Grayscale Sues SEC Over Bitcoin ETF Application Rejection

( via — Thur, 30th June 2022) London, Uk – –

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The SEC rejected Grayscale's application to convert its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust to an exchange-traded fund earlier Wednesday.

Grayscale Investments has sued the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) barely an hour after the regulatory agency rejected its application to convert its flagship Grayscale Bitcoin Trust product to an exchange-traded fund (ETF).

The SEC rejected Grayscale's application earlier Wednesday, citing concerns about market manipulation, the role of Tether in the broader bitcoin ecosystem and the lack of a surveillance-sharing agreement between a “regulated market of significant size” and a regulated exchange, echoing concerns the regulator has expressed for years in rejecting other spot bitcoin ETF applications.



Grayscale is a subsidiary of CoinDesk parent company Digital Currency Group.

In the filing, Grayscale simply asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the SEC's order.

The investment firm announced it was prepared to sue the SEC in the event of a rejection earlier in 2022, saying it would file a proceeding tied to the Administrative Procedures Act. To that end, Grayscale tapped former Solicitor General Don Verrilli, who has experience in APA proceedings.

“Grayscale supports and believes in the SEC’s mandate to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets and facilitate capital formation – and we are deeply disappointed by and vehemently disagree with the SEC's decision to continue to deny spot Bitcoin ETFs from coming to the U.S. market,” Grayscale CEO Michael Sonnenshein said in a statement Wednesday.

Essentially, the company will argue that the SEC has to allow products that are like other products already trading, in this case bitcoin futures ETFs.

Verrilli told reporters earlier in June that the SEC's approval of futures ETFs indicate the underlying market must be seen as reliable.

“This is a place where common sense has a really important role to play. You've got a situation now in which you have certain kinds of exchange traded funds, one that is focused on bitcoin futures, and the SEC has approved that, the SEC is given it the seal of approval,” he said. “In order to do so it had to make a determination that that giving this approval was consistent with the securities laws, and in particular, that that there wasn't a sufficient underlying risk of fraud and manipulation.”



To date, only a handful of bitcoin futures ETFs have been approved to trade. Spot bitcoin ETFs trade based on the price of bitcoin itself, while futures-based ETFs trade based on the price of CME's bitcoin futures product (which in turn is tied to an index). Bitcoin ETF proponents argue that the futures markets are still based on the underlying spot bitcoin price, while the SEC notes that CME's futures market is regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), a fellow federal agency.

By Nikhilesh De

Boots owner Walgreens abandons £5bn sale of UK’s biggest high street pharmacy chain

( via – – Wed, 29th June 2022) London, Uk – –

Walgreens Boots Alliance confirms Sky News’ exclusive report that it is abandoning an auction of the UK’s leading high street pharmacist amid torrid financing conditions.

Boots the chemist

The owner of Boots the Chemist has abandoned the sale of Britain’s biggest high street pharmacy chain amid torrid conditions in global debt-financing markets.

Walgreens Boots Alliance confirmed on Tuesday afternoon a Sky News report that it had decided to retain ownership of Boots after an auction process lasting for several months.



In a statement, the New York-listed healthcare giant said it had conducted a thorough strategic review but would now keep control of the “successful” Nottingham-based company.

“WBA has been encouraged by productive discussions held with a range of parties, receiving significant interest from prospective buyers.

“However, since launching the process, the global financial markets have suffered unexpected and dramatic change.

“As a result of market instability severely impacting financing availability, no third party has been able to make an offer that adequately reflects the high potential value of Boots and No7 Beauty Company.

“Consequently, WBA has decided that it is in the best interests of shareholders to keep focusing on the further growth and profitability of the two businesses.”

The decision will cast doubt over the long-term strategy of a stalwart of the UK high street, which had been identified as non-core to its American parent's future.

On Tuesday, WBA insisted it was committed to investing in Boots' future, although it signalled that it was open-minded about reviving a sale or other form of corporate activity in future.

The £5.5bn auction of Boots had faltered badly in recent weeks, with the only bidder to make a binding offer- a consortium of Apollo Global Management and Reliance Industries – pinning its hopes on the steadfastness of a quartet of lenders.

Apollo and Indian behemoth Reliance had lined up Royal Bank of Canada, Credit Suisse, Santander and Bank of America to help finance a large chunk of the £5bn-plus acquisition.

However, growing concerns about the global economy had triggered severe doubts among large banks which help finance leveraged buyouts, with Boots among the biggest such deals in Europe.

Because of the difficulty bidders were having financing a deal, WBA was prepared to retain a significant minority stake in Boots in order to get the deal through.

Another prospective bid from the owners of Asda – Mohsin and Zuber Issa and TDR Capital – had looked even more uncertain.

WBA, which has been advised by Goldman Sachs, had been in talks with bidders for months.

Among the other challenges facing prospective acquirers was finding an adequate solution for Boots' £8bn pension scheme – one of the largest private retirement funds in the UK.

Sky News revealed earlier this year that an apparent early frontrunner in the Boots auction – a joint bid from Bain Capital and CVC Capital Partners – had decided not to proceed amid scepticism over the price tag of up to £6bn.

Rosalind Brewer, WBA chief executive, said: “We have now completed a thorough review of Boots and No7 Beauty Company, with the outcome reflecting rapidly evolving and challenging financial market conditions beyond our control.

“It is an exciting time for these businesses, which are uniquely positioned to continue to capture future opportunities presented by the growing healthcare and beauty markets.

“The board and I remain confident that Boots and No7 Beauty Company hold strong fundamental value, and longer term, we will stay open to all opportunities to maximize shareholder value for these businesses and across our company.”

Like many retailers, Boots had a turbulent pandemic, announcing 4000 job cuts in 2020 as a consequence of a restructuring of its Nottingham head office and store management teams.

It has also been embroiled in rows with landlords about delayed rent payments.

Shortly before the pandemic, Boots earmarked about 200 of its UK stores for closure, a reflection of changing shopping habits.



Boots' heritage dates back to John Boot opening a herbal remedies store in Nottingham in 1849.

It opened its 1000th UK store in 1933.

For Stefano Pessina, the WBA chairman, a decision to sell Boots outright would have marked the final chapter of his involvement with one of Britain's best-known companies.

The Italian octogenarian engineered the merger of Boots and Alliance Unichem, a drug wholesaler, in 2006, with the buyout firm KKR acquiring the combined group in an £11bn deal the following year.

In 2012, Walgreens acquired a 45% stake in Alliance Boots, completing its buyout of the business two years later.

By Mark Kleinman

G7 agrees to study Russian energy price caps, raise $5 bln to tackle hunger

( via — Tue, 28th June, 2022) London, UK —

G7 leaders have agreed to study placing global price caps on imports of Russian energy to curb Moscow's ability to fund its invasion of Ukraine and to contribute up to $5 billion to address global food insecurity, officials said on Tuesday.

The war in Ukraine and its dramatic economic fallout, in particular soaring food and energy inflation, has dominated this year's summit of the group of rich democracies at a castle resort in the Bavarian Alps.

The European Union will explore with international partners ways to curb Russian energy prices, including the feasibility of introducing temporary import price caps, a section of the final G7 communique seen by Reuters said. The officials said this meant both oil and gas.



The G7 has been debating price caps as a way to prevent Moscow profiting from its invasion of Ukraine, which has sharply raised energy prices, cushioning the impact of Western moves to reduce imports of Russian oil and gas.

Russian oil export revenues climbed in May even though export volumes fell, the International Energy Agency said in its June monthly report.

A cap on the price other countries pay Russia for oil would squeeze Russian President Vladimir Putin's “resources that he has to wage war and secondly increase stability and the security of supply in global oil markets”, a senior U.S. administration official said on Tuesday.

The idea is to tie financial services, insurance and the shipping of oil cargoes to a cap on Russian oil prices. So if a shipper or importer wanted these services, they would have to commit to the Russian oil being sold for a set maximum price.

Italy, whose economy is reliant on Russian energy, pushed to extend the price cap to gas.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi last week warned of the need to tackle energy prices to contain inflation and said the main objection to a gas cap from fellow Europeans was fear it could lead Russia to reduce supplies further.

France has said the price cap mechanism should extend beyond Russian products to reduce prices more broadly, including for the G7 nations that are looking to source energy from elsewhere.

France supports the language in the final communique but it remains unclear how such a mechanism would work and needs “thorough” discussions, a French official said.

G7 leaders have also agreed to push for a ban on imports of Russian gold as part of efforts to tighten the sanctions squeeze on Moscow, an EU official said on Tuesday.

Britain, the United States, Japan and Canada agreed at the start of the G7 summit on Sunday that they would ban imports of newly mined or refined Russian gold, while the European Union expressed some reservations.


G7 nations, which generate nearly half the world's economic output, want to crank up pressure on Russia without stoking already soaring inflation that is causing strains at home and savaging developing nations.

There is a “real risk” of multiple famines this year as the Ukraine war has compounded the negative impact of climate crises and the COVID-19 pandemic on food security, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said last week.

The G7 will commit up to $5 billion to improve global food security, the senior U.S. official said, with the United States providing over half of that sum, which would go to efforts to fight hunger in 47 countries and fund regional organisations.

The G7 is attempting to rally emerging countries, many with close ties to Russia, to oppose Putin's invasion of Ukraine, and invited five major middle-and-low income democracies to the summit to win them over.

Some are more concerned at the impact of soaring food prices on their populations, blaming Western sanctions, not Russia's invasion of one of the world's largest grain producers and blockade of its ports, for the shortages.

Asked if G7 leaders had found a way to let Ukraine export its grain, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday: “We're working on it, we're all working on it”.

The G7 leaders have also agreed to take a more coordinated approach to challenging China's “market-distorting” practices in global trade, the U.S. official said.



“You'll see leaders release a collective statement, which is unprecedented in the context of the G7, acknowledging the harms caused by China's non-transparent, market-distorting industrial directives,” the official said on Tuesday.

Among their commitments was one to accelerate efforts to remove forced labour, including state-backed forced labour, from global supply chains, the official added

Reporting by Angelo Amante, Philip Blenkinsop, Sarah Marsh and Thomas Escritt, John Irish

Well-Safe Solutions raises £50m for expansion

( via– Mon, 27th June 2022) London, Uk – –

Aberdeen-based Well-Safe Solutions, which specialises in plugging and abandoning oil wells, has secured new funds in a round led by MW&L Capital Partners, Sky News understands.

A pioneering oil-well decommissioning specialist has raised a further £50m to fuel its international expansion amid growing demand fuelled by the transition to a net-zero economy.


Sky News understands that Well-Safe Solutions, which was established in 2017, has raised the money from a group of investors led by MW&L Capital Partners, a London-based principal investment and financial advisory firm.

MW&L – headed by former Goldman Sachs partners Julian Metherell and Matthew Westerman, and Peter Livanos, a member of one of Europe's oldest shipping dynasties – also participated in Well-Safe's two funding rounds in 2019 and 2020.

The new money will be used to acquire Well-Safe's third decommissioning rig, and takes the total sum raised by the company to more than £150m.

It comes amid warnings from a number of North Sea oil producers that their investment plans risk being stymied by the government's planned windfall tax, following a surge in industry profits.

Notwithstanding new capital investments, however, nearly 1,800 wells require decommissioning in the North Sea over the next decade.

Phil Milton, Well-Safe's chief executive, said: “The capital raised in previous investment rounds has been instrumental in enabling the company to put in place a world-class portfolio of bespoke well plug and abandonment (P&A) assets, backed by expert onshore and offshore teams.

“These investments are now bearing fruit thanks to recent contract wins and workscopes throughout the North Sea for our rigs and well engineering teams.

“As we continue to build upon Well-Safe's operational record, we are looking forward to exporting this model to new markets, which have expressed an interest in our collaborative, multi-well, multi-operator approach to well decommissioning.”

Well-Safe was set up by a trio of industry executives including Alasdair Locke, who made a fortune from the sale of Abbot, his oil and gas services business. WSS has also received funding from Scottish Enterprise.

Mr Locke's other business successes include presiding over the growth of Motor Fuel Group, one of the UK's largest petrol station operators – and which is now itself up for sale.

“This financing allows a step change in the capabilities of Well-Safe Solutions, enabling us to be competitive on a global basis,” Mr Locke said.

Based in Aberdeen, Well-Safe employs 230 people onshore and offshore, and has contracts with companies such as Ithaca Energy.


It argues that its ‘P&A Club' approach to decommissioning is groundbreaking because it pairs oil and gas expertise with investment in bespoke, fit-for-purpose marine and land-based assets.

The company's other backers include Tony Hayward, the former BP chief executive, and Marcel van Poecke, a senior energy executive at Carlyle, the buyout firm.


Top 10 Luxury Cars 2022

Source: Thansis1997

The world of luxury automobiles is more diverse today than it has ever been. Not only do customers have more variety to choose from, but they can also enjoy features & a ride quality that was only showcased in concept cars. Newcomers have somewhat managed to earn a good reputation in this niche, but legacy automakers continue to dominate the entire luxury vehicle market to this day. Hand-picking the most luxurious motorcars of the present era is a rather difficult task. Nevertheless, this video will walk you through the top 10 most luxurious cars of 2022, which we think have truly earned their reputation.


Crypto Exchange Bitget Plans to Double Workforce as Peers Cut Back in Bear Market

( via — Thur, 23rd June 2022) London, Uk – –

In contrast with exchanges like Coinbase and Gemini, the derivatives platform plans to increase its staff.

Bitget, a Singapore-based crypto derivatives exchange, plans to double its workforce over the next six months, just as other crypto firms are cutting back.


  • The exchange plans to reach 1,000 employees by the end of the year, it said in a press release on Thursday. It had 150 employees at the start of 2021 and had grown threefold by mid-2022, according to the press release.
  • Exchanges like Coinbase, Gemini and, meantime, are reducing staff amid a market rout that's seen the price of bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market cap, slump more than 50% since the start of the year.
  • Bitget has experienced “tremendous growth and generating strong and recurring cash flow despite uncertain market conditions,” the company said. Trading volume at the derivatives exchange grew 10-fold in the past 12 months, reaching an all-time high of $8.69 billion in March, said Managing Director Gracy Chen.


  • Bitget ranks number five in Coingecko's list of derivatives exchanges, with a trading volume of $7.4 billion in the past 24 hours as of the time of writing.
  • In March, Bitget announced it had registered with U.S. authorities, signaling that it plans to expand from Asia to North America.

By Eliza Gkritsi

Why Californians Are Fleeing To Mexico

Source: CNBC

In 2021, over 360,000 people left California in what many are calling The California Exodus. But a rising number of them are migrating out of the country all together and instead, heading south to Mexico to escape rising housing prices, traffic and expensive healthcare.



Centrica signs deal with Norway gas firm for extra UK supplies

( via – – Thur, 16th June 2022) London, Uk – –

Centrica says Equinor will deliver enough gas for next three years to heat 4.5m extra homes

The British Gas owner, Centrica, has signed an agreement with Norway’s state oil company Equinor for additional gas supplies for the UK, helping bolster supply for the next three winters.


Many European countries are seeking to secure additional gas from other sources as they try to reduce reliance on Russian fuel imports.

Centrica said Equinor would deliver an additional 1bn cubic metres of gas supplies to the company for each of the next three years, enough to heat an additional 4.5m homes.

Chris O’Shea, Centrica’s chief executive, said: “At a time when energy security is paramount, I’m pleased that we are able to do our bit to ease the pressure and provide some more certainty ahead of what may be a difficult winter.

“This important agreement with Equinor underpins vital domestic supplies and strengthens the strategic relationship between the UK and Norway.”

Although Russia meets only about 4% of Britain’s gas needs, a significant disruption in supply would affect prices in Europe and make it harder for Britain to secure gas from others.

The business and energy secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “While we ramp up cheap renewables and accelerate British nuclear to boost our greater energy independence, we will still need natural gas for many decades to come.

“With Russia’s criminal invasion of Ukraine, it is more important than ever that we source more of the gas we need domestically, but also from safe and reliable import partners while we transition.


“This major supply deal agreed today will help underpin British energy security over the next few years, and also reinforce our partnership with Norway as a key international energy ally.”

The new deal takes Centrica’s total supply deal with Equinor to more than 10bn cubic metres a year, about 12% of Britain’s total gas demand.

London’s biggest property companies merge to create $6 bln West End powerhouse

( via — Thur, 16th June 2022) London, UK —

Two of London's biggest property companies agreed to merge on Thursday to create a 5 billion pound ($6 billion) estate with sites in tourist hotspots including Covent Garden, Carnaby Street and Soho that are battling to recover from the pandemic.

Shaftesbury (SHB.L) and Capital & Counties Properties (CAPCC.L) combined property portfolio will comprises about 2.9 million square feet of lettable space in high-profile destinations in London's West End.


“The merged business will have an exceptional portfolio, located in popular and busy parts of London's vibrant West End, and an experienced and innovative team drawn from both businesses,” Shaftesbury CEO Brian Bickell said.

London landlords heavily exposed to non-essential retailers and hospitality firms are on a slow recovery path after coronavirus lockdowns.

Under the terms of the all-share deal, Shaftesbury shareholders will get 3.356 new Capital & Counties Properties (Capco) shares for each share held, valuing Shaftesbury at about 1.96 billion pounds ($2.37 billion) including the 25.2% stake Capco already owns.

Reuters calculated the valuation based on Capco's closing price on Wednesday.

For Capco shareholders, the deal is expected to be earnings accretive immediately, while for Shaftesbury shareholders, the merger is expected to be modestly earnings dilutive in the first two years after completion.

Shaftesbury shares fell more than 8% to 534 pence in morning trade, while Capco stock was down 0.1%.

Existing shareholders in Shaftesbury will own 53% of the combined group – Shaftesbury Capital Plc. Capco shareholders will own the rest.


The newly created group will be led by Shaftesbury's Jonathan Nicholls as non-executive chairman and Capco's Ian Hawksworth as chief executive.

Shaftesbury CEO Bickell and Capco's Chairman Henry Staunton will retire once the deal is completed.

The combined group will retain Capco's listings on the London Stock Exchange as well as the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil

Cost-of-living first payment given to millions of households from 14th July

( via – – Wed, 15th June 2022) London, Uk – –

The first of two payments to help the poorest households with the cost of living will hit people's bank accounts from 14 July, the government says.

More than eight million UK homes on benefits will receive £326 by the end of July, with a second payment of £324 set to follow in the autumn.

It comes as part of a £37bn government package to help families as energy, food and fuel bills soar.


The consumer group Which? said the cash would “bring relief to many”.

But policy director Rocio Concha added: “The success of these measures will ultimately be judged by whether financial help is getting to the most vulnerable in time to help them through this cost-of-living crisis.”

Inflation – the rate at which prices rise – is currently at a 40-year high as the war in Ukraine and the pandemic push up the cost of everyday essentials.

In May, the energy regulator Ofgem said the typical household energy bill was set to rise by £800 in October, bringing it to £2,800 a year. Bills had already risen by £700 on average in April.

The two cost-of-living payments – worth £650 in total – will be paid automatically to anyone in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland receiving any benefit.

To be eligible for the first instalment, people must have started a successful benefits claim by 25 May.

‘Stepping up to help'

The government said the cash would be tax-free and not count towards someone's benefit cap.

“We have a responsibility to protect those who are paying the highest price for rising inflation, and we are stepping up to help,” said Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Karl Handscomb, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, a think tank focusing on people on lower incomes, said it was the “right call to target flat-rate payments at low-income households”, although this approach did contain some “rough edges”.

“The support will go much further for single people than for those with large families. And the fact that they don't automatically go to new claimants means that anyone claiming benefits for the first time since the chancellor's speech – for example if they've recently lost their job – will not get this July payment and will only get the second payment, due in the autumn,” he added.

The date of the second cost-of-living payment will be announced soon, the government says.

It announced the policy in May as part of a suite of measures to tackle the soaring living costs. This followed intense pressure on the government to do more to help people.

All homes in the UK, regardless of how well off they are, are set to get £400 for help with energy bills this autumn, along with a previously announced £150 council tax rebate.


There will also be a separate £300 payment for pensioners, and a £150 payment for disabled people, both of which can be paid on top of the £650 cost-of-living payment.

The government says it means millions of vulnerable families will be getting at least £1,200 of support this year.

House of Fraser pension signs $730 mln buyout deal with Pension Insurance Corp

( via — Tue, 14th June 2022) London, UK —

Pension Insurance Corporation has completed a 600 million pound ($731.40 million) insurance buyout with Britain's House of Fraser Beatties & Jenners pension scheme, the specialist pension provider said on Tuesday.

The pension scheme's main employer, House of Fraser (Stores) went into administration in August 2018 and the scheme was being assessed for inclusion in the Pension Protection Fund, a lifeboat fund which typically leads to lower benefits for policyholders.


“The terms negotiated by the trustee will mean members whose pensions have been reduced as a result of the insolvency are expected to get an uplift to their pension,” PIC said in a statement.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn


UK farmers recruit fruit pickers from Nepal and Tajikistan as EU workers dwindle

( via – – Mon, 13th June 2022) London, Uk – –

Bal Kumar Khatri has worked harvesting rice and beans in his native Nepal before, and been a trekking guide in the Himalayas.

But this year, instead, the 26-year-old is in a polytunnel in north Nottinghamshire picking strawberries.

Every spring thousands of seasonal workers come to harvest the UK's soft fruits, but this year they're coming from much further afield.


Before Brexit many came from Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.

Now as well as Nepalese, UK growers are employing Indonesian, Mongol, Tajik, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz workers.

Mr Khatri hasn't been here long, but he speaks some English and the farm's owners are relieved he's made it here.

Getting enough workers for the summer season is always a challenge, but this year, with the soft fruit season just about to hit its peak, many growers say they're more worried than they've ever been that there won't be enough pickers.

Jenny Tasker from Harwill Farm near Retford which supplies Waitrose, Tesco and Marks and Spencer, has always had a mix of nationalities. But this year their workers come from nine different countries, including 35 from Nepal for the first time, 45 Tajikistan, and even three from Indonesia.

The new recruits are fitting in well, says Ms Tasker, but there are challenges.

“We're having to do lots of training, so it's slow,” she says. “It's about having patience on both sides,” she says. But she, like others, is worried that she won't get all her berries harvested before they spoil.

UK production of soft fruit has been rising steadily, according to the industry body British Berry Growers (BBG) but wastage has been increasing too. It's hard to predict when berries will be ready to pick, and when they are, they can't wait.

The value of production lost due to labour shortages has approximately doubled in each of the last two years, based on a survey of BBG members. Last year, an estimated £36m worth of soft fruit was wasted, against total production of £760m, the BBG says.

‘Very nervous'

At Harwill, workers like Mr Khatri and his brothers are provided with accommodation and free wifi has been installed for all the caravans. British farms are going to ever greater lengths to persuade workers to return year after year, partly because since Brexit the number of returnees from EU countries has dwindled.

Last year, Ukrainians filled the gaps, but this year Ukrainian men between 18 and 60 years old have been told to stay at home and fight.

The combination of war, Brexit and Covid led a parliamentary committee to warn in April that acute labour shortages across the UK food sector could threaten food security if action wasn't taken.

And since then the process of issuing visas to seasonal workers seems to have stalled, says BSF chairman Nick Marston. He welcomes the “league of nations” approach but says he's worried workers from so far away will end up arriving too late.

“It's making farmers very nervous,” he says. “I don't think it has hit crisis point yet, but I am very concerned it may do.”

Justin Emery says there are plenty of workers willing to come. He is director of the labour company Fruitful Jobs, one of four firms licensed to recruit seasonal workers overseas.

Fruitful Jobs is recruiting in 37 countries from South Africa to Kurdistan, Canada to Mongolia. But recruits have to find £244 for a visa plus their return air fare. That, plus the bureaucracy and language barriers, means it's not a quick process to recruit from new, far-flung places.


At this end, the arrival of Ukrainian refugees has diverted resources and held up visa processing, Mr Emery says. But, he adds: “They've caught up quite well, and people are coming in now.”

But that's not enough to reassure everyone that the new system will work.

Tim Chambers, who owns a network of 24 farms in south east England, has told the recruitment firms he doesn't want workers from countries like Indonesia, Vietnam or the Philippines.

“It's not because I in any way have an issue with race, creed, or colour,” he says. “[But] if you suddenly bring in a whole new country, culture, way of life, into your farm, it can cause major problems.

“In terms of efficiency, a new recruit in the first season is 25% less productive,” he says.

“There will be cultural and lifestyle things too,” he says.

Mr Chambers says he has a large number of experienced workers from central and eastern Europe still returning to work on his farms – he's already making sure not to put Russians and Ukrainians in shared accommodation to avoid friction.

But competition for labour is getting so “hot”, he can see he may have to accept workers from new sources, if he wants to avoid what happened last year, when a shortage of labour meant he walked away from around 12% of his raspberry crop.

He blames the government for not issuing enough visas. This year there is a limit on numbers, of 30,000, with the potential to go up by 10,000 if necessary. The number of visas will begin to taper from 2023, with an increased focus on British workers and automation supposed to compensate.

“They don't understand the responsibility they've given themselves and the carnage they can cause by their actions,” he says.

The other “bombshell” says Alastair Brooks, at Langdon Manor Farm in Kent, was the government's stipulation seasonal workers from overseas must be paid £10.10 an hour, well above the £9.50 minimum wage.

He can't pay his existing workers less than the new arrivals, so wages have gone up across the board.


“I don't begrudge them that, they work really hard. The problem is we'd fixed prices with our customers,” he says.

The Home Office said the government was ready to back the UK's farmers and growers and “ensure that they have the support and workforce that they need”.

“The Seasonal Workers scheme is now operating until the end of 2024,” a spokesperson said, adding the government was working towards attracting UK workers into the sector.

By Lucy Hooker

South Korea Investigates Terra Labs for Alleged Bitcoin Embezzlement Following UST Collapse: Report


( via — Thur, 9th June 2022) London, Uk – –

A probe has been launched into Do Kwon's Terraform Labs over alleged embezzlement of the company's bitcoin.

By Oliver Knight

South Korean law enforcement agencies are investigating Terraform Labs following last month's collapse of their controversial algorithmic stablecoin, TerraUSD (UST), according to a report by the Financial Times.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency has launched a probe into allegations of embezzlement of an undisclosed amount of Terra's bitcoin holdings, the report said.
Terra held $3.5 billion worth of bitcoin (BTC) in its reserves, in a failed attempt to stabilize the price of UST.

Terraform co-founder Daniel Shin denied allegations of fraud, telling the FT that there was “no intention of deception” and that the company wanted to innovate the payment settlement system using blockchain technology.
Last month South Korean authorities estimated that around 280,000 of its citizens had been impacted by the collapse of UST and Luna (LUNC).

Since the implosion of Terra's stablecoin, the company has launched a new token (LUNA) that was airdropped to previous holders. LUNA is currently trading at $3.12 with a market cap of $642 million and has lost 80% of its value since last week's peak.
Terraform Labs did not immediately respond to CoinDesk's request for comment.

By Oliver Knight

UK’s edtech start-up Bibliu secures funding boost with $15m injection


( via– Wed, 8th June 2022) London, Uk – –

Existing investors including Stonehage Fleming and Nesta Impact Investments are injecting further money into the digital educational resources company, Sky News understands.


A British education technology start-up which works with universities to provide digital access to textbooks and research materials has defied the gloomy sentiment engulfing the fundraising environment by securing a $15m (£12m) capital injection.

Sky News understands that Bibliu, which counts Oxford University and Imperial College London among its customers, will announce this week that it has raised the money from new and existing investors.

The funding will be used to help Bibliu expand in the US, including through partnerships with publishers and new product development, it said.

Bibliu argues that by reducing inequalities caused by the often-high cost of educational resources, it helps colleges and universities to promote diversity, equity and inclusion.

Existing backers including Nesta Impact Investments, Oxford Science Enterprises, Guinness Ventures and Stonehage Fleming are among the participants in the round.

Richard Hill, head of direct investments at Stonehage Fleming, the international family office, is joining Bibliu's board as part of the Series B fundraising.


“This funding will enable Bibliu to develop additional technology that further automates content management for publishers, streamline the complexities for institutions associated with managing learning content, and – most of all – support our clients' goals to advance student success in an equitable manner,” Dave Sherwood, the company's co-founder and chief executive, said.

By Mark Kleinman


UK biggest four-day week trial begins with no loss of pay

( via– Mon, 6th June 2022) London, Uk – –

Talk of a four-day week in the UK has accelerated since the COVID pandemic, though Labour did pledge to introduce it within a decade had Jeremy Corbyn led the party to victory in the 2019 general election.


A four-day week with no loss of pay is being trialled at dozens of companies across the UK from today.

Firms from a variety of industries are taking part, including banking, hospitality, care, and even animation studios.

They will still give their workers 100% of their pay, on the understanding that they maintain maximum productivity.

It's being billed as the biggest four-day week pilot to take place anywhere in the world, and organisers are working alongside university researchers who will measure the impact on productivity and the wellbeing of staff.

They will also look at how it affects the environment and gender equality.

Juliet Schor, professor of sociology at Boston College, and lead researcher on the pilot, said: “The four-day week is generally considered to be a triple dividend policy – helping employees, companies, and the climate.

“Our research efforts will be digging into all of this.”

The other universities involved are Cambridge and Oxford, while the organisers are 4 Day Week Global, in partnership with think tank Autonomy and the 4 Day Week UK Campaign.

Joe O'Connor, chief executive of 4 Day Week Global, said Britain was at “the crest of a wave of global momentum behind the four-day week”, as people got used to being away from the office during the pandemic.

Talk of a four-day week in the UK does precede COVID, though, with Labour having pledged to introduce it within a decade had Jeremy Corbyn led the party to victory in the 2019 general election.

One of the companies taking part in the trial, which lasts six months and involves more than 3,000 workers, is Charity Bank.

Chief executive Ed Siegel said the move to a four-day week “seems a natural next step” following the pandemic.


“The 20th-century concept of a five-day working week is no longer the best fit for 21st-century business,” he said.

“We firmly believe that a four-day week with no change to salary or benefits will create a happier workforce and will have an equally positive impact on business productivity, customer experience and our social mission.”

15 Businesses That Will Be Around Forever

Source: Alux

These businesses are never going away! Always demand, always evergreen!
This Alux video we will be answering the following questions:
What businesses are evergreen?
What are good businesses to start?


What businesses always have customers?
What businesses are in high demand?
What are the best businesses to start for the long term?

Abu Dhabi state oil giant contemplating multibillion pound takeover bid for UK’s Motor Fuel Group

( via– Fri, 3rd June 2022) London, Uk – –

The Gulf state's national oil company is lining up bankers from JP Morgan to advise on a possible offer for Britain's biggest independent petrol station operator, Sky News learns.


One of the world's biggest oil producers is contemplating a multibillion pound takeover bid for Motor Fuel Group (MFG), Britain’s biggest independent petrol station operator.

Sky News has learnt that the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) is lining up bankers to work on a potential offer for MFG, which has been put up for sale with a price tag of about £5bn.

City sources said on Friday that ADNOC, which is among the 20 biggest oil companies in the world, had yet to make a firm decision about whether to bid ahead of an initial deadline next week.

However, it is preparing to hire JP Morgan, the Wall Street investment bank, to advise it on its interest in the UK company, they said.

ADNOC would be a significant player in a bidding war for a company that has rapidly grown is estate and profitability, and is now seeking to harness the automotive industry's efforts to embrace the transition to cleaner energy.

MFG has committed to spending £50m this year on installing hundreds of electric vehicle charging points across its roughly-900 sites, and believes it can play a leading role in that shift during the coming years.

A bid from ADNOC would represent one of the biggest single investments by a company from the Gulf state in a British business, and follows the signing of a £10bn sovereign investment partnership between the UK and UAE last year.


Technology, energy transition, infrastructure and life sciences were identified as the principal focuses for the partnership between the Abu Dhabi fund Mubadala and the UK's Office for Investment.

ADNOC produces roughly 3m barrels of oil each day, as well as 10.5bn cubic feet of gas, placing it among the world's largest producers of the two energy sources.

If it does bid for MFG, it will probably be pitted against Fortress Investment Group and Macquarie, the Australian financial services behemoth which recently bought Roadchef, the motorway services operator, for about £1bn.

People close to the process cautioned, however, that a sale was not certain to go ahead, given difficult financing markets.

Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) will only proceed with a sale if it can secure an attractive valuation, they added.

MFG has grown through a series of acquisitions to become the largest independent player in the sector, behind BP and Shell.

A merger of its assets with Morrisons' petrol stations was mooted by City analysts at the time of the supermarket chain's takeover by CD&R, but the prospect of that transaction receded after a £750m deal for EG Group to buy Asda's forecourts was abandoned in October.

Asda and EG Group are both controlled by TDR Capital and the lagger's founders, Mohsin and Zuber Issa.

CD&R has owned MFG since 2015, and has now picked a quartet of banks to oversee the company's sale.

Citi, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Royal Bank of Canada will work jointly on the process, with a stock market listing considered to be far less likely.

The company has grown substantially since CD&R bought it in 2015 from Patron Capital Partners in a deal worth about £500m.

Three years later, it paid £1.2bn to add MRH, the market leader, creating a group operating under fuel brands such as BP, Esso, Shell and Texaco.

Profits are understood to have risen about tenfold since CD&R's original acquisition of MFG.

Like rivals, it has invested heavily in its convenience retailing proposition, featuring the likes of Costa Coffee, Greggs and Subway at many of its sites.

EG is undertaking a review of its strategic options and has been linked with a merger with Canada's Alimentation Couche-Tard, while Rontec, the group controlled by the entrepreneur Gerald Ronson, has also been periodically linked with a sale.

MFG is run by William Bannister, who acquired the business in 2011 through a management buy-in, while it is chaired by Alasdair Locke, a serial entrepreneur in the energy industry.


Both men would be in line for substantial windfalls from a £5bn sale.

ADNOC could not be reached for comment on Friday, while JP Morgan and CD&R both declined to comment.




Woodford fund collapse Investors seek millions

( via – – Fri, 3rd June 2022) London, Uk – –

Three years ago, Robin McConnachie suddenly found himself unable to access money he'd invested with famed fund manger Neil Woodford.

“I was shocked,” said the retired City banker, who had invested £12,000 in the fund which eventually collapsed.


On Friday, lawyers will file a case against the fund's administrators Link Fund Solutions, alleging they failed to properly supervise the investments.

But Link says it acted within the rules and will “vigorously defend itself”.

Mr Woodford was one of the UK's most high profile stockpickers and when he set up his own managed fund, he came with an impressive reputation.

At Invesco Perpetual, where he made his name, anyone investing a pension fund of £10,000 with him at the start of his time there would have seen it grow to £250,000 by the time Mr Woodford resigned to launch his own business 26 years later.

Investors, ranging from ordinary people to pension funds, put money into the Woodford Equity Income Fund. At its peak, the fund was reportedly managing more than £10bn.

But as investors became increasingly worried about the investments being made on their behalf, many withdrew their money. More than £500m was taken out in just four weeks.

Then on 3 June 2019 – three years ago today – Link froze the fund, which later collapsed.

“Link was in place to act as the referee,” said Daniel Kerrigan, senior associate at the London firm Harcus Parker, which is bringing the case. “They let the fund go off the rails.”

Lawyers from the firm will argue Link had a duty to investors to ensure the fund was prudently managed and not overly risky. They say those duties were breached, for instance when the fund invested in unlisted start-ups instead of in large, dividend-paying stocks.

But Link says it will be “vigorously defending” the charges.

“A key responsibility of Link … was, and is, to act in the best interests of all investors in the Woodford Equity Investment Fund,” a Link spokesperson said.

He added: “Link takes this and its other responsibilities very seriously and considers that it has acted at all times in accordance with applicable rules, as well as in the best interests of all investors, and it will continue to do so.”

It will be up to the High Court to decide whether the fund's eventual collapse in October 2019 was Link's fault. Neither Mr Woodford himself, nor his company, is targeted by the litigation.


A sale of the fund's assets has already allowed some money to be returned to investors.

Mr McConnachie has so far received just under £8000 in that process but he's hoping the lawsuit can return the rest.

Having invested into Mr Woodford's fund at Invesco Perpetual, he decided to diversify his holdings and direct some of his money in his new venture.

“He was regarded as a high-flying fund manager,” Mr McConnachie said. “The prospectus said the new fund will be run along similar lines.”

He said he was so angry by the way Link acted, he decided to join the lawsuit against them.

“What Link did or didn't do is simply not acceptable and they should be called to account.”

Last year, Neil Woodford spoke publicly about the embarrassing saga, telling The Daily Telegraph he was “very sorry for what [he] did wrong”.

He added: “I can't be sorry for the things I didn't do. I didn't make the decision to suspend the fund, I didn't make the decision to liquidate the fund. As history will now show, those decisions were incredibly damaging to investors and they were not mine.”

Mr Woodford has since set up a new investment business though it has not been welcomed by all.

The FCA has been carrying out its own investigation into the fund's collapse, and is yet to decide whether to take any action. In January, MPs urged the financial watchdog to move quickly, given the public interest in the scandal.

Harcus Parker represents 7,000 investors who lost money. The initial claim against Link, lodged on Friday, represents 1,500 of those and will seek damages of an estimated £18m.

A further claim relating to the same issue is being brought against Link by the firm Leigh Day. It will represent 12,000 investors.


“There are believed to be around 300,000 people affected by this issue out there,” Mr Kerrigan said. “We encourage people who have not signed up to do so.”

By Vivienne Nunis


UK retail and hospitality expected to get £6bn boost from Queen’s jubilee

( via – – Thu, 2nd June 2022) London, Uk – –

Britons expected to take advantage of four-day break to splash out on street parties and nights out


The jubilee weekend is expected to deliver a £6bn-plus boost to high streets and hospitality businesses as Britons take advantage of the four-day break to splash out on street parties and nights out.

Revellers are expected to spend more than £2bn on food and drink supplies alone, while pubs, bars and restaurants are hoping to ring up almost £3bn in sales, research suggests, as the two bank holidays combine with half-term breaks for most schools in England and Wales.

About a fifth of the population plans to join a street party, the report from Opinium and Vouchercodes found, with around £600m expected to be spent on decorations and memorabilia as retailers tempt shoppers with the questionable delights of Queen-shaped gnomes, corgi balloons and union flag bunting.

Despite concerns for family budgets amid hefty rises in energy bills and the cost of the weekly shop, the long weekend is expected to prompt an 8% rise in visitors to retail destinations in the week up to the bank holiday weekend, according to analysts at shopper monitoring group Springboard, with high streets and shopping centres faring best.


UKHospitality, the , the British Beer and Pub Association and Hospitality Ulster said they were expecting almost £400m more to be spent in pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues than during a normal Thursday to Sunday in May.

“We sense there’s a real pent up desire among the population to get out and enjoy itself,” the trade organisations said in a joint statement. They added that businesses continued to face huge cost increases, a staff crisis and rising rent repayments but the four days would “do wonders for income and for employee morale”.

“At last, our beleaguered sector is able to look forward to the sort of trading period that will give it a massive boost as it sets out on the long road to post-pandemic recovery,” the four bodies said.

Supermarkets had already enjoyed a boost in the run-up to half-term as food sales rose in the week to 21 May after months of declines according to market analysts Nielsen.

Lisa Hooker at advisory firm PwC said: “Despite the significant drop in consumer confidence shown by our most recent consumer sentiment survey, a difficult couple of years combined with the feel good factor of celebrating with family and friends could see positive results for grocers leading up to and across the platinum jubilee weekend.”

However Clive Black, an analyst at Shore Capital, said it was likely to be a “short term boost to sales”, adding: “With food inflation running at 6% to 8% volumes are demonstrably lower.”

Official figures show extra bank holidays in previous jubilee years have led to sharp reductions in the UK’s overall economic output, or GDP, as the benefits from higher consumer spending do not outweigh the costs from businesses closing for the day.

Retailers and hospitality bosses are expecting a downturn in trade by the end of the summer, as families return from summer holidays booked when the economic outlook was better and find higher bills waiting on the doormat.


Revealing the highest level of food price inflation in a decade on Wednesday, Helen Dickinson, the boss of the British Retail Consortium trade body which represents all the major retailers, said: “It is likely to get worse before it gets better for consumers with prices continuing to rise and a further jump in energy costs coming in October.”

By Sarah Butler