Nissan and Mitsubishi shares tumble following chairman Carlos Ghosn arrest

( via – – Tue, 20th Nov 2018) London, Uk – –

Stocks in Toyko tumbled overnight with shares in Nissan and Mitsubishi plummeting after chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested over allegations of financial misconduct.

Mitsubishi was the biggest loser on the Nikkei, closing more than 6pc down, while Nissan declined 5.5pc.

Renault shares also fell 3.3pc in Paris in early morning trade after slumping to a three-year low yesterday on the back of the news.

The arrest of the Brazilian-born Frenchman sent shockwaves through the auto industry, following claims that he manipulated financial filings and under-reported his own income by tens of millions of pounds.

Reports also suggested that Mr Ghosn had spent “huge sums” of company money on homes in Rio de Janeiro, Beirut, Paris and Amsterdam.

Nissan said the internal investigation was prompted by a whistleblower, uncovering years of financial wrongdoing.

Fujio Ando, an adviser at Chibagin Securities, told Reuters that Mr Ghosn's downfall was unlikely to lead to a sharp fall in car sales, capping the downside for Nissan shares.

“The fact that the case came to light because of a whistleblower is also positive on the whole, in terms of corporate governance,” he said. “If this had been revealed by outsiders, that would have been a different story.”

On Monday Nissan’s chief executive Hiroto Saikawa said that the company will hold a board meeting on Thursday to sack Mr Ghosn, while Mitsubishi followed suit in proposing to remove him.

Mr Ghosn chairs Nissan and Mitsubishi and is chairman and chief executive of Renault. Nissan and Renault have worked together as an alliance for almost two decades. Mitsubishi was added to the fold last year.

News of the arrest sparked concern in France, where the state owns a 15pc stake in Renault. It also raised questions about the future of the alliance.

But President Emmanuel Macron said the French government “will be extremely vigilant about the stability of the alliance” between Renault and Nissan and promised to look out for Renault workers.

Mr Saikawa also said that the arrests would not affect Nissan's relationship with Renault and Mitsubishi.

“The partnership among the three entities will not be affected by this event, rather we will closely work together with all the partners to contain any possible confusion,” he said.

It was also confirmed yesterday that Nissan’s president Greg Kelly was arrested for financial misconduct in connection with Mr Ghosn.

By LaToya Harding



Gold worth $37 billion traded in London each day: LBMA data shows

( via — Tue, 20th Nov 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Members of the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) traded at least 30.2 million ounces of gold worth $36.9 billion (28.7 billion pounds) each day last week, the LBMA said on Tuesday, presenting new data that gives the most accurate picture yet of the London market.

London is a global gold trading hub but most transactions are made in over-the-counter trades between banks, brokers and dealers who have been reluctant to reveal their activity.

With regulators pushing for greater transparency, LBMA members have begun reporting trades that settle in London and Zurich, another trading centre closely connected to London.

“For the first time in the long history of the London gold market its size is not guesswork but a reliable measurement,” Macquarie analyst Matthew Turner said in a note accompanying the LBMA figures.

According to the LBMA, its members last week traded 95 million ounces of gold in spot contracts, 46.5 million ounces in swaps and forward contracts, 4.1 million ounces in options and 5.4 million ounces in leases, loans and deposits.

That gives a daily average total of 30.2 million ounces – or 939 tonnes, the equivalent of 74 London double-decker busses.

In silver, LBMA members traded 1.1 billion ounces in spot, 651.2 million ounces in swaps and forwards, 36.7 million ounces in options and 43.7 million ounces in leases, loans and deposits, giving a daily average total of 359.3 million ounces worth around $5.2 billion.

The volumes are slightly higher than the previous best estimate for the size of the London market, clearing statistics which suggested gold worth around $25 billion changed hands in the city each day.

They are also lower than futures volumes on U.S. exchange CME Group (CME.O), which last week were around 34 million ounces a day for gold and 552 million ounces a day for silver, according to Turner.

But the LBMA data is not a complete view of London trading. LBMA members account for most but not all activity in London, and some members have yet to begin reporting their volumes.

The LBMA said it would publish the data once a week for around three months before moving to daily reporting. It also said it planned to begin publishing data for platinum and palladium.

The initiative is part of a wider move by the LBMA to make the gold market more transparent after pressure from regulators and accusations – some of which resulted in settlement payouts – that a number of banks and traders had manipulated prices.

Last year the LBMA began publishing monthly data showing how much gold and silver is stored in London’s precious metals vaults – 7,684 tonnes of gold worth $309 billion and 34,901 tonnes of silver worth $18 billion, as of the end of June.

By Peter Hobson


TSB appoints Debbie Crosbie as new chief executive after IT fiasco

( via – – Mon, 19th Nov 2018) London, Uk – –

TSB has appointed Debbie Crosbie as its chief executive, replacing Paul Pester who resigned in September after this year's IT meltdown at the bank.

In April, almost two million customers lost access to online banking services after the bungled introduction of a new computer system.

Ms Crosbie will join TSB in 2019, after 20 years at CYBG where her most recent role was chief operating officer.

Her basic salary will be £914,000, slightly more than her predecessor's.

She will also be eligible for a bonus scheme similar to Mr Pester's, the detail of which will be in its annual report.

Executive chairman Richard Meddings, who is running the bank until Ms Crosbie takes over, said: “In an impressive field of candidates, Debbie stood out.

“With over two decades of experience, superb retail and SME [small and medium sized] banking expertise, and a genuinely open and engaging style of leadership, we have found an outstanding new CEO”.

He added that her appointment was another step forward in completing “the work of putting things right for customers”.

Ms Crosbie, who is also currently vice chair of the Scottish CBI, said: “TSB has all the right ingredients to be the leading challenger bank in the UK.”

Mr Meddings will continue as executive chairman until Ms Crosbie's appointment receives regulatory approval and she takes up her new role. At that point he will return to his previous position as non-executive chairman.

What went wrong at TSB?
TSB used to be part of Lloyds Banking Group, but it was split off from the group in 2013 and was floated on the stock market in 2014.

It was then bought by Spanish bank Sabadell in 2015. Earlier this year, the bank attempted to move customer records from the old Lloyds Banking Group computer platform to the Sabadell Proteo platform, a process that began on 20 April.

However, the switch proved to be a disaster with many customers being locked out of their accounts and some customers being given access to the confidential records of others. The problems continued for many weeks and TSB came under fierce criticism for the IT failings.

The debacle cost TSB £176m and the loss of thousands of customer accounts.

Paul Pester was TSB's chief executive at the time of the IT meltdown. He had joined Lloyds Banking Group in 2010 and in 2011 had been appointed to lead the launch of TSB and its separation from Lloyds.

In September this year it was announced Mr Pester was stepping down as chief executive.


Supersonic Air Travel Revival and The Challenges of Ultrafast Civilian Aircraft


Source:Verge Science

Supersonic air travel is back. 15 years after the Concorde was grounded, everyone from aerospace companies to NASA to small startups is working to bring back ultrafast civilian aircraft. We take a look at the engineering challenges that make supersonic flight so difficult, and try to figure out what’s different about this new generation of planes.


Krispy Kreme Anyone? Here are some fun facts to discover about your favourite doughnut chain


Source: Mashed

When you're craving doughnuts, can you think of anything better than a Krispy Kreme? That flawless sheet of glaze that crackles across the top when you take your first bite; the light, pillowy pastry that almost dissolves in your mouth the moment it hits your tongue… Whether you're looking to satisfy your breakfast cravings or a late night sweet tooth, it always hits the spot. And when they're hot off the line? Forget about it. While we may never know what makes these things so delicious, there are plenty of other fun facts to discover about your favorite doughnut chain that's been serving those glazed delights for over 80 years.


EE and Virgin Media fined £13.3m by watchdog for overcharging customers

( via – – Fri, 16th Nov 2018) London, Uk – –

EE and Virgin Media have been fined £13.3m by the telecoms regulator for overcharging customers wanting to leave broadband and phone contracts early.

Ofcom said customers were left “out of pocket”.

The regulator said around 400,000 EE customers who ended their contracts early were over-billed and paid up to £4.3m too much as a result.

It added almost 82,000 Virgin customers were overcharged by just under £2.8m. However, Virgin said it would appeal.

Gaucho Rasmussen, director of investigations and enforcement at Ofcom, said: “EE and Virgin Media broke our rules by overcharging people who ended their contracts early. Those people were left out pocket and the charges amounted to millions of pounds.”

Fine ‘not justified'
The fine for Virgin Media was £7m, Ofcom said, with an additional £25,000 for providing incomplete information to the regulator.

Ofcom found that Virgin Media had levied early-exit charges that were higher than customers had agreed to when signing up to their residential contracts. The regulator said this went on for almost a year.

However, Virgin Media said it “strongly disagrees” with Ofcom's decision and would appeal to the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

“This decision and fine is not justified, proportionate or reasonable. A small percentage of customers were charged an incorrect amount when they ended one or more of their services early and for that we are very sorry,” said Tom Mockridge, chief executive of Virgin Media.

Virgin Media said it had mistakenly overcharged 1.5% of its 5.5 million cable customers between September 2016 and August 2017.

The company has reimbursed or made charity donations covering 99.8% of its overcharging.

Customers yet to be repaid
EE apologised to customers after it was fined £6.3m following Ofcom's discovery that over a six-year period the firm did not set out the charges its mobile customers would have to pay if they left their contracts early.

Ofcom said that up to 15 million EE customers had originally been over-billed by up to £13.5m as the company had miscalculated early-exit charges. However, not all affected customers had paid these excessive charges as EE had subsequently waived some of them, leaving £4.3m in excessive charges.

A spokesperson for EE said: “We've already refunded customers and changed the way we calculate early termination charges, and we will continue to focus on ensuring our policies are clear and fair for all customers.”

However, Ofcom said that £1.6m of the £4.3m of the overcharged fees were yet to be repaid as EE did not have records covering the whole period. Customers who feel they may have been overcharged should contact EE.

Ofcom said the behaviour of both companies made customers less likely to switch provider, which was against its rules.



Ivy Park clothing brand by Beyoncé cut ties from Sir Philip Green

( via – – Fri, 16th Nov 2018) London, Uk – –

Beyoncé has ended a business venture with Topshop boss Sir Philip Green by buying him out of Ivy Park, the gymwear label they founded together.

The pair launched Ivy Park two years ago, playing on the personal brand of the US singer and outspoken feminist.

The buyout comes weeks after Sir Philip was named as having taken legal action to prevent publication of allegations of sexual harassment of staff.

Sir Philip says he “categorically and wholly” denies the allegations.

However, Beyoncé had faced pressure from campaigners to cut ties.

In a statement on Thursday, Ivy Park said: “After discussions of almost a year, Parkwood has acquired 100% of the Ivy Park brand. Topshop – Arcadia will fulfil the existing orders.”

Ivy Park sells items such as hoodies and leggings, part of a trend towards so called athleisure.

Beyoncé and Sir Philip had both owned 50% stakes in the label, which is named after the singer's daughter with rapper Jay Z, Blue Ivy.

Sir Philip, one of Britain's best known businessmen, was named in parliament last month by Lord Hain as the man behind a court injunction preventing the publication of allegations of sexual harassment and racial abuse of staff.

In a statement last month, he denied having broken the law and said his businesses fully investigated employee grievances.

However, campaign Equality Now had called for Beyoncé to end her relationship with the tycoon, arguing it was at odds with her stated principles.

Yasmeen Hassan, from the campaign group, said in October: “Beyoncé has put herself forward as a women's rights activist. She and her team need to look closely at these allegations.”

Another activist, Nimco Ali, said: “Beyoncé should say ‘I don't want to work with Philip Green'.”

A representative of Sir Philip would not comment further on the Ivy Park deal, while Beyoncé could not be reached for additional comment.


Political turmoil over UK’s draft agreement with the EU creates fresh uncertainty for currency and share traders

( via– Thur, 15 Nov 2018) London, Uk – –

A series of resignations over the UK's draft agreement with the EU have created fresh uncertainty for currency and share traders.

The pound has fallen sharply while banking and house building stocks are also under pressure after a draft Brexit deal was hit by political turmoil.

Sterling was more than two cents lower against the dollar at less than $1.28 in the wake of Dominic Raab's resignation as Brexit Secretary while it was also down by two cents versus the euro, at €1.13.

In the stock market, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays led the fallers, dropping 7%, while big house builders such as Baratt Developments and Persimmon each slumped by 6%.

But the wider FTSE 100 was less heavily affected, with the pound's fall providing a boost to the sterling value of the top-flight's multinationals, whose earnings are largely in foreign currencies.

However, the index turned negative by mid-morning when Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey announced that she would follow Mr Raab in quitting the Cabinet.

The second-tier FTSE 250 Index, which has more of an exposure to the UK economy, was down by around 1%.

Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, said: “As the steady drip of resignations hits the government, the UK's deal with the EU appears to be dead in the water already.

“Risk appetite has taken a hit across the board.”

The falls for banking stocks came after state-backed RBS revealed last month that it was putting aside £100m to guard against a “more uncertain economic outlook” ahead of Brexit.

House builders have also revealed their exposure to the uncertainty, with Taylor Wimpey saying earlier this week that there were “signs of customer caution” and that it expects sales volumes will fail to grow next year.

At the same time, house price growth has slowed sharply.

Currency markets have been in volatile mood in recent weeks amid the changing prospects for a Brexit deal.

The pound had crept above $1.30 against the dollar on Wednesday after it emerged that UK and EU officials had agreed a draft deal, with gains only muted given the difficult task of winning political backing for it.

Ratings agency Moody's has described the agreement as a positive step but warned that it was “far from the end of the process” and that its passage through Parliament was far from certain.

Colin Ellis, Moody's chief credit officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “If the UK parliament does not support the agreement then – in the absence of further developments – the EU and the UK will be heading for a no-deal Brexit by default.

“As we have said previously, that would have significant negative consequences for a range of issuers.”

Experts including the Bank of England expect a sharp shock to the economy if there is a no-deal withdrawal and the UK's independent fiscal watchdog has drawn comparisons with the impact of the three-day week in 1974.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas



Pirate Studios of Bristol raises $20m for ‘self-service’ recording, live stream and sharing music

( via – – Thu, 15 Nov, 2018) London, Uk – –

Bristol-based startup creating 24-hour production studios, where artists can record, live stream and share their music, has raised $20m (£15m), benefitting from growing demand among musicians for more control of their content.

Pirate Studios has raised the cash from venture capital firm Talis Capital, taking its total valuation to around $46m.

It has previously received backing from Eric Archambeau, an investor in Spotify, as well as partners at Hong Kong-based fund Gaw Capital.

The company operates the studios in a similar way to how The Gym Group runs its gyms, providing those using its sites with codes they can then use to unlock and access the studios.

Since it was founded in 2015, Pirate has grown to around 350 studios across the UK, Germany and the US. It had initially only offered recording studios, but now also has facilities for DJs and producers, and those using the sites can automatically record their content and live-stream it to social media platforms.

“We wanted to create studios that were more affordable, so we did this by opening up our sites for a 24-hour booking period per day,” said David Borrie, co-founder and CEO of Pirate Studios.

“And what most people don’t see is that we’re half construction company, half music studio company, so all our designs are effectively flat pack which we can build very quickly and, because we’re in industrial buildings, our rates can be cheaper.”

The latest fundraise comes amid growing interest in the music production space, with companies such as Spotify launching artist development programmes and allowing artists to upload their own music to the platform. Apple Music, meanwhile, in October took on staff from smaller business Asaii, which uses algorithms to predict which artists will be popular.

Spotify and Apple Music have been battling for market share in music streaming space, although Spotify, which launched first, is still thought to be well ahead. In May, Apple’s subscription service had 50 million active users, while Spotify has around 87 million paying subscribers and 110 million unpaid users.

“Interestingly the Spotifys and the Apple Musics are doing a great job in pushing bands and artists to record their content and either they pay to record their own content or they have a label paying for them,” Mr Borrie said.

“But we’re really more at the grass roots, so we’re looking at the artists who are trying to make it. They are just starting their journey or trying to push on to that next level, where they can then go up, record or start producing material which can go on to the likes of Spotify or Apple.”

“As to whether Spotify or Apple would ever be interested in having their own studios, from our perspective we want to make it so that we’re not pushing artists down one particular channel. We want to give artists as much choice as possible and by entertaining discussions with any particular provider in terms of how their music is distributed it would be pigeonholing ourselves,” he said.

“I guess maybe at some point these companies might want to look at stuff that's more in the grass-routes area, but we're very happy with the support we give those artists at the moment and we'll try to continue that choice and freedom.”

By Hannah Boland


Regional carrier Flybe announce it’s up for sale

( via– Wed, 14th Nov 2018) London, Uk – –

The regional carrier announces a review of its future weeks after it stunned investors with a major profit warning.

Shares in struggling airline Flybe have surged after it put itself up for sale amid turbulence caused by currency volatility and higher fuel costs.

Flybe's stock soared by as much as 39% in early trading after it said it was “in discussions with a number of strategic operators about a potential sale of the company”, confirming a move first reported by Sky News.

The airline said it was part of a comprehensive review of its options “to address the current challenges facing the airline industry”.

It added that Brexit remained a major uncertainty for the sector and the wider economy and that a no-deal scenario would “put at risk, or damage, parts of the business”.

The carrier did not disclose the names of any potential buyer, though one is likely to be Stobart Group, the owner of Southend Airport, which abandoned a previous bid earlier this year.

Flybe also said it was also looking at “further capacity and cost saving measures”.

The announcement came as the carrier reported a fall of more than half in pre-tax profits to £7.4m for the six months to the end of September, compared to £16.1m in the same period last year.

Last month Flybe warned that it expected to report a £12m loss for the full year following weaker consumer demand over recent weeks – together with the impact of oil prices and the weaker pound.

That warning sent shares in the company plunging by 40%. It has lost more than 60% of its value over the year to date, prior to the start of trading on Wednesday.

Flybe has been trying to turn around its fortunes by reducing capacity and focusing on its most popular routes, as well as cutting hundreds of jobs and closing unprofitable sites – amid an intensifying industry price war.

In its latest update it reported a 7.2% rise in the key measure of revenue per seat.

Chief executive Christine Ourmières-Widener said continued improvements were being seen into the current third quarter – with a higher portion of seats sold than last year – that showed “the popularity of Flybe for our customers”.

“However there has been a recent softening in growth in the short-haul market, as well as continued headwinds from higher fuel and currency costs,” she said.

“We are responding to this by reviewing every aspect of our business.”

Flybe, which retained a fleet numbering 78 aircraft at the end of September, carries thousands of passengers between regional British airports and European destinations.

Garry Graham, deputy general secretary of Prospect union. said the airline's announcement meant more uncertainty for the staff it represents.

“We are offering our full support to those affected and hope that whatever happens Flybe can continue as a going concern with jobs protected,” he said.

“Urgent talks have already begun between Prospect and the company.”



Pfizer loses long-running drug patent fight in UK Supreme Court

( via — Wed, 14th Nov 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Pfizer (PFE.N) lost the final round in a long-running patent battle in Britain on Wednesday after the country’s highest court ruled against it in a case involving its $5 billion-a-year pain drug Lyrica.

The Supreme Court decision is a blow for the U.S. drugmaker — which had sought to affirm a secondary medical use patent for the product — and a win for generic drug companies Actavis, now renamed Allergan (AGN.N), and Mylan (MYL.O).

Lyrica, known generically as pregabalin, was originally developed for epilepsy but further research showed it could also help patients suffering from neuropathic pain, which soon became its main market.

In a bid to protect this lucrative section of the market, Pfizer secured a secondary patent, valid beyond the life of the original one.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled that the secondary patent claims relevant to neuropathic pain were invalid.

For Pfizer, the legal fight had become a point of principle, following years of battles in lower courts, since its key secondary pain patent has now expired in Europe.

Pfizer said it was disappointed by the ruling and the decision would have a significant impact on incentives for innovation in public health.

“The period that a medicine is under patent is a critical phase in its lifecycle that fuels innovation — as science evolves and knowledge grows, patients increasingly benefit from ongoing research into new uses for existing medicines,” the company said.

“As situations such as these are expected to become more common, it’s important for patients that pharmaceutical companies are able to protect patents, including second medical use patents.”

The expiry of the basic patent on Lyrica five years ago had allowed generic drugmakers to launch cut-price versions of Pfizer’s medicine, which carried a “skinny label” limiting their use to epilepsy and general anxiety disorder.

Pfizer sued, arguing it was inevitable that the copycat versions would be dispensed for pain as well as other conditions.

The U.S. group took the case to the Supreme Court after a appeal in the case was rejected in 2016. Since then Pfizer’s secondary neuropathic pain patent in Britain has also expired, in July 2017.

In the United States, by contrast, Pfizer is only expecting generic competition to Lyrica in 2019.

The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal in Britain for civil cases. Pfizer said it was “too early” for it to determine or comment on any possible next steps.

Reporting by Ben Hirschler



Premier Foods in talks to sell Ambrosia rice pudding brand

( via – – Tue, 13th 2018) London, Uk – –

Premier Foods also says chief executive Gavin Darby is to leave in January

Ambrosia began making custard and rice puddings in Devon in 1971.
Premier Foods is in talks to sell its Ambrosia brand as the group announced that its chief executive, Gavin Darby, is to leave the company in January, months after a spat with activist investors.

The foods group said it was “in discussions with a number of interested parties” about the sale of Ambrosia, its custard and rice pudding brand originally created in 1971 in Devon and still manufactured there today.

Premier said a sale would allow the firm to focus on its growing brands, such as Batchelors, and to accelerate the rate at which it pays down debt.

Darby, who has been chief executive for six years, said he would step down on 31 January as the company took on a new strategy.

“The board has determined that it should focus resources on areas of the business which have the best potential for growth through accelerated investment in consumer marketing and high return capital projects,” he said.

In July Darby faced a shareholder revolt after 41% failed to back his re-election. At a stormy annual meeting, the activist shareholder Oasis Management called on Darby to step down regardless of the outcome of the vote, accusing him of driving Premier into a “zombie-like state” because of his failure to drive growth.

Darby, however, secured the backing of a majority of shareholders and the board.

The company announced his departure alongside the firm’s first-half results. Pretax losses in the six months to 29 September widened to £2.2m from £1.2m in the same period a year earlier.

Revenue rose 1.3% £358m, boosted by the relaunch of its Mr Kipling cakes brand and by growing demand for its Batchelors convenience pots range.

Premier Foods said Mr Kipling had a “storming” first half, with revenue up 13% after a revamp that included an updated brand logo, improved packaging and TV advertising, as well as new product development such as Unicorn and Flamingo slices.

The company said food brands had largely been protected from a wider slowdown in consumer spending.

“The group recognises the challenging time experienced by the wider consumer sector in recent months. However, it notes a clear disparity between revenue trends in the food sector compared to the non-food sector of the UK consumer goods market, with food sector sales demonstrating stronger trends over several months,” Premier Foods said.

“In addition, while the rate of general inflation previously ran ahead of average earnings approximately a year ago, this trend has now reversed and accordingly purchasing power for consumers has strengthened.”

By Angela Monaghan



Apple market valuation loses $50bn as iPhone sales fall

( via – – Tue, 13th Nov 2018) London, Uk – –

Apple's shares fell five percent tonight after a major supplier cut its financial outlook, leading to fears demand for the iPhone has plateaued.

The fall slashed $50bn (£38.9bn) from Apple’s market valuation with shares falling $20.30 to $194.17.

The losses mean Apple’s market capitalisation has fallen $190bn since October, more than the entire market value of US bluechips such as McDonalds, Walt Disney and Oracle.

Lumentum Holdings, a supplier of 3D sensors used in the iPhone’s facial recognition technology, cut its financial guidance for the second quarter today, citing a fall in orders from an unnamed major customer.

Chief executive Alan Lowe said: “We recently received a request from one of our largest industrial and consumer customers for laser diodes for 3D sensing to materially reduce shipments to them during our fiscal second quarter for previously placed orders that were originally scheduled for delivery during the quarter.”

Separately, Japan Display, which supplies iPhone liquid crystal display screens, also cut its full-year guidance today, blaming volatile demand from customers. Apple warned earlier this month that its Christmas sales would miss market expectations, blaming the fall on weakness in emerging markets and foreign exchange costs.

Elazar Capital analyst Chaim Siegel said: “Many suppliers have lowered numbers because of their unnamed ‘largest customer,’ which is Apple. Apple got cautious in their guidance and it’s hitting their suppliers.”

JP Morgan analysts cut their target price for Apple by $4 to $270, citing poor orders for the new iPhone XR.

Apple’s fall led a larger retreat across US equities tonight with the S&P 500 closing down two per cent at 2,726.22 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropping three per cent to 210.05.

Fellow tech giants Facebook and Google parent Alphabet also fell 2.3 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively.

By  James Booth


Pound falls as Prime Minister Theresa May struggles to broker an agreement on Brexit

( via – – Mon, 12th Nov 2018) London, Uk – –

The pound has fallen against the dollar amid political uncertainty as Prime Minister Theresa May struggles to broker an agreement on Brexit with her cabinet.

In early trading, sterling fell nearly 1% against the dollar to $1.2845.

Against the euro, it was down 0.2% at €1.1422.

Analysts said the fall was partly a reaction to the latest news concerning Brexit talks, but also reflected a stronger dollar.

Mrs May is trying to rally support among cabinet ministers for her Brexit proposal in time for a hoped-for summit in Brussels later this month.

However, media reports suggest that her efforts have been delayed by increasing disarray in her cabinet over the issue.

On Friday, Transport Minister Jo Johnson became the latest government figure to quit his post over Brexit, arguing that UK was “on the brink of the greatest crisis” since World War Two.

Simon Derrick, head of currency research at Bank of New York Mellon, said the pound's drop was “obviously related to the uncertainty over the weekend”, but noted that sterling had largely “held its own” against the euro.

He told the BBC: “At least half of it is actually about dollar strength and the expectation that the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates in December.”

Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said: “Sterling's early November rebound continued to unravel on Monday, the currency coming down with a nasty case of the Brexit blues.

“With her most ardent anti-EU MPs opposed to her customs arrangement plans, and a potential Remain rebellion brewing following the resignation of Jo Johnson, Theresa May appears to have been forced to abandon the emergency cabinet meeting that was pencilled in, after a supposed breakthrough last week.”



Takeda Pharmaceutical set to hold investor votes on its $62 billion acquisition of Shire

( via — Mon, 12th Nov 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical (4502.T) will hold an investor vote on its $62 billion acquisition of Shire (SHP.L) next month and aims to close the deal on Jan. 8, signaling its confidence in securing the required support.

Shares in London-listed Shire rose 3 percent on the news, hitting their highest level since Takeda first disclosed its interest in buying the rare diseases specialist in March.

The deal would be the biggest-ever overseas acquisition by a Japanese company – but it needs two-thirds support from shareholders, some of whom are worried about the enlarged company’s resulting debt burden.

Takeda said on Monday it would hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of shareholders to vote on the transaction on Dec. 5.

Previously, Takeda had said it hoped to hold the EGM early in 2019, leaving uncertain the level of backing for the deal, which has been opposed by some members of the founding Takeda family.

“With the date of our extraordinary general meeting of shareholders now set, we are looking forward to continue our dialogue with shareholders regarding the compelling strategic and financial benefits of this transaction,” Chief Executive Christophe Weber said.

Weber — a Frenchman and the first non-Japanese CEO of the company — believes that buying Shire will accelerate Takeda’s growth and increase its international reach, boosting earnings.

The transaction is still awaiting approval from European regulators, although two people familiar with the matter told Reuters last week that Takeda was set to win conditional EU antitrust approval.

Takeda has offered to divest Shire’s experimental drug SHP647 to address concerns about overlap in inflammatory bowel disease treatments.

The takeover has already secured clearance from regulators in the United States, Japan, China and Brazil.

Weber said last week he was confident of securing investor backing for the purchase of Shire, but until now it has not been clear when exactly Takeda would call its EGM.

Takeda, which has a market value of around $32 billion, has secured a $30.9 billion bridge loan to help finance the Shire acquisition and some investors are concerned as to how well it will cope with debt repayments.

The Japanese company struck its agreement to take over Shire in May, in a deal that will propel it into the top 10 rankings of global drugmakers by sales.

However, the enlarged group faces significant challenges, particularly in hemophilia, where a new drug from Roche (ROG.S) and the prospect of new gene therapies now in development threaten a key part of Shire’s existing business.

Reporting by Ben Hirschler


The Billionaire Still Betting Big on The Malls of The Future


Rick Caruso won't tell you that traditional retail is dying because he doesn't believe it. The creator of The Grove, LA's famous shopping and dining destination, discussed the state of retail in America and why he is one of few developers still betting big on the malls of the future.



How Diamond Engagement Rings Became Part of Smart Advertising



Most of us presume proposing with a diamond engagement ring is just part and parcel of getting married, but this tradition hasn't actually been around all that long. It was dreamt up by some smart advertising and has since changed the entire diamond market.


Uk retailers shut 2,700 shops in the last six months in toughest trading climate in five years

( via – – Fri, 9th Nov, 2018) London, Uk – –

About 14 shops are closing every day as UK High Streets face their toughest trading climate in five years, a report has found.

A net 1,123 stores disappeared from Britain's top 500 high streets in the first six months of the year, according to the accountancy firm PwC.

It said fashion and electrical stores had suffered most as customers did more shopping online.

Restaurants and pubs also floundered as fewer people go out to eat or drink.

London was the worst-hit region, PwC said, while Wales had the lowest number of closures.

“Looking ahead, the turmoil facing the sector is unlikely to abate,” said Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC.

“Store closures in the second half of the year due to administrations and company voluntary arrangements [a form of insolvency] already announced will further intensify the situation.”

According to PwC, 2,692 shops shut across the UK in the first half of 2018, while only 1,569 new stores opened. The data looks at retail chains with more than five outlets.

Which sectors were hit hardest?
Electrical goods stores were among the biggest casualties, largely due to the collapse of Maplin in February that resulted in 50 stores being closed.

Italian restaurants also struggled, as Jamie's Italian and Prezzo both shut stores after striking rescue deals with their creditors, while Strada also made closures.

PwC said there was net decline of 104 fashion shops and 99 pubs as openings failed to replace closures “at a fast enough rate”.

There were some bright spots, however, with supermarkets, booksellers, ice cream parlours and coffee shops all seeing slim net gains in their store counts.

Which regions suffered most?
According to PwC, Greater London had the largest number of store closures of any UK region, with a fall of 716, while only 448 were opened.

None of the UK regions analysed by PwC recorded a net gain in store count in the first six months of the year.

Newcastle fared worst in the North East, with a net decline of 17 stores, while Nottingham fell by 35.

Other cities that suffered included Leeds, which opened nine stores but closed 35, and Reading where there were 39 closures and only 18 openings.

What's causing the problem?
Retailers are facing a perfect storm of pressures as consumers rein in their spending and do more of their shopping online.

As a result, many retailers have found themselves struggling to pay their rents and other overheads, such as a rising minimum wage and business rates.

In last month's Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond promised to spend £900m on reducing the business rates bill of 500,000 small retailers by a third.

He also promised a new tax for online firms that employ fewer staff and pay far lower business rates.

However, the British Retail Consortium said the chancellor was “tinkering around the edges” and called for “wholesale reform” of the business rates system.

Jake Berry, the minister responsible for High Streets, said the government was determined to make them thrive.

“We have created a £675m fund to help high streets adapt, slashed business rates … and are creating a task force guided by Sir John Timpson, one of the UK's most experienced retailers, to ensure that High Streets are adapting for rapid change and are fit for the future,” he said.

By Daniel Thomas & Daniele Palumbo