An Exclusive Tour of Samsung’s Global Headquarters in South Korea

Source: CNBC

You may know Samsung for its smartphones and household appliances, but how about its insurance arm or holiday resorts? CNBC’s Uptin Saiidi gets a rare look inside the headquarters of one of the world’s largest companies.

NYC Kid’s $7 Million Dream Home With A Zipline And Slide

Source: Insider

INSIDER tours a $7 million New York City dream apartment that has a zipline, spiral slide, climbing wall, monkey bars, and more. It’s a kid’s dream home in the middle of Manhattan! Aly Weisman goes to the SoHo loft to get a tour of the most unique apartment in the city.

The Creating of Technologically Advanced $200 Million Water Fountains

Source: Bloomberg

Mark Fuller is the eccentric owner of what could be the most technically advanced water fountain-maker on the planet (the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas being among his more famous). In this episode of “Hello World,” Ashlee Vance travels to Burbank, California, to chat with Mark, and see how his $200 million water features are created.

How Top Toy Retailer Toys ‘R’ Us Went Bankrupt

Source: WSJ

For decades, Toys “R” Us was not only one of the top toy retailers in the United States, it was one of the top retailers period. Until it suddenly wasn’t. Toys “R” filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and liquidated six months later. This is the story of how Toys “R” Us went bankrupt.

Amazon begins appeal over US DoD decision to give major contract to Microsoft

( via – – Fri, 15th Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

Amazon has filed an intention to appeal the US Department of Defense's decision to give a major contract to Microsoft.

Amazon had been considered the favourite to win the deal, worth $10bn over the next 10 years.

The company, which already provides cloud computing to the US Central Intelligence Agency, said the decision was made due to political pressure.

In July, President Donald Trump threatened to intervene after what he described as “tremendous complaints”.

Mr Trump had previously attacked Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post, which has been critical of his presidency.

The Pentagon subsequently delayed its decision to award the contract until 25 October, when it was announced the work would be given to Microsoft.

Defence Secretary Mark Esper said the competition was fair.

“I am confident it was conducted freely and fairly without any type of outside influence,” he told reporters in the South Korean capital Seoul.

The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project – known as JEDI – is designed to modernise the antiquated data and communication systems within the US military. The contract is considered to be particularly lucrative if other government departments follow the Defense Department's lead when upgrading their own systems.

An Amazon spokesperson told the BBC: “Amazon Web Services is uniquely experienced and qualified to provide the critical technology the US military needs, and remains committed to supporting the DoD's modernisation efforts.

“We also believe it's critical for our country that the government and its elected leaders administer procurements objectively and in a manner that is free from political influence.

“Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors and unmistakable bias – and it's important that these matters be examined and rectified.”

The BBC understands Amazon submitted its intention to protest against the decision to the Court of Federal Claims last Friday. The formal appeal itself will be filed at a later stage.

Microsoft did not respond to requests for comment.

Four companies had initially been in the running for the deal when the process was launched two years ago. IBM was eliminated, as was Oracle – which lodged an unsuccessful legal challenge alleging conflict of interest stemming from Amazon's hiring of two former Defense Department employees. Both were said to have been involved in the JEDI selection process.

By Dave Lee

UK-based Chilango Mexican restaurant chain in restructuring talks

( via – -Fri, 15th 2019) London, Uk – –

UK-based Chilango in discussions about long-term planning, options and strategy

A UK-based Mexican restaurant chain that raised millions of pounds from small investors this year via a “burrito bond” scheme is in talks with restructuring experts about options for the business.

Chilango, which has 12 UK outlets, most in London, made headlines around the world in 2014 when it launched its quirkily named bond, and earlier this year announced that it had pulled in £3.7m from hundreds of small investors who had signed up for “burrito bond 2”.

The Guardian was told that Damian Webb, a partner at accountancy firm RSM who specialises in restructuring and who has been involved with several high-profile companies in recent months, had been brought in by Chilango. Options could include administration or a company voluntary arrangement, a form of insolvency that is deal with creditors.

A statement sent to the Guardian by Webb at RSM restructuring advisory said: “Chilango has engaged RSM to assist on working on long-term planning, options and strategy. All further inquiries should be directed to the company.”

In October last year, Chilango launched the burrito bond 2, which promised returns of 8% a year. It said the money would be used to refinance existing debt and open new outlets.

Chilango’s parent company, the London-based Mucho Mas, made a loss of £1.4m in the year to 25 March 2018, the latest period for which accounts are available, and a loss of just under £3.2m the year before.

As of Wednesday, its finance arm, Chilango Bonds, was six weeks late filing its accounts at Companies House.

Chilago’s chosen form of fundraising, known as a mini bond, allows a company to raise capital by borrowing directly from the public, and has proved popular with small investors desperate for better returns. Individuals receive a fixed interest rate and, when the bond matures, their capital is returned to them.

Many companies have issued them, but this year the Financial Conduct Authority said mini bonds could be high risk, and there is no Financial Services compensation scheme protection if the company issuing the mini-bond fails.

In April Chilango said the burrito bond 2 had raised more than £3.7m, making it “one of the most popular alternative investment offers of recent times”. Nearly 800 investors put money in – including 194 who qualified for a Chilango “black card” entitling them to a free burrito every week for the lifetime of the bond after committing at least £10,000 each.

The company said the latest sum raised comfortably surpassed the £2.1m brought in by the original burrito bond in 2014, which was snapped up by more than 700 individuals and covered by publications such as the Wall Street Journal.

The latest investment is an unlisted corporate bond with a four-year term paying a fixed 8% a year interest.

At the time of the burrito bond 2 offer, Chilango’s website highlighted the risks – it said that in the event that Chilango Bonds or a member of its group became insolvent, “you may lose some or all of your investment … If you suffer a loss, you are not entitled to compensation from the Financial Services compensation scheme.”

Chilango, which opened its first restaurant in north London in 2007, has 10 outlets in the capital, plus one in Manchester and another in Birmingham.

Eric Partaker, Chilango’s chief executive and co-founder, said there was “nothing to report … We are working with RSM on some long-term business planning.”

By Rupert Jones

British consumers buying less, adds to signs the economy is losing momentum – ONS

( via — Thur, 14th Nov 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British consumers, whose spending has helped the economy through the Brexit crisis, cut back on their shopping in October, according to official data that adds to signs the economy is losing momentum.

An unexpected fall in sales in October pushed retail growth over the last three months to its weakest since April 2018, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday.

The downbeat news follows official figures earlier this week that showed the economy as a whole grew at its weakest annual rate since 2010 in the third quarter of this year, while the number of people in work dropped sharply.

A strong job market and solid consumer spending have helped keep Britain’s economy afloat since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, as businesses have cut investment and manufacturers have suffered more recently from the U.S.-China trade conflict.

“These latest ONS figures are symptomatic of the challenges facing the retail sector after a year fraught with uncertainty,” said Lynda Petherick, head of retail at management consultants Accenture.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called an early election for Dec. 12 in an attempt to get a large enough majority to pass Brexit legislation before a new deadline of Jan. 31, something he hopes will restore business confidence.

However, many economists fear that even if he gets his way, the risk of serious disruption to Britain’s trade ties with the European Union will soon be back on the agenda, due to his aim of moving to new trading arrangements by the end of 2020.

The Bank of England warned last week it may need to cut interest rates if global trade conflicts and Brexit uncertainty do not end, and two of its policymakers have already voted to loosen policy.

Thursday’s data showed retail sales volumes unexpectedly fell by 0.1%, and annual sales growth held at 3.1%, bucking average forecasts for a pick-up to 3.7%.

In the three months to October sales rose just 0.2% compared with the previous three months, an 18-month low.

Measures that exclude spending on motor fuel – which some economists think give a truer picture of underlying consumer demand – were weaker still, and fell below all forecasts in Reuters’ poll of economists.

The only retailers to do well in October were department stores, which the ONS said benefited from sales promotions and an earlier introduction of Christmas lines.

Supermarket group Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) said last week that it expected to trade well in the run-up to Christmas but feared a consumer hangover in early 2020 if Brexit was unresolved.

Baby products retailer Mothercare (MTC.L) is set to close its British stores with the loss of at least 2,500 jobs under the weight of the pressures plaguing the retail sector, including online competition.

Reporting by David Milliken and William Schomberg

Disney+ streaming service saw 10 million subscribers signed up for first day

( via– Thur, 14th Nov, 2019) London, Uk – –

The launch numbers outstripped some forecasts, but it was not immediately clear how many customers came from free promotions.

Disney says more than 10 million subscribers signed up for its new streaming service on its first day of launch.

The “extraordinary consumer demand” saw shares in the entertainment giant rise by 3.5%.

Disney+, the competitor to the likes of Netflix and Amazon, launched in the US, Canada and the Netherlands earlier this week.

The platform is offering a mix of Marvel and Star Wars films and shows, every episode of the Simpsons, new series and classic content from the back catalogue of the world-famous studios.

Disney+ will be rolled out to the UK and Ireland from next March.

Although numbers from the launch day were more than three times the size of some forecasts, it was not immediately clear how many subscribers came from promotions.

Customers of some Verizon phone and internet packages were offered a year free.

Disney has invested billions in its streaming service, which costs $7 (£5.40) a month or $70 (£54) a year after a seven-day free trial.

Some analysts thought it would take Disney a year to reach 10 million subscribers.

In April, Disney said it plans to have up to 90 million Disney+ subscribers globally by 2024.

Netflix, which launched in 2007, now has 158 million subscribers.

Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk chooses Berlin for engineering and design centre

( via – – Wed, 13th Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

Tesla's chief executive, Elon Musk, has said Berlin will be the site of its first European factory as the carmaker's expansion plans power ahead.

“Berlin rocks,” Mr Musk said, adding Tesla would build an engineering and design centre in the German capital.

Tesla previously said it aimed to start production in Europe in 2021.

The moves come as the firm, which has also invested heavily in a Chinese factory, faces intensifying competition in the electric vehicle industry.

Mr Musk made the announcement at an awards ceremony in Germany on Tuesday.

“Everyone knows that German engineering is outstanding and that's part of the reason we are locating our Gigafactory Europe in Germany,” he said.

Mr Musk also cited risks surrounding the UK's exit from the EU for his decision, according to AutoExpress.

“Brexit [uncertainty] made it too risky to put a Gigafactory in the UK,” he told the trade magazine.

Mr Musk said the facility would be located near the new Berlin airport and later gave more details on what the factory would produce on Twitter.

The focus on Germany comes amid rising appetite for electric cars in Europe.

Over the coming years, the biggest electric car production plants will be in Germany, France, Spain and Italy, industry analysis showed.

Some 16 large-scale lithium-ion battery cell plants are confirmed or due to begin operations in Europe by 2023.

China push

Tesla's European plan comes as the carmaker also moves ahead with a $2bn (£1.6bn) factory in Shanghai.

The firm is looking to ramp up production in China, the world's biggest car market, where sales have been hurt by tariffs triggered by the US-China trade war.

The Shanghai facility will produce Model 3 and Model Y cars. The automaker reportedly showed off its new China-made vehicles to local media this week.

Still, Tesla has struggled with years of losses, fuelling investor doubts and casting a shadow over its shares in recent years.

The firm has yet to turn an annual profit, although it recorded positive results in the final two quarters of 2018.

Last year, Tesla took aggressive steps to slash expense, cutting thousands of jobs and reining in other spending.

Experian consumer credit giant shares surge as revenue rises to $2.5bn

( via – – Tue, 12th Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

Consumer credit giant Experian today posted revenue growth of seven per cent for the first half of 2019, with profit growing to $480m from $470m in 2018.

Revenue grew to $2.5bn in the period, up from $2.36bn in 2018.

The information services group narrowed their guidance for the year to seven to eight per cent, the upper range of previous estimates.

The company said that good momentum in North America, double-digit revenue growth in Latin America and an acceleration in global business to business platforms such as Ascend had helped was responsible for the growth.

Chief executive officer Brian Cassin said: “This reflects successful execution on big new addressable market opportunities, the global roll out of our innovative platforms and considerable momentum in Consumer Services as we invest in Experian Boost.”

The company also saw users of its website for checking credit scores for free rise 56 per cent, from 45m in 2018 to 70m in 2019.

Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Strong growth from Experian’s Consumer divisions is a big deal – not so long ago revenues were in freefall after rival free credit checking services made Experian’s subscription model all but redundant.

“In its place Experian’s focused on a credit matching service which pairs consumers with an appropriate loan or credit card. The launch of Experian Boost seems to have been a masterstroke.”

Experian Ascend, a platform that integrates client data, industry-specific data feeds and analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, has reached a value of $270m across the USA, UK, Brazil and Italy.

The blue-chip announced a number of acquisitions for the period, including South Africa’s Compuscan credit information company, as well as the remaining 45 per cent of subsidiary body Experian MicroAnalytics.

Experian competes with smaller players Equifax and TransUnion. Both have reported estimate-beating results for the last quarter.

The company announced a first interim dividend of 14.5 cents per share, up four per cent. In early trading shares in the company were up 2.1 per cent to 2,431p. 

By Edward Thicknesse

Vodafone sinks to a £1.6bn loss after a ruling by India’s top court

( via– Tue , 12th Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

The firm says the “situation is critical” and could pull out of the country, where it is the largest foreign direct investor.

UK-based mobile giant Vodafone sank to a loss of £1.6bn after a ruling by India's top court threatens to land it with huge fees and penalties.

The firm has described it as a critical situation and warned it could pull out of the country, where it is the largest foreign direct investor.

The court judgment against the telecoms industry relates to a decade-long battle over the calculation of licence and other regulatory fees.

Vodafone said its liability appeared to be at least £3.2bn but warned it “could be substantially higher”.

The mobile operator said it may seek a review of the supreme court's decision, which saw it post a loss in the six months to 30 September.

Announcing its results for the period, the company said: “In October the Supreme Court in India ruled against the industry in a dispute over the calculation of licence and other regulatory fees, and Vodafone Idea is now liable for very substantial demands made by the Department of Telecommunications in relation to these fees.

“We are actively engaging with the government to seek financial relief for Vodafone Idea.”

Vodafone chief executive Nick Read said: “The situation is critical. I think the government are left in no doubt on our position.

“We are India's largest foreign direct investment investor and I think there's a moment where you have to say we've been commercially successful and our brand is strong.

“What we need is a supportive regulatory environment and prices that are sustainable.

“It's been a very challenging situation for a long time and, if you look at the share price in India, it is effectively has zero value.”

Mr Read revealed he had travelled to India with Vodafone's chairman, Gerard Kleisterlee, last month to lay out the company's demands to ministers.

He has asked for a two-year moratorium before any payments are made, lower taxes in the country, the waiving of interest and fines associated with the judgment, and to spread out the fee costs over 10 years.

Mr Read added: “We've committed a lot of capital to India and we've made a decision we will not put further capital in (until the issue is resolved).”

Elsewhere in the business, Vodafone said its overall revenues over the six-month period had gone up after a return to growth “supported by improvements in South Africa, Spain and Italy, with solid retail performance in Germany and strong commercial acceleration in the UK”.

The company's reported revenues rose 0.4% to €21.9 (£18.8bn).

Vodafone also increased its profit guidance to €14.8-€15bn (£12.7bn-£12.9) from €13.8-€14.2bn (£11.9bn-£12.2bn), pointing to the acquisition of Liberty Global's assets in Germany and the sale of its New Zealand business.

British Steel set to announce rescue deal with China’s Jingye Group

( via – – Mon, 11th Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

British Steel is set to announce a rescue deal with China's Jingye Group, which could safeguard up to 4,000 jobs in the UK.

Jingye Group has agreed in principle to buy British Steel for £70m.

It is understood that the government will help in the form of loan guarantees and other financial support.

British Steel has been kept running by the government via the Official Receiver since May, when the company went into liquidation.

As well as employing 4,000 people at its Scunthorpe and Teesside sites, British Steel supports an additional 20,000 jobs in the supply chain.

Another 1,000 jobs are based in France and the Netherlands – those are included in the deal too.

It is expected that an agreement will be signed, but that the company will continue to be run by the Official Receiver for at least a month before being transferred.

Why is this news so important?

Gareth Stace, director general of industry lobby group UK Steel, told BBC Radio 4's Today that the business being bought was a “significant asset to our country” as it makes up a third of UK steel production, mostly from Scunthorpe.

He said that there was a need for “very significant investment” in the Scunthorpe works and that was why the expected announcement from Jingye was “really welcome”.

“Jingye are looking to make significant investment, are in for the longer term and therefore it isn't about keeping this site going for a year or two or a couple of years. To me, what I understand about the company, it's about looking to the future, so we're not going to be back in here in three years, five years, in 10 years' time.”

The firm had previously been in rescue talks with Ataer, which is a subsidiary of Turkey's state military retirement scheme Oyak.

What is in it for Jingye?

Analysis: By Dominic O'Connell

What does a steel maker from Hebei province, south-west of Beijing, see in a struggling plant in Scunthorpe? It is difficult to know, particularly when we know so little about the buyer of British Steel, Jingye Group.

There is little publicly available information – certainly no set of accounts – but the organisation's Facebook page extols its rapid rise to become a big player in steel in just 20 years.

In the process, it has “laid an extraordinary road of development with wisdom and perspiration”, the voiceover of one of promotional video says, with ranks of identically overalled workers smiling on the steps of its rather grand headquarters.

On the face of it, the Chinese buyer will be interested in the products that British Steel makes that it does not. British Steel is a specialist in railway tracks, “long products”, a catch-all term for girders used in construction, and the high-quality steel wire used in car tyres and dozens of other industrial applications.

Jingye does not appear to make the first two, so the purchase of British Steel should bring it some valuable technology and new product lines. That plus has to be set against the need for investment at Scunthorpe; if, as reported, Jingye wants to increase production, blast furnaces and coke ovens will have to be refurbished at a price tag estimated at £500m.

What British Steel workers will fervently hope is that the Jingye commitment is long-term and that this is not another false dawn.

Presentational grey line

According to Mr Stace, British Steel's output complements Jingye. He says both British Steel and Jingye make wire rods, but there is one crucial difference.

“Actually British Steel makes rail, high-quality rail and heavy sections, ie girders, which Jingye doesn't make. [So it] not only increases the amount of different products that Jingye could make but also, much more importantly, secures a foothold in the UK.”

Will British Steel now turn the corner?

Mr Stace said he believed the steel industry in the UK could now compete globally and he was publishing a manifesto with ideas for change.

“But the problem we have is we have a uncompetitive business landscape in the UK. government can change that,” he added.

“I'm talking about energy costs, business rates, procurement – the government buying more steel from the UK – free and fair trade, and even much more support for R&D [research and development], which we are going to lose when we fall out of the EU.”

He said: “What government needs to do is give us that business landscape. We can thrive on the global market and generate highly paid, highly skilled jobs for the UK economy.”

What happens now?

It is expected that the employees will be briefed on the latest developments this morning as they come to work. A formal announcement is due later on Monday morning or early afternoon.

In the long term, it is believed that while Jingye Group has promised to increase production, it has also warned costs may need to be cut.

The Chinese group is reportedly aiming to increase production at Scunthorpe from 2.5 million tonnes per year to more than three million.

Jingye's chairman, Li Ganpo, recently visited British Steel's sites and met Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin and Andrew Percy, representative for the Brigg and Goole constituency.

Mr Percy told the Grimsby Telegraph he had been given assurances over the company's future.

What are trade unions saying?

Community, a UK trade union which absorbed the old Iron & Steel Trades Confederation (ISTC) body, said: “If this is confirmed, then we welcome this positive step towards securing British Steel under new ownership,

“The fact that there has been ongoing interest from both Ataer and now Jingye rightly demonstrates that potential buyers believe that British Steel can have a sustainable future.”

Meanwhile, Ross Murdoch, national officer for the GMB union, said: “On the face of it, we cautiously welcome this sale, which finally provides some light at the end of the tunnel for 4,000 British Steel workers.

“GMB also met with Chairman Li and his senior team in Scunthorpe on 30 October. We were impressed with the passion and enthusiasm from the Jingye team.

“However, due diligence on this sale was completed very quickly and the devil will be in the detail.”

The UK industry has been struggling for a number of years amid claims that China has been flooding the market with cheap steel. In 2016 the EU imposed tariffs of up to 73.7% on Chinese steel after an influx of cheap imports from Asia forced European manufacturers to cut jobs and lower prices.

Who is Jingye Group?

Jingye has 23,500 employees and as well as its main steel and iron making businesses, but also engages in tourism, hotels and real estate.

It has total registered assets of 39bn yuan (£4.4bn). According to its website, Jingye Group ranked 217th among the top 500 enterprises in China in 2019.

The firm sells its products nationwide and exports them to more than 80 countries and regions.

Jingye's products have been used in major projects such as Beijing Daxing International Airport and the underground system in Shijiazhuang.

TSB to consider closing up to 100 branches placing 400 jobs at risk

( via – – Mon, 11th Nov, 2019) London, Uk – –

TSB is considering closing up to 100 branches, according to a trade union source, in a move that could put 400 jobs at risk.

The challenger bank has been working to repair its reputation following its IT meltdown last year but is looking for around £100m in cost savings, with its 544-strong branch network under scrutiny.

Mark Brown, the general secretary for the Affinity trade union said the lender is likely to unveil up to 100 branch closures when it unveils its new strategy on 25 November. Affinity, while not officially recognised by TSB, represents around 3,900 of its 7,795 staff.

Most of the branches in question are likely to employ just a handful of workers, and Brown estimated that around 400 may be affected by the moves. TSB in the past has tried to redeploy staff when possible. Branch closures are a common occurrence in high street banking and more than a third of the UK’s bank branches have shut for good in less than five years, with more than 3,000 closures since 2015.Advertisement

TSB’s parent company, Spanish lender Sabadell, appointed Debbie Crosbie as TSB chief executive last year following an IT failure which locked millions of customers out of their accounts and led to the departure of Crosbie’s predeccesor, Paul Pester.

Brown said: “The results of TSB’s strategic review are going to be more branch closures and more job losses right across the bank. Hundreds of staff who saved TSB following its IT meltdown last year are going to be sacrificed on the altars of costs, efficiency and technology.

“It’s clear Ms Crosbie was brought in by Sabadell to cut costs, increase income and sort out the IT system before TSB is sold to the highest bidder in a few years time.”

Many of the closures are expected to come from the 94 branches which are now operating under reduced hours, or are only open once or twice a week following controversial changes introduced over the summer. The remaining closures may come from the network of Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society branches which were originally slated for the axe by Lloyds – the former owner of TSB – as early as 2009.

TSB’s new chief operation officer Suresh Viswanathan told staff last month that the lender spends around £180m each year on operating costs such as IT systems and staff. In a transcript seen by the Guardian, the executive suggested that the number should be nearly £100m lower.

Ged Nichols, general secretary for TSB’s official union Accord, would not comment on the figures around job cuts or branch closures, but said: “If TSB is going to overcome its challenge that has implications for partners in the business and we would want and expect the bank to be true to its values and culture and do things in the right way in consultation with the unions.”

A TSB spokeswoman said: “We don’t comment on speculation.”

Next Gen Farming Growing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Without Soil and 90% Less Water

Source: Grateful

Aeroponics grows fruits and vegetables faster, cheaper and better. Vertical farming with Tower Gardens is on the ‘rise' and rightfully so. You can grow a variety of plants without ANY soil and 90% LESS water. It also requires 10x less space so you can do a lot more in a smaller area. That means easily growing fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables, and flowers both indoors and out. And because everything is grown and picked fresh, the flavor is unbelievable!

A Tour of Entertainment Legend Tyler Perry’s 300-Acre Studio Compound in Atlanta

Source: AD

Today we take you to Atlanta, Georgia to tour the sprawling Tyler Perry Studios. Home to productions like Marvel’s “Black Panther” and AMC Networks’ “The Walking Dead,” the self-made entertainment legend’s production compound is larger than Warner Bros. and Walt Disney’s Burbank studios combined.

12 newly-dedicated sound stages are joined by an entire backlot neighborhood called “Maxineville,” featuring a perfect replica of Madea’s house. Tyler Perry Studios is the centerpiece of Georgia’s burgeoning film industry and a testament to the vision, success, and generosity of its founder.

How WeWork Went From Being The Darling of The Venture Capital World to Needing An $8 Billion Infusion

Source: Bloomberg

In less than one year, WeWork went from having a $47 billion valuation and being the darling of the venture capital world to needing an $8 billion infusion to avoid running out of money. This is the story of Adam Neumann, Softbank's risky investment, a failed IPO and how we got here.

Royal Mail seeking High Court injunction to stop Xmas postal strike

( via – – Fri, 8th Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

Royal Mail is seeking a High Court injunction to stop a postal strike, claiming that the ballot of workers had “potential irregularities”.

The company said it would make a formal application on Friday that the strike ballot “was unlawful and, therefore, null and void”.

A strike threatens to disrupt postal voting in the run-up to the general election as well as Christmas post.

The Communications Workers Union says it “refutes” Royal Mail's claim.

The ballot of 100,000 Royal Mail staff was held over job security and terms. No dates for a strike have yet been set.

Members of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) last month voted by 97% in favour of a nationwide strike, saying the company had failed to adhere to an employment deal agreed last year. Royal Mail rejects this, which is why there are no grounds for industrial action, it says.

In the company's statement on Friday, Royal Mail said it had evidence of CWU members coming under pressure to vote “yes” in the ballot.

This included, the company claimed, union members “being encouraged to open their ballot papers on site, mark them as ‘yes', with their colleagues present and filming or photographing them doing so, before posting their ballots together at their workplace postboxes”.

Royal Mail's procedures state employees cannot open their mail at delivery offices without the prior authorisation of their manager.

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “It will be clear to all our members and everybody connected with Royal Mail and this dispute, that the chief executive and his board will go to any lengths to deny the democratic mandate of our members to stand together and fight for their future and the very future of UK postal services.”

He said the CWU had made it clear to Royal Mail that it was willing to talk, including through this weekend.

A High Court hearing into Royal Mail's application for the injunction is expected to be heard early next week.

Royal Mail has previously told the union that if it removed the threat of industrial action for the rest of 2019, the company would enter talks without preconditions. But the CWU called Royal Mail's offer a “stunt” which the union would not fall for.

Industrial relations at the company have worsened this year, with frequent unofficial strikes breaking out.

The CWU has said the result of the ballot, held between 24 September and 15 October, represents the largest “yes” vote for national industrial action since the passing of the Trade Union Act 2016.

The union claims that up to 50,000 jobs are at risk at Royal Mail and Parcelforce, under plans to separate Parcelforce from the postal business. Shane O'Riordain, Royal Mail's managing director of regulation and corporate affairs, described this as “unfounded speculation”

London’s Crossrail project delayed until 2021 as costs increase

( via – – Fri, 8th Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

The opening of London's Crossrail project will be delayed until 2021 as Europe's biggest infrastructure scheme is set to go another £650m over budget.

The route, to be known as the Elizabeth Line, was originally due to open in December 2018.

Crossrail Ltd chief executive Mark Wild said services would be delayed to allow time for more testing.

He also said the cost of the project could reach £18.25bn, an increase of £650m on the previously agreed total.

The budget was originally set at £15.9bn for the scheme, which will connect major landmarks such as Heathrow Airport and the Canary Wharf business district.

However, Mayor Sadiq Khan, the Government and Transport for London (TfL) had since agreed a figure of £17.6bn.

Bosses said in April that services would begin between October 2020 and March 2021.

Announcing the latest delay, Mr Wild insisted services would begin “as soon as practically possible in 2021”.

He added: “The central section will be substantially complete by the end of the first quarter in 2020, except for Bond Street and Whitechapel stations where work will continue.

“We will provide Londoners with further certainty about when the Elizabeth line will open early in 2020.”

The delay will allow more time to complete software development and allow safety systems to be tested.


Tom Edwards, BBC London Transport Correspondent

Just weeks ago I spoke to businesses up and down the Crossrail line and there was very little confidence with anything they were being told by the company.

Well they were right. We are getting a drip drip of delay and uncertainty.

Crossrail's hopeful “opening window” of between Oct 2020 and March 2021 just got slammed shut. Now it'll open “as soon as possible in 2021”.

This has gone beyond embarrassing into the ridiculous.

And then there's the extra cost. I suspect that will again come from London businesses through the precept, which was meant to be earmarked for other transport projects like the second phase of Crossrail.

Yes, this will be an incredible project when it's finished. But at the moment businesses will despair.

The line will make use of some existing track, but involves 26 miles of new tunnels connecting Paddington and Liverpool Street stations to improve rail capacity crossing the capital.

Mr Khan said he was “deeply frustrated” by the new delay.

A spokesman for the Mayor said “Further work is taking place immediately to assess Crossrail's latest cost estimates.

“TfL and the Department for Transport, as joint sponsors, will continue to hold the Crossrail leadership to account to ensure it is doing everything it can to open Crossrail safely and as soon as possible.”

An estimated 200 million passengers will use the new underground line annually, increasing central London rail capacity by 10% – the largest increase since World War Two.

Crossrail says the new line will connect Paddington to Canary Wharf in 17 minutes.

In May, Crossrail was criticised by the National Audit Office for running late and over budget, suggesting that bosses had clung to an unrealistic opening date.

‘No shortcuts'

A TfL spokesman called the delay “disappointing”.

In a statement TfL said: “It is only over the last year that the new Crossrail leadership has established the full complexity of finishing the software development and signalling systems, while getting the necessary safety approvals to complete the railway.

“Full testing is due to get underway next year and there can be no shortcuts on this hugely complex project.”

Sainsbury’s reports a slump in pre-tax profits despite price cuts

( via– Thur, 7th Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

The company says it is making progress in boosting its fortunes in the wake of its failed bid to merge with Asda.

Sainsbury's has reported a slump in pre-tax profits, with sales falling despite price cuts and new value ranges.

The supermarket chain, which also owns Argos, said it had achieved “positive momentum in grocery market share” in highly competitive times.

But it reported a 0.2% decline in group sales to £16.8bn over the 28 weeks to 21 September – its first half – with like-for-like sales, a comparable measure, falling 1%.

Trading pre-tax profits fell 15% to £238m. Sainsbury's blamed the phasing out of cost savings and tough weather comparisons.

On a statutory basis, pre-tax profits which include one-off costs came in at £9m. The figure covering the same period last year was £107m.

The company said this was mainly explained by a previously-flagged £203m writedown in the value of its estate that was mainly non-cash and reflected store closures.

Sainsbury's said its grocery and clothing offerings had a better performance in the second quarter than in the first.

Its chief executive, Mike Coupe, is under pressure to grow revenue after being accused of taking his eye off the ball as he fought for a £12bn merger with Asda.

The deal was blocked on competition grounds in April.

Mr Coupe said of the first half performance: “We have created positive momentum across the business through strategic investments in our customer offer.

“We have lowered prices on every day food and groceries, launched a range of value brands and are more competitive on price than we have ever been.

“We are investing in hundreds of Sainsbury's and Argos stores, introducing new products and services and continually improving service and availability. As a result, customer satisfaction has increased significantly year on year.”

The company guided that the retail sector remains “highly competitive” – a consequence of the price war that has been raging for years as discounters Aldi and Lidl capture market share from the ‘big four' chains.

Sainsbury's raised its interim dividend by 6% and shares, down 22% in the year to date, opened 1% higher.

Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said of the results: “The supermarket landscape has become more competitive and Sainsbury is fighting to keep sales moving in the right direction.

“We've had good news from M&S' food business this week, and its deal with Ocado will just add more pressure into the mix.

“It begs the question: what can Sainsbury's do to differentiate itself? The integration of Argos has been a step in a new direction, but despite the cross-selling potential, it hasn't been enough to boost overall sales.”

By James Sillars