Major changes to rules for international travel expected to be announced today

( via– Fri, 17th Sept 2021) London, Uk – –

The green and amber lists will reportedly be merged into one category of low-risk nations and the number of places on the red list will be reduced.

Major changes to the rules for international travel are expected to be announced today.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he will later announce measures to “simplify international travel…to reduce costs, take advantage of higher levels of vaccination, and keep us all safe”.

He did not expand on what those changes could be but some reports have said the green and amber lists will be merged into one category of low-risk nations and the number of places on the red list will be reduced.

And according to The Times, Turkey could be taken off the red list in time for the October half-term.Advertisement

Data expert Tim White has told Sky News that as many as 12 countries could lose their red designation: Argentina, Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Kenya, Maldives, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

There are currently 62 countries on the red list.

But the rules around red list travel – spending 11 nights in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £2,285 for solo travellers – are expected to remain the same.

Environment Secretary George Eustice told Sky News no decisions have yet been taken but he understands there “may be a meeting today to review those travel restrictions”.

There have also been suggestions that those who are fully vaccinated will no longer need to take a lateral flow test before their departure and a PCR test after their arrival.

The move would save travellers around £100 a trip.

Heathrow boss urges change to travel rules

However, Mr Eustice remained cautious, saying: “The rationale for the PCR test is that you can do genome sequencing of variants and can therefore detect possible variants of concern.

“Arguably the biggest threat to the travel industry is we do get another variant that manages to get around the variant, then we're into another lockdown and we don't want that, that's why we've taken this cautiously, step by step.”

At the moment, travellers who are not double jabbed have to take a PCR test and do not need to isolate after arriving from a nation on the green list.

Reports suggest this could be changed and under the new system they would be required to quarantine at home and take two tests when coming back from a low-risk location.

Javid wants to scrap PCR tests for travellers

Mr Shapps's announcement will only apply to England.

But the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have also implemented recent changes announced in Westminster.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid indicated earlier this week that PCR tests for fully vaccinated travellers will be scrapped in favour of cheaper lateral flow tests, amid accusations some of the private testing companies listed on the government website have been advertising misleading low prices and providing poor service.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a Downing Street news conference on Monday that the government is considering “simplifying” the traffic light system for overseas travel and what it can do to make the “burdens of testing less onerous for those who are coming back into the country”.

Meanwhile, speculation that travel restrictions might soon be overhauled sent shares in airlines soaring.

Heathrow said this week it has gone from being Europe's busiest airport in 2019 to number 10 on the list, behind rivals in cities such as Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt, in part, thanks to travel restrictions.

But on Thursday, shares in easyJet and Wizz Air rose close to the top of the FTSE 250.

On the FTSE 100, British Airways owner IAG and airplane engine maker Rolls-Royce also benefited.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Our top priority is to protect public health – decisions on our traffic light system are kept under regular review and are informed by the latest risk assessment from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and wider public health factors.”

By Alix Culbertson and Alan McGuinness, political reporters

Next deal keeps Gap brand alive in the UK

( via – – Fri, 17th Sept 2021) London, Uk – –

UK retailer Next and struggling US fashion giant Gap have formed a joint venture that will see Next manage Gap's UK website and place concessions in some stores.

The move will preserve some of Gap's physical presence on the high street following plans by Gap to close all 81 stores in the UK in July.

It is a similar deal to one signed with clothing brand Reiss earlier this year.

Next is also expanding the brands available on its online platform.

Its “Total” platform allows it to run other fashion brands' e-commerce operations, including customer service, payment systems and logistics and currently also hosts the Victoria's Secret and Childsplay Clothing brands.

Shares in Next rose 2.5% to £81.98 on the news by Friday afternoon.

Next will own 51% of the new venture, while Gap will own 49%. The deal will enable customers to use Next's click-and-collect service at its 500 stores.

Gap Global's chief executive Mark Breitbard said: “Gap is partnering with Next one of the UK's leading online clothing retailers, to amplify our omnichannel business and meet our customers in UK & Ireland where they are shopping now.”

According to Natalie Berg, a retail analyst and founder of NBK Retail, the deal is Gap's “best shot” at reviving its brand.

“The Gap brand might have lost its way but it's still a brand with a lot of heritage,” she told the BBC. “The uncomfortable truth is that they had way too many stores.

“What Next is doing featuring it, as a shop within a shop, does generate excitement and make consumers want to go into the store.”

She says it is ironic to see Next and Gap teaming up, when they are both middle-tie High Street brands who have competed for years over the same demographics of shoppers.

“The pandemic has created strange bed fellows – who would have thought next and gap would have come together a few years ago?”

By Mary-Ann Russon

CMA refers Sony Music’s purchase of AWAL for in-depth probe

( via — Thur, 16th Sept 2021) London, UK —

Sept 16 (Reuters) – A UK regulator referred Sony Music Entertainment's purchase of London-based independent record label AWAL for an in-depth probe on Thursday, after the buyer refused to divest any undertakings to allay competition concerns.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said the wholesale distribution of recorded music in the UK was highly concentrated at present, and if the deal had not gone ahead, Sony and AWAL could have competed more strongly with each other.

The regulator on Sept. 7 gave Sony five days to address its concerns.

Sony Music, which then called CMA's decision “perplexing” and said it was based on an incorrect understanding of AWAL's position in the UK, did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for a comment on Thursday.

CMA Senior Director Colin Raftery was concerned the deal could potentially worsen terms for many artists in the UK and lead to less innovation across the industry.

Earlier this year, Sony Music Entertainment, owned by Sony Group (6758.T), entered into an agreement with Kobalt Music Group to buy its recorded music operations, including AWAL & Kobalt neighbouring rights.

Reporting by Priyanshi Mandhan in Bengaluru

Pimlico Plumbers closing in on a £100m deal to sell company

( via– Wed, 15th Sept 2021) London, Uk – –

Pimlico Plumbers tycoon Mullins nears £100m deal to sell company

Neighborly, a home services provider backed by the private equity giant KKR, is among the parties trying to buy Pimlico Plumbers, Sky News understands.

Charlie Mullins, the entrepreneur who became an unlikely business celebrity as the founder of a London-based plumbers, is closing in on a deal to sell the 42 year-old business.

Sky News has learnt that Neighborly, a US-based provider of home services owned by the giant private equity firm KKR, is among a number of parties which have expressed an interest in buying Pimlico Plumbers.

A private equity investor who had expressed an interest earlier in the sale process said on Wednesday that a sale of Pimlico Plumbers could be imminent, although they cautioned that it was unclear whether Neighborly or another suitor would be the eventual buyer.

Reports earlier this year suggested that Mr Mullins was likely to fetch a price in the region of £100m after hiring advisers from Cavendish Corporate Finance to identify new investors.

The tycoon, a vocal opponent of Brexit who has become an outspoken figure on a range of economic matters, founded Pimlico Plumbers in 1979 with a single second hand van.

He has grown it into one of the capital's most ubiquitous businesses, with its prominent branding displayed on a fleet of vehicles driven by its roughly-400 staff.

The company is now run by Scott, Mr Mullins' son.

Neighborly would be a logical buyer for Pimlico Plumbers as it seeks to extend its international reach.

It was bought by KKR from Harvest Partners, another investment firm, just two months ago.

Neighborly owns a range of franchise-based home services brands, including HouseMaster and Mr Appliance.

Pimlico Plumbers and KKR declined to comment, while a spokeswoman for Neighborly did not respond to a series of requests seeking comment.

By Mark Kleinman

Fidelity Prodded SEC to Approve Bitcoin ETF in Private Meeting

( via — Wed, 15th Sept 2021) London, Uk – –

How The Right 5-10 Cryptocurrency Coins
Could Make You A Fortune

The firm pushed the agency, citing increased investor interest and a growing number of bitcoin holders.

Fidelity Investments privately prodded the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last week to approve its bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), according to recent filings.

The multinational, financial services giant urged the regulator to approve its fund by citing increased investor interest in crypto. Fidelity also pointed to the rising number of investors holding bitcoin and similar funds worldwide. Bloomberg first reported the news Tuesday.

Fidelity Digital Assets President Tom Jessop, among other executives from the firm, met with SEC officials via a Sept. 8 video call.

Fidelity had not responded to a CoinDesk request for comment by the time of publication.

Bitcoin ETFs in the U.S. have had a notoriously hard time winning SEC approval of their applications. Presently, there are over 10 applications pending, including those by VanEck, WisdomTree, and more recently, Anthony Scarammuci’s SkyBridge.

The firm originally filed its Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust in March with a follow-up response in June. Last week marked the second round of talks between the SEC and Fidelity, and like all others, the application is pending.

Purpose Investments became the first in North America to be approved for a bitcoin ETF when Canadian regulators gave their go-ahead in February.

By Sebastian Sinclair

Evergrande China property giant admits debt crisis as protesters besiege HQ

( via – – Tue, 14th Sept 2021) London, Uk – –

Disgruntled investors voice anger at headquarters as company appoints advisers and says firesale of assets won’t cover debts

Property giant China Evergrande Group has said that it cannot sell properties and other assets fast enough to service its massive $300bn debts, and that its cashflow was under “tremendous pressure”.

Only hours after angry investors besieged its Shenzhen headquarters and the company denied it was set for bankruptcy, Evergrande issued a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange saying that a significant drop in sales would continue this month, which was likely to further deteriorate its liquidity and cash flow.

The company blamed “ongoing negative media reports” for dampening investor confidence, resulting in a further decline in sales in September – usually a strong month for sales in China.

Evergrande also said two of its subsidiaries had failed to discharge guarantee obligations for 934m yuan ($145m) worth of wealth management products issued by third parties. That could “lead to cross-default”, it said.

And in a sign that restructuring plans are speeding up, the board also said it had appointed advisers to “assess the group’s capital structure, evaluate the liquidity of the group and explore all feasible solutions to ease the current liquidity issue”.

Shares in the group closed down nearly 12% in Hong Kong on Tuesday. The statement also said it had failed to find a buyer in the distressed sale of its electric vehicle and property service subsidiaries, prompting shares in those businesses to fall by 25% and 12% respectively.

Evergrande is one of the world’s most indebted companies, and has seen its shares tumble 75% this year, sparking fears among analysts of “a risk of contagion” spreading through China’s overheated property sector and also its banking system.

Years of borrowing by Evergrande to fund rapid growth has combined with a crackdown on the industry by Beijing to fuel the crisis.

The dramatic announcement on Tuesday follows a turbulent day on Monday which saw increasingly desperate protests by small investors and homebuyers demanding their money back.

Chaotic scenes erupted at the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen as around 100 disgruntled investors crowded into the lobby to demand repayment of loans and financial products.

More than 60 security personnel formed a wall in front of the main entrances to the towering skyscraper in the southern city where protesters gathered to shout at company representatives.

Du Liang, identified by staff as general manager and legal representative of Evergrande‘s wealth management division, read out a repayments proposal for those who held wealth management products, according to financial media outlet Caixin, but protesters at the company’s headquarters appeared to reject it.

“They said repayment would take two years, but there’s no real guarantee and I’m worried the company will be bankrupt by the end of the year,” said a protester surnamed Wang, who said he works for Evergrande and had invested 100,000 yuan ($15,500) with the company, while his relatives invested about 1m yuan.

Hundreds of people in recent months have also protested on an online forum set up by the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist party, seeking government help.

Many analysts believe Evergrande will be forced to restructure its debt and possibly faces being dismantled under a government-orchestrated operation to ensure a soft landing that does not capsize the country’s bloated property market.

But late on Monday, Evergrande responded to the speculation that it was facing a restructuring as “totally untrue”.

“The recent comments that have appeared online about Evergrande‘s restructuring are completely false,” the company said in a statement.

It went on to say the company “is indeed facing unprecedented difficulties at the moment, but it will firmly carry out its main corporate responsibilities, fully dedicate itself towards the resumption of work and industry”.

The group will “protect housing transactions (and) intends to do everything possible to restore normal business operations, and fully guarantee customers’ legal rights and interests”, the statement added.

However, the group faces serious financial problems and the statement on Tuesday appeared to lay bare the magnitude of the crisis which has seen its bonds fall to less than 75% face value in some cases. Some trading was suspended again on Tuesday amid wild swings in prices.

After highlighting its problems raising cash from the firesale of properties and other assets, it said: “In view of the difficulties, challenges and uncertainties in improving its liquidity, there is no guarantee that the group will be able to meet its financial obligations under the relevant financing documents and other contracts.

“If the group is unable to meet its guarantee obligation or to repay any debt when due or agree with the relevant creditors on extensions of such debts or alternative agreements, it may lead to cross-default under the group’s existing financing arrangements and relevant creditors demanding acceleration of repayment. This would have a material adverse effect on the group’s business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.”

According to Caixin, Evergrande on Monday proposed that investors choose to accept 10% of the principal and interest of the matured product now and the rest via 10% instalments quarterly, payment by property assets, or by using the outstanding product value to offset home purchase payments.

On Friday, Evergrande vowed to repay all of its matured wealth management products as soon as possible.

Many buyers of Evergrande-built homes have expressed concern about down-payments made for projects now suspended by the property firm, airing concerns on Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent.

A report last week by Capital Economics said Evergrande had 1.4m properties it has committed to completing, as of the end of June.

Analysts at the Hong Kong-based market intelligence firm Reorg described in a recent report how the disputes over contractor payments intertwined with Evergrande’s large exposure of unfinished properties that buyers – as is common in China – have already paid for upfront.

“In extreme cases, if China Evergrande fails to complete pre-sold property projects on time, due to inability to pay contractors, China Evergrande will be liable to the purchasers for their losses,” Reorg said.

“In line with industry practice, the group pre-sells properties prior to their completion – as a result, banks providing financing to end purchasers require China Evergrande to guarantee their customers’ mortgage loans. If a purchaser defaults on a mortgage loan, the group may have to repurchase the underlying property by paying off the mortgage.”

BrewDog appoints ‘blue-chip reputation’ chairman ahead of stock exchange float

( via – – Mon, 13th Sept 2021) London, Uk – –

Beer and spirits company BrewDog – hit by criticism from former employees earlier this year – has appointed a chairman with a blue-chip reputation.

Allan Leighton was chief executive of Asda and Pandora. He is chairman of the Co-op, and was chairman at Royal Mail.

He joins the Aberdeenshire brewing firm to stabilise it ahead of a stock exchange float, and as mentor to its chief executive, James Watt.

BrewDog has just closed a world record equity crowdfunding round.

It raised £30.2m from 78,000 “equity punks”.

The ex staffers' letter in June complained of a “culture of fear” and a “toxic” atmosphere at BrewDog.

It claimed a significant number of former staff suffered mental health problems as a result of working there.

Mr Watt apologised at the time, and started a series of reforms to address the criticism.

Investor interest slowed after the publicity around the ex-staffers' letter, according to the chief executive, but came back more strongly in the closing weeks.

The tranche of funding is to lower BrewDog's climate changing emissions, with an anaerobic digester at the Ellon brewery and a battery-operated vehicle fleet.

A consultancy that advises and researches on corporate culture, Wiser, has been hired and is to produce a report by the end of this year, which is to be made public.

Pay has been increased by 3%, following delays to planned pay rises. About 100 more staff have been hired, partly to reduce pressure on those already in the company.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Leighton said: “BrewDog has built an incredible market position and brand in a short space of time.

“It continues to grow quickly all over the world, has a fantastic team of people, and an outstanding sustainability story to tell. I look forward to playing my role in ensuring the company has the right governance in place to capitalise on the opportunities ahead.”

In an interview with BBC Scotland, Mr Watt – who co-founded Brewdog 14 years ago – said: “It's going to be fantastic for me personally to have such an experienced business leader acting as a mentor to myself. Before this, I was working on a North Atlantic fishing boat. This is my first CEO role.”

He explained that an interim chairwoman, Blythe Jack, had not been able to continue in that role, as she represents the private equity company that is BrewDog's biggest investor, and that would break stock exchange rules. She takes the role of deputy chairperson of the board.

‘Damaged our reputation'

Asked about the reputational damage done to the company in June, Mr Watt said: “We definitely took a hit. The coverage of the letter from former staff in the media was widespread. Pretty much everyone saw it, and it didn't make pleasant or positive reading.

“It damaged our reputation to a certain extent. All we can do is respond to it the best way we possibly can – which is by working with our team, doing an independent review, making changes in our company, and being open and transparent.”

He added: “We've got a great open dialogue with our consumers, customers and our community, to be upfront about what we're doing. We can build from that. We can build an even better company. For us, it's about finding an opportunity in a challenging time”.

The timing of the float, or Initial Public Offering, has not been announced. BrewDog has hired Rothschild to advise on it, having previously postponed plans for a 2020 float because of the pandemic.

By Douglas Fraser

Emma Raducanu wins US Open in maiden Grand Slam with championship prize of $2.5 million

Emma Raducanu ended Britain's 44-year wait for a women's Grand Slam singles champion as she beat Leylah Fernandez to win the US Open in the most thrilling style.

The 18-year-old ended her scarcely believable run in New York with a 6-4 6-3 win over her 19-year-old Canadian opponent in a high-quality final.

Raducanu threw herself to the floor in disbelief as she fired down an ace to conclude what has been the most remarkable journey.

Raducanu served for the match at 5-3 but cut her leg as she went break point down, leading to a medical time-out and a clearly irritated Fernandez expressing her frustration to the match official.

However, Raducanu shrugged off the delay, saving a further break point before closing out her third championship point.

The two shared a warm hug before Raducanu headed up the stairs at Arthur Ashe Stadium to celebrate with her support box.

Raducanu was cheered on by an emotional Virginia Wade, who was the last British woman to win a major trophy at Wimbledon in 1977.

“It means so much to have Virginia Wade here and also Tim Henman,” Raducanu said in her on-court speech.

“They are British icons and for me to follow in their footsteps gave me the belief I could do it.”

With the victory, Raducanu becomes:

  • The first British female winner at Flushing Meadows since Virginia Wade in 1968
  • The first qualifier in the Open era to win a Slam
  • The youngest women's Slam champion since Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004
  • The youngest Briton to win a Grand Slam title
  • The first woman to win the US Open without dropping a set since Serena Williams in 2014

She will take home £1.8m in prize money, rise to 23 in the world rankings and will become the British number one on Monday.

Raducanu will also know that she has starred in one of the biggest moments in British sporting history – and captured the imagination of the fans at home and in New York.

The rise & rise of Raducanu

Astonishing. Ridiculous. Meteoric. Unbelievable. Take your pick – but no word can ever really sum up what Raducanu has achieved.

Two weeks ago, Raducanu had a flight booked back to the UK, just in case she did not come through qualifying in New York. Seventeen days later, she has lifted the trophy in front of a rapturous crowd.

Raducanu did not just come through qualifying: she dominated the tournament. The most games she lost in one set in her entire run in New York – five – came in the second round of qualifying.

It is not just that Raducanu has kept on winning, but she has done it with such dominance. She did not drop a set en route to the final, despite meeting Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and in-form Maria Sakkari on the way.

In the big moments, she has held her nerve, trusting in her power and serve, even when she saw two championship points go by in the final.

This is someone who, two months ago, was collecting her A-Level results. She only made her WTA main-draw debut in June. All this has happened so quickly, and yet not once has Raducanu not looked like she belongs.

With all the attention on Raducanu after Wimbledon – as well as questions from some about her mental toughness – she could have easily been overwhelmed.

Instead, she trusted in herself, hired a new coach in Andrew Richardson and went to America to play in the various events.

No-one could have seen this coming; not the ease with which Raducanu would brush her opponents aside, or the calmness with which she would approach every match.

But Raducanu always believed. And she will leave New York as the US Open champion.

‘An almost perfect performance' – analysis

Former British number one Laura Robson on BBC Radio 5 Live: “There are so many sliding doors moments. Before Wimbledon, Emma didn't have a main draw wild card. Would she be in this position if they hadn't upgraded it? Would this happen if she hadn't had to retire from the fourth round with breathing problems?

“She played an almost perfect performance in her first Grand Slam final. You have to think there will be so many more.”

Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash: “I cannot believe it. It is unheard of for a qualifier to win the US Open. Goran Ivanisevic won Wimbledon as a wildcard but he had already been to Wimbledon finals, not playing a second Grand Slam.

“She hits so cleanly. I cannot come up with a reason for this to happen. It does not make sense at all. Her performance is mindboggling.”

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller: “I have never seen anything like this and I suspect if I work in this business for another 20 years I won't see anything like it.

Nerves? What nerves?

A full Arthur Ashe Stadium – which holds almost 24,000 people – is one of the most intimidating sights in tennis, but neither player looked fazed as they walked out on to the biggest stage of their career.

Fernandez had more of the crowd support, given that she has ousted the second, third and fifth seed in New York, but there was still good support for Raducanu.

The first three games lasted for 23 minutes, both players showing a devastating array of cross-court punches and fiery returns of serve, and they traded breaks as they found their footing.

As she has done throughout the tournament, Raducanu dug herself out from 0-30 down several times, stepping forward, playing more aggressively and finding her first serves.

That gave her the confidence to attack Fernandez's second serve and put herself on top. She closed out the first set with a forehand down the line, turning and pumping her fist towards her box before letting out a yell of “come on!” to the crowd as they rose to applaud.

Fernandez has shown tenacity throughout the tournament and she did so here, saving three break points in her first service game to stop Raducanu taking a 2-0 lead in the second.

She then found the break, adjusting to hit Raducanu's serves better, and it looked as though the momentum had swung the way of the young Canadian.

However, there is a reason Raducanu has not dropped a set in New York. At the changeover she sat quietly, eyes closed, before again increasing her tempo and creating the break opportunity.

She broke with the shot of the match – a stunning forehand pass, made from almost off the court, that left Fernandez stranded at the net.

Two championship points came and went on the Fernandez serve, saved once again by brave hitting, but Raducanu did not falter despite taking a nasty cut to the leg as she slid behind the baseline.

It was an odd interlude in what was an entertaining final that proved that the future of women's tennis is bright.

By Amy Lofthouse

How 2020 Brought The Gym Home

Source: Bloomberg

Peloton was already connecting millions to its unique brand of exercise when Covid struck, forcing gyms and studios to shutter. Since then, the company’s rise has been meteoric. As the world reopens, the fitness industry faces a landscape remade by the wildly popular stationary bike, alongside personalities new and old looking to take a slice of the market.

If the only thing you know about sports is who wins and who loses, you're missing the highest stakes action of all. A new era of sports, characterized by eye-popping investments, unprecedented activism and global influence have permanently moved sports from back-page entertainment to the center of the global conversation.

Tennis Teen Queen Emma Raducanu Set to be Best-paid British Sportswoman

( via – – Fri, 10th Sept 2021) London, Uk – –

British teenage tennis star Emma Raducanu is on track to become the UK's highest-paid sportswoman this year, experts say, after her stunning run to the US Open final.

The 18-year-old will earn $1.2m (£864,810) for reaching the final, which is four times the $303,000 she has earned during her entire career so far.

But marketing experts say she is set to make millions more, with lucrative endorsements and deals on the horizon.

Tennis players dominate the richest sportswomen rankings. The nine highest paid female athletes in the world are all tennis players, according to Forbes business magazine, suggesting there is substantial scope for Raducanu, who already has a shoe and clothing sponsorship contract with Nike.

There are “plenty of deals Emma could make with big brands”, Simon Chadwick from the Emlyon Business School told BBC 5 live's Wake Up To Money programme. “There's so much potential on where Emma could go commercially.”

Raducanu is currently managed by Max Eisenbud, vice-president of tennis at entertainment business IMG. He previously managed former world number one Maria Sharapova, who was the world's highest-paid female athlete for 11 years running.

“Emma's age, she's Generation Z, her dual heritage, her growing profile and the global platform she's on means big things are ahead for her, ” Mr Chadwick added.

He said that there was “definitely a space for Emma” when compared with other female tennis players at the moment.

‘Marketing dream'

Nigel Currie, a sponsorship and marketing consultant, said that with Serena Williams coming to the end of her career, it was “perfect timing” and a “fantastic opportunity” for Raducanu.

“She's a marketing dream, really, so the advertisers and sponsors will be queuing up.”

Along with the Nike deal, she also has a racquet sponsorship with Wilson. For an unranked player, Mr Currie said, two deals were typical, but the next round of deals she negotiates will be “absolutely huge, with Nike and Adidas fighting over her”.

Raducanu's fame in fashion is also rocketing, with a feature in October's Vogue issue.

Twenty-three year-old Naomi Osaka is the world's highest-paid female athlete at the moment, overtaking Serena Williams in May 2020.

Her total earnings stand at $37.4m (£27.2m) according to Forbes, and Osaka broke Maria Sharapova's 2015 record for the most money ever earned by a female athlete in a year. Osaka is 28th in the world's highest-earning athletes, including male players.

Following Osaka's back-to-back Grand Slam titles in 2018 and 2019, Nike paid about $10m (£7.2m) to take her from Adidas and she now has a total of 15 company sponsors.

The potential earnings from endorsements for Raducanu is immense if calculated from Osaka's benchmark of $34m (£24.6) from endorsements – 10 times more than her total prize money earnings.

‘Inspiring young image'

Sports industry lawyer Trevor Watkins from Pinsent Masons said that “ultimately, having a strong team around her will reflect the measure of success going forward”.

“The power of the personality to drive value is a huge factor for her, but the difficult thing will be ensuring she makes the right choices.”

Historic social media posts and negative publicity have reflected badly and ended sponsorship deals for other athletes in sports such as cricket, but Mr Watkins said Raducanu has an “inspiring young image” which businesses will want to capitalise on.

“Brands aren't going to pay a million dollars without commitments back, but she'll be able to pick and choose who she wants to associate with now.”

Roger Federer is the richest tennis player in the world, coming in as the seventh richest athlete for 2021. He has an estimated net worth of $450m (£324.3m).

Raducanu is currently ranked 150th in the world and will become the British number one on Monday.

By Beth Timmins

Microsoft venture arm M12 gives backing to UK legal tech start-up Definely

( via– Fri, 10th 2021) London, Uk – –

Microsoft’s venture fund, M12, and CRE Venture Capital are jointly leading a multimillion pound seed funding round for Definely that will be announced next week, Sky News understands.

A UK-based legal technology start-up which uses artificial intelligence to shorten labyrinthine contract-drafting processes has drawn backing from Microsoft’s venture arm.

Sky News understands that M12, the tech behemoth's vehicle for deploying capital into early-stage companies, is jointly leading a £2.2m seed investment in Definely.

The funding round, which also includes money from CRE Venture Capital, is intended to help accelerate Definely's expansion.

The company's clients include some of the world's largest law firms, including Allen & Overy and Dentons, which for decades have been forced to grapple with the laborious nature of legal documents.

Definely's software shortcuts much of that process by enabling lawyers to access and edit key information more easily.

The start-up was launched in 2017 by two former Magic Circle solicitors, Nnamdi Emelifeonwu and Feargus MacDaeid.

Mr MacDaeid, who is registered blind, and his co-founder initially targeted its services at the visually impaired, but rapidly realised that they could be attractive to the wider legal profession.

Mr Emelifeonwu said: “Legal technology is stepping out of nascency and becoming embedded in how the modern-day lawyer works.

“Definely not only speeds up the review and drafting process but importantly it allows a lawyer to be more accurate with their output because they never have to leave where they are and lose context when working on a document.”

M12's backing represents a coup for Definely, given the source of its funding, according to tech investors.

“What began as a tool for the differently abled now provides value to all lawyers, helping them to more rapidly and accurately draft and revise contracts,” Matthew Goldstein, a managing director at M12, said.

The funding round is expected to be formally announced next week.

By Mark Kleinman

Amazon online shopping giant pays £492m in UK tax as sales surge to £20.6bn

( via – – Wed, 8th Sept 2021) London, Uk – –

Online shopping giant Amazon has said it is “proud” of its contribution to the UK economy, as it reveals its latest financial results.

The firm paid £492m in direct taxation as its sales rose 50% to £20.63bn, amid a Covid-driven surge in demand.

Amazon and other tech firms, which pay tax on profits not sales, have faced scrutiny over the level of their tax bills in the UK.

But Amazon said it had invested £32bn in UK infrastructure since 2010.

“We are proud of the significant economic contribution we are making to the UK economy,” Amazon said in a statement.

“Looking ahead, we know that the UK remains full of opportunity and we continue to be excited by the potential to continue to invest, create jobs, develop talent and have a positive impact in communities across the country,” the statement added.

Amazon's total sales in the UK, rose to £20.63bn during 2020 – up by more than 50% from £13.73bn in 2019.

The direct tax bill was up by more than two-thirds compared with the £293m it paid in the previous year.

The firm, which employs 55,000 people in the UK, said the taxes included business rates, stamp duty, corporation tax and other contributions.

Amazon said employers' national insurance taxes accounted for the majority of the bill as it took on 22,000 more staff over the course of the last year.

The company's indirect tax bill came to £1.06bn, up from £854m, driven by VAT on increased sales and employee taxes, as it took on more people and increased wages.

Amazon said that when both direct and indirect taxation were taken into account, it had contributed £1.55bn, up from £1.15bn.

‘Get a grip'

GMB, the union for Amazon workers, said the company's tax bill was “frankly insulting” and said firms that had profited from the pandemic should pay more.

Mick Rix, GMB National Officer, said:”Amazon workers suffer unsafe, dehumanising work practices; breaking bones, falling unconscious and being taken away in ambulances.

“Ministers must get a grip of this runaway company and make sure pandemic profiteers pay more.

“Amazon's key UK business paid just £3.8m more corporation tax last year than in 2019, even as sales increased by £1.89bn.”

In April last year, the UK government launched a 2% tax on digital sales amid concerns that big tech firms were re-routing their profits through low tax jurisdictions. The Digital Services Tax is also included in the £492m figure.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said in June last year that the coronavirus crisis had made tech giants even “more powerful and more profitable”.

Other global tech firms have faced similar scrutiny over their tax bills.

French tax authorities recently settled disputes with Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon over their operations in the country over the last decade.

Last year, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said he recognised the public's frustration over the amount of tax paid by tech firms and backed plans by think tank the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to find a global solution.

‘Legally compliant but opaque'

“As usual the accounts are legally compliant but opaque and lack the crucial information about intra-group transactions which enable the company to shift profits is not there,” said labour peer and emeritus professor of accounting at the University of Sheffield and University of Essex, Prem Sikka.

“Therefore it's impossible to know what their true economic profit is,” Prof Sikka said.

Given the profits declared by competitors, Prof Sikka said Amazon's tax bill “seems very low”, whereas, for retailers such as supermarket chains, tax bills as a proportion of sales were much higher.

“We need a complete change in accounting regulations which currently increase opacity rather than transparency,” Prof Sikka added.

Professor of taxation law at King's College London, Ann Mumford agreed and said that there was a lack of public discussion around the rules which led to this amount of tax.

“It seems that Amazon realised that they would need to pay a respectable amount – and, are hoping that an increase of £3.8 million sounds like a lot of money,” Prof Mumford added.

Analysis: By Sarah Corker

The pandemic has accelerated the shift towards online shopping and Amazon has been one of the biggest winners amid those changing consumer trends.

As Covid closed physical stores during successive lockdowns, sales at the internet giant rocketed.

Today's numbers will raise further questions about how tech giants operate, the level of tax they pay and their impact on the struggling High Street.

Amazon moved to fend off criticism by pointing out that its direct tax bill increased by more than two-thirds from the £293m it paid in 2019.

Critics say that's still nowhere near enough given the surge in sales.

The firm's been on a hiring spree to meet soaring demand, offering a £1,000 joining bonus to encourage staff to work in its fulfilment centres in the north east of England.

British Airways in talks to negotiate low-cost Gatwick business, CEO says

( via — Tue, 7th Sept 2021) London, UK —

British Airways' CEO said on Tuesday that negotiations to set up a new low-cost subsidiary at London's second biggest airport Gatwick were “advanced”.

“We want to set up a subsidiary which has got a competitive cost platform,” BA CEO Sean Doyle told reporters at an event at Heathrow Airport.

“We're in, you know, advanced negotiations to try and enable that.”

The airline, owned by Anglo-Spanish group IAG (ICAG.L), first announced plans for the new business focused on short-haul flying on Friday, saying that it would be branded British Airways and would offer the same standard of service.

BA has been evaluating its position at Gatwick after stopping flights there during the pandemic and focusing on operations at its main hub Heathrow, Britain and London's busiest airport.

If negotiations with unions to set up the new unit fail, then Doyle said BA would not be able to compete at Gatwick and could look to sell its slots there.

“We would consider alternatives for the slot portfolio,” Doyle said.

Asked if there would be further job losses at BA should the new unit not go ahead, Doyle said that the move was about opportunities. BA axed more than 10,000 staff at the height of the COVID-19 crisis.

Doyle was at Heathrow to launch the airline's BA Better World sustainability programme, providing further details of how the airline plans to make progress towards its parent company's longer term goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

During the global climate summit due to be held in Glasgow later this year, BA said it would buy the equivalent amount of lower-emissions sustainable aviation fuel for its London to Scotland flights.

BA passengers will also have a greater opportunity to offset their carbon footprint by directly paying for sustainable aviation fuel should they wish.

Reporting by Sarah Young.

How The West Coast Drought Could Cause More ‘Water Wars’

Source: CNBC

Water is a cornerstone of economic activity, and when it runs low, communities face tough choices. The U.S. West is facing extreme drought conditions that are straining water resources and providing a fertile ground for wildfires. How will the West Coast face this climate challenge?

Cupcake Pizza Company Impresses Lori Greiner on Shark Tank

Source: SPT

Andrea Meggiato and Michelle Jimenez are seeking $125k for a 5% stake in their Pizza Cupcake company.

About Shark Tank: The Sharks – tough, self-made, multi-millionaire and billionaire tycoons – continue their search to invest in the best businesses and products that America has to offer. The Sharks will once again give people from all walks of life the chance to chase the American dream and potentially secure business deals that could make them millionaires.

GM halts North American production at eight factories due to chip shortage

( via– Fri, 3rd Sept 2021) London, Uk – –

General Motors is the latest automaker to be hit by the shortage of semiconductors. Ford has already said it will cut truck production after its August sales dropped by 33% because of the computer chip supply problem.

General Motors, one of the largest car manufacturers in the world, has been forced to halt production at eight of its 15 assembly plants in North America as a worldwide shortage of computer chips intensifies.

The US company owns a number of popular brands, including Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC.

The scarcity of semiconductor chips has hit product makers from Apple to Toyota in recent months, with the UK's Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) warning recently that the issue would strangle the industry's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson for GM said that the situation in North America was “complex and very fluid”, with four of the company’s factories in the US affected by the temporary shutdowns, plus an additional four sites between Canada and Mexico.

The halt in production from Monday for two weeks will affect GM’s most profitable product lines: sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pickup trucks.

“During the downtime, we will repair and ship unfinished vehicles from many impacted plants, including Fort Wayne and Silao, to dealers to help meet the strong customer demand for our products,” a spokesperson said.

The other sites affected include GM's Wentzville, Missouri plant; CAMI Assembly in Canada and San Luis Potosi Assembly in Mexico; its Lansing Delta Township plant; the Spring Hill Tennessee factory and its Ramos, Mexico plant.

Last year, GM produced 6.76 million vehicles, making it the fourth largest car manufacturer in the world.

“Although the situation remains complex and very fluid, we remain confident in our team's ability to continue finding creative solutions to minimise the impact on our highest-demand and capacity-constrained vehicles,” the company added.

GM is the latest automaker to be hit by the shortage of semiconductors. Earlier this week, Ford said it would cut truck production after its August sales dropped by 33% because of the shortfall.

Production of advanced computer chips, which are essential for all kinds of modern products like smartphones, games consoles and computers, has suffered since the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year with factories in Taiwan, South Korea and China severely affected.

CMC online broker warns on profits as trading volumes ease after frenzy

( via — Thur, 2nd Sept 2021) London, UK —

Sept 2 (Reuters) – Online broker CMC (CMCX.L) cut its annual profit guidance by up to 80 million pounds ($110 million) on Thursday after market volatility eased from extreme levels earlier in the pandemic, triggering a 27% fall in its share price.

CMC, which lets investors trade complex financial instruments on its platforms, said overall market activity had been subdued over the last couple of months, leading to lower trading volumes across new and existing clients.

The company's stock dived 27% to its lowest in more than a year on the London Stock Exchange by 1000 GMT, heading for its worst day since late 2016.

“CMC cannot escape the slowdown in trading activity,” Peel Hunt analysts wrote in a note. Among reasons for the drop, it cited clients taking holidays after the easing of pandemic curbs, meaning they have less money to spend on investing as well as less time.

CMC and the broader sector profited from high volumes as fears over the economic impact of the health crisis spurred volatility, while a so-called “GameStonk” retail trading frenzy on Wall Street during the lockdowns also aided.

Activity has slowed as government support measures and vaccinations mitigated concerns about a prolonged economic slowdown. The CBOE volatility index (.VIX), or Wall Street's fear gauge, fell to 16 from a peak of 85 last year.

CMC, which had expected more than 330 million pounds in net operating income for its fiscal year through March, now says it will be between 250 million and 280 million pounds.

Client numbers remain up around a third from pre-pandemic numbers, while assets under management are near record levels, the company said.

Operating costs for the current year will be moderately higher, although they will be partly offset by lower marketing costs because of lower activity, CMC added.

($1 = 0.7247 pounds)

Reporting by Chris Peters & Muvija M in Bengaluru

SIMBA Chain Raises $25M to Grow Sales and Marketing, Expand Into NFTs

( via — Thur, 2nd Aug 2021) London, Uk – –

How The Right 5-10 Cryptocurrency Coins
Could Make You A Fortune

The blockchain firm with multiple U.S. military contracts said it is dedicating resources to “emerging enterprise level opportunities such as non-fungible tokens.”

Blockchain-as-a-service firm SIMBA Chain has closed a $25 million Series A funding round led by Valley Capital Partners, the firm announced Thursday.

  • Indiana-based SIMBA Chain said the funding will be used to grow the firm’s sales and marketing departments, as well as to “dedicate resources to emerging enterprise level opportunities such as non-fungible tokens.”
  • Other participating investors included Notre Dame Pit Road Fund, Elevate Ventures, Stanford Law School Venture Fund, the founders of Lightspeed Venture Partners and New Enterprise Associates.
  • In January, SIMBA Chain announced it had been awarded a $1.5 million contract from the U.S. Office of Navy Research to build a blockchain system to help ensure a ready supply of military weaponry.
  • SIMBA’s technology is currently used by the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines, as well as Boeing and other businesses, for a wide range of commercial applications.
  • The company said it expects academic institutions and more businesses to use its software to manage their digital and physical assets.

By  Tanzeel Akhtar

Why Are People Suddenly Paying So Much For NFTs?

Source: Bloomberg

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) burst on the scene with a $69 million sale of Beeple’s digital art. Now players behind the so-called metaverse are betting “digital scarcity” will create a whole new ecosystem of play and commerce.

The Rise And Fall Of Juicy Couture

Source: BI

Juicy Couture went from being beloved by celebrities like Paris Hilton to being sold at discount retailer Kohl’s. While the brand dominated the early 2000s with its tracksuits, accessories, and perfume lines, it quickly lost its value following the Great Recession.