Instagram co-founders step down from the photo sharing app

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

The co-founders of Instagram have stepped down from the photo sharing app, six years after it was acquired by Facebook for $1bn (£760m).

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger informed Facebook's bosses of their resignation on Monday and plan to leave in the coming weeks, according to the New York Times.

The two have continued to run the app as chief executive and chief technology officer respectively as Instagram has ballooned from a hipster iPhone app to a giant with more than one billion users.

Their departure means that the founders of Facebook's three biggest acquisitions – WhatsApp, Oculus and now Instagram – have left since being bought by the social media giant. WhatsApp founder Jan Koum left Facebook earlier this year while Oculus Rift inventor Palmer Luckey departed last year amid a political row.

Reports of disagreements between Systrom and Krieger and Facebook's leadership have emerged in recent months. Mark Zuckerberg reportedly forced through the introduction of Instagram's Stories feature, a concept cloned from Snapchat, which has become wildly successful.

On Monday night Kevin Systrom posted a statement confirming the news:

“Mike and I are grateful for the last eight years at Instagram and six years with the Facebook team. We’ve grown from 13 people to over a thousand with offices around the world, all while building products used and loved by a community of over one billion. We’re now ready for our next chapter.

“We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again. Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do.

“We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from leaders to two users in a billion. We look forward to watching what these innovative and extraordinary companies do next.

Instagram has been one of Facebook's main bright spots as its owner has been beset by crises this year. The app had just 27m users when Facebook bought it in April 2012 but reached 1bn monthly users this summer. It has also offset a perceived exodus of younger users from the main Facebook social network.

News of their departure sparked speculation that Facebook had demanded a change to Instagram that Mr Systrom and Mr Krieger disagreed with.

Some reports have suggested the app is considering a “regram” button that would allow users to post other user's photos, similar to a Twitter retweet. The reports have been denied by Instagram.

A Facebook spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.


Unilever defend plan to base a new single headquarters in the Netherlands

( via — Tue, 25th Sept, 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Unilever (ULVR.L) (UNc.AS) executives took to the British press and airwaves on Tuesday to defend their plan to base a new single headquarters in the Netherlands, as opposition to it grows.

Unilever is fending off shareholder criticism about the move in Britain, where it has become entangled in the debate over Brexit and its impact on the economy.

In a coordinated charm offensive, Chairman Marijn Dekkers wrote an op-ed in the Daily Telegraph, while Chief Financial Officer Graeme Pitkethly appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

Both stressed that the maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream remained committed to Britain, with over 60 percent of its business run from London, and repeated arguments for why the move will benefit the company and its shareholders.

“The benefits we get, which accrue to all shareholders, are the ability to manage our portfolio of brands and businesses more dynamically in many ways,” Pitkethly said.

David Cumming, chief investment officer of equities at Aviva Investors, a top-20 Unilever shareholder, told BBC Radio that it looked like Unilever was moving to the Netherlands for better takeover protection in the wake of last year’s failed $143 billion takeover approach by Kraft Heinz (KHC.O).

In response, Pitkethly said “the best form of protectionism is great performance”.

The move is due for shareholder votes in late October, and so far, four top-20 shareholders, including Aviva, have voiced concern or disapproval. Together, they control about 5.5 percent of the British entity’s shares, according to Thomson Reuters data.

By Martinne Geller



Thomas Cook blames summer heatwave for drop in annual profit forecast

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( via – – Mon, 24th Sept, 2018) London, Uk – –

Thomas Cook shares have plunged 23% after it blamed the summer heatwave for a drop in its annual profit forecast.

“Many customers” had put off booking holidays abroad, instead staying at home in June and July to enjoy the sunshine, the holiday firm said.

The company said this had led to “higher than usual levels of discounting” in August and September.

It now expects full-year earnings of £280m, below its earlier forecast of around £323m, which it made in July.

In a separate statement, Thomas Cook also said it would replace its chief financial officer.

Thomas Cook's shares plunged 23% after the warning to 60p. The share price has halved in value since the start of the year.


Thomas Cook usually makes all of its annual profits during the summer.

But it also warned that the impact of the heatwave “is continuing to be felt into winter trading”.

“A downgrade of this size in 2018 is going to have some impact on 2019,” chief executive Peter Fankhauser told investors.

Thomas Cook said a return in popularity of holidays to Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia and Greece meant that total group bookings for the summer period were 12% higher than the same period last year.

However, average selling prices were 5% lower than last year.

Mr Fankhauser admitted its trading performance was “disappointing”, but said the firm had made “good strategic progress which positions us well to driver further performance improvement”.

The firm warned in July that annual earnings would be at the lower end of market expectations due to more people staying at home rather than booking last-minute holidays.

Shore Capital analyst Greg Johnson said assuming a normal trading environment going forward he expected “some of this year's shortfall to be recovered, although the winter is likely to be tougher”.

He downgraded his rating on the shares from “buy” to “hold” “until we get greater clarity over trading for Summer 2019”.

Patricia Yates, the director of Visit Britain, told the BBC earlier this year that there was a growing trend towards more late bookings, with nearly 80% of all trips being booked within three months of the travel date.

The hot weather in the UK therefore acts as a “timely reminder” to people who are “making a late-call on where to go on holiday”, she said.

In August, Thomas Cook's bigger rival Tui Group reiterated its full-year profit forecast, but said the heatwave meant it was unlikely to exceed its profit prediction.

Meanwhile, Thomas Cook's chief financial officer Bill Scott will leave the company at the end of November, and be replaced on an interim basis by Sten Daugaard, a board member of the company's German business.

A search for a permanent successor would start immediately, the company added.

Comcast Triumphed Over Fox In Auction For Sky

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( via– Mon, 24th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

Comcast's dramatic shoot-out with the US entertainment giant ends 21 months of uncertainty for Sky over its ownership.

Comcast has triumphed in the auction to buy Sky plc, the owner of Sky News, for £29.7bn in the biggest takeover ever seen in Europe's media industry.

Comcast's offer of £17.28 per share was £1.61 ahead of Fox's offer of £15.67.

The US giant's victory follows a dramatic shoot-out with US entertainment giant 21st Century Fox in a rare three-round auction overseen by the Takeover Panel.

The result ends 21 months of uncertainty for Sky over its ownership after the company's independent committee unanimously recommended the offer to shareholders.

In a statement Sky plc said: “As the price of the final Comcast Offer is materially superior, it is in the best interests of all Sky shareholders to accept the Comcast offer.

“Accordingly, the Independent Committee unanimously recommends that Sky shareholders accept the Comcast offer, and in order to ensure the successful closing of the Comcast offer, urges shareholders to accept immediately.”

Both companies want Sky to help them compete more effectively with the new wave of online entertainment providers, including streaming services provided by the likes of Netflix and Amazon Video, who sell their content directly to viewers.

Comcast in particular wants Sky to give it a presence in Europe and reduce its dependence on the US and has also made clear its admiration for Sky's technological know-how.

Disney, meanwhile, has been looking for a way to make its content available directly to viewers without having to go via a third party like a cable company.

Sky agreed to be taken over by Fox, its biggest shareholder, in December 2016. Since then, Fox has agreed to sell most of its entertainment assets to Disney, including its Hollywood film studio and its 39.1% stake in Sky.

However, the bid was held up by a lengthy series of investigations by the Competition & Markets Authority and by Ofcom, the broadcasting and telecoms regulator.

That opened the door for Comcast to make a counter-bid for Sky. In July, it tabled a £14.75-a-share offer for Sky, valuing the company at £26bn.

That was the highest offer going into today's auction and compared with Friday night's closing price of £15.85.

Under the contest, Fox – as the lower bidder – was entitled to raise its offer first.

In the second round, only Comcast was allowed to raise its offer.

This meant the two sides went into a final “sudden death” round of bidding.

Such auctions are exceptionally rare. There have been only four since the rules were changed in 2002 and the most recent of these was in April 2008 when Enodis, a maker of kitchen equipment for McDonald's and Burger King, was acquired by the US company Manitowoc for £948m.



Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive officer of Comcast, said it was a “great day”.

He added: “Sky is a wonderful company with a great platform, tremendous brand, and accomplished management team.

“This acquisition will allow us to quickly, efficiently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally.

“We couldn't be more excited by the opportunities in front of us.

“We now encourage Sky shareholders to accept our offer, which we look forward to completing before the end of October 2018.”

Jeremy Darroch, group chief executive for Sky, said: “This is the beginning of the next exciting chapter for Sky.

“Brian and his team have built a great business and we are looking forward to bringing our two companies together for the benefit of our customers and colleagues.

“As part of a broader Comcast we believe we will be able to continue to grow and strengthen our position as Europe's leading direct to consumer media company.

“Today's outcome is down to the hard work of tens of thousands of people who have built and developed this business together over the last 30 years. Sky has never stood still, and with Comcast our momentum will only increase.”

21st Century Fox said in a statement that it was “considering its options regarding its own 39% shareholding in Sky and will make a further announcement in due course”.

It added: “Sky is a remarkable story and we are proud to have played such a significant role in building the incredible value reflected today in Comcast's offer.”



Other companies whose fates have been decided by an auction overseen by the Panel include Corus, the owner of British Steel and Canary Wharf, the commercial property company.

However, in terms of the amount of money being paid, this auction is by far the biggest yet.

Sky, which was founded in 1989, is Europe's biggest pay television broadcaster.

It has 23 million household customers in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy, while it has recently launched “over the top” services in Spain and Switzerland.

It floated on the stock market in 1994 and, since flotation, has been a remarkably stable business, having had just five chief executives in the intervening 24 years – the late Sam Chisholm, Mark Booth, Tony Ball, James Murdoch – who is the current chairman of Sky and current chief executive of Fox – and Mr Darroch, the current incumbent.



By Ian King, Sky News business presenter

The Undercover Life Of A Female Bodyguard

( via – – Sun, 23rd Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

Jacquie Davis, who says she was the first woman to become a bodyguard in the UK, has protected royals and celebrities, rescued hostages and carried out undercover surveillance in her 30 years in the industry. Now her own life has inspired a Netflix thriller starring Noomi Rapace.

“When I came into the industry it was a very he-man attitude,” says Jacquie. “They just always wanted me to look after the female principal or the children which was ironic – as most of them were fathers and I wasn't even a mother!”

Having initially joined the police, Jacquie decided to move into private security in 1980 because it would give her more variety. “I wanted to do close protection, I wanted to do surveillance and wanted to do investigations,” she says.

Being a bodyguard is particularly high-profile at the moment thanks to Bodyguard, the BBC One drama starring Keeley Hawes as the UK's Home Secretary and Richard Madden as her personal protection officer. Writer Jed Mercurio's script is full of plot twists, guns – and a steamy relationship between the two lead characters.

“Technically it's been fine – it is a good drama,” says Jacquie, but while such relationships do occasionally happen “you'll get sacked immediately, no question”.

In her career she's travelled the world staying in five- and six-star hotels, but says “after 12 to 16 hours of thinking on your feet, it's not glamorous”. In addition to this, there is the toll on a bodyguard's private life. “You might not go home for eight to 10 weeks.”

Jacquie also specialises in the more dangerous end of the business – surveillance and rescue. Once she found herself begging on the streets of Iraq, disguised in a burka, as part of a mission to rescue oil workers.

While the job is about preventing danger to the client by planning ahead to avoid potential risks, sometimes real life can be as dramatic as any film or TV script.



“We were being chased by the Pakistan army and wandered into Kashmir,” she told BBC World Service's Business Daily programme. “The Kashmiri rebels were firing at the Pakistan army and we got caught in the crossfire.”

She and her team had gone undercover in a rescue mission to free a 23-year-old British woman who'd been tricked into going to Pakistan with her new husband.

Instead the woman was imprisoned, but eventually got a message to her mother telling her she was being held hostage and asking for help. Her mother contacted Jacquie.

One night, Jacquie broke into the villa where the woman was being held, handcuffed to an iron bedstead. “She said she was three months pregnant and was being raped, starved and beaten. I told her, ‘We will come back and get you out.'”

But suddenly they got a phone call telling them their cover was blown. “Benazir Bhutto, who I'd worked for [previously], had recognised me and thought she knew why I was there – to rescue somebody,” says Jacquie.

It meant they had to rethink their plans and act fast.

“We had to storm the villa by paying a taxi driver to ram the gates,” she says. They freed the woman and headed for India with the Pakistani army in pursuit. Going as far as they could in a vehicle they then walked across the mountains.



“We were trained and quite fit, but I've got a pregnant woman who's been beaten, starved and has a pair of flip-flops on. To me she was the real hero.”

Happily, they managed to dodge the gunfire in Kashmir and were able to bring the woman home.

Jacquie says there have been two big changes over her three decades in the industry.

More women are now signing up, though they still make up only one in 10 bodyguards in the UK.

The business also has a much higher public profile now. “Because of terrorism, security is in people's minds,” she says.

This political instability, coupled with an upsurge in the super-rich in the Middle East, China and elsewhere has driven the growth of the sector in recent years.

Figures from the Confederation of European Security Services show there are more than 230,000 people employed in the security services industry in the UK – and 1.9 million in the EU, with 44,000 security companies operating in the sector in Europe alone. Though only a fraction of these will actually be working as bodyguards.



In the UK, the Security Industry Authority (SIA) is the industry regulatory body responsible for personal licensing and private security regulations, and all newcomers need to do a training course first.

Which is fine as far as it goes, says Jacquie, but points out that “you're never going to come off a course and be a bodyguard or close protection operative immediately”.

Anybody working in personal protection needs to remember that they are not the client's friend. “You just have to maintain that slight apartness so you can be there when they need it and pull back when they don't,” she says.

Jacquie herself is now the subject of an upcoming Netflix film, Close. The action-thriller starring Noomi Rapace was inspired by Jacquie's life as a bodyguard and she was a consultant on the film.

Director Vicky Jewson has said that working with Jacquie “allowed us to bring an authenticity to the action scenes which was very important to me”.


Despite the stereotype of burly security men in dark glasses, the essence of being a bodyguard is brains not brawn, Jacquie insists.

Recruits need to learn the softer skills of the business to work with clients. For instance, which knife and fork to use in a Michelin restaurant and how to have afternoon tea at the Ritz while blending into the background.

You also need to keep up with current affairs, she advises. “You have to be able to talk about the Nasdaq, not The Only Way Is Essex.”

She's not dismissive of the personal risks that are occasionally involved but says you can't worry going into a job.

“You do the job you're trained to do. When you come out, that's when you go, ‘Oh my God, what have I just done?'”

Listen to the whole interview with Jacquie Davis on Business Daily.

By Tim Bowler



The Art Of Becoming A killer Negotiator in Nine Steps

( via – – Sat, 22 Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

Negotiating is something we do on a daily basis, be it at work or at home, and is key to ensuring that you always get the best outcome.

According to the late soul singer Marvin Gaye, “Negotiation means getting the best of your opponent”. But negotiation is an art form that is hard to learn and even harder to master.

We've cherry-picked the most powerful tips for becoming a killer negotiator from Quora, the global question and answer network, to find the secret to getting what you want, every time.

1. Always be prepared
“You need to know as much as you can about the other party/topic/project”, explains Sebastian Amieva, a Quora poster who studied negotiation at Harvard Law School.

Fellow Quora poster Margaret Weiss agrees: “Negotiation is about the other party. It's not about you. You can be the best orator in the world – concise, convincing, eloquent – but if the other party cannot relate to you, regardless of your skills, all of those efforts will be in vain.

“The first thing that negotiators do is research their target audience – and based on the information gathered they adjust their pitch to the exact expectations of the other party. This research is what makes a person a good negotiator: the ability to connect to the needs of the other party, and the ability to speak on the same level.”

2. Remain objective
“A mediator must remain objective in discussing issues, even if they dislike some or all of the parties to the negotiation,” says Shane Dempsey, a professional mediator.

Even if you don't like the other parties involved, they should still receive professionalism and courtesy, Ms Dempsey added.

3. Use open-ended questions

According to behavioural science expert Craig Dos Santos, asking open-ended questions is key to negotiating, as it gets the other party talking, “so you can learn more, listen more, and figure out what is driving their thought process”.

“Don't ask questions that start with verbs. “Is that okay?” or “Is the budget proposal correct?” Instead try, “How can we improve this?” or “What changes are needed in the budget proposal?”

4. Don't talk too much
By listening more and talking less, negotiators are able to develop a detailed understanding of the needs of the other person.

“The best negotiator that I've known really didn't talk much,” says Yishan Wong, a former chief executive of Reddit whose Quora post on this topic received almost 2,000 upvotes (or “likes”). “He would just ask you questions about what you wanted and listen really carefully.

“People like to talk about what they want and how they feel about it, so they will tend to go on about things if you let them, and he would just let them do that, all the while listening really carefully.

“He would then go away and figure out how to structure the right deal given the resources/abilities at his (or his company's) disposal, and then present them with a deal,” adds Mr Wong. “He didn't need to talk them into it very much, the key seemed to be all about getting into their heads to find out what kind of deal would be most appealing to them.”

5. Force a ‘no' out of your opponent
Mr Dos Santos has a contrarian approach to negotiation. “When you get a ‘no' you have a real answer,” he says. “Being open to (or even inviting) ‘no' is respecting the other side's ability to make a choice. Often yes answers are actually maybes, and they also don't give you information about the boundaries.

“A simple example: someone offers you £95,000, and you ask for £100,000. They say yes. What did you learn? Could you have asked for more? Should you have asked for something else instead?”

Mr Dos Santos claims that the key to asking the harder questions is being able to bring the person back after ‘no'. “Hard questions introduce tension, and your ability to ask them is gated by your ability to reduce that tension by making the other party feel okay/better,” he says. “Notice the focus on emotion.”

6. Give them options
“Humans have a basic need for autonomy. If our ability to choose is restricted, we rebel,” claims Quora poster Brandon Villano.

“Come up with a few options that are favorable to you, and give them the opportunity to select which one they want. This is very powerful because it makes them feel much more in control (while still satisfying your requirements).

“All in all remember it's a win/win situation you are looking to achieve. You want the other party to feel good about the decision they made and happy that they got what they wanted. If you always come out on top with others feeling cheated, you build a bad reputation and this will make others wary of attempting a transaction with you.”

7. Fake empathy
“The other day a friend pinged me because he wanted a discount on an Airbnb rental,” writes Mr Dos Santos. “It was £2,700 and he wanted it for £2,000. Instead of just offering £2,000, which would mean the owner would have to fight an internal battle over what the place was actually worth, I helped him over-empathise with her.”

The friend drafted an email that read: “The place is gorgeous. I loved the photos and I would love to stay there. It's probably worth more than £2,700 and your price is a steal. However, I'm on a company budget, and I can only pay £2,000.”

This is a counter-intuitive approach: this individual has admitted that the asking price is fair and even said that it might be worth more. However, by using emotional manipulation, he got his deal. “He didn't fight her on valuation, and he made her feel good about the place,” says Mr Dos Santos. “He got the discount. £700 in 10 minutes with one email.”

8. Fix a deadline for negotiations to end

Rather than allowing negotiations to go on interminably, fix a reasonable deadline to get the deal done.

“It is very helpful to have some deadline/expiration date to create a forcing function for the negotiators,” says entrepreneur Kacy Qua. “If you are negotiating on behalf of an organisation and you come out of the negotiation too quickly, your side will think you didn't put up a strong enough fight.

“Having a deadline also provides a point from which you can work backward, so that you can time the flow of agreements/proposal rejections.”

9. Volunteer for The Samaritans
“The FBI often trains hostage negotiators by sending them to crisis/suicide hotlines for a year,” says Mr Dos Santos. “This is a process I'm currently going through myself. Why? Because it's the ultimate training ground for focusing on someone's emotions, and moving them from A to B. And it's hugely rewarding work.”

By Sophie Christie



RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank customers unable to access online banking and app platforms


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

Customers of RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank are currently unable to access their accounts through the banking group's online and app platforms.

Since around 5am on Friday morning, account holders have been reporting problems with the services.

Many have taken to social media today to complain in an echo of problems at rival Barclays yesterday.

An RBS spokesman said “We are aware that customers are experiencing issues and are working to fix it”.

He added that: “Customers can still use ATMs and telephone banking or visit their local branch.”

According to the group's latest annual report it has 19 million customers in the UK and Republic of Ireland with 5.5 million active mobile app users.

Many of them have been sharing their frustration on social media, with a number pointing out that the problems have arrived at a terrible time – payday.

Customer Paul Murphy told the BBC: “This is just what you need as the weekend approaches and bills to pay.”

Jess Cochrane said: “It's payday, I can't transfer my wage to the joint account all the bills come out of, I have no card and no branch near me.”

The banks had a similar problem in April last year, when their banking apps stopped working.

This year has proven to be a terrible one for banking customers with a number being locked out of accounts after their bank has been hit by technical issues.

Barclays customers were locked out of their accounts online for several hours on Thursday.

Meanwhile customers of online challenger bank Cashplus – which targets people with poor credit histories – were unable to access their accounts, make cash withdrawals, or make or receive payments earlier this week.

Earlier this year TSB's huge IT meltdown led to weeks of pain for customers and the eventual resignation of chief executive Paul Pester.

Hannah Maundrell, editor of said: “Banks really need to pull their socks up because this keeps happening. It's really not good enough when so many customers are being encouraged to bank online.”


Sky ownership battle to be settled in auction with media heavyweights Fox, Disney and Comcast at the weekend

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

The protracted battle over ownership of Sky will be all but settled over 24 hours this weekend in a rare auction in which three global media heavyweights will go three rounds.

Comcast will take on the tag team of 21st Century Fox and Disney, with investors expecting the winning side to value Sky at at least £27bn.

The Takeover Panel, the City’s regulator of merger processes, will act as referee between the Murdoch family, who contol Fox and will line up alongside Disney chairman Bob Iger, and Brian Roberts, the Comcast chief.

The rules of engagement have been drawn up by the Takeover Panel after negotiations with both sides. The auction will formally begin at 5pm on Friday and conclude at the same time on Saturday.

There will be three rounds of bidding. In the first round, only the contender with the lowest offer going into the auction, currently Disney and Fox, will be able to bid. Comcast has offered £14.75 per share for Sky, ahead of Disney and Fox on £14.

In the second round Comcast will be able to respond. If the US cable giant, which also owns Universal, the Hollywood studio behind Jurassic World, does not bid then the auction will conclude with Disney and Fox the winner.

However, if Comcast does hit back with a better offer, then there will be a final round in which both sides will be able to make their best and final offers.


The Takeover Panel is expected to publish the final offers as they are handed over to Sky’s independent directors, who are led by deputy chairman Martin Gilbert, the joint-chief executive of Standard Life Aberdeen. Sky’s chief executive Jeremy Darroch and chief operating officer Andrew Griffith will also assess the bids, alongside the other directors not appointed by Fox.

The Sky board will then recommend which offer Sky shareholders should accept.

In a note to Sky staff, Mr Darroch said: “Having three of the world’s best and largest media companies seeking to own Sky is a major and positive endorsement of our strategy and the execution of our plans.

“A process like the one announced today doesn’t happen very often and is therefore likely to generate coverage and speculation in the media over the coming days. It is also likely to wrap up sometime over the weekend or early Monday morning and could therefore be outside of normal business hours.”

Disney and Fox go into the process at a potential advantage, as Fox already owns 39pc of Sky. If the final offers are similar in price, that could prove decisive, as Sky’s independent directors will be obliged to consider the likelihood of each buyer passing the 50pc shareholder approval threshold required to complete a deal.

While Fox will be on the front lines of the auction, its bidding strategy will effectively be controlled by Disney, which has agreed to buy most of its assets, including its Sky stake, for $71bn following another bid battle with Comcast in the United States. The Murdoch family rocked the media world last year by selling out of global TV and film to focus on US news and sport.


If Comcast is defeated in the UK, Sky will be owned by Fox for several months before being taken over again by Disney next year.

The dramatic finale of a takeover saga that has run for almost two years ranks as the biggest ever such auction. PTT won control of Cove Energy after Shell dropped out of a head-to-head in 2012. Tata paid £6.2bn in an auction of Corus steel in 2007 against CSN of Brazil.

The competition to buy Sky means it is likely to change hands for more than double its valuation before Fox originally bid £10.75 per share in December 2016, which at the time was a 40pc premium on the market price.

Sky’s operating performance also markedly improved as Fox faced a series regulatory hurdles that delayed its plans and opened the door for Comcast to gatecrash.

It secured a cheaper deal for Premier League rights after the end of fierce competition with BT and signed a deal to bring Netflix onto its set-top boxes, neutralising what had been viewed as a threat. Meanwhile its Italian operation prevailed in a long football rights war with rival Mediaset Premium.

Both Disney and Comcast want control of Sky partly as a defence against incursions by the tech giants into entertainment. Its direct relationships with 26 million consumers across Europe are viewed as valuable, along with its technology, brand and customer service operations.

By Christopher Williams



Equifax slapped with £500,000 fine for data breach of 15m UK customers


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

Equifax has been slapped with a £500,000 fine by Britain’s data watchdog for failing to protect 15m people whose personal details were stolen in a cyber-attack last year.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued the penalty after a cyber attack that hit Equifax in the US in May 2017, which affected 146m consumers globally.

Equifax is one of the world's three biggest credit agencies. Founded in 1899 and based in Atlanta, Georgia, it collects data on 800mn consumers and 88mn businesses worldwide.

The cyber attack between May 13 and July 30 last year came despite prior warning from the US government that the company's data was vulnerable. Hackers stole personal information including names, dates of birth, addresses, passwords, driving licence and financial details.

The ICO's investigation found the British arm of Equifax had failed to take appropriate steps to ensure that it was protecting the personal information held on UK customers.

The ICO probe found the US government had warned Equifax about a “critical vulnerability” in the company's cyber-security systems as recently as March 2017. However, the steps needed to rectify the problem were not taken.

The ICO investigation was carried out with help from with the Financial Conduct Authority.

The £500,000 fine is the maximum the ICO could issue at the time under the Data Protection Act 1998.

New rules introduced in May of this year under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) allow the ICO to impose fines of up to £17m or 4 per cent of global turnover.

Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner said: “The loss of personal information, particularly where there is the potential for financial fraud, is not only upsetting to customers, it undermines consumer trust in digital commerce.

“This is compounded when the company is a global firm whose business relies on personal data.

“We are determined to look after UK citizens’ information wherever it is held. Equifax has received the highest fine possible under the 1998 legislation because of the number of victims, the type of data at risk and because it has no excuse for failing to adhere to its own policies and controls as well as the law.”

By Joseph Archer



Aston Martin Luxury British carmaker targets £5 billion valuation for October IPO


( via — Thur, 20th Sept 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Luxury British carmaker Aston Martin said on Thursday it was seeking a valuation of up to 5.07 billion pounds as it set a price range of 17.50 pounds to 22.50 pounds per share for its stock market flotation.

The company, famed for making the sports car driven by fictional secret agent James Bond, said last month it was pursuing an initial public offering (IPO), the first British carmaker to do so for decades.

The firm is expecting 25 percent of its stock to be floated, nearly 57 million shares.

Aston, which builds all its cars in Britain and is due to open a second facility in the country next year, has warned about the impact of any customs checks as a result of Brexit which could slow down production and adds costs.

London and Brussels hope to conclude a Brexit agreement by the end of the year.

The carmaker, which has long said it could IPO, has undergone a turnaround plan since Chief Executive Andy Palmer took over as CEO in 2014 as it boosts its volumes and expands into new segments.

Palmer said investors would be able to take advantage of future growth if they take part in the flotation.

“Our Second Century Plan gives prospective investors deep insight into how we have executed our turnaround and how we are positioned for growth,” he said.

By Costas Pitas



Sainsbury’s-Asda deal to be subjected to an in-depth competition investigation

QLM Image

( via – – Wed, 19th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

The £15bn merger between supermarkets Sainsbury's and Asda is to be subjected to an in-depth competition investigation, it has been announced.

The Competition and Markets Authority said the deal “raises sufficient concerns to be referred for a more in-depth review”.

The CMA undertook an initial review of the deal, which would create a business taking £1 in every £3 spent on groceries.

The chains say prices will fall.

But the CMA said: “The companies are two of the largest grocery retailers in the UK and their stores overlap in hundreds of local areas, where shoppers could face higher prices or worse quality of service.”

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The competition body said it would also look at issues relating to fuel, general merchandise such as clothing and what it describes as “increased buyer power over suppliers”.

It has been calculated that the deal, announced in April, between the UK's second and third-largest supermarkets would create the UK's biggest retail chain with a 31.4% market share and with 2,800 stores.

Analysis by retail property experts Maximise UK has estimated that the CMA will recommend that 6%, or 73, of the combined group's supermarkets should be sold off. Others have speculated that up to 300 sites could have to be divested.

Suppliers have also said they could suffer as a result of the merger, which comes at time when supermarkets are facing pressure from discounters.

The CMA investigation was announced as rival Tesco, the biggest supermarket, prepared to unveil its new Jack's discount chain.

Asda and Sainsbury's had asked the CMA to “fast track” the first stage of its inquiry, which began in August.


Sky to increase viewership by adding Netflix to its streaming platform

( via – – Wed, 19th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

UK media giant Sky will bundle Netflix into its subscription for the first time in November in an effort to step up user engagement with its own programming.

The Ultimate on Demand package will give users access to Netflix and Sky Box Sets on its Sky Q platform, making it easier for customers to browse TV selections from both companies.

The plan will cost £10 a month on top of a Sky Q subscription, which is more than the £7.99 Netflix currently charges. However, it will include an additional 350 box sets which would cost £5, therefore saving customers around £2.99 a month.

“We want Sky Q to be the number one destination for TV fans,” said Stephen van Rooyen, Sky chief exec. “Partnering with Netflix means we will have all the best TV in one great value pack, making it even easier for you to watch all of your favourite shows.”

Media firms share a tricky relationship with one another in a crowded market – while Netflix is a considerable threat, Sky recognises the demand for consolidating their entertainment subscriptions. Putting Netflix directly on its Sky Q platform is a shrewd way of adapting to viewer demands while encouraging customers to consume more of its own content.

Sky trying to be a ‘one stop shop'
Paolo Pescatore, a leading media & tech analyst, said the move showed Sky's ambition to become a “one stop shop media provider.

“Sky wants to position itself as an aggregator of services as underlined by recent tie-ups,” he explained. “As important as bringing services together is to be offer users a seamless and integrated service experience.

“Therefore, the move further increases Sky’s own value as a one stop shop provider.”

Comcast, who is competing with Fox to takeover Sky, has also signed its own similar agreement with Netflix. Pescatore added that Sky's move could make it an even more attractive asset for Disney (which is taking over Fox).

“More importantly it will also get access to Netflix’s catalogue and metadata which will prove more attractive to Disney,” he concluded.

Read more: 21st Century Fox extends deadline for Sky to vote on £24.5bn offer

By Josh Mines



US trade war with China intensifies new imposed $200bn tariffs on imports

( via– Tue, 18th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

Donald Trump says further tariffs worth $267bn (£203bn) will be placed on Chinese imports if Beijing takes “retaliatory action”.

Donald Trump has intensified America's trade war with China by imposing new $200bn (£152bn) tariffs on imports.

The higher import taxes will start from Monday at 10% before rising to 25% on 1 January, the White House announced.

The US president said there would be further tariffs on $267bn (£203bn) in Chinese imports if Beijing takes “retaliatory action against our farmers or other industries”.

“Once again, I urge China's leaders to take swift action to end their country's unfair trade practices,” Mr Trump said.

“Hopefully, this trade situation will be resolved, in the end, by myself and President Xi of China, for whom I have great respect and affection.”

Mr Trump has threatened to target all $500bn (£380bn) of Chinese imports unless Beijing agrees to sweeping changes to its intellectual property practices and what his administration alleges are unfair trade practices.

China denies the allegations and has vowed to hit back with tariffs on $60bn (£45bn) in American goods.

The new tariffs reportedly apply to more than 5,000 items including handbags, rice and textiles.

In a victory for Apple and its US customers, smart watches and some other consumer electronics products were removed from the latest list.

In a statement, Mr Trump insisted China's trade practices “plainly constitute a grave threat to the long-term health and prosperity of the United States economy”.

The US had already imposed 25% tariffs on $50bn (£38bn) in Chinese imports.

Mr Trump said: “For months, we have urged China to change these unfair practices, and give fair and reciprocal treatment to American companies.

“We have been very clear about the type of changes that need to be made, and we have given China every opportunity to treat us more fairly. But, so far, China has been unwilling to change its practices.”

Mr Trump has previously complained about America's massive trade deficit – $336bn (£255bn) last year – with China, its biggest trading partner.



Ocado reports an 11.5pc increase in sales as it rolls out new robot warehouses


( via – – Tue, 18th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

Online supermarket Ocado has reported an 11.5pc increase in retail sales in its latest quarter as it continues to invest heavily in automated warehouses.

The grocery business reported an average of 283,000 orders per week, up 11.4pc in the 13 weeks to Sept 2, with average order size remaining stable at £106.

Chief executive officer Tim Steiner said performance from its newest robotic warehouses at Andover and Erith was helping to meet consumer demand.

“Together, Andover and Erith provide new opportunities for growth in our UK retail business while showcasing the scalability, adaptability and efficiency of our platform,” said Mr Steiner.

Although the rate of growth slowed during the period, from 11.7pc in the first half of 2018, the retailer’s sales are still in line with its guidance for the year.

“We are on track to deliver a significant number of new CFCs [customer fulfilment centres] for our Solutions partners in the coming years and as such are fulfilling our goal of changing the way the world shops,” added Mr Steiner.

Although the rate of growth slowed during the period, from 11.7pc in the first half of 2018, the retailer’s sales are still in line with its guidance for the year.

“We are on track to deliver a significant number of new CFCs [customer fulfilment centres] for our Solutions partners in the coming years and as such are fulfilling our goal of changing the way the world shops,” added Mr Steiner.

The company's ‘Solutions' arm was recently buoyed by major deals to run services for a number of overseas grocers, most notably Kroger in the US.

Laith Khalaf of Hargreaves Lansdown said: “Ocado continues to experience growth in its UK operations, though it’s the promise of overseas expansion which has seen the share price treble in the last year.

“Ocado recently achieved promotion to the FTSE 100 and its equity market value is now greater than the likes of Morrison’s, Royal Mail and M&S. It still needs to turn overseas partnerships into profits, and details of its commercial relationships with US retailer Kroger are still being hammered out.”

By LaToya Harding



IMF: No-deal Brexit would entail substantial costs for UK economy

( via – – Mon, 17th Sept, 2018) London, Uk – –

The International Monetary Fund has warned that a “no-deal” Brexit on World Trade Organization terms would entail substantial costs for the UK economy.

Such an outcome would affect “to a lesser extent” other EU economies.

It said challenges in getting a deal done were “daunting” and warned against further UK interest rate rises.

The IMF said it expected Britain's economy would grow by about 1.5% a year in 2018 and 2019 if a broad Brexit agreement was struck.

Christine Lagarde, the IMF's managing director, added: “Those projections assume a timely deal with the EU on a broad free trade agreement and a relatively orderly Brexit process after that.”

The IMF said that all likely Brexit scenarios would “entail costs for the UK economy”, but that a disorderly departure could lead to “a significantly worse outcome”.

Speaking at a news conference at the Treasury in London, Ms Lagarde said: “Any deal will not be as good as the smooth process under which goods, services, people and capital move around between the EU and the UK without impediments and obstacles.”

She said a “disorderly” or “crash” exit from the EU would have a series of consequences, including reduced growth, an increased deficit and depreciation of sterling, leading to a reduction in the size of the UK economy.

She pointed out that countries tended to trade mostly with their neighbours, adding: “I think geography talks very loudly.”

In July, the IMF said the UK economy would grow by 1.4% this year and 1.5% in 2019.


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

( via — Mon, 17th Sept 2018) London, UK —

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

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

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

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

By Arno Schuetze



Mining Bitcoin: Inside a cryptocurrency mining epicenter operation


Youtube/CBS News

As cryptocurrency mining evolves into a global industry, the gold rush for cheap energy is disrupting a small town in Washington State—home to some of the lowest electricity rates in the country. Here, two of the biggest Bitcoin mining operations in the U.S., Giga Watt and Salcido Enterprises, reveal their new and rapidly expanding mining operations, and explain the potential of super-computing—from blockchain to artificial intelligence.
But not everyone in town is on-board. Fearing their power rates will go up, and the culture of their town would change forever, many want to put the brakes on this new, disruptive industry.


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

( via – – Sun, 16th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

By Sophie Christie