Pound Sterling slips as Conservatives lead shrink

Images Money/flickr.com

(qlmbusinessnews.com via independent.co.uk – – Wed, 31 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

The pound already fell around 2 per cent last week as polls showed the Conservatives’ lead over the Labour Party had shrunk from as much as 20 points in April

The pound fell against the dollar and the euro on Wednesday after a new poll suggested that Britain could be on course for a hung parliament in next week’s election.

Sterling was recently hovering around $1.28 against the dollar, near a one-month low. Bloomberg data showed that the pound was the worst performing of all major currencies on Wednesday.

The latest seat-by-seat prediction by YouGov for The Times suggests that the Conservatives are on course to win 310 seats at the election – short of an absolute majority of 326 seats needed to form a Government.

“While all the polls still project that the Conservatives will be ahead on 8 June, the sharp recent reduction in the party’s lead, poor poll reliability in past votes, plus an unusually high level of uncertainty about the key issues and how different groups could vote, make this election tricky to call, says Kallum Pickering, an economist at Berenberg. “To put it one way, we would not be very surprised if there was surprise.”

Geoffrey Yu, head of the investment office at UBS Wealth Management said that if the latest poll proves accurate, he would expect markets to be shaken.

“Yet today’s poll distracts from the many others showing that a Conservative majority remains the most likely outcome, as is our base case,” he adds. “With no further indications of a hung parliament, the recent fall in sterling may be seen as a buying opportunity for investors.”

The pound already fell around 2 per cent last week as polls showed the Conservatives’ lead over the Labour Party had shrunk from as much as 20 points in April.

The currency remains about 13 per cent lower against the dollar since last June’s Brexit referendum, but had until recently been edging tentatively higher this year.

It rallied sharply after Theresa May’s 18 April announcement of a general election, with investors hopeful that a vote would strengthen the Prime Minister’s hand in Brexit negotiations.

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An ICM poll for the Guardian on Tuesday also showed Labour gaining ground but suggested the Tories are still enjoying a healthy advantage.

It placed Ms May on 45 per cent, Labour on 33 per cent, the Lib Dems on 8 per cent and Ukip on 5 per cent.

By Josie Cox

Irish government to sell 25% Allied Irish Banks Plc

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bloomberg.com — Wed, 31 May, 2017) London, Uk —

Ireland’s drive to recoup money from the bank rescue that almost bankrupted the nation is finally gaining pace.

The Irish government on Tuesday started the process of selling 25 percent of Allied Irish Banks Plc, after spending 21 billion euros ($23.5 billion) bailing out the lender following the 2008 financial crisis. In comments aired on Wednesday, Finance Minister Michael Noonan suggested the state may even eventually make a profit on its investment in the bank, even though it may take a decade to fully privatize the lender.

In all, taxpayers injected 64 billion euros into the nation’s financial system, in what the International Monetary Fund called the costliest banking rescue since the Great Depression. The burden of saving the banks eventually forced the nation into an international bailout, and seven years later, the state is still out of pocket. The government’s remaining stakes, added to the money generated by owning them, amount to about 28 billion euros.

So far, AIB has repaid about 6.8 billion euros through channels such as fees and dividends. The share offering in London and Dublin next month will raise about 3 billion euros, with terms to be set in mid-June.

Analysts at banks working on the IPO value the company at about 10 billion euros to 13 billion euros, people familiar with the matter said. The final value will depend on investor feedback, they said.

“If you look at the history, four years ago people were worried about putting in more capital — that was the fear,” AIB Chief Executive Officer Bernard Byrne, who took over in 2015, told reporters Wednesday. “We’ve gone into the ballpark at this stage, so that’s a good place to be.”

Still, calculating the real cost of bailing out the banks means looking beyond the 64 billion euro figure. Ireland introduced a snap guarantee in September 2008 of almost all its banks’ liabilities, totaling about 440 billion euros, weeks after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. sparked a global financial crisis. That drove up the state’s cost of borrowing money on international markets, adding to the taxpayer’s bill.

And while the government has vowed to recover the expense of saving what it describes as the “living banks” — AIB, Bank of Ireland Plc and Permanent TSB Group Holdings Plc — it won’t ever recover the estimated 30 billion euros injected into Anglo Irish Bank Plc. The lender is being liquidated.

In fact, one likely use of the proceeds from the AIB sale next month, according to Cantor Fitzgerald: paying down the legacy debt associated with Anglo Irish.

by Dara Doyle and Peter Flanagan

London Stock Exchange buys US analytics business for £535m

James Hume/Flickr.com

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 30 May 2017) London, UK —

London Stock Exchange (LSE) has agreed to buy The Yield Book, Citigroup's fixed-income analytics service and also its related indexing business, for $685 million (534.6 million pounds) in cash, the companies said on Tuesday.

LSE, which had said it would be looking out for investments after the collapse of its proposed merger with Deutsche Boerse, said the deal would boost the data and analytics capabilities of its information and FTSE Russell indexes business and take assets under management using its indexes to about $15 trillion.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory clearances and is expected to close in the second half of this year, is expected to add $30 million in synergy benefits to LSE's revenues over the first three years after completion and bring $18 million in cost savings over the same period, the company said.

Last year it estimated the business being acquired would have generated earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $46 million on revenue of $107 million.

LSE, which bought stock index provider and asset manager Russell Investments in 2014, expects the EBITDA margin to rise to at least 50 percent within three years of the deal's completion, the company said.

“The acquisition of The Yield Book and Citi Fixed Income Indices supports the continued strong growth and development of London Stock Exchange Group's Information Services division,” said Mark Makepeace, CEO of FTSE Russell.

The Yield Book and Citi Fixed Income Indices have a client base of more than 350 institutions offering services used to analyse fixed income instruments including mortgage, government, corporate and derivative securities, Citi said.

Citi Fixed Income Indices includes the World Government Bond Index.

“This represents a very sensible deal as it helps LSEG grow its highly attractive info services division and will allow it to capitalise further on key industry trends including strong growth in multi-asset solutions and passive investment strategies,” said Numis analysts, who rate LSE as “hold”.

Citi was advised on the deal by its Institutional Clients Group. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP served as legal advisor to Citi.

Barclays acted as financial adviser to LSE, while Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP was counsel.

The deal announced two months after EU regulators blocked LSE's planned merger with Deutsche Boerse, citing concerns over a potential monopoly in the processing of bond trades, will be funded from existing cash resources and credit facilities, the LSE said.

Shares in LSE, which have risen 12 percent since that merger was blocked, were up 0.2 percent at 3,398 pence at 0814 GMT.

By Noor Zainab Hussain

Barclays App technology could end supermarket queues


Roberto Herrett/flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 30 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

Barclaycard is developing technology that could put an end to the supermarket queue by allowing shoppers to charge in-store purchases to their mobile phone.

The smartphone app automatically charges items to a credit card when shoppers scan items using the phone’s camera, without them having to pay at a checkout.

Barclays workers are trialling the service at the company’s Canary Wharf headquarters, and the company says a high-street retailer is set to pilot it in the next year.

Usman Sheikh, Barclaycard’s director of design and experimentation, who is leading the project, said it was already speaking to a number of “significant household names”, including supermarkets, about the “Grab and Go” technology.

It would allow shoppers to walk into a store, scan each item in their basket with the phone, and check out virtually as they leave, without having to queue for a till. While Waitrose operates a “Quick Check” service that lets shoppers scan items as they shop, they must still go through a till to pay.

“People want less and less friction when they’re shopping,” Mr Sheikh said. “The time involved is literally a fraction of what it would take to go to the till.”

He said that Barclaycard could operate the service through its own app, or integrate the technology within retailers’ existing apps. Retailers would be able to monitor transactions on a screen and check virtual receipts to counter shoplifters.

Amazon is trialling its own checkout-free shops, which use a system of facial recognition cameras and sensors on shelves to determine what customers are buying. The “Amazon Go” store, which is currently being tested by employees in Seattle, charges shoppers as they swipe their smartphone on leaving the store.

Last week Amazon registered the trademark “No Queue. No Checkout. (No, Seriously.)” in the UK amid rumours, it is planning to open stores in Britain.

Mr Sheikh said Amazon’s technology was out of reach to most retailers. “For a normal merchant, there’s no way. Every shelf needs to be fitted with sensors so it’s not a scalable solution,” he said.

He said Barclaycard’s alternative was “very light from a tech perspective, all the technology is in your pocket and the merchant hasn’t done anything new”.

It now plans to test the technology at offices in Northampton, Teeside, and New York and Wilmington in the US in the coming weeks, and start trials with a retailer in late 2017 or early 2018.

By James Titcomb

British Airways flight disruption continues


London Heathrow Airport says there are still some disruptions to British Airways flights following a global computer system failure at the airline.

It means the problem is entering its' third day which has seen thousands of passengers having to queue for hours over the weekend due to the chaos of cancelled flights.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill acquires Jaeger brand

Vincent Teeuwen/Flickr.com

Takeover of brand that once dressed Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe is part of retailer’s drive to launch Days departmental stores across the UK

Edinburgh Woollen Mill has confirmed the acquisition of the Jaeger brand as part of plans to launch a new 50-store department chain.

Philip Day, the billionaire owner of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill group, wants to open at least 50 of his eponymous Days stores, the first of which opened in Carmarthen, Wales, late last week.

The first Days store was opened in a former BHS and will house all the Edinburgh Woollen Mill group brands, which now include Austin Reed, Peacocks, Jane Norman and Country Casuals as well as Jaeger.

Others branches are expected to open shortly, in Newcastle and Bedford. The expansion comes despite the collapse of BHS, which has fuelled fears about the future of department stores in the age of online shopping.

Day told the Sunday Times he expects to pick up more struggling brands this year as business rates and the fall in the value of sterling have a major impact on the high street.

“Sometimes, lots of things all come at the same time, and I think 2017 is going to be one of those years,” he said.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Edinburgh Woollen Millen confirmed the collapsed Jaeger brand was now part of the group, the sale of which has proved controversial.

Private equity firm Better Capital put the business up for sale after struggling for several years to revive Jaeger. In the brand’s heyday, its clothes were worn by Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe but recently it has struggled to turn a profit amid heavy competition.

Day is understood to have bought the retailer’s debt and brand name in March but not the main company, meaning that the future of most of Jaeger’s 700 employees and payments for suppliers remains unclear.

Administrators have closed at least 20 of its 46 stores, making more than 200 staff redundant, and they remain in charge of the core business and its remaining staff.
A group of suppliers owed millions of pounds is considering taking legal action against its former owners.

The companies, which include the Portuguese clothing supplier Calvelex, tried to mount a rescue bid after Jaeger entered administration last month but found they could not buy the business because the rights to use the name had been sold.

Asked about the threat of legal action, Jon Moulton, the boss of Jaeger’s former owner Better Capital, said at the time the private equity firm had gone to great lengths to find a buyer for Jaeger without putting it into insolvency. “Any insolvency actions lie with the [Better Capital] fund’s successor,” he said.

Day, who took a £30.5m dividend from the Edinburgh Woollen Mill group in the financial year to February 2016 when the group made a pre-tax profit of about £90m on sales of £576m, has moved from his castle home in Cumbria to live in Dubai. He told the Sunday Times he spends fewer than 10 days a year in the UK.

By Sarah Butler

The small drone that takes off and lands from the palm of a hand


DJI, the world's largest drone maker, has unveiled its smallest camera drone to date. It's a drone so small that it can take off and land from the palm of a hand. Bloomberg's Selina Wang took the new drone for a spin.

Latest crackdown for payday loan firms come into force

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com- – Fri, 26 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

A link to a price comparison website must be displayed “prominently” on payday loan firms' websites to help borrowers shop around.

New rules for payday loan firms have come into force, requiring online lenders to advertise on at least one price comparison website to help borrowers find the best deal.

A link to a comparison site must also be displayed “prominently” on the websites of payday loan companies.

The move follows a 20-month investigation into the payday lending sector by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in February 2015 which found a substantial gap between the cheapest and most expensive loans.

It found that a lack of price competition between lenders had led to higher costs for borrowers and many did not shop around.

This was partly because of the difficulties in accessing clear and comparable information.

The regulator also cited a lack of awareness of late fees and additional charges.

The CMA estimated borrowers could save themselves an average £60 a year by hunting down cheaper deals.

In a separate investigation, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) imposed a price cap on payday loans to help prevent borrowers from being ripped off.

That is already in force, set at 0.8% per day.
However, it is currently being reviewed by the City watchdog to find out if the cap is driving consumers to illegal loan sharks.

It forms part of a broader review of high-cost credit to see whether rules need to be extended to other types of loans.

Fixed default fees are currently capped at £15 to help protect borrowers struggling to repay.

The cap on interest rates on payday loans came into force in January 2015 after a chorus of concern about the industry.

MPs and the Church of England spoke out about the impact of very high rates on vulnerable people borrowing money to tide them over until their next payday.

World Economic Forum says retirement age need to rise to 70

Bournemouth Council/flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 26 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

World Economic Forum says looming fourfold rise in over-65s by 2050 is financial equivalent of climate change

The retirement age in Britain and other leading developed countries will need to rise to 70 by the middle of the century to head off the biggest pension crisis in history, according to the World Economic Forum.

The body that runs the annual gathering of the global elite in Davos said deficits in the world’s six largest pension systems would more than quadruple to $224tn by 2050 unless people worked longer and saved more.

With people born today having a life expectancy of more than 100, the WEF said the cost of providing security in retirement for a rapidly ageing population was the financial equivalent of climate change.

It warned the huge and spiralling cost would imperil the incomes of future generations and set the industrial world up for the biggest pension crisis in history.

The WEF said it had examined the world’s six biggest pension saving systems – the US, the UK, Japan, the Netherlands, Canada and Australia – and found that all were coming under strain from an expected global increase in the numbers over-65s rising from 600 million to 2.1 billion in 2050.

“The anticipated increase in longevity and resulting ageing populations is the financial equivalent of climate change,” said Michael Drexler, head of financial and infrastructure systems at the WEF. “We must address it now or accept that its adverse consequences will haunt future generations, putting an impossible strain on our children and grandchildren.”

Adding in China and India, which have the world’s largest populations, the combined savings gap for the eight countries reached $400tn by 2050, a sum five times the size of the current global economy.

The report based its estimates of the pension savings gap on the amount of money needed to provide every person with a retirement income equal of 70% of their pre-retirement income. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, a target of 70% of pre-retirement income roughly equates to an unchanged standard of living because once people retire they save less and pay less tax.

The WEF said the funding gap would continue to grow at a rate higher than the expected economic growth rate, often 4% to 5% a year, driven in part by the effects of an ageing population: a growing population of retirees who are expected to live longer in retirement.

Although Britain’s retirement age is due to rise to 67 between 2026 and 2028, the WEF said further increases would be needed to forestall a predicted increase in the pension savings’ gap from a current $8tn to $33tn by 2050. Half the children born in 2007 could expect to live until they were 103, putting a strain on the pension system. The pension savings’ gap in the US is forecast to rise almost fivefold from $28bn to $137bn by the middle of the century.

The report praised the UK for its decision to ensure that 8% of earnings will automatically be saved in a pension for each individual after 2019, noting that auto-enrolment had already boosted saving by 22- to 29-year-olds and low income workers by $2.5bn a year.

“The retirement savings challenge is at crisis point and the time to act is now,” said Jacques Goulet, president of health and wealth at Mercer, a financial services firm that helped the WEF produce the report. “There is no one ‘silver bullet’ solution to solve the retirement gap. Individuals need to increase their personal savings and financial literacy, while the private sector and governments should provide programmes to support them.”

By Larry Elliott

Private sector growth stays strong in Eurozone


Businesses across the eurozone have maintained April's blistering growth rate this month, according to surveys of thousands of companies.

Their main problem is meeting growing demand, so firms said they are building up backlogs of work.

IHS Markit – which carried out the surveys – said they suggest the eurozone's economic momentum is being sustained with a good pace of broad based growth.
“The fact we have maintained this high level in May is great news for second quarter GDP,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.

British households debt set to surpass pre-financial crisis peak

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Thu, 25 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

The debt of British households will hit a record high next year, new estimates show, surpassing the pre-financial crisis peak as a surge in credit card borrowing has financed extra spending in recent months.

The average household had unsecured debts amounting to £13,200 at the end of 2016, just below the £13,300 level at the end of 2008, on the eve of the credit crunch.

Analysts at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) expect that will rise to £13,900 by the end of this year, £14,300 next year, and keep on rising to £15,400 by the end of 2021.

The figures are calculated in 2016 prices and therefore take account of the inflation that has taken place over the intervening years.

It comes after Bank of England numbers showed households racked up an extra £1.6bn in consumer debts in March.

Borrowing increased by more than 10pc compared with the same month a year earlier as households increase spending despite the squeeze on living standards which has come from slow wage growth and rising inflation.

“We’ve got this problem because wages haven’t recovered,” said the TUC’s general secretary Frances O’Grady. “Credit cards and payday loans are helping to prop up household spending for now, but millions of families are running on empty.

“The next government must act urgently to deliver the higher wages Britain needs for sustainable growth. They must boost the minimum wage, and end pay restrictions for public servants like nurses, firefighters and midwives.”

Meanwhile the average household’s disposable income – the amount they have to save or spend after paying tax and receiving benefits – rose to £19,106 in 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics.

That is up 3.7pc on the year, though prices also rose by 1.5pc over the same period so the cash figure overstates the improvement in living standards.

By Tim Wallace

Moody’s Investors Service downgraded China’s credit ratings

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Wed, 24 May, 2017) London, UK —

Moody's Investors Service downgraded China's credit ratings on Wednesday for the first time in nearly 30 years, saying it expects the financial strength of the economy will erode in coming years as growth slows and debt continues to rise.

The one-notch downgrade in long-term local and foreign currency issuer ratings, to A1 from Aa3, comes as the Chinese government grapples with the challenges of rising financial risks stemming from years of credit-fueled stimulus.

“The downgrade reflects Moody's expectation that China's financial strength will erode somewhat over the coming years, with economy-wide debt continuing to rise as potential growth slows,” the ratings agency said in a statement, changing its outlook for China to stable from negative.

China's Finance Ministry said the downgrade, Moody's first for the country since 1989, overestimated the risks to the economy and was based on “inappropriate methodology”.

“Moody’s views that China’s non-financial debt will rise rapidly and the government would continue to maintain growth via stimulus measures are exaggerating difficulties facing the Chinese economy, and underestimating the Chinese government’s ability to deepen supply-side structural reform and appropriately expand aggregate demand,” the ministry said in a statement.

China's leaders have identified the containment of financial risks and asset bubbles as a top priority this year. All the same, authorities are moving cautiously to avoid knocking economic growth, gingerly raising short-term interest rates while tightening regulatory supervision.

At the same time, Beijing's need to deliver on official growth targets is likely to make the economy increasingly reliant on stimulus, Moody's said.

“While ongoing progress on reforms is likely to transform the economy and financial system over time, it is not likely to prevent a further material rise in economy-wide debt, and the consequent increase in contingent liabilities for the government,” it said.

While the downgrade is likely to modestly increase the cost of borrowing for the Chinese government and its state-owned enterprises (SOEs), it remains comfortably within the investment grade rating range.

World stocks inched lower after the move, though Shanghai's main index .SSEC recouped early losses to end marginally higher. [MKTS/GLOB]

“After being very much at the front and center of global risk sentiment at the beginning of last year, the Chinese slowdown story has been almost forgotten, with politics throughout Europe and the U.S. taking the limelight,” said David Cheetham, chief market analyst at brokerage XTB.
The yuan currency CNH=D3 briefly dipped against the U.S. dollar in offshore trading, as did the Australian dollar AUD=, often seen as a proxy for China risk.

“It's going to be quite negative in terms of sentiment, particularly at a time when China is looking to de-risk the banking system (and) when there’s going to be some potential restructuring of SOEs,” said Vishnu Varathan, Asia head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank's Treasury division.


In March 2016, Moody's cut its outlook on China's ratings to negative from stable, citing rising debt and uncertainty about authorities' ability to carry out reforms.

Rival ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded its outlook to negative in the same month. S&P's AA- rating is one notch above both Moody's and Fitch Ratings, leading to speculation among analysts that S&P could also downgrade soon.

“We understand the risk and the reason for downgrade, but due to China being a unique system – (with a) closed capital account and strong government control over all important sectors – it can tolerate a higher debt level,” said Edmund Goh, a Kuala Lumpur-based investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management.

The slowing economy has become an increasingly sensitive topic in China, with authorities directing mainland Chinese economists and journalists toward more positive messaging.

Authorities have stepped up efforts over the last several months to curb debt and housing risks, and a raft of recent data has signalled a cooling in the economy, which grew a solid 6.9 percent in the first quarter.

China's potential economic growth was likely to slow toward 5 percent in coming years, but the cooldown is likely to be gradual due to further doses of fiscal stimulus, Moody's said.


The Finance Ministry said continued mid- to high-level economic growth “will provide fundamental support to fend off local government debt risks. China’s government debt risks will not change dramatically in 2018-2020 from 2016.”

The state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said debt risks are generally controllable as measures to lowecorporate leverage have achieved initial results, and systemic risks from debt are relatively low.

Government-led stimulus has been a major driver of China's growth over recent years, but has also been accompanied by runaway credit growth that has created a mountain of debt – now standing at nearly 300 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics in Singapore, said steps to resolve the debt overhang, such as debt-for-equity swaps at state companies, were insufficient to deal with problem.

“It’s reached the point where the bad debt problem is just so large the government will have to step in to resolve it at some point, and that obviously means at some point a sizeable increase in government debt,” he said.

Moody's said it expects the government's direct debt burden to rise gradually toward 40 percent of GDP by 2018 “and closer to 45 percent by the end of the decade”.

A growing number of economists believe that a massive bank bailout may be inevitable in China as bad loans mount. Last September, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) warned that excessive credit growth in China signalled an increasing risk of a banking crisis within three years.

Moody's lowered Agricultural Bank of China's (601288.SS) long-term deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings to A2 from A1, on par with Bank of Communications' (601328.SS), which the agency put on review for possible downgrade.

Ratings for state-owned Bank of China (601988.SS), China Construction Bank (601939.SS) and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (601398.SS) were affirmed at A1, with Moody's citing their very high level of government support.

By John Ruwitch and Yawen Chen

(Additional reporting by Ryan Woo and Sue-lin Wong in BEIJING, Nichola Saminather in SINGAPORE, John Ruwitch and Andrew Galbraith in SHANGHAI and Umesh Desai in HONG KONG; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Kim Coghill and Ian Geoghegan)

UK Firms Commit to Hiring More Over 50s to Fill Future Job Gap of 7.5 Million

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com- – Wed, 24 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

The move to take on more over 50s comes amid a warning that the UK is facing a future jobs gap of 7.5 million unfilled roles.

Major companies including the Co-op Group, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Barclays have signed up to a pledge to hire 12% more older workers by 2022.

The firms will also publish age data of their employees as part of the initiative to secure an extra one million roles for older UK workers over the next five years.

The Government's Business Champion for Older Workers, Andy Briggs, has urged other businesses to get on board.

“The UK is facing a colossal skills gap, and older workers are vital to filling it,” said Mr Briggs, who is also the CEO of Aviva UK Life.

“Businesses can show leadership here, through committing to real change and actively seeking to recruit more over 50s into their organisations.

“By being open about the progress they are making, they can also lead the way in demonstrating the benefits of having a diverse team of employees that represents all sections of society.”

A total of eight companies have agreed to take part in the scheme, which requires them to publish the number and percentage of over-50s in their workforce as well as commit to hiring 12% more older workers by 2022.

Aviva, Atos, Barclays, The Co-operative Group, Home Instead Senior Care, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), Mercer, and Walgreens Boots Alliance make up the first UK firms to sign up to take part.

The average age of the UK population is currently 40, but according to government data one third of the working age population of the country will be aged 50 and over. By 2030, half of all British adults will be over 50 years old.

UK charity Business in the Community, which will publish the age data released by participating companies on its website, said without more older workers the UK is facing a jobs gap of 7.5 million unfilled roles by 2022.

Rachael Saunders, Age at Work Director at Business in the Community, said: “The UK simply cannot meet its growth and productivity objectives without adapting to retain, recruit and develop people aged over 50.

“We have an ageing society and it is essential that employers act now to ensure employees can stay in work for longer and to support career changes in later life.”

By Clare Downey

BP Begin Extracting Oil in Revival North Sea Oil Project



(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 23 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

BP has started extracting oil from one of the largest new North Sea projects in recent years in a revival for the declining oil basin.

The development follows BP's $4.4bn (£3.4bn) upgrade to the Schiehallion field in the West of the Shetland islands. The area also holds BP’s major new gas field project at Clair Ridge.

Schiehallion has produced 400 million barrels of oil since it was first developed in 1998, but new drilling technology could now unlock a further 450 million barrels of oil and gas from the licence, known as Quad 4, which would extend the life of the fields for decades.

The West of Shetland basin is considered a strategically important region in keeping North Sea activity afloat. It has already attracted interest from majors BP, Shell and Total as well as rising upstart oil explorers Siccar Point Energy and Hurricane Energy.

BP chief executive Bob Dudley said the “important milestone” for the group marks a return to growth for its North Sea business.

The group is planning to double its UK North Sea production to 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day by the end of the decade and has promised to hold a material business in the region for several decades.

To revive its UK production, Mark Thomas, BP’s head of North Sea business, said the upgrade was one of the largest ever UK mid-life offshore redevelopments. It included building the world’s largest harsh water oil vessel, the Glen Lyon. The 100,00 tonne floating facility is capable of processing and exporting up to 130,000 barrels of oil a day and storing up to 800,000 barrels of oil.

“BP has developed a strong track record of finding, developing and operating big offshore oil resources west of Shetland – we have and will continue to use the latest technology to maximise recovery from the Schiehallion Area,” he said.

BP is one of the longest-standing ‘supermajors' operating in the North Sea after its oil discovery in the Forties oilfield in 1970 helped kickstart the UK’s oil boom years.

In the wake of the oil price crash almost three years ago BP has started exiting older areas of the aging basin to focus on fresh projects where profit margins are more substantial.

Over the next 18 months, BP said it plans to participate in up to five exploration wells in the Schiehallion area, in addition to drilling approximately 50 development wells over the next 3-4 years.

Deirdre Michie, the chief executive of industry group Oil and Gas UK, said the project endorses its belief that the North Sea still offers potential with the right investment.

“Our faith in the long term health of the basin is well founded,” she said. “It’s also extremely heartening to see one of the original explorers of the basin using new, ambitious approaches and pioneering technology to help lead a revival in production.”

By Jillian Ambrose

RBS adjourned investors case in 11th-hour bid to settle


(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Mon, 22 May, 2017) London, UK —

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) (RBS.L) pursued last-minute settlement talks with a group of investors on Monday to avoid a potentially embarrassing trial over allegations the lender misled them about a 2008 capital increase.

A successful settlement would save former RBS Chief Executive Fred Goodwin from facing scrutiny in the courts over his decision-making and leadership at the time the lender almost collapsed.

RBS has doubled its offer to the remaining claimants as it seeks to settle the case, two people close to the matter told Reuters on Monday.

The civil trial brought by thousands of RBS investors was due to open at the High Court in London on Monday but was adjourned for a day to allow the settlement talks to continue.

The plaintiffs allege former executives gave a misleading picture of the bank's financial health ahead of a 12 billion pound ($15.5 billion) cash call in 2008. Months after the cash call, RBS had to be rescued by the government with a 45.8 billion pound bailout.

RBS, which remains more than 70 percent state-owned, denies any wrongdoing over the 2008 rights issue and says its former bosses did not act illegally.

Jonathan Nash, a lawyer representing the claimants, appealed in court for an adjournment saying the two parties were in settlement talks and wanted longer to strike a deal.

“We are involved in settlement discussions and we are hopeful of making progress,” Nash said.

The sources said RBS Chief Executive Ross McEwan was directly involved in talks over the weekend and that the bank had offered more than 80 pence for each RBS share held, though it was not clear if any investors have accepted the offer.

A settlement at that price would cost RBS “in the tens of millions of pounds”, a third source familiar with the matter said.

The bank has settled with 87 percent of the investors who originally brought the case but the others have so far rejected its offers and say they were determined to go to court.

By doubling the amount on offer, RBS is close to a sum the remaining investors would accept, one of the sources said, indicating that they might settle if RBS raises its offer to 100 pence per share.

That represents half of the 200 pence per share investors paid at the time of the rights issue.

The outstanding group represents about 9,000 retail shareholders and 20 institutional investors. The large investors include U.S. bank Wells Fargo (WFC.N), the Boeing (BA.N) pension fund, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC.N) and local British council pension funds.

RBS declined to comment on the settlement offer.

By Andrew MacAskill and Lawrence White