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”.

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.

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.

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.

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

Palm Beach: America’s first “gated community.”

Source: CBS

The first thing you should know about Palm Beach is that it's an island (unto itself) – the most exclusive town in America, and (according to writer Laurence Leamer) America's first “gated community.” Mo Rocca takes a tour of the city that rose from Florida's tropical wilderness, which today features one of the richest commercial strips in America, and is home to Mar-a-Lago, the “Winter White House” resort of President Donald Trump.



Why The U.S. Continues To Fail With High-Speed Trains

Source: CNBC


China has the world’s fastest and largest high-speed rail network — more than 19,000 miles, the vast majority of which was built in the past decade. Japan’s bullet trains can reach nearly 200 miles per hour and date to the 1960s. They have moved more than 9 billion people without a single passenger causality. casualty France began service of the high-speed TGV train in 1981 and the rest of Europe quickly followed. But the U.S. has no true high-speed trains, aside from sections of Amtrak’s Acela line in the Northeast Corridor. The Acela can reach 150 mph for only 34 miles of its 457-mile span. Its average speed between New York and Boston is about 65 mph. California’s high-speed rail system is under construction, but whether it will ever get completed as intended is uncertain. Watch the video to see why the U.S. continues to fail with high-speed trains, and some companies that are trying to fix that.

Boeing completes 737 Max planes software update

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 17th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Jets have been grounded since March after being involved in two fatal crashes

Boeing has completed a software update for its 737 Max jets, which have been grounded worldwide since March after they were involved in two fatal crashes.

The planemaker said it was in the process of submitting a pilot training plan to the US Federal Aviation Administration and would work with the regulator to schedule its certification test flight.

The FAA is planning a meeting on 23 May in Fort Worth, Texas, with regulators from around the world to update them on reviews of Boeing’s software fix and on pilot training.

Aviation regulators from other countries will have to assess Boeing’s proposed fixes and clear the aircraft to fly in regions independently of the FAA.

It is unclear when the 737 Max aircraft will return to service but US airlines have said they hope the jets will fly this summer.

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, the two largest US operators of the Max, pulled the planes from their schedules until 5 August and 19 August respectively.

The airlines, which must still decide on pilot training, have said they would use the jets as spare planes if they are approved for flight before those dates.

The FAA said on Thursday that Boeing had not yet submitted its final software package for approval.

The 737 Max was grounded after an Ethiopian Airlines crash in March killed all 157 on board. It happened five months after a similar crash of a Lion Air flightkilled 189 people.

Boeing said it hoped the software upgrade and associated pilot training would add layers of protection to prevent erroneous data triggering a system called MCAS, which was activated in both the planes before they crashed.

It said it had completed simulator testing and engineering test flights as well as developed training and education materials, which were being reviewed by the FAA, global regulators and airline customers.

To date, Boeing had flown the 737 Max with the updated software for more than 360 hours on 207 flights, the company said.

TUI reports widening half-year losses of £261m

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 15th May 2019) London, Uk – –

The travel operator is counting the cost of a weak consumer environment as well as the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

Travel operator TUI has reported widening half-year losses and a fall in summer bookings as it counts the cost of weak consumer confidence and Brexit uncertainty.

The group reported an underlying loss of €301m (£261m) for the six months to the end of March, up from €170m (£148m) in the same period a year ago.

It has also been knocked by the grounding of Boeing's 737 MAX aircraft, which it has previously warned could cost up to €300m (£261m) as it leases more aircraft to cover its routes.

TUI said the decline in its first-half performance was partly due to the knock-on impact of last summer's heatwave holding back bookings and because it had too much capacity in Spain as holidaymakers opted for cheaper destinations such as Turkey.

For this summer, bookings in its package holiday and airlines business are down 3% while selling prices are up by only 1% amid a competitive market – not enough for TUI to cover rising costs.

TUI said that for this part of its business “weak demand environment persists”, putting pressure on profit margins.

“This is driven by a number of factors – reduced demand due to last year's extraordinary hot summer, slowdown of consumer confidence, Brexit uncertainty, shift in demand to the eastern Mediterranean coupled with overcapacity to Spain, as well as the 737 MAX grounding,” TUI said.

However, the group said its hotels and cruise ships business, where it has been investing in expansion over recent years, continued to perform well.

The results come after two profit warnings from TUI earlier this year – one blamed on the weak UK market and the other on the Boeing issue.

TUI's fleet of 150 aircraft includes 15 currently grounded 737 MAX aeroplanes, with a further eight scheduled for delivery after the lifting of the grounding.

It has warned investors that it faces a €200m (£174m) hit from the grounding of the aircraft, assuming flights resume by mid-July.

If it does not become clear by later this month that flying will re-start by that time, it will have to extend measures to cover for this until the end of the summer season, adding a further impact of up to €100m (£87m).

TUI chief executive Fritz Joussen said the company was “on track, both strategically and operationally” and that medium and long term growth forecasts were intact. Shares rose 3%.

The company is not the first travel firm to warn of a Brexit impact on demand, with easyJet saying last month that the uncertainty was having an impact.

Meanwhile, TUI's rival Thomas Cook has been seeking new debt funding from lenders and has been looking to sell its airline business.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas, business reporter

The top 15 richest countries around the globe!

Source: Factnomenal

The top 15 richest countries around the globe! These are the world's highest ranking nations. Which nations make most of their billions off of fish sales? What country hosts the gambling capital of the world? Find out as we look at the 15 Richest Countries In The World. #15 San Marino One of the smallest nations around the world, the Republic of San Marino only has a population of a little more than 33 and a half thousand people. The expanse of the country is small as well at just 24 square miles. But size isn’t everything, as San Marino ranks among the strongest economies today. With a GDP per capita of 50.9 thousand dollars, it’s no wonder this rich little country is the only nation in the world with more cars than there are people! #14 Austria The nation of Austria boasts a strong, well-developed social market economy that has elevated the country’s wealth among the elite. Thanks to the work of labour movements, the citizens of this European country have enjoyed moderate wages since the 1940s with more than half of the country’s salary and wage earner’s belonging to unions. Tourism also plays a major part in Austria’s economy, accounting for at least ten percent of the country’s gross domestic product, or GDP. Making a majority of its products to trade with surrounding EU countries, nearly 66% of Austrian imports and exports are made within their home continent. At a GDP per capita of 51.7 thousand dollars and a population of 8.75 million people, Austria maintains its hold with one of the most stable and successful economies worldwide. #13 Netherlands The Dutch have led Europe as one of the most consistent producers in the agricultural, fishing, shipping and trading industries since the 16th century. A population of 17 million people inhabit the Netherlands and the country churns out a GDP per capita of 52.9 thousand dollars! In addition to its seaward domination, the Dutch people have also been fortunate to have generated huge revenue from the discovery of natural gas resources in 1959. The Netherlands have an open trade economy that allows them to prosper by relying on foreign trade. Their economy is notable across the globe for its low unemployment levels, decent surplus and stable industrial relations. The Netherlands expects to have hit a budget surplus of .8 percent in 2018 and its unemployment rates are definitely below 5 percent. Numerous other factors like the countries social programs and well protected employee rights keep Dutch workers happy and the nation of the Netherlands near the top of the world’s wealthiest.

Uber to float its shares on the New York Stock Exchange at $45

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 10th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Uber has set a price for floating its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, in what is expected to be one of the biggest stock market flotations of the year.

The ride-hailing taxi app firm has priced its shares at $45 (£35). The deal values Uber at $82bn (£63bn).

The price is near the bottom of the expected $44-$50 range – a sign that investors are cautious about the firm.

Uber hopes to sell 180 million shares when trading starts on Friday.

This is the highest profile US flotation since Facebook seven years ago, analysts say.

Rival Lyft's flotation was priced at $72 per share when it listed on the New York Stock Exchange in April, but its share price has fallen by as much as a third since then.

Uber is keen to avoid a similar fate, but the firm has so far failed to make a profit.

National Express accelerates revenues as it hits the road for Silicon Valley

(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Thur, 9th May 2019) London, Uk – –

By Joe Curtis

National Express accelerated revenues in the first three months of its new financial year as it prepares to take a 60 per cent stake in Silicon Valley’s shuttle service in an $84.3m (£64.5m) deal.

The coach company saw group revenues rise 8.3 per cent year on year between January and April, with the US growing by the same amount even before National Express takes control of We Drive U, taking Facebook and other tech giants’ staff to work.

In the UK, its coach business boasted growth of seven per cent, but was dragged down by bus revenue growth of just 1.8 per cent.

National Express’ Spanish subsidiary, Alsa, outgrew all other divisions however, nearing a 12 per cent rate of expansion, or 7.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

Group profits experienced “good growth” over the key Easter period, the firm said, despite a snow shutdown in US schools that cost $4.5m.

Dean Finch, group chief executive, said: “I am pleased all of our divisions have started 2019 in a positive manner and we have seen strong trading over the important Easter period.

“Organic revenue growth has been secured across all of our increasingly diversified international portfolio. As our acquisition of a majority stake in We Drive U demonstrates, this diversified international portfolio also continues to present new opportunities for further expansion, which we pursue when they meet our strict financial criteria.”

National Express remains on track to hit full-year profit and cash flow targets, Finch added.

The company said its US business chief executive, Matthew Ashley, will become group business development director at the end of August.

Uber drivers in the UK star a day of transatlantic strikes ahead of U.S. action

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Wed, 8th May 2019) London, UK —

LONDON/ NEW YORK (Reuters) – Uber drivers in Britain started a day of transatlantic strikes on Wednesday to protest at the disparity between gig-economy conditions and the sums investors are likely to make in Friday’s blockbuster stock market debut.

Drivers and regulators around the world have long criticized the business tactics of Uber Technologies, and the expected $90 billion valuation in an IPO on Friday is proving to be the latest flashpoint.

Unions in Britain said they were seeing good support for the strike, with drivers staying at home and passengers using the #UberShutDown hashtag to pledge solidarity on social media. The Uber app said fares were higher in London during a rainy morning rush hour, due to increased demand.

“Stand with these workers on strike today, across the UK and the world,” said Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party.

Drivers in London and the cities of Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow were due to log off the app between 0700 and 1600, before counterparts in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and several other major cities joined in.

Uber has 3 million drivers globally, and it is not clear if the action can significantly slow service, although organizers have received widespread publicity.

Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi, hired to help move the company past a series of scandals and manage the IPO, has promised to treat drivers better. Uber is paying more than a million drivers about $300 million in one-time bonuses for instance, and has changed policies such as allowing riders to tip.

“Whether it’s being able to track your earnings or stronger insurance protections, we’ll continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers,” it said.

UNDER PRESSURE

Uber has steadfastly and mostly successfully beaten attempts to compel it to treat drivers as employees, arguing that its main business is a platform that brings riders and drivers together. And the money-losing company is under pressure to cut costs.

“It is the drivers who have created this extraordinary wealth but they continue to be denied even the most basic workplace rights,” said James Farrar, Chair of Britain’s United Private Hire Drivers, calling for a “digital picket line”.

Many drivers want better pay from Uber rival Lyft Inc as well.

“Both Uber and Lyft have said that the greatest threat to their investors is driver dissatisfaction. They know that they’re paying too little to keep drivers satisfied,” said Los Angeles organizer Brian Dolber.

Uber and Lyft have steadily chipped away at rates, particularly in the more established markets where they have cut back on incentives and bonuses to attract new drivers. They have also devised more complicated formulas for determining what riders pay and what drivers earn.Slideshow (2 Images)

Both companies recently slashed the per-mile rate drivers earn in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and some drivers estimated a loss of 10 percent to 20 percent in earnings. Lyft said its hourly wages have risen over the last two years and on average are over $20 per hour.

The company and its critics are divided over how much drivers can make. Classified as independent contractors, they lack paid sick and vacation days and must pay their own expenses, such as car maintenance and gasoline.

Uber noted that a recent study whose authors included current and former Uber employees showed driver gross earnings averaged $21 an hour, while a study by left-leaning Washington think tank Economic Policy Institute calculated that after all costs, Uber drivers earned $9.21 in hourly wages.

Reporting by Jane Lee and Alexandria Sage in San Francisco and Joshua Franklin in New York; Writing by Kate Holton and Peter Henderson

BMW profits down 78% amid €1.4bn provision for EU fine

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 7th May 2019) London, Uk – –

As BMW updates investors on its challenges, the UK car industry reveals flat sales this year so far when Mini is combined.

By James Sillars, business reporter

BMW warned it expects annual profits to be down on 2018 as it booked a hefty provision to cover the cost of a fine from the EU Commission.

The German carmaker reported a 78% decline in operating profits during the first quarter.

They came in at €589m (£503m).

BMW said the decline partly reflected the costs of converting factories to make electric cars – with such investment rising 36% on the same period last year.

But it also booked a €1.4bn (£1.2bn) legal charge in the wake of a warning from the EU last month that manufacturers in Germany faced financial penalties for alleged collusion in the area of emissions filtering technology.

The company said it would contest any fine, arguing the talks it engaged in were for the benefit of the environment and society as a whole as they move to bring down emissions further in the wake of the dieselgate scandal at rival VW.

“The participating engineers from the manufacturers development departments were concerned with improving exhaust gas treatment technologies.

“Unlike cartel agreements, the whole industry was aware of these discussions,” BMW said.

Global car sales were up fractionally on the same period last year but at a weaker margin.

Shares were 1% down in early trading.

BMW said it would move to counter rising costs by cutting its engine and gearbox combinations by 50% and seeking €12bn (£10bn) in efficiency savings by the end of 2022.

The results highlight the pressure being felt by manufacturers as they are forced to move away from petrol and diesel technology towards electric drive trains.

BMW has previously warned it may shift Mini production from Oxford if the UK was to leave the European Union without a deal.

It has also said engine production at its Hams Hall plant in Birmingham could be moved to Austria.

The company updated on its performance as the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) released the latest sales figures for the UK market.

They showed just over 78,000 new BMW or Mini-branded vehicles had left showrooms in the year to date.

That represented a slight increase on the same period last year.

The SMMT also revealed just over 10,000 alternatively fuelled vehicles – electric or hybrid – left showrooms in April.

That was a 12% rise on the same month a year ago but the body reiterated its call for more central support to help the transition to cleaner vehicles.

The body's chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “While it's great to see buyers respond to the growing range of pure electric cars on offer, they still only represent a tiny fraction of the market and are just one of a number of technologies that will help us on the road to zero.

“Industry is working hard to deliver on this shared ambition, providing ever cleaner cars to suit every need.

“We need policies that help get the latest, cleanest vehicles on the road more quickly and support market transition for all drivers.

“This includes investment in infrastructure and long term incentives to make new technologies as affordable as possible.”

Warren Buffett seeks future UK investment despite Brexit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 6th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Warren Buffett has said he wants to invest more in the UK and other parts of Europe, despite uncertainty over the UK's future relationship with the EU.

The US investment guru said he would like his firm, Berkshire Hathaway, to be better known across the Atlantic.

“We're hoping for a deal in the UK and/or in Europe, no matter how Brexit comes out,” the billionaire told his annual shareholders' meeting.

“I have the feeling it was a mistake,” he said of the UK's vote to leave.

However, he added: “It doesn't destroy my appetite in the least for making a very large acquisition in the UK.”

Mr Buffett, known as the “Sage of Omaha”, is chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, which owns dozens of US stocks.

The company reported first-quarter earnings of $21.7bn (£16.5bn) on Saturday, a marked improvement on last year's first-quarter loss of $1.1bn.

Food woes

However, that does not reflect the performance of one of its more troublesome investments, the 26.7% stake in food giant Kraft Heinz, which has not yet filed its quarterly results with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Kraft Heinz reported a $10.2bn loss for 2018 amid signs that consumer demand for its processed food products was waning. At the same time, Berkshire wrote down the value of its stake by $3bn.

Analysts point to the food firm's failure to invest in its portfolio of brands and its emphasis on cost-cutting as factors that have contributed to its difficulties.

At the meeting on Saturday, Mr Buffett indicated he was still committed to the firm, which was created in 2015 by the merger of Kraft Foods and HJ Heinz.

At the time, Heinz was owned jointly by Berkshire Hathaway and Brazil's 3G Capital investment firm.

Mr Buffett said 3G's management, which is responsible for the day-to-day running of the food company, was doing well operationally.

But he said taking on Kraft had proved costly, adding: “You can turn any investment into a bad deal by paying too much.”