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

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 15 Nov 2018) London, Uk – –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

 

 

Heinz first London baked beans cafe – this is what it’s like

 

Business Insider UK

You can now get hot pots of baked beans at Heinz's cafe in London's Selfridges.

The company launched it to mark the 50th anniversary of the “Beanz Meanz Heinz” slogan created in the 1960s.

Each pot costs £3 and you can get your beans with scrambled eggs, ham hock, or crispy bacon.

 

Addison Lee aims for self-driving cars in London within three years

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 22 Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

Tech pioneer Oxbotica to start mapping public roads as it calls deal with hire firm ‘huge leap’

Self-driving car services could be on the streets of London within three years under a partnership between the private hire firm Addison Lee and the British driverless car pioneers Oxbotica.

The companies have signed a deal to develop and deploy autonomous vehicles in the city by 2021.

Oxbotica will start mapping more than 250,000 miles of public roads in and around London from next month, using its technology to create a comprehensive map of every traffic feature.

While the link-up could eventually allow Addison Lee’s fleet of black Mercedes and Prius cabs to be driven autonomously, the 5,000 drivers in London will remain employed, the firm says. However, it could also offer a cheaper, autonomous ride-sharing version of its hire service. The first stage is likely to be in corporate shuttles, around airports or campuses.

Despite the ambitious time frame, London looks set to be at least a year behind other global cities. Tokyo launched an experimental driverless taxi in August, with a view to having a full service in place in time for the 2020 Olympics.

Toyota, meanwhile, is investing $500m (£388m) to develop an autonomous fleet for Uber, although Uber’s programme was set back when one of its self-driving cars was involved in a fatal collision with a pedestrian in the US in March.

Andy Boland, chief executive of Addison Lee, said that although technology could make an autonomous version of their current service feasible in London, “our 5,000 drivers in the UK are going to carry on doing what they are doing. For the foreseeable future I would draw that distinction between premium services, and technology opening those other sorts of services at a relevant price point.”

However, he said a driverless vehicle should eventually prove cheaper to run for the firm: “There are cost savings in the medium term, from maximising asset utilisation.”

The traditional London taxi and private hire trade has been disrupted by Uber offering lower fares, but industry observers have questioned whether Uber could continue to keep prices down in the long term by continuing to use drivers.

Boland said that while plenty of tech firms had eyed the market in a sector that could be worth £28bn a year by 2035, practically implementing autonomous or car-sharing services would still require the kind of fleet, maintenance and customer base his firm already had.

Graeme Smith, chief executive of Oxbotica, said: “This represents a huge leap towards bringing autonomous vehicles into mainstream use on the streets of London, and eventually in cities across the United Kingdom and beyond.”

New York is the next city it will target.

Transport for London said it was committed to engaging with firms using autonomous vehicle technology at the earliest opportunity. Michael Hurwitz, director of transport innovation, said it had the potential to change travel significantly: “All cities across the UK, including London, need to understand the opportunities, risks and challenges they face when considering how transport will operate in the future.”

Addison Lee and Oxbotica were part of the consortium carrying out government-funded studies in Greenwich, south-east London, to investigate whether the public transport network could be complemented with people ride-sharing in driverless pods.

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

 

 

View a more eclectic side of London where locals enjoy spending time

 

Source: Youtube/Love and London

Forget London Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square… those areas are super-touristy, crowded, and don't show the character of London. In this video takes you to three areas in London where Londoners enjoy spending time, which shows you the side of the city that is full of character and diverse.

Chancellor Philip Hammond needs at least £19bn to ‘end austerity’ – IFS

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 16th Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

The only way the chancellor can end austerity is to borrow substantial sums or raise Britain's tax burden to the highest level for nearly 70 years, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned.

In its closely-watched green budget, a survey of the UK economy and public finances, the IFS said that even the mildest version of “ending austerity” would cost a minimum of £19bn – the equivalent of a penny on income tax, National Insurance and on VAT.

The IFS added that there was effectively no prospect of a “Brexit dividend” for the public finances and warned that UK economic growth would remain weak for another two years.

Its report comes a fortnight ahead of the chancellor's winter budget, in which he will unveil his latest plans for borrowing and spending.

But the IFS said that Philip Hammond can only end austerity – in other words cancel major planned spending cuts – through significant tax rises or by borrowing so much that he breaks his commitment to eliminate the deficit by the middle of next decade.

It added that the sum – which it put at a provisional £19bn – would be bigger still if Mr Hammond abolished the benefits freeze and increased the generosity of other payouts.

Paul Johnson, director of the IFS, said that these decisions, which will form key parts of the budget, will “probably be the biggest non-Brexit related decision this chancellor will make”.

“He has a big choice,” he added. “He could end austerity, as the prime minister has suggested.

“But even on a limited definition of what that might mean would imply spending £19bn a year more than currently planned by the end of the parliament. An increase of that size is highly unlikely to be compatible with his desire to get the deficit down towards zero.

“Alternatively, the chancellor could stick to his guns on the deficit and leave many public services to struggle under the strain of a decade and more of cuts.

“He could reconcile these demands by raising taxes, and in principle there are plenty of good options, but the overall tax burden is already high by UK historical standards and he could be constrained by the lack of a parliamentary majority. This is going to be the toughest of circles to square.”

An increase in the tax burden of that scale would lift it to the highest level since the late 1940s and early 1950s – though it would still leave it in the middle of the pack of other developed economies.

But Mr Johnson said that it was far more likely that the government would simply borrow more. “Increasing borrowing is clearly the line of least resistance,” he said. “If I had to guess I would guess borrowing will be higher than the number in the spring statement.”

The IFS said that the extra money was significantly higher because of the extra commitments the chancellor had already made to spend more on the NHS and on international aid.

And it calculated that even if the UK enjoys an economic bump if it seals a deal to leave the European Union, the scale of the so-called “Brexit dividend” – the money the Treasury might save on contributions to the EU – might only be around £1bn a year by 2022/23 – a rounding error in fiscal terms.

John McDonnell, Labour's shadow chancellor, said: “This heaps yet more pressure on the chancellor to explain how he is going to deliver on the Tory promise of ending austerity.

“With billions of cuts in the form of Universal Credit still to come, and public services at breaking point, tinkering around the edges is not enough. It's time the chancellor finally came clean about where the additional funding for the NHS is coming from.”

A Treasury spokesperson said: “Our balanced approach is getting debt falling and supporting our vital public services, while keeping taxes as low as possible. This year, we have already committed an extra £20.5bn a year to the NHS, scrapped the public sector pay cap, and frozen fuel duty for the ninth year in a row.”

By Ed Conway

 

Deutsche Bank to move assets from London to Frankfurt after Britain’s planned exit from the EU

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Mon, 17th Sept 2018) London, UK —

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) said on Monday that it would move assets from London to Frankfurt after Britain’s planned exit from the European Union next year, in line with British and EU regulators.

“The terms on which banks will operate in the EU and UK after Brexit remains unclear in the absence of a firm political agreement but our intention is to operate in the UK as a branch in line with the Prudential Regulation Authority’s guidance”, the lender said in a statement.

It added that it announced in 2017 that would make Frankfurt rather than London the primary booking hub for its investment banking clients.

According to a source close to the matter, Deutsche Bank is considering shifting large volumes of assets from London to Frankfurt and to transform its UK arm into a smaller, less complex and ringfenced subsidiary.

By Arno Schuetze

 

 

The 10 top most lucrative occupations in the Uk you can do from home

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Sun, 16th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

The number of people working from home has surged in recent years, fueled by the economic downturn forcing many Britons out of their traditional office jobs, and technological advances making it easier for people to work remotely.

The Office for National Statistics puts the number of home workers at around four million, a 19pc increase over the past decade.

Jobs site Indeed has identified the top 10 most lucrative freelance occupations in Britain, ranked by annual salaries.

1. Development Operations Engineer – £59,449
Development operations (DevOps) engineers are typically responsible for the production and ongoing maintenance of a website platform, so are generally required to know how to code.

Because DevOps spend almost all of their time on a computer, it's easy to work from home, with the occasional office visit to catch up with team members.

 

 

2. User Experience Researcher – £46,004
User experience (UX) researchers spend their time gathering data from consumers for business clients, so that the latter can better understand their customer's behaviour.

This is done through qualitative and quantitative methods, including interviews and surveys – all of which can take place away from an office environment.

3. Freelance Quantity Surveyor – £44,950
Quantity surveyors manage all of the constructions costs relating to building projects, and can either work in an office or on-site. Freelancers can of course carry out much of their work from the comfort of their home, while maintaining regular visits to their construction sites.

4. Proposal Writer – £38,436
Whether for a business or individual, proposal writers create written documents designed to convince the recipient to enter a business arrangement or buy a product. This can all be done on a computer, enabling the writer to work remotely.

 

 

5. Software Developer – £32,740
Software developers, also known as a computer programmers, are responsible for designing, installing, testing and maintaining software systems.

While developers usually work in teams with engineers and managers, it is feasible for them to work from home with regular calls to colleagues.

6. Social Media Manager – £32,424
As the name suggests, social media managers must come up with engaging media marketing campaigns for clients and post the content on platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.

All of this can be done on a laptop or phone, so doesn't require a person to work from an office.

7. Online Tutor – £29,000
Online tutors (or “e-tutors”) educate and support students learning a particular course, just like a normal tutor, but on the Internet.

Tutors can guide and support students through a course via social media and email, and can even offer services such as “virtual classrooms” through Skype.

 

 

8. Copy Editor – £28,836
Copy editors are responsible for scanning documents for grammar, spelling and punctuation, as well as fact-checking, and then making any necessary edits.

This can all be done at home, and copy editors often combine this work with freelance writing to bring in extra money.

9. Content Producer – £28,615
Content producers create and publish written content for different websites and digital platforms.

Everything is done online and communication is most effective via email, making it an ideal job to carry out at home.

10. Event planner – £25,811
While event planning isn't as well paid as many jobs that require you to work in an office, those in the profession will save on travel costs by working from home, where they can easily communicate with clients and vendors on the phone or by email.

By Sophie Christie

 

 

UK economy grew by 0.3% in July helped by World Cup and warm weather

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 10th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

The UK economy grew by 0.3% in July after being helped by the heatwave and the World Cup, according to the Office for National Statistics.

In the three months to July, the economy expanded by 0.6%.

“Services grew particularly strongly, with retail sales performing well, boosted by warm weather and the World Cup,” said Rob Kent-Smith from the ONS.

“The construction sector also bounced back after a weak start to the year,” he added, but production contracted.

“The dominant service sector again led economic growth in the month of July with engineers, accountants and lawyers all enjoying a busy period, backed up by growth in construction, which hit another record high level,” said Mr Kent-Smith.

The 0.6% growth rate for the three months to July was at the top end of forecasts, and marks a pick-up from the 0.4% rate seen in the three months to June.

 

 

British Airways boss apologises for hacked firm’s security systems

Wikimedia/Juergen Lehle

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – -Fri, 7 Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

The chief executive of British Airways has apologised for what he has called a very sophisticated breach of the firm's security systems.

Alex Cruz told the BBC that hackers carried out a “sophisticated, malicious criminal attack” on its website.

The airline said personal and financial details of customers making bookings had been compromised.

About 380,000 transactions were affected, but the stolen data did not include travel or passport details.

BA said the breach took place between 22:58 BST on 21 August and 21:45 BST on 5 September.

Communication
Mr Cruz told the BBC's Today programme: “We're extremely sorry. I know that it is causing concern to some of our customers, particularly those customers that made transactions over BA.com and app.

“We discovered that something had happened but we didn't know what it was [on Wednesday evening]. So overnight, teams were trying to figure out the extent of the attack.

“The first thing was to find out if it was something serious and who it affected or not. The moment that actual customer data had been compromised, that's when we began immediate communication to our customers.”

BA said all customers affected by the breach had been contacted on Thursday night. The breach only affects those people who bought tickets during the timeframe provided by BA, and not on other occasions.

Mr Cruz added: “At the moment, our number one purpose is contacting those customers that made those transactions to make sure they contact their credit card bank providers so they can follow their instructions on how to manage that breach of data.”

The airline has taken out adverts apologising for the breach in Friday's newspapers.

BA data breach: What do you need to do?
By Simon Read, business reporter

 

What data was stolen?

BA says hackers stole names, email addresses and credit card information – that would be the credit card number, expiration date and the three digit CVV code on the back of the credit card.

BA insists it did not store the CVC numbers. Security researchers are now speculating the card details were intercepted, as opposed to being harvested from a BA database.

What could the hackers do with the data?

Once fraudsters have your personal information, they may be able to access your bank account, or open new accounts in your name, or use your details to make fraudulent purchases. They could also sell on your details to other crooks.

What do I need to do?

If you've been affected, you should change your online passwords. Then monitor your bank and credit card accounts keeping an eye out for any dodgy transactions. Also be very wary of any emails or calls asking for more information to help deal with the data breach: crooks often pose as police, banks or, in this instance they could pretend to be from BA.

Will my booking be affected?

BA says none of the bookings have been hit by the breach. It said it has contacted all those affected to alert them to the problem with their data, but booked flights should go ahead.

Will there be compensation for me?

If you suffer any financial loss or hardship, the airline has promised to compensate you.

‘Atrocious'
BA customers have expressed their frustration with the airline on social media.

Mat Thomas said he placed a booking on 27 August, but had not been contacted about the breach.

“Atrocious that I had to find out about this via news and twitter,” he tweeted.

“Called bank and had to cancel both mine and my wife's card. Probably won't get it back before we fly (ironically).”

Gemma Theobald tweeted: “My bank… are experiencing extremely high call volumes due to this breach! Couldn't do anything other than cancel my card… not how I wanted to spend my Thursday evening.”

The company could potentially face fines from the Information Commissioner's Office, which is looking into the breach.

Rachel Aldighieri, managing director of the Direct Marketing Association, said: “British Airways has a duty to ensure their customer data is always secure. They need to show that they have done everything possible to ensure such a breach won't happen again.

“The risks go far beyond the fines regulators can issue – albeit that these could be hefty under the new [EU data protection] GDPR regime.”

The National Crime Agency and National Cyber Security Centre also confirmed they were assessing the incident.

Shares in BA owner IAG fell by 2.5% in early trade on Friday.

‘Flesh wound'
This is not the first customer relations problem to affect the airline in recent times.

In July, BA apologised after IT issues caused dozens of flights in and out of Heathrow Airport to be cancelled.

The month before, more than 2,000 BA passengers had their tickets cancelled because the prices were too cheap.

And in May 2017, serious problems with BA's IT systems led to thousands of passengers having their plans disrupted, after all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick were cancelled.

“It does not indicate that the information systems are the most robust in the airline industry,” Simon Calder, travel editor at the Independent, told the BBC.

However, he does not think that BA will be affected in the long term by the breach.

“The airline has immense strength. Notably it's holding a majority of slots at Heathrow, and an enviable safety record, so while this is embarrassing and will potentially cost tens of millions of pounds to resolve, it's more like another flesh wound for BA, rather than anything serious.”

 

 

Burberry to reuse, repair and recycle unsaleable products after green criticism

Wikimedia/Ciegorctamoa

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur 6th, Aug, 2018) London, Uk – –

Company will reuse, repair or recycle unsaleable products and end use of real fur

Burberry is to end its practice of burning unsold clothes, bags and perfume and will also stop using real fur after criticism from environmental campaigners.

The British fashion house destroyed unsold products worth £28.6m last year to protect its brand, taking the value of items destroyed over the past five years to more than £90m. It has previously defended its practice by saying that the energy generated from burning its goods was captured.

However, the company now says it will reuse, repair, donate or recycle unsaleable products. It will also end the use of real fur and says the debut collection from its new chief creative officer, Riccardo Tisci, will not feature any fur. Existing fur products will be phased out.

xxxxxxx
Burberry’s chief executive, Marco Gobbetti, said: “Modern luxury means being socially and environmentally responsible. This belief is core to us at Burberry and key to our long-term success. We are committed to applying the same creativity to all parts of Burberry as we do to our products.”

It is a common practice among fashion firms to destroy unsold items to prevent them being stolen or sold cheaply.

Earlier this year it emerged that the Swiss watchmaker Richemont, which owns the Cartier and Montblanc brands, had destroyed nearly €500m of its designer timepieces over the past two years to avoid them being sold at knockdown prices.

However, Burberry shareholders have questioned why the unsold products were not offered to the company’s private investors. Greenpeace said the practice of burning unsold goods showed “no respect for its own products and the hard work and natural resources that are used to make them”.

Burberry reiterated that it takes its environmental obligations seriously and in May joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular initiative to prevent waste in the industry.

By Julia Kollewe

 

 

TSB boss Paul Pester to get bonus despite resigning over IT chaos

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 4th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

TSB’s outgoing boss Paul Pester is still in line for payments and bonuses of nearly £1.7m, despite standing down today following criticism of his handling of a bungled IT switch earlier in the year that left thousands of customers unable to access their accounts for days.

Mr Pester, who was singled out for harshly worded criticism by MPs on the Treasury select committee, will leave with immediate effect.

He will get a £1.2m severance payment and a bonus of up to £480,000 that was determined prior to TSB's takeover by Spanish bank Sabadell in 2015. Other variable compensation will be frozen subject to investigations.

TSB said Mr Pester would be paid “in line with the bank’s remuneration policy and the terms of his contract”, with any bonus dependent on the “outcome of performance conditions as well as ongoing regulatory and independent investigations”.

The outgoing boss has already given up a bonus worth £2m that was directly related to the delivery of the IT project – a move Mr Meddings said was “wholly appropriate” earlier this year.

The news follows a second outage over the weekend that again left some customers struggling to use the bank’s online services.

 

 

Profile | Who is Paul Pester?

CREDIT: PA
Ex-TSB boss Paul Pester was once hailed as the “luckiest man in banking” after he narrowly avoided taking the top job at the Co-operative Bank, shortly before it found a black hole in its accounts.

But he’s probably not feeling so fortuitous now, after a bungled switchover of TSB's IT systems in April left some customers unable to access their accounts. The bank is now being investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is shelling out millions for compensation payouts. Pester has now stood down from the job after seven years.

A doctor of theoretical physics and regular triathlete, Pester spent his early working life in consulting before taking the reins at Virgin Money, at the time a provider of savings and investment plans, in 1999.

He has since worked at Santander and run the comparison site Moneyfacts, but it’s Lloyds Banking Group that has loomed over the most dramatic moments of his career.

Having previously run what was then Lloyds TSB’s consumer arm, Pester returned to his old employer in 2010, not long after it was nearly sunk by its decision to buy HBOS during the financial crisis.

There he was put in charge of Project Verde, Lloyd's plan to sell off 636 branches in order to comply with European state aid rules that kicked in after it was bailed out by the British government.

The plan had originally been to sell the branches to the Co-op Bank, with Pester becoming head of the combined group. But in February 2013 the mutual pulled out, forcing Lloyds to float TSB on the stock market instead.

Pester pitched it as an opportunity to build a bank without the scandalous baggage that has bogged down the industry’s big players, with a focus on “local banking” and transparency. He remained in charge when TSB was taken private by Spanish lender Sabadell in 2015.

In 2017 he said the switch from Lloyds’ IT systems would be a moment of “liberation” for TSB as it stepped out from the shadow of its former owner.

But now the keen surfer has found himself upended in choppy waters.

Richard Meddings, TSB’s chairman, will take on executive responsibilities until a successor is appointed.

Mr Meddings said: “Although there is more to do to achieve full stability for customers, the bank’s IT systems and services are much improved since the IT migration. Paul and the board have therefore agreed that this is the right time to appoint a new CEO for TSB.”

In June the Treasury committee said it had “lost confidence” in Mr Pester over his handling of the IT outage and called upon TSB’s board to consider his position.

He had led the bank since 2011 and oversaw its spin out from Lloyds Banking Group in 2013.

 

 

Despite the problems, Mr Pester insisted on Tuesday that the bank had “achieved real success in creating a bank which is truly consumer-focused, attracting customers from the UK’s established banks, and growing TSB’s balance sheet from c.£18bn to around £31bn today”.

TSB faces an investigation and possible fine over the outage from City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority and has also hired law firm Slaughter & May for its own internal probe into what went wrong.

It is recruiting hundreds of additional staff to tackle a backlog of complaints, with more than 1,300 customers having become victims of fraud.

TSB said in its interim results earlier this year that the fiasco had cost it £176m in just over three months.

By Jack Torrance

 

 

London’s Crossrail rail link December opening delayed by nearly a year

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 31st Aug 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – The opening of Europe’s biggest infrastructure project, London’s new Crossrail train line, has been delayed by about nine months because the 15 billion pound scheme requires more time for testing to be completed, it said.

When fully open, the Elizabeth line, as it is officially known, will connect destinations such as Heathrow Airport in west London to areas such as the Canary Wharf financial district in the east.

It is desperately needed to alleviate overcrowding and speed up journeys between key transport hubs in Britain’s capital city. The central section was meant to open in December this year but it has now been delayed until the autumn, Crossrail said.

“The original programme for testing has been compressed by more time being needed by contractors to complete fit-out activity in the central tunnels and the development of railway systems software,” Crossrail said in a statement.

“Testing has started but further time is required to complete the full range of integrated tests.”

More than 200 million passengers are expected to use the Elizabeth line every year once it is operational.

Transport for London said it was working closely with Crossrail to ensure all necessary work was completed.

“The delayed opening is disappointing, but ensuring the Elizabeth line is safe and reliable for our customers from day one is of paramount importance,” said Mark Wild, London Underground and Elizabeth line Managing Director.

By Costas Pitas

 

 

Saudi Aramco hopes of a trillion-dollar stock market listing in London shelved

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Thur, 23 Aug 2018) London, Uk – –

Saudi Arabia has abandoned plans for a stock market listing of its state-owned oil colossus, Aramco, in a setback for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s push for reform.

The group of bankers assembled for what would have been the biggest ever float has been disbanded without fanfare. The budget for financial advisers, which included JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and HSBC, who were called in to assist with the deal has not be renewed since June, Reuters reported.

The decision raises questions for City authorities who relaxed Britain’s listing rules in an attempt to attract Aramco to the London market in competition with New York and Hong Kong.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) created a new category for sovereign-controlled companies under its “premium” umbrella, despite opposition from major business groups and investors. The Institute of Directors said it was “deeply disappointed” by the move which it claimed marked a “reduction in standards” for corporate governance.

The UK Government also offered $2bn loan to try and secure the deal. 
 Saudi Arabia announced plans to float around 5pc of Aramco in 2016 worth as much as $100bn, as the centrepiece of the young Crown Prince’s attempts to liberalise the Kingdom and build economic ties with Western nations.

At the time, it was predicted to a listing would value Aramco at as more than $2 trillion, although the figure has since been disputed by analysts as too high.

The Crown Prince embarked on a tour of potential listing venues as governments and financial authorities rolled out the red carpet.

President Trump tweeted last November that he “would very much appreciate Saudi Arabia doing their IPO of Aramco with the New York Stock Exchange”. As recently as March the Saudi energy minister said that London remained in contention and Aramco’s annual report released this month said preparations for the “landmark event” were continuing.
 However a Saudi source familiar with the plans said: “The decision to call off the IPO was taken some time ago, but no-one can disclose this, so statements are gradually going that way – first delay then calling off.”

 

 

A senior financial advisor, said: “The message we have been given is that the IPO has been called off for the foreseeable future”.

The Crown Prince has pursued a range of investment plans as part of a so-called Vision 2030, a bid to turn the country into a global investment powerhouse and reduce its dependence on demand for oil. The expected proceeds of an Aramco float were viewed as key pillar of plan.

Aramco is now focused on the purchase of “strategic stake” in petrochemicals maker Saudi Basic Industries Corp from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund PIF.

It has held talks with the entrepreneur Elon Musk over a potential $82bn buyout of the electric carmaker Tesla, but doubts have mounted in recent days. PIF is said to be considering a smaller investment of just $1bn in Lucid Motors, a Tesla rival set up by former Tesla engineers.

The Crown Prince’s attempt to build international links suffered another blow this month when a diplomatic row with Canada spilled over into the financial markets. Canadian assets were sold off by Saudi-backed funds following criticism of the treatment of human rights activists in the Kingdom.

Some analysts believe the sell-off has damaged the Kingdom’s standing as a potential investment hub.

 

 

Mulberry shares fall 30% on £3m House of Fraser hit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 20th Aug 2018) London, Uk – –

Shares in luxury handbag maker Mulberry plunged 30% after it said it was setting aside £3m to cover the cost of House of Fraser's troubles.

The company also warned full-year profits could be “materially reduced” if current tough UK trading continued into the second half of the year.

Mulberry operates 21 House of Fraser concessions, employing 88 people.

It was owed about £2.4m when the department store collapsed and fell into administration.

House of Fraser was then bought by Sports Direct, but its owner, Mike Ashley, has said he will not pay creditors for debts incurred before the takeover.

Mr Ashley says he intends to turn it into the “Harrods of the High Street”, but it is not clear how many of the stores he will keep on.

‘Challenging' trading
IMulberry said: “Since the group reported in June 2018, the UK market has continued to remain challenging and sales in House of Fraser stores have been particularly affected.

“If these sales trends in the UK continue into the key trading period of the second half of the financial year, the group's profit for the whole year will be materially reduced.”

Shares later recovered some ground to be about 23% lower at 440p, valuing the company at £283m.

House of Fraser owes big brands millions
Mike Ashley vows to keep most HoF open
Six reasons behind the High Street crisis
Mulberry, whose handbags cost around £1,000, makes more than 70% of its revenue from the UK.

However, it said trading in the rest of the world continued to develop “broadly in line with expectations” and it had signed a deal this month to set up Mulberry Korea.

The company said it was in a strong cash position and continued to follow its strategy to develop Mulberry into a global luxury brand.

Rebecca O'Keeffe, from Interactive Investor, pointed out that Mulberry's shares have lost half their value this year: “There is no doubt that House of Fraser has compounded their problems, but the underlying UK issues are deep-rooted as they struggle against lower footfall and fewer tourists.

“The company is trying to shift its focus internationally and that is helping to mitigate falls in UK demand, but the sustained problems in the UK can't be ignored.”

 

How door knocking changed this young man’s life from east London to the City

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Sat, 11 Aug 2018) London, Uk – –

Reggie Nelson was fed up with the world around him after his dad died. An inspirational chat led to Reggie deciding to take a risk knocking on the doors of the wealthy to find out how they amassed their wealth. One day a door opened.

This is his story.

Produced and Filmed by Cebo Luthuli

 

House of Fraser plan to close 31 of its 59 shops in January

Flickr/Alex Liivet

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 6th Aug 2018) London, Uk – –

 

House of Fraser has settled a legal row with a group of landlords removing one hurdle to a potential rescue deal.

The deal means the department store chain can go ahead with its plan to close 31 of its 59 shops in January.

The landlords had argued slashing rents on remaining stores was unfair to them, putting the rescue plan in jeopardy.

However, the deal will not be enough to safeguard House of Fraser's future, with it now urgently seeking fresh investment in order to survive.

House of Fraser said it was now “focused on concluding discussions with interested investors” and the out-of-court settlement with the landlords had removed “any risk to those discussions”.

Potential suitors for the chain include Philip Day, owner of Edinburgh Woollen Mills, and whose retail empire includes Peacocks, Jane Norman, Austin Reed and Jaeger.

Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley, who already owns an 11% stake in House of Fraser, also approached the chain in July over a potential investment deal.

Mr Ashley is understood to have not communicated with House of Fraser's financial advisers' Rothschilds since then, and The Sunday Times has suggested he is unlikely to proceed with a rescue deal due to concerns over the chain's pension funds.

However, industry insiders say House of Fraser's two defined-benefit pension funds are fully funded.

Other names in the frame as possible saviours include investment funds Alteri, an offshoot of US hedge fund Apollo, and Hilco, both of which specialise in buying up troubled firms and turning their performance around.

The chain's future has been thrown into doubt after Hong Kong-listed C.banner, owner of Hamleys, pulled out of plans to take control and invest £70m in the retailer.

‘Matter of weeks'
Richard Lim, boss of independent research consultancy Retail Economics, says it is still “hard to know with any certainty just what will happen next at House of Fraser.”

“But it is in desperate need of a rescue package. Without any external funding it is inevitable it will fall into administration.

“Funding will have to be in place within a matter of weeks, rather than any longer period, if House of Fraser is to have a fighting chance to ensure its future.”

The retailer employs 17,500 people – 6,000 direct and 11,500 concession staff.

House of Fraser is using company voluntary arrangements (CVAs), a form of insolvency proceedings, to overhaul its business.

CVAs are being increasingly used by struggling retailers as a way to close stores, but landlords argue that they are being abused as a quick way to cut rents.

Mark Fry of Begbies Traynor and Charlotte Coates of JLL, who advised the group of House of Fraser landlords throughout the CVA process and subsequent legal challenge, said they were pleased with the settlement.

“The retail CVA process in the UK has become increasingly misused and prejudiced against landlords and needs correcting.

“CVAs were designed as a means to rescue a business, not simply a tool to shed undesirable leases for the benefit of equity shareholders,” they added in a statement.

House of Fraser is one of a number of retailers struggling amid falling consumer confidence, rising overheads, the weaker pound and the growth of online shopping.

Electronics chain Maplin and toy chain Toys R Us both collapsed into administration earlier this year.

Other High Street chains such as Mothercare and Carpetright have been forced to close stores in order to survive.

 

 

The Selfridges “Billionaire’s Soft Serve” Ice Cream With Edible Diamonds selling for $130

 

Selfridges department store in London is selling a luxury ice cream for £99 which contains 24-carat gold leaf. The ice cream is called “Billionaire's Soft Serve” and it weighs 350 grams. Here's a run down of what you get for your money.

 

Theresa May warned lack of Brexit clarity causing businesses to lose patience

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 3rd July 2018) London, Uk – –

A leading business lobby group appeals for government in-fighting over Brexit to stop and focus instead on the national interest.

Theresa May is being warned that businesses are running out of patience on the lack of Brexit clarity, more than two years after the vote to leave the EU.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) urged politicians to cast aside “squabbling” and work in the national economic interest to remove uncertainty over tax, tariffs, customs and regulation.

The lobby group intervened in the debate as the PM prepares to host a key cabinet Brexit meeting at Chequers on Friday at which key negotiating positions are expected to be agreed.

The BCC's frustration echoes that expressed by Airbus and BMW last week – companies which then faced criticism for speaking out from ministers including Jeremy Hunt and Liam Fox.

Boris Johnson reportedly said “f*** business” in response.

:: Johnson defends Rees-Mogg as Brexit in-fighting intensifies

Sky News reported on Monday how the government had since moved to smooth relations with business through an invitation for top companies to hold talks with the Brexit Secretary David Davis.

BCC director-general, Adam Marshall, warned that a lack of decisions had resulted in a significant slowdown in business investment.

He said: “Over the past two years, businesses have been patient.

“We have supported the Government's drive to seek the best possible deal for the UK economy.

:: MPs request Bank and Treasury Brexit analysis

“Now, with the time running out ahead of the UK's exit from the EU, business patience is reaching breaking point.

“Businesses have every right to speak out when it is abundantly clear that the practical questions affecting the competitiveness of their firms and the livelihoods of millions of people remain unanswered.

“With less than nine months go to until Brexit day, we are little closer to the answers businesses need than we were the day after the referendum.

“It's time for politicians to stop the squabbling and the Westminster point-scoring – and start putting the national economic interest first.”

The BCC argued that firms had clarity on only two of 23 key Brexit questions it had compiled.

The government said it was confident of getting a deal to ensure trade would remain “as free and frictionless as
possible”.

A spokesperson added: “Ministers continue to work closely with business to understand their concerns and by successfully negotiating the implementation period with the EU until December 2020, companies can carry on trading with confidence on the same terms as they do now”.

By James Sillars