TikTok threatens legal action against Trump executive order

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri 7th Aug 2020) London, Uk – –

TikTok is threatening legal action against the US after Donald Trump ordered firms to stop doing business with the Chinese app within 45 days.

The company said it was “shocked” by an executive order from the US President outlining the ban.

TikTok said it would “pursue all remedies available” to “ensure the rule of law is not discarded”.

Mr Trump issued a similar order against China's WeChat in a major escalation in Washington's stand-off with Beijing.

WeChat's owner, Tencent, said: “We are reviewing the executive order to get a full understanding.”

As well as WeChat, Tencent is also a leading gaming company and its investments include a 40% stake in Epic Games – the company behind the hugely popular Fortnite video game.

The president has already threatened to ban TikTok in the US, citing national security concerns, and the company is now in talks to sell its American business to Microsoft. They have until 15 September to reach a deal – a deadline set by Mr Trump.

The Trump administration claims that the Chinese government has access to user information gathered by TikTok, which the company has denied.

TikTok, which is owned by China's ByteDance, said it had attempted to engage with the US government for nearly a year “in good faith”.

However, it said: “What we encountered instead was that the administration paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.”

The executive orders against the short-video sharing platform and the messaging service WeChat are the latest measure in an increasingly broad Trump administration campaign against China.

On Thursday, Washington announced recommendations that Chinese firms listed on US stock markets should be delisted unless they provided regulators with access to their audited accounts.

What did Donald Trump say?

In both executive orders, Mr Trump says that the spread in the US of mobile apps developed and owned by Chinese firms “threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States”.

The US government says TikTok and WeChat “capture vast swaths of information from its users”.

“This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans' personal and proprietary information.”

The executive order also claims both apps gather data on Chinese nationals visiting the US, allowing Beijing “to keep tabs” on them.

Mr Trump's executive order also says TikTok's data collection could allow China to track US government employees and gather personal information for blackmail, or to carry out corporate espionage.

He notes that reports indicate TikTok censors content deemed politically sensitive, such as protests in Hong Kong and China's treatment of the Uighurs, a Muslim minority. 

The orders have been issued under legal authority from the National Emergencies Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

What does TikTok say?

In its most robust response so far to the US government, TikTok says the executive order that has been issued is based on “unnamed reports with no citations”.

“We have made clear that TikTok has never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor censored content at its request,” it said.

“We even expressed our willingness to pursue a full sale of the US business to an American company.”

Mr Trump said this week he would support the sale to Microsoft as long as the US government received a “substantial portion” of the sale price.

TikTok said the new executive order “risks undermining global businesses' trust in the United States' commitment to the rule of law”, adding it sets “a dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets”.

“We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly – if not by the administration, then by the US courts,” it said.

WeChat ban puts US-China personal ties in peril

Zhaoyin Feng, BBC News Chinese, Washington DC

The TikTok ban is hardly a surprise, as the app has faced scrutiny in the US for months. But the almost identical ban on WeChat is more of a bombshell.

Immediately after President Trump's executive order was announced, I received a flood of messages on my WeChat. Friends in America and their loved ones in China were in an absolute panic.

They are thousands of miles apart but asking the same question: How are we supposed to keep in touch after WeChat is banned in the US?

It's nearly impossible to avoid WeChat for those who have any connections to China.

The billion-user app is like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, PayPal, Uber, and even Tinder, all in one ecosystem.

America's move to block WeChat, a prominent example of China's tech innovation, will be seen as an attack on its culture, its people and the state. It'll enhance the popular view in China that Washington is unreasonably suppressing its biggest competitor in technology.

If the ban is fully enforced, it'd be a disaster for anyone who has families, friends or a business in China.

While tit-for-tat has become the new normal in US-China relations, this move will cut off virtually all people-to-people communication between the world's two most influential countries.

What is the background?

Mr Trump has been waging a trade war against China since taking office.

The US government took action last year against two Chinese communications companies, Huawei and ZTE, including locking them out of government contracts.

Most recently, he has blamed the country for the global coronavirus pandemic, which has crippled the US economy.

Meanwhile, many of the biggest US platforms – Google, Twitter and Facebook – are banned inside China.

TikTok – which has up to 80 million active monthly users in the US – has exploded in popularity in recent years, mostly with people under 20.

The app is reported to have around 800 million active monthly users, with its biggest markets having grown in the US and India.

India has, however, already blocked TikTok, as well as other Chinese apps.

Australia, which has already banned Huawei and ZTE, is also considering banning TikTok.

WeChat is very popular among those users who have connections to China, where major social networking platforms – such as WhatsApp and Facebook – are blocked.

It is also viewed as being a key instrument in China's internal surveillance apparatus – requiring local users who have been accused of spreading malicious rumours to register a facial scan and voice print.

A seminar held earlier this year by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank discussed how groups within the app would be used to recommend holiday destinations, restaurants and the like on a day-to-day basis, but then switch to spreading political messages in line with Beijing's thinking at critical times.

Aviva shares surge on news of tighter focus ahead and resumption in company’s dividend

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 6th Aug 2020) London, Uk – –

The company's new chief executive signals it is to exit some of its markets following long-held complaints it operates too widely.

The new chief executive of Aviva has wowed investors with news of a tighter focus ahead and a resumption in the company's dividend.

Shares in the life, motor and home insurer hit five-month highs on Thursday after Amanda Blanc bowed to long-term complaints from analysts and shareholders and announced that Aviva would reduce its focus on Asia and Europe to concentrate on its interests in the UK, Ireland and Canada.

Ms Blanc, the company's third chief executive in two years amid the bitter fights over its direction, signalled exits from several markets ahead, building on the planned sale of its stake in its Hong Kong business announced last year.

The insurance industry veteran, who only took over last month after the sudden departure of Maurice Tulloch, made the announcement as Aviva revealed a 12% fall in half-year operating profits to £1.2bn.

That beat analysts' estimates of £1.1bn and was mostly driven by strong results in UK annuities.

The value of new business in its UK life business rose 60% to £323m – with its Europe and Asia counterparts proving a drag.

Aviva's European operations include France, Italy and Poland.

In addition to Hong Kong, its other Asian operations include Singapore and a joint venture in China.

Ms Blanc responded by telling an investor call that a “shake-up” was coming and that there may be better owners for some of the interests in Asia and Europe.Bank of England expects less severe economic slump, but longer recovery

The UK's second-largest insurer by market value, which like several rivals suspended its final dividend for 2019 earlier this year, said it would pay a 2019 second interim dividend of six pence.

That proved welcome news for investors, which include more than 500,000 consumers, who have seen payouts crippled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Shares, which were up to 7.5% higher on the news, closed the day 4.6% up.

BoE’s Governor Andrew Bailey backs decision to close furlough scheme in October

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com –Thur,6th Aug 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey on Thursday backed the government’s decision to close its furlough scheme – which has supported 9.6 million jobs through the COVID-19 pandemic – at the end of October.

With redundancies already mounting, opposition politicians and some major think tanks have said finance minister Rishi Sunak should extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the economy is strong enough to support more at-risk workers.

Sunak has said there is no question of a wholesale extension of the programme.

“I think the Chancellor has set out a very clear path for that, and I think it is good that he set out a very clear path. It’s been a very successful scheme,” Bailey told BBC News.

“But he’s right to say we have to we have to look forwards now and move forward.”

Last month Sunak said calls for an endless extension to the furlough programme were “irresponsible” and brought in a scheme to pay employers 1,000 pounds for each worker they retain following furlough.

The BoE said it estimated 7.5 million workers had benefited from the furlough scheme at its peak, and that 4 million had now returned to work, while 3.5 million were still on furlough.

But major British companies have already announced tens of thousands of redundancies.

Bailey said some long-term changes in Britain’s economy and job market were unavoidable, and that it would be wrong to stand in the way of this.

“If that is what’s going to happen, then we have to facilitate it,” he added.

Earlier, Bailey told reporters that the BoE’s projection for an unemployment rate of 7.5% this year was a “very bad story” for the British public, and warned that it could turn out worse than that.

“I don’t think (we should be) locking the economy down in a state that it pre-existed in, when we may have to look at some elements of structural change in the economy to respond to the world we now live in. You have to look forward,” Bailey told the BBC.

Reporting by Andy Bruce

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WH Smith considering cutting 1,500 jobs

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 5th Aug 2020) London, Uk – –

WH Smith is considering cutting 1,500 jobs – 11% of its workforce – after the lockdown caused sales to plummet.

Most of the jobs being lost will be at the company's travel sites, situated at airports and railway stations.

The firm said the impact of the coronavirus outbreak meant it expected to report a loss of £70-75m for the year to the end of August.

WH Smith is the latest High Street name to consider job cuts amid the disruption caused by the pandemic.

The company has 575 High Street shops and employs more than 14,000 people. Revenue at its travel division, which includes stores at airports and rail stations, fell 92% in the first month of lockdown.

At its High Street division, sales were still 25% down in July after lockdown eased.

WH Smith said it had now reopened all its High Street stores and 246 of its largest travel division sites, those in airports, railway stations and hospitals.

The announcement comes after William Hill said 119 of its High Street betting shops would not re-open after the shutdown forced by the coronavirus outbreak. Also on Wednesday, fashion chain M&Co said it, too, was cutting 340 jobs and closing 47 stores.

WH Smith, which made £155m in profit last year, said the job cuts and associated restructuring would cost it between £15-19m, but added it had enough funds to get through a prolonged downturn.

Group chief executive Carl Cowling said: “While there has been some progress in our High Street business, it does continue to be adversely affected by low levels of footfall.

“As a result, we now need to take further action to reduce costs across our businesses. I regret that this will have an impact on a significant number of colleagues whose roles will be affected by these necessary actions.”

He added that the company would do “everything we can to support them at this challenging time”.

News of the latest cuts comes after a wave of retail redundancies. On Monday, DW Sports said up to 1,700 jobs were at risk. John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Boots and Selfridges are among other big names to announce job cuts.

The restaurant sector has also been hit hard, with Pizza Express warning on Tuesday that 1,100 jobs could go as part of a restructuring that could see 15% of outlets shut.

And the travel and tourism sector continues to suffer, with Hayes Travel saying on Monday that almost 900 jobs would go.

Barely a week into August, and already some 6,000 jobs have been lost or are under threat as the furlough scheme starts to wind down.

==

William Hill to repay £24m in furlough funds and shut 119 stores

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 5th Aug 2020) London, Uk – –

Bookmaker reports first-half profit of £141m and fast recovery in takings from sports betting

The bookmaker William Hill has seen a fast recovery in takings after sports betting resumed, but announced it would not reopen 119 branches closed during the coronavirus lockdown.

The group said it had redeployed the majority of staff at the branches that are closing and only 16 redundancies were expected. The latest closures, representing about 8% of stores, leave William Hill with 1,414 branches.

It plans to repay the government £24.5m in funds claimed to support furloughed workers’ wages, after revealing profits of £141m in the first six months of 2020, thanks to a £200m VAT refund.

Investors were encouraged by the results, with William Hill’s share price closing up 9% 128p.

Bookmakers were forced to close all their branches during the lockdown, with William Hill furloughing 7,000 staff. The absence of major sport around the world led to a big drop in betting activity, and William Hill’s revenues more than halved in the opening weeks of the UK lockdown.

However, large bookmakers’ online operations helped to cushion the blow. People who gamble regularly online did so just as often or more frequently during the lockdown, despite the lack of sporting fixtures, according to a survey by the polling company Survation in April.

The return of sporting competition such as Premier League football on 17 June meant much of the revenue affected by lockdown was delayed rather than lost, William Hill said.

Total revenues for the half-year were down by nearly a third to £554m, but revenues were flat year on year when adjusting for closed stores in the last two weeks of June. Favourable sporting results such as the outsider victory in the Derby also helped boost profits.

Ulrik Bengtsson, William Hill’s chief executive, said he was delighted by the company’s performance and wanted to pursue further growth for the business, particularly in the US as sports betting is deregulated there.

“Our trading was strong before Covid-19, we controlled costs effectively during lockdown and we have recovered well post-lockdown, with good performances in our online businesses throughout the first half,” Bengtsson said.

By Jasper Jolly

==

EasyJet expands its flight schedule as demand takes-off despite COVID-19 uncertainty

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 4th Aug 2020) London, Uk – –

The budget airline expands its schedule for the rest of holiday season as a result of bookings performing better than predicted.

Greater than expected demand has led easyJet to increase the number of flights it is offering over the summer, despite continuing uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic.

The budget airline expanded its schedule to 40% of normal capacity between July and September rather than the 30% previously expected.

The carrier said it has seen strong demand from UK holidaymakers flying to GreeceTurkey and Croatia.

In response to the upbeat move, the company's shares, which have lost more than 60% of their value since the start of the year, leapt 8%.

While the government's decision to remove Spain from its quarantine exemption list in response to a rise in COVID-19 cases had reduced the number of new bookings being made, most customers with existing plans were going ahead with them, according to the airline's boss.

Criticising the UK's approach towards so-called travel corridors, chief executive Johan Lundgren argued the policy was “not specific enough”.

He called for it to be based on regions rather than countries, pointing out parts of Spain had far lower rates of infection than some areas of the UK.

Figures released by the airline show in the three months to the end of June, easyJet made just £7m in revenue as a result of its fleet, like other carriers, being grounded due to the coronavirus.

In the two weeks from the middle of June when it started flying again, it carried 117,000 passengers in the 132,000 seats available.Why do UK and Spain disagree over quarantine?

Mr Lundgren said: “I am really encouraged that we have seen higher than expected levels of demand with load factor of 84% in July with destinations like Faro and Nice remaining popular with customers.

“Our bookings for the remainder of the summer are performing better than expected and as a result, we have decided to expand our schedule over the fourth quarter to fly circa 40% of capacity.

“This increased flying will allow us to connect even more customers to family or friends and to take the breaks they have worked hard for.”

He also said the airline had urged the government to look at deciding quarantine-exempt travel corridors on “a regional basis”.

Mr Lundgren said: “You see parts of Spain – the Balearics and the Canary Islands – who have significantly lower rates of infections than other parts of Spain and also in the UK.”

Projects to build up to 45,000 new homes given green light ahead of planning shake-up

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 4th Aug, 2020) London, Uk – –

Treasury to allocate £900m to over 300 ‘shovel ready’ schemes and infrastructure projects

Robert Jenrick and Boris Johnson have promised major reforms to planning laws in England to build more homes. 

Projects to build up to 45,000 new homes are to get the green light as part of the latest round of investment from Boris Johnson’s promised “New Deal” ahead of a radical planning shake-up expected this week.

The Treasury is to allocate £900m from funds announced in Rishi Sunak’s budget to more than 300 so-called “shovel ready” schemes, which include the homes, new commercial space and infrastructure projects such as a high-speed rail station in Kent.

The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, said the investment would be“laying the foundations for a green economic recovery”.

Jenrick and the prime minister have promised major changes to planning laws in England, to be formally announced in the coming days, under which new homes and hospitals could be granted automatic planning permission to speed up building.

Under the plans, local councils will be asked to designate land either as “growth”, “renewal” or “protection”. New developments will be granted automatic permission on “growth” land and “renewal” areas will see developments given “permission in principle” subject to some checks. Only areas given the “protection” status, including the greenbelt, will not have automatic building rights.

The forthcoming reforms have led to warnings from housing charities about the potential risk of low-quality homes.

The government has also confirmed a £360m investment in Mayoral Combined Authority areas such as Greater Manchester and the West Midlands to build 26,000 more homes while protecting greenfield sites, with a further £8m earmarked to speed up the delivery of these new homes on brownfield sites.

The business and energy department also detailed its plans to fund up to two-thirds of the costs of green home improvements for more than 600,000 homes.

Tradespeople must register for TrustMark accreditation for improvements from wall insulation, floors and roofs to the installation of low-carbon heating. Households on low income can receive vouchers covering 100% of the cost of the improvements, up to a maximum of £10,000.

The investment is part of the £5bn New Deal spending announced in June, part of the £600bn-plus Sunak allocated in his March budget for capital projects over the next five years.

By Jessica Elgot Chief political correspondent

Insurers in the UK face possible action by FCA over calculation of pandemic payouts

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Mon, 3rd Aug 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Insurers that do not treat customers fairly when calculating payouts for business interruption due to the coronavirus crisis will face action by Britain’s markets watchdog.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has taken eight insurers to court over business interruption policy wordings, which the insurers say do not cover the pandemic, with a ruling expected in mid-September.

But the case does not address how any resulting claims payments would be calculated, the FCA said on Monday.

“We may intervene and take further actions where firms do not appear to be meeting our expectations and treating their customers fairly,” the FCA said in a statement.

Some insurers were making deductions for government loans – which businesses had received as a result of the pandemic – when calculating payouts.

The FCA said this could be appropriate but insurers should not take a one-size-fits-all approach and make uniform deductions.

“Insurers are likely to need to consider individually the precise details of the policy, the claim and the use and application of the government support the policyholder received,” the FCA said.

Similar wordings to those in the test case were used by more than 60 insurers and could affect 370,000 policyholders, the FCA has said.

Insurers are already paying claims on some business interruption policies. The Association of British Insurers said its members expected to pay 900 million pounds in such claims this year due to the pandemic.

Analysts said a win for the FCA could take the size of those payments to billions of pounds.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Alexander Smith

UK Government ‘Eat out to help out” scheme the pros and cons for restaurants

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 3rd Aug 2020) London, Uk – –

Restaurant owner Lubeck Sredojevic is exactly the kind of person who should be benefiting from Chancellor Rishi Sunak's “Eat out to help out” scheme.

The Serbian-born businessman has been the owner of the Boulevard restaurant in south Croydon since 1999.

He initially welcomed lockdown as a chance to take a break and refurbish his restaurant's interior, “because in 21 years I didn't have a proper holiday”, but now he is ready to serve his customers again.

He is taking part in the government's meal discount scheme – which runs between Mondays and Wednesdays throughout August – but he is “not crazy about it”.

“I have more bookings than I normally have for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,” he says, “But my Friday, Saturday and Sunday are worse.

“It will definitely affect the weekend and we won't have as many people as we normally have.”

The other big problem with the scheme for Mr Sredojevic is that it only covers food, not alcohol, and that makes it confusing to administer.

“It's very complicated technically to separate them,” he says. “We've got to do it manually and I need to do it myself, because I want to check it has been done properly.

“It would have been easier to do it for everything. They should have found some way to make it simpler.”

Reduced capacity

“Eat out to help out” is the chancellor's latest move to help boost an industry that has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Sunak hopes that by offering up to £10 off a meal in August on certain days, it will encourage people to visit restaurants and cafes.

But with the offer only available on 13 days during the month, is it too little, too late to save an industry already ravaged by a devastating wave of closures and job losses?

“There are still a lot of difficulties facing our industry,” said Marcello Distefano, boss of the San Carlo chain of restaurants.

“We're running at reduced capacity and we're still suffering from no-shows. and we've still got the major question over rents which will come to fruition at the end of September,” he told the BBC's Today programme.

“We're looking forward to the autumn with a little bit of trepidation at the moment with what's happening.”

The chain has 21 restaurants across the country, but its problems are typical of an industry that has been brought to its knees during the coronavirus crisis.

Six of its branches remain closed and 130 of its 700 workers are still furloughed.

“We've still got three restaurants that are closed in London, predominantly in the Covent Garden area, which relies heavily on theatres and tourism. But even at the London branches open, sales figures are down 70-75% on last year,” Mr Distefano revealed.

“With there still being so many unknowns, we still have a sense of uncertainty about our future.”

Cautious consumers

“The hospitality sector has been hit particularly hard by the nation's lockdown,” said Will Hawkley, UK head of leisure at KPMG.

“While some restaurant doors have reopened, consumers still struggle to shake off the words of caution that previously told them – in no uncertain terms – to remain at home.

“Worries around what will happen in city centres or during the winter, when the nights draw in and the weather gets colder, still remain.”

The Covid-19 crisis has seen a number of restaurant chains in trouble, with the loss of thousands of jobs.

Byron Burger became the latest business to add to the industry's woes at the end of July, when it announced it was axing 650 jobs and closing more than half its outlets.

The owner of Cafe Rouge, the Casual Dining Group, went into administration in July and closed 91 of its 250 sites, with the loss of 2,000 jobs. The group has since been bought, saving 4,000 jobs.

Bella Italia-owner Azzurri also went into administration, which meant 75 branches closing and 1,200 jobs disappearing before it, too, was bought by a new business.

Carluccio's is another chain that fell into administration, before being bought by the owner of Giraffe restaurants, although 40 of its outlets were closed with the loss of 1,000 jobs.

‘Right thing to do'

The “Eat out to help out” scheme applies to eat-in food and drink at more than 72,000 venues across the country.

Business and Industry Minister Nadhim Zahawi told BBC Breakfast: “People want to support great local restaurants, great independent restaurants, and of course their favourite restaurant chains as well.

“I'll be going out and helping those restaurants in Stratford-on-Avon, in London, wherever I can, of course. I think it's the right thing to do.”

Asked if you could choose to pay full price, he replied: “It's worth all of us going out and if the government is supporting the sector, why not?

“We should all absolutely make sure that we go out and enjoy that restaurant.”

Major chains taking part in the scheme include: Burger King, Caffe Nero, Costa Coffee, Franco Manca, Fullers, Greene King, McDonald's, Nando's, Pizza Express, Pizza Hut, Pret A Manger, Starbucks, Wagamama and Wetherspoon.

By Simon Read & Robert Plummer Business reporters

Jenn Hyman The Women Who Build A Billion-Dollar Fashion Technology Business Empire

Source: Forbes

“I'm here to assure you that you can have it all,” says Jenn Hyman, co-founder and CEO of the disruptive fashion technology startup Rent the Runway. Hyman remains one of the few female founders to helm a billion-dollar empire, and the first to attain elusive unicorn status while also nine months pregnant. “You can have the life that you've always dreamed of having. And I think that it's crazy that I used to think that that was impossible.” In a landscape where outdated stereotypes are just one of the many challenges female leaders face as they rise the ranks, Hyman is busting the myth that high-achieving women must choose between a fulfilling career and achieving life ambitions beyond their professional pursuits. Since co-founding Rent the Runway in 2009 after attending Harvard Business School, Hyman has gone on to raise over $500 million in funding, growing the business to over 11 million members and revolutionizing the $2.4 trillion fashion industry along the way. Change has extended far beyond her professional life too, and Hyman stresses the importance of this in her evolution and success as a leader. “My whole life has changed. I'm married, I have kids, I have a much more balanced life than I had in the early days of Rent the Runway,” she says. “But that doesn't mean that I work fewer hours now; I still work with the same level of intensity. But I think that it's extremely important to have other things in your life that you are as obsessed with or more obsessed with than work.”

10 BEST BUSINESSES You Can Start ONLINE in 2020

Source: Alux

This Alux video well try to answer the following questions: What kind of online business is most profitable? What is the best business to start in 2020? What are the most successful small businesses? What is the best online business to start in 2019? What are the top 10 online businesses? How can I earn fast money? What businesses are in demand? How do I decide what business to start? Which type of business is best? What's the easiest business to start? What's the easiest type of business to start? Which industry is most profitable? What is the best online business to start in 2020? Is 2020 a good time to start a business? Which business is best for students? How can I make money in 2020? How can I earn money in home? How can I make a lot of money online? How can I make $100 a day? How can I make $100 a day online without investment? How can I turn 100 dollars into 1000 a day? What kind of business can I start from home? What business will be successful in future? Which home based business is the best? Is online selling profitable? What are the top 5 most profitable businesses? How can I start my own online store? What kind of business can I do online? What are the top online businesses? How can a 2020 beginner make money online? What is the best startup business for 2019? What is the cheapest most profitable business to start? What are the worst businesses to start? What are the most successful big businesses? What is the best business for ladies? What can I sell online?

Waking Up In The Most Expensive Hotel Room In Bel-Air

Source: CNBC

See what it’s like to wake up in the most expensive hotel room at the super exclusive Hotel Bel-Air. The luxury hotel has a giant presidential suite that’s probably one of the most lavish in all of Los Angeles. The mega-suite includes a secret paparazzi-proof entrance, a giant private pool, grand piano, outdoor hot tub, and if you want the full VIP experience: Chef Wolf Gang Puck can serve you dinner for ten in your suite’s private dining room. After showing you what it’s like to wake up in the super expensive VIP suite we’ll also give you a look inside the hotel’s LEAST expensive room and reveal three things you can do here that are way less expensive and you can do them even if you’re NOT a guest.

House prices bounced back in July, says Nationwide

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 31st July 2020) London, Uk – –

House prices bounced back in July, climbing 1.7% during the month compared to a 1.5% fall in June, according to the Nationwide.

“The bounce back in prices reflects the unexpectedly rapid recovery in housing market activity since the easing of lockdown restrictions,” it said.

Activity has been boosted by pent-up demand and the stamp duty holiday.

But the lender warned: “There is a risk this proves to be something of a false dawn.”

The average price in July was £220,936, according to the Nationwide. However, while prices were up 1.5% from a year earlier, July's price was 1.6% lower than in April at the beginning of lockdown.

However, it was a marked change to June's prices when the market posted its first annual fall in eight years.

The rebound in prices reflected a number of factors, said Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist.

He said pent up demand was coming through, from people who had already decided to move before lockdown began. But some people were moving because of their lockdown experience, he said.

“Behavioural shifts may be boosting activity, as people reassess their housing needs and preferences as a result of life in lockdown,” he said.

“Moreover, social distancing does not appear to be having as much of a chilling effect as we might have feared, at least at this stage.”

He said the upward trends look set to continue in the near term, and will be further boosted by the recently-announced stamp duty holiday.

But he added a note of caution. “Most forecasters expect labour market conditions to weaken significantly in the quarters ahead as a result of the after effects of the pandemic and as government support schemes wind down.

“If this comes to pass, it would likely dampen housing activity once again in the quarters ahead.”

Lenders cautious

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, also warned that the future may not be so positive for the housing market.

“Lenders remain keen to lend but also cautious as to borrowers' financial positions, given the impending end of the furlough scheme and a number of redundancies which have already been announced,” he said.

Anna Clare Harper, author of Strategic Property Investing, warned: “What no one can forecast is what happens next, with some nerves among homeowners, investors and economists as to what the future may hold.”

Jonathan Hopper, chief executive of Garrington Property Finders, said lockdown would have a lasting effect on the property market.

“Like so much else that has been transformed by the pandemic, the property market map is being redrawn as people reassess what they want from their homes and when, or even if, they need to travel to work,” he said.

“Three months of being cooped up in the same four walls has led many people to consider a move.”

By Simon Read Personal finance reporter

BT sign-ups for UK’s ultra-fast broadband increase by 70% as Britons work from home

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 31st July 2020) London, Uk – –

Company reports near-70% increase in upgrades as Covid-19 crisis keeps Britons at home

BT has reported a near-70% surge in customers switching to next-generation full-fibre broadband as the working-from-home revolution prompts people to upgrade to the fastest internet connection available.

The company said the number of sign-ups for full fibre broadband, which enables users to download a hi-definition TV show in 15 seconds instead of the typical three minutes or more with standard broadband, increased in June to 10,000 per week.

Prior to that, about 6,000 customers per week had been signing up for full-fibre broadband, BT said.

The company, which runs the UK’s broadband network via its Openreach subsidiary, said customers are continuing to sign up in higher numbers. Households are upgrading as more companies either continue to delay sending staff back to the office or make remote working a permanent fixture.

“We are 20% up on daytime data usage on our [broadband] network,” said Philip Jansen, BT’s chief executive. “People are using us more at home. We have had lots of people ringing us up and contacting us to get higher speeds to do things like get complete wifi and manage their connections better.

“It is part of that general trend of connectivity being seen as absolutely crucial, even more crucial than it was before because there are more people at home, kids studying online, gaming, work and all that.”

Boris Johnson has pledged to have next-generation broadband made available to every home by 2025, as the UK plays catchup rolling out the technology compared with most developed markets around the world. BT is spending £12bn rolling out full-fibre broadband to 20m homes by the late 2020s.

On Friday, BT revealed a near-£400m decline in revenue in the three months to the end of June. The company blamed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which meant it was unable to broadcast sport such as Premier League football on BT TV and in partnered pubs, as well as a drop in demand for its services from small businesses during the lockdown.

By Mark Sweney

Tour operator Tui to shut 166 high street shops in UK and Ireland

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 30th July 2020) London, Uk – –

Tour operator Tui is to close 166 high street stores in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, the firm has announced.

Managing director Andrew Flintham said of the store closures: “We want to be in the best position to provide excellent customer service, whether it's in a high street store, over the telephone or online, and will continue to put the customer at the heart of what we do.

“It is therefore imperative that we make these difficult cost decisions, look after our colleagues during such unprecedented uncertainty and also offer a modern customer service.

“Customer behaviours have already changed in recent years, with 70% of all Tui UK bookings taking place online.

“We believe COVID-19 has only accelerated this change in purchasing habits, with people looking to buy online or wishing to speak with travel experts from the comfort of their own home.

“We have world-class travel advisers at Tui, so we hope many of them will become homeworkers and continue to offer the personalised service we know our customers value.”

One in three furloughed UK workers back at work in early July – ONS

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 30th July 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Roughly one in three furloughed workers in Britain returned to their jobs during the first two weeks of July as the hospitality industry reopened to the public, an official survey suggested on Thursday.

Some 7% of workers at businesses surveyed by the Office for National Statistics between June 29 and July 12 had returned to work within the previous two weeks, reducing the proportion who remained on furlough to 17%.

The sector with the largest number of workers returning was accommodation and food services businesses – which reopened to guests on July 4 – where 18% returned to work, though 43% remained on furlough leave.

Reporting by David Milliken

Barclays sets aside £3.7bn to cover possible loan losses

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 29th July, 2020) London, Uk – –

The bank says it has granted more than 600,000 payment holidays under its support for consumers and businesses during the crisis.

Barclays made provisions of £3.7bn in the first half of the year to cover possible loan losses as the coronavirus crisis took its toll on consumers and businesses.

The bank's latest financial results showed it set aside £1.6bn to cover bad debts during the second quarter – the three months to the end of June – as the lockdown in its core UK market came into full effect.

The credit impairment charges and loan loss provisions came in about £200m above the expectations of analysts.

They dented group profit before tax for the six months, which fell to £1.3bn compared to the £3bn achieved in the same period last year.

The bank's chief executive said its diversified business model – a key part of his strategy – had allowed Barclays to support its customers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as income from its investment bank in particular offset weaknesses elsewhere.

The bank said: “Our consumer business income decreased by 11% in Barclays UK and 21% in CC&P (consumer, cards and payments) as a result of the lower interest rate environment, fewer interest earning balances, reduced payments activity and action to provide support for customers”.

That action, Barclays said, included more than 600,000 payment holidays up to 22 July and delivery of the government's loan schemes to support businesses through the crisis.

The bank said that since late March, it had helped deliver around £22bn of funding including 250,000 government-backed Bounce Back Loans totalling around £7.7bn.

It said it had handed out £2.5bn under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), under which the bank shares some of the risk.

Barclays' investment bank income rose 31% over the six months to £6.9bn – led by its markets business.

However, it confirmed there would be no interim dividend for shareholders.

Chief executive Jes Staley told investors a previously flagged boost to its reserves meant Barclays was in good shape despite the current challenges.

“Our CET1 (common equity tier one ratio) stands at 14.2% which underscores the strength of our balance sheet”.

But he added: “Although we will remain well capitalised and ahead of our minimum requirements, we may experience stronger capital headwinds in the second half of the year. The Board will decide on future dividends and capital returns at the year-end 2020.

“While the remainder of 2020 will be challenging, our diversified model means we can remain financially resilient and continue to support our customers and clients.”

Shares, down by more than a third in the year to date, rose initially before falling 1% in early trading.

Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said of the bank's charges: “Given the backdrop, a large increase in provisions for bad loans during the half was to be expected – and Barclays now expects disruption to drag well past 2020.

“For the high street business bad loan provisions are clustered in the credit card business, always a riskier area for lenders, but the bank also anticipates some large losses from its large corporate customers.”

Aston Martin Luxury car brand losses soar to £227m in first half of 2020

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 29th July 2020) London, Uk – –

Luxury car brand’s sales down 41% after coronavirus pandemic shuts dealerships

Aston Martin Lagonda’s losses surged to £227m in the first half of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic closed the embattled UK luxury carmaker’s dealerships and prompted an executive clear-out.

The carmaker was also forced to restate its income statements over two years after detecting an accounting error that led it to overstate profitability in 2018 and 2019.

Aston Martin has endured a torrid 12 months, as heavy spending on a new factory for a new car, the DBX SUV, followed by the pandemic pushed it close to bankruptcy. Its main plant, at Gaydon, Warwickshire, is only due to resume manufacturing at the end of August, later than originally planned.

In January the billionaire fashion mogul Lawrence Stroll led a consortium that in effect took control of Aston Martin in a bailout shortly before the pandemic forced a deep drop in sales. Stroll has focused on restoring profitability at the carmaker, as well as firing Andy Palmer as chief executive and in his place installing Tobias Moers, the former boss of Mercedes-Benz’s performance division, AMG.

The pandemic meant that Aston Martin sold only 1,770 cars in the first six months of 2020, down 41% compared with 2019. It sold only one of its highly lucrative “special” cars, such as the £2.7m DB5 Goldfinger Continuation, which comes with a smokescreen emitter and fake tyre slashers and machine guns to mirror the car made famous by the James Bond film. Last year it sold 36.

The carmaker’s revenues plunged by 64% year on year to only £146m as dealerships around the world were forced to close.

Aston Martin was also forced to restate its income statements for 2018 and 2019 after overstating profits by £15.3m in 2019.

The new management found an error in the way the US region was recognising revenues that meant it counted payments to dealers and discounts for retail customers later than it should have done.

Stroll, who took the role of executive chairman, said it had been “a very intense and challenging six months” and the company pointed to more difficulties ahead. Reducing the number of cars at dealerships, a key aim of Stroll as he tries to restore Aston Martin’s air of exclusivity, will continue until 2021.

In its statement to the stock market, Aston Martin said: “Trading remains challenging in many markets and the pace of emergence from lockdown and consumer recovery varies significantly.”

UK government close to giving backing to double virus tests which ‘could cut quarantine time’

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Tue, 28th July 2020) London, Uk – –

People entering the UK from at-risk countries who test negative for coronavirus twice within several days might be allowed to leave quarantine early.

The UK government is close to giving its backing to a trial, according to travel industry sources.

Under current rules, those arriving in the UK from certain countries must self-isolate for 14 days.

The Department for Transport (DfT) declined to comment.

Details of the new programme are said to be still being worked out, but one key area of debate is the number of days required between tests.

The government has indicated that it is keeping all quarantine measures under review.

It is said to be considering an eight-day stretch between tests, whereas figures within the travel sector are keen for a five-day period.

The number of days required between each test is critical in reducing the possibility of “false negative” results.

A false negative result is possible if someone who has recently contracted Covid-19 is not showing symptoms.

France is about to launch a compulsory two-test regime for people arriving from 16 at-risk countries, including the United States.

The BBC understands that there are two broad options being considered.

The first would involve someone having a first test several days before they travelled to the UK, with the second test happening the day before they arrive. However, this might mean that in some cases people would need to be tested abroad.

That option could mean that people would avoid quarantine altogether.

The second possibility is that people would be tested on arrival in the UK, possibly at the airport, and then be required to have a second test several days later.

In the period between the two tests, the person would have to self-isolate at home in line with government rules.

Another question mark remains over how the trial will be funded.

Travel consultant Paul Charles believes that airports will have to foot part of the bill.

“The onus is on UK airports to invest, as restaurants and bars have done, in the measures which enable the economy to get going,” he said.

Like other figures in the travel industry, Mr Charles is frustrated by the fact that the government has still not given its backing to testing as a way of people avoiding the travel quarantine.

“Substantial investment in testing is the only solution to enable safer travel, keep corridors open to other countries and remove the disruptive need for everyone to self-isolate for 14 days.”

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow Airport, told BBC News “the jury was still out” on having one single coronavirus test on arrival.

“Not enough work has been done on that and it may be that we need another test after five or eight days to get people out of quarantine early.

“As the UK's hub airport, I want to work with the government on some of these things – to try to find a balance to keep people safe but also to get the economy moving again and save as many jobs as possible.”

The test that would be used is the same Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-type test used by the NHS, and can cost about £150 each time.

Any trial of the double-testing scheme would likely initially be focused on one or two specific routes.

The BBC has been told that any trial would not initially be focused on people arriving from European destinations.

The aviation sector has been in discussions with Public Health England about how the testing could work.

If the scheme goes ahead, it is not expected to be implemented for several weeks.

Collinson and Swissport are the two firms spearheading the work on the trials in the UK.

Collinson chief executive David Evans said of the potential roll-out: “I would hope that the government would move and flex on their policy – I think they've got to have an armoury of tools at their disposal to do this.

“As soon as they do that, we should get this rolled out in the next couple of weeks.”

By Tom BurridgeTransport correspondent, BBC News

UK pension scams under investigation after relaxation in rules in 2015

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 28th July 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British lawmakers said on Tuesday they were launching an inquiry into pension scams following a relaxation in pension rules five years ago that has increased the scope for fraud, a problem likely to get worse during the coronavirus pandemic.

Under so-called pension freedoms introduced in 2015, over-55s have been able to choose how they spend their pension pots, rather than being forced to buy an annuity, which gives a fixed income for life.

Industry sources say the changes have encouraged investment in other financial products that offer higher returns than annuities, but have also increased the scope for scams.

“More flexibility means more potential for the unscrupulous to take advantage and scam savers out of what will very often be their largest financial asset, crippling their dreams of a comfortable retirement,” said Stephen Timms, chair of the work and pensions committee of lawmakers.

Some 180 people reported they had been the victim of a pension scam in 2018, losing on average 82,000 pounds each. Regulators believe only a minority of pension scams are reported, the committee said in a statement.

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to lead to a further increase in scams, said Andy Agathangelou, founder of Transparency Task Force, which lobbies for reform of financial services.

“People are suffering from lack of money, there’s an increasing lack of confidence in the pensions industry and scammers are getting ever more sophisticated.”

The work and pensions committee is seeking written submissions on pension scams by Sept. 9.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn