s made 1.22 billion pounds ($1.63 billion) in profit before tax in the six months to the end of June, down from 1.46 billion pounds a year earlier, although Beale said part of the drop in profit was related to currency fluctuations.

Insurance rates have been falling for the world’s largest specialist insurance market and other insurers for several years due to strong competition.

Lloyd’s return on capital worsened to 8.9 pct from 11.7 pct, due to pressure on returns from low interest rates.

Gross premiums rose to 18.9 billion pounds from 16.3 billion pounds last year, and its combined ratio improved to 96.9 pct from 98 pct in 2016. A combined ratio is a measure of underwriting profitability, with a level below 100 percent indicating a profit.

Jefferies said recent natural catastrophes meant that a combined ratio for the year of 112.5 percent for Lloyd’s “is now a possibility”, indicating higher underwriting losses than 2011, which it said was “the last major catastrophe year”.

Lloyd’s was on track to open its planned EU subsidiary in Brussels by the middle of next year, Beale said, adding the new hub would employ “tens” of people and the firm would be submitting its formal license application “very shortly”.

More than 20 insurers have announced plans for EU hubs in the event that Britain loses access to the single market as a result of its departure from the European Union.

By Emma Rumney and  Carolyn Cohn

Equifax data breach hits 143 million

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 8 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –

About 143 million US customers of credit report giant Equifax may have had information compromised in a cyber security breach, the company has disclosed.

Equifax said cyber-criminals accessed data such as Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses during the incident.

Some UK and Canadian customers were also affected.

The firm’s core consumer and commercial credit databases were not accessed.

Security checks

Equifax said hackers accessed the information between mid-May and the end of July, when the company discovered the breach.

Malicious hackers won access to its systems by exploiting a “website application vulnerability”, it said but provided no further details.

The hackers accessed credit card numbers for about 209,000 consumers, among other information.

Equifax chief executive Richard Smith said the incident was “disappointing” and “one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do”.

“I apologise to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes,” said Richard Smith, Equifax chairman and chief executive.

“We pride ourselves on being a leader in managing and protecting data, and we are conducting a thorough review of our overall security operations.”

It said it was working with law enforcement agencies to investigate and had hired a cyber-security firm to analyse what happened. The FBI is also believed to be monitoring the situation.

The company said it would work with regulators in the US, UK and Canada on next steps. It is also offering free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for a year.

Equifax said it had set up a website – www.equifaxsecurity2017.com – through which consumers can check if their data has been caught up in the breach. Many people trying to visit the site reported via social media that they had problems reaching it and that security software flagged it as potentially dangerous.

The UK’s Information Commissioner (ICO) said reports about the data breach and the potential involvement of UK citizens gave it “cause for concern”.

It said it was in contact with Equifax to find out how many British people were affected and the kinds of data that had been compromised.

“We will be advising Equifax to alert affected UK customers at the earliest opportunity,” said the ICO in a statement.

The breach is one of the largest ever reported in the US and, said experts, could have a significant impact on any Americans affected by it.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, this is a 10,” said Avivah Litan, a Gartner analyst who monitors ID theft and fraud. “It affects the whole credit reporting system in the United States because nobody can recover it, everyone uses the same data.”

Security expert Brian Krebs said Equifax was just one of several credit agencies that had been hit by hackers in recent years.

“The credit bureaus have for the most part shown themselves to be terrible stewards of very sensitive data,” wrote Mr Krebs. “and are long overdue for more oversight from regulators and lawmakers.”

Credit rating firm Equifax holds data on more than 820 million consumers as well as information on 91 million businesses.

Selfridges £99 luxury 24-carat gold leaf ice cream

 

Selfridges department store in London is selling a luxury ice cream for £99 which contains 24-carat gold leaf. The ice cream is called “Billionaire’s Soft Serve” and it weighs 350 grams. Here’s a run down of what you get for your money: Salted caramel gelato, a handmade cone dipped in rare criollo Madagascan dark chocolate, gelato spheres of mango, ginger, and passion fruit, a Belgian white chocolate truffle filled with salted caramel sauce, a raspberry sorbet macaroon decorated with white chocolate glaze and edible diamonds, a healthy sprinkling of 24-carat gold leaf, a golden flake, and a spoon.

 

Farmstand Pop-up Health Food Business Taking London By Storm

“If you’re launching an online-only food business, you’re competing with hundreds of thousands of stores; if you want to create a high street chain, you’re up against Pret and McDonald’s,” says Steven Novick, founder of health food business Farmstand. Faced with this conundrum, Novick has eschewed more traditional business models.

After launching a restaurant in Covent Garden, London, Novick took a nimble approach to growth. Over the past 18 months, he’s opened 17 pop-ups across the capital in office canteens, a stand in Planet Organic and corporate catering and delivery services.

Due to London’s high commercial rents, and the doubling of business rates in some areas, it’s not economical for a small firm to rent lots of property, so Farmstand has streamlined operations. All of its food is prepared in a 2,000 sq ft kitchen in south London, from where it is delivered to pop-ups and business customers (around 30 subscribe to a daily delivery) across the city. Its deliveries are outsourced to an experienced courier.

Headcount is also kept to the minimum: 16 full-time staff, with 11 working in the central kitchen and five serving in the Covent Garden restaurant. Farmstand’s in-office pop-ups are staffed by the customer. With this approach, Farmstand’s revenue has grown by an average of 26% month-on-month since opening in February 2016.

Another business with a canny growth strategy is Chester-based, AM Custom Clothing, which provides personalised, printed garments (from T-shirts to lanyards) to universities and businesses. Co-founder Alex Franklin says: “A lot of fashion companies will have have warehouses filled with stock, but we have a unique relationship with our suppliers.” Franklin doesn’t store stock. Instead he calls on his network of 15-20 suppliers of plain clothing when an order comes in. Altogether, Franklin’s suppliers have around 12m items in stock.

However, getting to this point has not come without difficulty. In the past, the business has experienced much greater demand than anticipated, which put pressure on its supply chain. “Since then we have adapted our business model, to make it as scalable as possible, most of this was achieved through automation,” Franklin says. While stock shortages can still occur, the amount of stock at hand now allows the business to find alternatives when needed.

Automating orders and deliveries, and using a computer bot to follow-up on customer enquires, has also smoothed operations. But, Franklin adds, all clients have a dedicated account manager to ensure strong customer service.

While some businesses can handle most operations online, others do require a physical space. So how can entrepreneurs in this situation cut costs? Market stalls and pop-ups, which have been made more accessible thanks to apps such as Appear Here, are one way to trial locations without committing to long-term leases. Meanwhile, some small food businesses might opt for a service such as Deliveroo’s purpose-built kitchens, called Deliveroo Editions. Initially designed as overflow kitchens for established companies, now smaller firms are using these spaces to reach customers outside of their delivery area.

“They are very cheap to set up, so we decided to use them to bring new types of cuisines to areas where we found a gap,” says Rohan Pradhan, vice president of Deliveroo. Deliveroo sometimes takes a higher commission from the sale of small firms using its kitchens. This, Pradhan says, is in order to buffer the risk of the businesses not working out.

Pradhan cites Crust Bros pizza company as a successful example of this relationship. Crust Bros’ founder, Joseph Moore, started his business in 2014 as a stall on Southbank market, originally named Dough Bros. Using Deliveroo’s kitchen service, he has doubled sales. Moore says: “It’s been a good testbed for opening our first restaurant this summer, there were some teething issues at the start [such as pizzas not arriving with customers piping hot]. But now we’ve got the process down.”

Rapid expansion can also occur when entrepreneurs add a subscription element to their businesses – and it can be overwhelming. Vanessa McDermott, founder of creative startup Vee McDee, which delivers craft sets to customers, discovered this while crowdfunding on Kickstarter.

McDermott was raising money to launch a creative studio in Bolton. Through Kickstarter’s crowdfunding model, backers of her idea were offered craft sets as a reward. The sets proved a hit, word spread and people were soon asking where they could buy the packs. Then orders mushroomed. “I [quickly] went from selling 30 packs a month to 700,” says McDermott. “It was hard because keeping the quality up is so important to me, I didn’t want to lose that [as custom grew].”

To avoid this, McDermott outsourced the delivery of the kits to a subscription service that works with startups. “My advice would be to anyone in this position to partner with people who have the infrastructure in place to help with the technical and logistical side [of a subscription service],” she says.

Expanding a business while keeping outgoings lean can be a challenge, but these approaches offer food for thought. Some might still argue that a physical space is key to building a business. However, a more flexible approach has its benefits, says Ian Roberts, an SME adviser with Business Doctors consultancy. “To me, high levels of service and product quality are still a better way to build a strong and positive brand identity, than physical presence.”

Peter Kelly, a senior finance partner with PwC’s small business service MyFinance, agrees. He says that one of the hardest things when expanding is finding the right people to work with and identifying gaps in your expertise. He adds: “It’s hard because [your business] is your baby, but to expand efficiently while keeping up quality you should outsource if you can […] Use spare to money to invest in the areas that will help make [your business] profitable.”

By Helen Lock

QLM Business News and Market Analyses Now Available Digitally

 

QLM Business News Digital Media Channel for offering the latest business news as well as market analyses. Thanks to the fast-paced life people lead, most busy business people prefer to browse the Net on the go in order to keep up with the latest business news.

www.qlmbusinessnews.com

British Hospitality Association expects a decline in the sector workforce by 2021

aJ Gazmen/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com — Mon, 3 July 2017) London, Uk —

The hospitality industry’s stellar growth since the financial crisis could be halted and start to fall by 2021 if the Government continues to overlook it, a new report has suggested.

Research by Ignite Economics, carried out for the British Hospitality Association, has predicted the sector’s workforce could begin to drop by 2021 with the contribution it makes to the economy also falling as cost pressures from wages and business rates bite alongside a potential labour squeeze once the UK leaves the EU.

The report’s least optimistic ‘bear case’ scenario suggests a 1pc fall in the number of people directly employed in the sector compared to 2016 to 3.17m, with the economic contribution the sector makes also starting to fall from its current level of £73bn.

While the estimated drop is small, any weakness in the industry would be a concern given it employs almost 10pc of the entire UK workforce and has grown its contribution to the economy faster than any other sector since the economic crisis.

“The hospitality sector has been largely overlooked by successive Governments, and was notable in its absence in party manifestos ahead of the General Election, as well as its absence from the Government’s Industrial Strategy,” the report said.

Ufi Ibrahim, the chief executive of the BHA, said hospitality’s growth outlook was “highly uncertain”.

“We need the Government to step up and support our industry by reducing tourism VAT, working with us to reduce the dependence on EU workers and increase the number of UK workers joining the hospitality industry, allowing the Low Pay Commission to set the National Living Wage and to bring forward a fundamental review of Business Rates,” Ms Ibrahim said.

The bear case in the report assumes the 65,000 jobs per annum that come from EU workers are no longer able to be filled and that labour productivity ceases to improve and stays at 2016 levels.

A far rosier scenario is also offered by the report, suggesting employment could grow by 15pc to 3.69m and that the sector’s economic contribution could rise 30pc compared to 2016 to £95bn. A base case predicts a 7pc growth in employment to hit 3.43m and a 22pc rise in the sector’s economic contribution compared to 2016 to £89bn.

Ed Birkin, founder of Ignite Economics, said it was “more important than ever” to promote industries with strong economic fundamentals such as the hospitality sector.

“However, there are a number of potential headwinds facing the sector, and the extent of these will determine whether the industry can continue to be a key driver of growth for the UK economy.”

By Bradley Gerrard

 

Brexit talks begin in Brussels, as EU and UK seek new ‘partnership’

 

The big Brexit talks have kicked off in Brussels, with both sides sitting down for their first official discussions over the UK leaving the EU.

Britain’s Conservative Party lost its overall majority in the recent election, but Brexit Secretary David Davis said that has not changed their negotiating position.

“Because the membership of the single market requires the four freedoms to be obeyed, we need to bring back to the UK control of our laws of our borders,” Davis told reporters.

Pound plunges amid fears Brexit negotiations could be delayed

 

James Hume/Flickr.com

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 9 June, 2017) London, Uk – –

The shock election result sent the pound plunging amid fears that Brexit negotiations could be delayed if voters returned a hung parliament to Westminster.

The pound immediately dropped in reaction to the shock 10pm exit poll, falling as much as 2% to $1.27 in the currency markets, its lowest level in six weeks. It was projected the Conservatives would become the largest party but fall short of the 326 seats required for a majority.

Samuel Tombs, the chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, described the exit poll as a “thunderbolt”, reflecting shock across the City, where dealers had begun the evening expecting a clear majority for the Conservatives.

The pound remained under pressure but analysts at financial firm IG said the futures markets were predicting the FTSE 100 index would open just 13 points lower, cushioned in part by the fall in sterling, which benefits the international companies in the index.

The stock market had fallen 0.38% to 7449 on Thursday, before the exit poll was published. While investors were surprised when May called the election on 18 April, with the FTSE 100 suffering its biggest fall since the vote for Brexit, the Tories were expected to win convincingly.

But the exit poll showed that would not be case. During the night the currency regained some of the lost ground as the first results came in and traders stationed at their desks across the City calculated that the exit poll was overstating the Conservatives’ losses.

But as the night wore on, the exit poll proved to be more correct than originally thought. Jeremy Cook, the chief economist at World First, said sterling was moving as each seat was called and at 1.30am, it reached a new low for the session of $1.2696, as sentiment shifted back towards the exit poll presenting a true picture. Cook saidsterling could fall to $1.24. This figure would, however, not be as low as the levels it plunged to after the Brexit vote almost a year ago.

“Currencies like governments with mandates – and don’t like delays to Brexit,” Cook said.

Lee Hardman, a currency analyst at MUFG, also warned the pound was vulnerable. “The market will be praying that this exit poll has got it wrong. Currency volatility is the best proxy for market fears; if the Conservative ship is sinking, then the market will be looking for a lifeboat,” he said.

Late on Thursday night, Kallum Pickering, an economist at Berenberg, agreed: “If the exit polls are right, tomorrow will be interesting, to put it mildly.”

The City was focused on the fear that fresh political uncertainty could delay Brexit negotiations. Kit Juckes, an economist at Société Générale, said: “There will be other polls, and results will come out through the night, but this is going to leave Theresa May struggling to keep control of the Brexit process.”

Dean Turner, an economist at UBS Wealth Management, said: “It is early days, and the result can change, but it looks as though Theresa May’s grip over the Conservative party has weakened, which does not bode well for the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.”

There was uncertainty about whether the election result could lead to a softer Brexit. Pickering said: “Markets might perceive the near-term uncertainty to be worse than it was after the Brexit vote. However, if a hung parliament forces a cross-party compromise, it could lead to a softer Brexit strategy, and may turn out to be positive in the long run after some serious initial confusion.”

While London dealers waited for the stock market to open, Chris Beauchamp, the chief market analyst at IG, said: “The shock of the result is not really translated into the market.” The loss of seats by the Scottish National party reducing pressure for Scottish independence was one potential reason, as was the prospect of a softer Brexit.

The Confederation of British Industry was quick to say any new government should start to refocus on the economy, which, according to official statistics, was the worst performer in the EU in the opening months of 2017 as the Brexit vote started to take its toll.

“As a nation, we have the creativity, skills and global outlook to make the UK a true world leader in the industries of the future, bringing jobs and growth to all parts of the UK,” said Carolyn Fairbairn, the director general of the employers’ body.

“As early priorities, business will want to see a commitment to tax and regulatory stability, fast progress on a modern industrial strategy to support skills, infrastructure and innovation, and a Brexit approach that puts people and trade ahead of politics.”

By Jill Treanor

Bank of England Staff union launches ballot Over Strike Action

James Stringer/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 1 June, 2017) London, UK —

Staff at the Bank of England will begin voting on Thursday on whether to hold a strike this year in protest at below-inflation pay rises, union sources told Reuters.

Unite, Britain’s biggest union is consulting members on whether to take industrial action at the 323-year-old Bank, which employs around 3,600 people, after they were awarded a 1 percent pay rise for this year.

The union, which represents workers in security, catering, legal, HR and other services at the Bank of England, said the pay offer was “derisory” and the second year in a row that employees have faced a pay offer that is lower than inflation, resulting in a fall in income in real terms.

Industrial disputes at the BoE are rare. In 1994, IT staff at the Bank were balloted for strike action after a pay dispute but voted against it.

“The Bank’s disgraceful snub of low paid staff stinks of arrogance and represents an organisation thoroughly out of touch with the reality of the pressure staff face meeting their costs of living,” said Mercedes Sanchez, a Unite regional officer.

The Bank of England declined to comment.

Industrial action would be potentially embarrassing for the central bank, whose policymakers have focused heavily on the prospects for wage growth. The BoE’s latest economic forecasts show wage growth is likely to pick up significantly over the next couple of years, but it has previously been overly optimistic about the pace of pay increases.

Pay rises for public sector workers in Britain have been capped by the government at 1 percent. Although this does not apply to the independent Bank of England, it operates in an environment of pay restraint for public officials.

Workers in Britain suffered a long hit to their spending power after the global financial crisis, which eased only briefly when falling oil prices took inflation to zero in 2015.

Real earnings are below their levels of 10 years ago and inflation looks set to hit 3 percent this year, pushed up by the pound’s fall since the Brexit vote and the oil price rebound.

Britain faces the prospect of a wave of strikes in different industries this summer, with nurses and teachers threatening to stop work over issues ranging from pay deals to pensions.

Unite said some Bank staff earn less than 20,000 pounds a year imposing a 1 percent pay rise will potentially leave them and their families facing financial hardship.

BoE Governor Mark Carney has received an annual salary of 480,000 pounds since joining the Bank in 2013, as well as an annual accommodation allowance of 250,000 pounds. He has declined pay increases since joining.

The ballot will close on June 21 and if members vote in favour of strike action this could begin in the summer or autumn, the sources said.

By Andrew MacAskill and Andy Bruce

Google officially submits plans for new 1million sq ft London headquarters

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 1 June 2017) London, Uk – –

Construction on building that is longer than the Shard is tall set to begin in King’s Cross in 2018

Google has officially submitted plans for its new 1million sq ft (92,000m2) “landscraper” London headquarters, with the intention of beginning construction on the building in 2018.

Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group and Heatherwick Studios, the team behind TfL’s New Bus for London and the 2012 Olympic Cauldron, the building will stand 11 storeys tall and stretch parallel to the platforms of London’s King’s Cross railway station.

Combined with Google’s current King’s Cross office around the corner, and a third building that the company also plans on moving into in the area, it will form a new campus that will house 7,000 Google employees. Dubbed a “landscraper”, the finished building will be longer than the Shard is tall.

The Heatherwick-designed building was submitted to Camden council and will be the first to be wholly owned by, and designed specifically for, Google outside the US. Google declined to comment on the cost of the project.

Heatherwick said in a statement: “The area is a fascinating collision of diverse building types and spaces and I can’t help but love this mix of massive railway stations, roads, canals and other infrastructure all layered up into the most connected point in London.”

He added: “Influenced by these surroundings, we have treated this new building for Google like a piece of infrastructure too, made from a family of interchangeable elements which ensure that the building and its workspace will stay flexible for years to come.”

Google’s Joe Borrett, the company’s head of real estate and construction, said: “We are excited to be able to bring our London Googlers together in one campus, with a new purpose-built building that we’ve developed from the ground up. Our offices and facilities play a key part in shaping the Google culture, which is one of the reasons we are known for being among the best places to work in the industry.”

The company’s decision to stick with its plans for the HQ was widely seen as a vote of confidence in the British economy following the decision to leave the EU in June 2016. In a speech in Google’s London office last November, chief executive Sundar Pichai said: “Here in the UK, it’s clear to me that computer science has a great future with the talent, educational institutions, and passion for innovation we see all around us. We are committed to the UK and excited to continue our investment in our new King’s Cross campus.”

Originally, the company’s plans had called for a luxury office, complete with a rooftop running track, indoor swimming pool and climbing wall – and saddled with an estimated £1bn price tag. But Google rejected those plans, put together by London-based architects AHMM, in 2015 for being “too boring”, and brought Heatherwick on board instead.

By Alex Hern

Eurostar makes a strong start in the first quarter with Sales up 15%

 

It’s been a tough couple of years for Eurostar, with a series of terror attacks in France and Belgium having hit travel, but the high speed rail service between the UK and mainland Europe has started 2017 strongly.
Sales during the first three months of the year were up 15%.
Ian King took a trip to St Pancras International station where chief executive Nicolas Petrovic told him what was behind the rebound.

Britain’s financial sector formulate contingency plans after Brexit

 

Britain’s financial sector – the City of London – is abuzz with contingency plans.

In the near future, a raft of banks are expected to announce what they will do when Britain leaves the European Union, including moving staff to places like Frankfurt and Paris.

The man whose job it is to talk up London’s role as Europe’s international financial centre says we should not exaggerate the numbers that will leave but admits the UK economy could suffer.