Legal & General sells general insurance business to Allianz for £242m

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com–Fri, 31st May 2019) London, Uk – –

The deal, expected to complete later this year, will see two million customers with household insurance policies transfer over.

Legal & General (L&G) is to sell its general insurance business to Germany's Allianz for £242m, it has been announced.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to complete later this year, the UK company said.

It will see two million customers with household insurance policies transfer to Allianz.

L&G said it would use the cash raised to reinvest in its “attractive and growing core businesses”.

Company chief Nigel Wilson said: “Selling the general insurance (GI) business is the right decision for our customers and shareholders. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank our GI colleagues for their contribution to Legal & General.

“We continue to focus on delivering against our strategy, allocating shareholders' capital rigorously.

“We are market leaders in 10 UK markets and have a growing presence in the USA and an emerging presence in Asia.

“Deploying capital in these businesses will deliver better outcomes for all our stakeholders. Our GI customers will benefit from the strength and capability of Allianz in the household insurance sector.”

Jon Dye, chief executive of Allianz UK, said the deal was “a good outcome for all the parties involved” and was “a strong result”.

“The Allianz Group has worldwide insurance experience, is robustly capitalised and has a strong reputation for customer service and these strengths will be applied to grow the business,” he added.

Allianz is also buying out the remaining 51% stake it does not own in LV General Insurance Group.

After the transactions go through, the firm says it will be the second largest general insurer in the UK with 12 million UK general insurance customers.

Uber posts $1bn loss in first quarter after stock market listing

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 31st May 2019) London, Uk – –

Uber has posted a $1bn (£790m) loss as the ride-hailing firm delivered its first figures since a disappointing flotation earlier this month.

The quarterly loss came despite a 20% rise in revenues to $3.1bn and increase in monthly active users to 93 million.

The results were in line with many analysts' forecasts and may provide reassurance about the company's future profitability.

Uber shares have sunk almost 11% since it listed on Wall Street on 10 May.

The company is the biggest of a group of Silicon Valley start-ups that have gone public this year against the backdrop of a global stock market sell-off sparked by renewed US-China trade tensions.

But Uber has also faced strong competition in the smartphone ride-hailing business, and incurred extra costs for signing up new drivers and establishing the Uber Eats delivery service.

‘Long journey'

Finance Chief Nelson Chai said he had recently seen some less aggressive pricing by competitors, which include arch rival Lyft.

He added that Uber was prepared to keep spending. “We will not hesitate to invest to defend our market position globally.”

The company has ambitions to move into electric scooters, e-bikes, and even aircraft, allowing people to hail rides via their smartphones.

During a conference call after publication of the results, Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi said the company's disappointing start as a public business was just a step on “the long journey of making Uber a platform for the movement of people and transport of commerce around the world at a massive scale”.

Short sellers

The share price was almost flat in after-hours trading immediately following release of the numbers, but then jumped 1.6% higher before falling back.

Some analysts have expressed unease about the company ever making a profit. The number of investors betting that Uber's share price will fall – called short-selling – has risen during the past two weeks.

One analyst, Atlantic Equities' James Cordwell, said a lack of any forward guidance in Thursday's statement “is a little disappointing”.

Uk economy likely to grow less than Bank of England forecast

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 30th May 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s economy is likely to grow less than the Bank of England forecast earlier this month as Brexit uncertainty hurts investment and productivity, Deputy Governor Dave Ramsden said on Thursday.

Ramsden, who voted against the BoE’s first post-crisis interest rate increase in November 2017, said rates would need to rise if Brexit went smoothly, but a disruptive Brexit would make the right path for monetary policy an open question.

Even if Brexit does go smoothly, it would be unlikely to dispel all business uncertainty, he said, so investment might pick up less than the BoE had forecast, hurting short-run growth and the economy’s longer-run productive capacity.

“Relative to the best collective judgment expressed in the MPC’s central forecast I am … a little more pessimistic on GDP growth than my colleagues on the MPC,” he told businesses during a visit to Inverness in northeastern Scotland.

The BoE forecast this month that the economy would grow by 1.5% this year and 1.6% in 2020 if Brexit goes smoothly.

Ramsden said his outlook for inflation and how fast to raise interest rates was similar to that of his colleagues, because weaker productivity growth was likely to push up on inflation, cancelling out the drag on inflation from slower growth.

Brexit uncertainty is leading businesses to use extra workers rather than invest in improving productivity, he said, something that was likely to weigh on productivity over the coming years.

“We are unlikely to achieve full certainty until the final outcome of (Brexit) negotiations is known, and there is a risk that more persistent uncertainty could push out the pick-up in investment and continue to drag on growth,” he said.

Figures earlier on Thursday showed the biggest annual fall in car production since the financial crisis, after carmakers temporarily halted work last month because they were unable to reverse closures planned before the scheduled March 29 Brexit.

At the start of this month, BoE Governor Mark Carney said investors were underestimating how much interest rates could rise, even as the British central bank kept borrowing costs on hold due to Brexit uncertainty.

At the time, markets only priced in one quarter-point rate rise over the next three years, and short-term interest rate expectations have fallen back since and markets now think a rate cut is more likely than an increase over the coming year.

Ramsden, a former chief economist at Britain’s finance ministry, said a no-deal Brexit with no transition period beforehand would have “large negative economic effects”.

But that would not automatically mean interest rates should be cut, he said, because of the inflationary impact of a weaker pound and a further reduction in productivity.

Reporting by David Milliken

EE 5G network lands in London and five other UK cities

(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Thur, 30th May 2019) London, Uk – –

EE’s 5G network went live in six cities today, bringing the new technology to the UK for the first time.

London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff and Belfast are the first locations to benefit from the new mobile network, which will offer users data speeds that are considerably faster than 4G.

However, with EE the first network to launch 5G, prices are set to be considerably higher until rivals begin to compete with their own launches.

Vodafone will be the first of those operators to challenge EE when it launches its own 5G network on 3 July.

5G handsets – what's available?

Meanwhile, the selection of 5G handsets is expected to be limited for the moment, with Samsung, OnePlus, LG and HTC all producing 5G handsets.

Huawei’s Mate 20X (5G) smartphone has been blocked from both EE and Vodafone’s rollouts after Google banned the device from receiving upgrades.

The ban came amid claims from the US that Huawei is acting as a spy for China – something Huawei denies.

“The challenge we have at the moment is we don’t have enough clarity on whether our customers are going to be able to be supported over a timeframe of a two or three-year contract,” EE boss Marc Allera told City A.M. last week.

5G speeds and coverage

EE said its 5G network currently offers speeds 10 times faster than 4G, though it will not launch a fully fledged 5G network until 2022.

William Webb, a 5G expert and chief executive of Weightless SIG, warned that coverage will be thin for years after 5G launches, mirroring the ‘not-spots' of 4G and even 3G in some areas of the UK.

“Initially, coverage will be very patchy – some areas in city centres may have a good connection but little elsewhere. For many, there may be no 5G coverage where they live and work for many years,” he said.

He added that the data-hungry network will eat up allowances very quickly, leaving tariffs looking miserly in contrast to 4G contract deals on offer right now.

“The basic 5G package has 5GB of data. If the promise of 200Mb/s is delivered on – and 5G is aiming for much higher – then this entire monthly allowance will last a total of 200 seconds,” he said.

“The only real benefit here is that 5G networks will be virtually empty, allowing congestion-free communications. This is a big advantage when you consider in places such as Waterloo, Kings Cross or other mainline train stations.

“While lower congestion is a valuable benefit, there is no sign of the services or applications that will deliver the well-documented changes to the way that we live and work that some have promised.”

How can the UK improve 5G coverage?

Kate Bevan, editor of Which Computing magazine, said: “The rollout of 5G will offer great opportunities for consumers to get increased internet speeds, faster downloads and be better connected on the move, but the reality is that we are still lagging behind on 4G – with only two-thirds of the UK able to get access with a choice of all major operators.

“The government needs to clearly outline how it will achieve its 2022 target for 95 per cent of the country to have 4G coverage and the regulator must use its powers effectively to extend coverage.”

Kester Mann, principle analyst at CCS Insight, added: “EE’s launch highlighted that the shift from 4G to 5G is an evolutionary one, as it focused on offering a more reliable mobile experience. Its new 5G propositions contain little that is truly innovative, but address existing customer pain-points without over-inflating expectations.”

Currently an EE 5G contract will cost you £54 per month and £170 for a compatible device, though that will only get you 10GB of data per month.

By Joe Curtis

Mayors of Manchester and Liverpool call for termination of Northern rail

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 29th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram urge transport secretary to act after year of misery

The mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool city region have called on the transport secretary to terminate the Northern rail franchise after a year of sustained misery for passengers.

Speaking on behalf of the 4.3 million people they represent, Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram made the demand 12 months on from last May’s timetable chaos.

They believe Northern, which is owned by Deutsche Bahn, the German state railway company, has consistently failed to show it is able to take the action required to restore public confidence or deliver its legally-binding franchise requirements. These include:

  • Failure to deliver a significant and sustained improvement in performance, with nearly a fifth of all services arriving late, 28,000 services cancelled in the last year and a huge increase in services being “shortformed” – reducing the number of carriages on the train – from 2,825 in December 2018 to 4,172 in April 2019.
  • Failure to resolve the RMT industrial dispute, which has led to 46 days of strike action since March 2017.
  • Failure to operate Sunday services, with 165 unplanned cancellations and 90 planned cancellations last Sunday.
  • Failure to deliver new services, such as a range of promised additional hourly services in much-needed parts of the network.
  • Failure to introduce new trains, which means hated Pacer trains may not be gone by the end of the year as promised

Burnham and Rotheram are urging the Department for Transport to implement an “operator of last resort” and bring in a new board and team of directors to run the company as soon possible.Advertisement

Making the call in Salford on Wednesday, Burnham said: “We have been extremely patient with Northern but enough is enough. They promised us that things would be significantly better by May 2019 and that hasn’t happened. Train services across Greater Manchester and the north-west remain unreliable and overcrowded. Sunday services are still subject to widespread cancellation and promises of new rolling stock have not been kept.”

Rotheram said: “Given Northern’s consistent failure to provide an acceptable service we believe it is now time for Chris Grayling to terminate their franchise and move to that operator of last resort, as soon as possible.”

The mayoral call took Northern by surprise; it took two hours before the operator released a response, which suggested it had no intention of relinquishing the franchise. “We agree the north deserves the best possible rail service and are working hard to improve the performance and reliability for customers,” said David Brown, the managing director.

“The unacceptable disruption following the May 2018 timetable change was caused by delays in infrastructure projects out of our control. We have apologised to our customers for the pain this caused. We have seen two successful timetable changes since then, introducing many more new services.

“Since last year, we have made a large number of improvements for customers, including better punctuality, investment in new and refurbished trains, over 2,000 new services and hundreds more people employed to help customers.

“These improvements are still a work in progress, but we are making things better for our customers. We want and expect things to continue to improve.”

Rail unions welcomed the call. The TSSA general secretary, Manuel Cortes, described the move by Burnham and Rotheram as a “vote of no confidence in an operator which has consistently offered an unacceptable third-rate service”.

He added: “Northern Rail is barely functioning and passengers deserve so much better. These services must be brought back into public ownership now. Failing Grayling would be wise to listen on this occasion and do the right thing, but I won’t hold my breath.”

On Tuesday the government announced an “exciting” competition, which invites northern towns and villages to bid for Pacer trains to be turned into “community spaces, cafes or new village halls”.

The proposal was greeted with incredulity by northern MPs, after nine years of austerity cuts from central government in which councils have lost almost 60p in the £1 from Whitehall for local services, with northern authorities worst hit.

“I am not sure my constituents will agree that this is an ‘exciting opportunity’, unless one of them is turned into a museum dedicated to highlighting years of under-investment in northern transport,” Jonathan Reynolds, the Labour MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, told the Manchester Evening News. “My personal suggestion would be to invite my fed-up constituents to dismantle them piece by piece, a bit like when the Berlin Wall came down.”

Ministers should keep all options on the table, including further devolution to the north and the option of public operation, Burnham and Rotherham said.

The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, terminated Virgin Trains East Coast’s contract and took the service in-house last year.

The Northern franchise is supposed to run until 2025, with an option for an additional year dependent on performance.

By Helen Pidd

Huawei on US trade blacklist could harm billions of consumers

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 29th May 2019) London, Uk – –

A US move to put Huawei on a trade blacklist “sets a dangerous precedent” that will harm billions of consumers, the firm's top legal officer said.

Speaking at a press conference, Song Liuping said the trade ban would also “directly harm” American companies and affect jobs.

Washington recently added Huawei to a list of companies that US firms cannot trade with unless they have a licence.

The trade ban is part of a wider battle between the US and Huawei.

Washington has moved to block the Chinese company, the world's largest maker of telecoms equipment, on national security concerns.

Huawei has repeatedly denied claims the use of its products presents security risks, and says it is independent from the Chinese government.

“Politicians in the US are using the strength of an entire nation to come after a private company,” Mr Song said.

What did Huawei say about the trade ban?

Mr Song said the decision to put Huawei, which is also the world's second largest smartphone maker, on the so-called “entity list” would have far-reaching implications.

“This decision threatens to harm our customers in over 170 countries, including more than three billion consumers who use Huawei products and services around the world.”

“By preventing American companies from doing business with Huawei, the government will directly harm more than 1,200 US companies. This will affect tens of thousands of American jobs.”

What about other US moves against Huawei?

Speaking to reporters in Shenzhen, Mr Song also outlined steps that Huawei had taken in relation to a lawsuit it filed against the US government in March.

The case relates to restrictions that prevent US federal agencies from using Huawei products.

The firm said it has filed a motion for a “summary judgement”, asking US courts to speed up the process to “halt illegal action against the company”.

“The US government has provided no evidence to show that Huawei is a security threat. There is no gun, no smoke. Only speculation,” Mr Song said.

A hearing on the motion has been set for 19 September.


Analysis: Robin Brant

Sitting up on a stage, in a large theatre-like room at its headquarters, there was much talk from the Huawei executives of America's rural and “poorer” customers who deserve “equitable access” to good broadband.

Billions of customers are facing the threat of having their welfare “damaged” apparently, so the firm wants to speed things up.

The other reason of course is that the assault from the Trump administration is biting. Asked if Huawei would still be around in a year's time, one executive said its business plans go well beyond next year.

The company insists it is – proudly – privately owned. Nonetheless, I asked if the two senior executives present were members of China's prevailing Communist Party. One said he wasn't. The other wouldn't say.


What about the US-China trade war?

Washington's clampdown on Huawei is part of a wider conflict simmering between the US and China.

The US has pushed to persuade allies to ban the Chinese company over the potential risks of using its products in next-generation 5G mobile networks.

Some countries, including Australia and New Zealand, have blocked Huawei from supplying equipment for 5G mobile networks.

Additionally, the company faces almost two dozen criminal charges filed by US authorities. Washington is also seeking the extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wangzou from Canada, where she was arrested in December at the behest of American officials.

It comes as trade tensions between the US and China also appear to be rising.

The world's two largest economies have been locked in a bruising trade battle for the past year that has seen tariffs imposed on billions of dollars worth of one another's goods.

Earlier this month, Washington more than doubled tariffs on $200bn (£158bn) of Chinese goods, prompting Beijing to retaliate with its own tariff hikes on US products.

US President Donald Trump has, however, sought to link the two, saying recently that Huawei could be part of a trade deal between the US and China.

UK banks approved mortgage rise in April to highest since early 2017

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 28th May 2019) London, UK —

LONDON, (Reuters) – British banks last month approved the greatest number of mortgages since February 2017, adding to signs that the housing market may be over the worst of its pre-Brexit slowdown, a survey showed on Tuesday.

Banks approved 42,989 mortgages in April, up from 40,564 in March and 11.5% higher than a year ago, marking the biggest annual increase since March 2016, according to seasonally-adjusted figures from industry body UK Finance.

Net mortgage lending rose by 1.795 billion pounds last month, a smaller increase than March’s 2.440 billion pound rise which was the largest in 15 months.

Britain’s housing market slowed sharply in the run-up to the original March Brexit deadline but consumer spending has remained solid, driving economic growth just as businesses have cut investment spending due to Brexit uncertainty.

UK Finance said consumer lending increased 3.8% year-on-year in April, slowing a little from March’s growth rate of 4.1% which was the highest in nine months.

Lending figures from the Bank of England, which cover a broader section of Britain’s finance industry, are due on Friday.

Reporting by Andy Bruce

New voluntary industry code to allow Bank transfer fraud victims to get refunds

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 28th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Bank account holders who are tricked into transferring money to fraudsters could be entitled to reimbursement under a new voluntary industry code coming into force from today.

Authorised push payment scams cost victims £354m last year, but until now they were not entitled to reimbursement.

The code is designed to see victims getting money back in cases where neither they nor the bank has done anything wrong – though customers will have to have met “standards expected of them”.

That means they could be denied reimbursement if they have been negligent – for example by ignoring warnings or if they are an organisation that has failed to follow its own procedures.

So-called Authorised Push Payment (APP) scams cost £354.3m last year according to trade body UK Finance, with £228.4m lost to consumers and £126m to non-personal or business account holders.

In total there were 84,624 cases, with 78,215 related to personal accounts.

Consumer group Which? estimates that £674 is typically lost to the crime every minute.

Typical scams that have been reported include homebuyers being tricked into sending the deposit on their homes to fraudsters instead of their solicitors' accounts.

Unlike victims of other types of fraud such as credit or debit card scams, those involved in these cases have not until now been entitled to any reimbursement.

But a number of banks have now signed up to a code of practice to reimburse victims and agreed to fund the scheme on an interim basis until January when longer-term funding arrangements are put in place.

Lenders who wrote the new rules including Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC, Metro Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland were among the initial signatories to the agreement ahead of its 28 May launch date with others expected to follow.

Separate measures being taken to combat APP scams also include a name-checking service called “confirmation of payee”.

This works by making sure that the name of the person being sent money matches the name entered by the person paying.

Customers paying the money will be alerted if there is not a match, before any such transfer takes place.

The Payment Systems Regulator has proposed that the UK's six biggest banking groups, which are involved in about 90% of bank transfers, fully put the confirmation of payee measures in place by 31 March 2020.

Fiat Chrysler and Renault propose merger announced

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 27th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Fiat Chrysler has made a “transformative” merger proposal for French carmaker Renault, the Italian firm said on Monday.

The combined business would be 50% owned by Fiat shareholders and 50% by Renault stockholders.

The carmaker said the merger would create a global automotive leader, with 8.7 million vehicle sales.

Carmakers have faced pressure to consolidate amid major industry shifts, including towards electric vehicles.

Shares in both companies rose strongly following the announcement.

In a statement, Fiat Chrysler (FCA) said the planned merger would create a “world leader in the rapidly changing automotive industry with a strong position in transforming technologies, including electrification and autonomous driving”.

Fiat said that if the firms' 2018 financial results were totted up, the combined company's annual revenues would be nearly €170bn (£149.6bn; $190.5bn), with operating profit of more than €10bn and net profit of more than €8bn.

No plant closures would be caused as a result of the tie-up, the carmaker said.

Robotics sale

It will aim to save €5bn a year by sharing development costs on technology such as electric vehicles and self-driving cars.

It is thought some managerial positions may be lost, but the companies will be keen to show that production-line jobs are being preserved.

The new company will be based in the Netherlands and will be listed on the Milan, Paris and New York stock exchanges.

To make the merger one of equals, the slightly-wealthier FCA will pay a special dividend of €2.5bn and sell its Comau robotics business.

The proposal will be considered by the Renault board. Who will lead the new entity and what it might be called are not yet decided.

New competitors

If the plan goes ahead, Nissan and the French government will own about 7.5% apiece of the new, merged company.

The French government favours the merger but wants more details before giving its final approval, a spokeswoman said.

The Italian government may want to acquire a share of the new firm to balance France's stake, said a politician from the Northern League, the country's largest party, according to Reuters.

By sales, the new company will be number four in North America, number two in the region which covers Europe, the Middle East and Africa and the biggest in Latin America.

Industry shifts toward electric models, along with stricter emissions standards and the development of new technologies for autonomous vehicles, have put increasing pressure on carmakers to consolidate.

Renault already has an alliance with Japan's Nissan, in which research costs and parts are shared. The companies own shares in each other, too. Renault owns 43.4% of Nissan's shares and Nissan owns 15% of Renault.

The former chief executive of both Nissan and Renault, Carlos Ghosn, is awaiting trial following his fourth arrest amid allegations of financial misconduct.

The allegations have put a strain on the 20-year-old alliance, which also includes Japan's Mitsubishi Motors.

New entrants in the motoring sector such as Tesla, as well as cash-rich companies developing driverless technology such as Amazon and Google-owned Waymo, are putting pressure on older and often heavily indebted carmakers to keep up.

People aged over 70 still in work has more than doubled in a decade

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 27th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Despite benefits of working into retirement, campaigners say figures point to pensioner poverty in UK

The number of people aged over 70 who are still working has more than doubled in a decade to nearly half a million, new research has shown.

The number of those aged over 70 who are in full- or part-time employment has been steadily rising year on year for the past decade, according to new Office for National Statistics data, reaching a peak of 497,946 in the first quarter of this year – an increase of 135% since 2009.

Nearly one in 12 of those in their 70s are still working, a significant increase from the one in 22 working 10 years ago.

“While we know that the over-50s in general have been the driving force behind the UK’s impressive employment growth in recent years, our deeper analysis shows the hard work and significant economic contribution made by the rapidly growing numbers of over-70s in the workplace,” said Stuart Lewis, founder of Rest Less, the site for work and volunteering opportunities specifically targeted at the over-50s, which commissioned the research.

“Many are actively looking to top up their pension savings while they still can but there is also a growing understanding of the many health and social benefits that come with working into retirement,” he said.

The research also shows that nearly one in nine men aged 70 and over are currently working full or part-time: an increase of 137% over the past 10 years.

Over three times more men aged 70 and above are working full-time compared with a decade ago: 113,513 up from 36,302 in 2009.

The number of women aged 70 and above who are still working has also more than doubled in a decade. Today, there are 175,000 women aged 70 and above in work: an increase of 131%.

In addition, the research found, there are currently more than 53,000 over 80s working in the UK, 25% of whom are working full-time.Advertisement

But Catherine Seymour, head of policy at Independent Age pointed out that the rise in people working beyond 65 coincides with increases in pensioner poverty. “One in every six people – nearly two million – of pension age are now living in poverty and every day, another 226 people join that number,” she said.

“Many people who are now working in their late sixties and seventies are doing so out of necessity to pay the rent, heat their homes and afford their weekly shop,” she added. “Everyone who wants to should be able to retire from paid work at state pension age, and these figures suggest many people cannot afford that right.”

Stephen Clarke, senior economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, pointed out that the UK still performs poorly compared to many other similar countries in terms of older workers’ participation in the labour market. “Plenty more progress can be made,” he said.

“The government should enable people to partially draw down pension pots while continuing to work, while businesses need to do more to keep those with health problems or caring responsibilities engaged with the labour market,” he added.

Patrick Thomson, senior programme manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, said that with fewer younger people starting work to replace those set to retire in the future, uncertainty over Brexit, and worsening skills and labour shortages, “it’s vital that employers wake up and adopt age-friendly practices like flexible working to enable people to work for as long as they want.

“The face of Britain’s workforce is changing dramatically. We can’t afford to ignore our older workers,” he said.

Lily Parsey from the International Longevity Centre, said:

“To maximise the longevity dividend of our ageing society, we need to create inclusive and supportive workplaces, to ensure that we all can benefit from the benefits longevity can yield.”

Case study: ‘My age is totally irrelevant’

Reverend Michael Soulsby, 82, took up a hospital chaplaincy in Buckinghamshire at the age of 80 and is still working one or two days a week.

“I retired as a Church of England parish priest at the age of 68 but un-retired four months later. I have been working part-time since then on baptisms, births, funerals, Sunday services and administering to those in hospital here who need me.

“My age is totally irrelevant in terms of my health. My wife has preserved me very well, so I feel exactly the same physically as I did 20 years ago. I would like to think that my age has, however, made me a better hospital chaplain because I’ve gained the experience to appreciate better what the people I’m administering to really need to hear.

“I’m not still working for financial reasons. I’m still working because there’s a great deal of satisfaction in a job well done. I’ll leave when I stop working to the judgement of the hospital and the chaplaincy but I hope I still have a good few years in me left.”

By Amelia Hill

The ecommerce entrepreneur Gretta Van Riel who went from $0 to $600K per month Selling Tea at 22 Years Old

Source: Foundr Magazine

Within just 6 months of starting her first ecommerce business, it was generating $600,000 USD per month (without funding or investment). She was then instrumental in launching another ecommerce business generating $100,000 USD on the first day. Since then, Gretta has repeated this unique framework for four different businesses and niches, turning each into a multimillion dollar success story. She has seen million dollar sales days for her online stores and just celebrated 5 years since she started her first successful ecommerce store in her kitchen (and yes, it's still going strong!).

How Singapore developed one of the world’s best public housing programs

Source: Bloomberg

Singapore had a severe housing shortage decades ago. But it developed one of the world's best public housing programs, which has also allowed a huge number of its citizens to buy their own homes.

The process of a traditional Italian olive oil mill

Source: UK Business Insider

Business Insider UK was allowed inside a traditional olive mill in Italy, to see the process behind one of the world's most-used cooking ingredients. Olive oil comes in many varieties and flavours that change depending on soil, climate, age, and production. The most refined olive oil is called ‘extra virgin.' To be called so, the olives need to be crushed within 24 hours. They also need to be ‘cold pressed,' meaning the oil is extracted mechanically at room temperature without the use of heat or chemicals. While modern mills use steel drums to cold-press their olives, some smaller, often family-run mills are still making it the old-fashioned way with giant granite wheels. The mill we visited in Monopoli, south Italy, produces around 800 litres per day of extra virgin olive oil, crushing about 5,000 kg of olives. Harvested olives enter the mill on a conveyor belt, losing around 90% of the leaves. The last 10% is ground into a paste with olives and pits. The paste then moves into a kneading machine, which helps break the paste down into water and oil. It’s then spread over large fibre discs that are piled up and pressed for around 2.5 hours. Finally, the oil is separated from water and ready to be sold, or it can be filtered to give it a clearer appearance. Filtering is done through a funnel and cotton wool. While filtered oil has a longer shelf life, it has less flavour than the unfiltered product.

Facebook to launch ‘GlobalCoin’ cryptocurrency early in 2020

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 24th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Mark Zuckerberg met governor of Bank of England last month to discuss decision

Facebook is planning to launch its own cryptocurrency in early 2020, allowing users to make digital payments in a dozen countries.

The currency, dubbed GlobalCoin, would enable Facebook’s 2.4 billion monthly users to change dollars and other international currencies into its digital coins, which could then be used to make payments or transfer money without needing a bank account.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and chief executive of Facebook, last month met the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, to discuss the plans, according to the BBC.

Zuckerberg has also discussed the proposal, dubbed Project Libra, with US Treasury officials and is in talks with money transfer firms, including Western Union, to develop cheap, safe ways for people to send and receive money. A report last year said that Facebook is working on a cryptocurrency that will let users transfer money using WhatsApp, its encrypted mobile-messaging app.

In order to try to make the value of Facebook’s digital currency stable, the company is looking to peg its value to a basket of established currencies, including the US dollar, the euro and the Japanese yen.

Facebook has been long expected to make a move in financial services, having hired the former PayPal president David Marcus to run its messaging app in 2014. Marcus, a board member of crypto exchange Coinbase, runs Facebook’s blockchain initiatives, the technology on which cryptocurrencies run.

Earlier this month the US Senate committee on banking wrote an open letter to Zuckerberg questioning how the currency will work, what consumer protection will be offered and how data will be secured.

In February the JP Morgan became the first major US bank to create its own cryptocurrency, JPM Coin, as a way for its clients to settle payments.

by Mark Sweney

Mothercare sales plunged almost 9% as losses widen

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 24th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Sales in the UK arm of baby goods retailer Mothercare plunged almost 9% last year as its losses widened to £87.3m.

The firm said its sales had fallen following reduced consumer confidence after last year's restructuring.

That led to it closing almost a third of its stores. It is now left with 79 and will develop its online sales.

But boss Mark Newton-Jones said the firm was on a “sounder footing” after the sale of the Early Learning Centre.

The results for the year to 30 March – delayed from Thursday – detail the attempt by the retailer to rebound from what it describes as last year's “acute financial distress”.

It underwent a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which allowed it to shut 55 shops in the space of a year, rather than the four it would taken without the CVA.

‘Text book recovery'

It also sold the ELC to the Entertainer for £11.5m and its Watford head office for £14.5m.

There was also a “fracture in the relationship” with the non-executive directors and directors, the company said.

“We remain determined to differentiate Mothercare as a textbook recovery case, in parallel demonstrating that boards can and should foster a greater alignment between their debt and equity providers,” said chairman Clive Whiley.

Even so, the results detail a worst-case scenario – of further falls in sales and margins – under which it could renegotiate its debt, which has been cut from £44m to £7m,

Mr Newton-Jones – who left last year, only to be rehired a little over a month later – said: “Whilst this major restructuring activity has resigned in significant headline losses for the year, the business is now on a sounder financial footing.”

‘Global brand'

The £87.3m of losses include £47.3m of costs associated with the restructuring, including store closures and 800 job losses, and the discontinued operations of the ELC. Losses in the previous financial year were £72.8m.

Its shares rose 19% to 24p, although they traded at 245p in 2015.

Like-for-like sales – stripping out the impact of store changes – fell 8.9% in the UK. Online sales were down 8% and store sales down 15.8% because of what Mothercare described as declining footfall and nervousness from suppliers during the restructuring.

International sales, largely in China, India, Indonesia, the Middle East and Russia, fell 4.7% – less than the 5.9% a year earlier.

Operations are also being expanded in Vietnam, where there are six stores, with three more to open.

Competition

“The next phase of our strategic transformation plan is to develop Mothercare as a global brand, maximising the opportunities we see across many international markets,” said Mr Newton-Jones.

Maureen Hinton, retail research director at GlobalData, said that sales would have fallen because of the store closures, but added that Mothercare was a “me-too” type of business, with similar products to rivals.

“There are so many better competitors for baby care and children's clothes. Supermarkets are so strong, Next has got very strong children's range and on the nursery side, there is JoJo Maman Bebe and John Lewis,” she said.

Added to that are the second-hand sales through online forums such as eBay, she said.

Natura to buy cosmetics firm Avon in £1.6bn deal

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Thur, 23rd May,2019) London, Uk – –

Avon sees the tie-up as boosting its online offering at a time when direct selling is under pressure from internet sales.

The owner of The Body Shop, Natura, is snapping up direct-selling cosmetics firm Avon in a deal that values the UK company at £1.6bn.

Brazil-based Natura, which also has the Aesop brand in its stable, said the agreement would create the world's fourth-largest beauty company and boost its direct sales offer at a time when both are grappling competition from internet sales.

Natura is primarily a physical space retailer with 3,200 stores worldwide.

Under the terms of the share swap deal, Natura will hold 76% of the combined business.

Investors in 133-year-old Avon Products will get 0.3 Natura share for each Avon share – a premium of 28% on the value seen on Tuesday.

Shares in both companies had ended over 9% higher on Wednesday as speculation mounted that a deal was imminent.

The takeover will give them a commanding market share of almost 47% in Brazil – their largest single market – where Natura has a 31% share currently, according to research group Euromonitor.

While such a dominant position could concern regulators, who must approve the deal, analysts said both currently offer each other's products so competition concerns were likely to be limited.

Natura said it expected the deal to be concluded by early next year – a consequence of the requirement for shareholders of both firms and competition authorities in several countries to approve the tie-up.

Jan Zijderveld, Avon's chief executive, said: “This combination is the start of an exciting new chapter in Avon's 130-year history.

“It stands as a testament to the progress of our efforts to ‘Open Up Avon', and we believe it will allow us to significantly accelerate our strategy and further expand into the online channel.

“Over the past year, we have started a transformation to strengthen Avon's competitiveness by renewing our focus on Her, simplifying our operations, and modernising and digitising our brand.

“Together with Natura, we will have broader access to innovation and a portfolio of products, a stronger e-commerce
and digital platform, and improved data and tools for Representatives to drive growth and enhance value for shareholders.”

Thomas Cook downgraded by credit rating agencies Fitch and S&P

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 23rd May 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Credit rating agencies Fitch and S&P have downgraded Thomas Cook after the travel firm’s latest profit warning, saying the indebted company could struggle this summer in the face of weak demand.

Thomas Cook issued its third profit warning in less than a year last week, saying subdued demand had led to increased promotions and earlier discounting than usual. The profit warning led Citi to cut its price target for the stock to zero.

The company has put its airline up for sale and also agreed a 300 million pound ($379 million) bank facility to provide more liquidity for the 2019/20 winter season.

“The downgrade reflects the tight liquidity we expect TCG (Thomas Cook Group) to face toward the end of 2019 should it not sell its airline division or be able to draw on the planned GBP300 million senior secured facility,” Fitch said as it cut Thomas Cook’s rating to CCC+ from B.

“We expect EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) and profitability to be lower than our previous forecasts as the company faces lower bookings in its main markets, continuing fierce competition and Brexit uncertainty.”

S&P downgraded its rating on Thomas Cook to CCC+ from B-, citing risks from the soft market conditions and uncertainty over the sale price of the airline unit.

Last week Thomas Cook said it had received multiple bids to take over all or parts of its airline business. The company declined to comment on the credit ratings downgrades.

Shares in Thomas Cook were down 6% at 0854 GMT, with other travel and leisure stocks also lower.

The yield on Thomas Cook euro-denominated bonds that mature in 2022 rose <, but remained below Monday’s all-time high.

The stock is up 37% since hitting 8.33 pence on Monday, its lowest since November 2011, as the company has sought to reassure travelers that their holidays are safe in the wake of the profit warning.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; Additional reporting by Josephine Mason and Helen Reid

Cadent hit with record £44m penalty over gas supply failures

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 22nd May 2019) London, Uk – –

 company which left customers without gas for months has received the largest-ever enforcement action, of £44m, from the energy regulator.

Ofgem said Cadent also had no records of 775 high-rise blocks of flats.

That discovery was in part prompted by an information request from a council in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The company offered an “unreserved apology” to customers who were without supplies for 19 days on average.

“We aim to put customers' needs at the heart of everything we do, and we acknowledge that in the past, we have fallen short of customers expectations and the higher standards we have now set ourselves; for this, we are sorry,” said Steve Hurrell, chief executive of Cadent.

Cadent, previously known as National Grid Gas Distribution, is involved in the final leg of piping gas into people's homes.

‘Unacceptable'

It owns four of England's eight regional distribution networks – north London, the West Midlands, the North West of England and eastern England. It did not supply Grenfell, but received an information request from a council following the tragedy.

Many of the customers affected by the gas outage were in north London. Some had their gas cut off for more than five months

Jonathan Brearley of Ofgem told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “When they were making repairs, people had their gas cut off for far too long.

“So in London, people in tower blocks were off for an average of 19 days and some were off for several months. We think this is unacceptable.

“If they do not look after their customers in totality, then absolutely they will either lose their licence or indeed they will suffer further financial penalties.”

Three failings

The penalty takes two parts: £24m for improvements and compensation and £20m for a community fund, which will receive 1.25% of Cadent's after tax profits. The firm's operating profit last year was £724m.

The company admitted that its regulatory data supplied to Ofgem showed that it was leaving residents in blocks of flats without gas for longer than necessary.

It also reported to Ofgem that it failed, over a six-year period, to compensate up to 12,000 residents left without gas for more than 24 hours.

It also reported to the regulator that it did not have records of gas pipes – or risers – in many tower blocks in its London network.

As part of the penalty, Cadent – which supplies gas to 11 million properties and 3,347 blocks of at least six storeys – will double compensation payments to customers who experience an unplanned disruption of longer than 24 hours, at a cost of £6.7m.

It will also pay £300,000 – double the amount first envisaged – to 2,140 customers who faced delayed compensation in 2018 and 2019.

The Health and Safety Executive is investigating the record-keeping issue and will publish its findings in due course.

EE stops selling new Huawei phones over concerns about Android updates

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 22nd May 2019) London, Uk – –

Firm is concerned about selling Android devices which won't receive updates and is waiting for clarifications on new phones.

EE will not be selling the next generation of Huawei phones due to concerns about whether the devices could receive operating system updates from Google.

It follows the news that Huawei's access to Android updates has been revoked by Google in accordance with sanctions issued by the White House.

A spokesperson for EE, which is the UK's largest mobile network, has confirmed to Sky News that existing Huawei customers are not affected and devices that are still in stock will still be sold.

But they added that the company won't be selling new Huawei smartphones as part of its 5G push until it has clarification on the situation with Android as it could leave customers without security updates.

The announcement was made as the company launched the first phase of its 5G roll-out, which will launch properly on 30 May in six cities around the UK: London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester.

The non-standalone 5G service still uses the 4G system's core network, although its radio antennas are the latest technology and are expected to provide a considerable boost to connectivity.

New phones which can support 5G connections from Samsung, OnePlus, LG, and Oppo are also going on pre-order, although the company has paused the sale of Huawei devices.

EE expects that its standalone 5G network will be working in 2022.