Rolls-Royce protected from global chip shortage by parent firm BMW

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 10th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars boss Torsten Müller-Ötvös says its sales figures are the best in its 117-year history thanks to being protected from the global chip shortage by parent firm BMW.

The chief executive of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars (RRMC) has told Sky News the company expects to continue to be immune from the global shortage of semiconductors holding back the wider car industry.

Torsten Müller-Ötvös was speaking after the BMW-owned but Goodwood-based luxury marque revealed a record set of annual sales figures for 2021 – the best in its 117-year history.

RRMC said it delivered 5,586 vehicles to clients around the world, up 49% on the same period in 2020.

In his interview on Ian King Live, the CEO agreed that BMW had prioritised Rolls in terms of chip supply.

When asked if that arrangement was to continue during 2022, he  replied: “That remains the case.”

The company's sales data offered nothing in terms of value or profits but Mr Müller-Ötvös said the performance reflected, to some extent, a demand for luxury as the pandemic to date had badly hit international travel and driven up wealth because spending fell so sharply in 2020.

On BMW's aid, he said: “We were able to allocate all the chips we needed for building the cars, to fulfil client demand worldwide and that helped a lot; to be part of what I call a very professional, big group, who helped us to acquire all our chips worldwide.”

RRMC said of its sales: “All Rolls-Royce models performed extremely strongly.

“Growth has been driven principally by Ghost, with demand surging further, following the launch of Black Badge Ghost in October 2021.

“This, together with the continuing pre-eminence of Cullinan and the marque's pinnacle product, Phantom, has ensured order books are full well into the third quarter of 2022.”

By James Sillars

Virgin Mobile and O2 users will not face EU roaming charges

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 10th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –

Virgin Mobile and O2 phone users will not face roaming charges following announcements by other networks to reintroduce extra fees after Brexit.

It means customers travelling to Europe will be able to use their mobile data and make calls and texts on the same deal as they have in the UK.

Vodafone, EE and Three are set to reintroduce roaming fees this year for customers travelling to Europe.

Consumer champion Which? urged the UK and EU to “strike a deal” on charges.

Before the UK left the EU, users were able to use their calls, texts, and data allowance in their mobile plans in any EU country after the bloc removed roaming charges in 2017.

However, the EU trade deal of December 2020 gave mobile operators the option of reintroducing charges.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that he welcomed the decisionby Virgin and O2 to keep roaming free across Europe.

Virgin Media O2 – the company that owns the Virgin Mobile and O2 networks – said a family of four going abroad for two weeks could see an extra £100 on their bill, based on analysis of rates from other providers.

“We're starting the year by giving our customers some certainty: we will not be reintroducing roaming fees in Europe for customers on O2 or Virgin Mobile,” said Gareth Turpin, chief commercial officer.

“With many Brits now looking to plan a trip abroad, we've got our customers covered and extra roaming charges will be one less thing to worry about.”

Vodafone plans to bring back roaming charges at the end of January, while EE is set to in March. Both networks delayed reintroducing the charges earlier due to testing and technical issues respectively.

Meanwhile, Three is to introduce fees in May.

Customers who joined or upgraded with EE after 7 July 7 2021 face a £2 daily roaming charge in EU countries, while Vodafone will charge the same fee for people who joined the network after 11 August 11 or upgraded or renewed their contract.

However, both companies will offer deals to avoid the fee, with EE customers able to buy a 30-day roaming pass for £10 and Vodafone users able to pay £1 a day for an eight or 15-day pass.

Three will bring in the £2 daily charge for people who joined or upgraded after 1 October 2021.

‘Reassuring'

Sue Davies, head of consumer protection policy at Which?, said it was “reassuring” that Virgin Media O2 had offered some certainty to customers.

“As the UK continues to negotiate trade deals, it should take the opportunity to lower the cost of roaming for consumers travelling around the world,” she added.

“The UK and EU should also work to strike a deal on roaming charges to stop companies chipping away at the roaming benefits customers have become used to and to ensure the high charges people used to face do not return.”

In April last year, a £31bn merger between Virgin Media and O2 was approved, making it one of the the UK's largest entertainment and telecoms firms.

How $1.3 Billion Of Counterfeit Goods Are Seized At JFK Airport

Source: BI

The sale of counterfeit goods is a multi-billion dollar industry that can have negative impacts on consumers and fuel criminal organizations. In 2020, U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized over 26,000 counterfeit goods shipments. We visited Steve Nethersole, a customs officer at JFK, to see how he’s spotting and stopping fakes.

Why Investors Are Excited About the DeFi-zation of GameFi

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Fri, 7th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –

How The Right 5-10 Cryptocurrency Coins
Could Make You A Fortune
https://www.qlmbusinessnews.com/ohy1

Splitting the ownership and utility of gaming assets opens huge investment opportunities for GameFi, potentially making game finance bigger than decentralized finance (DeFi). The GameFi sector is young but booming, and this is very exciting for investors. The financial components of GameFi include on-chain leasing solutions, fractionalization, staking, game non-fungible tokens (NFT) dedicated marketplaces, layer 2 solutions for blockchain games and others.

GameFi and DeFi have many similarities but there are also some crucial differences. The DeFi sector has more structure but without any recent major improvements, whereas GameFi is a brand-new sector with lots of rules and standards yet to be set. Moreover, GameFi has less chance of manipulation by crypto whales. It also has a much higher potential to attract non-crypto users into the crypto market, especially in emerging markets, helping with both education and conversion.

The thesis of GameFi sector investment is that it makes sense to invest in whatever makes playing blockchain games more fun, more capital efficient and more trustless. For example: 1) on-chain leasing protocols that separate ownership and the right to use it; 2) game NFT-dedicated on-chain swaps; 3) distributed cloud gaming platforms; and 4) layer2 solutions for blockchain games.

This was perhaps best demonstrated this summer, when Andreessen Horowitz – one of the biggest and most storied Silicon Valley venture capital firms – invested $4.6 million in a little-known Philippine GameFi company called YGG. Yield Guild Games was established as a way to finance the use of gaming assets. Essentially it allows users to lease NFTs and then redeem them for fiat money. The heart of the innovation is that it splits the usage and the ownership of gaming assets. In a short time, YGG has grown to be a hugely important part of the GameFi ecosystem.

It also shows how the current GameFi upcycle is different from the DeFi upcycle (2020 through early 2021). During that period, investors were largely focused on investing in lending protocols, decentralized exchanges, synthetic assets and on-chain derivatives – basically the plumbing underpinning the ecosystem of DeFi. The thesis centered on investing in the best technology that would attract the most developers, which in turn would then grow the wider ecosystem.

There are some important platform investment opportunities in the current GameFi tide. GameFi is bringing crypto to the mass market. Many people will have earned their first crypto ever through blockchain games. This means that the potential market size is orders of magnitudes bigger than the previous round. Back then, it was all about crypto natives, with high barriers to entry. This time it’s about non-crypto natives with low barriers to entry.

The potential is much bigger, as the play-to-earn model means that many gamers will receive crypto assets for the first time. The focus will be more on investing into the financial infrastructure of blockchain games rather than the game itself. The key will be to invest in the Fi part of GameFi because a single game’s lifetime could be short, but the Fi is essentially tech infrastructure that will last much longer.

Doing well and doing good

There is a further angle to the GameFi investment opportunity. Many of the early adopters of play-to-earn opportunities are gamers in developing regions of the world, whose normal incomes have been badly hit by the effects of two years of lockdowns. GameFi and play-to-earn are seen as a way to make an income in the virtual world, free from the problems that beset the real world.

YGG is a great example of this. In a blog post this summer, Arianna Simpson, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz who invests in crypto, wrote about this opportunity in regard to the investment in YGG. “Right now, there is a largely untapped economic opportunity in emerging markets to provide jobs by building a virtual economy in the digital world,” she wrote. “The way we define a ‘job’ is quickly evolving because of crypto and gaming, and we think we’re just starting to glimpse what’s possible in this realm.”

It’s still early, and that means there are still opportunities to help shape the standards of GameFi, unlike DeFi. As the GameFi ecosystems expand, and more people take part, more value is created. It is a virtuous circle that also has the potential to help alleviate poverty.

By Coindesk Staff

Sir Richard Branson to launch first SPAC on European stock exchange

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 7th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –

Sir Richard Branson is drawing up plans to list a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange in the coming months, Sky News learns.

Sir Richard Branson is to launch his first European blank cheque company as the Virgin Group tycoon continues to tap public market investors to find takeover targets.

Sky News has learnt that Virgin Group is drawing up detailed plans to list a new special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in Amsterdam in the coming months.

Sir Richard's business is working with bankers on a listing, which could be announced as soon as the first quarter of 2022, according to insiders.

The news may be interpreted as a snub to the London market given that Virgin Group is based in the UK and that British regulators have reformed listing rules to make it easier to pursue SPAC deals in London.

One source said the Amsterdam-listed vehicle would probably seek to raise an initial sum of around €200m, although the final details have yet to be determined.

SPACs, which are listed pools of blind capital raised from investors to pursue a merger with a private company, have been an engine of global dealmaking activity for the last two years, resulting in hundreds of billions of dollars-worth of corporate tie-ups.

There have, however, been signs of investor apathy, with many fundraisings struggling and a number of high-profile companies seeing their shares plunge after their SPAC mergers have been completed.

Sir Richard has become a prolific user of SPACs, taking both his space tourism venture Virgin Galactic and commercial satellite operation Virgin Orbit public through mergers with blank cheque companies.

Virgin Orbit began trading late last year, and its chief executive, Dan Hart, will ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange later on Friday.

Sir Richard will be absent from the ceremony after disclosing this week that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

Virgin Galactic's soaring valuation has enabled Sir Richard to raise hundreds of millions of pounds to prop up his other travel and leisure businesses.

He has pumped a substantial sum into Virgin Atlantic Airways to help it survive the first two years of the pandemic, with Virgin-branded cruise and health and fitness businesses also requiring additional financial support.

Virgin has also launched two US SPACs of its own, and used them to merge with 23andMe, a consumer research and genetics company, and Grove Collaborative, a manufacturer of sustainable consumer products.

Bankers expect Virgin to launch further blank cheque companies in the US.

A spokeswoman for Virgin declined to comment.

By Mark Kleinman

Next Christmas online sales boosts profits

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 6th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –

Retailer records 20% rise on pre-pandemic festive sales despite low stock levels and drop in trade at stores

Next rang up £70m more sales than expected over Christmas as a surge in online orders of party dresses and occasionwear made up for lower trade in stores.

The fashion and homewares chain is the first retailer to report its Christmas trading results, potentially giving an indication of how the high street fared in the biggest sales period of the year.

The group said it now expected to make £822m in annual profits, £22m more than previously hoped for and almost 10% ahead of pre-pandemic levels, in its fifth increase in guidance in less than a year.

In the eight weeks to Christmas Day, Next said its sales rose 20% on 2019 – before the Covid pandemic – despite suffering “materially lower” levels of stocks than it had hoped for while its delivery service had struggled because of labour shortages in its warehouses and distribution networks.Advertisement

“The fact that our sales remained so robust in these circumstances is, we believe, testament to the strength of underlying consumer demand in the period,” the company said.

The group’s strong performance was underpinned by an 85% surge in full-price online sales compared with 2019 at its Label business which sells brands such as Ted Baker, Nike and Mint Velvet. Online sales of Next goods in the UK and overseas were also up by more than 30% in the three months to 25 December while sales in its UK and Irish stores fell 5.4%.

However, Next warned of a “tougher environment” for the year ahead despite assuming no further disruption from the pandemic.

The company said it was unclear how much it had benefited from shoppers spending their savings built up during lockdowns and whether a return to spending on holidays and other social activities would hit sales of non-essential goods such as clothing.

The group also said trade could be affected by rising inflation. Next expects its prices to increase by almost 4% this spring and summer while the price of its autumn ranges would be 6% ahead of last year because of higher freight and manufacturing costs.

The company said that average wages were also set to rise by 5.4% across the group driven by the April increase in the legal minimum wage as well as shortages of warehouse and technology workers.

Richard Lim, the chief executive of Retail Economics, said: “These are mightily impressive results and demonstrate the growing strength of the brand and its agility to operate through the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic. The results shine an optimistic light on the resilience of consumer demand and the effortless transition shoppers now make between buying online and in-store.

“The outlook for 2022 looks more challenging. For many households, this year will be a ‘pinch point’ as the combination of tax hikes and a rise in the cost of living erode incomes.”

Despite the concern about cost rises, Next said it would pay out £205m to shareholders, or 160p per share, in a special dividend at the end of January.

By Sarah Butler

Pre-departure testing to be scrapped for travellers returning to the UK

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 5th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –

Airlines UK and Manchester Airports Group say current restrictions come at a huge cost to the travel industry and are holding back its recovery.

Pre-departure testing will no longer be required for travellers returning to the UK, the government is expected to announce later.

Sky News understands that the review of travel restrictions today will result in the removal of the restriction put in place a month ago to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant.

Recent figures showed one in 25 people in England had COVID-19 just before Christmas.

Currently, fully vaccinated travellers into the UK must take a pre-departure test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result from a post-arrival test.

Those who are not fully vaccinated must self-isolate for 10 days after they arrive.

Last month, the government removed all 11 countries on its travel “red list”, partly reversing the tightening of restrictions in order to contain the spread of Omicron from abroad.

Airlines UK said at the time that costly testing and isolation measures imposed on travellers ought to be removed too for the same reason and has now reiterated that plea.

The trade body and MAG – which operates Manchester, London Stanstead and East Midlands airports – cited research they had commissioned from consultancy Oxera and analytics firm Edge Health to make the latest call.

They said the research showed the removal of all testing requirements on international travel this month would not impact the spread of Omicron in the UK.

It also found that the introduction of pre-departure and day two PCR testing in late November and early December respectively had little impact on the spread of Omicron in the UK, compared to a scenario where the policy of a single day two antigen test remained the same.

The companies said the tightening of travel restrictions hurt the sector last month, with MAG estimating a 30% hit to its recovery in passenger numbers.

They said separate research commissioned by Oxera at the time showed that extra testing in response to Omicron reduced the UK aviation sector's contribution to the economy by £60m a week.

MAG chief executive Charlie Cornish and Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade said in a joint statement that the health secretary had already acknowledged that the value of any form of restrictions was significantly reduced once Omicron became dominant.

“This latest research by Oxera and Edge Health clearly supports the position that travel testing requirements can be removed in full without impacting overall case rates and hospitalisations in the UK,” they said.

“It should give the UK government confidence to press ahead with the immediate removal of these emergency restrictions, giving people back the freedom to travel internationally to see loved ones, explore new places and generate new business opportunities.

“Travel restrictions come at huge cost to the travel industry, and to the UK economy as a whole, placing jobs at risk and holding back the recovery of one of our most important sectors.

“It is therefore vital they do not remain in place a day longer than is necessary.”

Fears over the Omicron variant and tighter restrictions imposed before Christmas have already been revealed to have had an impact on demand for Tui and Ryanair.

But hopes that conditions will ease – in the light of suggestions that Omicron will be cause less serious illness than other variants – have in recent days created a more optimistic outlook for the aviation sector.

Shares in British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG) and other airlines rose sharply on Tuesday helping London stock indices enjoy a strong bounce on the first day of new year trading.

China Mobile shares rise in Shanghai after raising $7.7bn in China’s biggest public offering in a decade

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 5th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –

China Mobile shares have risen as they started trading in Shanghai after raising $7.7bn (£5.7bn) in China's biggest public offering in a decade.

China Mobile shares have risen as they started trading in Shanghai after raising $7.7bn (£5.7bn) in China's biggest public offering in a decade.

The shares opened 9.4% higher before easing back in morning trade.

China Mobile's smaller rivals, China Telecom and China Unicom, have already made the move to their home country.

The three firms were delisted from the New York Stock Exchange after a Trump-era decision to restrict investment in Chinese technology companies.

China Mobile's Hong Kong-listed shares also rose in early trade after the company said it would press ahead with a plan to buy back up to 2.05 billion shares, worth nearly $13bn.

Nina Xiang, the author of US-China Tech War, told the BBC that the Chinese government would have made sure that China Mobile's Shanghai debut went well.

She said: “It's important for Beijing to ensure this listing appears successful and smooth to prove that China has the wherewithal to accommodate its own companies on its own stock exchanges.

“But it won't be great for Chinese companies to lose the access to the US capital markets as it will be another step in the downward spiral of deteriorating bilateral relations,” she added.

The policy introduced by the Trump administration to clamp down on investments in Chinese technology firms has remained in place under President Joe Biden as tensions continue between Washington and Beijing.

Ms Xiang also highlighted that more US-listed Chinese firms may take similar steps to safeguard their share listings: “There are dozens of Chinese companies listed on US exchanges that might seek a listing in Hong Kong this year to secure their shares remain publicly traded, in case the two countries couldn't reach a solution for Chinese firms to remain listed in the US.”

The company has said it plans to use the cash raised from the offering to develop projects including premium 5G networks, infrastructure for cloud resources and artificial intelligence software.

China Mobile is the world's largest mobile network operator by total subscribers.

Last month, Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Global has announced plans to take its shares off the New York Stock Exchange and move its listing to Hong Kong.

The firm had come under intense pressure since it raised $4.4bn in its US debut at the end of June.

Also, within days of the New York initial public offering Beijing announced a crackdown on technology companies listing overseas.

Didi shares have lost almost 65% of their value since their US market debut.

Apple becomes first US company to reach $3tn valuation

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 4th Jan 2022) London, Uk – –

New year trading pushed Apple shares to a new high of $182.80 after tripling in value in under four years

Apple became the first US company to be valued at over $3tn on Monday as the tech company continued its phenomenal share price growth, tripling in value in under four years.

A pandemic-era surge in tech stocks has driven the major US tech companies to new highs, pulling US stock markets with them. Apple became the world’s first trillion dollar company in August 2018, passed $2tn in 2020 and hit its new high as trading began after the holidays and its shares passed $182.80 a piece before dipping lower to end the day valued at over $2.9tn.

Apple alone is now more valuable than the combined values of Boeing, Coca-Cola, Disney, Exxon-Mobil, McDonald’s, Netflix and Walmart. Its shares have risen 38% since the beginning of 2021, one of the largest gains on the Dow Jones industrial average stock market index.

The company released its last quarterly earnings in October and made a profit of $20.6bn over the previous three months despite suffering from Covid-related supply chain issues.

It is unlikely to remain the only $3tn company as analysts expect Microsoft will also hit the mark later this year.

The news came as US markets edged higher and European shares bounded to record highs in the first day of trading in 2022 as investors bet on a steady economic recovery despite the rising number of Covid-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant.

Europe’s benchmark stock index, the Stoxx 600, rose to a record intraday high of 491.73 points on Monday, surpassing its November peak of 490.58, as global oil and equity markets climbed. It later closed at 489.99, up 0.45%.

The Stoxx 600 recorded a 22.4% jump last year, its second-best yearly performance in over a decade, after the global rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and government stimulus spending encouraged investors to pour money back into the markets.

The share price of airlines Lufthansa and Air France–KLM were two of the biggest climbers across Europe’s equity markets after analysts at Citi forecast that the reopening of travel routes to Asia could help bolster the beleaguered travel sector. Lufthansa shares rose by almost 8.9% to €6.73 a share, and Air France KLM rose by 4.9% to €4.06.

Europe’s record start to the new year set the stage for US markets to continue their late 2021 recovery. The opening of the S&P 500 index, which climbed by a record 47.7% last year, was bolstered by a 9% jump in Tesla shares after the company’s quarterly deliveries exceeded expectations.

In another boost to US markets global oil prices, which last year recorded their biggest annual rise since at least 2016, resumed their rise towards $80 a barrel as fears that emerged late last year over the impact of the Omicron variant waned. The oil price helped shares in US oil majors Chevron and ExxonMobil climb by 1% each.

The London Stock Exchange (LSE), which has lagged behind its European and US rivals by climbing 14.3% last year, was closed on Monday for the new year bank holiday. The FTSE 100 has been criticised as “old-fashioned” due to its dearth of tech companies and a glut of oil and bank stocks. It remained 6.5% below its May 2018 peak last year while the US, German and French markets all hit record highs.

Sean Darby, a global equity strategist at Jefferies, said: “Although Covid-19 variants permeated the global economy, 2021 was the year of records with many bourses closing at or near record highs, while inflows into equities surpassed their largest accumulation ever. Peering into 2022, we expect volatility to rise.”

Global oil markets are also expected to face ongoing volatility in the year ahead as traders balance the risk that the Omicron variant may stall a rebound in demand for transport fuels, against uncertain supplies from the world’s biggest oil producers.

Reporting by Dominic Rushe and Jillian Ambrose 

Toyota poised to outsell General Motors in the U.S. as sales leader for 2021

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 4th Jan 2022) London, UK —

Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) is poised to outsell General Motors Co (GM.N) in the United States in 2021, which would mark the first time the Detroit automaker has not led U.S. auto sales since 1931.

In the first nine months of 2021, Toyota sold 1.86 million vehicles in the United States compared with GM's 1.78 million, or just over 80,000 more vehicles. For all of 2020, GM's U.S. sales totaled 2.55 million, compared with Toyota's 2.11 million and Ford Motor Co's (F.N) 2.04 million.

The year has been marred by a shortage of semiconductors used heavily in vehicles, forcing automakers to focus on their most profitable models.

The automakers are set to report full-year 2021 U.S. sales results on Tuesday. GM has been the largest seller of vehicles in the United States since 1931, when it surpassed Ford, according to data from industry publication Automotive News.

Toyota isn't boasting about the expected accomplishment. Senior Vice President Jack Hollis said in a statement that the automaker is “grateful” for its loyal customers, but “being No. 1 is never a focus or priority.”

GM spokesman Jim Cain said the Detroit automaker had a very strong sales year in the United States in full-size SUVs and pickup trucks as it has focused on profitability, and as the supply of semiconductors improves, so will sales.

“I wouldn't rush out, if I were (Toyota), and get a ‘We're No. 1' tattoo,” he said.

GM under Chief Executive Mary Barra also has emphasized profitability over volume, abandoning such money-losing markets as Europe and Russia.

Edmunds auto analyst Jessica Caldwell said Toyota will outsell GM in 2021 “unless the Detroit automaker pulls off a miracle.” But she added “it's unlikely that this is indicative of a long-term shift” and noted GM sells more brands than Toyota.

Cox Automotive forecast Toyota will outsell GM for all of 2021 in the United States: “Toyota has successfully managed tight inventory all year.”

For the entire industry, Cox Automotive forecast U.S. new vehicle sales will be down 32% in December over December 2020 — the slowest pace since May 2020, when the country remained mostly closed during the first wave of the COVID pandemic.

Industry analysts forecast around 15 million vehicles sold for all of 2021 in the United States. U.S. vehicle sales will remain well below the five-year average of 17.3 million from 2015-2019.

IHS Markit forecasts U.S. sales are expected to reach nearly 15.5 million in 2022, up an estimated 2.6% from the projected 2021 level of approximately 15.1 million vehicles.

Auto buyers have seen prices jump dramatically. Edmunds said average transaction prices for new vehicles hit another new record in November at $45,872 — compared with $39,984 in November 2020. Edmunds also forecast used vehicle prices will surpass the $30,000 mark for the first time in 2022.

IHS Markit forecast worldwide new light vehicle sales of nearly 82.4 million in 2022, up 3.7%, while 2021 sales are expected to be up just 2.9% globally from 2020.

Reporting by David Shepardson

AT&T and Verizon reject proposal to delay 5G rollout

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 3rd Jan 2022) London, Uk – –

Two of the biggest US phone firms have rejected a government request to delay the rollout of 5G services this week.

The US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made the request over concerns about aviation safety.

However, AT&T and Verizon did say they will implement temporary safeguards.

Plane makers have warned that C-Band spectrum 5G wireless signals may interfere with sensitive aircraft electronics and could disrupt flights.

In a joint letter, the chief executives of AT&T and Verizon said the proposal to delay for a fortnight the introduction of 5G services, which are due to start on 5 January, would be “an irresponsible abdication of the operating control required to deploy world-class and globally competitive communications networks.”

However, they also said that they will not deploy 5G around airports for six months, similar to an approach adopted in France.

“The laws of physics are the same in the United States and France,” the letter said.

“If US airlines are permitted to operate flights every day in France, then the same operating conditions should allow them to do so in the United States,” it added.

But the FAA said circumstances in France are different, including that telecom firms operating in that country use lower power levels for 5G than are allowed in the US.

The aviation industry and the FAA had previously raised concerns about potential interference of 5G with aircraft equipment like radio altitude meters.

Last month, the bosses of the world's two biggest plane makers, Airbus and Boeing, made an appeal to Mr Buttigieg in which they said “5G interference could adversely affect the ability of aircraft to safely operate”.

The letter cited research by trade group Airlines for America which found that if the FAA's 5G rules had been in effect in 2019, about 345,000 passenger flights and 5,400 cargo flights would have faced delays, diversions or cancellations.

The airline group urged the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the telecom industry to work with the FAA and aviation companies and said it may go to court on Monday if the FCC does not act.

On Sunday, an FCC spokesperson said the agency is “optimistic that by working together we can both advance the wireless economy and ensure aviation safety.”

Chinese giant Tencent joins backers of £3.3bn digital bank Monzo

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 3rd Jan, 2022) London, Uk – –

Tencent Holdings, which has a market value equivalent to more than £400bn (£296bn), is taking a small stake in Monzo, the UK-based lender, as part of a $600m (£444m) fundraising, Sky News learns.

Tencent Holdings, the Chinese technology behemoth, is taking a stake in Monzo, the British-based digital bank which has confounded expectations by securing a $4.5bn (£3.3bn) valuation.

Sky News has learnt that Tencent, which has become a prolific investor in Europe's burgeoning tech sector, has subscribed to shares as part of a $100m (£74m) top-up to Monzo's latest funding round.

A source close to the process said Tencent was investing a minority of the $100m capital injection.

The Chinese company's involvement adds another prominent investor to the bank's share register, weeks after it confirmed that the likes of Coatue and the Abu Dhabi Growth Fund had become investors.

Tencent has previously backed European banking start-ups such as Germany's N26, which had a brief presence in the UK market but rapidly withdrew citing Brexit-related complexities.

It also holds stakes in major US tech companies, including Tesla and Snap.

Its Hong Kong-listed shares have a market capitalisation equivalent to more than £400bn (£296bn).

The $100m top-up funding takes the total amount raised in Monzo's latest round to $600m (£444m), with its surging valuation aided by the addition of thousands of customers in 2021.

TS Anil, Monzo's chief executive, said: “The high level of investor interest we've had in this round is testament to our performance as well as the huge opportunity that lies ahead.

“With the backing of some of the best names in the investment community, we're going into next year with big ambitions – and we're just getting started.”

Monzo claims to have seen a doubling in revenues this year, and has more than 5m customers in total, with 100,000 being added each month.

More than 300,000 of those customers are now using paid and business accounts.

The bank has nevertheless had a turbulent couple of years, with a number of ongoing regulatory probes and a setback in its efforts to break into the US.

Monzo is chaired by Gary Hoffman, one of Britain's most experienced bank executives and the soon-to-depart chairman of English football's Premier League.

It employs more than 2,000 people.

Tencent has been contacted for comment.

By Mark Kleinman

Tesla to recall 475,000 cars in the US

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 31st Dec 2021) London, Uk – –

Tesla is to recall more than 475,000 cars in the US, according to documents filed with the US safety regulator.

The electric vehicle firm announced it was recalling 356,309 vehicles because of potential rear-view camera issues affecting 2017-2020 Model 3 Teslas.

A further 119,009 Model S vehicles will also be recalled because of potential problems with the front trunk, or boot.

The total recall figure is almost equivalent to the 500,000 cars Tesla delivered last year, Reuters reports.

The BBC has approached Tesla for comment.

A safety report, submitted this month, estimates that around 1% of recalled Model 3s may have a defective rear-view camera.

Over time “repeated opening and closing of the trunk lid” may cause excessive wear to a cable that provides the rear-view camera feed, says a Safety Recall report submitted by Tesla to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US on the 21 December.

If the wear causes the core of the cable to separate “the rear-view camera feed is not visible on the centre display”, the report notes.

The loss of the review camera display may “increase the risk of collision”, it adds.

The Model S recall involves vehicles manufactured between 2014-2021, some of which may have a problem with a “secondary latch” on the front trunk, or boot.

In another Safety Recall report, also filed on 21 December, Tesla notes the fault could mean, if the primary latch is inadvertently released, the front trunk “may open without warning and obstruct the driver's visibility, increasing the risk of a crash”.

Around 14% of recalled Model S's may have the defect, the report notes.

In both cases, the reports state that “Tesla is not aware of any crashes, injuries, or deaths” relating to the potential faults.

Passenger play

The latest recall is not the first safety issue to have prompted action from the electric vehicle firm.

Last week Tesla agreed to make changes to its Passenger Play feature, which allows games to be played on its touchscreen while the car is in motion.

It took action after an investigation was launched by the NHTSA.

The feature will now be locked and unusable while the car is moving.

El Salvador Adopted Bitcoin, Then Bought the Dip

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Thur, 30th Dec 2021) London, Uk – –

How The Right 5-10 Cryptocurrency Coins
Could Make You A Fortune
https://www.qlmbusinessnews.com/ohy1


The country’s adoption of BTC as legal tender wasn’t enough to keep the cryptocurrency near $50K in September.

El Salvador buys in

In June, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele, announced that bitcoin would become legal tender, making his country the first to make that move, which also meant no capital gains taxes for bitcoin holders there.

Bitcoin rose about 70% from a low of around $30,000 toward a high of nearly $50,000 in early September as traders reacted to the news from El Salvador – seen by many fans of the 12-year-old digital asset as a long-awaited validation of its potential to serve a global currency. El Salvador’s bitcoin’s law went into effect in September.

Bitcoin dips

When the law actually took effect, bitcoin’s price began to sell off – a classic “buy-the-rumor, sell-the-fact” scenario. (A similar thing had happened earlier in the year, when the big cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase held its direct stock listing on the Nasdaq exchange.)

Bukele tweeted that El Salvador was ready to buy on price dips even as BTC continued to fall. A growing number of users on social media platforms, including Twitter and Reddit, called for people to buy small amounts of bitcoin in support of El Salvador’s bitcoin policy, Bloomberg reported. Many investors were already betting the news could give the oldest cryptocurrency a price boost.

On Sept. 13, software company MicroStrategy purchased an additional 5,050 BTC for about $242 million in cash. Still, BTC continued lower.

BTC declined from $50,000 toward $40,000 and ended September on a down note.

Concerns were growing over a possible credit default by the Chinese property developer Evergrande Group, shaking speculative assets including equities and cryptocurrencies; lower risk appetite among investors also contributed to bitcoin’s September slump.

The takeaway for crypto traders from the July-August price action was that El Salvador’s decision to make BTC legal tender wouldn’t be enough to keep the cryptocurrency’s price elevated at $50,000. Bitcoin’s correlation with stocks increased along with the credit concerns in China.

Still, the nearly 7% BTC drop in September looked far less severe than the 50% price crash in April and May. After some ups and downs, bitcoin’s price had again stabilized at well above 2020 levels as some traders began to anticipate a $100,000 BTC price by year end.

By Damanick Dantes

Riot Games to pay $100m in discrimination case

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 29th Dec 2021) London, Uk – –

Riot Games, the studio best known for League of Legends, has agreed to pay $100m (£74.3m) to settle a 2018 class-action gender discrimination case.

The settlement will “remedy violations against approximately 1,065 women employees and 1,300 women contract workers”, California's Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH) wrote.

DFEH said the firm engaged in “systemic sex discrimination and harassment”.

Riot Games said it must “take responsibility for the past”.

The company will pay $80m (£59m) to members of the class action suit and about $20m (£15m) will cover legal costs.

The 2018 case followed investigations by the Los Angeles Times and the news website Kotaku.

According to the original complaint against the company, Riot was accused of fostering a “bro culture” and faced a range of allegations.

These included that women had been sexually objectified, with an email chain that rated the company's “hottest women employees”, and that unsolicited images of male genitalia had been shown to workers by their bosses and colleagues.

Industry problem

As part of the settlement, Riot agreed to workplace reforms, independent expert analysis of its pay, hiring, and promotion practices, and to be monitored for instances of sexual harassment and “retaliation” at its California offices for three years.

The company must also set aside $18m (13.2m) to fund diversity, equity and inclusion programmes and create 40 full-time positions in engineering, quality assurance or art-design roles for its former contract workers.

DFEH Director Kevin Kish wrote that, if accepted by the court, the settlement would lead to lasting change at Riot Games and “send the message that all industries in California, including the gaming industry, must provide equal pay and workplaces free from discrimination and harassment”.

Riot had initially agreed to settle the case for $10m in 2019, but the DFEH and another agency had blocked the deal arguing that the amount to which victims were entitled was much higher.

The company said it had to face the fact that it hadn't always lived up to its values, telling the Washington Post: “While we're proud of how far we've come since 2018, we must also take responsibility for the past”.

“We hope that this settlement properly acknowledges those who had negative experiences at Riot.”

In a letter to staff, published online, Riot's executive team said the settlement was, “the right thing to do, for both the company and those whose experiences at Riot fell short of our standards and values”.

The company told the BBC that since 2018 it had made improvements across the workplace, including hiring its first chief people officer and its first chief diversity officer, rewriting its values, mandating new training programmes and enlarging its diversity and inclusion team.

Riot Games is not the only prominent games firm to face questions about workplace culture.

The DFEH is also taking action against Activision Blizzard, the company behind the games World of Warcraft, Overwatch and Call of Duty.

Activision Blizzard recently reached an $18m (£13.2m) settlement with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over claims of sexual discrimination and harassment.

TikTok ousts Google to become top online destination

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 27th Dec 2021) London, Uk – –

Move over Google, TikTok is the world's new most popular online destination.

The viral video app gets more hits than the American search engine, according to Cloudflare, an IT security company.

The rankings show that TikTok knocked Google off the top spot in February, March and June this year, and has held the number one position since August.

Last year Google was first, and a number of sites including TikTok, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Netflix were all in the top 10.

Cloudfare said it tracks data using its tool Cloudflare Radar, which monitors web traffic.

It is believed one of the reasons for the surge in Tiktok's popularity is because of the Covid pandemic, as lockdowns meant people were stuck at home and looking for entertainment.

By July this year, TikTok had been downloaded more than three billion times, according to data company Sensor Tower.

The social network, which is owned by a Chinese company called Bytedance, now has more than one billion active users across the world, and that number continues to grow.

In China, to comply with the country's censorship rules, the app is called Douyin, and runs on a different network.

Douyin was originally released in September 2016. This year, China ruled that users under the age of 14 would be limited to 40 minutes a day on the platform.

Security concerns

TikTok was launched internationally in 2018, after merging with another Chinese social media service, Musical.ly, an app which allowed users to share videos of themselves lip-synching to songs.

The social media platform is no stranger to controversy. In 2019, it garnered a temporary ban in India, a US counter-intelligence investigation and a record £4.3m fine after Musical.ly was found to have knowingly hosted content published by under-age users.

As one of the only internationally successful Chinese apps, politicians and regulators outside China have raised concerns about security and privacy.

Last year TikTok was forced to deny it is controlled by the Chinese government.

Theo Bertram, TikTok's head of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said it would refuse any request from China to hand over data.

The app hosts a variety of short videos, covering genres such as comedy, dance and politics.

In the UK, the most popular creator is make-up artist @abbyroberts with 17.4 million followers.

This year @Francis.Bourgeois, with 1.6 million followers, quit his job to become a full-time trainspotter as a result of his viral videos at railway stations talking about trains and cheering them as they pass.

Expanding

Food and recipe videos have become a key part of TikTok's success, with viral clips getting millions of views.

As a result, in the US, a new food delivery service called TikTok Kitchen will launch in March, allowing people to order dishes originally created in viral videos.

The menu will be based on the app's most viral food trends and will include courses like the baked feta pasta which was ranked the most searched dish of 2021 by Google.

TikTok Kitchen is being co-founded by Robert Earl, who owns the US food outlets Planet Hollywood, Buca di Beppo and Bertucci's.

He said about 300 TikTok restaurants are planned across the country for the launch, with more than 1,000 expected by the end of 2022.

TikTok Kitchen will operate out of many of the restaurants belonging to the chains owned by Mr Earl.

Why Gamers Are Going To Be The New Rich

Source: Alux

This Alux video we will be answering the following questions:

Why are gamers the new rich? How are gamers getting rich? What is gamification? How does gamification work? What are good examples of gamification in business? What are some examples of gamification in the real world? Are there any examples of the gamification of school? Is gamification a big business? What are the best ways to implement gamification? What are good/bad examples of gamification design? Who are the best gamification experts?

How Pre-loved fashion is on the rise through global technology platforms

Source: Bloomberg

Pre-loved fashion is on the rise as old clothes find new wearers through global technology platforms. What are the risks and rewards of this resale revolution? At Vestiaire Collective’s authentication center in Northern France, CEO Max Bittner shows Imran Amed how countering counterfeits can secure growth. Back in London, he meets with Maria Raga, CEO of social e-commerce company Depop, as she looks to further build out a young online community.

Selfridges luxury department store chain sold for £4bn to Thai-Austrian alliance

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 24th Dec 2021) London, Uk – –

British luxury department store chain Selfridges is being sold to a Thai retailer and an Austrian property firm.

The deal for the majority of Selfridges Group is worth around £4bn ($5.4bn), the BBC understands.

Founded in 1908 by US retail magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge, the company is best known for its flagship department store on London's Oxford Street.

The Canadian wing of the billionaire Weston family bought Selfridges for nearly £600m in 2003.

“It is a privilege to be acquiring Selfridges Group, including the flagship Oxford Street store, which has been at the centre of London's most famous shopping street for over 100 years,” Central Group's chief executive Tos Chirathivat said in a statement.

It was revealed earlier this month that Central Group was close to agreeing a deal to take over Selfridges.

Selfridges Group employs around 10,000 people and owns 25 stores worldwide, including in major cities in England, Ireland, the Netherlands and Canada.

Signa and Central will take over 18 of the 25 stores. Selfridges Group's seven Holt Renfrew department stores in Canada were not part of the deal and will remain in the ownership of the Weston family.

Selfridges' new owners said they plan to build on the existing brand to develop luxury online stores as well improving its physical sites.

“Together we will work with the world's leading architects to sensitively reimagine the stores in each location, transforming these iconic destinations into sustainable, energy-efficient, modern spaces, whilst staying true to their architectural and cultural heritage,” Signa's chairman Dieter Berninghaus said.

Analysis By: Katie Prescott

Unique Brand

Selfridges is known for its bright yellow cardboard bags and its flagship store on London's Oxford Street is a magnet for shoppers and tourists alike.

Home to luxury brands, a visit is just as much about the experience and beautiful displays as what it is selling.

It even inspired a TV series about the American founder Harry Selfridge, who decided to build the “biggest and finest” department store in the world in 1908.

Now that “big, fine brand” and its buildings have brought its owners, the Weston family, a £4bn Christmas present.

Chief Executive of rival Fenwick, John Edgar, a former chief financial officer at the Selfridges Group, described it as a “great price for a fantastic business”

Analysts say that despite the well-publicised woes of retail through the pandemic, this sale shows that the Selfridges brand is unique. And it also underlines just how popular UK property still remains with international investors.

The Weston family – which also owns Fortnum & Mason and has majority control of Primark owner ABF – launched the sales process in June, a few months after the death of W Galen Weston, who oversaw the move to take the department store.

Alannah Weston, chair of Selfridges Group and daughter of Galen Weston, said the move is testament to her “father's vision for an iconic group of beautiful, truly experiential, department stores”.

“Creative thinking has been at the heart of everything we did together for nearly twenty years and sustainability is deeply embedded in the business,” she added.

Central, which is owned by the billionaire Chirathivat family, is involved in wide range of businesses including real estate, retail, hospitality and restaurants.

The Bangkok-based firm opened its first department store in 1956 and has grown to become Thailand's biggest owner of shopping malls.

It also has an e-commerce joint venture with China's JD.com and a stake in south east Asian ride-hailing and delivery giant Grab.

Vienna-based Signa Group was founded by entrepreneur René Benko in 2000 and has become Austria's largest privately owned real estate company.

The two firms already jointly own major department stores across Europe.

The Central-Signa 50/50 bid reportedly beat rival offers from the Qatar Investment Authority, which owns Harrods, and Lane Crawford, a Hong Kong-based department store chain.

Before the impact of the pandemic, Selfridges had doubled its profits and reported sales growth of more than 80% since being taken over by the Westons.

The family has received more than £580m in dividends from the business over the past decade, but also injected investment into improving the store's experience, with new concepts including an indoor skate park at its London store.


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