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


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

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

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

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

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


The Øresund A Unique Modern Roadway Connecting Denmark And Sweden


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



De La Rue to withdraw challenge over British passport bid

( via — Wed, 18 Apr 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – De La Rue (DLAR.L) abandoned its challenge to Britain’s decision to award the contract for new blue post-Brexit passports to a foreign firm and issued a profit warning on Wednesday.

Its shares fell 9 percent to a year low of 446 pence in early trading and were down 4 percent at 0851 GMT after De La Rue said it would write-off about 4 million pounds of costs associated with the failed bid.

Together with delays in some contracts in the last week of its financial year, this would result in it missing profit expectations, De La Rue said in a statement.

Prime Minister Theresa May said the decision to change British passports from the burgundy shade used by most European Union countries to the traditional dark blue was an expression of British independence and sovereignty.

But reports that Franco-Dutch firm Gemalto (GTO.AS) had won the tender to produce the new passport was criticised by some politicians and newspapers as unpatriotic, and De La Rue had said it would challenge the decision.

De La Rue, which prints 7 billion banknotes and 15 million passports a year, said that having considered all options it would not appeal the decision, which the British government said followed a “rigorous, fair and open competition”.

The existing contract to make British passports is worth 400 million pounds and the new contract starts in October 2019, after Britain leaves the EU in March that year.

De La Rue’s Chief Executive Martin Sutherland told BBC radio that he remained “surprised and disappointed”, but he had taken a pragmatic business decision not to appeal.

Underlying operating profit for the year to end-March would be in the low to mid 60s million pound range, it said.

Analysts at Investec, who were predicting 71 million pounds, said it was a “disappointing outcome”.

Revenue for the year had increased by about 6 percent, with growth across all product lines, it said, although it added that it was “cautious” about its current financial year.

It said it would assist with the transition to the new supplier, and was expecting no impact on its performance in the next 18 months.

Trade union Unite said news that De La Rue was abandoning its appeal would come as a bitter blow to workers in Gateshead, north east England, who now faced an uncertain future.

“Workers will feel let down that the company is not prepared to fight the government’s decision to ship the production of the new blue passport overseas,” Unite national officer Louisa Bull said.

By Paul Sandle



British Airways owner IAG considering bid for low cost Norwegian Air Shuttle


( via – – Fri, 13 Apr, 2018) London, Uk – –

British Airways-owner IAG has taken a near-5pc stake in Norwegian Air Shuttle with a view to buying the budget carrier, paving the way to create one of the world’s largest airlines.

Shares in Norwegian surged almost 40pc on news of the move, before trading was halted in the company on the Oslo stock exchange. IAG shares slipped 1.2pc.

IAG’s investment was described as a “bolt from the blue” by one airline analyst, though he noted that the company – which owns BA along with Aer Lingus, Iberia, Level and Vueling – closely monitors the operations of all its competitors.

IAG said it had taken a 4.61pc holding in Scandinavian carrier, calling it an “attractive investment” that could lead to a bid for the entire airline.

“The minority investment is intended to establish a position from which to initiate discussions with Norwegian, including the possibility of a full offer,” IAG said in statement to the market. “No such discussions have taken place to date, [and] no decision has been taken to make an offer at this time and there is no certainty that any such decision will be made.”

However, taking such a large stake signals the seriousness of IAG’s intent. Norwegian had a market value of £630m before news of the holding emerged. It is estimated that a bid for all of Norwegian could value it at £2.5bn, including the budget carrier’s £2bn of debt.

IAG is the sixth-largest airline in the world and has almost 550 aircraft across its brands, which are made up of both “legacy” full-service airlines and budget carriers.

Last year IAG had revenues of of €22.9bn (£20.1bn) and pre-tax profits of €2.4bn, generated from the 105m passengers it carried.

Norwegian is much smaller, with a fleet of about 150 jets, and only established itself as an international player about 15 years ago, though has expanded rapidly since.

In 2012 it set up a Gatwick base on its way to becoming the sixth-largest low-cost airline in the world with an extensive European network. A year later it started long-haul flights, serving South America, South Africa and Asia.

Last year it entered the lucrative UK-US transatlantic market, offering bargain flights starting at £99 from Gatwick and other UK airports on routes dominated by traditional airlines.

In 2017, Norwegian had revenues of 31bn Norwegian krone (£2.8bn) and made a 298m krone loss on the 33m passengers it flew.

IAG’s move on Norwegian shows that the larger company is all too aware of the challenge it poses in the increasingly cut-throat and low-margin air travel industry, which has suffered a rash of collapses recently as costs rise.

“This shows IAG’s growing recognition that Norwegian is becoming a vast airline with a vast route network,” said independent aviation analyst Alex Macheras, adding that IAG launched budget airline Level to take on Norwegian directly.

“However, just because Norwegian has a lot of flights does not mean it is profitable – its financial results are not the best,” Mr Macheras added.

IAG may have chosen to swoop now precisely because of the financial strain Norwegian is under. The target airline is also buying new aircraft at a high rate, with more than 100 on order.

“IAG’s launch of Level shows it takes Norwegian seriously as a competitor,” said John Strickland of industry analysts JLS Consulting. “IAG may now see Norwegian as weak, and they see an opportunity – or they may not want it to fall into someone else’s hands.”

Michael O’Leary, chief executive of budget carrier Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, has been a harsh critic of Norwegian, predicting it will fail.

Speaking in the autumn, the outspoken Ryanair boss said Norwegian had “huge aircraft orders it doesn’t have the cash to pay for” and said it was an “open secret” in the industry it was in trouble.

At the time Norwegian dismissed the claims as “nonsense” saying it had been profitable for a decade.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Norwegian said it had no prior knowledge of IAG buying the shares before it was reported in the media on Thursday morning. It said that IAG’s interest confirmed the sustainability of its business model.

By Alan Tovey



British holidaymakers to benefit under new EU rules when booking online


( via – – Thur, 12 Apr, 2018) London, Uk – –

EU travel rules will give internet deals the same levels of financial cover as traditional packages

British holidaymakers will benefit from greater protection when booking online under new EU rules that come into force this summer.

Updated UK package travel regulations, part of an EU directive due to take effect for holidays booked from 1 July, aim to create a level playing field by making online retailers as responsible for consumer protection as traditional travel agents.

According to Abta, the travel agents’ trade body, the surge in consumers’ use of online booking sites has created a gap in consumer protection, with 50% of holidays not currently financially protected if a company fails.

An estimated 45m overseas holidays are taken each year by Britons, of which 20m are conventional package holidays with flights, coach or rail travel which are primarily protected by Abta.

But 3m so-called “flight-plus” arrangements which have until now had lesser protection will be brought into the safety net.

Flight-plus is a holiday booking where a flight departing the UK and accommodation and/or car hire are booked at the same time or within a day, but where the way in which it is sold means it is not a package holiday. These will no longer exist under the package travel regulations and instead could form part of a package or a linked travel arrangement.

According to government figures, UK families spend on average £22.10 per week on package travel abroad – over a third of household spending on recreation and culture. Internet booking has surged and last year 83% of Britons booked a holiday online.

“When we book a package holiday we expect it all to go according to plan, but if a company goes bust it can ruin more than just the holiday, leaving people out of pocket or even stranded,” said the consumer minister, Andrew Griffiths.

“These new rules mean that internet explorers can book their holidays online, secure in the knowledge they will be compensated in the same way as someone who booked their holidays through a travel agent if something does go wrong.”

Mark Tanzer, the chief executive of Abta, said: “More holiday travel arrangements will be classified as packages, meaning greater protection for these types of holiday.

“Package holidays offer the best form of protection; not only are you entitled to a refund or to be brought home should your travel company go out of business, but you also benefit from additional legal protection – for example, the right to a refund if bad weather means your holiday can’t be provided.”

By Rebecca Smithers



UK new car market shrank by 15.7% in March: Say industry body SMMT

( via – – Thur, 5 Apr, 2018) London, Uk – –

Car registrations plunged in March, according to figures from industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Preliminary data shows the UK new car market shrank by 15.7% last month compared with 2017.

Demand for diesel vehicles fell 37%, but demand for petrol was flat and that for alternative fuel models rose 5.7%.

March 2017 was a record month as customers bought new vehicles ahead of a change in Vehicle Excise Duty.

New car sales fell for the first time in six years in 2017, with a 5.7% decrease to about 2.5 million vehicles.

Demand for diesel cars plunged by 17% last year, meaning the pace of decline for such vehicles in March has more than doubled.

Analysis: Theo Leggett, BBC business correspondent
At first glance, this looks like deeply worrying news for the automotive industry. But it it’s worth remembering that in March 2017, new car registrations hit a record high. Buyers were rushing to get hold of new vehicles ahead of big changes to the vehicle excise duty regime, which sharply increased the rates payable on some cars.

But we can say with certainty that registrations have now been falling steadily for a whole calendar year. The SMMT has consistently blamed economic uncertainty, which it links to Brexit and the collapse in diesel sales.

The latest figures show that the move away from diesel seems to have accelerated. That suggests that the industry’s attempts to convince consumers and politicians that modern diesels are clean and have a future are failing badly.

By historical standards, new car registrations are still at pretty high levels. The steep fall in March might be a glitch. However, the overall trend cannot be ignored – and that is what the industry will be worried about.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “March’s decline is not unexpected, given the huge surge in registrations in the same month last year.

“Despite this, the market itself is relatively high with the underlying factors in terms of consumer choice, finance availability and cost of ownership all highly competitive.

“Consumer and business confidence, however, has taken a knock in recent months and a thriving new car market is essential to the overall health of our economy.”



Vauxhall Luton Plant to Build New Vivaro Van

( via – – Wed, 4 Apr, 2018) London, Uk – –

Vauxhall’s French parent company PSA has announced an investment in its Luton van-making plant which could eventually see Peugeot and Citroen-branded vans made in the UK.

PSA said it will increase production capacity at its Luton plant by a third “despite Brexit uncertainties”.

Peugeot said Vauxhall’s next Vivaro van would be built at the Luton plant.

Business minister Greg Clark said the decision was a “vote of confidence” in UK carmaking.

PSA said it had made the investment “despite Brexit uncertainties”.

The investment is thought to be in the tens of millions of pounds.

It was secured after a negotiation with the Unite union and a financial contribution from the government thought to be about £9m.

The investment secures 1,400 jobs beyond 2030, as the life-cycle of commercial vehicles is between 10 and 15 years.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Today’s decision is a vote of confidence in Vauxhall’s high-skilled workforce and the UK’s world leading automotive sector.”

In 2017, the Luton plant produced 70,000 Vauxhall Vivaro-branded vans.

The next-generation model will be based on PSA’s Citroen and Peugeot technology, and the company hopes to produce up to 100,000 vans a year, which could include some under the Peugeot and Citroen brands.

If demand for the vehicles means that target is hit, then additional jobs will be created in Luton.

PSA bought General Motors’ European business last year, and there has been intense speculation about the future of both Luton and Ellesmere port, where the Vauxhall Astra is made.

Group chief executive Carlos Tavares said: “This is a major milestone for the future of the Luton plant and a key enabler to serve our ambitions in the commercial vehicle market.”

Peugeot and Citroen have made inroads into the light commercial vehicle market, and accounted for half the increase in the total van market in Europe, which is why the company is looking to increase production capacity.

Company officials said it had the choice of Germany or Poland to base the new plant, but neither of those plants are equipped with a paint facility suitable for vans, and installing one would come at enormous cost.

Vauxhall UK manufacturing

  • Vauxhall employs 1,400 people at its Luton plant, which produces Vivaro vans
  • There has been a plant at Luton building vehicles since 1905
  • The firm has 1,300 employees at its Ellesmere Port plant, where the Vauxhall Astra is built
  • The Ellesmere Port plant has been running since 1962
  • Vauxhall has 3,400 employees overall




Ford Motor and Alibaba “Super Test Drive” Car Vending Machine Service


Ford Motor Co., Ltd., Changan Ford Motor Co., Ltd. and’s Tmall Vehicle launched a brand new brand experience pilot program to provide consumers with a “Super Test Drive” service. The project will use a combination of online digital technology and offline entities to provide consumers with a more convenient, efficient, and in-depth test drive experience, and ultimately lead potential consumers to the Ford brand more accurately. Authorize dealerships and ultimately help facilitate offline transactions.

From now on until April 23, Ford will enter the “Super Test Drive” vending machine building located in Baiyun District of Guangzhou as the exclusive co-brand of Tmall. The whole building is equipped with intelligent lifting system and advanced identity authentication system. It can accommodate up to 42 carts at a time. Ford Motor Company, Changan Ford Motor Co., Ltd. and Jiangling Motors Co., Ltd. provide up to ten Ford brand models for consumers to test drive test experience, including domestic models, such as car products Taurus, new Mondeo, SUV products Maverick, Ruijie and Qilu Imported models such as full-size SUV explorers; Ford Mustang, a classic American muscle sports car sought after by consumers, joined this wonderful lineup.



​Jaguar to supply cars to Google’s self-driving spin-off Waymo in deal worth up to £1.3bn

( via – – Wed, 28 Mar 2018) London, Uk – –

Deal, worth up to £1.3bn, shows Waymo’s ambition in developing driverless ride-hailing service

Jaguar Land Rover is to supply up to 20,000 of its new electric I-Pace cars to Waymo, a subsidiary of Google owner Alphabet,to be converted into self-driving vehicles for its ride-hailing service.

The tie-up, worth up to £1.3bn and announced at the New York motor show, is a further mark of Waymo’s ambition in the race with Uber and others to develop a driverless ride-hailing service – as well as a huge boost for Britain’s biggest car manufacturer as it takes it first steps into electric vehicles.

Jaguar will deliver vehicles for Waymo’s ride-hailing service from 2020. Waymo says the 20,000 I-Pace models will provide up to 1m rides a day.

Although the I-Pace will be produced in Graz, Austria, JLR stressed that it is a British designed and engineered vehicle, from its research and development facility in the West Midlands.

JLR, owned by Indian company Tata, did not put a price on the deal, but an I-Pace, launched less than a month ago, retails at about £63,000 in the UK.

The manufacturer said it would be “a long-term strategic partnership” to develop the world’s first premium self-driving electric vehicle. Testing of the Jaguar car, equipped with Waymo’s self-driving technology, will start in Arizona later this year.

The expansion of the service comes despite fresh fears raised over the safety of self-driving cars, after an autonomous Uber car killed a pedestrian in Arizona last week – the first such casualty.

Uber’s testing of vehicles in Arizona has been suspended after the incident. The victim, a 49-year-old woman wheeling a bicycle, appeared not to be detected by the vehicle’s sensors. The Volvo was operating autonomously with a back-up driver in the front seat when it struck the pedestrian.

Nvidia, which supplies chips for Uber’s self-driving cars, and Toyota have also suspended testing of autonomous vehicles on US public roads following the accident.

The suspensions leave Waymo as the only company with a fleet of fully self-driving cars – and with no one in the front seat – on public roads in the US, and on course to launch the first robotic taxi service, where members can hail cars via Waymo’s app, by the end of the year.

In the UK, JLR has been involved in a range of government-backed trials involving connected and autonomous vehicles, last week demonstrating how emergency braking warning systems could improve safety.

Waymo has been building up a fleet of self-driving vehicles in partnership with Fiat Chrysler since 2015. Last month it said it would buy thousands more of the Chrysler Pacifica minivans, on top of 600 it has already converted, to form the basis for a ride-hailing service that Waymo plans to launch in Arizona later this year.

JLR’s tie-up with Waymo is another in a series by car manufacturers with new technology firms, following Ford partnering with Lyft and Uber with Volvo.

The auto industry is making substantial investments in autonomous, connected and electric cars, having been heavily committed to diesel and highly fuel-consuming vehicles.

Ralf Speth, the JLR chief executive, said: “With the Jaguar I-Pace we have a world-beating car that’s captured the imagination of customers around the world. Our passion for further advancing smart mobility needs expert long-term partners.

“In joining forces with Waymo we are pioneering to push the boundaries of technology. Together we will deliver the self-driving Waymo Jaguar I-Pace with the grace, space and eco-pace that customers expect.”

John Krafcik, the chief executive of Waymo, said: “While we’ve been focused at Waymo on building the world’s most experienced driver, the team at Jaguar Land Rover has developed an all-new battery-electric platform that looks to set a new standard in safety, design and capability.”

By Gwyn Topham




Qantas saw first non-stop flight from Australia to London Heathrow in 17 hours


( via– Mon, 26 Mar 2018) London, Uk – –

The first Qantas service between the two nations in 1947 lasted four days but the airline’s latest flight took just over 17 hours.

The first non-stop flight between Australia and the UK has landed at London.

Qantas 9 (QF9) landed at Heathrow’s Terminal 3 just after 5am – 17 hours after departing from Perth on Australia’s west coast.

The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner completed the journey of around 9,000 miles to touch down two minutes earlier than scheduled.

Previously the flight had to stop in either Singapore or the Middle East but cutting out those stopovers slashed roughly three hours from the previous flight time.

The Qantas flight is the world’s second-longest, after a Qatar Airways service between Doha and Auckland, which covers 9,028 miles.

Qantas said on Twitter that the flight was led by Captain Lisa Norman, Captain Jeff Foote, First Officer Dave Summergreene and Second Officer Troy Lane.

The flight will set off on its return leg to Perth at 1.15pm on Sunday.

The service, the first regular passenger flight linking Australia directly with Europe, was announced in December 2016.

At the time, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said: “When Qantas created the Kangaroo Route to London in 1947, it took four days and nine stops.”

After the Dreamliner flight took off, Mr Joyce described it as a “historic day for aviation”.

He added: “From today it will be the first link between Australia and Europe that has ever occurred non-stop in aviation.

“We are so excited.”

The flight will help boost the tourism market for both countries, with more than 730,000 Britons visiting Australia each year.

But tourists had often neglected the west coast of the country, because it was more difficult to travel to and far away from the more populated east coast.

Australian Tourism Minister Steven Ciobo said: “There will be more opportunity than ever before for us to continue to showcase and highlight all the very best parts of Australia, including some of the most magnificent and iconic parts of Western Australia.”

Mena Rawlings, Britain’s high commissioner to Australia, described the new service as a “game changer”, adding: “To have the opportunity to get on a plane at Heathrow and step out in Perth is just phenomenally exciting and I’m sure we are going to see lots and lots of people taking advantage of that.”

By Sharon Marris



De La Rue lose Out Over British Passports Contract to French

British-based company De La Rue says it is “disappointed” at losing out and will consider an appeal, as its shares fall 6%.

Britain’s new post-Brexit blue passports will be made in France, according to the current British manufacturer.

De La Rue boss Martin Sutherland said his firm had been told by the Home Office that it had missed out on the passports contract, amid reports Paris-based security giant Gemalto had won the bid.

Mr Sutherland said he was “surprised” to learn that “this icon of British identity is going to be manufactured in France”, adding that he was “disappointed” and would consider an appeal.

Shares in De La Rue, which has produced UK passports for the last decade, fell 6% on the news.

The development has prompted a furious response from ardent Eurosceptics, amid reports Gemalto undercut other bids by around £50m.

Tory MP Sir Bill Cash said awarding the contract to an EU-based company would be “completely wrong and unnecessary”.

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom told MPs she was “very sympathetic” to Brexiteers’ complaints, advising them how to challenge the Home Office.

Meanwhile, former international development secretary Priti Patel raged it would be a “national humiliation”.

Mr Sutherland called on Theresa May and Home Secretary Amber Rudd to explain the decision.

Referring to staff at the firm’s Gateshead factory, he said: “I’m going to have to go and face those workers, look at them in the whites of the eyes and try and explain to them why the British Government thinks it’s a sensible decision to buy French passports not British passports.”

Mr Sutherland added: “I would actually like to invite Theresa May or Amber Rudd to come to my factory and explain to my dedicated workforce why they think this is a sensible decision to offshore the manufacture of a British icon.”

A new contract was put out to tender for British passports after Brexit as the current one is due to run out.

The tender was put out across the EU under the bloc’s single market rules.

It will coincide with the Government’s hopes for a return to a blue-fronted travel document, after Britain has left the EU and ditches the current standard burgundy.

Gemalto’s bid will save taxpayers around £100m-120m, according to the Home Office.

By Aubrey Allegretti


Birmingham demands greater clarity about Uber business model before deciding on licence extension


( via – – Fri,  16 Mar 2018) London, Uk – –

Birmingham has demand more clarity from Uber on its business model before deciding whether to renew the ride hailing giant’s license to operate permanently.

Uber’s one-year licence to operate in the UK’s second largest city expired last month. It has been granted a temporary licence but a failure to get a permanent extension would deal a blow to the group as it already battles for a permit to keep operating in London – one of its most important markets.

“Officers in our licensing team have temporarily extended Uber’s private hire operator licence in Birmingham, whilst they seek clarity from Uber around its operating model,” the council’s acting director of regulation and enforcement, Chris Neville, said.

Uber has been subject to fierce scrutiny for its treatment of drivers and the safety of passengers in recent months, and especially since a shock decision in September by Transport for London not to automatically extend the company’s licence to operate in the capital.

Since then the group has made a series of changes in an attempt to pacify regulators. It’s introduced a 24/7 support helpline and has vowed to be more proactive when it comes to reporting serious incidents to police.

In February it also announced that it was launching a driver feedback programme across the UK, responding to calls for greater rights and protections for workers in the gig economy.

On Friday, in response to the comments from Birmingham Council, a London-based spokesperson for the California-based company said that its application for the city was still being processed.

The spokesperson added that Uber had been granted operating licenses by a number of UK cities in recent months, including Sheffield, Cambridge, Nottingham and Leicester.

Uber’s licence is reportedly due to expire in Edinburgh next week.

By Josie Cox



UK holiday firms urged to warn customers about post-Brexit bookings

( via – – Wed, 14 Mar 2018) London, Uk – –

Flights to EU after March 2019 at risk if no aviation deal in place, says consumer group Which?

Holidaymakers are not being adequately informed of the risks that Brexit could pose to their plans when booking, the consumer group Which? has warned.

With several of the UK’s biggest tour operators selling holidays for 2019, Which? said customers should be told of the possibility of flight disruption, and what compensation could be paid.

No legal framework yet exists to manage flights to Europe once Britain leaves the EU in March 2019, and Ryanair and Lufthansa have cautioned that planes could be temporarily grounded without an aviation deal.

Unless a transition deal for aviation is signed, from September 2018 Ryanair will include the warning on its tickets: “This flight is subject to the regulatory environment allowing the flight to take place.”

Which? called on the government to clarify consumer rights and strike an aviation deal as soon as possible. It advised anyone booking a holiday after March 2019 to check cancellation and refund policies – particularly for any elements such as car hire or villa rental booked outside of a package.

The consumer group said that it asked the UK’s five biggest travel companies, which take 13 million holidaymakers abroad each year, how they were keeping customers informed.

It said Tui, Jet2 and On the Beach “failed to provide any reassurance that any information would be communicated upfront”, while Thomas Cook had amended its terms and conditions to class any airspace closure with natural disasters, stating it would not provide compensation or reimburse expenses.

Expedia told Which? it believed passengers would be entitled to compensation from airlines, though it is not yet selling post-Brexit holidays.

Peter Vicary-Smith, the chief executive of Which?, said: “This uncertainty for holidaymakers is just one of the many issues affecting people’s everyday lives that need to be resolved as we move closer to the date that the UK leaves the EU.”

About 75% of the 70m foreign trips made by UK residents each year go to the other 27 EU member states.

A spokeswoman for the travel trade organisation Abta said: “Package holidays will continue to be covered by regulations which give holidaymakers the right to an alternative holiday, if available, or a refund in the event of changes caused by extraordinary circumstances.”

Huw Evans, the director general of the Association of British Insurers, said: “It’s critical people planning trips abroad after Brexit are given urgent clarity about what happens in the event of ‘no deal’.”

By Gwyn Topham



GKN offered new increased £8.1bn bid in Melrose takeover battle

( via – – Mon, 12 Mar 2018) London, Uk – –

Turnaround specialist Melrose has increased its offer for UK engineering giant GKN from £7.4bn to £8.1bn.

GKN makes parts for Boeing 737 jets and Black Hawk helicopters, as well as parts for Volkswagen and Ford cars.

It has fought hard against the bid, offering to give back £2.5bn to shareholders and agreed to merge its car unit with US company Dana.

The takeover battle has also entered the political arena, with some MPs calling for the bid to be blocked.

‘Final’ offer

GKN employs more than 59,000 people, 6,000 in the UK alone. It became a takeover target after it issued profit warnings late last year.

Melrose said all recent attempts to engage in “constructive discussions” with GKN had been blocked. It added that its latest offer was “final” and would “not be increased under any circumstances”.

It is now offering 467p a share, compared with Friday’s closing share price of 435p. Melrose is also offering to give shareholders £1.4bn in cash as part of its offer.

It has also raised the amount GKN shareholders would own in Melrose following the deal from 57% to 60%.

However, investors appeared unimpressed by the latest move. Shares were up less than 2% in early trading at 444p.

Rebecca O’Keeffe, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said: “The muted market reaction… is the strongest indication yet that Melrose might not get its way.

“The robust efforts GKN has taken to protect itself from the hostile bid, including the proposed disposal of its Driveline business to Dana, combined with the comments from Melrose that their offer will ‘not be increased under any circumstances’ is leading investors to conclude that GKN has won this battle, at least for now.”

GKN said it was evaluating the new bid and advised shareholders to take no action. It said it would provide a response in due course.

Earlier on Monday, GKN had issued its latest defence. However, this was based on Melrose’s previous offer, which it said was “opportunistic” and “fundamentally undervalues” GKN’s prospects.

Melrose is a firm that specialises in buying up industrial companies it believes are undervalued and restructuring them before selling them on.

The takeover approach has also raised fears among unions and MPs that GKN, one of the UK’s largest industrial firms, will be broken up and sold to overseas owners.

The Pensions Regulator has warned that the Melrose takeover could affect the company’s ability to fund its pension scheme.

Last week, a cross-party group of MPs wrote to the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, saying the Melrose takeover should be blocked.

GKN shareholders have until 29 March to decide whether or not to accept Melrose’s offer.

‘Fire sale’

Melrose called GKN’s attempts to fend off the approach a “hasty fire sale of GKN businesses before they have reached their potential”.

In its offer statement, Melrose chairman Christopher Miller appealed to GKN’s shareholders.

“On the one hand you can join us on a journey of value creation by investing in a UK listed manufacturing powerhouse worth over £10bn today and receiving £1.4bn of cash,” he said.

“On the other hand your board is attempting a hasty fire sale of GKN businesses before they have been given a chance to reach their potential and with damaging consequences, we believe, for all stakeholders.”

On Friday, GKN agreed to merge its Driveline division with US auto-engineer Dana in a deal worth $6.1bn (£4.4bn). The deal would see GKN shareholders end up with a 47.25% stake in the enlarged, US-listed group.

However, Mr Miller said the proposed deal was likely to involve a “lengthy and uncertain completion process” with competition authorities, and added that some GKN investors would not be able to hold the shares as they would not be listed in the UK.

A brief history of GKN

Founded in 1759 as an ironworks in South Wales

Involved in aerospace, automotive, materials and manufacturing engineering

Operates in 30 countries with more than 59,000 employees

Employs 6,000 staff in the UK, mostly in aerospace and automotive technology

Ten UK sites, including Bristol, Cowes, Luton, Portsmouth, Birmingham and Telford.

Chief executive Anne Stephens took over in January



UK consumers may have to pay roaming charges again after Brexit

( via– Wed, 7 Mar 2018) London, Uk – –

It follows confirmation from Theresa May that the UK will leave the EU’s Digital Single Market.

The Government has indicated to Sky News that British consumers may have to pay roaming and data charges when travelling in the EU after Brexit, unless a deal can be reached.

British travellers have not had to pay these charges on their mobile phone bills since June 2017, when they were abolished after changes to European regulation. The costs were considerable – an estimated £350m per year.


The DSM aims to eliminate digital regulatory barriers between EU member states, including data roaming charges.

The PM said in her Mansion House speech: “The UK will not be part of the EU’s Digital Single Market, which will continue to develop after our withdrawal from the EU.”

“This is a fast evolving, innovative sector, in which the UK is a world leader. It will be particularly important to have domestic flexibility, to ensure the regulatory environment can always respond nimbly and ambitiously to new developments.”

Until last week, the Government had not confirmed that Britain will be leaving the DSM.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has now confirmed to Sky News that this would likely entail the restoration of roaming charges, unless a deal could be reached.

A spokesman said: “The Government is committed to securing the best deal for British consumers.

“Arrangements on mobile roaming would be subject to any negotiations, however, a future partnership between the UK and EU is clearly in the interests of both sides.”

The Government also said that consumers will have become accustomed to enjoying their mobile phones without extra charges for over two years by Brexit day and that this would “drive consumer expectation and behaviour”.

They also pointed to the fact that two operators, Vodafone and Three, have publicly committed to not reimposing charges.

However, this idea has not been viewed favourably by most telecoms companies.

In late 2016, Sharon White, Chief Executive of Ofcom said that leaving the EU without putting alternative arrangements in place would mean “our mobile operators may be exposed to unfair costs, and our people and businesses could end up paying more than our European neighbours”.

The House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee has also said it does not believe that mobile operators will be able to choose not to reimpose charges – technical reasons will mean their operating costs will be pushed up considerably after being pushed out of the European regulatory framework.

In terms of finding other arrangements, there really is no precedent for extending roaming charge abolition to non-EU countries.

One suggestion has been a bilateral agreement between the EU and the UK, but EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger told the European Parliament that a standalone UK-EU roaming agreement would be in breach of World Trade Organisation rules.

Another idea has been adopting the status quo into a Free Trade Agreement, however, no free trade agreement to date has incorporated roaming regulation.

That is even the case with Switzerland which enjoys extensive economic links and integration with the EU.

The only countries which enjoy travelling without roaming charges in the EU are countries like Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein but they are in the single market through membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) and the PM has ruled this out for Britain.

British travellers may have to start thinking about leaving their phones on airplane mode beyond the tarmac of the runway.

By Lewis Goodall