Capita reports £513.1m annual pre-tax loss

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 23 Apr, 2018) London, Uk – –

Capita has reported a £513.1m annual loss as the outsourcing firm set out plans to revive its indebted business.

Capita’s profit was wiped out by £850.7m of one-off costs, mainly from writing down the value of acquisitions made under its previous management.

The company said it would raise £701m through a rights issue to fund a reorganisation of the business.

Capita operates the London congestion charge and runs an electronic tagging service for the Ministry of Justice,

The loss compares with a £89.8m deficit in 2016, while revenues last year fell by 4% to £4.2bn

However, new chief executive Jonathan Lewis dismissed any comparison to Carillion, the services and outsourcing group that went bust earlier this year.

“I get frustrated with that comparison – we are a completely different business,” Mr Lewis told the Press Association.

He said: “We have £1bn in liquidity, strong cash flow and a new strategy with investor support. We are not in PFI contracts and have nothing like the risk profile.”

Mr Lewis has announced a major overhaul of the company which currently has £1.7bn in debt. The rights issue will reduce borrowings as well as funding investment in the business.

‘Fundamentally strong’
Under its new strategy, Capita plans to raise around £300m disposals this year and is targeting cost savings of £175m by the end of 2020.

Capita’s share price jumped by 12.7% to 180.1p in early trade.

The company collects the licence fee on behalf of the BBC and recently won a five-year extension to provide audience services to the broadcaster.

Commenting on Capita’s future, Mr Lewis said the business was “fundamentally strong”.

“However, the business needs to evolve,” he said.

“We need to simplify Capita by focusing on growth markets and to improve our cost competitiveness. We need to strengthen Capita and plan to invest up to £500m in our infrastructure, technology and people over the next three years.”

 

 

The Øresund A Unique Modern Roadway Connecting Denmark And Sweden

 

This unique roadway connects the Danish capital of Copenhagen to the Swedish city of Malmö. The Øresund, designed by the Danish architect George K.S. Rotne, was opened on July 1, 2000. The bridge stretches about 8km before transitioning through an artificial island into a 4km tunnel under the Flint Channel.

 

 

Uk Mobile networks buy 4G and 5G spectrum in £1.4bn Ofcom auction

(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Thur, 5 April 2018) London, Uk – –

Mobile phone companies Hutchison 3G, Telefonica, EE and Vodafone were the successful bidders in Ofcom’s 4G and 5G airwave spectrum auction it was announced this morning.

US-challenger Airspan Spectrum Holdings was the only bidder to come away empty handed in the first stage of the auction which has raised £1.355bn.

Communications regulator Ofcom was offering lots in two frequency bands: 2.3 (gigahertz) GHz which is usable by contemporary mobile phones and will help improve mobile users 4G capacity, and 3.4 GHz, which is earmarked for 5G, the next generation of mobile technology.

EE won 40 megahertz (MHz) of 3.4 GHz spectrum at the cost of £302.59m, Hutchison won 20 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum costing £151.20m, Telefonica won all 40 MHz available of 2.3 GHz spectrum at a cost of £317.72m and Vodafone won 50 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum costing £378.24m.

The auction will now move to an assignment stage where the winners from stage one will bid to determine where in the frequency bands their new spectrum will be located.

Both Vodafone and EE parent BT saw their share prices rise by more than one per cent in early trading this morning.

Spectrum group director at Ofcom Philip Marnick said: “This is good news for everyone who uses their mobile phone to access the internet. As a nation we’re using ever more mobile data on smartphones and mobile devices. Releasing these airwaves will make it quicker and easier to get online on the move. It will also allow companies to prepare for 5G mobile, paving the way for a range of smart, connected devices.”

By James Booth

 

 

UK’s Spending on Social Media Advertising Predicted to Surpass TV’s in two years


Wikimedia

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 2 Apr 2018) London, Uk – –

More money will be spent advertising on social media networks than on the entire TV ad market within two years, according to a new report.

The report predicts that Mark Zuckerberg will shake off any potential commercial impact from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, hoovering up more than four-fifths (84%, £2.76bn) of the predicted £3.3bn that will be spent on social media networks in the UK this year.

Facebook is also expected to weather the wider threat of a boycott by the world’s two biggest advertisers – Dove to Lynx maker Unilever and Pampers to Gillette owner Procter & Gamble – who say they have had enough of Facebook’s “swamp” of fake news, racism, sexism and extremism.

By 2020, Facebook will be making an estimated £3.8bn in UK ad spend – over a billion pounds more than this year – and just behind the value of the entire commercial TV market (£4.04bn): led by ITV, Channel 4, Sky and Channel 5.

A younger generation of digital-savvy consumers is fast emerging that has dramatically eroded the once unquestioned power of traditional television as the most important medium advertisers had to spend on in order to reach big audiences.

In 2010, a peak audience of almost 19 million viewers tuned in to watch Matt Cardle win the X Factor, the biggest show on British TV, capturing more than half the entire audience watching TV across the UK at the time.

Last year’s final saw the lowest ratings in the show’s history with less than 5 million tuning in to see Rak-Su win.

By comparison Facebook has amassed more than 2 billion active users per month; its sheer scale the very reason advertisers direct so much digital ad spending its way.

Such is Facebook’s power, advertisers believe they have little option but to spend with them in order to reach the digital-savvy audiences they crave to influence.

Facebook’s scale dwarfs would-be rivals with Twitter and Snapchat estimated to be set to pull in less than £300m (8%) of social network advertising spending between them this year. The spend on traditional TV advertising will remain comfortably ahead at £4bn this year.

Facebook is weathering a barrage of criticism over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which involved the harvesting of information from more than 50m Facebook profiles to target US voters without permission, including calls for users to delete their profiles in protest.

Analysts say there is little sign so far that a boycott of a size to commercially hurt the social network will take place.

“The social media juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down commercially,” said Bill Fisher, UK senior analyst at eMarketer. “You have the Cambridge Analytica Facebook privacy issue and it is difficult to know right now whether it will have a fundamental impact on user numbers. Until we see significant numbers of users coming off we are not going to see any drop in ad revenues. Advertisers follow eyeballs and there are plenty of eyeballs on social media.”

Emarketer’s report predicts growth in social media advertising will continue to surge, despite wider issues of potential advertiser boycotts over measurement, transparency and content issues such as fake news dogging Facebook.

Growth in social media ad spend will rocket 40%, some £1.3bn, between 2018 and 2020 from £3.29bn to £4.59bn, the report predicts.

By 2020, social media advertising will have passed traditional TV advertising by about £500m – £4.59bn compared to £4.04bn, it forecast. However, TV broadcasters are likely to increase revenuefrom their online TV services in the next few years, figures which are not covered by the eMarketer report.

“It is a tipping point reflecting consumer trends,” said Fisher. “But the fact that more and more consumers are on social media does not diminish the importance of broadcast TV per se. The television industry is also pivoting to digital to a degree as well, building revenues from their own digital services. Broadcast TV is still an incredibly important medium. We are forecasting a slight rise in our report, it is just that social media is just becoming an even more significant number.”

The report also shows that Facebook’s dominance over its rivals for social media advertising is likely to continue.

Facebook’s 82.5% share of social media advertising in 2020 is predicted to be only marginally less than this year (84%). This means rivals Snapchat and Twitter, which are forecast to increase their ad take from £260m to £478m over the next three years, will not have made a meaningful dent in Facebook’s position.

Overall, social media advertising spending is expected to grow from accounting for 25.4% of the total £12.98bn UK digital ad market this year, to just short of 30% of the £15.42bn market in 2020.

By Mark Sweney

 

Ford Motor and Alibaba “Super Test Drive” Car Vending Machine Service

 

Ford Motor Co., Ltd., Changan Ford Motor Co., Ltd. and Alibaba.com’s Tmall Vehicle launched a brand new brand experience pilot program to provide consumers with a “Super Test Drive” service. The project will use a combination of online digital technology and offline entities to provide consumers with a more convenient, efficient, and in-depth test drive experience, and ultimately lead potential consumers to the Ford brand more accurately. Authorize dealerships and ultimately help facilitate offline transactions.

From now on until April 23, Ford will enter the “Super Test Drive” vending machine building located in Baiyun District of Guangzhou as the exclusive co-brand of Tmall. The whole building is equipped with intelligent lifting system and advanced identity authentication system. It can accommodate up to 42 carts at a time. Ford Motor Company, Changan Ford Motor Co., Ltd. and Jiangling Motors Co., Ltd. provide up to ten Ford brand models for consumers to test drive test experience, including domestic models, such as car products Taurus, new Mondeo, SUV products Maverick, Ruijie and Qilu Imported models such as full-size SUV explorers; Ford Mustang, a classic American muscle sports car sought after by consumers, joined this wonderful lineup.

 

 

​Jaguar to supply cars to Google’s self-driving spin-off Waymo in deal worth up to £1.3bn

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 28 Mar 2018) London, Uk – –

Deal, worth up to £1.3bn, shows Waymo’s ambition in developing driverless ride-hailing service

Jaguar Land Rover is to supply up to 20,000 of its new electric I-Pace cars to Waymo, a subsidiary of Google owner Alphabet,to be converted into self-driving vehicles for its ride-hailing service.

The tie-up, worth up to £1.3bn and announced at the New York motor show, is a further mark of Waymo’s ambition in the race with Uber and others to develop a driverless ride-hailing service – as well as a huge boost for Britain’s biggest car manufacturer as it takes it first steps into electric vehicles.

Jaguar will deliver vehicles for Waymo’s ride-hailing service from 2020. Waymo says the 20,000 I-Pace models will provide up to 1m rides a day.

Although the I-Pace will be produced in Graz, Austria, JLR stressed that it is a British designed and engineered vehicle, from its research and development facility in the West Midlands.

JLR, owned by Indian company Tata, did not put a price on the deal, but an I-Pace, launched less than a month ago, retails at about £63,000 in the UK.

The manufacturer said it would be “a long-term strategic partnership” to develop the world’s first premium self-driving electric vehicle. Testing of the Jaguar car, equipped with Waymo’s self-driving technology, will start in Arizona later this year.

The expansion of the service comes despite fresh fears raised over the safety of self-driving cars, after an autonomous Uber car killed a pedestrian in Arizona last week – the first such casualty.

Uber’s testing of vehicles in Arizona has been suspended after the incident. The victim, a 49-year-old woman wheeling a bicycle, appeared not to be detected by the vehicle’s sensors. The Volvo was operating autonomously with a back-up driver in the front seat when it struck the pedestrian.

Nvidia, which supplies chips for Uber’s self-driving cars, and Toyota have also suspended testing of autonomous vehicles on US public roads following the accident.

The suspensions leave Waymo as the only company with a fleet of fully self-driving cars – and with no one in the front seat – on public roads in the US, and on course to launch the first robotic taxi service, where members can hail cars via Waymo’s app, by the end of the year.

In the UK, JLR has been involved in a range of government-backed trials involving connected and autonomous vehicles, last week demonstrating how emergency braking warning systems could improve safety.

Waymo has been building up a fleet of self-driving vehicles in partnership with Fiat Chrysler since 2015. Last month it said it would buy thousands more of the Chrysler Pacifica minivans, on top of 600 it has already converted, to form the basis for a ride-hailing service that Waymo plans to launch in Arizona later this year.

JLR’s tie-up with Waymo is another in a series by car manufacturers with new technology firms, following Ford partnering with Lyft and Uber with Volvo.

The auto industry is making substantial investments in autonomous, connected and electric cars, having been heavily committed to diesel and highly fuel-consuming vehicles.

Ralf Speth, the JLR chief executive, said: “With the Jaguar I-Pace we have a world-beating car that’s captured the imagination of customers around the world. Our passion for further advancing smart mobility needs expert long-term partners.

“In joining forces with Waymo we are pioneering to push the boundaries of technology. Together we will deliver the self-driving Waymo Jaguar I-Pace with the grace, space and eco-pace that customers expect.”

John Krafcik, the chief executive of Waymo, said: “While we’ve been focused at Waymo on building the world’s most experienced driver, the team at Jaguar Land Rover has developed an all-new battery-electric platform that looks to set a new standard in safety, design and capability.”

By Gwyn Topham

 

 

 

Mark Zuckerberg Breaks Silence On Cambridge Analytica Breach

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 22 Mar 2018) London, Uk – –

Following days of silence, CEO announces Facebook will change how it shares data with third-party apps and admits ‘we made mistakes’

The Cambridge Analytica saga is a scandal of Facebook’s own making

Facebook is changing the way it shares data with third-party applications, Mark Zuckerberg announced Wednesday in his first public statement since the Observer reported that the personal data of about 50 million Americans had been harvested and improperly shared with a political consultancy.

The Facebook CEO broke his five-day silence on the scandal that has enveloped his company this week in a Facebook post acknowledging that the policies that allowed the misuse of data were “a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it”.

“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” Zuckerberg wrote. He noted that the company has already changed some of the rules that enabled the breach, but added: “We also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it”.

Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, shared Zuckerberg’s post and added her own comment: “We know that this was a major violation of peoples’ trust, and I deeply regret that we didn’t do enough to deal with it.”

Zuckerberg also spoke to a handful of media outlets on Wednesday, including a televised interview with CNN in which he apologized for the “breach of trust”, saying: “I’m really sorry that this happened.” In similar conversations with the New York Times, Wired, and tech website Recode, Zuckerberg expressed qualified openness to testifying before Congress and said that he was not entirely opposed to Facebook being subject to more regulations.

The crisis stems from Facebook policies that allowed third-party app developers to extract personal data about users and their friends from 2007 to 2014. Facebook greatly reduced the amount of data that was available to third parties in 2014, but not before a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan had used an app to extract the information of more than 50 million people, and then transferred it to Cambridge Analyticafor commercial and political use.

On Saturday, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, Paul Grewal, appeared to defend the lax policies that allowed data harvesting from unwitting friends, writing in a statement: “Aleksandr Kogan requested and gained access to information from users who chose to sign up to his app, and everyone involved gave their consent.”

But after five days of outrage from the public, and calls for investigations and regulation from lawmakers in the US and UK, the company appears to be acknowledging that blaming users for not understanding its byzantine terms of service will not suffice.

he company will investigate apps that had access to “large amounts of information” prior to the 2014 changes, Zuckerberg said, and audit any apps that show “suspicious activity”. A Facebook spokesperson declined to share how Facebook was defining “large amounts of information” or how many apps would be scrutinized.Zuckerberg said in his interviews that the number of apps was in the “thousands”. The company will also inform those whose data was “misused”, including people who were directly affected by the Kogan data operation

An online petition calling for just such disclosure for people included in Kogan’s data set had garnered more than 15,000 signatures since the weekend.

Facebook also promised to further restrict the amount of data third-party developers can access when users login to their sites with their Facebook profile, turn off data sharing for apps that haven’t been used for three months, and move the tool that allows users to restrict the data they share from the Settings menu to the News Feed.

David Carroll, a US design professor who is challenging Cambridge Analytica through the UK courts to access his data profile harvested from Facebook, called the reforms “inadequate”. “Users should be notified, and not have to know to go and find out,” he told the Guardian by email.

Zuckerberg’s statement notably did not offer any explanation for why Facebook did not make any effort to inform affected users when Guardian reporters first told the company of the data misuse in December 2015. He did address the question in his press interviews, acknowledging to CNN that it was “a mistake” to rely on Kogan and Cambridge Analytica’s certifications that they had destroyed the data.

“With Mark Zuckerberg’s response, they are trying to convey that they are taking this seriously, but they are reacting to furore rather than facts,” said Jeff Hauser of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “The facts are not new to them.”

Jonathan Albright, a research director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, said that while he welcomed Zuckerberg’s explanation of how Cambridge Analytica gained access to the data in question, he was disappointed that the CEO did not address why Facebook enabled so much third-party access to its users’ personal information for so many years.

“This problem is part of Facebook and cannot be split off as an unfortunate instance of misuse,” Albright said. “It was standard practice and encouraged. Facebook was literally racing towards building tools that opened their users’ data to marketing partners and new business verticals. So this is something that’s inherent to the culture and design of the company.”

By Julia Carrie Wong

 

 

Snapchat’s British Ad revenue set to overtake Twitter’s next year

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 19 Mar 2018) London, Uk – –

UK arm – which earns about 10% of app’s global ad revenues – is forecast to bring in £181m

Snapchat is so popular in Britain that its advertising revenue will overtake Twitter’s UK revenue in 2019, and revenue from consumer magazine and cinema advertising within two years.

The seven-year old phone app is hugely popular with younger users, many of whom have flocked from older social media platforms such as Facebook, and advertisers are beginning to spend increasingly large amounts of their digital ad budgets on targeting its users.

Snapchat’s UK ad revenue growth is forecast to soar from just £21.9m in 2016 to £181.7m next year. Twitter UK will make about £171m in revenues, according to eMarketer, a market research company. The UK currently accounts for about 10% of Snapchat’s global ad revenues.

By 2020, Snapchat will make about £310m, making it larger than the roughly £300m digital and print ad spend on consumer magazines and a third bigger than the £200m cinema advertising market.

“Snapchat continues to pull in users and, by extension, ad revenues,” said Bill Fisher, UK senior analyst at eMarketer. “An almost doubling of revenues in 2018 is a great result.”

Snapchat has had a rough start to the year after $1bn (£700m) was wiped off its market value following a tweet by Kylie Jenner, a member of the Kardashian clan and one of the first wave of celebrities whose fame grew primarily on Snapchat. She distanced herself from the messaging service, though she later said: “[S]till love you tho snap … my first love.”

Snapchat’s growth rate is impressive but it remains a minnow next to the might of Facebook, which owns arch-rival social platform Instagram.

Facebook’s dominance will be helped by Instagram, which is forecast to grow from a 4.9% share this year (£636m) to an 8.1% share (£1.25bn) by 2020. By comparison, in 2020 Snapchat is likely to command 2% (£309m) of the UK digital ad market and Twitter just 1.1% (£169m).

But eMarketer says Snapchat will need to grow its appeal to a wider range of users to attract a more diverse range of advertisers.

“While the user base continues to be dominated by younger age groups, Snapchat’s full revenue potential will remain somewhat restricted,” said Fisher.

“And with the financial muscle of Facebook behind Snapchat’s close competitor, Instagram, the company is going to have to work ever harder for those ad dollars.”

The figures from eMarketer also show that the duopoly of Facebook and Google will continue to increase their stranglehold on the UK digital ad market. This year they will account for 65.8% of the market, and it is forecast that by 2020 this will have grown to 71.6%.

By Mark Sweney

 

Birmingham demands greater clarity about Uber business model before deciding on licence extension

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via independent.co.uk – – Fri,  16 Mar 2018) London, Uk – –

Birmingham has demand more clarity from Uber on its business model before deciding whether to renew the ride hailing giant’s license to operate permanently.

Uber’s one-year licence to operate in the UK’s second largest city expired last month. It has been granted a temporary licence but a failure to get a permanent extension would deal a blow to the group as it already battles for a permit to keep operating in London – one of its most important markets.

“Officers in our licensing team have temporarily extended Uber’s private hire operator licence in Birmingham, whilst they seek clarity from Uber around its operating model,” the council’s acting director of regulation and enforcement, Chris Neville, said.

Uber has been subject to fierce scrutiny for its treatment of drivers and the safety of passengers in recent months, and especially since a shock decision in September by Transport for London not to automatically extend the company’s licence to operate in the capital.

Since then the group has made a series of changes in an attempt to pacify regulators. It’s introduced a 24/7 support helpline and has vowed to be more proactive when it comes to reporting serious incidents to police.

In February it also announced that it was launching a driver feedback programme across the UK, responding to calls for greater rights and protections for workers in the gig economy.

On Friday, in response to the comments from Birmingham Council, a London-based spokesperson for the California-based company said that its application for the city was still being processed.

The spokesperson added that Uber had been granted operating licenses by a number of UK cities in recent months, including Sheffield, Cambridge, Nottingham and Leicester.

Uber’s licence is reportedly due to expire in Edinburgh next week.

By Josie Cox

 

 

Currys PC World apologises for pressuring customers to pay extra for new laptops

Wikimedia

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 16 Mar 2018) London, Uk – –

Currys PC World has apologised after customers complained they were pressured into paying up to £40 in set-up fees for a new laptop.

Consumer group Which? said 108 customers had reported being given no choice but to pay the extra amount when they collected their laptop.

Which? said it had raised the issue with the firm “multiple times” since 2015, but continued to hear complaints.

Currys PC World said it was “urgently re-briefing” its stores.

Customers said staff had told them computers that had already been set up were the only ones left in stock, meaning they would have to pay a previously unmentioned set-up fee.

Apology

The retailer offers a £35 “Knowhow” set-up service. Customers told Which? they were not advised it was optional.

Under UK consumer contract law all retailers should advertise the full price of a product bought online.

A Currys PC World spokeswoman said: “We are sorry to hear that some customers have been charged for a Knowhow Laptop Set-up service on their new machine when they did not request it.

“While setting up machines in advance enables customers who want the service to benefit from it straight away, it is not something everyone needs.

“We are urgently re-briefing our stores now to remind them that, in the small number of cases where only pre-set up models are available, customers should not be charged for the service when they buy their laptop.”

Customers affected by this should email Currys PC World at whichsupport@dixonscarphone.com, she added.

‘Pressurised’

Which? called on the firm to refund affected customers, saying it had first contacted Currys in January 2015.

Alex Neill, Which? director of home and product services, said: “This issue has been going on for more than three years without resolution and we are disappointed people are continuing to report feeling pressurised into parting with their cash.

“We want Currys to make cast-iron guarantees that it will put an end to this practice and that customers who’ve been caught out will be reimbursed.”

In 2013, hundreds of Currys customers complained they had been mis-sold extended warranties.

Currys said at the time that documents seen by BBC Wales were a record of why people cancelled a warranty and did not prove mis-selling.

 

 

Qualcomm $117bn takeover blocked by Trump citing national security

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 13 Mar 2018) London, Uk – –

Broadcom says it “strongly disagrees” with a decision to prohibit its hostile takeover of Qualcomm on national security grounds.

Donald Trump has exercised rarely-used powers to block the hostile takeover of mobile chipmaker Qualcomm by Singapore-based rival Broadcom.

The White House said the President was acting on the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews foreign purchases of US companies, to reject the proposed $117bn offer on national security grounds.

It would have been the most valuable tech takeover in the world had it gone ahead.

Broadcom had gone directly to shareholders after a previous offer was rejected by Qualcomm.

Its bid interest was blocked at a sensitive time – given the world is gearing up for the roll-out of ultra fast 5G mobile services and Mr Trump’s wider agenda to protect the interests of US companies.

The committee had warned that “a shift to Chinese dominance in 5G would have substantial negative national security consequences for the United States.

“While the United States remains dominant in the standards-setting space currently, China would likely compete robustly to fill any void left by Qualcomm as a result of this hostile takeover.”

Broadcom, which had pledged to move all its headquarter functions to the US if it won the day, said it “strongly disagreed” with the reasoning behind the decision.

The committee had raised concerns that any takeover may hinder progress in achieving 5G mobile networks because of Qualcomm’s current position as one of the leading makers of processors that power smartphones.

It also holds key patents which earn massive royalty payments from phone makers, such as Apple.

Broadcom chief executive Hock Tan had written to US policymakers last week to argue that legal claims Qualcomm is facing, alleging abuse of its patents to damage competition, should be seen as a risk to Qualcomm’s 5G investment.

He had pledged a $1.5bn investment in 5G in the US if Broadcom secured the takeover.

Mr Trump’s decision was also widely seen as an extension of his protectionist agenda that has seen him pledge to impose tariffs on imports of steel and metal products from later this month.

 

GKN offered new increased £8.1bn bid in Melrose takeover battle

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 12 Mar 2018) London, Uk – –

Turnaround specialist Melrose has increased its offer for UK engineering giant GKN from £7.4bn to £8.1bn.

GKN makes parts for Boeing 737 jets and Black Hawk helicopters, as well as parts for Volkswagen and Ford cars.

It has fought hard against the bid, offering to give back £2.5bn to shareholders and agreed to merge its car unit with US company Dana.

The takeover battle has also entered the political arena, with some MPs calling for the bid to be blocked.

‘Final’ offer

GKN employs more than 59,000 people, 6,000 in the UK alone. It became a takeover target after it issued profit warnings late last year.

Melrose said all recent attempts to engage in “constructive discussions” with GKN had been blocked. It added that its latest offer was “final” and would “not be increased under any circumstances”.

It is now offering 467p a share, compared with Friday’s closing share price of 435p. Melrose is also offering to give shareholders £1.4bn in cash as part of its offer.

It has also raised the amount GKN shareholders would own in Melrose following the deal from 57% to 60%.

However, investors appeared unimpressed by the latest move. Shares were up less than 2% in early trading at 444p.

Rebecca O’Keeffe, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said: “The muted market reaction… is the strongest indication yet that Melrose might not get its way.

“The robust efforts GKN has taken to protect itself from the hostile bid, including the proposed disposal of its Driveline business to Dana, combined with the comments from Melrose that their offer will ‘not be increased under any circumstances’ is leading investors to conclude that GKN has won this battle, at least for now.”

GKN said it was evaluating the new bid and advised shareholders to take no action. It said it would provide a response in due course.

Earlier on Monday, GKN had issued its latest defence. However, this was based on Melrose’s previous offer, which it said was “opportunistic” and “fundamentally undervalues” GKN’s prospects.

Melrose is a firm that specialises in buying up industrial companies it believes are undervalued and restructuring them before selling them on.

The takeover approach has also raised fears among unions and MPs that GKN, one of the UK’s largest industrial firms, will be broken up and sold to overseas owners.

The Pensions Regulator has warned that the Melrose takeover could affect the company’s ability to fund its pension scheme.

Last week, a cross-party group of MPs wrote to the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, saying the Melrose takeover should be blocked.

GKN shareholders have until 29 March to decide whether or not to accept Melrose’s offer.

‘Fire sale’

Melrose called GKN’s attempts to fend off the approach a “hasty fire sale of GKN businesses before they have reached their potential”.

In its offer statement, Melrose chairman Christopher Miller appealed to GKN’s shareholders.

“On the one hand you can join us on a journey of value creation by investing in a UK listed manufacturing powerhouse worth over £10bn today and receiving £1.4bn of cash,” he said.

“On the other hand your board is attempting a hasty fire sale of GKN businesses before they have been given a chance to reach their potential and with damaging consequences, we believe, for all stakeholders.”

On Friday, GKN agreed to merge its Driveline division with US auto-engineer Dana in a deal worth $6.1bn (£4.4bn). The deal would see GKN shareholders end up with a 47.25% stake in the enlarged, US-listed group.

However, Mr Miller said the proposed deal was likely to involve a “lengthy and uncertain completion process” with competition authorities, and added that some GKN investors would not be able to hold the shares as they would not be listed in the UK.

A brief history of GKN

Founded in 1759 as an ironworks in South Wales

Involved in aerospace, automotive, materials and manufacturing engineering

Operates in 30 countries with more than 59,000 employees

Employs 6,000 staff in the UK, mostly in aerospace and automotive technology

Ten UK sites, including Bristol, Cowes, Luton, Portsmouth, Birmingham and Telford.

Chief executive Anne Stephens took over in January

 

 

UK consumers may have to pay roaming charges again after Brexit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 7 Mar 2018) London, Uk – –

It follows confirmation from Theresa May that the UK will leave the EU’s Digital Single Market.

The Government has indicated to Sky News that British consumers may have to pay roaming and data charges when travelling in the EU after Brexit, unless a deal can be reached.

British travellers have not had to pay these charges on their mobile phone bills since June 2017, when they were abolished after changes to European regulation. The costs were considerable – an estimated £350m per year.

 

The DSM aims to eliminate digital regulatory barriers between EU member states, including data roaming charges.

The PM said in her Mansion House speech: “The UK will not be part of the EU’s Digital Single Market, which will continue to develop after our withdrawal from the EU.”

“This is a fast evolving, innovative sector, in which the UK is a world leader. It will be particularly important to have domestic flexibility, to ensure the regulatory environment can always respond nimbly and ambitiously to new developments.”

Until last week, the Government had not confirmed that Britain will be leaving the DSM.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has now confirmed to Sky News that this would likely entail the restoration of roaming charges, unless a deal could be reached.

A spokesman said: “The Government is committed to securing the best deal for British consumers.

“Arrangements on mobile roaming would be subject to any negotiations, however, a future partnership between the UK and EU is clearly in the interests of both sides.”

The Government also said that consumers will have become accustomed to enjoying their mobile phones without extra charges for over two years by Brexit day and that this would “drive consumer expectation and behaviour”.

They also pointed to the fact that two operators, Vodafone and Three, have publicly committed to not reimposing charges.

However, this idea has not been viewed favourably by most telecoms companies.

In late 2016, Sharon White, Chief Executive of Ofcom said that leaving the EU without putting alternative arrangements in place would mean “our mobile operators may be exposed to unfair costs, and our people and businesses could end up paying more than our European neighbours”.

The House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee has also said it does not believe that mobile operators will be able to choose not to reimpose charges – technical reasons will mean their operating costs will be pushed up considerably after being pushed out of the European regulatory framework.

In terms of finding other arrangements, there really is no precedent for extending roaming charge abolition to non-EU countries.

One suggestion has been a bilateral agreement between the EU and the UK, but EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger told the European Parliament that a standalone UK-EU roaming agreement would be in breach of World Trade Organisation rules.

Another idea has been adopting the status quo into a Free Trade Agreement, however, no free trade agreement to date has incorporated roaming regulation.

That is even the case with Switzerland which enjoys extensive economic links and integration with the EU.

The only countries which enjoy travelling without roaming charges in the EU are countries like Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein but they are in the single market through membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) and the PM has ruled this out for Britain.

British travellers may have to start thinking about leaving their phones on airplane mode beyond the tarmac of the runway.

By Lewis Goodall

 

 

 

Co-op to follow Amazon with shop, scan and go phone app

 

Wikimedia

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 7 Mar 2018) London, Uk – –

Technology expected to be rolled out this summer raises fears for retail jobs

The Co-op is set to roll out technology that allows shoppers to scan and pay for items on their smartphone while they shop, and then walk out of the store without visiting a till.

The retailer’s “shop, scan and go” service follows Amazon’s experiment with an automated convenience store in the US. Such initiatives could spell the beginning of the end for the supermarket checkout – fuelling fears that automation could eventually eliminate millions of retail jobs. In Britain, 2.9 million people are employed in the retail trade.

A Co-op spokesman said the pay-in-the-aisle technology, a joint venture with Mastercard, would appeal to time-pressed shoppers looking for a fast, “frictionless” buying experience where they did not have to queue at the till.

The member-owned business is in the final stages of a trial at a store in its support centre in Manchester which is not open to the public. There is expected to be a further trial at the Co-op in Microsoft’s UK headquarters in Reading, Berkshire, but the store group said a wider rollout is expected to start as early as this summer.

In September 2017, Sainsbury’s revealed it was testing a similar app. However, that trial was limited to people buying a meal deal of three items at one store in central London. The Co-op said its service was believed to be a UK first for a supermarket because it covered all the products in its store, with no need to visit the till.

A number of retailers in the US have launched similar initiatives. Amazon’s automated grocery store in Seattle – branded Amazon Go– opened in January 2018. The same month Walmart announced it was expanding a trial of its Scan & Go app to another 100 stores across the country.

With the Co-op service, shoppers scan products with their phone as they walk around the store. When they have finished shopping, they can “check out” using their payment card details stored within the app, and then leave the store, with both the Co-op and the individual knowing they have paid.

The retailer said it was seeing a steep fall in the number of cash transactions in its stores as customers used alternative payment methods.

However, it insisted the new technology would complement, not replace, its existing ways of shopping and paying. Matthew Speight, the Co-op director of retail support, said: “It is all about consumer choices and convenience … We recognise there are many communities where customers pop in to their local Co-op and enjoy a friendly chat – it is all part of the service. Whereas for others, perhaps with a train to catch or on a school run, every second can count as consumers seek increased convenience.”

Some have wondered whether the rise of checkout-free technology could trigger an increase in shoplifting – while Sainsbury’s reportedly said of its trial that honest customers “feel uncomfortable just walking out”.

By Rupert Jones

 

 

Airbus one of the UK’s biggest manufacturing employers warns it may need to stockpile parts against Brexit

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

Airbus, one of the UK’s biggest manufacturing employers, has warned it may have to stockpile parts to operate smoothly once the UK leaves the EU.

Katherine Bennett, senior vice-president for Airbus UK, told the BBC it would have to decide very soon about “pressing the button” on stockpiling.

“We spend £5bn a year on the UK supply chain… it is really important the parts don’t get held up in warehouses.”

Ms Bennett said the firm was in discussions with government.

She told the BBC’s Today programme that the firm operated a “just in time” supply chain, which meant that even a three-hour delay at Dover, for example, would be “a critical issue”.

“We need conditions right for us, we just don’t need these burdens… which may make Airbus think differently [about its base],” she warned.

Airbus builds its planes in four “home” countries across Europe. In the UK, it builds the wings for its planes at Filton, near Bristol, and has other operations at Broughton in North Wales.

Separately, the company issued a statement on Monday saying it would meet European works council members later in the week to talk about the possible impact on jobs from a falling production rates of the A380 and A400M planes.

There have been recent press reports of plans for thousands of job cuts at the company.

Airbus said it had a policy of “first addressing workforce issues with its social partners” before any public disclosure.

In its statement, the company said it “deeply regrets that the process on the current subject matter has been disturbed by leaks to the media, which resulted in excessive reporting about alleged job cuts in its four home countries”.