UK’s reliance on electricity imports climbs to a record high

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 2nd Sept 2019) London, Uk – –

Reliance on European power would bring extra costs after no-deal Brexit, say experts

The UK’s reliance on electricity imports has climbed to a record high amid fears that homes and businesses could face higher energy bills if the UK crashes out of Europe.

The latest government figures, released just weeks before Britain’s exit from the EU, show that the UK’s net electricity imports reached their highest ever level in the first quarter of this year.

The four high-voltage power cables linking the UK to Europe’s energy markets imported a sixth more electricity than the year before, after a new interconnector opened in January.

In total, European electricity imports made up almost 7% of the UK’s total demand, and the government hopes to increase imports to about 20% by 2025.Advertisement

Although this is a small share of the UK’s electricity, experts have warned that higher import prices could lead to higher energy bills.

The government’s leaked no-deal planning report, Operation Yellowhammer,predicted a marked increase in energy prices for homes and businesses if the UK crashes out without a deal.

The market price for electricity could climb because of a fall in the value of the pound against the euro, but also because of potentially costly complications of severing ties with EU energy markets.

Gas and electricity bills rose by £2bn in the year after the 2016 referendum result because of the plummeting value of the pound, according to a report from University College London.

This translated into an average household’s bill increasing by £35 for electricity and £40 for gas, and researchers predicted bills would climb by a further £61 every year in the years following the referendum.

A report commissioned by National Grid before the referendum predicted that energy bills could climb by £500m every year by the 2020s if the UK left the EU’s internal energy market.

Kristian Ruby, the head of pan-European trade association Eurelectric, said a no-deal exit could mean the UK faces third-party costs to use the power lines connecting Britain to European power markets, which would raise the overall cost of the energy.

Ruby said the UK might also find it more difficult to trade if it were left out of the complex pan-European trading system, and this could place a “risk premium” on UK prices.

“When you throw all rules up in the air at the same time, this lack of clarity, predictability and rule of law is what is very concerning for us,” he added.

A spokesperson said the government had taken steps to make sure energy trading continued and that energy laws “work effectively and provide value for money”.

The Guardian understands that a pan-European network of energy system operators has agreed a plan for the UK to remain within the internal market on a voluntary basis which would offer the same commercial terms.

A spokesman for National Grid, which runs the UK’s power cables, said it was “not anticipating any additional charges for interconnectors in the event of a no-deal Brexit”.

However, the plan has not been agreed by the European commission and could be cast in doubt if the UK leaves without an agreement or without paying the £39bn exit fee.

Alexander Temerko, a major Conservative party donor, said he feared electricity market prices could jump by almost a third if the UK does not remain part of the EU’s internal energy market after a no-deal Brexit.

The Ukrainian-born billionaire, who is planning to build a new electricity cable between the UK and mainland Europe, said the price hike could mean higher bills and negative consequences for UK business.

Temerko publicly dropped his support for Boris Johnson during the Conservative leadership campaign earlier this year over fears he could steer Britain towards a no-deal Brexit.

“If we have a no-deal Brexit all existing regulations for the transmission of electricity will be terminated with immediate effect. I don’t know how quickly, or how high, the price of electricity would jump. My expert opinion is that prices could jump by 30%. But there are no scenarios for this. We are not ready,” he said.

By Jillian Ambrose

Grab Co-Founders of Southeast Asian ride-hailing discuss having their sights on becoming a super-app

Source: Bloomberg

Bloomberg Technology's Emily Chang speaks to Grab Co-Founders Anthony Tan and Hooi Ling Tan about the Southeast Asian ride-hailing business. In the exclusive conversation, they tell us how the company partnered with Uber, adding Dara Khosrowshahi to their board, and how they have their sights set on becoming a super-app.

Did Samsung prove Apple right by killing the headphone jack?

Source: CNBC

The headphone jack has a long legacy in the audio world. So when Apple decided to exclude it from the iPhone 7, consumers were up in arms. In the years since, Samsung has been a champion for those who still wanted the headphone jack Samsung even went so far as to run a headphone jack commercial mocking Apple. But with the release of the Galaxy Note 10, it too has forgotten the decades-old technology. Did Samsung prove Apple right by killing the headphone jack?

British Steel unit sold to Systra saving hundreds of jobs

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com–Fri, 30th Aug 2019) London, Uk – –

The French group's purchase of York-based TSP Projects will be announced by the Official Receiver on Friday, Sky News learns.

Hundreds of jobs at a British Steel subsidiary will be saved on Friday when a French engineering giant confirms the acquisition of TSP Projects, an infrastructure design consultancy.

Sky News has learnt that Systra, which has been engaged in talks to buy TSP for three months, has clinched a deal to buy the business, along with its £70m-plus pension liabilities.

The agreement is expected to be announced by Systra and the Official Receiver, which has been managing British Steel since it collapsed into compulsory liquidation in May.

A much larger transaction involving the sale of British Steel's wider business, including its vast steelworks in Scunthorpe, remains subject to several weeks of due diligence by Ataer Holding, a subsidiary of Turkey's military pension fund.

Confirmation of the deal between Systra and TSP will make it the first British Steel division to be sold to new owners since the group's collapse in the wake of a government decision not to provide further state funding.

Sky News revealed last week that the sale of TSP was being held up by the need for a secured lender to agree to the transaction.

The lender, PNC, agreed to do so earlier this week, according to insiders.

The sale safeguards the interests of roughly 500 pension scheme members and 400 TSP employees, many of whom are based at its York headquarters.

TSP has contracts to work on railway systems at Gatwick Airport‎ and broader infrastructure design in aviation, construction, energy and security.

Its biggest clients include Network Rail, Siemens and Costain.

Systra is owned by the French state railway SNCF, RATP and a consortium of French banks.

The company counts Andrew McNaughton, the former chief executive of Balfour Beatty, among its top management.

Its attempt to buy TSP Projects has drawn the attention of the UK's Pensions Regulator because of the roughly £70m deficit in its retirement scheme.

TSP Projects' pension scheme has only 14 active members, about 400 deferred members and 133 members who are receiving pensions from the company, according to information circulated to bidders.

British Steel's collapse into insolvency came just weeks after Greg Clark, the then business secretary, handed a £120m government loan to the company to help it meet its obligations under an EU scheme for industrial polluters.

A further support package was due to be given to British Steel but was withdrawn at the 11th hour amid concerns that it would breach state aid rules.

Sky News revealed earlier this month that ministers had signed off a support package worth around £300m to aid Ataer's efforts to buy British Steel.

Systra could not be reached for comment.

By Mark Kleinman, City editor

British households expectations for inflation rise to highest since 2013 – Citi/Yougov

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 30th Aug 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British households’ expectations for inflation in the year ahead rose in August to their highest level since 2013, possibly reflecting the rising chance of a no-deal Brexit, a survey from U.S. bank Citi and pollsters YouGov showed on Friday.

The public expects inflation over the next 12 months to rise to 3.2%, up from 2.9% in July.

“Such high levels have previously usually been associated with high energy prices,” economists at Citi said in a research note.

“However, in the absence of those at the moment, the increase could be driven by rising chances of a rupture with the EU on Oct. 31, which could lead to higher consumer prices via tariffs, supply disruptions and weaker sterling.”

Reporting by Andy Bruce

UK car production down by almost 20% compared to the same time last year

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 29th Aug 2019) London, Uk – –

The decline in export orders is “primarily responsible”, with overseas shipments falling 20.2% since January, the SMMT says.

The number of cars made in Britain this year has fallen by almost 20% compared to the same time last year, new figures show.

So far this year, there have been 774,760 cars made in Britain, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This is 180,864 fewer than at the same time last year – a fall of 18.9%.

The SMMT said the decline in export orders was “primarily responsible”, with overseas shipments falling 20.2% since January, while production for the UK this year to date is down by 13.5%.

Meanwhile, figures also show that July saw the 14th consecutive month of falling vehicle production.

There were 108,239 vehicles made in the UK last month, a fall of 10.6% compared to July last year.

This was despite domestic demand increasing by 10.2% – or just under 2,000 vehicles – when compared to a weak July 2018.

Production for export, however, fell by 14.6% over the same period, even though eight in every 10 cars made were shipped overseas.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the decline was due to an “ongoing weakness in major EU and Asian markets coupled with some key model changes”.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive,said the decline was “a serious concern”.

He added: “The sector is overwhelmingly reliant on exports and the global headwinds are strong, with escalating trade tensions, softening demand and significant technological change.

“With the UK market also weak, the importance of maintaining the UK's global competitiveness has never been more important so we need a Brexit deal – and quickly – to unlock investment and safeguard the long term future of a sector which has recently been such an international success story.”

Some 168,000 people are directly employed in car manufacturing, with a further 823,000 in the wider automotive industry, the SMMT says.

It accounts for 14.4% of total UK export of goods.

By Sharon Marris, business reporter

Pound falls more than 0.70% against the euro and US dollar as Queen asked to suspend Parliament

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 28th Aug 2019) London, Uk – –

The value of the pound has fallen following news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning to suspend Parliament on 9 September.

The move is expected to prevent opposition leaders from passing a law to stop a no-deal Brexit.

The pound is down more than 0.70% against the euro and US dollar. So £1 is now worth €1.10 and $1.22.

The FTSE 100, largely made up of stocks that could benefit from a devaluation of the pound, was up 0.34% at 7,113.47.

That is because many of those firms book much of their earnings in foreign currencies and benefit from a weak pound.

But the FTSE 250, a stock index that is seen as more representative of the UK economy, has fallen by 0.5%.

Pound falls below $1.22

Firms that are exposed to the domestic economy such as house builders and airlines were hit: Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon and Barratt Developments were down between 2% and 2.3%.

Meanwhile, British Airways owner IAG fell 1.7% and easyJet dropped 3.2%.

‘Sterling under pressure'

“As far as the markets are concerned, there's a fair bit of bad news already baked in to the pound,” according to David Cheetham, an analyst at currency trader XTB Online Trading.

“It is telling that after the knee-jerk move lower in recent trade, the selling we've seen is far from panic stations.”

Sterling drops below €1.10

Discussing the prime minister's decision to suspend parliament, Mr Cheetham said: “This seems like a pre-emptive strike from [Mr Johnson] against those seeking to block a no-deal Brexit and once more it seems that the opposition are in danger of fluffing a big opportunity to have an impact.

“If the government is successful in this, then a no-deal Brexit wouldn't be taken off the table until the 11th hour at the earliest and this keeps a significant downside risk to the pound in play.”

And Michael Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC, said: “Sterling is under pressure as a consequence of the prospect of a no-deal Brexit increasing, while the FTSE 100 has jumped higher.

“Overall, though, this appears part and parcel of the ongoing battle between the various caucuses of MPs who want to block a no-deal Brexit at all costs, and those who want to retain the option as part of the ongoing attempts to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement.”

The government has asked the Queen to suspend Parliament just days after MPs return to work in September – and only a few weeks before the Brexit deadline.

Boris Johnson said a Queen's Speech would take place after the suspension, on 14 October, to outline his “very exciting agenda”.

But it means MPs are unlikely to have time to pass laws to stop a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.

UK bank mortgage approvals hit nearly 2-1/2-year high in July – UK Finance

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 28th Aug 2019) London, Uk – –

British banks last month approved the most mortgages since February 2017, adding to signs that the housing market has picked up from its recent pre-Brexit slowdown, a survey showed on Tuesday.

Banks approved 43,342 mortgages in July, up from 42,775 in March and 10.6% higher than a year earlier, according to seasonally-adjusted figures from industry body UK Finance.

Net mortgage lending rose by 2.947 billion pounds last month, the biggest increase since March 2016 and up from an increase of 1.764 billion pounds in June.

Britain’s housing market slowed sharply in the run-up to the original March Brexit deadline but there have been signs that buyers and sellers are taking advantage of the delay to act ahead of the new Oct. 31 deadline.

Consumer spending has remained solid, sustaining the economy since the 2016 Brexit referendum while businesses have cut investment spending due to uncertainty.

UK Finance said consumer lending rose 4.3% year-on-year in July, the strongest increase since February 2018.

Lending figures from the Bank of England, which cover a broader section of Britain’s finance industry, are due on Friday.

Opioid crisis: Johnson & Johnson must pay $572m in landmark ruling

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Tue, 27th Aug 2019) London, Uk – –

Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson must pay $572m (£468m) for its part in fuelling Oklahoma's opioid addiction crisis, a judge in the US state has ruled.

The company said immediately after the judgement that it would appeal.

The case was the first to go to trial out of thousands of lawsuits filed against opioid makers and distributors.

Opioids were involved in almost 400,000 overdose deaths in the US from 1999 to 2017, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since 2000, some 6,000 people in Oklahoma have died from opioid overdoses, according to the state's lawyers.

Earlier this year, Oklahoma settled with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma for $270m and Teva Pharmaceutical for $85m, leaving Johnson & Johnson as the lone defendant.

What was the case against Johnson & Johnson?

During Oklahoma's seven-week non-jury trial, lawyers for the state argued that Johnson & Johnson carried out a years-long marketing campaign that minimised the addictive painkillers' risks and promoted their benefits.

The state's lawyers had called Johnson & Johnson an opioid “kingpin” and argued that its marketing efforts created a public nuisance as doctors over-prescribed the drugs, leading to a surge in overdose deaths in Oklahoma.

Johnson & Johnson vigorously denied wrongdoing, arguing that its marketing claims had scientific support and that its painkillers, Duragesic and Nucynta, made up a tiny fraction of opioids prescribed in Oklahoma.

Judge Thad Balkman, of Cleveland County District Court in Norman, Oklahoma, said prosecutors had demonstrated that Johnson & Johnson contributed to a “public nuisance” in its deceptive promotion of highly addictive prescription painkillers.

“Those actions compromised the health and safety of thousands of OklahomansThe opioid crisis is an imminent danger and menace to Oklahomans,” he said in his ruling.

The payment would be used for the care and treatment of opioid addicts, he said.

The outcome of the case is being closely watched by plaintiffs in about 2,000 opioid lawsuits due to go to trial in Ohio in October, unless the parties can reach a settlement.

How did Johnson & Johnson defend itself?

The state's case rested on a “radical” interpretation of the state's public nuisance law, Johnson & Johnson said.

The company said in a statement that since 2008, its painkillers had accounted for less than 1% of the US market, including generics.

“The decision in this case is flawed. The State failed to present evidence that the company's products or actions caused a public nuisance in Oklahoma,” it said.

“This judgement is a misapplication of public nuisance law that has already been rejected by judges in other states.”

Sabrina Strong, the lawyer representing Johnson & Johnson, said: “We have sympathy for all who suffer from substance abuse, but Johnson & Johnson did not cause the opioid abuse crisis here in Oklahoma, or anywhere in this country.

“We do not believe that the facts or the law supports the decision today. We have many strong grounds for appeal, and we intend to pursue those vigorously.”

The company added that it wants the fine to be put on hold during its appeal process, which could last until 2021.

What reaction has there been to the verdict?

The Oklahoma case was brought by the state's Attorney General, Mike Hunter.

“Johnson & Johnson will finally be held accountable for thousands of deaths and addictions caused by their actions,” he said after the ruling.

“There's no question in my mind that these companies knew what was going on at the highest level, they just couldn't quit making money from it and that's why they're responsible.”

One Oklahoma state attorney, Reggie Whitten, told US reporters: “This is very personal to all of us. My partner lost a niece to this opioid epidemic. I lost my firstborn son to the opioid epidemic.”

The company's share price rose following the ruling because investors had been expecting a much bigger fine, says BBC North America correspondent Peter Bowes.

Jared Holz, healthcare strategist for financial services company Jefferies, said: “The expectation was this was going to be a $1.5bn to $2bn fine, and $572m is a much lower number than had been feared.”

One of UK’s largest financial consultancy firms to bid for £200m KPMG pensions arm

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 27th Aug 2019) London, Uk – –

Lane Clark & Peacock, which is backed by the buyout firm Inflexion, is among the bidders for the KPMG unit, Sky News learns.

One of the UK's largest independent financial consultancy firms is plotting a £200m takeover of the pensions advisory arm of KPMG, the accountancy giant.

Sky News has learnt that Lane Clark & Peacock (LCP) is one of a handful of bidders through to the second round of an auction of the KPMG unit.

Sources said that LCP, which is backed by the private equity firm Inflexion, was competing against a number of trade and financial bidders for the pensions advisory business.

LCP provides actuarial and investment advice to hundreds of clients, including roughly one-third of the FTSE-100, according to its website.

That would make the KPMG division, which has about £50bn under advice, a logical fit with LCP's business, according to City insiders.

The big four auditor put its pensions advisory arm on the block in June following a number of unsolicited approaches.

Its plan to explore a sale was revealed at the time by Sky News.

The decision by KPMG bosses to do so came amid reforms aimed at curbing the scale of the big four accountancy firms' consulting work for audit clients.

Its pensions advisory operation employs about 20 partners and roughly 450 people overall.

City sources say that KPMG has put a price-tag of about £200m on the business.

The division advises both corporate clients and companies' pension trustees, and has become one of the largest such operations in Britain.

People close to the situation said in June that the decision to examine a sale was “not directly” a consequence of KPMG UK chairman Bill Michael's decision last year to ban the firm from taking on consulting work for companies whose books are audited by it.

Nevertheless, offloading the division would underline the complexities that the big four auditors – Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC – are seeking to navigate amid pressure from regulators to reform their profession.

If concluded, a sale of the KPMG pensions advisory arm would be among the largest corporate disposals undertaken by one of the UK's major audit firms.

Firms including KPMG and its principal rivals have been hit by a growing list of regulatory fines in recent years, with a slew of further probes by the profession's largely discredited regulator, the Financial Reporting Council, yet to be completed.

KPMG itself has been forced to pay millions of pounds in penalties for failings in audits of companies including the Co-operative Bank and Ted Baker.

The collapse of big employers including BHS and Carillion has also increased the intensity of the spotlight on the audit profession, prompting the business secretary, Greg Clark, to outline plans to scrap the FRC and replace it with a new body: the Audit, Regulatory and Governance Authority.

A KPMG UK spokesperson said in June: “Over the last few years, our UK pensions advisory business has grown significantly into a market-leading business in the sector, advising both corporate clients and pension trustees, and as such, we regularly receive unsolicited offers and expressions of interest for the practice.

“Like any other large firm, we routinely assess the strategic fit of each business in our portfolio and as a result of this can confirm that following recent expressions of interest from third parties, we are exploring options for this area of the business.

“However, we have made no firm decisions over any eventual outcomes at this stage, and will not comment further at this time.”

The structure of Britain's audit profession has been the subject of several inquiries in the past year, with competition watchdogs recommending greater separation between audit and consulting businesses within the big four firms.

Sir Donald Brydon, the former London Stock Exchange Group chairman, is leading a government-commissioned review of the future of auditing, while MPs on the business select committee have called for a full break-up of the big four.

KPMG has been the fastest mover among the profession's leading quartet, telling its 625 partners last November that it would phase out the vast majority of non-audit work for the 90 FTSE-350 companies where it serves as the auditor.

Mr Michael has spoken of the importance of substantial changes to restoring trust in the profession, and has announced the creation of a new executive committee for its audit business as one of the changes aimed at achieving that goal.

As the auditor to Carillion, KPMG has been facing intense scrutiny for its oversight of the construction giant, which went bust in January last year with debts of more than £5bn.

LCP could not be reached for comment on Monday.

By Mark Kleinman, City editor

Global aircraft production fallen by 24% after Boeing 737 Max crashes – ADS

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 26th Aug, 2019) London, Uk – –

Aerospace lobby group slashes 2019 deliveries forecast and says prospect of no-deal Brexit making things worse

Global aircraft production has fallen by a quarter after the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max jet following two fatal accidents.

ADS, the British aerospace lobby group, said 88 aircraft were delivered in July, down 24% on the same month a year ago, with the fall largely due to the slump in production of single-aisled planes such as the 737. The number of aircraft delivered in the year to date has now reached 716 but that is more than 11% lower than in 2018.

The ADS recently slashed its forecast for 2019 global aircraft deliveries from 1,789 to 1,489.

The ADS chief executive, Paul Everitt, said the prospect of a no-deal Brexit was making the situation worse for British companies in the £36bn aerospace sector. Firms spent about £600m preparing for the 29 March deadline, and that figure is expected to rise ahead of the new 31 October deadline.

The aerospace industry has been among the most forthright in its opposition to leaving the UK without a deal. Airbus, Europe’s largest aerospace company, has warned it will consider closing British factories in the event of a no-deal Brexit. “No deal remains the worst outcome for industry, with many small businesses particularly vulnerable,” said Everitt.

By Zoe Wood 

Almost 100 companies relocated from UK to Netherlands ahead of Brexit – Dutch agency

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Mon, 26th Aug 2019) London, UK —

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Nearly 100 companies have relocated from Britain to the Netherlands or set up offices there to be within the European Union due to the United Kingdom’s planned departure from the bloc, a Dutch government agency said on Monday.

Another 325 companies worried about losing access to the European market are considering a move, the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency said.

“The ongoing growing uncertainty in the United Kingdom, and the increasingly clearer possibility of a no deal, is causing major economic unrest for these companies,” said Jeroen Nijland, NFIA commissioner. “That is why more and more companies are orienting themselves in the Netherlands as a potential new base in the European market.”

The businesses are in finance, information technology, media, advertising, life sciences and health, the NFIA said.

The Netherlands has been competing with Germany, France, Belgium and Ireland to attract Brexit-related moves.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who took office last month, has pledged to take Britain out of the European Union at the end of October with or without an exit deal.

Reporting by Anthony Deutsch

Mama Jo NYC’s Official Grandmother of Breakfast Serving Customers for Over 35 Years

Source: Munchies

Mama Jo has been serving breakfast staples like bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches and omelets and traditional Greek pastries, such as spanakopita and baklava, from her food truck in Midtown Manhattan for over 35 years. She claims to be NYC’s oldest street food vendor and isn’t planning on retiring her legendary food cart any time soon.

Mama Jo’s breakfast menu is longer than some dine-in restaurants’ menus, and it’s all done without sacrificing quality. She gets her ingredients fresh every morning in Astoria, Queens, serves food with a smile, and genuinely cares about her customers, really earning the name Mama Jo.

Disney And Apple go head-to-head with Netflix In The Streaming Wars

Source: CNBC

Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and others are about to come head-to-head with the likes of Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, HBO Max and CNBC's parent company, NBCUniversal. It's been dubbed the streaming wars. In 2017, 61% of adults 18 to 29 said they primarily watch TV through a streaming service, compared to just 31% who watched cable. So who's going to win, what's going to happen to cable, and how much will it cost customers? Watch the video to find out.

Dutch take cycling to a new level, with world’s biggest multistorey bike park

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Sat, 24th Aug 2019) London, Uk – –

In the Netherlands, where there are more bikes than people, serious money is being spent encouraging even more people to get on their bikes.

In a nation with more bikes than people, finding a space to park can be a problem. The Dutch city of Utrecht is unveiling an answer at its railway station on Monday morning: the world’s largest multistorey parking area for bicycles.

The concrete-and-glass structure holds three floors of gleaming double-decker racks with space for 12,500 bikes, from cargo bikes that hold a family to public transport bikes for rent.

‘We need more people to go by bike': meet Amsterdam's nine-year-old junior cycle mayor

It is part of a strategy in which hundreds of millions of euros are being devoted to enhancing cycling infrastructure across the Netherlands, a nation so fervent about its two-wheelers that it is applying to add cycling to its inventory of intangible heritage.

“We are striving to make it a cyclists’ paradise and there’s still much to be done,” said Stientje van Veldhoven, a junior infrastructure minister. “I’d like us to make better use of what I call this secret weapon against congestion, poor air quality in cities and climate change that is also good for your health and your wallet.”

She added: “If you want to get people out of their cars and into public transport, you need to make sure using public transport is easy and comfortable. It needs to be very easy to park your bike as close to the train as possible – and you don’t want to be looking for half an hour for a space.”

According to the Dutch Statistics Office, 60% of all trips to work in the Netherlands are made by car and just a quarter by cycling – although in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, (known as the Randstad region) cycling is more common.

Demand for public transport is growing, the main four cities are predicted to expand, and the Netherlands has been struggling to meet its climate crisis commitments, so encouraging more bike use is a political priority.

“In the next 10 years, 500,000 more people will come to urbanised areas, and if all of those people bring their car then we are going to have massive congestion,” said Van Veldhoven. “So investment in public transport, cycling lanes and cycle parking facilities is crucial to keep this area that’s essential for our national economy moving.”

The national railway service NS is investing tens of millions in bike parking, according to its spokesman, Geert Koolen. “We have over 1 million train passengers a day and in our bigger cities – like Utrecht – more than half arrive at the station by bike,” he said. “At Dutch stations there are some 490,000 parking spaces for bikes and we expect 5 million bicycle rides on OV-fiets [shared public transport bikes] in 2020.”

Utrecht is promoting cycling as part of a “healthy urban living” policy. “We are counting on biking as a healthy and sustainable form of transport for a growing city,” said the deputy mayor, Victor Everhardt. “Cycling is in the genes of people from Utrecht and in 1885 it built the Netherlands’ first bike lane. Every day, 125,000 cyclists go through the city centre to work, school and the station, and the world’s largest bike park sits perfectly in this global cycling city.”

The scale of Dutch investments shows cycling is about more than just the issue of transportation, according to BYCS, a social enterprise behind a network of international cycle mayors. “The bike park in Utrecht shows you need massive investments into cycling infrastructure parking, cycle lanes and great architecture, but we believe this is one of the most impactful things a city can do,” said its strategy director, Adam Stones. “If you look at it as transformation – how it addresses mental and physical health, brings communities together and addresses resource use and the environment – you put more weight behind it.”

But some experts sound a note of caution. Although the Fietsersbond, a Dutch cycling organisation, warmly welcomes the investment, it warns that it is irritatingand counterproductive when bike parks are combined with a no-tolerance policy to on-street parking – as in central Amsterdam, where “wild” parked bikes are confiscated.

“I am not a fan of this,” said its director, Saskia Kluit. “There’s a grey area growing where the government wants a clean appearance and wants to get rid of the bikes, but parked bikes give the street liveliness and movement, and if you want the benefit of the cyclist shopping, it’s better they can stop everywhere they want.”

By Senay Boztas in Amsterdam

Hasbro snap up Peppa Pig owner Entertainment One in £3.3bn deal

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 23rd Aug 2019) London, Uk – –

UK-listed firm is latest to be targeted by a foreign buyer since pound weakened amid Brexit fears

Hasbro, the US toymaker behind My Little Pony and Play-Doh, has snapped up the Peppa Pig owner, Entertainment One, in a £3.3bn takeover.

The deal, which sent Entertainment One’s share price soaring by 30% in early trading on Friday, marks the latest UK-listed company to be targeted by a foreign buyer since the dramatic weakening of the pound over fears of a no-deal Brexit.

Earlier this week Hong Kong’s richest family bought the 220-year old pub and beer company Greene King in a £4.6bn deal. Last month the US private equity group Advent International agreed a £4bn buyout of the UK aerospace and defence supplier Cobham and the Netherlands-based Takeaway.com agreed a £5bn takeover of the UK-listed food delivery rival Just Eat. In June, Merlin, which operates attractions including Alton Towers, Madame Tussauds and Legoland, was taken private by a consortium including the family that controls the Lego toymaking empire.

The deal, the biggest in Hasbro’s history, is more than three times the amount ITV offered in an aborted takeover attempt three years ago.

Entertainment One distributes TV shows including The Walking Dead and films such as the Twilight and Hunger Games series, and its recent film productions include the Oscar winner Green Book.

However, among its most-prized assets are its children’s brands, including the fast-growing PJ Masks and Ricky Zoom.

The crown jewel is Peppa Pig, the muddy-puddle-loving pre-school character, which has become a multibillion dollar global brand spanning TV, merchandise and theme parks popular from the US to China. Entertainment One struck a co-ownership deal with the UK producer of Peppa Pig, Astley Baker Davies, in 2004 and moved to take control in a £140m deal in 2015.

“The acquisition of eOne adds beloved story-led global family brands that deliver strong operating returns to Hasbro’s portfolio and provides a pipeline of new brand creation driven by family-oriented storytelling,” Hasbro’s chairman and chief executive officer, Brian Goldner, said.

Entertainment One will join a stable of products owned by Hasbro – which has a market value of more than $14bn – including Monopoly, Power Rangers, Transformers and Nerf.

“There’s a strong cultural fit between our two companies,” said Darren Throop, the chief executive of Entertainment One. “Hasbro’s portfolio of integrated toy, game and consumer products will further fuel the tremendous success we’ve achieved at eOne.”

By Mark Sweney 

Eddie Stobart chief executive to stand down with immediate effect as shares suspended

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – -Fri, 23rd Aug 2019) London, Uk – –

Eddie Stobart has suspended trading of its shares and announced that its chief executive will stand down with immediate effect, as the firm looks into accounting discrepancies.

The firm also warned its results for the first half of 2019 will be “significantly lower” than forecast.

The transport company, known for its green and red lorries, revealed a £2m discrepancy in its accounts last month.

The issues were uncovered in a review of past accounts.

Under new chief financial officer, Anoop Kang, the review found that in 2018 operating profits were overstated by about 4%.

Publication of the firm's financial results for the six months to 31 May 2019 has now been delayed to early September.

The firm warned that profits for that period were likely to be revised down from recent projections, and that it is “applying a more prudent approach to revenue recognition”. The group's dividend policy would also be reviewed, it said.

Outgoing chief executive Alex Laffey, who spent four years at Eddie Stobart, will be replaced by Sebastien Desreumaux.

Mr Desreumaux, formerly head of the group's retail delivery arm iForce, joined the company in July 2018.

The accounting revisions are likely to add to pressure on investment manager Neil Woodford, who has suspended trading in his largest fund due to a dramatic decline in value.

The well-known investor is the company's largest shareholder in Eddie Stobart, with a 22.9% stake.

Eddie Stobart Group shares, listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), a less regulated alternative to the main FTSE exchanges, were down by nearly 50% over the past year before their suspension on Friday.

Founded by Edward Stobart in 1970, the firm operates 2,700 vehicles and 43 logistical hubs in the UK and Europe, and employs around 6,600 people, according to its website.

Its distinctive lorries are a mainstay on British motorways, while its merchandise spin-off offers a wide range of branded goods including model trucks, teddy bears, watches and wrapping paper.