Sainsbury’s confirms plans to merge with Asda

( via – – Mon, 30 Apr, 2018) London, Uk – –

Sainsbury's has confirmed plans to merge with Asda, which is currently owned by US supermarket giant Walmart.

The supermarkets said that grocery prices would fall in both chains as a result of the merger.

Sainsbury's chief executive Mike Coupe also said the deal would not lead to store closures or job losses in stores.

The combination of the UK's second and third largest supermarkets would create a giant, representing nearly £1 in every £3 spent on groceries.

Mr Coupe – who will lead the new combined group – said he believed the two supermarkets were “the best possible fit”.

Shares in Sainsbury's jumped 16% in response to the merger news.

Live: Reaction to supermarket merger
Walmart, which has owned Asda since 1999, will retain 42% of the combined business following the merger.

What will the merger mean for shoppers?
The supermarkets say that as a result of the merger they expect to be able to lower prices “by around 10% on many of the products customers buy regularly”.

Sainsbury's and Asda will remain separate brands and no stores will close, Mr Coupe told the BBC.

“There's been a bit of commentary over the weekend where people have been alluding to the fact that the only way of making this happen is by closing stores – that is not true,” said Mr Coupe.

Following the merger Argos will open outlets within Asda stores, the firms said. Sainsbury's took over Argos in 2016 and has been integrating the catalogue retailer into its own stores.

What will it mean for suppliers?
The combined business will overtake current market leader Tesco, representing around 30% of UK grocery sales. That will give it greater muscle in the market.

Labour's shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey told the BBC she was concerned at the impact on suppliers of the proposed tie-up.

The combined group “will have immense purchasing power, giving them an opportunity to bargain very hard with suppliers,” she warned.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the firms should explain how they plan to merge their supply chains fairly, and reassure people that cost savings wouldn't be achieved “simply by milking their small suppliers for all they're worth”.

Sainsbury's and Asda executives said one advantage of the merger would be the opportunity to bring in “the power of Walmart in the form of buying of general merchandise and in the form of their systems and investments”.

Will the merger be allowed?
A competition probe seems inevitable given the size of the two chains and the UK's competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), said on Monday it was “likely” to review the merger.

Sainsbury's and Asda have asked for the CMA investigation to be fast-tracked and hope to complete the deal by the autumn of 2019.

At the weekend, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said the merger risked creating “even more concentrated local monopolies” and said the CMA should force the companies to sell off stores if the new giant was dominant in a particular area.

Retail analyst Nick Bubb said he thought there was “a pretty good chance” that the deal will be allowed to proceed, but the main debate would be over how many stores Sainsbury's and Asda would have to sell “to placate the CMA”.

“Too many store disposals and the deal won't be worth doing… too few store disposals and the CMA will look toothless… hopefully there will be a “Goldilocks” scenario for Sainsbury's/Asda.”

Why are the two chains combining?
Sainsbury's and Asda are both being buffeted by competition from budget supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl. On the horizon, Amazon is making initial steps into grocery deliveries.

“I think from a market share perspective, both Sainsbury's and Asda are landlocked to a certain extent. They're not really able to grow at a rapid rate,” said Steve Dresser, director of the Retail Insight consultancy.

The two chains are in many ways complementary: Sainsbury's stores are focused more in the south of the UK and target a higher-end market segment. Asda is more concentrated in the north, offering lower-cost groceries.

“If they remain on their own it's difficult to see how they get any real growth beyond standard organic growth, which isn't necessarily going to be enough when Amazon joins the market,” said Mr Dresser.



British and European steel makers brace for a fresh crisis


( via – – Mon, 30 Apr 2018) London, Uk – –

British and European steel makers are bracing for a fresh crisis in the industry unless the US backs down from its protectionist stance and extends an exemption on import tariffs.

The US granted temporary relief to European producers from 25pc tariffs on steel and 10pc levies on aluminium as Donald Trump, the US president, introduced the measure in a move widely seen as targeting imports from China.

However, the exemption runs out on Tuesday. Wilbur Ross, the US commerce Secretary, said over the weekend that administration planned to extend the relief to some countries, but not all, and refused to be drawn on which ones would remain exempt.

Tariffs would hit steel makers this side of the Atlantic hard, with the industry only just recovering from the 2015 crisis which cost tens of thousands of jobs. Closure of the US market creates the potential for a “double whammy” to the European industry. Not only is America a major market – steel exports to the US accounts for about 7pc of UK steel production and are worth about £330m a year – but Chinese producers are likely to flood Europe with excess output, a major cause of the crisis of three years ago.

China is the world’s largest steel producer, responsible for more than half of the 1.6bn tons of annual global output.

The US Commerce Department is understood to want to extract concessions on other goods – such as cars – in exchange for a continued exemption, but there is little sign of concrete progress on this.

Last month Mr Trump said that if the EU responds to the steel tariffs with levies of its own he would respond. In a tweet the president said: “If the EU wants to further increase their already massive tariffs and barriers on US companies doing business there, we will simply apply a tax on their cars which freely pour into the US.”

However, the EU indicated on Friday that it could stage talks on changing World Trade Organisation agreements if the US grants a permanent exemption on the steel tariffs.

Individual companies are understood to be reluctant to speak out for fear of attracting Mr Trump’s attention on Twitter. However, heavyweight player Tata Steel Europe did say it was “opposed to the 25pc blanket tariff”, warning that without “swift and robust action the market could be destabilised by millions of tons of steel diverted away from the US into Europe”

UK Steel warned that tariffs will not tackle the structural problem in the sector. Gareth Stace, its director, said: “Unilateral tariffs are not the answer to the problem of over-capacity in the steel sector, leading only to disruption to global trade, increases in steel prices in the US and escalation towards a global trade war. Nothing good will come of it, not at home in the US, not in Europe and not globally.”

By Alan Tovey



Inside Tommy Hilfiger’s Stunning $50 Million Penthouse in the Plaza Hotel

Iconic fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger and his wife Dee take us on a home tour of their duplex penthouse apartment at the Plaza Hotel overlooking Central Park. Hilfiger's NYC penthouse suite has been home to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Marilyn Monroe. His office even features an authentic New York Times sign


Could Bird Ride-share Electric Scooters be The Future of Urban Transport?


Bird Electric Scooters in Santa Monica
( via – – Sat, 28 Apr, 2018) London, Uk – –

Scooters have taken over Santa Monica, caused fury in San Francisco and are spreading to other US cities and likely Britain. Are they fun and environmentally friendly – or a dangerous nuisance?

Electric share scooters have taken over Santa Monica, an affluent beachside city on the edge of Los Angeles, but as they swiftly spread across other cities in California and the US a backlash is already gathering force.

Download an app, scan a scooter’s barcode and away you go, zipping at up to 15mph to your destination. You leave the scooter on the pavement for the next rider.

Bird, a startup run by former Uber executives, launched the scooters in Santa Monica last September. Hundreds were deposited around the city overnight, the devices so ubiquitous people literally tripped over them.

They have thrilled, bemused and aggravated – feelings San Francisco, San Jose, Austin and Washington DC are now experiencing as scooters from Bird and two other startups, LimeBike and Spin, hit their streets, with dozens more cities due to receive them this year.

A full-scale backlash is under way in San Francisco, where some scooters have been tossed into trash cans and lakes. The city attorney has threatened to impound scooters, calling them dangerous, unlawful and examples of tech arrogance. City hall is exploring ways to regulate the devices.

With a global market in their sights, the scooter startups are pushing back.

Bird comes armed with $115m (£80.3m) in investment funding and seems to take the Uber-esque, hard-charging stance on regulation that it is better to seek forgiveness than permission. A tangle with Santa Monica officials earned a criminal complaint and hefty fine.

“The demand is huge. We’re looking to reach more than 50 markets this year and eventually have Birds all over the world,” says Stephen Schnell, the company’s vice president of operations, noting that Britain is on the company’s radar. “We try to pick cities that have bicycle lane infrastructure.”

Schnell, like Bird’s CEO Travis VanderZanden, previously worked at Lyft and Uber.

Ride sharing companies are shaking up urban transport but many commuters still have the “last mile” problem: a distance too far to walk and too short to drive, says Schnell. “This is a way to get people out of their vehicles.”

Marlon Boarnet, an urban planning and spatial analysis professor at the University of Southern California, says dockless scooters can facilitate short trips while being light on the environment and using minimal space.

“Traditionally we view this as walking or bicycling, but the concept can and should be extended to light and small powered vehicles like electric scooters. One could also include in this set small neighborhood electric vehicles or electric motor assisted bicycles. We should expand our idea of what an acceptable ‘short trip’ vehicle is.”

Boarnet hopes the companies and city authorities can resolve issues such as where the scooters are left. When clumped in the middle of a pavement scooters can seem more nuisance clutter than transport revolution.

The boom and bust of dockless bicycles in several markets – exemplified by a picture of a bicycle graveyard in China – act as a cautionary tale.

The Guardian scooted around Santa Monica for a week to try them out. The longest journey was from the city’s downtown to Bird’s headquarters in Venice, three miles away. It took 17 minutes and cost $3.55 – a $1 base fee plus 15 cents per minute.

The experience was positive. Scooters were easy to find with the app’s map pinpointing devices left by trees, parking meters, benches and doorways.

Once you’ve scanned and unlocked the barcode with your phone there’s a childlike glee in kicking off with your foot, pushing the handlebar’s throttle button and gliding down the street.

Not encased in a shell of metal and glass, you feel connected to your surroundings – both hands are needed to steer so it is difficult to text or fiddle with your phone.

Tootling down Main Street, the most striking impression was the response of pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders and motorists: in most cases there wasn’t one. In September the scooters were a novelty and drew stares. Now they’re part of the streetscape and barely remarked upon – except by some tourists who gawk and take pictures.

Bird reports quick adoption; there are more than 50,000 regular riders in and around Santa Monica, and riders in San Francisco notched up more than 60,000 miles in just 17 days. “It’s kind of amazing,” says Schnell.

What’s amazing, say critics, is the irresponsibility of the scooter companies and many of their riders.

Few wear helmets in Santa Monica. It is common to see children riding scooters, two people on one scooter, parked scooters cluttering sidewalks and moving scooters scattering pedestrians on sidewalks. San Francisco residents have joined Santa Monicans in venting on social media.

Riders are supposed to be licensed drivers, helmeted and are meant to ride on streets, preferably in bicycle lanes. Users need a driver’s licence to download the app and upon request Bird sends free helmets. Still, improper use abounds. According to a city spokesperson, so far Santa Monica has recorded 11 accidents, some serious, 328 citations and 694 traffic stops.

Irked that Bird launched with little or no warning, city authorities filed a criminal complaint over lack of business licences and vendor permits. Both sides settled in February, with Bird promising to seek the licences and to pay more than $300,000 in fines.

“Even though they got off to a rocky start we didn’t move to kick them out because based on our values we’re really committed to this new model of mobility,” says Anuj Gupta, Santa Monica’s deputy city manager.

There has been no detectable impact on car congestion but scooters are now part of the transport mix, he says. “We honestly understand and share in the excitement about these devices.”

But there’s another concern. If Bird and rival startups plant scooters on every block won’t people have even less incentive to walk and exercise?

“You mean WALL-E world,” says Schnell, referencing the Pixar film in which future humans become obese gluttons ensconced in padded floating arm chairs. “Let’s hope not. With the scooters at least you have to stand.”

By Rory Carroll



UK economic growth declines to its slowest since 2012

( via – – Fri, 27 Apr, 2018) London, Uk – –

The UK economy grew at its slowest rate since 2012 in the first quarter of the year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.

GDP growth was 0.1%, down from 0.4% in the previous quarter, driven by a sharp fall in construction output and a sluggish manufacturing sector.

The ONS said the extreme weather of February and March had had a “relatively small” impact.

Sterling fell sharply as the chances of an interest rate rise in May decreased.

Following the news it was down around a cent against the dollar at $1.380.

Rob Kent-Smith, head of national accounts at the ONS, said: “Our initial estimate shows the UK economy growing at its slowest pace in more than five years with weaker manufacturing growth, subdued consumer-facing industries and construction output falling significantly.

“While the snow had some impact on the economy, particularly in construction and some areas of retail, its overall effect was limited with the bad weather actually boosting energy supply and online sales.”

Bank decision
Construction was the biggest drag on GDP, having experienced its most dramatic fall since the second quarter of 2012 – falling 3.3% over the first three months of the year.

Manufacturing growth slowed to 0.2%, though that was partially offset by a rise in energy production due to the colder weather.

Consumer spending has also been squeezed by a combination of higher inflation and slow wage growth.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the results meant the Bank of England was highly unlikely to raise interest rates in May as some economists had expected.

“The chance of a May rate hike is now close to zero following the slowdown in GDP growth in the first quarter” he said.

“With inflation falling much more rapidly back to its target than the Monetary Policy Committee expected and wage growth still not building momentum, the MPC has the luxury of being able to delay raising interest rates in May.”



Amazon first-quarterly profits doubles to $1.6bn beats forecasts


( via – – Fri, 27 Apr, 2018) London, Uk – –

Company announces cost of Prime subscription will increase $20 to $119 for US customers, after share price soars to record high of $1,625

As Amazon reported that it had more than doubled its profits to $1.6bn in the first three months of 2018, the company announced that the cost of a Prime subscription would increase to $119 from $99 per year for US customers.

The results sent the company’s shares soaring 7% to a new record of $1,625 in after-hours trading, adding billions to the fortune of its founder, Jeff Bezos.

During the earnings call, the company, which said last week that it had signed up more than 100 million people to its Prime subscription service, revealed that the cost of a Prime subscription would increase to $119 per year, effective from 11 May for new subscribers and to renewed subscriptions from 16 June. It represents the first price hike in the US since March 2014.

The company’s chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky said that the price hike was a reflection of the increased cost of handling same-day, one-day and two-day shipping and “increased value” for customers.

In the first quarter of 2018 Amazon collected more than $550m a day in revenue from sales, web hosting, TV production and Whole Foods, the upmarket US grocery chain it bought last year.

Amazon also reported strong growth at its highly profitable cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services (AWS).

AWS, which hosts companies including Netflix, Airbnb and the CIA, reported a 49% hike in sales in the first quarter to $5.44bn. AWS made a profit of $1.4bn – the majority of Amazon’s profits over the quarter.

The company’s success has allowed it to announce a big investment in Amazon Studios, its in-house TV production firm that makes The Grand Tour, presented by Jeremy Clarkson, and the dystopian series The Man in the High Castle.

The strong results came despite Donald Trump’s repeated threats to force the company to pay more tax.

Amazon is the world’s second-biggest company after Apple, with a market value of $723bn. Many experts expect it to overtake the iPhone maker and become the world’s first trillion-dollar company.

Analysts at Credit Suisse believe Amazon’s shares – which have risen by more than 50% in the past six months – could soon hit $1,800. The bank’s Stephen Ju said: “Amazon is one of the best positioned to capture the next wave of retail dollars coming online.” Food and fashion spending are its big targets.

Ju said: “Apparel and groceries remain large pools of dollars still left to come online, and Prime Wardrobe and the linkup between Whole Foods Market content and Prime Now distribution will serve as the spearheads to address those opportunities.”

Michael Olson, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, also said he expected Amazon’s shares to rise, adding even if Trump did launch a tax offensive against the firm it would have a negligible effect.

“Nothing can be certain, except death and taxes … and more Trump tweets on Amazon,” Olson said in a note to clients. “We believe sales tax collection changes would have limited impact on consumer use of Amazon and could actually help Amazon’s relative competitive positioning in domestic ecommerce.”

Olson said research showed that only 5% of the public think about whether companies pay appropriate levels of tax when deciding where to shop. Free and fast shipping, which Amazon provides to Prime subscribers, is seen as a much more important consideration.

Amazon’s results come as the company and its multi-billionaire founder Bezos are coming under greater scrutiny from politicians, regulators and its employees. Last week, the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, said technology companies such as Amazon had “too much market power – in the hands of too few”. She said the tech giants’ dominance was “not helpful to the economy or to the wellbeing of individuals”.

Bezos was recently met with a noisy protest from Amazon employees in Germany, who allege mistreatment of workers and tax avoidance. About 450 protesters picketed the offices of media company Axel Springer, which honored Bezos with an award for innovative excellence.

“We have an Amazon boss who wants to Americanize work relationships and take us back to the 19th century,” union leader Frank Bsirske told the crowd of Amazon workers, some carrying placards reading: “Make Amazon pay”.

Andrea Nahles, the newly elected leader of Germany’s Social Democratic party, the junior partner in chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, said Bezos treats his employees badly and is a “world champion in tax avoidance”.

Nahles, who is billed as a possible chancellor candidate for the next election in 2021, added: “This does not deserve a prize.”

Amazon has repeatedly rejected the union’s demands. It says it believes warehouse staff should be paid in line with competitors in the logistics sector, not as retail staff.

An Amazon spokesman said: “Amazon provides a safe and positive workplace for thousands of people across Germany with competitive pay and benefits from day one.”

By Dominic Rushe and Rupert Neate


Waterstones bookshop chain sold to Activist investor Elliott


( via — Thur, 26 Apr 2018) London, UK —

Waterstones said on Thursday that Elliott would become its new owner, providing all the financing for the transaction, with its previous backer Lynwood Investments retaining a minority stake. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The chief executive of Waterstones said the Elliott deal represented a “happy outcome” for the book shop chain.

“We enter new ownership looking forward with great optimism to the next chapter in the development of Waterstones,” CEO James Daunt said in a statement.

Elliott has been very busy in Britain over the course of this year.

Most notably, coffee shop and hotels group Whitbread (WTB.L) said on Wednesday that it would spin-off its Costa Coffee business into a separate company just weeks after Elliott became its biggest shareholder.

The investor also pressed British engineering company GKN (GKN.L) to engage in takeover talks with suitor Melrose (MRON.L).

In January, Elliott revealed it had bought a 2.8 percent stake in takeover target Sky (SKYB.L), the UK pay TV company, and has 5.1 percent of British software company Micro Focus (MCRO.L), a company struggling after its sales plunged and its CEO left.

Waterstones, which had sales of over 400 million pounds ($556 million) in its last financial year, has returned to profitability over the last two years after almost collapsing in 2011 when it was hit by a combination of high debt and declining book sales in the face of competition from electronic readers.

The deal is expected to be completed in May.

By Sarah Young


Facebook first-quarter profit soars in spite of data scandal

( via– Thur, 26 Apr, 2018) London, Uk – –

“We are taking a broader view of our responsibility and investing to make sure our services are used for good,” Zuckerberg said

Facebook's first-quarter profit soared amid little sign that users or advertisers had defected over its failure to safeguard personal data.

The Menlo Park, California-based social network said net income rose 63% to $4.99bn (£3.57bn) in the first three months of 2018. In the same period a year earlier, it posted a profit of $3.06bn.

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, said: “Despite facing important challenges, our community and business is off to a strong start in 2018.”

“We are taking a broader view of our responsibility and investing to make sure our services are used for good.

“But we also need to keep building new tools to help people connect, strengthen our communities, and bring the world closer together.”

Facebook has seen its stock tumble about 9% since the start of the year amid a scandal over the misuse of personal data by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

It has also been accused of doing nothing to stop the spread of so-called fake news and misinformation during elections.

On a conference call with investors, Mr. Zuckerberg said the company would roll out new tools ahead of elections in Brazil and Mexico.

Despite a #deleteFacebook campaign and Mr. Zuckerberg's appearance before congressional committees, daily active users rose 13% to 2.2 billion in the first quarter.

Monthly active users rose 13% to 2.2 billion in the first quarter.

Revenue soared 49% to $11.97bn, beating analysts' expectations.

Advertising revenue rose 50% to $11.7bn, with 91% generated by mobile advertising. Facebook and Alphabet's Google dominate the global internet advertising market and there appears to be little impact from the scandal.

Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg reiterated that a handful of advertisers had paused their spending but the company hadn't witnessed a major trend.

The company also said it would buy back an additional $9bn in stock.

In after-hours trading, Facebook's stock rose 4.9% to $167.53.

“Everybody keeps talking about how bad things are for Facebook, but this earnings report to me is very positive, and reiterates that Facebook is fine, and they'll get through this,” Daniel Morgan, senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust Company, told Reuters. His firm holds about 73,000 shares in Facebook.


Whitbread to spin off from Costa Coffee chain within two years


( via – – Wed, 25 Apr, 2018) London, Uk – –

Cafe chain to be separated from Premier Inn hotel and restaurant business after investor pressure

Whitbread is to spin off its Costa Coffee chain from the rest of the business, which includes Premier Inn hotels, after pressure from activist investors.

The company said the demerger of the UK’s biggest coffee chain would be completed within two years, allowing shareholders to invest in “two distinct, focused and market-leading businesses”.

Activist investors have built up stakes in the group over the past year and argued that Whitbread would be best split into its two component parts, Costa, and the Premier Inn hotel and restaurant chains – the latter including restaurant brands such as Brewers Fayre and Beefeater.

Whitbread shares have underperformed the wider stock market in recent years, reflecting the fact that the two businesses are distinct and would be better off as separate entities, according to some investors.

Laith Khalaf, a senior analyst at the investment company Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Coffee shops and hotel rooms don’t make natural bedfellows, so splitting off Costa Coffee from Premier Inn makes sense for Whitbread.

“The breakup will provide each of the two emerging companies with greater strategic focus on their own goals, and will allow investors to choose which of the two distinct brands they actually want exposure to.”

It is thought that Costa, which has 2,400 coffee shops, could be valued at about £3bn. Whitbread has a market value of about £8bn and employs 50,000 people.

Alison Brittain, the Whitbread chief executive, said that while the discussion about a potential separation had been around for years, the time was now right, partly because both businesses had established good growth prospects abroad.

She conceded that pressure from two investors, the US hedge funds Elliott Advisors and Sachem Head, had encouraged the board to bring forward the announcement about the demerger, to provide clarity for shareholders and employees.

“Given the significant strategic progress that has been made and the momentum in the delivery of the plan, the board is confident that both Premier Inn and Costa will soon be businesses of sufficient strength, scale and capability to enable them to thrive as independent companies,” she said.

Costa will be a separate listed company, while Whitbread will remain the owner of Premier Inn, the UK’s largest hotel chain.

Brittain said the two-year timeframe reflected the enormously complex process of separating the two businesses, which share, among other things, IT systems, a pension deficit and £1.8bn of loan facilities with banks and bondholders.

“If it can happen before April 2020, then that’s great, but we want to make sure we have the businesses in the strongest possible position,” she said.

Whitbread has expanded both businesses internationally, with Costa in China, Costa Express in other overseas markets, and Premier Inn in Germany, where it will have 31 hotels in 15 cities by 2021.

Mark Brumby, the chief executive of the leisure analyst Langton Capital, said: “Much will ride on Germany if Whitbread ex-Costa is to remain an exciting growth company. The early signs are hopeful, but it is still early days.”

Whitbread also published results for the year to the end of February 2018. Revenue rose 6.1% to £3.3bn, with pre-tax profit up 6.4% at £548m.

By Angela Monaghan



General Electric to trial world’s largest wind turbines in the UK


( via – – Wed, 25 Apr 2018) London, Uk – –

General Electric has decided to test the world’s largest offshore wind turbines at a test facility in England in a major vote of confidence for the UK’s burgeoning wind power industry.

The renewables arm of the American conglomerate will take its mammoth 12MW wind turbines for a spin at the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult centre in Northumberland as part of a five year research and development deal beginning later this year.

The world’s largest turbines currently in operation were installed off the coast of Aberdeen earlier this month, at less than 9MW in capacity each.

GE Renewable Energy believes its 350 foot new turbines could also be more efficient than the current generation of offshore wind farms by generating more power from lower wind speeds with a 720 foot diameter spin.

The company will be able to test its theories at the catapult centre in Blyth which can replicate real-world conditions for turbines up to 15MW in capacity.

Energy minister Claire Perry said the deal proves that UK support for offshore renewables has helped develop “world-class research and testing facilities”.

“Through our industrial strategy, we are making the UK a global leader in renewables, including offshore wind, with more support available than any other country in the world,” she said.

Already the UK draws almost a quarter of all wind power investment made across Europe.

“The offshore wind industry is exceptionally well placed to boost supplies of home grown clean energy whilst growing new jobs and opportunities,” she added.

As part of the deal the centre will also receive a £6m joint investment from Innovate UK and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to install the world’s largest and most powerful grid emulation system.

John Lavelle, GE’s offshore wind boss, said the testing centre will allow the turbines to get to the water faster.

“Traditional testing methods rely on local wind conditions and therefore have limited repeatability for testing. By using ORE Catapult’s facilities and expertise, we will be in a better position to adapt our technology in a shortened time,” he said




Lloyd’s of London initiate search for staff as new Brussels EU subsidiary takes shape


( via – – Tue, 24 Apr 2018) London, Uk – –

Lloyd's of London today kicked off a search for new staff in Brussels as it prepares for Britain's exit from the EU.

The iconic London insurance market rolled out plans last year to established a new European headquarters in Belgium to mitigate the fall-out from Brexit.

Lloyd's is advertising vacancies for frontline underwriters as well as support staff across compliance, finance and operations.

Vincent Vandendael, Lloyd’s chief commercial officer, said the corporation had been “working hard” since the 2016 Brexit vote.

“[Work will] ensure that whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, our partners across the European Economic Area will continue to have access to our specialist, innovative policies, and benefit from the security of the Lloyd’s market,” he said.

Read more: Lloyd's of London reports £2bn loss after year of natural catastrophes

Lloyd's was one of the first City institutions to unveil its plans for Brexit – just a day after Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 at the end of March 2017. Having a base in the EU will allow insurers to continue to write business across the union. Around 11 per cent of Lloyd's policies are for EU clients; last year, the market said half of these would continue to be written from the UK.

While Lloyd's remains tight-lipped on the precise number of new hires it was looking for, it has previously guided the Brussels office will be “in the tens”. Last June, Lloyd's cut around 10 per cent of its London workforce amid tough market conditions.

Brussels pipped the likes of Dublin, Frankfurt and Paris in an intense bidding process by some of Europe's biggest financial centres.

Vandendael said:

Being at the heart of Europe will deliver many different advantages for our customers and provide an opportunity for us to continue to grow our business in the continent.

By Oliver Gill



Anglo American mining group expect £287m profit hit from Brazilian cracked pipeline

( via – – Tue, 24 Apr 2018) London, Uk – –

Mining group Anglo American expects its profits for the year to be $300m to $400m (£215m to £287m) lower after being forced to suspend operations at an iron ore mine in Brazil due to a cracked pipe.

Production at Anglo’s Minas Rio mine has been halted for 90 days to allow the company to make a thorough inspection of the oil slurry pipeline that had sprung what it called two “minor” leaks.

Staff have been put on leave and production is now not expected to resume until the end of the year.

Last year Minas Rio produced 16.8m tonnes of iron ore, used to make steel. Its output was already expected to be lower this year because of delays to its expansion plans.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) at Minas Rio were $435m in 2017, only slightly higher than the amount Anglo expects to lose on the unit this year.

Mark Cutifani, chief executive, said Anglo’s priorities were to “ensure the integrity of the pipeline and the protection of the natural environment, while providing as much clarity as we can for our employees, customers and other business stakeholders”.

Anglo's earnings hit $8.8bn last year as the mining group, which also mines diamonds, copper, coal and platinum, enjoyed a rise in commodity prices.

The mine has been much delayed by permitting problems and spiralling costs. Anglo has taken $11bn of writedowns on the project, on top of the $13bn cost of buying it and building it.

Anglo shares fell 1pc in morning trade to £17.59.

By Jon Yeomans




TSB apologises to customers after online banking ‘data breach’

( via– Mon, 23 Apr 2018) London, Uk – –

The bank says it is “working as hard and as fast” as it can to fix “issues” after an upgrade hit mobile and online services.

TSB has apologised after a string of customers complained of problems with their mobile and online accounts, including claims some had “access” to other people's bank details.

One customer said he could see other people's accounts totalling more than £20,000, while another reportedly discovered he had been wrongly credited with £13,000 after logging back in.

It came several hours after the bank had warned its account holders that some of its services, including online banking, making payments or transferring money, would not be possible over the weekend because of a system upgrade.

The upgrade window was scheduled between Friday at 4pm and Sunday at 6pm.

However, a message on the TSB website on Monday morning said there were still “intermittent issues” with its services, while a number of customers reported they were still unable to access their money.

One Twitter user, Tracy Hannah, wrote: @TSB as soon as I can get access to my own money I'm closing my accounts down. Not been able to get money since Friday but you can still access payments, tsb is the worst bank I've ever dealt with. #tsb.”

Others used more colourful language to describe their frustration.

The bank said it was “working as hard and as fast as we can to get these up and running”.

Among those customers contacting TSB's social media included several who said they could see other people's accounts after logging back in.

Craig Malcom tweeted: “@TSB I currently have access to #20k+ of other peoples money.

“I suggest somebody answers the phones as iv been on hold for 45 minuets!

“This is a MASSIVE breach of data protection! If i have access to their account they could have to mine as well!”

Another Twitter user called Bex said: “@TSB so go to my app and have someone else's accounts there!!!! Serious dpa (Data Protection Act) breach! Want to speak to someone now and a half an hour wait!! What would the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) say about this!!! Might just inform them a bank is giving away other people's account numbers”.

Sky News was attempting to contact TSB for more information as social media remained flooded with complaints despite the bank suggesting services were returning to normal.



Capita reports £513.1m annual pre-tax loss

( via – – Mon, 23 Apr, 2018) London, Uk – –

Capita has reported a £513.1m annual loss as the outsourcing firm set out plans to revive its indebted business.

Capita's profit was wiped out by £850.7m of one-off costs, mainly from writing down the value of acquisitions made under its previous management.

The company said it would raise £701m through a rights issue to fund a reorganisation of the business.

Capita operates the London congestion charge and runs an electronic tagging service for the Ministry of Justice,

The loss compares with a £89.8m deficit in 2016, while revenues last year fell by 4% to £4.2bn

However, new chief executive Jonathan Lewis dismissed any comparison to Carillion, the services and outsourcing group that went bust earlier this year.

“I get frustrated with that comparison – we are a completely different business,” Mr Lewis told the Press Association.

He said: “We have £1bn in liquidity, strong cash flow and a new strategy with investor support. We are not in PFI contracts and have nothing like the risk profile.”

Mr Lewis has announced a major overhaul of the company which currently has £1.7bn in debt. The rights issue will reduce borrowings as well as funding investment in the business.

‘Fundamentally strong'
Under its new strategy, Capita plans to raise around £300m disposals this year and is targeting cost savings of £175m by the end of 2020.

Capita's share price jumped by 12.7% to 180.1p in early trade.

The company collects the licence fee on behalf of the BBC and recently won a five-year extension to provide audience services to the broadcaster.

Commenting on Capita's future, Mr Lewis said the business was “fundamentally strong”.

“However, the business needs to evolve,” he said.

“We need to simplify Capita by focusing on growth markets and to improve our cost competitiveness. We need to strengthen Capita and plan to invest up to £500m in our infrastructure, technology and people over the next three years.”



New Orleans all-female motorcycle club empowering women everywhere


They’re bold, chic, and they can shred the streets of New Orleans in a pair of stilettos. Meet the Caramel Curves, an all-female motorcycle club focused on empowering and uplifting women. After feeling removed from the culture of all-male bike clubs, co-founders Tru and Coco got together to start their own movement. Now, every time they ride, the Caramel Curves demand respect, standing as a role model for girls everywhere.


Enterprising SMEs garnering the power of social media to become local hotspots

Jorge Quinteros/Flickr

( via – – Sun, 22 Apr 2018) London, Uk – –

How small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) use Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to become local hotspots.

‘We reach people who don't know we exist’
Paula Milner, founder, The Crafty Lass

For every workshop that we hold, we set up a Facebook event and post that link to local Northamptonshire Facebook groups.

It means that we can keep track of people interested in our events
(they can click the “interested” button) and reach locals who may not even know that we exist, but are only a few clicks away from purchasing a ticket.

Facebook reviews are also key, because people check these when they visit your profile page, the star rating of which is visible when your page appears in Google search, so a poor score can put someone
off before they have even clicked through.

Encourage customers who have a good experience with you to give
a high-star rating and leave some positive words, which are vital if you want to improve word-of-mouth recommendations.

‘I use hashtags to stand out’
Pragya Agarwal, founder, The Art Tiffin

Across all my craft company's social media, I use location-specific hashtags, such as #lancashirehour and #liverpoolhour, which are used by locals during specific time periods to find out what’s going on in their area.

I do this on a regular basis and during specific times; for example, #liverpoolhour takes place every Thursday from 8-9pm.

The local hashtags create a real sense of community. This especially works with social enterprises like ours, because people are particularly keen to chat with and retweet businesses that are engaging with the community and have a sense of social responsibility.

I also use location tags in Instagram’s live “Stories” feature,
which is good for attracting followers and messages. I recently posted an Easter-themed short video of my kids painting eggs, which was viewed more than 500 times – and thanks to the local hashtag, half the views were from Formby, Merseyside.

I have also made quite a few sales to locals who have seen my Instagram or Twitter posts.

I once posted images of a red squirrel linocut that I made on Twitter, so tagged the local Formby National Trust Red Squirrel reserve and the location hashtag. It resulted in quite a few sales of the linocut print.

As a small firm operating primarily online, it’s difficult to be found in Google keyword searches, but with customers more conscious about supporting their local businesses, social media offers an opportunity to be seen in a crowded marketplace.

It’s also good for offering attractive discounts such as free delivery, because local people will likely be able to pick the goods up in person.

‘It’s powerful marketing on a budget’
Russell Jenkins, managing director, Thomson’s Coffee Roasters

We make sure that our social media posts are tailored to our local Glasgow customers. We will also use hashtags such as #glasgowcentral and #glasgowcafe to reach local people who want to find out what’s going on in their area.

Don’t forget to use your local knowledge and include directions for those who don’t know how to find you.

Social media also means that we can engage directly with the locals.
For example, a post about our policy of welcoming dogs, which featured pictures of canines sitting in the café, was our most successful to date; we got 50 shares and 568 likes within 24 hours. People commented about how excited they were to come to visit with their pups.

Across the three main social media websites, we have built up a community of more than 5,500 followers, which is increasing daily.

If you think of social media as a digital version of word of mouth – and local social media followers as a community group who make recommendations to each other about where to go – then it’s a really powerful tool, especially on a

We make sure to target messages to the most relevant consumers by location, demographic and interest – and we respond to reviews
and feedback, whether they're positive or negative. It shows customers that we're actually listening.

‘We tap into people’s interest in buying local’
Charlotte Mitchell, co-founder, Charlotte’s Butchery

People are more interested in buying local meat and social media enables us to tap into that.

We use Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to encourage people to
place orders for big events and we share little bits of information about the meat to garner interest. We recently started “did you know” Mondays, where we write about different cuts and share recipe ideas.

It shows that we provide a service, rather than just sell meat.

Customers have also become accustomed to using the messenger service on Facebook and Instagram. When they watch cooking shows that feature unusual cuts of meat that the supermarkets don’t
provide, such as lamb neck fillet or marrow, they send us messages straight away to order the ingredients.

It means that we can do business 24/7, even when the physical shop is shut.

By The Telegraph Small Business Connect community



Billionaire: Richard Branson work life balance in a day on Necker Island


People often ask how I spend my time on Necker Island – here's a film that gives you a glimpse into a day on Necker. From playing tennis to working from home, seeing the lemurs to kitesurfing , join us for a taste of island life.

I've never had a desk in an office since I was a teenager. I prefer to work in a hammock, on a sofa or even in a bath. Now that's flexible working!

It's critical to get the balance between work and play right. Find time for yourself; work hard but also play hard. I think people work more effectively when they are given the freedom to make their own decisions — that is definitely something we practice on Necker.

I've embraced the social media revolution, and do a lot of posting from Necker Island (including this video!) You can be instantly connected to fascinating people everywhere — even if you're in a remote corner of the world.

From The Elders to The Carbon War Room, Virgin Galactic to The B Team, Necker is a great place to think and a great place to conceive ideas. Take a look at where we get our inspiration. Where do you find yours?


The Øresund A Unique Modern Roadway Connecting Denmark And Sweden


This unique roadway connects the Danish capital of Copenhagen to the Swedish city of Malmö. The Øresund, designed by the Danish architect George K.S. Rotne, was opened on July 1, 2000. The bridge stretches about 8km before transitioning through an artificial island into a 4km tunnel under the Flint Channel.