Tenants to face rent increase as 440,000 landlords are hit by changes in tax

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com – – Tue, 18 Oct, 2016) London, Uk – –

Thousands of tenants could face substantial rent rises next spring or even be forced to move out as sweeping tax changes hitting their landlords come into effect.

About 440,000 landlords are facing substantially higher tax bills which could see them passing on the costs to their tenants or selling up, a pressure group has warned.

The changes will mean landlords will no longer be able to deduct mortgage interest payments or any other finance-related costs from their turnover before declaring their taxable income.

The National Landlord Association says more than 400,000 landlords who currently pay basic-rate tax will immediately be hit by the changes although, potentially, the majority of Britain’s estimated 2m landlords could find their tax liability rise.

It says about a third of landlords in London and the east of England will be affected next April, with just over a quarter in the West Midlands.
Richard Lambert, chief executive officer of the NLA, said its research showed government claims the changes would only affect a small number of higher-rate taxpayers were “complete tosh”.

“The government must look to amend these tax changes and minimise the impact on landlords and their tenants – something that could easily be achieved by applying the rules to only new loans written after April 2017.
“Unless this happens, landlords will face an impossible decision of whether to increase rents and cause misery for their tenants, or to sell-up, and force their tenants to find a new home,” he added.

Warning shot: landlords face being squeezed by the taxman come next spring

The amount by which landlords will be affected will depend on their personal circumstances, including whether or not they generate income from any other sources.
Landlords’ tax liability will increase depending on their existing annual mortgage interest payments, which are broken down by portfolio size:
Single property – £3,600
2-3 properties – £8,600
4-5 properties- £16,300
5-10 properties – £18,200
11-19 properties – £24,900
20+ properties – £38,000
It has been estimated that some 7.2 million UK households will be in rented accommodation within a decade as house price inflation continues to see increasing numbers struggle to get on the property ladder.

By Mark Dorman

 

House calls are on the way back thanks to this health care startup

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com – – Tue, 18 Oct, 2016) London, Uk – –

One health care company is harnessing technology to bring a doctor to your doorstep within two hours.

Heal connects patients with vetted and licensed pediatricians and family practice doctors. Doctors arrive in under two hours for emergency situations or you can schedule an appointment ahead of time. It costs $99 per visit without insurance or an in-network co-pay.
On Tuesday, the Santa Monica-based company announced it has raised $26.9 million in Series A funding led by Thomas Tull’s Tull Investment group, bringing the total funding to $40 million. Other investors joining the round include Breyer Capital and Qualcomm (QCOM) Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs.
“Heal is uniquely positioned to assume the role of the go-to health care option in America. They have the leadership team, technology innovation and vision required to contribute to the transformation of the health care industry,” Tull said in the press release.
The husband and wife co-founders came up with the idea in October 2014, when their then-7-month-old son was sick on a Friday afternoon.

“We couldn’t get a hold of his pediatrician so we went to the emergency room and waited there from 4 p.m. to 11:15 p.m. Turns out my son was OK. But when we were on the way home, my wife turned to me and said there has to be a better way,” one of the founders, Nick Desai, told Yahoo Finance.
Desai and his wife, Dr. Renee Dua — who is board-certified in nephrology, hypertension and internal medicine, and served as chief of medicine at Valley Presbyterian and Simi Valley Hospitals in California — embarked on a journey to reinvent primary and preventive care.
Since April 1 of this year, Heal has seen 8,500 patients. Recruiting mostly through referrals, the company employs 15 full-time doctors and 45 long-term contractors. Desai says he understands that Heal can’t fix medicine for patients unless they help doctors first.
“The reality of the health care system is that primary care physicians are unhappy,” he said. “Ironically, this dissatisfaction exists because doctors don’t have enough time to practice quality medicine.”
With Heal, a medical assistant drives doctors to a patient’s home. Through a tablet-based record system, physicians spend the car ride analyzing a patient’s history through the digitized system.

Currently available in California’s Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and San Diego, Heal accepts all the preferred provider organization (PPO) health insurance plans, including Aetna (AET), UnitedHealthCare (UNH), Cigna (CI) and Anthem Blue Cross (ANTM).
“We want to offer services that are patient-friendly and improve health care outcomes,” Desai said. “More and more people have insurance because of Obamacare, but it’s the first time they don’t know how to find and use services or if they don’t want to wait for a doctor they just go to the emergency room, which costs more money for both the patient and the system.”
Heal’s mission is akin to that of a bevy of other health care startups that have served specific regions. Doctors Making Housecalls operates in North Carolina. Ashton Kutcher-backed Pager operates in New York City. Dose Healthcare was started by an emergency medicine physician in Nashville. Despite regional competition, none have expanded nationally. Desai thinks Heal is equipped to do so.
With the funding, Desai says he wants to be in every corner of California and serve more patients. Heal will also begin accepting Medicare next month, and it will extend into 10 new markets in 2017.
“From February to November, we’ll be entering one new market a month,” he says.
Of course, the landscape for certain providers isn’t looking so bright, with Aetna, UnitedHealth and Humana exiting 11 of 15 state exchanges next year.
Acknowledging that local knowledge is critical (he and Dua grew up, were educated and have spent their entire adult lives in California), Desai said he and his team need to fully grasp the regulatory market and leverage existing networks to succeed. He’s optimistic that people are desperately looking for an alternative to the health care options typically available to them.
“Health care delivery is very fragmented,” he said. “We’re up against the system but there are a lot of players.”
Additionally, he wants to participate in the next wave of biometric product development.
“We want to reinvent the business process of medicine and we’re seeing that a patient’s home environment is critical to precision medicine,” he said.
By partnering with diagnostics companies, Heal aims to develop intelligent software to create more accurate treatment plans.
And Desai is practicing what he preaches. His now 2 ½-year-old son gets everything from his check-ups to his vaccinations from a Heal doctor. They haven’t taken him to a doctor’s office in the past year.

By Melody Hahm

UK Rag Trade shows steepest sales dip in seven years

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Mon, 17 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

Britain's fashion market has suffered its steepest decline in sales since 2009 as consumers increasingly spend their money elsewhere, according to industry data published on Monday.

Retail industry executives including Next's (NXT.L) chief executive, Simon Wolfson, reckon there has been a cyclical move away from spending on clothing back into areas that suffered the most during the economic downturn, such as eating out and travel.

Researcher Kantar Worldpanel said data for the year to Sept. 25 showed that UK fashion has seen four months of consecutive sales decline, with nearly 700 million pounds lost from the value of the market from this time last year.

It said June's decline of 0.1 percent was the first monthly contraction in six years.

“Fashion retailers are still following the same patterns of over-buying and deep discounting and consumers are increasingly reluctant to pay full price,” said Glen Tooke, consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel.

“Most recently the decline has been driven by falling frequencies of buying, giving retailers fewer opportunities to encourage shoppers to part with their cash.”

Earlier this month a survey from BDO, the accountancy and business advisory firm, said Britain's fashion retailers suffered a slump in sales in September as unseasonably warm weather deterred sales of autumn and winter collections.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

Saudi Arabia and Japan’s SoftBank Group, to create technology investment fund of $100 billion

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Sat, 15 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

Saudi Arabia and Japan's SoftBank Group (9984.T) will create a technology investment fund that could grow as large as $100 billion, making it one of the world's largest private equity investors and a potential kingpin in the industry.

The move is part of a series of dramatic business initiatives launched by Riyadh this year as Saudi Arabia, its economy hurt by low oil prices, deploys huge financial reserves in an effort to move into non-oil industries.

Earlier this year, it invested $3.5 billion in U.S. ride-hailing firm Uber, surprising many.

SoftBank, a $68 billion telecommunications and tech investment behemoth, has also been stepping up investment in new areas. It agreed to buy U.K. chip design firm Arm Holdings in July in Japan's largest ever outbound deal.

Saudi Arabia's top sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), will be the lead investment partner and may invest up to $45 billion over the next five years while SoftBank expects to invest at least $25 billion.

Several other large, unnamed investors are in active talks on their participation and could bring the total size of the new fund up to $100 billion, SoftBank said.

“Over the next decade, the SoftBank Vision Fund will be the biggest investor in the technology sector,” SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son said in a statement.

At an annual rate of $20 billion, the new London-based fund could at current levels account for roughly a fifth of global venture capital investment.

In the year to September, venture capital-backed companies globally raised $79 billion, according to data from KPMG and CB Insights, with tech start-ups attracting the lion's share of that cash.

“Son is very good at looking for companies with big growth prospects, and that will create fierce competition,” said Hiroyuki Kuroda, secretary general of the Venture Enterprise Center in Japan.

The project will be led for SoftBank by Rajeev Misra, the group's head of strategic finance and who joined the Japanese firm in 2014 from Fortress Investment Group, a private equity and hedge fund group. PIF will engage its own team.

INVESTMENT POWER

Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, leading an economic reform drive in the kingdom, has revealed a string of high-profile investment plans this year.

He aims to expand the PIF, founded in 1971 to finance development projects in the kingdom, from $160 billion to about $2 trillion, making it the world's largest sovereign fund.

In June, the PIF departed from Saudi Arabia's traditional strategy of low-risk investments and took a step into the tech world with the Uber investment.

That deal which illustrated how Riyadh now hopes to use its investments to develop the economy: Uber is a popular form of transport for Saudi women, who are banned from driving, and is creating badly needed non-oil jobs for Saudi citizens.

SoftBank, a diverse company with stakes from U.S. carrier Sprint (S.N) to e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA.N), is also changing, shifting towards cutting edge tech investments after Son scrapped retirement plans in July and announced plans to reinforce “SoftBank 2.0”. It is still wrestling with a $112 billion debt pile and the turnaround of Sprint.

“SoftBank has been looking to invest aggressively in the internet of things, and this fund is part of that wider move,” said Naoki Yokota, analyst at SMBC Friend Research Center Ltd.

(Reporting by Andrew Torchia and Tom Wilson; Additional reporting by Sami Aboudi in Jerusalem, Ali Abdelatti in Cairo, William Maclean in Dubai and Eric Auchard in Frankfurt; Writing by Clara Ferreira-Marques; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Tesco and Unilever price standoff leaves online shoppers with out Marmite

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bloomberg.com – – Thur, 13 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

The true cost of Brexit hit home for U.K. shoppers as Unilever’s iconic Marmite spread and a host of other products remained absent from Tesco Plc’s online store Thursday because of a standoff over price increases triggered by the Brexit vote.

Britain’s biggest supermarket chain said Wednesday that it’s “currently experiencing availability issues on a number of Unilever products,” and aims to have the issue resolved soon. Unilever, which reported a decline in third-quarter sales volumes Thursday, told analysts that it was “confident” the issue would be resolved quickly, noting that the U.K. accounts for just 5 percent of its business.
The dispute lays bare the close ties between Tesco and its third-largest supplier, which produces household brands like Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and was Tesco Chief Executive Officer Dave Lewis’s longtime employer. Unilever, along with other consumer-product makers like Nestle SA, is facing heightened sourcing costs from a plunge in the pound since the June vote to leave the European Union, yet passing those expenses along to retailers will be difficult with U.K. grocers already locked in fierce competition.
“Tough price negotiations are a constant factor of the relationship between food manufacturers and retailers, and are going to be very tough in the U.K. following the Brexit vote,” Andrew Wood, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, said in a note. “But they rarely break out in public or lead to de-stocking of manufacturer products.”
Top Customers
Tesco is Unilever’s third-biggest customer after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kroger Co., accounting for 2.3 percent of its revenue, according to Bloomberg data.
The Guardian newspaper has reported that Unilever wants to raise prices by about 10 percent because of the fall in sterling. Among Unilever’s brands to exit the Tesco web store were Persil detergent, Flora margarine and more than 100 products in the Dove range of body care. A check of Tesco.com Thursday morning showed the products were still unavailable.
For a Bloomberg Intelligence analysis of the price dispute, click here
“Retailers’ margins are already squeezed,” Justin King, former CEO of J Sainsbury Plc, said at an event hosted by Bloomberg in London on Wednesday. “So there is no room to absorb input price pressures and costs will need to be passed on.”
The Brexit vote has already affected pricing of products ranging from floor coverings to toilet paper. Unilever was among companies that lobbied voters to remain in the European Union, while supermarkets including Tesco took a more neutral stance ahead of the vote in a bid not to alienate either faction of consumers. Sainsbury and Wm. Morrison Supermarkets Plc declined to comment on their relationships with Unilever. Wal-Mart’s Asda unit did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The question is whether Sainsbury, Asda, Waitrose and others are taking it on the chin or if they will play hardball too,” Alan Clarke, an economist at Scotiabank in London, said in a note. “What about other suppliers — Unilever is probably not a one-off trying to pass on higher input costs.”
Chocolate, Cheese
Food companies such as KitKat maker Nestle and Swiss dairy concern Emmi AG have both said they will look to raise prices in the U.K. to respond to the plunge in sterling. Nestle is due to report third-quarter sales Oct. 20.
“The margin in the U.K. will be lower next year than this year or last year, that’s for sure,” Emmi Chief Executive Officer Urs Riedener said on Oct. 6. “We’re obliged to push price increases in most of the segments.”

Any dispute between Tesco and Unilever would be particularly touchy for Lewis, the Unilever veteran. Tesco has sought to improve relations with its vendors in the wake of an accounting scandal and criticism from a grocery industry regulator. The tussle also risks damaging Unilever’s reputation as a good corporate citizen, an image that Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman has sought to enhance in recent years.
“This sort of standoff benefits no one,” said Bryan Roberts, an analyst at researcher TCC Global. “Unilever will lose market share by not being in Tesco, and shoppers will feel a huge degree of frustration. A speedy resolution would be in everyone’s best interests.”

Matthew Boyle /Paul Jarvis

London 8,400 finance jobs openings chased by 15,000 in September

Qlm referencing: (qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com – – Wed, 12 Oct, 2016) London, Uk – –

The number of new available jobs in the the UK's financial centre fell 5% in September year-on-year to 8,400, according to a survey by Morgan McKinley, while the number of people seeking jobs increased by 15%.
Month-on-month the number of fresh open positions increased by 1% in September, stabilising from a post-Brexit collapse in Luly.
Those who did find new jobs in September got an average of a 18% pay rise.
In July, the survey reported that the number of new City jobs plunged 27% while the number of people seeking them dropped 13%.
“Clearly there’s an ongoing appetite to recruit,” said Hakan Enver, operations director at Morgan McKinley Financial Services, adding: “Given the volatility that we have been facing, two months of positive growth is welcome news.”

Brexit, and the future status of London as the European Union's financial centre, has been the main focus for those entering the City's job market.
Prime minister Theresa May's government has raised the possibility of a so-called “Hard Brexit,” which prioritises control over immigration, as opposed to maintaining some economic links in return for concessions on Freedom of Movement.
Such a move would also lead to the automatic loss of the City of London's EU financial passport. The loss of passporting rights would be devastating to the City of London. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said earlier this year that 5,500 UK companies rely on passporting rights, with a combined turnover of £9 billion.
“Given the number of businesses affected in Britain and across the EU, and the massive contributions made by City workers to the British economy, it’s frankly shocking to see the government take such a dismissive attitude towards passporting,” said Enver.
“Stability is the foundation of business growth, so hopefully the government will right this course. If we are not careful, London will have a massive talent drain to countries such as France, Germany, USA, Japan and Ireland who have already turned on a charm offensive to woo our professional workforce,” he said.

By Ben Moshinsky

UK over 55s sitting on property valued greater than GDP of Italy

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com – – Tue, 11 Oct, 2016) London, Uk – –

English people aged over 55 currently hold more housing wealth in their homes than the annual GDP of Italy.

Research by Age Partnership, a retirement income adviser, found that £1.5 trillion of equity is locked up in these homes, compared to Italy’s £1.4 trillion of GDP.

This number is made up of the 39pc of that age group who have no outstanding mortgage, but many more will have significant wealth in their properties meaning this is a conservative estimate.

The over-55 population is due to grow by a third in the next 20 years, meaning that by 2036, not taking into account house price inflation, that number will be £1.9 trillion.

This comes as McCarthy and Stone , the retirement home builder, found that 36pc of people aged over 65 in the UK are looking to downsize into a smaller home, which equates to 4.3m people.

The survey of 3,000 over-65s carried out by YouGov (LSE: YOU.L – news) found that 15.7pc of those looking to move live in the south-east of England, the greatest proportion in the country. This represents £122.6bn of property wealth.

Those in the south-west and north-west of England also have high proportion of over-65s who are considering downsizing, at 10.4pc and 12.1pc respectively.

Many of these people want to move but cannot, as there is a shortage of such homes for older people to downsize into. Due to the scarcity, bungalows command a 16pc premium over houses of the same size with stairs.

The UK’s current market for retirement homes is much smaller than that of other developed countries: only 1pc of the people aged over 60 live in retirement communities, compared with 17pc in the USA, and 13pc in Australia and New Zealand.

Clive Fenton, the chief executive of McCarthy and Stone, said that the Government’s focus on first-time buyers with policies such as Starter Homes “overlooks the chronic under-supply of suitable retirement housing essential to the needs of the UK’s rapidly ageing population.”
He added: “Unfortunately, the UK’s housing stock is woefully unprepared for this demographic shift to the ‘extended middle age’, and this has created a new ‘Generation Stuck’ dilemma.”

McCarthy and Stone said last month that the number of reservations for their homes has fallen since the EU referendum. This is because the second-hand market, on which the buyers rely to sell their homes to downsize, has showed signs of slowing down.

By Isabelle Fraser

U.S. Economy set to take possible hit of $2.5B in the wake of Hurricane Matthew

(qlmbusinessnews.com via www.bloomberg.com – – Thu, 6 Oct, 2016) London, Uk – –

Hurricane Matthew could become the first major hurricane, with winds of 111 miles per hour or more, to hit the U.S. Since Wilma struck Florida in 2005. The storm’s track up the coast could mean $25 billion to $35 billion in damage, with some worst-case scenarios pushing that figure as high as $50 billion.

Bloomberg's Brian Sullivan reports on “Bloomberg Markets.”

 

Government to purchase unsold new homes to stimulate construction growth

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thu, 6th Oct, 2016) London, Uk —

Britain's government will buy unsold homes built by developers using a 2 billion pound fund announced earlier this week, a move designed to get construction firms to commit to bigger projects, a trade journal reported on Thursday.

On Monday Britain launched a 5 billion-pound housing stimulus package, including plans to borrow 2 billion pounds to increase the pace of house-building which will now be used to guarantee housing developments.

“It's about us going to a house builder and instead of expecting the normal build-out rate of 50 units a year, we'll say: ‘We want you to build all 500 in one go, and what we'll do is guarantee to take them off you if you can't find a buyer',” Edward Lister, chairman of the Homes and Communities Agency, told Property Week.

Although the housing market has shown signs of cooling since the vote to leave the EU, a chronic shortage of properties keeps prices out of the reach of many young and low-income Britons.

A committee of lawmakers estimated that Britain needs to build 300,000 homes per year to meet demand and cool price growth. The country has not built more than 200,000 homes in a single year for a decade.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)