(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 20th Apr, 2021) London, Uk – –
Watchdog warns over takeover by private equity consortium fronted by petrol station billionaires
The £6.8bn takeover of Asda by a private equity consortium fronted by the Blackburn-based petrol station billionaire brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa could lead to higher fuel prices in some parts of the UK, the UK competition watchdog has warned.
The Issa brothers and TDR Capital co-own the petrol station operator EG Group, which has 395 UK petrol stations while Asda owns 323. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said many of the forecourts were located in the same parts of the country and it was concerned about these overlaps.
Joel Bamford, the CMA’s senior director of mergers, said: “Our job is to protect consumers by making sure there continues to be strong competition between petrol stations, which leads to lower prices at the pump. These are two key players in the market, and it’s important that we thoroughly analyse the deal to make sure that people don’t end up paying over the odds.
“Right now, we’re concerned the merger could lead to higher prices for motorists in certain parts of the UK. However, if the companies can provide a clearcut solution to address our concerns, we won’t carry out an in-depth phase 2 investigation.”
The buyers now have five working days to put forward a proposal to address the competition concerns identified. The CMA then has a further five working days to consider whether to accept the plan or refer the deal for further investigation.
The sale of Asda to the Issas and TDR Capital is the biggest British leveraged buyout in more than 10 years. The investors, who already co-own the petrol station operator EG Group, have put less than £800m of their own money into the deal, which is backed with nearly £4bn of debt and £1.7bn raised by selling off Asda’s warehouses and petrol stations.
The CMA found local competition concerns in relation to the supply of road fuel in 36 areas across the UK and the supply of a specific type of fuel, auto-LPG, in a further area. It is therefore concerned that the merger could lead to higher prices for motorists in these locations.
The deal was the second attempt by the US retail giant Walmart to sell the Leeds-based supermarket, which employs more than 140,000 people. In 2019 the CMA blocked the first try – an audacious attempt to merge Asda with its larger rival Sainsbury’s.
The Issa brothers, who leased their first petrol station in 1999, now have more than 6,000 in 10 countries. The move on Asda has not stopped the expansion of EG Group, which has just bought the fast food chain Leon Restaurants for £100m and is also trying to buy the struggling Caffè Nero chain.
The Issas and TDR have equal shareholdings in Asda, while Walmart has retained a minority holding following the deal, which was announced last autumn.
The sale has already heralded senior management changes at Asda as Roger Burnley, its chief executive of three years, has already announced that he will depart next year. Rob McWilliam, its chief financial officer, is also going.
The change of ownerships adds to the uncertainty faced by the staff who work in Asda’s 341 supermarkets and who have in recent years faced successive rounds of job cuts.
Last week Asda said it planned to stop baking bread in its stores, a change that will puts 1,200 jobs at risk. The latest shake-up comes less than two months after Asda said 5,000 jobs were at risk from the closure of two warehouses and back-office changes.
The Bank of England and the Treasury have announced they are setting up a taskforce to explore the possibility of a central bank digital currency.
The aim is to look at the risks and opportunities involved in creating a new kind of digital money.
Issued by the Bank for use by households and businesses, it would exist alongside cash and bank deposits, rather than replacing them.
No decision has been taken on whether to have such a currency in the UK.
However, the government and the Bank want to “engage widely with stakeholders” on the benefits and practicalities of doing so.
The taskforce will be jointly led by the Bank's deputy governor for financial stability, Sir Jon Cunliffe, and the Treasury's director general of financial services, Katharine Braddick.
The Bank has previously said it is interested in a central bank digital currency (CBDC) because “this is a period of significant change in money and payments”.
The use of cash in financial transactions has been steadily declining in recent years, while debit card payments have been on the rise. Use of credit cards and direct debits have also been increasing.
The Bank also sees having its own digital currency as a way of “avoiding the risks of new forms of private money creation”, including crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin.
“If a CBDC were to be introduced, it would be denominated in pounds sterling, just like banknotes, so £10 of CBDC would always be worth the same as a £10 note,” the Bank said.
“CBDC is sometimes thought of as equivalent to a digital banknote, although in some respects it may have as much in common with a bank deposit.
“Any CBDC would be introduced alongside – rather than replacing – cash and bank deposits.”
Most of the world's central banks are looking into the possibility of creating such a currency, but the only one already in existence is China's digital yuan, which is currently undergoing public testing.
Among the objectives of the UK taskforce is monitoring international developments, “to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of global innovation”.
The Bank also announced the creation of a CDBC engagement forum and a technology forum, as well as a CBDC unit within the Bank itself, overseen by Sir Jon.
No timetable was announced for the taskforce's operations.
Maserati is an Italian luxury and sports car brand that doesn’t have the recognition that big names like BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, or even Ferrari have. For decades it was owned by Fiat Group, which later became Fiat Chrysler. Maserati gave it a presence in premium and luxury segments. But they've struggled in recent years, with falling sales and concerns among analysts that Fiat Chrysler did not make needed investments to update Maserati’s product lineup. Now that Fiat-Chrysler has merged with France’s Groupe PSA to form Stellantis, there is speculation over which brands in the stable will survive and succeed.
It’s been a year like no other, and we aren’t talking about the pandemic. There were rapid-fire public offerings, surging cryptocurrencies and skyrocketing stock prices. The number of billionaires on Forbes’ 35th annual list of the world’s wealthiest exploded to an unprecedented 2,755–660 more than a year ago. Of those, a record high 493 were new to the list–roughly one every 17 hours, including 210 from China and Hong Kong. Another 250 who’d fallen off in the past came roaring back. A staggering 86% are richer than a year ago.
Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest for the fourth year running, worth $177 billion, while Elon Musk rocketed into the number two spot with $151 billion, as Tesla and Amazon shares surged. Altogether these billionaires are worth $13.1 trillion, up from $8 trillion in 2020. The U.S. still has the most, with 724, followed by China (including Hong Kong and Macao) with 698. We used stock prices and exchange rates from March 5 to calculate net worths. See below for the full list of the world’s billionaires and our methodology.
The cryptocurrency exchange coinbase started trading on Wednesday at a valuation of nearly $100bn (£72bn), in a major boost to supporters of digital currencies such as bitcoin.
Coinbase shares opened at $381 (£276) on the Nasdaq, racing past the $250 reference price, and valuing the exchange at $99.6bn (£72bn).
The valuation means that Coinbase is worth more than traditional financial institutions such as HSBC, Barclays, and Standard Chartered.
It is the first time a major cryptocurrency business has been publicly listed, and is a landmark moment for a technology once considered trivial.
Coinbase earns money from transaction fees and has seen its profits soar as cryptocurrency trading has boomed since the start of the pandemic.Advertisement
Record levels of cash have poured in to digital currencies such as bitcoin and ethereum, plumping up Coinbase’s margins. Both have seen their prices climb meteorically in the past year, rising over 800% and 1,300% respectively.
Thanks to this, Coinbase booked an estimated $730m (£530m) to $800m (£580m) in net profits in the first three months of 2021, while it reported $1.8bn (£1.3bn) in revenue during the same period.
“The Coinbase IPO is potentially a watershed event for the crypto industry and will be something the Street will be laser focused on to gauge investor appetite,” said Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives in a note to investors.
The company is a “foundational piece of the crypto ecosystem,” he said.
Coinbase was founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong, a software engineer at Airbnb, and Fred Ehrsam, a trader at Goldman Sachs.
The pair set out to simplify the process of buying and selling bitcoin, at a time when the currency was largely used by hobbyists fascinated by its technology, and criminals attracted to its anonymity.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 13th Apr 2021) London, UK —
(Reuters) -Britain’s biggest sportswear retailer JD Sports on Tuesday forecast profit growth this year and announced plans to ramp up warehouse capacity to fulfil online orders and minimise disruptions from Brexit.
The company, known for its sneakers and athleisure products, also said it would resume dividend payments after beating analysts expectations for profit for the year ended Jan. 30, 2021.
“The global COVID-19 pandemic and, more recently, the UK’s formal exit from the European Union have presented a series of unprecedented challenges which have severely tested all aspects of our business,” said Executive Chairman Peter Cowgill.
JD Sports’ online business performed well during the pandemic and the company has embarked on at least three big acquisitions in the United States and Europe in the past few months. More deals are expected to follow after the company raised 464 million pounds ($638.46 million) in equity in February.
Britain’s departure from the European Union, however, had caused some disruptions due to customs checks on the transfer of goods from the UK to EU countries, the sportswear retailer said. It will open a warehouse in Dublin that will be operational in the second half of this year in order to fulfil online orders in Ireland.
JD Sports signed a letter of intent with Clipper Logistics for e-fulfilment and warehousing in the UK as it expects online sales to remain elevated and social distancing norms to remain in the foreseeable future.
The company, which opened a facility in Belgium last autumn, said it continued to review opportunities for a larger permanent European facility to meet demand from mainland Europe.
JD expects adjusted pretax profit for the year through January 2022 of between 475 million pounds to 500 million pounds. It reported annual profit of 421.3 million pounds and proposed a dividend of 1.44 pence per share.
JPMorgan said in a note that the confidence shown by JD at such an early stage of the year “should be seen as a strong signal of robust trading and execution”.
($1 = 0.7267 pounds)
Reporting by Vishwadha Chander and Yadarisa Shabong
Investors turn to cryptocurrency after Erdoğan’s sacking of central bank governor caused further fall in lira
The neighbourhood teahouse is a focus of daily life across Turkey, an Ottoman tradition that has endured through the centuries. At the Red Lightning teahouse in Çorum, the enterprising owners have one foot in the past and one in the future: it’s the first one in the country where customers can pay in bitcoin.
“Everyone we know in Çorum is starting to invest in cryptocurrency. We think that in five years or so regular currency will be in decline, it will be replaced by digital ones. So we wanted to be in a good position now,” said co-owners Hüseyin Nalcı, 38, and Kerem Kutay Yıldırım, 28.
“The older customers think it’s a bit absurd. They made fun of us. But now the dürüm [wrap] shop next door is asking us to teach them.”
The Turkish lira slumped dramatically last month after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s shock decision to fire the central bank governor, Naci Ağbal. The reserve is now on its fourth governor in less than two years, and the lira has lost half its value since a 2018 currency crisis.
Inflation reached a six-month high in March of 16.19%, well above a 5% target, and unemployment remains high, at 12.2%.
The latest economic turmoil has led to a surge in cryptocurrency trading in the country, with investors hoping to gain from bitcoin’s rally and shelter against inflation.
Data from the US researcher Chainalysis analysed by Reuters showed that trading volumes between the start of February and 24 March hit 218bn lira (£19bn) with a spike on the weekend Ağbal was sacked, up from just over 7bn lira in the same period a year earlier. Cryptocurrency worth 23bn lira was traded in the first few days after the shock announcement, the data showed, versus 1bn lira in the same timespan in 2020.
Turkish Google searches for cryptocurrency also hit a record high in the week before Ağbal was removed. The governor, who took over the post in November, was reportedly at loggerheads with Erdoğan’s over interest rate hikes: contrary to mainstream economic thinking, the president has repeatedly said that he believes high interest rates cause inflation.
Bitcoin’s climb to a new record of just under $62,000 (or more than £44,000) has seen interest in the digital currency soar worldwide: investors and companies have embraced the emerging asset despite warnings about its volatility.
“Turkish people like stable assets due to our history of high inflation,” Özgür Güneri, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange BtcTurk, told Reuters. “That is why generation after generation of Turks invested in gold, real estate and dollars.”
Turkish interest in cryptocurrencies has been growing steadily for several years, in large part because they are finite resources with a reputation for being immune to inflation.
So far, Ankara has not made any moves to regulate or tax the digital currency space, which adds to the appeal for Turkey’s youthful, tech-savvy population.
Erdoğan recently reiterated calls for Turks to invest gold and foreign currencies kept under the mattress in order to shore up domestic financial markets. The country’s recent economic troubles have had significant implications for his ruling Justice and Development party: its support has fallen away with the abrupt end of years of strong economic growth.
At Sirius Coin, a cryptocurrency cashpoint near the gold dealers of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, Mehmet, 35, said business was booming. The shop’s owners are getting ready to launch their own trading exchange by the end of the year.
“Everyone wants to get rich quick. Turks are no exception to that,” he said.
It should be a big year for cinema, with a host of delayed blockbusters and big sequels hopefully coming to screens
Last year was, let’s be honest, a car crash for the cinema industry. A year that started brightly with 1917 and Parasite was derailed by the pandemic, leaving a host of long-awaited blockbusters scattered in its wake. The new James Bond film was pushed back, and then back again. Marquee titles went straight to streaming.
Even the behemoth that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe wasn’t immune, with Black Widow among the films to be bumped into 2021. What all the chaos does mean, however, is that there is a glut of unreleased movies which could make this year one of the most memorable in cinematic history (particularly if you like sequels and reboots). Release dates are very subject to change.
In the United States, the 2008 financial crash pulled a generation out of what had previously been a comfortable retirement. Suddenly forced to work again, these older Americans travel the country in search of seasonal work – a phenomenon which was described in a 2017 non-fiction book by Jessica Bruder. The film version, a drama based on the book, stars Frances MacDormand (Fargo, Three Billboards) as Fern, who loses her job after the crash and has to adjust to life on the road. February 19
Raya and the Last Dragon
Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina star in this computer-animated Disney fantasy film inspired by the cultures of south-east Asia. It’s set in the world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons once lived together in harmony until mysterious monsters known as the Druun broke their alliance. Five hundred years later, Raya embarks on a quest to track down the last dragon, and save the world. This one ticks most of the Disney tropes – headstrong princess, cute animal sidekick – but it’s not expected to be a musical like its other hits. March 12
The Many Saints of Newark
This feature length prequel to The Sopranos is one of the most anticipated releases of the year, and rightly so. The television series, which followed New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano and his inner and outer struggles, is one of the most critically acclaimed shows of all time – with late actor James Gandolfini’s performances a particular highlight. Here, Gandolfini’s son Michael takes over the role of a younger Tony Soprano in a story thought to be set during the Newark riots of the 1960s, and co-written by Sopranos creator David Chase. March 19
No Time To Die
Daniel Craig’s fifth and final outing as James Bond has been a long time coming. Originally due for release in November 2019, it was pushed back to February and then April 2020, following the departure of original director Danny Boyle due to creative differences. New director Cary Joji Fukunaga took over in 2018, bringing on Phoebe Waller-Bridge to help punch up the script, only to fall foul of the pandemic. The story itself wraps up the Craig-driven reboot of the series, and picks up five years after the events of Spectre, with Bond in peaceful retirement until he is approached by CIA friend Felix Leiter, to help search for a missing scientist. April 2
A Quiet Place: Part II
The first A Quiet Place – which saw Emily Blunt and John Krasinki as parents trying to survive an attack from creatures that hunt with sound – was a surprise hit. The sequel sees them venturing into the outside world, armed with a new piece of vital knowledge about their foes’ weakness. The cast members of the first film are joined by Cillian Murphy for this sequel, which was originally due for release in March 2020. April 23
Last Night In Soho
At the time of writing, details are pretty thin on the ground for this psychological horror flick helmed by stylish director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Ant-Man). It follows a young, fashion-mad girl who mysteriously finds herself in the 1960s, and face to face with her idol. It stars Anna Taylor-Joy, who played Beth Harmon in the critically acclaimed chess drama The Queen’s Gambit, as well as Matt Smith (Doctor Who, The Crown) and the late Diana Rigg (Game of Thrones). April 23
The latest instalment in the sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe fills in the origin story for Natasha Romanoff – Black Widow – who appeared as part of the ensemble cast in numerous MCU films but has never been given a standalone movie. Scarlett Johansson reprises her role, possibly for the last time, and is joined by Florence Pugh, David Harbour and Ray Winstone. Set after the events of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, it follows Romanoff as she’s forced to confront her shady past as a spy and assassin. May 7
Look, if you lapped up the gritty superhero reboots and the live-action Disney remakes, you really have no right to complain about their inevitable endpoint: an origin story for Cruella de Vil, the iconic villain of 101 Dalmatians. Alas, it’s pitched as a comedy, which is a disappointment for anyone eager for a Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker style reimagining of the character, who will be played by Emma Stone, with Emma Thompson among those supporting. That said, it still promises to be pretty dark, if the start of the Wikipedia plot summary is anything to go by: “In 1970s London, young fashion designer Estella de Vil becomes obsessed with dogs’ skins”. May 28
Yes, they already rebooted the Ghostbusters franchise. No, that hasn’t stopped them from revisiting the series yet again to make a sequel to the two original movies. Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson reprise their roles from the original films – the story follows a young family who discover they are linked to the original Ghostbusters when their small town experiences a series of unexplained earthquakes. June 11
In The Heights
Before Hamilton, there was In The Heights – Lin-Manuel Miranda's breakout musical. The story follows several characters in Washington Heights, an area where many Spanish-speaking communities have made their home. It's been adapted by Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu. June 11
Set in and around the beautiful Italian coast, Luca looks to be another gorgeous visual feast from Pixar. It follows the story of Luca, a young boy working his way through childhood while harbouring a secret: he's part of a family of sea monsters that live off the coast. June 18
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
One of three films set in Sony’s Spider-Man universe (along with Jared Leto’s Morbius, and possibly the third Tom Holland MCU Spider-Man movie) coming out in 2021, Let There Be Carnage is a sequel to 2018’s Venom, which starred Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock – a journalist who is taken hostage a by an alien symbiote that imbues him with superhuman abilities. Woody Harrelson plays Carnage, a psychotic serial killer who also has an alien symbiote. June 25
Top Gun: Maverick
The formula for blockbuster success: take a beloved 1980s classic, wheel its stars out of retirement, pair with them some fresh young talent, and hope that you sell enough tickets to kick off a whole new franchise. It worked for Jurassic Park, and now Tom Cruise is back to try and recapture the magic of the original Top Gun. He reprises his role as Maverick, and Val Kilmer is back too as his former rival “Iceman” Kazansky – joined by Jon Hamm, Miles Teller (playing Goose’s son). Based on the trailer, the plot involves Cruise pulling a lot of g in a series of scenic valleys, after being called on to train a group of young pilots on a specialist mission. July 1
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Part of Phase Four of the MCU, surely the point at which it starts to run out of steam, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is Marvel’s first film with an Asian lead. Based on a comic book character created in the 1970s, its main character is a skilled martial artist who gets drawn into a shady terrorist organisation known as the Ten Rings. Starring Canadian actor Simu Liu in the title role, alongside Awkwafina and others, it’s been in the works since 2001. July 9
Video game adaptations are never good, but still… This movie version of the long-running Uncharted franchise sees Spider-Man’s Tom Holland beefing up to play Nathan Drake, a Lara Croft-esque treasure hunter. Mark Wahlberg plays his mentor Victor Sullivan, and Antonio Banderas is also involved – presumably as some sort of eccentric villain. July 16
A high-concept sci-fi film from master of weirdness M Night Shyamalan, Old – based on the graphic novel Sandcastles by Pierre Oscar Levy – tells the story of a group of tourists who end up trapped in a beautiful, secluded cove only for things to take a strange turn. They soon realise that they’re ageing by years every thirty minutes. July 23
The Suicide Squad
No one was really asking for a sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad, an anti-hero movie set in the DC Comics Universe, and starring Margot Robbie and Will Smith, but here it is. Robbie, who reprised her role as Harley Quinn in 2020’s Birds of Prey, returns again here – and is joined by Idris Elba, Sylvester Stallone and the former wrestler John Cena. This probably wouldn’t have made our list, if not for the fact that it’s directed by James Gunn – the Guardians of the Galaxy director who was snapped up by Warner Bros in the gap between being dropped and re-hired by Disney for comments made on social media. August 6
Those of a certain age know the premise of the original Candyman – say the killer’s name five times in the mirror and he appears and wastes you with his hook hand and bee swarm. What they may not remember is that the original was actually a smart film – scary yet thoughtful. This new remake is co-written by Get Out’s Jordan Peele: the Chicago projects the Candyman haunted in the first film have been torn down and replaced by luxurious loft condos, filled with millennials ripe for butchering. August 27
Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve takes on yet another sci-fi classic with this take on Dune, adapted from Frank Herbert's epic novel of the same name. Timothée Chalamet stars as the young nobleman Paul Atreides, who has to journey to the hostile planet Dune, home to the most valuable material in the galaxy, and seek revenge on his family’s enemies. This sprawling fantasy is a huge project, and if Villeneuve can pull it off it will cement his sci-fi credentials. October 1
Yet another Marvel film – Eternals is about a race of virtually immortal aliens who have been secretly living on Earth for thousands of years, protecting humans from the evil Deviants with their array of special powers. An all-star ensemble cast features Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Kit Harrington, and it’s directed by Chloé Zhao – who also directed Nomadland (see above) and two other acclaimed indie films. The film is set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, and does raise the question of why these all-powerful beings didn’t think to intervene sooner. November 5
The Matrix 4
Very little is known about the new instalment in The Matrix saga – something that its directors the Wachowskis had long been against. Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne Moss are returning as Neo and Trinity, though, which hints at a degree of continuity to the story of the original trilogy. Lana Wachowski returns to direct. December 22
Today AD is welcomed by tennis legend and 23-time Grand Slam singles title winner Serena Williams for a tour of her stunning new home north of Miami. After living with her sister Venus on and off for over 20 years, Serena and husband Alexis Ohanian have made a stylish new home for their family. From the eclectic artwork (including her own painting) to the world-beating trophy room, Serena’s home could only belong to someone as multifaceted and accomplished as her. “I was moving away from Venus for the first time in my life, so I wanted it to be really meaningful,” Serena says. While mixing family with business can be risky, the secret to their success as siblings and creative collaborators is simple: “You have to know your lane. I’m really good at playing tennis; I’m not as good at interiors. But I was able to learn through just watching Venus.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 8th April 2021) London, UK —
(Reuters) – Apple Inc said it plans to argue that it faces abundant competition in the market for video game transactions to defend itself against antitrust allegations by “Fortnite” maker Epic Games, the iPhone maker said on Thursday.
Epic sued Apple last year in federal court in California, alleging the 15% to 30% commissions that Apple charges for the use of its in-app payment systems and Apple’s longstanding practice of exercising control over which apps can be installed on its devices amount to anticompetitive behavior. The dispute arose after Epic tried to implement its own in-app payment system in the popular “Fortnite” game and Apple subsequently banned the game from its App Store.
The case is to be heard in May in Oakland, California, by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who will have to rule on which notion of a “market” is the correct one for analyzing Apple’s moves for signs of anticompetitive conduct.
Epic has framed its case around the idea that Apple’s iPhones, with an installed base of more than 1 billion users, represent their own distinct market for software developers. Epic has argued that Apple has monopoly power over that market because it decides how users can install software on the devices and says it abuses that power by forcing developers to deliver their software through the App Store, where developers are subject to fees on some transactions.
In a filing that Apple planned to make Thursday, the company rejected that notion and said the proper market to analyze the case is the video game transaction market, which includes platforms such as Nintendo Co Ltd and Microsoft Corp’s Xbox gaming consoles, which also limit the software that can run on their hardware and charge fees to developers.
Apple said it plans to argue that consumers have many choices on how to carry out video game transactions, including purchasing virtual tokens from game developers on other platforms such as Windows PCs and using the tokens on iPhones with no fees to the game developer.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 6th Apr, 2021) London, Uk – –
Investment bank could see 200 of its 6,000 London workers back in the office after Easter break
Goldman Sachs is preparing for hundreds more staff to go back to its London office this week as it eyes a return to pre-pandemic working conditions.
As many as 200 of the US investment bank’s workers could return to the main London office from Tuesday, joining several hundred staff who have been at their desks throughout several lockdowns. Goldman Sachs employs about 6,000 workers in London overall.
Bankers were classed as key workers if their jobs support the functioning of the economy and financial stability, meaning some have been allowed to work in the office throughout the pandemic.
At Goldman’s London office, between 200 and 300 workers such as financial traders have been travelling into work during the lockdowns because of their need to use specialised computer equipment.
Other banks are looking at similar plans. A small number of staff are expected to start returning to Credit Suisse from Monday 12 April, for example, although the return will be staggered.
The rapid pace of the UK’s vaccination programme and the easing of rules on travel have meant that some companies have considered plans to bring workers back to offices that have been vacated for a large part of the last year.
The government eased some lockdown restrictions on 29 March, although its official guidance remains that people should work from home where possible and minimise the number of journeys made.
Views on the future of work after pandemic restrictions ease appear to differ even within the banking sector. HSBC, the UK’s biggest bank, has said it will cut its property footprint by as much as 40% in the long term, and Lloyds Banking Group, the bank with the biggest UK high street presence, has said it will bring in working from home as a permanent lifestyle change, allowing it to cut 20% of its office space.
However, Goldman’s chief executive, David Solomon, has described working from home as an “aberration” that must be rectified “as soon as possible”.
Goldman’s working conditions have come under scrutiny during the pandemic after junior US analysts compiled a report in which they claimed they were subjected to 100-hour working weeks. After the report was leaked Goldman acknowledged that some people might be quite “stretched” by working from home, in part because the bank has enjoyed record trading volumes during the pandemic.
Based on the experience of England’s previous easing of lockdown rules it is thought that Goldman could accommodate about 1,000 workers in its London office while still observing social distancing rules, which are expected to remain in place in some form until at least 21 June.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – -Mon, 5th April 2021) London, Uk – –
LG Electronics said on Monday it would close down its loss-making smartphone business.
In January, the South Korean electronics giant said it was looking at all options for the division after almost six years of losses totalling around $4.5bn (£3.3bn).
LG had made many innovations including ultra-wide angle cameras, rising to third largest smartphone maker in 2013.
But bosses said the mobile phone market had become “incredibly competitive”.
While Samsung and Apple are the two biggest players in the smartphone market, LG has suffered from its own hardware and software issues.
As LG struggled with losses it had held talks to sell part of the business but these fell through.
It still ranks as the third most popular brand in North America but has slipped in other markets. LG phones are still fairly common in its domestic South Korean market.
“LG's strategic decision to exit the incredibly competitive mobile phone sector will enable the company to focus resources in growth areas such as electric vehicle components, connected devices, smart homes, robotics and artificial intelligence,” it said in a statement.
Last year it shipped 28 million phones, which compares with 256 million for Samsung, according to research firm Counterpoint.
The smartphone business is the smallest of LG's five divisions, accounting for just 7.4% of revenue. Currently its global mobile phone market share is about 2%.https://emp.bbc.co.uk/emp/SMPj/2.40.2/iframe.htmlmedia captionWATCH: LG's display rolls up out of the way into the ceiling when not in use
It has been innovating its phones to compete with its bigger rivals, with last year's launch of the T-shaped Wing, a smartphone with a larger screen which swivels out to reveal a second, smaller one underneath.
Electric cars and TVs
LG still has a strong consumer electronics business, particularly with home appliances and televisions. LG is the world's second best-selling TV brand after Samsung.
In December it launched a joint venture with automotive supplier Magna International that will make key components for electric cars.
LG's phone inventory will continue to be available for sale, and it will still provide service support and software updates for existing customers. The divisions is expected to be wound down by the end of July.
“Moving forward, LG will continue to leverage its mobile expertise and develop mobility-related technologies such as 6G to help further strengthen competitiveness in other business areas,” a spokesman added.
Analysts said South Korean rival Samsung and Chinese companies such as Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi are likely to benefit the most from LG's exit.
Smartphone makers struggled during the pandemic with sales down about 10% in 2020 mainly due to lockdowns limiting store openings.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon 5th April 2021) London, Uk – –
Alex Cruz is among a number of contenders to replace Rickard Gustafson as SAS’s chief executive, Sky News learns.
Alex Cruz, the former British Airways (BA) boss, has been approached about becoming the new chief executive of SAS, Scandinavia’s biggest airline.
Sky News has learnt that Mr Cruz, who left BA last autumn, is among a small number of candidates identified by the partly state-owned carrier to succeed Rickard Gustafson.
The status of discussions between SAS and Mr Cruz was unclear on Monday, while the identity of any other contenders for the job could not be ascertained.
SAS did not respond to a request for comment, and Mr Cruz could not be reached.
If he does secure the role, it would mark a rapid comeback to the international airline industry for the Spaniard.
Mr Cruz spent four-and-a-half years as BA's chairman and chief executive, steering it through a period of unprecedented turbulence last year when Britain's flag-carrier found itself largely grounded during the coronavirus pandemic.
He was forced to defend a series of management mis-steps, and was the focal point of intense criticism over BA's fire-and-rehire policy as it scrambled to shore up its balance sheet.
Reporting to Willie Walsh, the then chief executive of BA's parent, International Airlines Group (IAG), Mr Cruz also took the flak for an IT meltdown in 2017 which caused thousands of passengers to miss their flights.
He insisted last year that BA was engaged in a “fight for survival” as it raised billions of pounds from the sale of new shares and debt.
According to Mr Cruz's LinkedIn profile, he is a board member and advisor at two technology companies, Sherpa.ai and Fetcherr.
Prior to taking the helm at BA, he was the founding chief executive at Clickair, which subsequently merged with Vueling.
Vueling is one of IAG's other subsidiaries.
SAS's search for a chief executive has been ongoing since January, when it announced that Mr Gustafson was leaving to run the Swedish industrial group SKF.
The airline, which is partly owned by the Danish and Swedish governments, recorded a loss last year of more than $1bn.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 31st March 2021) London, Uk – –
Rishi Sunak recently hailed the company as a “British tech success” but more than £2bn was wiped off its value as trading began
Deliveroo shares have slumped as much as 30% as the takeaway delivery company made its highly-anticipated stock market debut.
The flop wiped more than £2bn off the company's initial £7.6bn valuation – just over a week after it was estimated at up to £8.8bn.
Some of the City's biggest institutional investors had shunned the initial public offering (IPO) over concerns about its working practices and the dual-class share structure which gives founder Will Shu greater control.
The loss-making company said this week that it had received “significant demand” from investors across the globe – more than enough to cover the offer of shares worth £1.5bn several times over.
However, its price range last week of £3.90 to £4.60p per share – which would have valued it as highly as £8.8bn – has narrowed over recent days, with the business citing “volatile global market conditions”.
Wednesday's float priced Deliveroo at £3.90, the bottom end of that range, and equivalent to £7.6bn.
But that was not enough to prevent a flop when trading began, with shares going as low as £2.73, although they later climbed back to around the £3 mark.
Deliveroo's float is London's biggest IPO since commodity giant Glencore went public in 2011 – and the biggest-ever tech float in the city.
Its dismal reception could be seen as blow to Chancellor Rishi Sunak's ambition to attract more technology companies to list in the UK.
Mr Sunak had hailed the company as a “true British tech success story” when it confirmed earlier this month that it would float in London.
Deliveroo, which has around 45,000 restaurants on its platform in the UK and more than 100,000 worldwide, has benefited over the past year from an increased appetite for takeaways with dining out banned or restricted.
Orders over January and February were 121% higher than the same period a year ago, while for 2020 the total of £4.1bn was 64% higher than a year earlier.
However, it still made an underlying loss for the year of £223.7m.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said “Deliveroo has gone from hero to zero as the much-hyped stock market debut falls flat on its face.
“It had better get used to the nickname ‘Flopperoo'.
“The narrative took a turn for the worst when multiple fund managers came out and said they wouldn't back the business due to concerns about working practices.
“This is likely to have spooked a lot of people who applied for shares in the IPO offer, meaning they are racing to dump them.”
LONDON (Reuters) – PayPal Holdings Inc will announce later on Tuesday that it has started allowing U.S. consumers to use their cryptocurrency holdings to pay at millions of its online merchants globally, a move that could significantly boost use of digital assets in everyday commerce.
Customers who hold bitcoin, ether, bitcoin cash and litecoin in PayPal digital wallets will now be able to convert their holdings into fiat currencies at checkouts to make purchases, the company said.
The service, which PayPal revealed it was working on late last year, will be available at all of its 29 million merchants in the coming months, the company said.
“This is the first time you can seamlessly use cryptocurrencies in the same way as a credit card or a debit card inside your PayPal wallet,” President and CEO Dan Schulman told Reuters ahead of a formal announcement.
Checkout with Crypto builds on the ability for PayPal users to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrencies, which the San Jose, California-based payments company launched in October.
The offering made PayPal one of the largest mainstream financial companies to open its network to cryptocurrencies and helped fuel a rally in virtual coin prices.
Bitcoin has nearly doubled in value since the start of this year, boosted by increased interest from larger financial firms that are betting on greater adoption and see it as a hedge against inflation.
PayPal’s launch comes less than a week after Tesla Inc said it would start accepting bitcoin payments for its cars. Unlike PayPal transactions where merchants will be receiving fiat currency, Tesla said it will hold the bitcoin used as payment.
Still, while the nascent asset is gaining traction among mainstream investors, it has yet to become a widespread form of payment, due in part to its continued volatility.
PayPal hopes its service can change that, as by settling the transaction in fiat currency, merchants will not take on the volatility risk.
“We think it is a transitional point where cryptocurrencies move from being predominantly an asset class that you buy, hold and or sell to now becoming a legitimate funding source to make transactions in the real world at millions of merchants,” Schulman said.
The company will charge no transaction fee to checkout with crypto and only one type of coin can be used for each purchase, it said.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 29thMarch 2021) London, Uk – –
The US has warned it could put tariffs of up to 25% on a host of UK exports in retaliation for a UK tax on tech firms.
Ceramics, make-up, overcoats, games consoles and furniture could all be hit, according to a list published by the Biden administration.
The duties are designed to raise $325m, the amount the US believes the UK tax will raise from US tech companies.
A UK government spokesperson said it wanted to “make sure tech firms pay their fair share of tax”.
They added: “Should the US proceed to implement these measures, we would consider all options to defend UK interests and industry.”
Washington is pressing ahead with the action, initiated under President Trump, and has scheduled hearings on the list.
It argues the recently introduced digital services tax – which taxes tech firms on their revenues – has “unreasonable, discriminatory, and burdensome attributes”.
Similar actions have proceeded against similar taxes in India, Austria and Spain, but action against the European Union as a whole was dropped.
The US Section 301 action is designed to apply domestic political pressure within the UK and other countries over the imposition of such taxes.
The UK and US held talks about the digital services tax on 4 December, and UK government sources stressed that the tariff list was being seen as procedural rather than an escalation.
The tariffs are now subject to a consultation in the US over the next few weeks.
At the Budget, the Office for Budget Responsibility calculated the digital services tax would raise £300m in the current financial year, and as much as £700m in future years.
Brought in last April it taxes at 2% the revenues – not profits – of search engines, social media services and online marketplaces which derive value from UK users.
It followed years of claims in Europe and elsewhere that big tech firms do not pay enough tax in the countries where they operate.
Last August, Facebook agreed to pay the French government €106m (£95.7m) in back taxes to settle a dispute over revenues earned in the country.
Earlier that year, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said he recognised the public's frustration over the amount of tax paid by tech giants.
A UK government spokesperson said: “Like many countries around the world, we want to make sure tech firms pay their fair share of tax. Our digital services tax (DST) is reasonable, proportionate and non-discriminatory.
“It's also temporary. We're working positively with the US and other international partners to find a global solution to this problem and will remove the DST when that is in place.”
There are signs the Biden administration wants a more conciliatory relationship on trade with the UK than Donald Trump did.
Last month, Washington agreed to suspend tariffs on UK goods, including single malt whiskies, that were imposed in retaliation over subsidies to aircraft maker Airbus. However, the UK is still lobbying the US to drop duties on British steel brought in in 2018.
Everyone has seen those oversize vending machines that sell headphones and phone chargers. Dawn Dickson-Akpoghene, 42, makes those–but fancier. Her “high IQ” kiosks use AI, biometrics and computer vision to enable retailers to retain customers through data stored on the blockchain. With $3.8 million in funding, Popcom's $20,000 unit is in Polaris Fashion Place in Columbus' soon to come additional shopping malls and beyond. “We are in a new world of retail,” she says. Small businesses account for 99.9% of all U.S. businesses and some two-thirds of net new American jobs.
The vast majority of these enterprises are bootstrapped via savings and credit cards. While venture-backed startups generally skew white, male and coastal, these Main Street enterprises actually look like—and drive—America. To shine a light on this new class of entrepreneurial hero, Forbes has created the Next 1000.
This year-round initiative showcases the ambitious sole proprietors, self-funded shops and pre-revenue startups in every region of the country—all with under $10 million in revenue or funding but infinite drive and hustle.
Fueled by your nominations and screened by top business minds and entrepreneurial superstars, at the year’s end, we’ll culminate with 1,000 new faces. Let’s get started with the first installment of 250 standouts who embody the best of the American dream right now.