Hitachi pulls out of £16bn Wylfa nuclear plant in Wales

( via – – Thur, 17th Jan 2019) London, Uk – –

The government has reasserted it commitment to developing nuclear power after Hitachi pulled out of the Wylfa nuclear power plant this morning.

The company took the decision to suspend work on the £16bn facility behind Hinkley Point C, which was meant to produce six per cent of the UK’s electricity, after holding detailed discussions with the government.

Read more: Hitachi claims ‘no decision' has been made on future of UK nuclear plant

But despite the move, Hitachi has indicated that it will keep ownership of the site, while discussing options with the government.

“I am very sorry to say that despite the best efforts of everyone involved we’ve not been able to reach an agreement to the satisfaction of all concerned,” said Duncan Hawthorne, the chief executive of Hitachi subsidiary of Horizon Nuclear Power.

“As a result we will be suspending the development of the Wylfa Newydd project, as well as work related to Oldbury, until a solution can be found. In the meantime we will take steps to reduce our presence but keep the option to resume development in future.”

The move puts thousands of jobs at risk and will cause headaches for a government which aims to increase nuclear’s share of energy production from a quarter to a third by 2035.

It could also come at a cost to taxpayers if the government decides to step in and rescue the project.

However, the move also hits Hitachi. The company said it will take a write-down of ¥300bn (£2.14bn) at its British nuclear unit as it suspends the project.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “As the business secretary [Greg Clark] set out in June, any deal needs to represent value for money and be the right one for UK consumers and taxpayers.”

They continued: “This government is committed to the nuclear sector, giving the go ahead to the first new nuclear power station in a generation at Hinkley Point C, investing £200 million through our recent sector, which includes millions for advanced nuclear technologies.”

“We are also reviewing alternative funding models for future nuclear projects and will update on these findings in summer 2019.”

Read more: Toshiba withdraws from UK nuclear power station

Hitachi was struggling to find other investors to join it in the project, and had called on the government to step in to provide support.

The Japanese company bought into the project when it paid £697m to two German power companies in 2012.

By August Graham

TSMC forecast sharp revenue drop as global slowdown eats away at smartphone and technology firms

( via – – Thu, 17th Jan, 2019) London, Uk – –

Semiconductor market bellwether Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC)has forecast a sharp drop in sales growth as a global slowdown eats away at smartphone companies and technology firms.

Taiwan-based TSMC, which makes chips that are used in Apple's iPhones and iPads, said it expected revenues to fall to around $7.3bn (£5.7bn) in the current quarter, below the $8.1bn predicted by analysts, and a significant drop on its previous quarter.

Earlier this month, Apple warned that its revenues, which are largely driven by sales of the iPhone, were due to miss expectations.

With the global smartphone market slowing down as sales reach saturation point, chipmakers are expecting orders to slip.

TSMC endured its worst quarter in a decade in the three months ending in December as its market cap fell by $39bn.

The amount of revenue it is expecting would be significantly down on the $9.4bn the chipmaker made in the final three months of 2018.

TSMC is the world's largest dedicated semiconductor foundry, supplying customers including Qualcomm, Nvidia and AMD. It also manufactures dedicated chip designs exclusively for Apple's iPhones, such as the A12 Bionic chip which appears in the iPhone XS and iPhone XR smartphones. 

TSMC chief financial officer Lora Ho said the fall was down to weakening macroeconomic environment, “mobile product seasonality” and an overstocked supply chain.

Earlier this month, Apple chief executive Tim Cook warned shareholders that its sales were set to fall to around $84bn, down from a previous estimate of $93bn.

Meanwhile, South Korea's Samsung, which manufacturers the Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphone, also predicted its first quarterly earnings drop in two years last week as chip and phones sales stall.

By  Matthew Field 

Ford and Volkswagen to announce partnership at Detroit auto show

( via – – Tue, 15th Jan 2019) London, Uk – –

Car companies seek to reduce costs amid slowing sales, with announcement expected at Detroit auto show on Tuesday

Ford and Volkswagen are expected to announce an alliance on Tuesday as the two car companies look to cut the cost of the technological revolution now shaking the industry and deal with slowing sales.

The announcement is expected at the Detroit auto show and comes after Ford and VW signed a memorandum of understanding last June to explore several joint projects, including the development of a range of commercial vehicles.

“We are talking to Volkswagen,” the Ford chairman, Bill Ford, said on Monday at the show. “The talks are going really well. We’re going to have more to say later this week. Stay tuned.”

Ford’s chief executive, Jim Hackett, has suggested that VW could also build Ford-branded cars in Europe.

An alliance would be the largest of its kind in the industry and comes as both companies have struggled. This month, Ford announced it was cutting thousands of jobs in Europe and closing plants. Its European sales fell 2.3% in the first 11 months of last year.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Hackett said Britain’s decision to leave the European Union had hurt the company’s “evolution” in Europe.

“As it relates to Europe, this is not just a new problem,” Hackett said. “We think there’s a design in the future that allows us to be there with Ford-branded products. But we have to get the industrial system in the right construct for that. I’m not going to pull any punches – Brexit hurt.”

But Hackett said Ford would not leave Europe as General Motors did in 2017, when it sold Opel and Vauxhall to PSA Group, owners of Peugeot and Citroën.

Volkswagen, meanwhile, has its own issues and sales have been hit by “dieselgate”– the revelation that VW executives had gamed emission tests by installing illegal software in 11m diesel cars.

Both companies have been hit by falling sales of diesel vehicles and by a slowdown in the Chinese market, the world’s largest, where car sales recently fell for the first time in 20 years. Analysts are also expecting the US market to contract over the next two years after several years of growth.

Michelle Krebs, an executive analyst for Autotrader, said an alliance would come at a crucial moment for both companies. Both are investing billions in new technology including autonomous vehicles and electric cars.

“The cost of developing these technologies is high and nobody knows when there will be a payoff,” she said. “It’s all expense and no clear path to profit.”

Ford has earmarked $15bn for electrified and driverless vehicle technology in the coming years and is renovating Detroit’s landmark Michigan Central Station into a “mobility lab” for new car technology.

By Dominic Rushe 

Google shareholders file lawsuit over multi-million dollar payout to executives

( via – – Fri 11th Jan 2019) London, Uk – –

Google shareholders are suing the company board and senior management for covering up executives' sexual harassment and rewarding them with large payouts for leaving quietly. 

Two lawsuits, including one from shareholder James Martin and another from the Northern California Pipe Trades Pension Plan and Teamsters Local 272 Labor Management Pension Fund, were filed on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. Both argue that the Silicon Valley giant’s leaders breached their duty to shareholders by covering up employee complaints. 

Last year it emerged that Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android operating system had been given $90m to leave in 2014, despite Google concluding that sexual harassment allegations from another employee were credible.

The truth behind his departure was only made public thanks to a report in the New York Times. The story detailed how Google had covered up sexual harassment accusations against at least three other male executives, who were either allowed to continue their role or offered a similar severance package. The revelations spurred a mass “Walkout” from Google staff around the world.

As a result, Google said it would remove a forced arbitration from its employee contracts, which workers were initially forced to sign to waive their rights to a day in court over work-related complaints. Many are continuing to protest what they described as a sexist and toxic work culture among the ranks. 

The organisers of the walkout said they were “grateful” for the lawsuits adding that “anyone who enables abuse, harassment and discrimination must be held accountable, and those with the most power have the most to account for”.

Both lawsuits are targeting leaders and executives at Google who were aware of Rubin’s misdemeanors and those who authorised his large payouts upon his resignation including former human resources director Laszlo Bock and top lawyer David Drummond, who was also accused of improper work relationships in the New York Times’ story.

Lawyers for Mr Martin said they had obtained minutes from internal meetings that proved that one of the executives had been given the money so he would not share any “dirt” on former colleagues. 

The charges include  breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, abuse of power and corporate waste. Google has been contacted for comment. 

By  Margi Murphy

Sophia Genetics gets $77m in funding as Mike Lynch steps down from biotech board

( via – – Fri, 4th Jan 2019) London, Uk – –

Sophia Genetics has raised $77m (£61m) in a round led by Al Gore's Generation Investment Management, just days after Mike Lynch stepped down from his role on the biotech startup's board.

According to The Financial Times, as part of Generation Investment Management's investment and before Mr Lynch's indictment, the fund had “agreed with Sophia that Mr Lynch would step down from the board”.

“There was obviously noise around Invoke and the Autonomy investigation long ago, and we just thought it could prove a distraction for the company and that it would be in their best interest if he stepped down,” Lilly Wollman, of Generation Investment Management, said.

Last month, Mr Lynch agreed to step down from a number of his board positions, including his post at cyber security company Darktrace and on the Council of Science and Technology. 

It came after the US Department of Justice filed an indictment charging him on 14 counts of fraud – the latest twist in a six-year legal battle over the sale of Mr Lynch's software company Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard.

The DoJ claims that Mr Lynch, together with a former finance executive, artificially inflated revenues and misled auditors and analysts ahead of the 2011 $11.7bn tie-up. The year after HP bought Autonomy, it was forced to take a $8.8bn writedown on the deal. 

Lawyers for Mr Lynch had responded at the time saying the indictment was a “travesty of justice”, and that the “stale allegations are meritless and we reject them emphatically”. 

However, a spokesman for Mr Lynch's investment fund Invoke had said he had “decided to step away from some of his public facing roles whilst he focuses on clearing his name”, including giving up his post at Sophia Genetics.

Invoke will retain its board seat.

The latest funding round, announced on Friday by the Switzerland-based company, takes the total raised by Sophia Genetics to $140m, and also included investments from Balderton Capital and Idinvest Partners. 

Jurgi Camblong, Sophia's co-founder and chief executive, said: “We want to be ready in the next two years to afford an IPO and raise a substantial amount of capital because we believe there will be a health-tech player that will dominate this market.”

By  Hannah Boland 

UK biotech firms thrive despite Brexit threat with £1.6bn from investors in 2018

( via – – Wed, 26th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

Booming sector received nearly £1.6bn from investors in first eight months of 2018

Biotech is one of the most promising parts of the British drug industry, not least according to the investors who continue to pump vast sums into the sector despite the looming shadow of Brexit. In the first eight months of 2018 alone it received nearly £1.6bn, compared with £1.2bn for the entirety of 2017.

An unassuming building in a science park near the Hertfordshire town of Stevenage is hosting four biotech firms that hope to achieve a major breakthrough for the field – and go some way to justifying that faith from investors.

The premise of biotech is radical: it harnesses living organisms to fight diseases. These firms – Adaptimmune, Cell Medica, Autolus and Freeline Therapeutics – are working on so-called living medicines, which use human cells and genes, to treat conditions ranging from hard-to-treat cancers to haemophilia and eye diseases.

They are based at a government-funded cell and gene manufacturing centre, which opened in May and is the largest such collaborative centre in the world. Cell and gene therapies can fix genetic defects and reengineer patients’ cells to recognise and attack tumours and other diseases.

There are more than 60 biotech firms specialising in cell and gene therapy in the UK, making it the second-biggest cluster in the world after the US.

In Stevenage, Adaptimmune, Cell Medica and Autolus all focus on cancer while Freeline is working on therapies for bleeding disorders. Another UK firm, London-based Nightstar Therapeutics, has a gene therapy in late-stage studies to treat a rare retinal disorder that leads to blindness.

Keith Thompson, the CEO of Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT), who set up the Stevenage centre, believes that turning cells and genes into living medicines can offer cures rather than just treating symptoms – and could be exported by Britain around the world. He describes it as “an absolute revolution”.

He is optimistic despite the looming threat of Brexit. “We’re trying to take the UK science into a new industry and not let it bleed offshore.”

Simon Pegg, the director at Adaptimmune, which is developing T-cell therapies for cancer, says the re-engineered cells start working straight away and cancer patients can see benefits within a week. In T-cell therapy, white blood cells called T-cells are taken from a patient. They are refrigerated and shipped to be reprogrammed to combat cancer cells, and then frozen under liquid nitrogen before being transported back to the clinical site for infusion into the patient.

However, there are challenges. Living therapies are expensive to make, resulting in a high price tag, and unlike traditional drugs cannot be stored in blister packs in a pharmacy.

Along with others, CGT is working hard to scale up the new therapies so they become routine treatments in Britain. The Stevenage centre will eventually be able to make 6,000 patient doses a year.

Three new government-funded treatment centres, where patients will receive cell and gene therapies, are also in the works – in the north, Manchester, and the Midlands and Wales.

There has been a string of positive news recently. In October, a stem cell gene therapy for severe inherited blood disorders that is being developed by London-based Orchard Therapeutics, a spinout from University College London, was given priority status by industry regulator the European Medicines Agency.

By Julia Kollewe

Huawei’s kit removed from UK’s police force and other emergency services

( via – – Tue, 25th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

BT has confirmed that equipment made by Huawei is being removed from the heart of a communication system being developed for the UK's police forces and other emergency services.

It follows a statement from BT earlier this month that it was swapping out the Chinese firm's kit from the “core” of its 3G and 4G mobile networks.

The Sunday Telegraph was first to report the latest development.

It said the move could extend work on the late-running £2.3bn project.

BT is covering the cost of the switch. It does not believe the changeover will lead to a further delay.

Priority access

The Emergency Services Network (ESN) was originally due to be completed by the end of 2019.

At that point it was meant to replace an existing Motorola-owned radio system called Airwave, which is used by the police, fire and rescue, and ambulance services.

The ESN is intended to give its users “secure” priority access to EE's 4G network, which is being extended via additional radio frequencies in rural areas and new mast sites. It should be cheaper to run than Airwave while also providing superior voice and data capabilities.

But the effort is overrunning, and in September the Home Office announced that it would pay for use of Airwave until the end of 2022 with scope for a further extension if required.

EE won the contract to roll out the ESN in 2015, a year before the network provider was acquired by BT.

Since then, it has become subject to a BT policy that Huawei's kit should not be used at the core of its mobile networks to push customers' data about.

Instead, BT limits the equipment to periphery parts such as phone mast antennas.

“We have ongoing plans to swap to a new core network vendor for ESN, in line with BT's network architecture principles established in 2006,” a spokesman for EE told the BBC.

“This will be managed with no disruption to the ESN service.”

He added that it was still EE's intention to offer “full capability” of the system by 2020.

BT has not been explicit about the reasons behind its policy.

But security concerns have been raised about the use of Huawei's network infrastructure products, with the chief of MI6 Alex Younger recently saying Britain needed to decide how comfortable it was “with Chinese ownership of these technologies”.

Even so, the Financial Times reported last week that telecoms executives are opposed to an outright ban, warning that such a move would set back deployment of 5G in the UK by up to a year.

Huawei has repeatedly rejected suggestions that it poses a risk and denies having ties to the Chinese government beyond those of being a law-abiding taxpayer.

The billionaire who turned a small business in a shed into the biggest electronics operation on the planet

Source: Bloomberg

Foxconn is known for being the biggest assembler of iPhones. Terry Gou is the chairman and largest shareholder of Foxconn. He's also one of Taiwan's richest men. This is the story of how Gou turned a small operation in a shed into the biggest electronics operation on the planet. Now he's building a $14.5 billion factory in Wisconsin.

The rise and fall of Barnes & Noble the brick-and-mortar bookseller

Source: CNBC

Before Amazon challenged Barnes & Noble the brick-and-mortar bookseller was one of the most prolific American chains during the twentieth century. This holiday season could be the most crucial one of Barnes & Noble's history. Its sales have been in a decline for six years as the bookseller cedes market share to Amazon and consumers turn to their phones or portable tablets instead of books. There's been a revolving door in the retailer's C-suite, and activist investors have piled on. Now, Barnes & Noble is considering a sale of its business after receiving interest from a handful of parties, including its so-called modern-day founder and executive chairman, Leonard Riggio, and reportedly, U.K. retailer W.H. Smith.

Marlboro owner Altria buys stake in e-cigarette maker Juul Labs for £10bn

( via – – Fri, 21st Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

Marlboro cigarette maker Altria Group has bought a 35pc stake in Juul Labs for $12.8bn (£10.1bn) as it seeks to gain a foothold in the growing e-cigarette market.

The deal values the San Francisco-based company at $38bn, more than double the roughly $16bn valuation it fetched in a private funding round in July.

As the popularity of smoking declines, the deal extends Altria’s move away from traditional tobacco products and into higher-growth businesses in order to protect its revenue.

Earlier this month, it spent $1.8bn buying a 45pc stake in Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group, with an option to take majority control in the future.

Howard Willard, Altria’s chief executive, said: “We are taking significant action to prepare for a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose non-combustible products over cigarettes.”

Juul has expanded rapidly since it launched in 2015 to become a market leader in e-cigarettes, and is expected to use the investment from Altria to give it a greater presence in convenience stores and other retailers.

Its products turn a nicotine-laced liquid into vapour, and are considered safer than cigarettes because they do not burn tobacco.

The deal will allow Juul to reach Altria’s customers through advertisements on traditional packs of cigarettes as well as by directly contacting customers.

Juul has faced criticism for encouraging young people to take up smoking, although legally its products cannot be bought by anyone under the age of 18 in the UK.

The company has also stopped using social media sites including Twitter and Instagram to promote its products, and strengthened its age verification processes to restrict sales to those who are under 21 years old in the US, where the problem is most acute.

Kevin Burns, the company’s chief executive, said: “Our success ultimately depends on our ability to get our product in the hands of adult smokers and out of the hands of youth.”

The UK has strict limits on the labelling of liquids for e-cigarettes as well as the quantity that is allowed to be sold at any one time. Initially, consumers were allowed to use e-cigarettes in buildings and on public transport but the rules were tightened last year to outlaw this.

Current NHS guidelines suggest e-cigarettes may help people to stop smoking, but admit that there is a not yet a “full picture on their safety”.

By  Rhiannon Curry 

Minicab and Uber drivers to pay London congestion charge from April

( via – – Thur, 20th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

Minicab and Uber drivers will no longer be exempt from the £11.50 congestion charge from April next year, Sadiq Khan announced today as part of his push to curb pollution levels.

TfL expects the changes to reduce the number of private hire vehicles entering the congestion zone each day by up to 8,000, a 44 per cent drop from current levels.

The congestion charge applies from Monday to Friday from 7am to 6pm and covers London’s central zone. The boundary stretches round King’s Cross, the city, the Imperial war museum and Buckingham palace.

Higher costs can be expected to hit operators as well as customers looking for a ride in the centre. Uber rival Addison Lee has previously come out with a prediction that the plans will cost it £4m a year.

“We need private hire vehicles and taxis to play their part and help us clean up our filthy air,” said Sadiq Khan, who argued that “tough decisions” needed to be made in order to “protect the health and wellbeing of London”.

Khan has also argued that scrapping the drivers' exemption is necessary to drive down congestion. TfL has said that the pace of the rise in private hire vehicles, which has been bolstered by ride-hailing apps such as Uber, had not been anticipated when the exemption was originally put in place 15 years ago.

The move can also be expected to generate some extra cash for TfL at a time when its revenues have been squeezed as a result of fare freezes and the continued delays hitting its Crossrail project.

The Licensed Private Hire Car Association set up a petition opposing the changes last month, which reached just under 10,000 signatures. Responding to the decision, the group said: “We will do everything we can to challenge this disappointing decision.”

“We do not agree that removing the congestion charge exemption for private hire drivers in London is indeed fair, nor going to reduce congestion.”

An exception will be made for vehicles that are wheelchair accessible, while those that meet certain requirements will be eligible for a new type of cleaner vehicle discount.

Richard Dilks, transport director at London First, said: “The congestion charge has cut traffic in the capital, but London’s roads are still grinding to a halt.

“While it’s right to address the impact of private hire cars, in isolation it is not enough. London is Europe’s second most congested city, and after 15 years of the charge it’s time to modernise the entire system to make sure it continues to work for the capital well in to the future. That includes looking at how to tackle congestion and emissions together, help freight be even more efficient, and make bus journeys faster and more reliable.”

By Kim Darrah

The CEO Who Envisage One Day Sending People Into Space With High Altitude Balloons

Source: Bloomberg

Jane Poynter is CEO of World View Enterprises, a flight technology company which transports things to the stratosphere and back using high altitude balloons. One day soon, she'd like to send us all up there too. Video by Leila Hussain & David Nicholson

Huawei CFO arrested in Canada amid telecoms giant spying row

( via – – Thu, 6th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

Canada has arrested the chief financial officer of Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant at the centre of a spying row, as US authorities seek to extradite her.

Meng  Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday, it emerged on Wednesday night. American prosecutors are seeking to have her moved to the US as it investigates whether the company broke trade sanctions against Iran.

It comes amid deepening suspicions of Huawei in the UK and elsewhere. On Wednesday, BT said it would remove the company’s equipment from its networks within two years, after more than a decade using it.

Huawei was founded by Ren Zhengfei, a former member of China’s People’s Liberation Army, and has been consistently met with suspicion in the West. Its equipment is banned in the US and Australia and in the UK it is rigorously tested by the Government at a guarded facility.

Ms Meng is one of Huawei’s top executives and its deputy chairman, as well as Mr Ren's daughter.

Beijing on Wednesday protested the arrest of the Chinese national and urged her immediate release.

“The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harmed the human rights of the victim,” a statement said.

“The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Ms. Meng Wanzhou.”

A spokesman for Canada's Justice Department said : “Wanzhou Meng was arrested in Vancouver on December 1. She is sought for extradition by the United States, and a bail hearing has been set for Friday.”

“As there is a publication ban in effect, we cannot provide any further detail at this time.”

Earlier this week, the head of MI6 Alex Younger raised concerns about the company, saying Britain would have to make a decision about whether it was willing to have Huawei equipment in the next generation of mobile internet networks.

“We need to decide the extent to which we are going to be comfortable with Chinese ownership of these technologies and these platforms in an environment where some of our allies have taken a very definite position,” he said.

A Huawei spokesman said: “Recently, our corporate CFO, Ms. Meng Wanzhou, was provisionally detained by the Canadian Authorities on behalf of the United States of America, which seeks the extradition of Ms. Meng Wanzhou to face unspecified charges in the Eastern District of New York, when she was transferring flights in Canada.

“The company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng. The company believes the Canadian and US legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion.

“Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU.”

By James Titcomb

Uber fined for 2016 data hack by British and Dutch regulators

( via — Tue, 27th Nov 2018) London, UK —

(Reuters) – British and Dutch regulators on Tuesday fined ride-hailing service Uber [UBER.UL] for failing to protect customers’ personal information during a 2016 cyber attack involving millions of users.

Names, mobile phone numbers and email addresses were compromised in the breach, which involved 57 million users worldwide. That included 2.7 million user accounts in Britain, representing the vast majority of people using the ride-hailing service in the country.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in Britain fined the company 385,000 pounds ($490,760) while the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) imposed 600,000 euro ($678,780) fine.

“This was not only a serious failure of data security on Uber’s part, but a complete disregard for the customers and drivers whose personal information was stolen,” ICO Director of Investigations Steve Eckersley said in a statement.

“At the time, no steps were taken to inform anyone affected by the breach, or to offer help and support. That left them vulnerable.”

The ICO also said that the records of almost 82,000 drivers based in the UK – which included details of journeys made and how much they were paid – were also taken during the incident in October and November 2016.

The breach occurred before the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) earlier this year, which would empower the ICO to issue fines up to 17 million pounds or 4 percent of a company’s global turnover.

Uber, which has also faced licensing problems in London and a long-running legal battle over workers’ rights for its British drivers, said it had changed data practices since 2016 and this year hired a chief privacy officer and data protection officer.

“We’re pleased to close this chapter on the data incident from 2016,” Uber said in a statement.

“As we shared with European authorities during their investigations, we’ve made a number of technical improvements to the security of our systems both in the immediate wake of the incident as well as in the years since.”

The breach affected 174,000 people in the Netherlands and the Dutch DPA said it was fining Uber for failing to report the incident within 72 hours of its discovery.

Reporting by Alistair Smout and Muvija M


GCHQ warns Black Friday could be “prime picking” for cyber-crime

( via – – Fri, 23rd Nov, 2018) London, Uk – –

Black Friday sales could be targeted as “prime pickings” for cyber-crime, the UK's cyber-security defence agency has warned shoppers.

The National Cyber Security Centre, part of the GCHQ intelligence service, is issuing advice to shoppers of the risk of “malicious” online threats.

It is the first such official cyber-warning in the run-up to the Christmas shopping season.

“It's vital that knowledge is shared,” says Ian Levy of the cyber-agency.

The cyber-wing of the GCHQ communications centre says it wants to start a “national cyber-chat” on Black Friday when billions are spent on online shopping.

Speaking in public
It might be known for working in secret, but the agency wants to engage with the public over the seriousness of the threat.

It has been involved in trying to tackle more than 550 significant cyber-incidents in the past 12 months, and has taken down almost 140,000 “phishing” websites used by fraudsters.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is giving tips for individual consumers to avoid cyber-crime – and for the first time it will be publishing answers to questions from the public on Twitter.

There are warnings for better cyber-security when billions are being spent on online shopping
“Staying safe online doesn't require deep technical knowledge, and we want the whole country to know that the NCSC speaks the same language as them,” said Mr Levy, the cyber-defence agency's technical director.

“With so many of the UK shopping online, we want to see these tips shared from classrooms and scout groups to family dinner tables and old people's homes.”

The agency's chief executive, Ciaran Martin, recently told a meeting of business leaders of a “serious and sustained” threat, including from “elite hackers” in other countries.

“It is not speculation and it is not scare-mongering,” said Mr Martin. “Large-scale criminal cyber-activity is, sadly, ubiquitous.”

This could include the “theft of millions” from retailers and attacks on financial networks on which shops depend, he said.

‘Post-Christmas headache'
A data breach had an average cost of £3m, he said – and there were estimates that the WannaCry cyber-attack last year had cost the United States £3.5bn.

Another cyber-attack last year, known as NotPetya, had cost one firm up to £250m, including the cost of replacement IT equipment.

The British Retail Consortium is backing the calls for better cyber-security during the Christmas shopping season.

“With more and more shoppers looking to get the best deals online, retailers continue to invest significantly in developing the right tools and expertise to protect against cyber-threats,” says James Martin, security adviser to the retailers' organisation.

But he warned of the danger of cyber-crime causing a “post-Christmas headache”.

The National Cyber Security Centre's advice to reduce the risk of cyber-crime is:

Install the latest software and app updates
Choose strong and separate passwords for accounts
Type in a shop's website address rather than clicking on links in emails
Avoid over-sharing unnecessary information with shops, even if they ask
Don't panic if you think you've been a victim of fraud
Keep an eye on bank accounts for unrecognised payments
Make sure all your home gadgets are secure

By Sean Coughlan



Apple considering launch of Roku-like TV dongle for streaming service

( via – – Thur, 22nd Nov 2018) London, Uk – –

Apple is considering launching a small dongle that could plug into TV sets, giving more users access to its new streaming service.

The iPhone-maker already has a premium set-top streaming box – the Apple TV – but rivals Google and Amazon have both found success with their downmarket streaming sticks.

Models including the Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast or Roku have proved popular among people who want to stream from their smartphone or the internet. The sticks plug into the back of a TV and let users stream services such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, or, in Google's case, stream footage from a smartphone straight to the TV.

Apple is in the process of developing its own TV streaming service with original shows that it hopes will rival those produced by Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. The service is set to be limited, however, and only available on Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad or its Apple TV box.

The current Apple TV 4K costs up to £199, while rival streaming sticks cost as little as £30. A new budget streaming box would help widen its appeal, according to technology news site The Information. Apple is said to be preparing to launch its streaming service as early as March 2019.

It is still not clear what Apple's streaming service will look like. Some series have been delayed by Apple, while a show featuring rapper Dr Dre was reportedly left on the cutting room floor after Apple chief executive Tim Cook decided the show was too violent.

Apple is also said to be unwilling to let its TV app exist outside of its own products, which would limit its ability to expand.

Apple has around 15pc of the streaming media player market, having first launched its Apple TV box in 2006. Its share has remained relatively steady as rivals have increased their positions.

By Matthew Field


Nationwide report 17 percent drop in first-half profit on technology investment

( via — Thur, 22nd Nov, 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Nationwide Building Society (POB_p.L), one of Britain’s three biggest mortgage providers, reported a 17 percent drop in first-half profit on Wednesday as it booked a charge for asset write-offs and technology investments.

The lender said it took a charge of 135 million pounds for the six-month period, as it invests in technology to improve its services amid rising competition for savings deposits from traditional incumbent players and new upstart digital banks.

Nationwide, a bellwether for the British home loan market with its 13 percent mortgage share, said its net interest margin fell to 1.27 percent in April-September, from 1.34 percent in the same period a year ago, amid intense competition among lenders.

Banks in Britain have in recent months reported tightening margins, as new players entering the market and contracting demand for home loans have squeezed the rates lenders can charge.

Nationwide said its statutory profit was 516 million pounds in the first half of its financial year, down from 628 million in the same period a year ago but in line with expectations.

Unlike rival listed banks such as Lloyds and Barclays which have a goal of delivering ever higher profits to their shareholders, Nationwide operates as a society owned by its customers and has said it will be comfortable keeping annual profits at between 0.9 billion and 1.3 billion pounds per year.

The lender said fears about the impact of Britain’s exit from the European Union have held back investment.

Thyssenkrupp forecasts profit rise as it seeks to win back trust
“Consumer confidence and activity in the housing market are more subdued than what you’d expect,” Nationwide Chief Economist Robert Gardner said.

Nationwide said it will press ahead with plans to launch a business current account regardless of whether it wins funding for the scheme from a fund set up by Royal Bank of Scotland to fulfil the conditions of its 2008 crisis-era bailout.

That represented a change in Nationwide’s previous stance on the topic when it said it would only launch the business account if it succeeds in its application for the funding.

Reporting by Lawrence White


TSB appoints Debbie Crosbie as new chief executive after IT fiasco

( via – – Mon, 19th Nov 2018) London, Uk – –

TSB has appointed Debbie Crosbie as its chief executive, replacing Paul Pester who resigned in September after this year's IT meltdown at the bank.

In April, almost two million customers lost access to online banking services after the bungled introduction of a new computer system.

Ms Crosbie will join TSB in 2019, after 20 years at CYBG where her most recent role was chief operating officer.

Her basic salary will be £914,000, slightly more than her predecessor's.

She will also be eligible for a bonus scheme similar to Mr Pester's, the detail of which will be in its annual report.

Executive chairman Richard Meddings, who is running the bank until Ms Crosbie takes over, said: “In an impressive field of candidates, Debbie stood out.

“With over two decades of experience, superb retail and SME [small and medium sized] banking expertise, and a genuinely open and engaging style of leadership, we have found an outstanding new CEO”.

He added that her appointment was another step forward in completing “the work of putting things right for customers”.

Ms Crosbie, who is also currently vice chair of the Scottish CBI, said: “TSB has all the right ingredients to be the leading challenger bank in the UK.”

Mr Meddings will continue as executive chairman until Ms Crosbie's appointment receives regulatory approval and she takes up her new role. At that point he will return to his previous position as non-executive chairman.

What went wrong at TSB?
TSB used to be part of Lloyds Banking Group, but it was split off from the group in 2013 and was floated on the stock market in 2014.

It was then bought by Spanish bank Sabadell in 2015. Earlier this year, the bank attempted to move customer records from the old Lloyds Banking Group computer platform to the Sabadell Proteo platform, a process that began on 20 April.

However, the switch proved to be a disaster with many customers being locked out of their accounts and some customers being given access to the confidential records of others. The problems continued for many weeks and TSB came under fierce criticism for the IT failings.

The debacle cost TSB £176m and the loss of thousands of customer accounts.

Paul Pester was TSB's chief executive at the time of the IT meltdown. He had joined Lloyds Banking Group in 2010 and in 2011 had been appointed to lead the launch of TSB and its separation from Lloyds.

In September this year it was announced Mr Pester was stepping down as chief executive.


Supersonic Air Travel Revival and The Challenges of Ultrafast Civilian Aircraft


Source:Verge Science

Supersonic air travel is back. 15 years after the Concorde was grounded, everyone from aerospace companies to NASA to small startups is working to bring back ultrafast civilian aircraft. We take a look at the engineering challenges that make supersonic flight so difficult, and try to figure out what’s different about this new generation of planes.