House prices climbed 8.5% in 2020 amid tax holiday

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 17th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

UK house prices climbed 8.5% in 2020, the highest annual growth rate since October 2014, according to official figures.

The average UK house price reached a record high of £252,000 in December 2020, the Office for National Statistics said.

The North West had the highest growth of 11.2%, while London rose just 3.5%.

The stamp duty holiday due to end this March contributed to the rise, the ONS said.

Spending more time at home in the pandemic meant some people also decided they needed more space.

That was reflected in the average price of detached properties climbing by twice as much as flats and maisonettes during 2020, up 10% and 5% respectively.

Meanwhile Wales experienced the fastest price growth, with property values rising 10.7% to £184,000.

In England, prices climbed 8.5% to £269,000, in Scotland, 8.4% to £163,000 and in Northern Ireland 5.3% to £148,000.

“Recent price increases may reflect a range of factors including pent-up demand, some possible changes in housing preferences since the pandemic and a response to the changes made to property transaction taxes across the nations,” the ONS said.

Regional variations

The UK housing market is made up of lots of local markets, with different factors affecting property prices such as the performance of schools and the availability of jobs. The ONS figures are based on sale completions.

Although average London prices were up by 3.5%, over last year, prices fell in the capital by £5,000 between November and December, despite a UK-wide price increase of 1.2% over the month.

But the city still has the highest average house price in the UK, at £496,000.

The North East continued to have the lowest average house price at £141,000, and has become the final English region to surpass its pre-economic downturn peak of July 2007.

Cheap debt

“2020 was the year that fundamentals came home to roost,” said Nicky Stevenson, managing director at estate agent Fine & Country.

“There was no escaping a lack of space for households who suddenly found they were living on top of each other with little respite. That has powered annual growth that reached a six-year high.”

There were four major drivers of overall house price rises in 2020, said Anna Clare Harper, chief executive of asset manager SPI Capital.

“The temporary stamp duty reduction and cheap debt as a result of very low interest rates, which give buyers a ‘discount'; the release of pent-up supply and demand and desire to improve surroundings amongst existing homeowners; and the ‘flight to safety', since in times of uncertainty, people want to keep their money in a stable asset with low volatility.

“But looking to the future when the temporary stamp duty reduction ends, we're likely to see a slowdown in house price rises,” she said.

“However, there is still some life in the market as lockdown helps to concentrate many potential buyers and sellers' minds as far as moving is concerned,” said north London estate agent Jeremy Leaf.

“Intense speculation remains as to whether the 31 March stamp duty deadline will be extended and we can't help but have sympathy for many who have started the process several months ago who have been unavoidably delayed by a backlog in searches, surveys, conveyancing, or all three, to say nothing of problems in the new-build industry.”

By Simon Read

Ford motor plan all-electric passenger range in Europe by 2030

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 17th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

The plans come as manufacturers worldwide seek to develop zero-emission vehicles in the face of strict emission targets and bans.

Ford has announced its entire passenger range in Europe will be all-electric by the end of the decade.

The motor giant also said its commercial models would be 100% zero-emissions capable, all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2024.

The move comes after Ford reported a return to profit in Europe in the fourth quarter of 2020. How does the UK's new green drive compare to the rest of the world?

The firm said it was investing at least $22bn (£15.8bn) globally in electrification to 2025, nearly twice the company's previous investment plans.

Ford of Europe president Stuart Rowley said: “We successfully restructured Ford of Europe and returned to profitability in the fourth quarter of 2020.

“Now we are charging into an all-electric future in Europe with expressive new vehicles and a world-class connected customer experience.”

The company's plans include a $1bn cash boost to modernise its vehicle assembly facility in Cologne, Germany.

The investment will transform the existing operation for the manufacture of electric vehicles, Ford's first such facility in Europe.

Ford confirmed that its first European-built, volume all-electric passenger would be produced at the site from 2023.

Speaking to Sky News' Ian King Live programme, Mr Rowley said Ford's Dunton Technical Centre in Essex, which is responsible for the design and engineering of its commercial vehicles, would be “contributing strongly” and playing as leading role in the electrification of the range.

“So we don't produce vehicles, but it is a very important part of our overall operation,” he said.

Mr Rowley added: “The European region is really leading the way in the electrification of our industry and obviously as we invest heavily, not only Ford but the entire industry, as part of that we will be bringing down costs as we establish scale.”

But he indicated that further job losses could be in the pipeline with the shift to electrification.

He said: “It's obviously a huge transition for Ford and the entire industry as we move from conventional powertrains, engine transmissions to battery, so we have worked very closely with our social partners… to manage that transition in an appropriate way.”

He added: “We will continue to resize our operations. We would expect to see some continued descaling in our European operations as we make this transition.”Where the jobs have been lost during the COVID pandemic

Mr Rowley would not be drawn on a figure but pointed out that over the last two years Ford's workforce in Europe had been reduced by around 20% or 10,000 people.

Earlier this week, Jaguar Land Rover committed to keep all three of its British plants open in the drive for all its models to be fully electric by 2030.

The firm, owned by India's Tata Motors, said the Jaguar brand would lead the way with a complete electric vehicle range by 2025.

The plans come as car groups worldwide pursue zero-emission strategies to meet strict CO2 emission targets.

A number of countries have also announced bans on new fossil-fuel vehicle sales.

Boris Johnson, who welcomed the company's commitment in a tweet on Monday evening,confirmed last year that sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans would be phased out by 2030, as part of his 10-point plan for a “green industrial revolution”.

In November, luxury car brand Bentley Motors, owned by Germany's Volkswagen, said its model range would be fully electric by 2030.

Last month, General Motors Co said it aimed to have a zero-emission line-up by 2035.

TikTok’s U.S. ad business surge significantly as client spending increase

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 16th Feb 2021) London, UK —

(Reuters) – Accused by the Trump administration of being a front for the Chinese government, TikTok’s ad business looked bleak last July.

Big brands backed off on spending even as TikTok executives offered refunds to advertisers in the event the hot social media platform were to be banned from operating in the United States.

But after it became clear Joe Biden had won November’s U.S presidential election, that all changed.

“The interest in TikTok has exploded,” said Erica Patrick, vice president and director of social media at Mediahub Worldwide, which has worked with brands including Netflix and Twitch. She said she expects client spending to increase significantly over the next six months.

While the Biden administration pauses a government lawsuit filed by Trump officials, corporate sponsors have raced back to the popular short video sharing app, booking advertising campaigns and experimenting with new ways to reach consumers, three ad agency executives told Reuters.

The clamor around national security and TikTok during the previous administration appears to have been “more of a stunt,” and has not been a serious concern for advertisers, Patrick said.

Trump’s defeat in the election was the turning point for many advertisers who were previously “on the fence” about TikTok, according to one media buyer.

As business picks up, the platform has also approached major brands individually in an effort to address lingering concerns such as the placement of their ads, the buyer said.

Although TikTok’s U.S. advertising business is estimated to be small still compared with larger social platforms, TikTok said it tracked a 500% increase in advertisers running campaigns in the United States over the course of 2020. It says it continuously has conversations with advertisers on brand safety.

Since late last year, TikTok has signed up McDonald’s, Kate Spade, Chobani and Bose, as well as nonprofits including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a TikTok spokeswoman said.

Bose has found that ads on TikTok are watched for longer than on other platforms, said Christina Kelleher, manager of global social media for Bose.

St. Jude has raised about $50,000 since September through a donation button on TikTok, according to ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude.

“TikTok is one of our fastest growing platforms,” said Rick Shadyac, chief executive of ALSAC, adding that the organization’s first ad campaign in December with actress Ashley Tisdale had “tremendous engagement.”

NEW OPPORTUNITIES

As the app seeks to earn more money and capitalize on its large Gen Z audience, TikTok’s revenue ambitions have grown and now include selling top-dollar ad packages centered around holidays or major events.

To celebrate Black History Month, TikTok will hold a virtual event with 500 Black creators on Thursday and has invited brands to sponsor the event for $750,000, according to a TikTok slide deck obtained by Reuters.

The company has also asked brands for $1.5 million to sponsor a live finale event on Feb. 26 featuring artist performances and special guest appearances, the slide deck showed.

Ecommerce is a growing priority, TikTok said in a statement, as the company aims to take on Facebook’s Instagram, which lets users buy products directly through the app.

TikTok said it is exploring letting users share affiliate product links on the app, which could allow influencers and TikTok to earn a commission from sales.

Influencer marketing, already a major form of advertising on TikTok, is booming as more brands rush to pay top stars famous for their dance routines or comedy skits to promote products to their millions of fans.

The Influencer Marketing Factory, which has worked with brands including Dunkin and Amazon to arrange content deals with social media stars, has seen a five-fold increase in requests from brands wanting to work with TikTok influencers since November, said Alessandro Bogliari, chief executive of the agency.

Even staid companies such as financial services firms are asking how they can get in on the app, after the GameStop trading mania showed younger consumers have more varied interests than some advertisers had expected, said Joe Gagliese, chief executive of influencer marketing agency Viral Nation.

“TikTok has diametrically changed, you’re seeing finance and sports on there,” Gagliese said. “That’s what’s fueling other brands to come in and play.”

Reporting by Sheila Dang;

eBay’s $9.2bn Gumtree deal raises concerns, says watchdog

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 16th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

Purchase by Shpock owner Adevinta could lead to less choice for consumers, says watchdog

Gumtree was founded in 2000 by two former City traders, who sold the website to eBay in 2005. 

A $9.2bn (£6.5bn) deal to create the world’s largest classified ads business could reduce consumer choice and increase the fees people are charged for advertising goods online, Britain’s competition watchdog has warned.

Shpock operator Adevinta’s proposed purchase of Gumtree from eBay would combine websites that allow people to buy and sell used or new items such as clothes, electronics and furniture. The eBay marketplace is the largest such platform in the UK.

However the Competition and Markets Authority said it was concerned the merger could lead to a loss of competition between Shpock, Gumtree and eBay’s marketplace, with only Facebook Marketplace remaining as a big competitor.

“This could reduce consumer choice, increase fees or lower innovation in the supply of platforms that allow people to buy and sell goods online,” it said.

The CMA said with the sale of the eBay Classifieds Group business, which runs Gumtree and Motors.co.uk, to Norway’s Adevinta, eBay would acquire a 33.3% voting stake in Adevinta and positions on its board, and would be able to influence the business strategy for Gumtree and Shpock.

The deal, agreed in July, would make Adevinta, which was spun off from Norwegian publishing group Schibsted in 2019, the world’s largest classified ads business with annual revenues of $1.8bn. By offering eBay a big stake, Adevinta beat rival bidders including Naspers and Prosus, even though they offered eBay more cash as part of their bids. eBay had come under pressure from activist investors Elliott Management and Starboard Value to divest its classifieds business and cut costs in the face of rising competition from Amazon and Walmart.https://www.theguardian.com/email/form/plaintone/business-todaySign up to the daily Business Today email

Adevinta and eBay have until 23 February to offer legally binding solutions to resolve the CMA’s competition concerns. The CMA then has five working days to consider whether to accept the offer instead of referring the deal to an in-depth investigation.

Adevinta said: “While Adevinta and eBay do not agree with the CMA’s reasoning, they will work constructively with the CMA and are confident in finding a suitable resolution.” It added that in 2019, eBay Classifieds Group’s UK business accounted for less than 10% of the division’s revenues while Adevinta’s UK business accounted for just 1% of its revenues.

Gumtree was founded in 2000 by two former City traders, who sold the London jobs and flats website to eBay five years later. Many ads posted on Gumtree are free.

By Julia Kollewe

Wetherspoon looks to keep on all 37,000 furloughed staff when pub gets go-ahead to reopen

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 15th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

The firm's founder stresses the economic contribution made by the industry as he presses the government on restarting trade.

Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has told Sky News he aims to bring back all 37,000 staff currently on furlough leave once his pub chain gets the go-ahead to reoopen.

The firm's chairman and founder expressed the hope as he called on the government to allow bars to start trading again at the same time as non-essential shops, following the coronavirus lockdown.

He had earlier warned the pub industry was “on its knees” due to the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted the major contribution it makes to the economy through taxation.

His comments came as more than 160 hospitality chiefs, including the bosses of Burger King, Pizza Express and Fuller's urged the chancellor to extend the VAT cut by another year, amid continuing uncertainty over when struggling venues will be able to reopen.Advertisement

The government is set to unveil its road map to recovery following the latest lockdown and timescales for the easing of some restrictions in an update on 22 February.

Pressed on Sky News' Ian King Live programme over how many furloughed staff he hoped to bring back, Mr Martin said: “All of them.”

He added: “There were 40,000 when we closed down a year ago and there are over 37,000 now, so we hope that they can all come back.”

He also defended the displaying of anti-lockdown posters in the windows of some of his pubs, which were removed following criticism.

Asked if he regretted this, Mr Martin said: “No. I think there's a strong case which has been made by many, many people that the type of hard lockdown that you have had in the UK doesn't work.”

He argued there had now been three nationwide lockdowns while the UK had one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the world.

Pressing for the reopening of pubs, he pointed out that “vast swathes of the country” will have been vaccinated.Where the jobs have been lost during the COVID pandemic

In earlier comments, he said: “In the last 10 years Wetherspoon has generated £6.1bn of taxes, something we are very proud of.

“In the financial year to July 2019, before the pandemic, Wetherspoon, its customers and employees generated £764m of taxes – £1 in every thousand collected by the UK government.

“Many people have correctly pointed out that the three lockdowns of the last year have been a disaster for the hospitality, retail, arts and entertainment industries, but our calculations show that they have been an even bigger disaster for public finances.

“The taxes paid by Wetherspoon are mirrored by thousands of companies which have been annihilated by lockdowns.

“As a result, government finances have been annihilated even more.”

He added: “Surely it is possible for the hospitality industry to reopen at the same time as non-essential shops, now that a vaccine exists, on the basis of the social distancing and hygiene regulations.

“Unless the industry does reopen on that basis, economic mayhem will inevitably follow.”

Meanwhile, pub, restaurant and hotel bosses have urged Rishi Sunak to also reduce VAT for on-premise alcohol sales, leisure activities and weddings in next month's spring budget.

In a letter co-ordinated by industry body UKHospitality, industry leaders have demanded that the reduction of VAT from 20% to 5% on food and soft drinks is extended into the next financial year and also expanded to cover more areas of the sector.

They have also called for the current business rates holiday, which is currently due to expire by April, to be extended again.

Pound hits three-year high amid rising optimism of UK ending lockdown

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 15th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

The pound has hit its highest level against the dollar in nearly three years, amid rising optimism about an end to lockdown in the UK.

It surpassed $1.39 on Monday, while also hitting a nine-month high against the euro at €1.147.

More than 15 million people have now had their first Covid jab, raising hopes that restrictions can soon be eased and the economy start to recover.

Boris Johnson will set out his plan for exiting England's lockdown next Monday.

Chris Turner, global head of markets at ING, said: “[The pound] continues to reap the dividends of a successful vaccine rollout and momentum is building towards a reopening of the economy – probably starting with schools on 8 March.”

The UK's main share index, the FTSE 100, also climbed on Monday, rising by more than 2%.

On Monday, the prime minister said his plan for exiting lockdown would be “cautious but irreversible”.

He said it would target dates for changes “if we possibly can”, but he warned high rates of infection could lead to delays.

The UK has vaccinated more than 15 million people with a first dose and 500,000 with a second dose, the fastest rollout per capita of any large country.

England, which has about 85% of the UK population, also launched a hotel quarantine system on Monday.

Passengers arriving from any of 33 “red list” countries will have to spend 14 days in a hotel room under new border restrictions designed to stop new variants of the coronavirus.

Markets boost

Stock markets around the world are also heading higher because of optimism about the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and new fiscal aid for the US from Washington.

Tensions in the Middle East meanwhile have driven oil prices to a 13-month high.

As more people are vaccinated across key markets such as the US, and with US President Joe Biden looking to pump an extra $1.9 trillion in stimulus into the economy, so-called “reflation” trade has gathered momentum in recent days.

European indexes were up on Monday afternoon, with Spain's Ibex 35 up 1.8% and the French Cac 40 1.5% higher.

“We believe investors should prepare for bouts of volatility ahead, but regard them as opportunities rather than threats,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management.

“We recommend investors stick to their long-term financial plans and continue to put excess cash to work,” he added.

15 Reasons Why Money is Becoming Worthless

Source: Alux

How The Right 5-10 Cryptocurrency Coins
Could Make You A Fortune

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This Alux.com video we will be answering the following questions: Is money becoming worthless? Is paper money becoming worthless? What happens when the government prints money? Why doesn't the government just print more money to make everyone rich? How to not be affected by inflation? What is inflation? How is money losing its value? Why is money losing its purchasing power? Why you shouldn't save money?!

The Rise And Fall Of Pier 1

Source: CNBC

Once known for its “treasure hunt” atmosphere, colorful home furnishings, and distinctive holiday decorations, Pier 1 filed for bankruptcy in February 2020. Pier 1 later announced it was winding down its entire business, in part, due to the coronavirus pandemic. And while Pier 1 had a smaller share of the home furnishing industry than some of its rivals, those store closings could mean good news for a few retailers.

Learjet fly into aviation history as production ends later this year

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 12th Feb, 2021) London, Uk – –

After decades as a fixture in the lives of the rich and famous, the Learjet is set to fly into aviation history.

Bombardier will stop making the Learjet later this year to focus on more profitable planes.

The decision means the loss of 1,600 jobs in Canada and the US at a time when both aviation and aircraft manufacturing are struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Canada will bear the brunt of the losses, with at least 700 of those jobs in Quebec and 100 in Ontario.

Canadian firm Bombardier said it will continue to support the existing Learjet fleet, but its attention would shift to the more lucrative Challenger and Global aircraft, along with its services business.

The news came as the company reported an adjusted loss before interest and taxes of $165m (£119m) for the quarter ending 31 December, compared with a profit of $168m (£122m) a year earlier.Advertisement

It hopes the cuts will generate $400m in savings by 2023.

The aviation industry has been hit by travel restrictions and a fall in journeys due to fears of the coronavirus pandemic, which began to affect the industry in the early months of last year.

Bombardier chief executive Eric Martel said the “reductions are absolutely necessary for us to rebuild our company while we continue to navigate through the pandemic”.Where jobs have been lost across the UK economy

He added: “The pandemic has also brought new attention and customers to private air travel and the enhanced safety it provides.

“Nevertheless, we expect that a full market recovery will take several years.

“This harsh market reality, combined with the higher than expected debt load we are carrying due to the pandemic, requires immediate action in the coming months.”

It is a sad end for the Learjet, the private luxury plane that became a major part of the lifestyles of the rich and famous after it first flew in 1963.

More than 3,000 were made, but in recent years production was around just one a month.

Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst for Teal Group, said: “It was sleek and it had almost a fighter-jet pedigree.

“For its time it symbolised personal executive transportation.”

It was also part of pop culture – appearing in Carly Simon's 1971 hit You're So Vain and in the TV show Mad Men.

Mobile network O2 fined £10m for overcharging customers

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 12th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

Mobile network O2 has been fined £10.5m by telecoms regulator Ofcom for overcharging its customers.

For eight years, some customers who were leaving the network were double-charged some fees on their final bills, Ofcom said.

The error affected more than 140,000 pay-monthly subscribers between 2011 and 2019, totalling £2.4m.

O2 said it had refunded many of the customers, adding an extra 4% to the sum involved.

But it has been unable to contact some of its former subscribers. Those refunds will be donated to charity.

Despite the refunds, Ofcom decided that O2 had broken important rules around providing customers with accurate bills and that it deserved a fine.

O2 had overcharged 250,000 people, totalling £40.7m – but only 140,000 people actually ended up paying the wrong amount.

The others were mainly those who were in arrears or left their contracts early, O2 said – and had much larger final bills as a result, and therefore larger erroneous charges. But they were not left out-of-pocket by the error, O2 said, as the amount was never paid.

Ofcom said that O2 knew about the “issues with its billing processes” in 2011, but failed to fix them. It kept overcharging customers for a further eight years.

O2 said: “We are disappointed by this technical error and sincerely apologise to customers impacted.

“We identified the issue ourselves and notified our industry billing auditor. We have also taken proactive steps to refund all impacted customers for the extra charges they paid.”

Ofcom said O2 had changed its billing process so the problem would not happen again.

“This a serious breach of our rules and this fine is a reminder that we will step in if we see companies failing to protect their customers,” said the regulator's enforcement chief, Gaucho Rasmussen.

Amsterdam overtakes London as Europe’s largest share trading centre

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 11th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

English capital pushed from perch, with average daily trading halving – from €17.5bn to €8.6bn – last month

Amsterdam has overtaken London as Europe’s largest share trading centre, as experts warned that the symbolic blow could be followed by the City losing even more business due to Brexit.

The Dutch capital, which was previously the sixth largest exchange centre in Europe, saw average daily trading surge from €2.6bn (£2.3bn) to €9.2bn in January, as exchanges shifted order books abroad after Brexit.

It pushed London into second place, with average daily trading halving – from €17.5bn to just €8.6bn last month – according to data released by the CBOE exchange.

Under European rules that pre-date Brexit, EU shares traded in euros must be traded on EU exchanges, or in countries with special “equivalence” status.Advertisement

After Britain failed to gain equivalence with the EU or strike a comprehensive trade deal covering financial services, exchange operators like the CBOE and Turquoise had to move their order books abroad by January 2021.

While the figures are large, the overall impact on the City is small. Only a handful of jobs at the exchanges themselves have had to move and the overall tax benefits to Amsterdam from a low margin business like trading will be minimal, according to Nick Bayley, a managing director at consultancy Duff & Phelps.

“In terms of jobs, tax revenues, other revenues, the profit and loss accounts and so on being generated in Holland rather than in the UK, it’s marginal. But it is symbolic, of course,” Bayley explained.

The change can be compared to moving a computer that processes online store orders from one city to another. While the computer has moved, all of its customers and suppliers are still in the same place.

Likewise, while share trading has shifted, most of the traders, brokers and asset managers are still in London.

It’s a technological switch or regulatory switch, but it’s not some sort of seismic shift, where suddenly people think ‘London isn’t as attractive of a place to do business or London is doomed as a financial centre,” said William Wright, founder of the New Financial thinktank.

Roughly 20% of Britain’s financial services industry is related to EU clients and euro operations, Wright explained, while more than half is focused on domestic UK customers. “It’s not going anywhere,” he said.

Even if half of the City’s EU-related business eventually moved, that would account for only 10% of the financial centre’s business, which could shave 1% of the £76bn contributed by the industry to the Treasury last year.

“The fact that the government has just spent nearly £300bn on its response to Covid, a £7bn loss suddenly doesn’t seem like such a big number. I don’t want to minimise the impact, but I think we need to keep it in perspective,” Wright said.

However, UK authorities should still be “alive to the risk” that the City loses more than share trading, Wright added.

Experts at Deloitte said the UK should be concerned about whether the EU will continue to recognise London clearing houses – which facilitate trading of financial assets – after an 18-month grace period, and whether it will allow fund managers to handle EU assets from within the UK.

“These are things that are not going to be solved in the next six months but are definitely things we have to watch out for over the next few years, which are, I think, more likely to shift jobs than the share trading,” said Alex Szmigin, a partner in the risk advisory arm of accounting firm Deloitte.

Euro-denominated share trading is not expected to return soon. Even if the government clinches an equivalence deal for financial services – where the UK and EU recognise each other’s regulatory standards – it does not provide long-term certainty for firms, since it can be revoked with just 30 days’ notice.

Ultimately, firms will have to determine whether the benefits of moving share trading back to London outweighs the costs, according to John Liver, a financial services partner at accountancy firm EY.

“Ultimately, if all the business that has had to move could be done from London, and the economics make it worthwhile, and the client preference makes it worthwhile: they’ll move back again.”

Meanwhile, the EU’s finance chief said on Thursday that Brussels will strive for close cooperation with Britain on financial services but London cannot expect “equivalence-based” access to the EU financial market if it diverges widely on rules.

“While the issue of equivalence is an area which we will discuss with the United Kingdom progressively, taking into account the UK’s regulatory intentions on a case-by-case basis, there cannot be equivalence and wide divergence,” EU financial services commissioner Mairead McGuinness told an online event.

By Kalyeena Makortoff

Hormel to buy Kraft Heinz, Planters Corn Nuts brands in $3.35 billion deal

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 11th Feb 2021) London, UK —

By Richa Naidu

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Kraft Heinz Co said on Thursday that it plans to sell its nuts business – including most Planters and Corn Nuts products – to Hormel Foods Corp for $3.35 billion, sending shares up 6%.

The Chicago-based company has been trying to streamline its portfolio and focus on more accretive brands, having faced criticism for years about losing out to private label products because it is in too many categories to focus on key brands. In September, Kraft Heinz said it would sell its natural cheese business to French dairy company Groupe Lactalis for $3.2 billion.

“Planters is one of the brands most affected by private label in our portfolio. It’s also, of course, affected as a commodity,” Chief Executive Miguel Patricio said in a statement.

“We must focus on areas where we see the greatest competitive advantage.”

Patricio said in an interview with Reuters the Planters deal gives Kraft Heinz the flexibility to invest internally, make acquisitions or pay down debt. He declined to comment on what brands Kraft Heinz is interested in buying but said the company is “not in any negotiation at the moment.”

Kraft Heinz’s nuts business contributed about $1.1 billion to net sales in 2020.

The deal, which is expected to close in the first half of 2021, includes global intellectual property rights to the brands, subject to existing third-party licenses.

Kraft Heinz also beat analysts’ estimates on Thursday for fourth-quarter revenue as people under pandemic lockdown during the holidays bought more packaged food products like Mac and Cheese, Heinz ketchup and Oscar Meyer meat slices.

“No large-cap food company has benefited more from the COVID era than Kraft Heinz, with strong non-promoted sales growth and much needed balance sheet relief,” Evercore ISI analyst David Palmer wrote in a recent note.

Sales grew 6.2% to $6.94 billion in the three months ended Dec. 26, beating the average estimate of $6.82 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

Adjusted net earnings rose to 80 cents per share from 72 cents per share a year earlier, beating estimates of 74 cents per share.

Reporting by Richa Naidu 

Sainsbury’s set to take on discounter Aldi Supermarket in price war

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 10th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

The second-largest supermarket chain says its renewed focus on food will see customers benefit from prices cuts on many items.

The UK's rumbling supermarket price war is set to intensify after Sainsbury's said it was to price match discounter Aldi on hundreds of branded and own-brand products.

Sainsbury's, which is the second-largest chain by market share, and its so-called big four rivals have been battling a loss of customers to the likes of Aldi and Lidl since the financial crisis.

Each of the two European entrants to the UK market have been expanding at pace – and are continuing to do so.

However, a tighter focus on costs in more recent times has allowed the established players, also including Tesco, Asda and Morrisons, to stem the trend through a tighter focus on the customer and price.

The competitive nature of the UK market has been beneficial for shoppers at a time when groceries have been in high demand because of the continuing COVID-19 crisis.

The industry's status as essential retail has been rewarded with surging sales but it is aware that household budgets are being squeezed by the pandemic's effects on the economy.

Almost a year after Tesco, the largest player, said it would start price matching Aldi goods, Sainsbury's said it would match the German-owned discounter on around 250 products.

They include meat, fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy goods.

Examples given by the chain include ‘by Sainsbury's' plain flour being cut to 45 pence from 80p.

A 225 gram ‘by Sainsbury's' 21 day matured rump steak is to fall from £2.50 from £2.32.

Sainsbury's said the price match was the first initiative under new chief executive Simon Roberts' strategy update, announced in November, aimed at focusing on food.

He said of the pledge: “We are making great progress delivering our Food First plan and I'm determined that in these tough times, we do even more to help our customers save money.”

By James Sillars

Rihanna’s Fenty fashion label to close down

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 10th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

Luxury goods group LVMH and singer Rihanna have agreed to shut down her Fenty fashion label after less than two years in production.

However, the Savage X Fenty lingerie line will continue, as will cosmetics lines Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin.

LVMH said that Fenty's ready-to-wear clothes would be “put on hold” pending better conditions.

Fashion analysts say although Rihanna has a huge fanbase, the Fenty label's prices were too steep for most of them.

But LVMH and Rihanna pledged to concentrate on the long-term development of the “Fenty ecosystem”.

Rihanna, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, became the first woman of colour to lead a house under the LVMH brand when the Fenty range launched in spring 2019.

But there have been no posts on the brand's Instagram account since the start of this year and no new collection has appeared since November last year.

Rihanna's moves into the fashion world have come at the expense of her music career.

Once renowned for putting out an album a year, she has not released a new set of songs since Anti in 2016.

Ocado report booming sales as home deliveries rise in Covid-19 pandemic

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 9th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

Online grocery service’s sales reach £2.2bn in 2020, boosted by tie-up with Marks & Spencer

Ocado said many customers were unlikely to revert to pre-crisis shopping habits. 

Ocado has reported booming sales at its online grocery service as shoppers switched to supermarket home delivery services during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Retail sales at Ocado, which now delivers Marks & Spencer groceries, jumped 35% to £2.2bn in 2020, but the overall group, which includes its tech business, Ocado Solutions, made a small loss of £44m. That compares with a pre-tax loss of £214.5m in 2019.

Tim Steiner, Ocado’s chief executive, said coronavirus has caused a dramatic shift in grocery retail and the landscape was “changing for good”.

“Many customers who have tried online grocery for the first time have seen the benefits and are saying they are unlikely to revert to pre-crisis shopping habits,” the company said.

The Covid-19 crisis has seen demand for grocery deliveries rocket to account for 14% of the market. However, Ocado was limited in its ability to take advantage of the huge increase as its robot powered warehouses were soon working at full capacity.

The company said sales growth in the coming year would be “highly dependent” on the length of Covid-19 restrictions. However, it should have more delivery slots available in the UK in the coming months as three new hi-tech warehouses open. It also plans to pour about £700m into new projects for its technology clients.

After the pandemic was over online shoppers would not only want to do their big grocery shop online, but smaller convenience deliveries and click and collect services would also be in greater demand, Steiner said. Ocado’s first site dedicated to its same-day delivery service, Ocado Zoom, is already full. It has secured a second London site for the rapid service and is looking for another dozen inside the M25.

On an underlying basis, Ocado made a profit of £73.1m in the year to 29 November, compared with the previous year’s £43.3m.

By Zoe Wood

TUI banking on vaccinated Brits taking holidays for a much-needed summer recovery

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 9th Feb 2021) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – TUI Group, the world’s biggest holiday company, needs a summer recovery to relieve pressure on its strained finances and is banking on vaccinated Britons going abroad in the peak months despite tightening travel restrictions.

Germany-based TUI, which before the pandemic took 23 million people on holiday annually, has secured multiple bailouts from the German government to survive. It said it currently had 2.1 billion euros ($2.5 billion) of financial resources.

“That should be enough until summer, until the business takes off in summer,” Chief Executive Fritz Joussen told reporters on a call.

But there is still great uncertainty over travel for the peak holiday months this year. TUI said progress with Britain’s advanced vaccination programme would help demand.

Asked how long its cash could last and whether more state aid would be needed, Joussen said: “I would say we are in a very good position.”

Jefferies analysts said TUI had liquidity to last about seven months if no holidays were cancelled and it did not have make refunds.

UK RESTRICTIONS

In Britain, TUI’s biggest market with Germany, the government has told people not to book trips abroad for the summer, as the country tightens controls with quarantine hotels and more testing.

Britain’s latest measures are designed to fight new variants of the virus, against which vaccines may not work.

Joussen shrugged off the risk from new variants. “This time (summer) we have vaccination and good testing on top so I’m very confident,” he said.

TUI is planning to operate 80% of 2019’s capacity this summer, saying it already had 2.8 million bookings. In the COVID-19 hit summer of 2020, it operated about 25% of capacity.

The company has cut costs during the pandemic. It said that, for the three months to the end of December, its monthly cash outflow was 300 million euros, down from an expected 400 million to 450 million euros.

That resulted in an adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) loss for the quarter of 699 million euros.

TUI’s net debt has ballooned to 7.2 billion euros during the pandemic and needs to start repayments in 2022. Joussen said selling assets or raising new equity would help, echoing his comments in December.

“It’s very clear that the math says we need, let’s say 1.5 maybe 2 billion (euros),” he said, adding that this could be achieved through divestments and more equity.

($1 = 0.8280 euros)

Reporting by Sarah Young and Ilona Wissenbach

Tesla buys $1.5bn of Bitcoin causing currency to spike

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 8th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

Elon Musk's car firm Tesla has said it bought about $1.5bn (£1.1bn) of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin in January and expects to start accepting it as payment in future.

The news caused the price of Bitcoin to jump 14% to $43,968, a record high.

Tesla said it was trying to maximise returns on cash that is not being used in day-to-day running of the company.

It comes days after Mr Musk added “#bitcoin” to his Twitter profile page, which drove up the price.

He removed it days later, but has continued talking up Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, including Dogecoin, which jumped 50% after his endorsement.

In a stock market filing, Tesla said it “updated its investment policy” in January and now wanted to invest in “reserve assets” such as digital currencies, gold bullion or gold exchange-traded funds.

It said it had already bought $1.5bn of Bitcoin and could “acquire and hold digital assets” in the future.

“Moreover, we expect to begin accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment for our products in the near future, subject to applicable laws and initially on a limited basis,” it said.

Mr Musk said a week ago in a tweet that Bitcoin was “on the verge” of being more widely accepted among investors.

Game-changer?

Some analysts said Tesla's investment could be a game-changer for the cryptocurrency.

“I think we will see an acceleration of companies looking to allocate to Bitcoin now that Tesla has made the first move,” said Eric Turner, vice-president of market intelligence at cryptocurrency research firm Messari.

“One of the largest companies in the world now owns Bitcoin and by extension, every investor that owns Tesla, or even just an S&P 500 fund, has exposure to it as well.”

Bitcoin is a “very volatile” cryptocurrency, said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for Markets.com.

“Tesla is now starting to take on big [foreign exchange] risk – this may not worry a lot of investors, but some conservative types might be concerned,” he said.

In October, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey cautioned over Bitcoin's use as a payment method.

“I have to be honest, it is hard to see that Bitcoin has what we tend to call intrinsic value,” he said. “It may have extrinsic value in the sense that people want it.”

Mr Bailey added that he was “very nervous” about people using Bitcoin for payments, pointing out that investors should realise its price was extremely volatile.

Boohoo to pay £25m for Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 8th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

Administrators confirm most staff are to lose their jobs as Arcadia's brands are sold off to face an online-only future.

Boohoo is to pay £25.2m for Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton in a deal set to catapult the fashion brands to an online-only future and result in 2,450 job losses.

The online fashion specialist, which has already snapped up the Debenhams name amid the COVID-19 bloodbath for physical retailers, said it was to buy all the e-commerce and digital assets of the three brands, as well as their stock.

It confirmed that the deal with administrators at Deloitte did not include the brands' retail stores, concessions or franchises.

The collapse of Sir Philip Green's Arcadia empire in December placed 13,000 jobs at risk and only a tiny fraction of 2,500 workers were understood to be saved when Boohoo rival ASOS landed the top names, including TopShop and Miss Selfridge, a week ago.

Administrators confirmed only 260 jobs were to transfer to Boohoo under Monday's deal and all 214 Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis stores – already shuttered by pandemic restrictions – are to be permanently closed down.

They said the staff had been informed via email.

It leaves around 12,400 of Arcadia's 13,000 workers on track to lose their jobs by the time the administration process has been completed.

Deloitte's statement said: “This transaction completes the sale of the Arcadia brands and follows the sale of Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT to ASOS plc on 4 February 2021 and the sale of Evans to City Chic on 23 December 2020.Retail jobs worst hit by coronavirus pandemic

“In total, these sales together with other asset realisations, have raised proceeds to date of over £500m for the benefit of creditors.

“The process to generate proceeds from the group's remaining assets, principally from the group's property portfolio, is ongoing.”

Boohoo shares, up by 6% in the year to date, fell by 3% in early deals. Traders said the drop could be explained by reports over the weekend that pure online retailers could face a digital sales tax.

“Acquiring these well known brands in British fashion out of administration ensures their heritage is sustained, while our investment aims to transform them into brands that are fit for the current market environment.

“We have a successful track record of integrating British heritage fashion brands onto our proven multi-brand platform, and we are looking forward to bringing these brands on board.”

By James Sillars

The Innovative Flip-Flops Made From Plants And Algae

Source: BI

Researchers at the University of California San Diego have figured out how to turn algae into flip flops. They founded a startup to sell the shoe, but face a challenge in getting their invention mass produced: There aren't enough algae farms to support the startup's supply chain.

10 MOST Likely Industries That Can make YOU a BILLIONAIRE

Source: Alux

This Alux.com video we'll try to answer the following questions: What are the Most Likely Industries That Can make You a Billionaire? What industry makes the most billionaires? What is the easiest industry to get rich in? What business makes the most millionaires? What businesses will make you rich? What is a good business to start in 2020? What is the hottest industry right now? Which industries should aspiring billionaires be aiming for? What industry will make you the richest in the future? Can the e-commerce industry still make billionaires? What industry has produced the most number of millionaires? What industries will create the most billionaires in the next 30 years? Will the biofuel industry create a billionaire, and how? What industry or idea will produce the next generation of billionaires? Will tech still be a good industry for future billionaires in the next 50 years? What are the most common industries to become a billionaire? Which industries will create the most billionaires in the future?