BP annual profits soar to £4.4bn on higher oil prices



(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 6 Feb 2018 London, Uk – –

BP has unveiled the clearest sign yet that the oil major is emerging from the gloom of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the global market downturn, with a $6.2bn (£4.4bn) profit boom for 2017.

The FTSE 100 energy giant’s better than expected full-year results revealed strong operating cash flows, which were driven higher by the recovery in global oil prices and a 12pc growth in BP’s oil and gas business.

BP made $6.2bn in replacement cost profits, its standard measure of profitability, for the full year compared to just $2.6bn in 2016 when oil prices were at their lowest ebb. In the final quarter of last year alone BP made $2.1bn, up from just $400m in the last quarter of 2016.

BP boss Bob Dudley said last year was “one of the strongest years in BP’s recent history”, which will accelerate the momentum of the the group’s five-year plan as it enters its second year.

Brian Gilvary, BP’s chief financial officer, added that the group’s cash flows were now “back in balance” as it undertakes the start of its programme to buy back the shares it paid out to shareholders in lieu of dividends during the oil market rout.

BP spent $343m on share buy backs in the final quarter, which Mr Gilvary said more than offset the scrip dividends offered in September.

The group’s rigorous discipline on spending has brought BP’s costs down from $60 a barrel to $53 a barrel and will remain in place for 2018 to allow further buybacks, Mr Gilvary added.

But the tight reign on spending has nonetheless driven “the most activity we’ve seen in recent years if not in the history of the company”, he said.

BP is working hard to grow its production portfolio after years of austerity. It will start up five new oil and gas projects this year and also undertake “measured” investments in new energies including biofuels and electricity.




Homebase DIY chain owners plan possible closure of up to 40 stores

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 6 Feb 2018) London, Uk – –

Wesfarmers is writing off £584m against the value of the DIY chain – more than the value it paid for the business two years ago.

The Australian owner of Homebase plans to close up to 40 stores after writing off hundreds of millions of pounds over its botched takeover of the DIY chain two years ago.

Wesfarmers boss Rob Scott admitted to a series of “self-induced” blunders as he revealed a £584m impairment charge against the UK business – more than the £340m it paid for it in 2016.

The errors included dropping popular lines for kitchens and bathrooms and underestimating winter demand for a range of items from heaters to cleaning and storage products.

Wesfarmers is now reviewing the future of Homebase's 234-store network, with a sale not ruled out, and 20 to 40 loss-making stores planned for closure.

It did not say how many job losses would be involved in the closures, which are expected to take place in the current financial year to the end of June.

The company had hoped its purchase of the chain would replicate the success of its Bunnings brand, and has started to rebrand some of the stores under the Australian chain's name.

But it now expects the UK business to record an underlying loss of £97m for the six months to 30 December after a “poor trading performance” from Homebase.

Wesfarmers is also knocking off £454m of the company's so-called “goodwill” and brand-name value, plus writing off £130m linked to store closure costs, excess or unsuitable stock, and tax.

It also announced the retirement of Bunnings UK managing director Peter Davis.

Michael Schneider, head of the Bunnings group, said: “A significant amount of change has been driven through Homebase since the acquisition, and the disruption caused by the rapid repositioning of the business has contributed to greater than expected losses across the Homebase network.

“Sales have been affected as non-core categories and concessions were exited ahead of the implementation of the Bunnings format, and investments in price and new ranges have not offset these lost sales.

“Trading was particularly weak during the latter part of the first half of the 2018 financial year.”

Mr Scott said: “A lot of the underlying causes of the losses we've reported today have been through our own doing.

“Similarly we see an opportunity to undo some of those issues and improve performance.”

Shares in Wesfarmers fell 4.5% while in the UK, Kingfisher – owner of Homebase's rival B&Q – was up by 2.3%, one of just a handful of risers in a broad sell-off on London's FTSE 100.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas



Lloyds Banking Group bans customers buying crypto-currencies on their credit cards

Money Bright/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 5 Feb 2018) London, Uk – –

Lloyds Banking Group has banned its customers from buying Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies on their credit cards.

The ban, starting on Monday, applies to Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland, Halifax and MBNA customers.

It will not apply to debit cards, only to the banking group's eight million credit card customers.

The move follows a sharp fall in the value of digital currencies, prompting fears about people running up debts.

Lloyds is concerned it could end up footing the bill for unpaid debts should the price continue to fall.

Explaining the ban, a Lloyds spokeswoman said: “We continually review our products and procedures and this is part of that.”

Bitcoin ended last week down 30% at $8,291.87 – its worst week since April 2013 and far below the $19,000 it reached last November.

However, the cryptocurrency is still ahead of the $1,000 it was trading at this time last year.

Police have warned that digital currencies remain popular among criminals as they can use them to evade traditional money laundering checks and other regulations.

Prime Minister Theresa May recently said that action against digital currencies may be required “precisely because of the way they are used, particularly by criminals”.

She told Bloomberg: “In areas like cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, we should be looking at these very seriously.”

The Treasury said that it intends to update regulation to bring virtual currency platforms into anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulation.

Facebook recently announcedit would block any advertising that promotes cryptocurrency products and services.



FTSE fell to its lowest in two months over inflation and rising bond worries

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Mon, 5 Feb 2018) London, UK —

MILAN (Reuters) – The UK’s top share index fell to its lowest level in around two months on Monday as worries over inflation and rising bond yields took their toll on global equity markets.

The FTSE .FTSE fell 1.1 percent by 0929 GMT, while the mid-cap index .FTMC declined 1.3 percent. The FTSE is down more than 4 percent year to date, partly weighed down by a continued recovery in the pound from its post-Brexit lows.

On Monday the FTSE was on track for its fifth consecutive day of losses, its longest losing streak since November, in a broad-based sell-off where only a handful of stocks were trading in positive territory.

“Equity nervousness seems to be about repricing for higher yields and tighter Fed policy and the fear that the bond market has broken out of its three-decade bull market,” said Neil Wilson, analyst at ETX Capital in London.

Asian shares fell the most in over a year on Monday as fears of resurgent inflation battered bonds toppled Wall Street from record highs and sparked speculation that central banks globally might be forced to tighten policy more aggressively.

Shares in miners Anglo American (AAL.L) and Glencore (GLEN.L) rose 1 and 0.3 percent respectively as the sector found support in a rebound in metal prices.

Randgold (RRS.L) rose in early trading after the African gold miner reported 2017 profit up 14 percent thanks to increased production and said it would double its annual dividend.

Its shares however succumbed to the broader weakness, turning 1 percent lower.

An outperformer was Kingfisher (KGF.L), which rose 1.9 percent to the top of the FTSE.

Traders said the stock was supported by hopes for an easing of competition after rival Wesfarmers (WES.AX) wrote off British hardware chain Homebase for more than its purchase price, saying it had made a series of mistakes

Tesco fell 0.6 percent, outperforming the broader market.

Britain’s biggest retailer forecast profit for the full 2017-18 year slightly ahead of analysts’ expectations and confirmed it would pay a final dividend.

Ryanair (RYA.L) fell more than 3 percent.

The airline posted a 12 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit but warned of possible further disruption by pilots and said it was not optimistic about average fares in European short-haul in the summer.

Financials and consumer staple stocks were the biggest weight to the FTSE, taking a combined of 26 points off the blue chip index.

By  Danilo Masoni


Will Smith shares his success philosophy


He's the only actor to have eight consecutive films gross over $100 million in the domestic box office. He has been ranked as the most bankable star worldwide by Forbes. As of 2016, his films have grossed $7.5 billion at the global box office. For his performances in Ali, and in The Pursuit of Happyness, Smith received nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor. He has won four Grammy Awards. He turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix in favor of Wild Wild West. In 2005, Smith was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for attending three premieres in a 24-hour time span.




The Range Rover Velar 2018 instantly recognisable descendant of the original luxury SUV family


In Norway, minimalist design reigns. Clean lines and unfussy surfacing abounds, from the weather-beaten farmhouses and modern commercial buildings that dot the landscape, to the Scandinavian furniture and clothing carefully curated inside them. It's all form-follows-function, it's all gorgeous, and it's no accident that none of it distracts from the country's omnipresent scenic vistas. The same is true inside the Velar's beautifully appointed cabin, where a brand-new infotainment interface, Touch Pro Duo, takes up residence in the center stack. The Intel-quad-core based system features twin 10-inch touchscreen TFT displays, one in the traditional mid-dash location, and the other canted just ahead of the drive selector, with a pair of ringed knobs poking through. The setup looks impressively simple — almost worryingly so. Land Rover has greatly reduced the amount of switchgear in the cabin, a practice that has become something of a car-designer obsession these days. The result of such approaches always seems to look pleasing, but too often comes with a heavy toll on ergonomics and usability. Fortunately, I'd have a couple of days behind the wheel to suss out whether that's the case with the Velar.



The Union Hand-Roasted Coffee co-founder Jeremy Torz talks combining ethics with profits


Here's just some of the fun we had on our stand at this year's London Coffee Festival.

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Sat, 3 Feb 2018) London, Uk – –

“An immunologist and optician walk into a coffee shop” sounds like the beginning of a naff joke, but for Steven Macatonia and Jeremy Torz,
it perfectly describes the origin of their journey to co-founding
Union Hand-Roasted Coffee.

“It all started in the late Eighties, when Steven went on what should have been a six-month sabbatical to the US,” remembers Torz, an optician who decided to join his partner on the American west coast in Palo Alto.

During their stay there, the duo noticed the emergence of a craft coffee scene, with a handful of new shops serving up a fresh take on a traditional cup of joe.

In one store, Peet's Coffee, they found a dark roast that was sweet, heavy and rich. “We had never tasted anything like it,” says the founder. “It was a different time then; there were no chains or espresso bars like there are now, and takeaway coffee wasn't a thing.”

The only place to order a cup back home was at a burger bar or greasy spoon, he says. But Stateside things were changing and the coffee-drinking duo were inspired.

“That six-month stay turned into four years,” jokes Torz, who
took a store job at Peet's to learn as much as he could about the business of coffee. Macatonia continued his science work, but the pair were always on the edge of doing their own thing.

In 1994, the couple returned to the UK to create their own coffee bean company, selling all their possessions, moving in with Macatonia's parents, and renting a small workshop that was kitted out with
a roasting machine.

They grew their wholesale idea into a successful venture, piggybacking off a flourishing food and drink scene to supply beans to respected restaurants. Not long after, they merged with the Seattle Coffee Company before being bought by Starbucks in 1998.

“We stayed on and learned a lot, but the corporate life wasn't for us,” says Torz, who left with Macatonia in 2000.

The co-founders wanted another crack at the coffee market.
“We always wanted to buy coffee directly from farms, so we went to Guatemala to see what growing looked like,” explains the entrepreneur. “We found third and fourth-generation coffee-producing families tearing up trees because they couldn’t afford to keep growing.”

They witnessed poverty, hunger and hardship – and it felt wrong. “There we all were [back home], blithely drinking amazing coffee without considering the source,” says Torz, who figured that there had to be a better way.

Their new roast and supply business, Union, would be just that: a bridge between the two ends of the supply chain. “We wanted to help the producer, while educating consumers and getting them to appreciate this commodity.”

Since day one of its launch in 2001, the Union team has made an intentional and explicit effort to work with growers.

“For a lot of families and farmers, coffee-growing is based on the
simple need to harvest as quickly as possible to make money,” says Torz. “But if you take more time and care, you produce a higher-quality bean that's worth more per kilo, so producers earn more.”

To embed that concept among growers, the team work from the grassroots up. “We get in there to understand communities at their level,” he explains. “We make a large time commitment to be overseas.”

And by understanding each community’s individual issues and idiosyncrasies, Union can help to change things. The support that
it offers ranges from the financial (multi-year commitments to buy at a guaranteed minimum price, for example) to promotional (PR and marketing campaigns that promote regions to other roasters around the world).

“In western Ethiopia, where I’m working now, we’re running workshops on community organisation and agricultural work, such as pruning coffee trees and managing soil,” says the co-founder.

“We’re not just there as a purchaser; we’re a stakeholder.”

It’s an approach that did (and still does)
set the company apart from its competitors, thinks Torz: “We’re not just coming to a country, finding the tastiest coffee, buying from the producer and not being there for them next year.”

But not everything went as well as it could early on; looking back,
Torz thinks that he didn’t get people in early enough:

“We tried to do too much ourselves – we spread ourselves too thinly.”

It’s common, he explains, for founders to believe that they’re
the only ones capable of understanding the complexities of their business and how it must be driven and represented. “But it’s vital that you bring in outside experts,” he says. “The real skill of the entrepreneur is to give a clear brief to those people; ask appropriate questions of them; and take a considered approach to their suggestions.

“You have to invest in quality people; if we had done that earlier,
we would have grown faster and without wasting money in the early years.”

The firm is in a healthy place today, with 75 staff and an annual turnover of £12.5m. It also recently acquired the Edinburgh-based Brew Lab, a specialty coffee bar that Torz says will enable Union to get closer to the end customer.

“The biggest challenge as a wholesaler is that you’re always the best supporting actor and never the lead role. It’s difficult to bond and build a long-term relationship with the consumer.”

The shop will also be a live testing ground, he adds: “Obviously it has to be profitable, but through it we can learn about how the barista team works, what the customers say and like, and experiment with new brews.”

Torz is confident that we haven’t reached peak coffee just yet:

“It’s such a social product – just look at the modern office; workplaces now create coffee bars instead of meeting rooms.”

And the future is particularly promising for indie companies:

“You used to have to spend a fortune on securing a prime high-street spot, but now you can be off-prime, because people will seek you
out if you give them a quality product and an inviting, friendly atmosphere.”



The London restaurant transformed into a cherry blossom landscape

A restaurant in London has been transformed with a cherry blossom installation to honour the annual Japanese tradition.

The Shochu bar also introduced bespoke cocktails for the occasion.

Watch the video above to see the intricate design which hangs from the ceiling and is only in place for a limited time only.

Filming for this shoot took place at the cherry blossom installation at Shochu, the basement bar below ROKA Charlotte Street.



Medopad UK healthcare startup plans $120m fund raise in China deal

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 2 Feb 2018) London, Uk – –

UK healthcare startup is planning to raise $120m (£84m) in what would be one of the largest early-stage funding rounds for a British company.

Medopad creates a mobile app that lets doctors remotely monitor and connect to patients and give them health data. The company's app can be modified to a number of medical conditions, from cancer to heart disease, sending real time data to smartphones or be set to work with wearables like the Apple Watch.

Founded in 2011, Medopad has secured the first part of its funding round, with $28m led by major participation from Chinese infrastructure group NWS Holdings. It expects to raise the rest in the coming months.

If it secures the full $120m, the deal would make Medopad one of the UK's most valuable startups, although the company would not comment on a valuation. It would also be one of the biggest Series A investments, an early funding stage, of any British company.

Medopad has been prominently backed by Prime Minister Theresa May during her trade trip to China. During the trip, Medopad announced it had secured £100m worth of trade deals with 15 partners, including Chinese tech giant Tencent, which owns the messaging service WeChat, and hardware maker Lenovo.

The Tencent deal could see the companies developing artificial intelligence technologies to support doctors' decision-making.

Medopad chief executive Dan Vahdat accompanied Mrs May on her visit to China, where the Prime Minister met with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Mr Vahdat said: “The trip has been an amazing success for us. There's been a big push from Theresa May's visit, which has given us an accelerated number of deals and partnerships.”

China's ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming wrote in the Telegraph this week the visit “offers the opportunity to shift the China-UK ‘Golden Era' into a higher gear and upgrade bilateral relations”.

Medopad is set to expand globally following its new Chinese backing. The company said it would create 500 new jobs in the UK by 2020 as a result of the funding round. UBS acted as financial adviser on the deal.

By Matthew Field



Morrisons to axe 1,500 managerial jobs to invest more in customer experience

The country's fourth-largest supermarket chain joins rivals in seeking to cut costs in a restructuring of store staff.

Morrisons has announced plans to axe 1,500 managerial jobs to allow investment in bolstering its customer experience.

The supermarket chain followed rivals Tesco and Sainsbury's in announcing a restructuring of store operational roles.

Morrisons said that while it was cutting managerial positions, it was planning to hire 1,700 customer assistants – lower paid jobs.

It said that the 1,500 staff affected by the decision would not all necessarily lose their work as the chain currently had 800 managerial vacancies they could apply for.

Gary Mills, Morrisons retail director, said: “Our aim is to serve customers better with more frontline colleagues in stores improving product availability and helping customers at the checkouts.

“Very regrettably, there will be a period of uncertainty for some managers affected by these proposals and we'll be supporting them through this important process.

“Our commitment is to redeploy as many affected colleagues as possible.”

Morrisons – like its so-called ‘big four' rivals – has not been immune from the challenge posed to their dominance by discounters such as Aldi and Lidl which have been growing their market shares rapidly since the financial crisis.

Supermarket margins have been placed under pressure by the competition – exacerbated since 2017 by the Brexit-linked fall in the value of the pound which forced up import costs – costs which have been partly passed on to shoppers.

Morrisons has been among the strongest performers, in terms of its recovery under chief executive David Potts who reported stronger Christmas sales after a previously poor festive season, in 2014, saw his predecessor lose his job.

Joanne McGuinness, from the USDAW shopworkers' union, said: “This is a further big upheaval for the Morrisons store management team after the restructure in 2014/15.

“We will be entering into consultations with the company on behalf of our members affected by these changes, which the company proposes to implement in April.”

She added: “Our priorities are to avoid redundancies and help our members stay employed within the business.

“We have secured from Morrisons a commitment to offer redeployment opportunities for all affected managers.”

By James Sillars, Business Reporter




BT’s Openreach to connect fibre broadband into 3 million premises by the end of 2020

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 1 Feb 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – BT’s Openreach said it would connect fibre broadband into 3 million premises by the end of 2020, kicking off a drive to build the ultrafast network that Britain’s homes and businesses have lacked.

Openreach, the country’s national broadband infrastructure provider, said it would recruit 3,000 engineers in 2018 to ramp up its roll out of fibre into premises which can guarantee much faster speeds for users.

The biggest three tech giants in the US to release results in race to trillion dollars


(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Thur, 1 Feb 2018) London, Uk – –

When it comes to predictions for 2018, most financial analysts agree on one thing: one tech firm is likely to become America’s first ever trillion dollar company.

The question is: which one will it be?

On Thursday, we’ll get a big clue as to who might hit that incredible milestone first, as the three biggest tech giants in the US release their latest results.

Could it be Apple?

That largely depends on its latest and supposedly greatest smartphone, the iPhone X.

If sales are strong – and they'll need to be very strong – Apple’s value will hurtle towards a trillion dollars in no time at all.

With a higher price tag – $999 – the iPhone X wouldn't need to break sales records in order to draw record profits, and convince investors Apple still has the ability to bring innovation to its biggest product line by far.

But there have been reports lately that suggested Apple could cut its production targets for the device by almost half. That’s not what investors wanted to hear.

Still, even if iPhone X sales are modest, the company is still expected to report revenue growth of more than 10%. That would put it nicely on track to hit a market value of $1tn by the end of the year.

To increased synergies, and beyond

But Amazon might get there first.

Chief executive Jeff Bezos is now comfortably the world’s richest man. The share price of his company rose by more than 50% in 2017.

Most of that was fuelled by big growth in its cloud business – Amazon Web Services.

But the company now also has Whole Foods in its portfolio. There is talk of “increased synergy opportunities” here – the overlap of Amazon tech and Whole Foods physical locations could be extremely lucrative. The opening of one concept retail store last month was enough to give shares a bounce. Surely just the beginning.

What will probably hold Amazon’s value back, however, is the rate at which it will spend money. It is expected to spend more than $4bn creating content for its Prime TV service as it continues to tussle with Netflix.

There's continued investment to be made in its Alexa assistant. Last year, Amazon told us it had more than 5,000 people working on developing the technology, which is going toe-to-toe with Google's assistant system.

And in an effort to bring quicker delivery of more stuff to more people, Amazon is also opening more fulfilment centres in markets all over the world.

So that's a lot of spending – and that’s before it starts building its second headquarters, wherever that may end up being. No wonder GBH Insight's Daniel Ives told Amazon investors they were looking at a period of “short-term pain” but “long-term gain”.

Alphabet's hardware play

OK then, so what about Alphabet?

The parent company of Google is expected to report overall revenues that are up by about 20% on this time last year. But, as ever, that’s mostly from search advertising and YouTube, its big earners.

If Alphabet is to get over that trillion-dollar mark, it’ll need to boost income from areas other than advertising.

Keep a close eye on how well its hardware is performing – the Pixel 2 phones came out last year, and there was a huge marketing push for its Google Home assistant.

Did it work? When it comes to hardware, Alphabet isn't in the same league as Apple. But any promising signs there would have investors jumping for joy. So too would big gains in cloud computing – which is another thing analysts unanimously expect. Google's market dominance in artificial intelligence could be useful if it wants to close the gap on Amazon Web Services.

As I write this, it's Apple, with a value of $860bn, which is closest to that $1tn mark. Amazon rests at just under $700bn, while Alphabet jostles at $817bn. Which one will make it past this phenomenal, symbolic milestone?

You know, maybe they all will.



Thousands of free-to-use Uk cash machines may close due cut in operators fee


(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 31 Jan 2018) London, Uk – –

Thousands of free-to-use cash machines could be closed because of a cut in the fee  receive from banks each time an ATM is used, the industry has warned.

However, the fee will be unchanged for free-to-use ATMs which are 1km or more from the next nearest cash machine.

The move is an attempt by Link, which oversees ATMs, to encourage operators to place machines in more remote areas.

But the ATM industry body said the move would see up to 30,000 ATMs disappear.

The fee, known as the interchange rate, will be reduced from 25p to 20p per withdrawal, in annual steps over four years, to protect the network, according to Link.

The cut in the fee will take effect from 1 July. The situation will be reviewed each year to assess the impact on consumers.

Who do we trust after cash?
The High Streets with ‘too many' ATMs
Link said that the move, alongside other measures, would “shift the incentive” for operators which have been clustering ATMs in city centres to move some to rural and less affluent areas.

An extra subsidy of 10p per withdrawal, currently available to 300 ATMs, will be tripled to 30p for some of the cash machines in areas with little access to cash.

John Howells, chief executive of Link, said: “The UK has a near record number of ATMs, yet the recent growth has led to the majority of these being placed in busy areas where there simply is no need for a new ATM.

“The combination of a reduction of the interchange, with the significant strengthening of the Financial Inclusion Programme, will begin to rebalance the network, making sure we protect and install new ATMs in locations that really need them.”

The confirmed plans have been criticised by the industry and some consumer groups.

Ron Delnevo, executive director of the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA), said that the current network of 55,000 ATMs was “providing financial inclusion everywhere”.

“To lose any of them would be a disaster, but we will lose 25,000 to 30,000 from these measures if they are allowed to go ahead, which they should not,” he said.

Consumer group Which? said the move could lead to “mass closures” of free-to-use machines, adding to the 200 communities in Britain that already had poor ATM provision, or no cash machines at all.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) called for a full public consultation on Link's plans.

He said the FSB was not convinced that the proposals included enough protection for vulnerable communities.

“There's no guarantee that having everyone within a kilometre of a cashpoint will be enough to meet demand. Equally, we need to question whether it's right to make vulnerable ATM users travel a kilometre every time they need cash.

The Treasury Committee of MPs has also expressed concern over whether there will be an even spread of ATMs across the country. Any big fall in the number of cash machines would “clearly be of concern”, said Nicky Morgan, who chairs the committee.



Blackstone to take control of Thomson Reuters data arm in $17bn deal

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – wed, 31 January 2018) London, Uk – –

The private equity giant Blackstone is launching an attack on Bloomberg’s dominance of Wall Street and City trading floors via a $17bn (£12bn) debt-fuelled deal for control of the Thomson Reuters financial data business.

Under the deal, confirmed on Tuesday evening, the buyout firm will take a 55pc stake in the Thomson Reuters Financial & Risk division, which has annual revenues of $6.1bn.

It has struggled to dent Bloomberg’s lead in the lucrative financial data business despite adding heft when the family-controlled Canadian company Thomson bought Reuters in 2008.

Blackstone’s plan to make the Financial & Risk division independent under its direction sparked speculation yesterday that Bloomberg will face a stiffer challenge in future. It currently controls a third of the market, compared to less than a quarter for Thomson Reuters.

The Thomson Reuters board approved the deal late on Tuesday, though it still requires regulatory approvals.

It is expected to weaken the ties between the financial data business and the loss-making Reuters news service.

However, Blackstone has agreed to pay a minimum of $325m a year to the news service for 30 years. The fee for carrying news as part of its financial data package would cover Thomson Reuters’ current losses on journalism.

The structure will help guarantee the future of the Reuters newsgathering operation and is thought to be designed to appease the trustees of the Thomson Reuters Founders Share Company. It is designed to preserve Reuters journalism and could seek to block a transaction if it perceives a threat.

Blackstone will pay Thomson Reuters $17bn for control of its financial data division, comprised of $3bn cash and $14bn borrowed against the newly independent business.

As well as its news operation, Thomson Reuters will be left with its Legal and Tax & Accounting divisions. It will retain a 45pc stake in Financial & Risk.

By Christopher Williams




Ryanair makes historical agreement to recognise British pilots union for the first time



(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 30 Jan 2018) London, Uk – –

The British Airline Pilots' Association will now officially represent the no-frills carrier's UK-based pilots for the first time.

The UK's pilots union has been given official recognition status by Ryanair for the first time in the airline's 32-year history.

The British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa) said it had signed a “historic” voluntary trade union recognition agreement after the no-frills carrier signalled last month that it was willing to talk to pilot unions across Europe amid a string of disputes.

Ryanair was seen as wanting to limit disruption following a damaging blunder over rotas which led to its decision in the autumn to cancel flights, affecting almost 700,000 customers.

The climbdown over its 32-year refusal to recognise unions led to a planned pre-Christmas strike by Irish-based pilots being abandoned.

Balpa said Ryanair's decision meant it would be representing all 600 of its employed pilots based in the UK.

General secretary Brian Strutton said: “Given Ryanair's previous hostility towards unions, today's agreement is an historic one.

“While we were initially sceptical about Ryanair's sincerity in offering recognition to us and other unions, our conversations and meetings with them have shown that they are genuine in wanting a constructive trade union relationship.

“I am hopeful that this is the beginning of a strong and mutually beneficial relationship between Balpa and Ryanair and I urge Ryanair to agree deals with pilot unions in other countries and with cabin crew unions.”

Chief people officer at Ryanair, Eddie Wilson, said: “This agreement validates the decision of Ryanair's Board in December to recognise unions, and the fact that we have delivered pay rises of up to 20% and union recognition for our pilots in our largest market, shows how serious Ryanair is about working constructively with unions that are willing to work constructively with us.

“This rapid progress in the UK is in marked contrast to some other EU countries where we are still waiting for a response to our recognition proposals and where some unions have failed to put these substantial pay increases to our pilots.

“We now call on these unions to stop wasting time and act quickly to deliver 20% pay increases to our pilots in February, and conclude formal recognition agreements, which they are presently sitting on.

“Ryanair will not allow these unions to delay pay increases to our pilots.

“Today's agreement between Ryanair and Balpa shows that Ryanair can work with unions that wish to work with us to promote the interests of both our pilots and our customers.”

By James Sillars, Business Reporter



BP invests $5 million in U.S. mobile electric vehicle charging company FreeWire

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 30 Jan 2018) London, UK —

(Reuters) – BP Plc (BP.L) said it had invested $5 million (£3.6 million) in U.S. mobile electric vehicle charging company FreeWire, helping it provide rapid charging at its retail sites in Britain and Europe, as demand for cleaner vehicles is expected to soar.

BP joins rival Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), which last year agreed to buy Dutch-based NewMotion, the owner of one of Europe’s largest electric vehicle charging networks, marking the company’s first deal in electric mobility.

The expected rapid growth in the use of electric vehicles in the coming decades is threatening oil companies’ business model as demand for some road fuels could plateau as early as the late 2020s.

BP, whose venturing business invested in FreeWire, said it plans to roll out the San Francisco- based technology firm's Mobi Charger units at selected retail sites in the United Kingdom and Europe this year. on.bp.com/2nquzkl

“Mobility is changing and BP is committed to remaining the fuel retailer of choice into the future. EV charging will undoubtedly become an important part of our business, but customer demand and the technologies available are still evolving,” BP’s Downstream CEO, Tufan Erginbilgic, said.

By Noor Zainab Hussain and Ron Bousso



Automation to put most Jobs at risk in cities that voted ‘most strongly for Brexit,’ think tank claims

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Mon, 29 Jan 2018) London, Uk – –

One in five jobs in Britain will be displaced by 2030 as a result of automation, deepening economic and political divisions across the country, a new report claims.

Around 3.6 million jobs will be taken over by robots and artificial intelligence – with northern and Midlands cities more exposed to job losses than cities in the south.

A report published by the think tank Centre for Cities claims that retail occupations, customer service roles and warehouse jobs are among those most at threat, and national and local leaders “should act now to prepare people and places for the changes ahead”.

The report found that cities in the north and in the Midlands are more at risk of job losses, where around 23pc of jobs are under threat, compared to wealthier cities in the south where 18pc of jobs are in jeopardy.

The report raises concerns that automation will magnify the political dissatisfaction and divisions highlighted by the outcome of the EU referendum in 2016 – with many of the cities most at risk of losing jobs also among those which voted most strongly for Brexit.

Mansfield, for example, is home to the highest share of jobs likely to decline of any UK city, and also had the largest proportion of residents who voted in favour of leaving the EU.

By comparison, the cities with the lowest share of jobs at risk are predominantly affluent places in the south of England, which mostly voted in favour of remaining in the European Union.

Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said that while automation and globalisation will bring huge opportunities to increase prosperity and jobs, “there is also a real risk that many people and places will lose out”.

He said: “In an ever more divided country, it’s increasingly clear that a one-size-fits-all approach from central government is inadequate to address the myriad issues that different places face. The Government needs to give cities more powers and resources to tackle the issues that automation and globalisation will present, and to make the most of the benefits they will bring.”

Mr Carter said that city leaders should be given powers and a direct democratic mandate to tackle the specific challenges in their place.

The report is one of many published out warning of the risks of automation. In November, a study from consultancy McKinsey said as many as 700 million people worldwide could be displaced from their jobs by robots by 2030, particularly if advanced economies switch to new technology rapidly.

If the pace is more modest – as the analysts expect – then around 375m people, or 14pc of all workers, would have to move jobs and retrain.

Research from PwC last year estimated that robots could take up to 30 per cent of UK jobs as soon as 2030 while the Bank of England has estimated that 15 million jobs may be at risk.

A report from the World Economic Forum last week said that those displaced by automation could “easily” be re-employed after retraining and get paid more.

By Sophie Christie



Ikea Swedish furniture founder Ingvar Kamprad has died at the age of 91

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 29 Jan 2018) London, Uk – –

The Swedish founder of the Ikea furniture chain, Ingvar Kamprad, has died at the age of 91, the company has announced.

Mr Kamprad – who pioneered flat-pack furniture – died at his home in Småland, Ikea confirmed in a statement.

The company said that Mr Kamprad was “one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century”.

The billionaire, who was born in 1926 in Småland, founded Ikea at the age of 17.

He used some money his father had given him as a gift for performing well at school despite his dyslexia.

In the later years of his life, Mr Kamprad faced questions over his past links to fascist groups – something he admitted, but said was a “mistake”.

In a statement on Sunday, Ikea said that Mr Kamprad had “peacefully passed away at his home”.

“He worked until the very end of his life, staying true to his own motto that most things remain to be done,” it added. Mr Kamprad eventually stepped down from the company's board in 2013, at the age of 87.

“Ingvar Kamprad was a great entrepreneur of the typical southern Swedish kind – hardworking and stubborn, with a lot of warmth and a playful twinkle in his eye,” the company said.

His company's designs became popular in part because of their simplicity and value.

Mr Kamprad is reported to have come up with the idea of flat-pack furniture after watching an employee remove the legs from a table in order to fit it into a customer's car.

Furniture designer Jeff Banks said that Mr Kamprad's creations radically changed how people made and designed products for the home.

“People have tried to reproduce and copy that, but unsuccessfully,” he said.

Mr Banks added that the designs produced and sold through the retailer made good use of recyclable products, adding that Mr Kamprad was “head and shoulders above the rest”.

Mr Kamprad was renowned for his devotion to frugality, reportedly driving an old Volvo and travelling by economy class.

In a 2016 interview with Swedish television channel TV4, Mr Kamprad said that it was “in the nature of Småland to be thrifty”.

“If you look at me now, I don't think I'm wearing anything that wasn't bought at a flea market,” he said.

He told the channel that he built his business on a “local ethos”.

“We have Småland in the blood, and we know what a krona is – even though it is not as much as it was when we bought candy and went to elementary school,” he said, referring to the Swedish currency.

People took to social media on Sunday to pay their respects to the “greatest Swedish entrepreneur to have ever lived”.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom tweeted her condolences, saying that Mr Kamprad had “put Sweden on the world map”.

Ikea: Key facts

  • Ikea started in 1943 and now has 389 stores worldwide
  • The name comes from Mr Kamprad's initials (IK), together with the name of the farm he grew up on – Elmtaryd (E) – and the nearby village Agunnaryd (A)
  • The company's retail sales totalled 36.4bn euros ($43bn, £30bn) in 2016
  • Its flat-pack furniture became iconic both for its affordability and for its picture-based assembly instructions

Ikea has remained privately-owned under a Dutch trust operated by the Kamprad family. Its complex business structure has drawn controversy and the European Commission said last year that it had launched an investigation into Ikea's tax arrangements.

The European Green Party said that the arrangement had allowed the company to avoid paying some €1bn in tax between 2009 and 2014.

A spokesman for Dutch-based Inter Ikea, one of the company's two divisions, said that the company had been taxed “in accordance with EU rules”.

In an interview in the 1980s, Mr Kamprad said that his vision for Ikea was that it would be a company that would make life easier for its customers.

In more recent years, Mr Kamprad had faced scrutiny over his past links to Nazi groups.

The tycoon revealed some elements of his past in a book in 1988, admitting that he was a close friend of the Swedish fascist activist Per Engdahl, and a member of his New Swedish Movement between 1942 and 1945.

He said that his involvement was youthful “stupidity” and the “greatest mistake” of his life.

But a 2011 book by Elisabeth Asbrink alleged details beyond what Mr Kamprad had previously admitted. She wrote that he was an active recruiter for a Swedish Nazi group, and stayed close to sympathisers well after World War Two.

At the time a spokesman for Mr Kamprad said he had long admitted flirting with fascism, but that there were now “no Nazi-sympathising thoughts in Ingvar's head whatsoever”.





Amazon UK new fulfilment centre in Rugby to create 400 jobs

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Mon, 29 Jan 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Amazon UK (AMZN.O) said on Monday it would open a new fulfilment centre in Rugby, central England, increasing its 2,500-strong workforce in the Midlands by another 400 people.

Rugby will be the fourth Amazon fulfilment centre in the region, and joins centres in Coalville and Daventry, which opened in 2016, and Rugeley, which opened in 2011, the U.S. company said.