PM Boris John grants Huawei ‘limited’ role in Britain’s 5G network

( via– Tue, 28th Jan, 2020) London, Uk – –

The Chinese technology company scores a win but it comes with conditions designed to placate those with security fears.

Huawei will be allowed to play a limited role in the UK's 5G network, the government has said.

Among the conditions for the Chinese company's involvement are:

  • It will be excluded from all safety related and safety critical networks
  • It will be excluded from sensitive geographic locations such as nuclear sites and military bases
  • It will have a 35% cap in periphery (non-sensitive parts) of the 5G network

Sky's defence and security correspondent Alistair Bunkall said: “The National Security Council, on the advice of intelligence agencies, particularly GCHQ, has concluded that having Huawei on the peripheries of 5G can be managed and the security risks can be mitigated.

“It won't be a part of the core elements of 5G provision – that means in theory it won't have oversight of messages, data sharing, for example. Instead it will be limited to the non-core factors – things like provision of aerials and antennas. Even in that respect, its share will be limited to 35%.Huawei decision: Sky correspondents share their take

Analysis: Is 5G safe?

“Actually Huawei's involvement overall will be really pretty limited but it reflects the influence the Chinese telecoms firm has in the technology market – an influence that few others are able to rival.”

He added: “Britain's decision today is likely to be watched very carefully by a lot of other partners, particularly in Europe, who might decide if Britain can include Huawei in their infrastructure, why can't everyone else?”

UK Culture Secretary Baroness Morgan said: “This is a UK-specific solution for UK-specific reasons and the decision deals with the challenges we face right now.

“It not only paves the way for secure and resilient networks, with our sovereignty over data protected, but it also builds on our strategy to develop a diversity of suppliers.

“We can now move forward and seize the huge opportunities of 21st-century technology.”Huawei: The risks explained

Opponents of the idea had feared that allowing the Chinese tech company to build the network would be handing control of infrastructure to Beijing.

There were also concerns that, with Huawei's close links to the Chinese government, the equipment could be used for espionage, something the company has always denied.

After the government's announcement, Huawei vice president Victor Zhang said the company was “reassured”.

He added: “This evidence-based decision will result in a more advanced, more secure and more cost-effective telecoms infrastructure that is fit for the future. It gives the UK access to world-leading technology and ensures a competitive market.”

The debate has caused tension with the US, which had warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson not to approve Huawei, saying it could jeopardise future intelligence-sharing between the members of Five Eyes, an alliance which comprises Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and US.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in London on Wednesday and will meet Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

Sharing an article about the decision on Huawei, Democratic US Senator Chris Murphy tweeted: “America has never been weaker. We have never had less influence.

“Not even our closest ally Britain, with a Trump soulmate in Downing Street, listens to us anymore.”

A number of MPs had also voiced their concerns, among them Tom Tugendhat, who warned that the UK would be “allowing the fox into the hen house”.

After the decision was announced, he tweeted: “Overall, this statement leaves many concerns and does not close the UK's networks to a frequently malign international actor.”

Ciaran Martin, the chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre, said the limits on Huawei's involvement would ensure the UK had a “very strong, practical and technically sound framework for digital security in the years ahead”.

The implementation of 5G is expected to bring download speeds 10 times faster than 4G and is seen as critical to the country's economic future as it leaves the European Union.

Reporting by Sharon Marris

Do Smaller Internet Rivals Offer Greater Privacy Compared to Google and Facebook?

( via – – Sat, 25th Jan 2020) London, Uk – –

“We agree to give these companies ownership of our lives and they are cashing in,” says Edward Armstrong, a freelance copywriter and consultant originally from Newcastle, UK, but now based in London.

He has abandoned using the services of internet giants like Google and Facebook and is using smaller rivals, which promise greater privacy.

“I'm uncomfortable with the power of the major service providers such as Google and Facebook. We think everything is free, but the cost is our data and privacy,” he says.

If Google knows everything you have ever searched for, it has a detailed catalogue of your interests, hopes and fears. Facebook knows who your friends are, what you like and what you talk about online.

Online data scandals have raised concerns about the power that information brings. Facebook is facing a fine of $5bn for its part in the notorious misuse of data by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

Concern is growing. A survey by the Washington-based digital agency Rad Campaign and analytics firm Lincoln Park Strategies last year, for example, found three out of five responders in the US distrust social media when it comes to protecting their privacy.

But amid that distrust, some see opportunity. Is there a demand for a search engine that doesn't store data?

DuckDuckGo was founded in 2008 by Gabriel Weinberg, who wanted to create a new search engine, with better results and less spam.

The search engine, which registers around 50 million searches per day, works in the same way as Google but maintains a simple privacy policy of not storing or sharing personal information.

“We share our most intimate information with search engines – financial, medical, etc – and that information deserves to be private and not used for profiling or data targeting,” the company's communications manager Daniel Davis says.

“People deserve a private alternative to the services they use. They deserve simple tools that empower them to take back their privacy, without any tradeoffs.

“DuckDuckGo Search gets its results from various sources, so we're able to offer relevant results without storing search history or user profiles.”

The technology in the company's app and browser extension goes a step further, protecting users wherever they go on the web by silently blocking third-party trackers in the background, automatically using secure connections to websites, and showing a privacy grade for each website visited.

DuckDuckGo is free, and makes its money through advertising, but the adverts it displays are not based on your history or behaviour. If you search for “car” on DuckDuckGo, you may see a car-related advert, but it will not be influenced by anything you have searched for or browsed in the past.

“We believe the Internet shouldn't feel so creepy, and getting the privacy you deserve online should be as simple as closing the blinds,” Mr Davis says. “We're setting an example that we hope others will follow.”

And others are following. ProtonMail has become the world's largest provider of encrypted email, with 20 million users.

Emails between ProtonMail accounts are automatically protected with end-to-end encryption, meaning the messages are only viewable by the sender and the recipient.

“The messages are encrypted before they reach our servers meaning that even we are unable to read them!” says ProtonMail's founder Andy Yen.

“This also means users' data is safe even in a scenario where ProtonMail's servers are breached as there wouldn't be any usable data to steal.”

ProtonMail is also free to use, and makes its money by charging for upgrades and additional storage.

“Over the last couple of years we're seeing more and more members of the general public and small businesses joining us, most of whom have become more aware of how their data is being gathered and used – and often lost – by companies and governments,” says Mr Yen.

The service has proven popular enough that it has spun out another service, ProtonVPN, which allows users to browse the internet securely and privately.

A similar free, secure browsing service, Brave, blocks the tracking and profiling of users, protecting privacy and making browsing faster, it claims.

It makes money by through advertising, but users have the option to redirect some of those funds back to their favourite sites.

Brave says it has 8.7 million monthly active users and chief product officer David Temkin believes this number will only grow as the world wakes up to what he calls “the negative effects of the surveillance economy”.

“There's a growing sense that something needs to be done and Brave offers a concrete solution now,” Mr Temkin says.

Despite the alternatives, Facebook is growing at an ever-faster rate, hitting 2.45 billion monthly users in the third quarter of 2019, while the likes of WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, and Google are also still increasing their user bases.

It isn't easy to leave services like that behind and Mr Armstrong says that most of his peer group are happy to continue using them.

“I use ProtonMail instead of Gmail; DuckDuckGo instead of Google Search; Firefox for my browser instead of Chrome; and then Signal in place of WhatsApp,” he says.

“The usual reaction is friends don't care. They are pretty happy using the [mainstream] services. I've talked my girlfriend into using [the messaging service] Slack, but she just uses WhatsApp for all her other friends still,” he says.

He hopes this will change over time.

“It is not from lack of education, as the Facebook scandals caused quite a few to get rid of it, so I think it will just take more awareness for people to start moving away.”

By Tom Jackson

Facebook to hire 1,000 London staff this year

( via — Tue, 21st 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Facebook will hire 1,000 people in London this year in roles such as product development and safety as it continues to grow its biggest engineering center outside the United States after Britain leaves the European Union.

Over half of the new jobs will be in technology, including software engineering and data science, Facebook’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa Nicola Mendelsohn said in an interview.

Other roles will be in the “community integrity” team, which makes products to detect and remove harmful content from platforms like Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.

Mendelsohn said London’s appeal was not only in its technology ecosystem but also the strength of its creative industries.

She said that while Facebook’s enthusiasm for London was undimmed, like other tech companies it wanted certainty about Brexit.

“The Johnson government has been very clear about what that looks like, and so we will continue to invest here in London,” she said.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Facebook’s growth was “great news”. “We are committed to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online, alongside being one of the best places for technology companies to be based,” he said.

Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg will announce the new jobs, which will take its total UK employees to more than 4,000, on Tuesday before traveling to the World Economic Forum in Davos with Mendelsohn, where they will meet global leaders, regulators and other business chiefs.

The company is trying to rebuild trust in its platforms after the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, in which a British political consulting firm collected data from Facebook for voter profiling and targeting.

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s public affairs chief and a former British politician, said on Monday that the company will do a better job of preventing bad actors from manipulating this year’s U.S. presidential election than it did four years ago.

Mendelsohn said trust would take time to rebuild.

“We also understand that this is an ongoing important conversation – we want to be part of that conversation,” she said. “We want to be working with policymakers in this area to get to thoughtful policy.”

Facebook has commissioned research to show the economic benefits its platforms bring to businesses in Europe.

The study by Copenhagen Economics, which questioned 7,7320 businesses across 15 countries, estimated Facebook apps helped create 208 billion euros ($230 billion) of economic value last year.

“When you extrapolate that further, what you see is that has resulted in 3.1 million jobs in Europe as a result of people utilizing our platforms,” Mendelsohn said.

Reporting by Paul Sandle and Elizabeth Howcroft

BT and Vodafone plan to warn PM of the risks of banning Huawei

( via– Fri, 17th Jan 2020) London, Uk – –

The companies plan to warn the PM of the risks of banning Huawei from the 5G network, Sky News learns.

Britain's two biggest telecoms companies are preparing to lobby Boris Johnson in support of Huawei's involvement in the UK's 5G communications network.

Sky News has learnt that Vodafone and BT Group are drafting a letter to be sent to the prime minister within days that will reiterate their view that the growth of Britain's digital economy risks being stunted if the Chinese equipment manufacturer is banned.

Telecoms industry sources said that Philip Jansen, BT chief executive, and Nick Read, who runs Vodafone, were contemplating writing to Mr Johnson during the early part of next week.

One source familiar with its prospective content said it would emphasise the priority which both companies placed on the security of their networks, while arguing that they had seen no evidence that would justify an outright ban on Huawei.

The potential intervention of two of the most powerful executives in corporate Britain in support of the Chinese company will not by itself decisively affect the government's decision.

However, industry insiders said it illustrated the concerns of big network providers about the impact of a prohibition against Huawei.

BT and Vodafone are crucial in that context because they are the largest communications suppliers to the public sector, government and critical national infrastructure.

Downing Street is being forced to walk a diplomatic tightrope over the issue, having been lobbied intensively by the Trump administration to block Huawei from the 5G network.

A meeting was reportedly held in London on Monday between British and American security officials at which Washington's view that it would be “nothing short of madness” to allow Huawei's involvement was expressed.

The Daily Telegraph reported this week that President Trump was planning to lobby Mr Johnson directly on the issue before a decision is reached in Whitehall.

The UK security services believe that any security threat from Huawei can be contained by using the company's equipment only at the periphery of the 5G network, rather than at its core.

Beijing is also closely scrutinising the impending verdict from Mr Johnson's government, amid expectations that Anglo-Chinese trade relations will be cast into the deep freeze if Huawei is banned.

The long-running controversy over Huawei stems from its purported links to the Chinese government and its military – which the company has always denied.

Industry executives believe that a decision could be announced by Mr Johnson as soon as next week.

If BT and Vodafone decide to proceed with their joint letter to the PM, it is likely to reflect a widely held industry view that a choice of equipment vendors is required to improve competition in the sector.

Ericsson, the Swedish company, and Finland's Nokia are the two other major players in the industry.

The draft of the letter from Mr Jansen and Mr Read is also understood to refer to the extensive collaboration between the two companies and the National Cyber Security Centre and their ability to manage security risks.

It is also said to call for an evidence-based decision – which Mr Read said publicly at last year's Mobile World Congress conference.

Details of the prospective letter from BT and Vodafone has emerged the day after talks – attended by Mr Jansen – between telecoms executives and Mr Johnson aimed at delivering a roadmap for full-fibre broadband to be connected to every home in Britain by 2025.

Industry bosses believe that that objective could be delayed by five years or more if Huawei equipment has to be stripped out of existing networks and is banned from the UK's 5G infrastructure.

Huawei said: “We strongly agree with the prime minister that ‘the British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology'.”

It said it had invested more than $15bn in research and development last year, and added that it looked forward to “supplying the best technologies that help companies like BT and Vodafone fulfil the government's commitment to make gigabit broadband available to all”.

“We are confident that the UK government will make a decision based upon evidence, as opposed to unsubstantiated allegations,” the spokesman added.

“Two UK parliamentary committees concluded there is no technical reason to ban us from supplying 5G equipment and this week the head of MI5 said, there is ‘no reason to think' the UK's intelligence-sharing relationship with the US would be harmed if Britain continued to use Huawei technology.”

BT and Vodafone declined to comment on Friday.

A Downing Street spokesman said the government was “continuing to consider our position on this and will make a decision in due course”.

By Mark Kleinman

TSB to open a new IT centre in Edinburgh to drive digital banking

( via – – Wed, 15th Jan 2020) London, Uk – –

TSB has announced a new IT centre in Edinburgh to drive forward digital banking as part of a £120m investment, creating 100 technology jobs.

The move is part of a three-year plan announced in the wake of the bank's 2018 IT meltdown and will serve its five million customers.

Edinburgh-based TSB said the investment was about taking the bank forward.

The centre will open in April and will be home to IT specialists, data engineers and analysts.

‘Strong platform'

TSB has also announced a partnership with computing giant IBM, to run its key banking platforms, including ATMs, digital banking and high street branch systems.

Almost two million customers at the bank lost access to online banking services in April 2018, after the bungled introduction of a new computer system.

TSB's customer banking director Robin Bulloch said of the new investment: “I'm deeply sorry for the trouble and inconvenience that was caused at our IT migration, but this about taking the business forward.”

Mr Bulloch told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme the bank's new IT specialists would be building on the “very strong banking platform” TSB had been given by its Spanish owner, Banco Sabadell.

He said customers wanted better online banking, and that new TSB digital services developed in Edinburgh would help customers save and budget, as well as being able to look at their balances and transfer money.

Mr Bulloch added: “IBM are a large-scale IT provider and we're very confident they will help support us in terms of building our propositions and ensuring the on-going stability of our banking platform.”

Half of all TSB products bought by customers are now purchased online, with the bank expecting that to increase to 80%.

That comes as other UK banks, such as RBS, Virgin Money Lloyds and Barclays, race to boost their own digital services.

Mr Bulloch said: “We didn't see too many customers leave us through those difficult times and we're forever grateful for the loyalty of our customers, but we want to make sure we are a bank that appeals to new customers as well.”

The new investment was welcomed by Tracy Black, director of the CBI Scotland business group, who added: “For Scotland to punch above its weight internationally and attract vital overseas investment, we need to send out a clear signal that we're not only open for business but building an economy for the future.

“TSB's significant investment represents an important step in that direction.”

TSB's digital investment comes as the bank also takes forward its previously announced plan to close branches, with 17 outlets shutting in Scotland this year.

“We're seeing less and less footfall in our branches,” said Mr Bulloch.

“It's one of the most difficult decisions that I have to make.

“What we're seeing is more and more customers going online, and for those customers that are going to be impacted by branches that are closing, we work very closely with them to help educate them on other ways of banking, such a over the phone and online.”

Mr Bulloch also said the bank wanted to offer affected customers “reasonable access” access to a TSB branch in “reasonably close proximity”, and that customers were able to pay in and withdraw money at Post Offices.

By Andrew Black

Travelex foreign currency firm services begin again after ransomware cyber-attack

( via – – Mon, 13th Jan 2020) London, Uk – –

Foreign currency firm restores some systems after £4.6m demand from hackers

The foreign currency firm Travelex says it is making good progress in recovering from an attack from ransomware hackers and is starting to switch its systems back on again.

As of noon on Monday, however, its global websites, including those aimed at UK and US customers, were still offline, as were the online travel money services of companies that use Travelex, including Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Tesco Bank and Asda.

Travelex was forced to take its websites offline after discovering the cyber-attack on New Year’s Eve. It later emerged that the ransomware gang responsible, Sodinokibi, had demanded £4.6m and was threatening to release customers’ personal data – including dates of birth and payment card information – into the public domain unless the company paid up.

Travelex said it had contained the virus and that its investigations showed that no customer data has been breached to date. It is in communication with the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – which is part of GCHQ – and the Metropolitan police.

Tony D’Souza, the chief executive of Travelex, said: “We continue to make good progress with our recovery and have already completed a considerable amount in the background.”

He said the firm was now in a position to start restoring functionality at its partner and customer services, and that it would provide more information in the coming days.

With its online travel money service out of action, Travelex staff have been forced to use pen and paper to serve customers. Nor is the company able to sell or reload its travel money cards online.

D’Souza said: “We are confident, based on our efforts to date, that we will be able to restore our services and ensure the integrity and robustness of the network.”

The firm said it would start restoring customer-facing systems, beginning with those that allowed it to process orders electronically with banking partners and in its own stores.

“This follows the restoration of many of the internal capabilities necessary to support partner and customer services, which has been in progress since the beginning of last week,” it said.

By Rupert Jones

What Happened To Motorola?

Source: CNBC

Motorola Mobility has not wowed customers or reviewers since the Motorola Droid in 2009. Since then, the company has low on the smartphone market share charts. But the announcement of a new folding Razr smartphone has breathed new excitement into the company. It has left onlookers wondering if this phone could pull Motorola Mobility out of obscurity.

Blockchain Capital general partner, discusses predictions for the cryptocurrency market in 2020

Source: Bloomberg

Spencer Bogart, Blockchain Capital general partner, discusses his predictions for the cryptocurrency market in 2020. He speaks with Bloomberg's Joe Weisenthal and Scarlet Fu on “What'd You Miss?”

Volkswagen starts settlement talks with German consumer groups over diesel scandal

( via — Thur, 2nd Jan 2020) London, UK —

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) on Thursday said it was in talks to discuss a settlement with German vehicle owners who are suing the carmaker over excessive pollution caused by VW’s diesel cars.

In 2015 the carmaker admitted to using manipulated engine management software to mask excessive pollution levels in its diesel cars, sparking a raft of prosecutions and lawsuits that have led to at least 30 billion euros in legal costs and fines.

“Volkswagen and the Federation of German Consumer Organisations vzbv have agreed to enter into discussions regarding a possible settlement,” the carmaker said.

“The discussions are at a very early stage, and there is no guarantee that they will result in a settlement. Both parties have agreed that the discussions should remain confidential.”

German consumers have had less success than vehicle owners in the United States in securing compensation from VW because German cars did not lose their road worthiness certification in the wake of the diesel scandal.

In Germany VW’s diesel vehicles retained their road worthiness certification if customers agreed to an update of vehicle engine management software, leading VW to take a different approach to compensating consumers.

Reporting by Edward Taylor

15 Jobs That Will Thrive in the Future (Despite A.I.)

Source: Alux

This video well try to answer the following questions: Which jobs will survive in the future? What will be the best paying jobs in the future? What are the best careers for the future? Which jobs will not be affected by Artificial Intelligence? Which jobs are safe from automation? Which will be the best paying jobs in the future? How to prepare for A.I.? What kind of jobs will people do in the future? Which are the fastest growing industries? Which industries will blow up in the future? What should you study if you want a job when you graduate?

In The Era of Electric Cars Why Don’t We Have Electric Planes Yet?

Source: CNBC

Electric planes could revolutionize flight, from commuting in air taxis to making regional flights more affordable and long-haul flights more environmentally friendly. So in the era of electric cars, why are planes so far behind?

Microsoft arm to buy stake in UK “kidtech” start-up

( via – -Thur, 26th Dec 2019) London, Uk – –

M12, Microsoft’s venture arm, is buying a stake in a UK-based provider of software to keep children safe online, Sky News learns.

The venture capital arm of Microsoft, the American technology behemoth, is to buy a stake in a six-year-old British company which produces software to protect children online.

Sky News has learnt that M12 – which was previously called Microsoft Ventures – is close to striking a deal to become a shareholder in SuperAwesome.

The transaction, which is expected to be confirmed next month, will represent a big milestone for SuperAwesome.

Set up in 2013 by Dylan Collins, the company has attracted business from some of the world's biggest advertisers to children amid increasingly strict regulation.

Multinationals including Kellogg's, Mattel, Nintendo and Unilever are among the brands listed on SuperAwesome's website as clients of the British start-up.

Sources said on Tuesday that the funding round being led by M12 was “modest in size” but “hugely significant” for the company

An investment vehicle connected to the family behind Lego is also understood to be participating in the fundraising.

Among the other UK start-ups backed by M12 is Onfido, a digital identity verification company.

SuperAwesome is expected to be valued at more than £200m after the latest investments, underlining its potential during a period of rapid growth for children's activity online.

The company owns products such as Kidfluencer, which helps brands remain compliant with international rules when they appear on YouTube, the video content arm of Alphabet-owned Google.

It has a separate product called PopJam, which is specifically aimed at ensuring compliance with COPPA laws in the US and GDPR across Europe, which govern data privacy.

PopJam is marketed as “a kid-safe alternative to social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat”.

The financial perils of failing to adhere to a tougher regulatory climate were highlighted in September when YouTube was fined $170m by regulators in the US to settle allegations that it collected children's data without parental consent.

Nevertheless, the size of the fine was criticised by campaigners for digital safeguarding because of the tiny proportion of Google's annual profit that it represented.

A slew of penalties have been imposed on tech giants amid increasingly intense scrutiny of their use of personal data – with those imposed by European regulators among some of the largest in the world.

In total, SuperAwesome says it enables safe digital engagement for more than 500m children around the world every month.

Mr Collins is expected to consider a stock market listing for SuperAwesome in the medium term, although speculation that such a move is imminent has been reported for the last three years.

There are understood to be no immediate plans for an initial public offering.

Existing shareholders in SuperAwesome include Hoxton Ventures, an investment firm which holds stakes in Babylon Healthcare and Deliveroo, and Mayfair Equity Partners, a backer of Ovo Energy and Yo!, the sushi chain.

SuperAwesome declined to comment.

By Mark Kleinman

Christmas Day Online spending expected to exceed £1bn

( via – – Wed, 25th Dec 2019) London, Uk – –

Online Christmas Day spending expected to exceed £1bn

Expected surge in online purchases comes as number of people visiting shops falls 8% compared with last year

Shoppers are forecast to spend more than £1bn online on Christmas Day after retailers lowered prices on Christmas Eve and the last-minute dash to the high street failed to materialise.

The number of people visiting high streets, shopping centres and retail parks was down nearly 8% by midday on 24 December compared with last year, according to the customer data firm Springboard. “I am quite surprised by the extent of the drop,” said Diane Wehrle, the organisation’s insights director.

She said a combination of factors was likely to be at play including low consumer confidence, the switch to online shopping and a reaction against buying unneeded items. The arrival in the UK of Black Friday, which usually falls in late November, has also changed shopping patterns, persuading bargain hunters to bag their presents early.

“Black Friday being so much stronger has taken quite a lot of steam out of the market,” Wehrle said. “There has been a real change at Christmas.”

Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Currys PC World and Boots kicked off their sales online on 24 December, as they have done for several years. An expected 7.3 million people were expected to shop online on Christmas Eve spending £734m compared with £850m in stores, according to Vouchercodes and the Centre for Retail Research.

Discounts this year will be greater than recent years after low footfall in the final shopping days before Christmas and evidence that the difficult trading on the high street is spreading to online retailers.

In the past, the last few days, or even weeks, before Christmas were dedicated to shopping on the high street, as home deliveries from online retailers could not be guaranteed to arrive in time for 25 December.

However, shops now face competition from online players right up to the last minute, as companies including Argos and Amazon accept same-day delivery orders on Christmas Eve. Subscribers to Amazon’s Prime Now service, for example, can order up until 21.15 on Christmas Eve for same-day deliveries before midnight.

Amid heavy competition, John Lewis said sales for the week to 21 December were down 5.1% on the same week last year, even after it extended its deadline for click-and-collect orders up until Christmas Eve.

It blamed the poor figures on sales being pulled forward into the Black Friday discount period in late November. Fashion and beauty sales were down by just over 5% but homewares and technology performed even worse – down 8.9%.

Boots is offering half-price discounts on selected No7 cosmetics and Oral B toothbrushes as well as some Christmas gift collections such as Champneys bubble bath.

M&S has 35% off a cashmere wrap as part of a list of knitwear price cuts of up to 40% off. It also offered 20% off champagne and half price on beauty gifts and some children’s wear, including a unicorn T-shirt on Christmas Eve.

John Lewis was offering 50% off womenswear on Christmas Eve, while Hobbs and Whistles upped their price cuts to 70%, from 50% at the weekend.

Late last week, Topshop and Miss Selfridge increased their discounts to up to 60%, from 40% and 50% respectively earlier in the week, while Jigsaw, Peacocks and House of Fraser increased their price cuts to 50%, matching Debenhams and Oasis. The online fashion retailer Boohoo was offering 80% off.

By Sarah Butler

Travis Kalanick Uber co-founder to step down from board

( via – – Wed, 25th Dec 2019) London, Uk – –

Uber's co-founder Travis Kalanick is to step down from its board at the end of the year.

The 43-year-old ousted the ride-hailing firm's original chief executive within a year of its creation, but was himself forced to stand down six-and-a-half years later in 2017 after a number of scandals.

He had, however, remained involved as one of its nine directors.

Mr Kalanick also recently sold off most of his shares in the company.

In the past two months he has liquidated about $2.5bn (£1.9bn) worth of stock, representing more than 90% of his earlier stake in the business.

“At the close of the decade, and with the company now public, it seems like the right moment for me to focus on my current business and philanthropic pursuits,” said Mr Kalanick in a statement issued by Uber.

“I will continue to cheer for its future from the sidelines.”

Mr Kalanick currently heads up City Storage Systems. The Los Angeles-based start-up buys up land and establishes kitchens for use by delivery-only restaurants, which operate via apps including Uber Eats.

‘Profound' legacy

The entrepreneur had previously declared: “I love Uber more than anything in the world.”

However, investors pressured him to step aside in the run up to the company's flotation following a series of controversies.

  • a report that another executive had obtained the medical records of a woman who was raped by an Uber driver in 2014, and then shared them with Mr Kalanick among others
  • hundreds of complaints from staff about harassment and bullying
  • a legal dispute with Google's parent company Alphabet over the alleged theft of trade secrets related to driverless cars
  • an argument between Mr Kalanick and one of Uber's San Francisco drivers over fares, which was filmed and released to the media

Mr Kalanick had also repeatedly clashed with regulators, which had helped Uber overcome and sometimes ignore restrictions that would have otherwise prevented it entering some markets.

But there was a perception that the company's image had been tarnished as a consequence, and that his replacement – Expedia's former chief Dara Khosrowshahi – would be seen as a less risky bet by the markets once the firm had listed.

But Mr Khosrowshahi has paid his own respects following the latest announcement.

“Very few entrepreneurs have built something as profound as Travis Kalanick did with Uber,” he said.

“I'm enormously grateful for Travis' vision and tenacity while building Uber, and for his expertise as a board member.”

Mr Khosrowshahi has faced issues of his own, including one of Uber's test self-drive cars killing a woman, and Transport for London (TfL) deciding not to renew the company's licence to operate in the capital.

Major beauty brands tap TikTok influencers social video app for holiday campaigns

( via — Tue, 24th Dec 2019) London, UK —

(Reuters) – In a TikTok video with the hashtag #awesomekiss, viral teen star Charli D’Amelio uses an eos Products lipbalm before kissing the screen and transforming into a dancing, costumed Santa in an ad for her 12 million followers.

Just over a year after TikTok officially launched U.S. brand partnerships, major brands are tapping influencers on the social video app for holiday campaigns.

The Chinese-owned app, which has come under scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers and regulators over concerns around its data handling and content moderation, has made a push to attract U.S. advertisers. It is testing a biddable option for certain ads, piloting in-app shopping features and has shown up at marketing events such as Cannes Lions Festival. In September, it launched a test “creator marketplace,” a service which matches up brands and influencers.

“I think if we do a good job surfacing creators and brands to one another then that’s winning for us,” said Vanessa Pappas, TikTok’s U.S. general manager, in a phone interview.

Reuters spoke to several marketing heads and agencies who worked on recent TikTok campaigns for cosmetic companies eos, NARS Cosmetics, e.l.f Cosmetics, whose ‘Eyes. Lips. Face.’ campaign recently scored more than 4 billion TikTok views, and Estée Lauder-owned MAC Cosmetics, which spends about 75% of its media budget on digital and influencer marketing.

They saw TikTok, which is owned by tech giant Beijing ByteDance Technology Co, as a cost-effective way to raise brand awareness with younger audiences.

TikTok’s sponsored “hashtag challenges,” where high-profile influencers begin video trends, are one of the main ways for companies to advertise on the app.

To improve brands’ experiences on the app, the cosmetic companies and agencies said TikTok would need to improve analytics and introduce more in-app shopping features.

Facebook-owned (FB.O) Instagram has stepped up its e-commerce game this year, trialing features that let U.S. users shop from the app and let some creators tag products in posts.

TikTok is testing e-commerce features, such as adding shoppable product links to videos.

“We went into it (the holiday campaign) very much knowing that commerce and revenue coming through TikTok wouldn’t be the goal,” said Soyoung Kang, chief marketing officer at eos, which spends under 10% of its marketing budget on TikTok. “The goal was specifically to engage with a platform that’s just growing like wildfire.”

Not all brands are convinced. Social marketing agencies cited client concerns ranging from whether TikTokers’ DIY musical content suited prestige brands to uncertainty over how to track returns on their investment.

“We know there’s a lot we could be doing in terms of providing third-party data and beefing up on some of those industry metrics,” said TikTok’s Pappas, who previously worked with creators at YouTube, the video-streaming site of Alphabet-owned (GOOGL.O) Google.

A demo version of TikTok’s relatively small online creator marketplace, seen by Reuters, showed that brands can search for influencers by attributes such as reach or by details about their audience, including region, age and gender. Brands can invite influencers to talk and then go off-platform to manage contract negotiations.

Instagram last week announced it would allow some U.S. creators to use Facebook’s “Brand Collabs Manager” tool, to source deals and automatically share analytics.

TikTok advertisers also told Reuters they were monitoring headlines about the app. The U.S. government has launched a national security review of its owner ByteDance’s $1 billion acquisition of U.S. social media platform (4 Images)

TikTok has said that it moderates content independently from China and stores no U.S. user data there.

“If there is any information that comes to light that we feel doesn’t reflect the values that we want to espouse then we would re-evaluate where we would want to spend our money,” said eos’s chief marketing officer Kang.

Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in London

Boeing boss ousted days after 737 MAX production grounded

( via– Tue, 24th Dec 2019) London, Uk – –

All 737 MAXs were grounded in March after a plane crashed in Ethiopia, five months after another came down near Indonesia.

Boeing has ousted its boss six days after the company said it was suspending the production of 737 MAX aircraft following two fatal crashes.

The aerospace giant said Dennis Muilenburg had resigned as chief executive and board director with immediate effect.

Reuters news agency reported that Mr Muilenburg may be eligible for nearly $39m in severance. Boeing decline to comment on the figure or whether he would accept it.

Announcing the chief executive's departure, the company said: “The board of directors decided that a change in leadership was necessary to restore confidence in the company moving forward as it works to repair relationships with regulators, customers, and all other stakeholders.”

It follows a year of intense scrutiny and industrial setbacks triggered by the two crashes, the company said.

Chairman David Calhoun will serve as chief executive and president from 13 January, it added.

Last Tuesday, the US aircraft maker announced that it would temporarily halt production of the grounded 737 MAX aircraft in January.

The decision was widely seen as a humiliating admission that the fleet's fate lies in the hands of regulators after its own timetable to return the planes to service dragged by months.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said last week it would not grant clearance for the planes before 2020.

All versions of the 737 MAX were grounded worldwide in March – days after an Ethiopian Airlines plane came down outside Addis Ababa, and five months after a Lion Air flight suffered a similar fate near Indonesia.

A total of 346 people died in the crashes.

Mr Muilenburg has led the company since 2015 but his position has come under increasing pressure following the disasters and in October he was stripped of his role as chairman while remaining as chief executive.

Shares in Boeing rose after the announcement that he was departing.

Boeing has been working with US regulators to ensure the 737 MAX aircraft are safe – with modifications focusing on an anti-stall device called the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) in the hope of returning the 737 MAX to service.

After announcing the suspension of the aircrafts' production, the company said it did not expect any job losses “at this time”, leaving the company under pressure to save costs elsewhere as it grapples a growing bill – last put at $9bn (£6.8bn).

That sum is expected to rise significantly.

Boeing has continued to produce 737 MAX jets at around 42 per month, while also purchasing parts from suppliers at a rate of up to 52 units per month.

Deliveries have been frozen until regulators approve the aircraft to fly commercially again, leaving the company scrambling to find space to store hundreds of planes.

Takeaway poised to win the battle for UK food delivery company Just Eat

( via –Thur, 19th Dec, 2019) London, UK —

LONDON/AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – was poised to win the battle for British food delivery company Just Eat after it trumped a raised offer from rival Prosus NV, which put it within reach of a 50% threshold needed to clinch the deal.

The two companies vying to buy British online food delivery company made increased final bids on Thursday, with Prosus offering 800 pence, or 5.5 billion pounds ($7.16 billion) in cash, and raising its all-share offer.

The Takeaway bid valued Just Eat shares at 916 pence each based on its closing price on Wednesday. The prospect of a higher offer sent Takeaway shares falling more than 9% to 80.25 euros in Amsterdam on Thursday afternoon, narrowing the gap between the two bids to just 30 pence.

But Takeaway looked set to close the deal after it said it had the backing of acceptances representing 46.07% of Just Eat shares. Just Eat’s largest shareholder STM Fidecs Trust Company said it was supporting the “materially improved” offer from Takeaway.

Takeaway and internet giant Prosus, which is also listed in Amsterdam, have been battling since October, with Takeaway’s earlier offer backed until now by Just Eat’s board.

Just Eat said in a statement it was reviewing both final offers, and advised shareholders to take no action at this time.

The bids were announced within a matter of minutes of each other in a late afternoon flurry.

Prosus CEO Bob van Dijk said his company’s final offer, which was increased from previous bids of 710 and 740 pence “delivers outstanding and certain value to Just Eat shareholders” and he urged them to accept it.

Shortly afterwards Takeaway CEO Jitse Groen responded with a new all-share bid that would leave Takeaway shareholders with a 42.5% stake in the combined company, down from 48%.

Just Eat shares were trading up 1.2% at 812 pence after first falling then surging on the successive announcements.

“This offer is a full offer, and on top of that we believe it provides Just Eat shareholders with tremendous upside,” Groen said in a statement.

“The all-share combination establishes the largest global platform in online food delivery outside China and allows shareholders of both Just Eat and to benefit from significant long-term value creation.”

Groen personally owns a 25% stake in Takeaway. In conjunction with its new bid, the company said it would see full year revenue growth of 77%, driven by growth in Germany.

Takeaway said it would look at selling Just Eat’s 33% stake in Brazil’s iFood if its offer succeeds, returning half of the proceeds to shareholders. Prosus already owns the rest of iFood, Brazil’s biggest online food delivery platform.

Takeaway and Prosus have argued about the correct strategy for Just Eat, which is facing increased competition from the likes of Uber Eats and Deliveroo.

Takeaway has said platforms that focus on delivery will struggle to be profitable, and it aims instead to be the dominant ordering platform in each market.

Its offer has been backed by Just Eat’s board and some shareholders who believe a combination of the companies will create a powerhouse in Europe’s most profitable markets in the long term.

Investor Alex Captain of Cat Rock Capital Management LP, which holds 5.95% of Takeaway and 2.60% of Just Eat, said on Thursday he continued to back the Takeaway offer.

“We hope Just Eat shareholders join us in accepting this final offer,” he said.

Prosus has argued that without being a dominant player in both delivery and ordering — which will require significant investment — competitors will overtake Just Eat.

Takeaway said it has received valid acceptances from the holders of 46.07% of Just Eat’s shares. Both bidders have a tender threshold of 50% of shares to be binding.

Prosus said that by 1300 on Thursday, before it made its final offer, it had received acceptances from holders of about 0.0065% of Just Eat’s shares.

Both suitors said their bids were final and would not be raised, eliminating the prospect of an auction that would have taken place between Christmas and New Year.

Both offers now have acceptance thresholds of 50% and shareholders have until Jan. 10 to choose.

Reporting by Paul Sandle and Toby Sterling, 

Whirlpool names date for Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines recall

( via – – Wed, 18th Dec 2019) London, Uk – –

The recall of Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines will start on 9 January, according to owner Whirlpool.

Owners of the affected machines who register on a dedicated website will be asked from that date whether they want a repair or a replacement.

Whirlpool has been forced to recall about 500,000 appliances after it was discovered some were a fire risk.

However, customers were unable to check the safety of their machines online because of technical difficulties.

Half a million appliances need to be fixed or replaced as the door locking system can overheat.

Whirlpool said it had recorded 79 incidents in which washing machines had caught fire because of the electronic door.

Whirlpool has been criticised for the chaotic way in which the programme was launched.

The company revealed on Tuesday that more than half a million washing machines built between 2014 and 2018 would have to be recalled because of a fire risk.

But the special recall website crashed immediately and only got back up and running on Wednesday afternoon.

At the same time, customers have been struggling to get through to the company's helpline.

‘Not acceptable'

Whirlpool's vice president of communications and public affairs, Jeff Noel, said: “It has been an unfortunate situation. It is not the way that any of us would want to start a recall, especially something so important during the holidays.

“But it is such that we have done everything we can to resolve it. We've done everything we can to improve and I'm proud to say that these folks that have worked so hard, that we are up and running.”

However, Alex Acteson from Chichester in West Sussex says that she has phoned Whirlpool's helpline nearly 40 times on behalf of her elderly mother, Chris, only to be hung up on, left on hold for 25 minutes or told that the telephone number does not exist.

Ms Acteson said: “We couldn't actually get on to the website but luckily my partner found a list of the washing machines that are affected and we found that my Mum's washing machine was on it.”

She said that her mother, who is in her seventies, had a stroke two years ago, adding: “She doesn't need to be worried about this over Christmas and due to the fact that she has had a stroke, things like this do worry her more than your average person.

“It is just not acceptable by Whirlpool.”

Whirlpool was already reeling after problems with fire-prone dryers.

It was heavily criticised for its initial response when more than five million tumble dryers, sold over 11 years, were found to be a fire danger. It only launched a full recall for that issue after four years, following an intervention by the regulator.

Denise Coates, Bet365 boss took home £320m last year

( via– Wed, 18th Dec, 2019) London, Uk – –

The boss of online betting firm Bet365 raises her annual donation to charity as her own earnings surge 26% on the previous year.

The top-paid boss in Britain has landed a further inflation-busting increase in her earnings, taking home £320m last year.

Accounts filed at Companies House showed Denise Coates, the billionaire chief executive and co-founder of online gambling firm Bet365, netted a £277m salary in the year to March 2019.

That was 26% up on the previous year when she received £220m.

The £320m sum was achieved through dividends.

The filing showed the family-owned firm, which is also a majority owner of Stoke City Football Club, raked in £65bn through punters' stakes over the 12-month period.

Profit before tax was 20% up at £791m despite the Championship side recording a loss of almost £9m.

The online gambling sector, which has faced criticism over its marketing practices, especially concerning children, has so far largely escaped the crackdown experienced on the operators of betting shops.

A £2 stake limit imposed on so-called fixed-odds betting terminals has prompted many high street operators to close stores and seek online growth alongside a greater share of the burgeoning market in the United States.

Ahead of the general election, MPs expressed concern that online firms, often with offshore bases including Gibraltar, had become the greatest risk to efforts on curbing problem gambling.

However, Bet365 was part of the group of gambling firms which agreed the so-called whistle-to-whistle ban on advertising during sporting events. Its campaigns are fronted by the actor Ray Winstone.

Ms Coates, who has received criticism over her awards in the past from pay campaigners, will also be among the top providers of income tax to the Treasury.

It is estimated she would have paid around £125m.

To put that in context: Google, Facebook and Amazon paid a combined £108m in corporation tax in 2018.

Ms Coates, who is estimated by Forbes to be the 244th-richest person in the world with a net worth of £9.3bn, also donates vast sums to her charitable foundation.

It has has been credited in the past with providing funds for Alzheimer's research.

She said of the sum: “The size of the donation, and therefore the difference the foundation will be able to make to people's lives over the coming years, are of great importance to the group.”

By James Sillars