Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset 11bn Merger

( via – – Tue, 15 Aug, 2017) London, Uk – –

The £11bn merger between Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management has completed, creating Europe’s second-biggest fund manager.

A Stock Exchange announcement confirmed the deal’s conclusion, following court approval for the merger last week.

The enlarged company, which will trade as Standard Life Aberdeen, will hold £670bn under management.

Co-chief executive Keith Skeoch described the move as the “beginning of a new chapter” in the firms’ history.

Mr Skeoch said: “Our leadership team is in place and we have full business readiness from day one.”

The merger, which was agreed in March, is targeting cost savings of £200m a year, with about 800 jobs expected to be lost over three years from a global workforce of 9,000.

The new company will be jointly led by Mr Skeoch and Aberdeen boss Martin Gilbert.

Mr Gilbert said: “As ever our priority remains the delivery of strong investment performance and the highest level of client service.

“The merger deepens and broadens our investment capabilities and gives us a stronger and more diverse range of investment management skills as well as significant scale across asset classes and geographies.”

Overall, Standard Life Aberdeen will have offices in 50 cities around the world, servicing clients in 80 countries.

ALDI takes on Amazon by Launching US Online Grocery Delivery Service

( via – – Mon, 14 Aug, 2017) London, Uk – –

Aldi is ramping up its ambitions in the US and taking on retail giant Amazon in the process with a new venture into online grocery delivery.

The German discounter has partnered with Instacart, the US venture-backed same-day delivery startup, to get its products into customers’ hands.

Not content with giving the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s a run for their money in the UK, Aldi outlined its ambitions to become the third biggest grocery chain in the US in June.

And now, the Instacart partnership will bring groceries – including fresh fruit and veg – to customers in three US cities (Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas), in as little as an hour in an initial trial “with potential for future expansion”.

Five-year-old Instacart rivals Amazon Fresh and serves more than 30 states and cities in the US. The deal comes after Amazon’s blockbuster $14bn takeover of Whole Foods.

Aldi launched home delivery in the UK for the first time last year for wine, furniture and other items, but not groceries.

By Lynsey Barber

Worldpay Accept Vantiv’s £9.3bn Takeover Offer

( via – – Wed,  9 Aug, 2016) London, Uk – –

Worldpay, Britain’s largest payments processor, has finally agreed the terms for a tie-up with US rival Vantiv that was revealed more than a month ago.

Vantiv’s takeover offer of £9.3bn has been accepted by Worldpay after the British company was granted a last-minute extension to talks earlier this week.

The companies said the deal created a combined group worth more than £22bn, with Worldpay shareholders owning 43pc.

The combined company, which will keep the Worldpay name, will have its global headquarters in Cincinnati and its international headquarters in London.

“The growth of eCommerce and the way consumers expect to transact is increasing complexity for businesses around the world,” said Worldpay chief executive Philip Jansen.

“Our unique combination of scale, innovation, technology and global presence will mean that we can offer more payment solutions to businesses.”

The announcement comes as Worldpay released its half-year results showing an 18pc growth in first-half revenues and a 9pc jump in underlying pre-tax profits.

Total revenues climbed to £2.5bn in the six months to the end of June, from £2.1bn in the same period of 2016.

On a statutory level, pre-tax profits fell from £167m to £129m.

“We delivered a strong first-half performance, further extending our long-term track record of substantial growth,” said Mr Jansen.

“This performance has been achieved through our relentless focus on meeting the changing needs of our customers in an increasingly global and dynamic payments market.”

By Sam Dean

Drivers Opt for Conventional Cash Payment When Parking Instead of Pay by Phone

( via – – Wed, 9 Aug, 2017) London, Uk – –

Drivers are avoiding parking spots that require payment by phone as cash remains a more popular way to pay, according to the AA.

The motoring organisation’s survey of 16,000 members suggests seven out of 10 would look for parking elsewhere rather than use the “pay by phone” meters.
The AA says people are put off by administration fees and voice-controlled phone payment systems.
But councils said that paying by phone was a quick and convenient option.
‘Talking to a robot’

Nearly eight in 10 pensioners who responded to the AA survey said they would drive on rather than use them, the same proportion as drivers on low incomes.
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “Not only can it be a struggle to find a space but now, when you do find one, you may be required to talk to an automated system to pay the charge – not ideal if you have an appointment or just want to get in and get out quickly.
“All providers should make it easier to pay for parking. Not everyone has a smartphone to pay via an app and not everyone is keen to talk to a robot to pay for an hour’s stay. For the elderly and low-income drivers, pay-by-phone feels almost discriminatory.”

It argued that, while many drivers prefer to pay in cash, there was disgruntlement that some parking machines did not accept the new 12-sided £1 coin and others did not give change.
Mixed messages?

A spokesman for the Local Government Association, which represents local authorities, said: “Councils offer a variety of ways to pay for parking, and paying by phone can be a quick and convenient way to do so.
“As the AA’s own research shows, 76% of councils in England have already converted the parking machines they are responsible for to accept the new £1 coin. Others are well on the way towards doing so.
“Having a range of options to pay for parking, for residents and visitors, is the best way for councils to serve the needs of their local communities.”

The AA has also left itself open to accusations of mixed messages by criticising phone payment parking spaces on the same day as it unveils its own card payment system for small businesses.
In the marketing for its new Card Pay project, it says that “cash is a thing of the past for 62% of UK small businesses”.

By Kevin Peachey

Gender inequality manifesto memo by Google employee creates backlash


An internal memo to Google employees questioning Google diversity initiatives has taken the internet by storm. In the memo, the unnamed author challenges the companies practices of favoring women and minorities just for being women and minorities. He’s got a point. Google’s hiring and promotion practices look to be discriminatory but they can get away with it because they are discriminating in a way society is accepting of. The memo also points out that some people in the company are afraid to share their views because they fear being fired, seemingly with good reason.

Danielle Brown, Google’s new VP of diversity has responded to the memo and basically, tells Google employees it’s ok to share their opinions as long as they have the right opinions.

Inspirational Last Words Spoken by Steve Jobs


-Wise and Inspirational Words Of Steve Jobs Before He Died.
-Please listen all the way through and take what wisdom you can from these words.
-Take them in deeply and let them inspire you to live your life to the fullest!

-This video was put together to share with more people these inspirational and wise words of Steve Jobs just before he died so they may benefit from them in any way they can.

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.

EBay shares fall on disappointing profit forecast

( via — Fri, 21 July 2017) London, UK —

EBay Inc warned on Thursday that adjusted profit this quarter could fall below analysts’ estimates, as it continues to invest in marketing and revamping its platforms to attract more shoppers, sending its shares down more than 5 percent.

San Jose, California-based eBay forecast third-quarter adjusted earnings of 46 cents to 48 cents per share. Analysts on average were expecting 48 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The online marketplace is making a big push to catch up with major rivals like Inc with three-day guaranteed delivery and a more user-friendly website. Spending millions of dollars on marketing campaigns, it is working to distinguish itself as a haven for unique items rather than commodity products.

“Our focus continues to be on improving the customer experience, and we won’t hesitate to trade off short-term results when necessary,” eBay Chief Executive Devin Wenig said on a call with analysts.

Shoppers so far have responded well to eBay’s new home page, showing lower bounce rates and better engagement, he said.

EBay’s gross merchandise volume (GMV), or the total value of goods sold on its websites, rose to $21.47 billion in the second quarter. Analysts had expected $21.46 billion, according data and analytics firm FactSet.

Revenue for the just-ended quarter rose 4.4 percent to $2.33 billion, beating analysts’ estimates of $2.31 billion. Excluding items, eBay earned 45 cents per share, in line with estimates.

“Results and guidance suggest the year is ‘on track,’ although there will be some disappointment without a solid beat and raise,” Baird Equity Research analyst Colin Sebastian said in a research note. “There is unlikely a ‘quick fix’ to eBay’s slow volume growth profile.”

Sales and marketing costs weighed on the quarter, rising 2.4 percent to $637 million. GMV at subsidiary ticket exchange StubHub fell 5 percent from a year ago as there were fewer U.S. events than the company had expected, Wenig said.

Shares of the company, up about 25 percent so far this year, dipped 5.2 percent to $35.23 in after-hours trading.

“I think the stock was running hot into the quarter, though, and I think eBay is signalling they are going to market aggressively heading into Q4, and maybe some were looking for a guidance raise,” said Daniel Kurnos, Benchmark Company analyst.

EBay also announced a $3 billion share repurchase programme.

By Aishwarya Venugopal

Netflix TV streaming service’s tops 100m subscribers

( via – – Tue, 18 July 2017) London, Uk – –

Netflix has topped 100m subscribers, adding more than 4m outside the US in the past three months as international expansion continues to drive the TV streaming service’s growth.

The company’s share price climbed almost 10% to $180-a-share (£138) in after-hours trading in New York on Monday after its better-than-expected trading update for the three months to the end of June. This pushed the company’s market capitalisation up to $78bn.

The company – which is worth the equivalent of almost nine ITVs or 1.5 times the size of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox in market value terms – added 5.2m subscribers in the second quarter. This is traditionally Netflix’s slowest time of the year with it averaging growth of less than 2m in the quarter over the last five years.

Most of the growth (4.14m of the new users) came from international subscribers lured by Netflix’s combination of new shows such as The Crown and Stranger Things, plus its stalwarts House of Cards and Orange is the New Black continuing to prove their global popularity.

The figures marked a milestone for Netflix, which was founded in the US 20 years ago, with its international business accounting for more than half of total subscriber numbers for the first time.

The boom in international growth followed Netflix launching in 130 countries last year, with more than 52m of its 104m subscribers coming from outside the US. Only a handful of countries including North Korea, China and Syria do not have the service.

“Our streaming membership grew more than expected, from 99m to 104m, due to our amazing content,” said Reed Hastings, chief executive of Netflix, in a letter to shareholders. “We also crossed the symbolic milestones of 100m members and more international than domestic members. It was a good quarter.”

Netflix has committed $6.6bn (£5bn) to making and acquiring TV shows and films this year, with a bill of $15.7bn committed over the next five years.

Netflix and Amazon ‘will overtake UK cinema box office spending by 2020’

Perhaps worryingly for rivals, Hastings said the company would look to invest even more in content as its hit shows prove to be a commercial and creative success.

“With our content strategy paying off in strong member, revenue and profit growth, we think it’s wise to continue to invest,” he said. “In continued success, we will deploy increased capital in content, particularly in owned originals.”

It emerged last week that Netflix nearly doubled its Emmy nominations this year, with 91 compared with 54 last year, for 27 titles including The Crown, Stranger Things and Master Of None.

Only HBO, on which Netflix has based its model, fared better with 111 nominations. HBO spends about $2bn annually on content, with Amazon about $4.5bn, according to unofficial analyst estimates.

Recently, Netflix has culled a slew of under-performing shows, from Baz Luhrmann’s big budget The Get Down to high-concept sci-fi Sense 8, to better balance viewer interest with climbing programme costs.

Hastings said that while there is furious competition between Netflix and other subscription on-demand TV services, from digital rivals such as Amazon and Hulu to those of traditional broadcasters such as Sky and the BBC, he does not believe his company is killing their businesses.

“It seems our growth just expands the market,” he said. “The largely exclusive nature of each service’s content means that we are not direct substitutes for each other, but rather complements.

“Creating a TV network is now as easy as creating an app, and investment is pouring into content production around the world. We are all co-pioneers of internet TV and, together, we are replacing linear TV. The shift from linear TV to on-demand viewing is so big and there is so much leisure time, many internet TV services will be successful.”

Netflix said that it believes its growth momentum will continue but has issued more conservative guidance for the third quarter, forecasting about 4.4m new subscribers. About 3.65m are estimated to come from international markets.

By Mark Sweney

HS2 Manchester and Leeds routes £6.6bn in contracts awarded by UK government

( via – – Mon, 17 July 2017) London, Uk – –

Contracts announced as transport secretary prepares to unveil changes to final Manchester and Leeds routes

The government has awarded £6.6bn in contracts to build the new high-speed railway between London and Birmingham, to companies including crisis-ridden construction firm Carillion.

Construction work is due to begin in earnest next year on new stations, tunnels, embankments and viaducts on the London to Birmingham line, which forms the first phase of the controversial HS2 project.

The major infrastructure project is expected to create 16,000 jobs, with the first trains due to run between London and Birmingham in 2026.

Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, is due to update MPs later on Monday on phase 2b of the HS2 route between Crewe and Manchester and from the West Midlands to Leeds.

The TUC welcomed the contract awards as a “shot in the arm for Brexit Britain”. The union’s deputy general secretary, Paul Nowak, said: “It will provide thousands of decent jobs, billions in investment, and help close the north-south divide. HS2 is a real opportunity for British steel to shine. The next phase of HS2 should bring jobs and investment to the parts of Britain that need them most.”

The TUC has signed a framework agreement to guarantee high employment standards and to “maximise the potential benefits of HS2 to the UK supply chain”.

Grayling is expected to confirm changes to the final route for the Y-shaped second phase, including alterations to the original proposed route around Sheffield.

Plans for a dedicated HS2 station at the city’s Meadowhall shopping centre were opposed by city councillors, and it is expected that the line will follow the M18, with a slow rail spur into the city centre – despite the objections of concerned residents and local MPs, including Ed Miliband.

Critics have warned this will mean homes on the new Shimmer housing estate in nearby Mexborough being bulldozed. Some residents found out about the HS2 plans just weeks after moving into the development of two- and three-storey townhouses.

Grayling will also publish a bill to prioritise phase 2a of HS2, which involves speeding up construction work between Birmingham and Crewe.

Opponents of the high-speed rail scheme claim the government is drastically underestimating the true cost, and that construction has already been delayed. The overall budget was revised up to £55.7bn, but estimates drawn up earlier this year on behalf of Lord Berkeley, chairman of the Rail Freight Group, who had argued at select committees for alternative routes for HS2 out of London, suggested it could be as high as £111bn.

Grayling told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that HS2 would be “on time, on budget” and insisted the government had “a clear idea of what it will cost”.

He rejected a Sunday Times report that it would be the most expensive railway in the world with a total cost of more than £100bn, according to calculations by Michael Byng, a quantity surveyor. Grayling dismissed the figure as “nonsense”.

Asked about the decision to spend on infrastructure while there is a 1% cap on public sector pay, Grayling said: “That’s a very different issue because we are talking about capital investment over the next 15 years. We are not talking about current spending that the chancellor will decide on come the budget.”

Carillion’s joint venture with French construction company Eiffage and UK firm Kier has won two contracts worth £1.4bn to design and build the North Portal Chiltern tunnels to Brackley and the Brackley to Long Itchington Wood Green tunnel South Portal.

The troubled construction company’s share price crashed 70% last week after it issued a profit warning and announced the departure of its chief executive. However, Carillion shares were up more than 15% on Monday after the HS2 contract win. The firm announced it had appointed accountancy firm EY to support a strategic review of the business.

Balfour Beatty’s joint venture with French firm Vinci has won two contracts worth £2.5bn. They will design and build the Long Itchington Wood Green tunnel to the Delta Junction/Birmingham Spur and the section from the Delta Junction to the west coast main line near Lichfield in Staffordshire. Vinci has been involved in the high-speed Tours-Bordeaux rail project in France.

The Balfour Beatty chief executive, Leo Quinn, described HS2 as a “generational engineering project”.

A joint venture between Sweden-based Skanska, Austria’s Strabag and UK firm Costain, which has worked on Crossrail and the Channel tunnel, won contracts worth nearly £2bn.

Other companies to have won HS2 work are French construction group Bouygues and UK firms Sir Robert McAlpine and VolkerFitzpatrick. Their venture was awarded a £965m contract.

HS2 phase 1 construction contracts

Area South

S1: Euston tunnels and approaches – SCS JV (Skanska Construction UK, Costain, Strabag)

S2: Northolt tunnels – SCS JV (Skanska Construction UK, Costain, Strabag)

Area Central

C1: Chiltern tunnels and Colne Valley viaduct – Align JV (Bouygues Travaux Publics, VolkerFitzpatrick, Sir Robert McAlpine)

C2: North Portal Chiltern tunnels to Brackley – CEK JV (Carillion Construction, Eiffage Génie Civil, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas)

C3: Brackley to South Portal of Long Itchington Wood Green tunnel – CEK JV (Carillion Construction, Eiffage Génie Civil, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas)

Area North

N1: Long Itchington Wood Green tunnel to Delta Junction and Birmingham Spur – BBV JV (Balfour Beatty Group, Vinci Construction Grands Projets, Vinci Construction UK, Vinci Construction Terrassement)

N2: Delta Junction to WCML Tie-In – BBV JV (Balfour Beatty Group, Vinci Construction Grands Projets, Vinci Construction UK, Vinci Construction Terrassement)

By Julia Kollewe and Gwyn Topham

Visa contemplates cashless scheme for UK businesses

( via – – Fri, 14 July 2017) London, Uk – –

Visa has said it is considering offering incentives to UK businesses to go cashless, after introducing a similar scheme in the US.

The payments company is selecting 50 small companies in the US to receive $10,000 if they only use cards.

The companies have to bid for the money by explaining how going cashless would affect them, their staff and customers.

However, the idea has been criticised by consumer groups, who say cash is still vital for many people.

“It is easy to categorise it as a bribe, but ultimately they are incentivising companies to do away with cash, and that’s not the job of people like Visa,” said James Daley of consumer group Fairer Finance.

In any case, the offer could be of limited appeal to many retailers, who have to pay fees every time a customer uses a debit or credit card.

Even though interchange fees, as they are called, have been capped by the EU, retailers still pay an average of 16p on each credit card transaction and 5.5p on each debit card.

In total UK retailers still paid £800m in such fees last year, charges that have been criticised by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Vulnerable customers
Cards have already overtaken cash for retail payments, according to figures for last year from the BRC.

But banks and card companies should not be driving that move, Mr Daley said.

“In 50 years it seems unlikely that most of us will be using cash. But banks need to let evolution follow its natural course, rather than accelerating it,” he told the BBC.

“As a responsible society, we need to look after vulnerable customers who rely on cash.”

Last month Victoria Cleland, the Bank of England’s chief cashier, said that 2.7 million people in the UK rely almost entirely on cash – that’s 5% of adults.

In a statement, Visa said that following the launch of the scheme in the US, “we hope to bring similar cashless initiatives to other countries, including the UK”.

“At this time, we do not have a firm plan on when such an initiative would be available in the UK.”

In June this year, Visa chief executive Al Kelly told investors that the company was “focused on putting cash out of business”.

“The number one growth lever [for the company] is the conversion of cheque and cash to digital and electronic payments.”


TripAdvisor partners with Deliveroo to incorporate food ordering service

( via — via Reuters -– Tue, 11 July 2017) —

TripAdvisor Inc has partnered with Deliveroo to incorporate the delivery firm’s food ordering service into the travel site’s listings across 12 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, both companies said on Tuesday.

Consumers can use TripAdvisor smartphone or computer apps to order food from more than 20,000 restaurant partners of Deliveroo in some 140 cities from Britain to Germany to Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

U.S-based TripAdvisor combines listings for 7 million hotels, flights, attractions and restaurants with more than 500 million user reviews in 49 countries.

TripAdvisor had 390 million average monthly visitors across its network as of December, according to web audience measurement firm Comscore (Frankfurt: CSE.F – news) .

Deliveroo is a privately held London-based start-up which has raised $475 million in five venture capital rounds. It competes in the premium food delivery market with rivals such as Foodora, a unit of Berlin-based Delivery Hero.

Terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

By Eric Auchard