Government to push energy regulator to impose price cap this winter

( via – – Thu, 5 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

The Government will push the energy regulator to impose price caps as early as this winter to provide “early relief” to consumers paying over the odds for their gas and electricity, the business minister has said.

Greg Clark said that he wanted Ofgem to use its existing powers to impose caps on standard variable tariffs as soon as possible, to help customers “suffering a detriment” in their energy bills.

The move could affect up to 15 million households in the UK, who could be paying up to £1.4bn more than they need to.

“We’ve said it would be better and quicker if they [Ofgem] used these powers straightaway,” Mr Clark told the BBC's Today programme, admitting that such a move could spark a legal challenge from the industry.

He added that there was “strong consensus” in Parliament to introduce new legislation to give Ofgem a “legal backup” to impose caps.

The Government has a duty to act to stop energy companies taking advantage of their loyal customers by overcharging them, Mr Clark said.

He was speaking after the Government announced an energy price cap policy that was strongly criticised by energy firms whose share prices fell on the news.

“A lot of people see themselves as loyal customers and because the companies know that they're loyal … they are overcharging them,” Mr Clark told Sky News.


Rail strikes continue to disrupt services across England

( via – – Thur, 5 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Rail strikes across England are under way for the second time this week.

RMT union members at Southern, Merseyrail, Arriva Rail North and Greater Anglia have begun a 24-hour walkout.

The industrial action is over plans to make train doors driver-only operated.

Rail companies have said this means the guard's role will change but some workers believe safety procedures would be compromised.

Union members at South Western have also voted to strike, but any action first needs to be agreed with the executive body. The operator said it planned to increase numbers of drivers and guards and urged its staff to “avoid premature strike action”.

The strikes have coincided with a planned closure of Liverpool Lime Street for refurbishment, something the boss of Merseyrail, Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, said “doubled up the inconvenience”.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “There is no safety issue, on Northern they haven't even set out in detail plans for how the new trains are going to work.

“Merseyrail have bought new trains in the wake of a safety investigation that recommended they take this approach.

“I'm afraid leading figures of the RMT have made it clear they are in a political battle with the government and the passengers are pawns, and I feel desperately sorry for the passengers.”

A Southern spokesman said: “Today will be the 36th day of RMT strikes and we, like our passengers and the vast majority of our colleagues, simply want an end to this unnecessary dispute.”

Passenger services director Angie Doll added: “The RMT is striking about changes we made almost a year ago as part of our modernisation programme.

“Nobody has lost their job over this, in fact we employ more on-board staff to help passengers than we did before, and we are providing a better service with fewer cancelled trains.”

Sharon Keith, regional director for Northern Rail, the operating name of Arriva Rail North, said she wanted to work with the unions.

“We're in the middle of a large modernisation agenda so we're investing in new trains [and] refurbished trains and what we want to do with our people is to modernise that role.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said union members “stand solid, united and determined this morning in the latest phase of strike action”.

“Political and public support is flooding in as our communities choose to stand by their guards against the financially and politically motivated drive to throw safety-critical staff off our trains,” he added.

“Again this morning I am calling on Theresa May and Chris Grayling to call off the centrally imposed blockade on serious talks in these disputes and allow us to get on with genuine negotiations with their contractors.”

Greater Anglia said a “full, normal service with no service alterations” was operating despite the industrial action.

Some routes operated by Southern will not run, and others will be a “limited service”, running only at peak times.

Arriva Rail North says it will run a reduced service, and warned passengers the trains that do run are likely to be very busy.

Merseyrail is running reduced services and some stations will be closed.

Industrial action by London Underground drivers that would have coincided with the rail strike was called off following talks between management and the ASLEF union.


Amazon to pay €250m (£221.5m) in back taxes to Luxembourg

( via – – Wed, 4 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Brussels has ordered Amazon to pay €250m (£221.5m) in back taxes to Luxembourg in its latest crackdown on US tech giants.

The European Commission had already said a deal between Amazon and Luxembourg over how much tax it pays amounted to state aid in preliminary ruling in 2015.

Now the competition chief Margrethe Vestager has ordered the tech company to repay millions.

It's the latest ruling from Brussels when it comes to the tax arrangements of tech companies. Last year it ordered Ireland to recoup a record €13bn from Apple as a so-called sweetheart deal was deemed to amount to state aid.

Both Apple and Ireland have challenged the ruling, but a legal tussle between the two could result in further action by the commission with the cash yet to be collected more than a year later.

EU member states last month signalled their intention for coordinated action on the taxes paid by tech companies. Led by French finance minister Bruno Le Maire, the plans are supported by eight other states, including Germany and Spain. The proposals are to tax the firms on turnover rather than profit.

The latest action is likely to inflame tensions between Europe and the US. Business groups and politicians across the pond have warned that such actions are detrimental to economic growth.

By Lynsey Barber

Royal Mail set for strike in dispute over pensions

( via – – Wed, 4 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Majority of Communication Workers Union members back first strike since the company was privatised four years ago

Postal workers are on the verge of a strike in a dispute over pensions, pay and conditions.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) announced on Tuesday that a majority of its 111,000 members in Royal Mail had voted for industrial action, the first since the company was privatised four years ago.

The union said 73.7% of its members had turned out to vote, with 89% of them backing a walkout. Its executive will meet this week to determine any potential strike dates, which are likely to come before the end of the year. Some reports suggested that they could be timed to coincide with the so-called “Black Friday” sales on November 24 and 25, when many people do their Christmas shopping online.

The vote was a major test for the union after the introduction of the government’s controversial Trade Union Act, which requires strike ballots to have a 50% turnout.

It comes amid a flurry of union activity this autumn as public sector and health workers discuss the possibilities of industrial action.

Dave Ward, the CWU general secretary, said: “This is an important moment and we can go forward into any action knowing we have secured the numbers required. We have seen an unprecedented response from our members, and we are taking a lot of confidence from this result.

“Our members are under attack. They are being asked to work faster, harder and cheaper while losing benefits. This has nothing to do with driving growth and innovation. It is all about a lack of forward thinking and asset stripping.”

Royal Mail said it was very disappointed by the ballot result, which did not necessarily mean a strike would take place.

“There are no grounds for industrial action. We want to reach agreement. Royal Mail is committed to further talks as a matter of urgency, to reach agreement with the CWU,” the company said.

Royal Mail said contractual dispute resolution procedures agreed to by the company and the CWU meant the dispute would be escalated to independent external mediation, “which we expect will take close to Christmas to be completed, and maybe longer”.

It added: “We believe these dispute resolution procedures must be followed. The union cannot take industrial action until they have been completed.”

The CWU announced last month that it would be balloting members who worked for Royal Mail group and claimed there were plans to worsen terms and conditions of existing employees and introduce a two-tier workforce.

However, it is the pensions row that is at the heart of the dispute, after Royal Mail announced it wanted to end the defined-benefit scheme.

In April, the company announced that the pension plan, which has 90,000 members and assets of £7.4bn, was in surplus, but said the scheme would soon become unaffordable.

The company, which was privatised in October 2013, pays £400m a year into the fund but it says this could rise to more than £1bn in 2018.

The scheme, which was closed to new members in 2008, guarantees a pension based on a postal worker’s average salary. Royal Mail is thought to have plans to replace it with a less generous defined-contribution scheme.

In a move that may be copied by other unions, the vote followed a campaign by the CWU called the “four pillars”, which calls for a decent wage in retirement, a shorter working week, a redesign of the company’s methods and an extension of current agreements.

The union has held a series of “gate meetings” outside sorting offices to gain support among members before the ballot.

Royal Mail argues it is operating in the most competitive delivery market in the world, with 16 major competitors including Amazon, which handles one in 10 parcel deliveries.

Letter volumes have declined 40% in the past 10 years as people increasingly prefer email. Royal Mail says it has spent £1.5bn on upgrading its IT systems to cope with the new world of technology. After 12 months in the job, postal workers earn £22,764 a year.

Royal Mail says under its proposed scheme, someone aged 50, earning £25,000 a year and retiring at 65 would retire on an annual pension of £12,300 and a tax-free lump sum of £81,800. It says this compares favourably with most other retirement deals.

By Rajeev Syal

Robinsons squash maker Britvic announced plans close factory after more than 90 years

( via – Tue, 3 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Production is to be moved away from the Norwich site where the squash has been produced since 1925.

Robinsons squash maker Britvic has announced plans to close the factory where the drink has been produced for more than 90 years, putting 242 jobs at risk.

Britvic said it planned to transfer production of Robinsons and another drink, Fruit Shoot, away from Norwich to sites in east London, Leeds and Rugby.

Robinsons squash moved to its factory in the city in 1925. The popular brand is well known to tennis fans through its sponsorship of the Wimbledon Championships.

Chief executive Simon Litherland said: “Britvic is proud to be a British manufacturer and Norwich has been an important site for our business for many years.

“This is not a proposal that we make lightly and we know this is upsetting news for our colleagues.”

Britvic said the aim was to improve efficiency and productivity and the plans would see the site close towards the end of 2019.

Mr Litherland also said there would be environmental benefits and that it was part of wider changes to ensure the company had the “flexibility and capability” to respond to changing consumer trends.

The company said affected employees would be offered support including redeployment at other sites and services to find alternative employment.

Costs related to the closure will be detailed in Britvic's annual results in November.

The group said it remained committed to a three-year £240m investment in its British manufacturing operations, announced in 2015.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas


“Angry Birds” Finnish company’s shares got off to a flying start via — Tue, 3 Oct 2017) London, UK —

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Rovio (ROVIO.HE), the maker of hit mobile game “Angry Birds,” will look to buy up other players in the gaming industry following its listing on Friday, its main owner Kaj Hed said.

The Finnish company’s shares got off to a flying start on their stock market debut, trading up as much as 7 percent from their initial public offering price (IPO) of 11.50 euros.

Hed, who cut his stake from 69 percent to 37 percent in the IPO, said Rovio now had more muscle to do deals in a gaming sector he believes is ripe for consolidation.

“We have a clear will to be a consolidator, and we are in a very good position to do that,” he told Reuters at Rovio’s headquarters by the Baltic Sea.

“Many good (gaming industry) players face the question of whether they should go public, or whether they should consolidate. Going public is expensive and requires hard work, so finding a partner could be easier.”

Analysts have long urged Rovio to do more to reduce its reliance on the “Angry Birds” franchise.

Hed, the uncle of Rovio’s co-founder Niklas Hed, said he remained strongly committed to the company.

“The reason that I sold shares was to give the company the liquidity, because that is very important. My intention is to remain as a long-term investor in the company.”

Rovio saw rapid growth after the 2009 launch of the original “Angry Birds” game, but it plunged to an operating loss and cut a third of its staff in 2015 due to a pick up in competition and a shift among consumers to freely available games.

But the 2016 release of 3D Hollywood movie “Angry Birds”, together with new games, have revived the brand and helped sales recover.

In the first half of this year, Rovio’s sales almost doubled from a year earlier to 153 million euros, while core profit increased to 42 million euros from 11 million.

Rovio’s market valuation of around 950 million euros ($1.12 billion), looks high based on Rovio’s historical profit, said Atte Riikola, an analyst at research firm Inderes.

“There seems to be initial demand for (the stock). But given that the IPO was multiple times oversubscribed, the share price reaction is not too dramatic,” he added.

“Profit growth is priced in, so they need to keep up the good performance which they had in the first half of the year.”

At 1135 GMT, Rovio shares were trading at 11.77 euros, off a high of 12.34 euros/

By Jussi Rosendahl

Additional reporting by Tuomas Forsell

Monarch Airlines goes into administration launching UK’s biggest peacetime repatriation operation

( via – – Mon 2, Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

The UK's biggest peacetime repatriation operation has been launched to bring home 110,000 holidaymakers after Monarch Airlines was placed into administration.

A total of 300,000 future bookings were cancelled as result of the firm's collapse,  the largest to hit a UK airline, and Monarch passengers were told not to go to airports because there would be no more flights.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it was working with the government to secure a fleet of more than 30 aircraft, flying to more than 30 airports, to bring the stranded tourists back to the UK.

“We know that Monarch's decision to stop trading will be very distressing for all of its customers and employees,” Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the CAA, said.

“This is the biggest UK airline ever to cease trading, so the Government has asked the CAA to support Monarch customers currently abroad to get back to the UK at the end of their holiday at no extra cost to them.”

The regulator said all Monarch customers who were overseas and due to return to the UK in the next fortnight would be flown home and they did not need to cut short their holiday.

He urged affected customer to check their dedicated website,, for more advice.

“We are putting together, at very short notice and for a period of two weeks, what is effectively one of the UK's largest airlines to manage this task,” he added.

The Government warned passengers to expect disruption and delay as it works to ensure there are enough flights to return the “huge number” of passengers.

Commenting on the “extraordinary operation”, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “This is a hugely distressing situation for British holidaymakers abroad – and my first priority is to help them get back to the UK.

“That is why I have immediately ordered the country's biggest ever peacetime repatriation to fly about 110,000 passengers who could otherwise have been left stranded abroad.”

The airline's Air Travel Organiser’s Licence expired at one minute to midnight on 30 September. It was given a 24-hour extension but it has not been renewed.

Roughly 110,000 Monarch customers are currently abroad, with many facing uncertainty about their journey back to the UK. Of these, thousands are thought to be British.

Before the news was announced, scores of worried Monarch customers took to social media in a search for clarity and advice over the situation

One man due to fly with Monarch this week, Paul Heburn, wrote: “What is happening with Monarch airlines this morning. Will the airline survive? I fly Wednesday.”

Another, Joanne Roberts, said: “Monarch, when will you let passengers know if flights are cancelled?”

Another, Lee Hammond, said: “Love Monarch, great airline but would like confirmation that our holiday will go ahead.” Monarch replied: “Hi Lee, any changes to the forward schedule will be communicated to all customers.”

As the extended deadline passed on Sunday night, there had been no update on Monarch's status. However, the final two outbound flights of the evening were cancelled. Neither the ZB418 from Birmingham to Ibiza nor the ZB298 from Gatwick to Ibiza departed, leaving passengers stuck at the airport.

Those who have bought Monarch flights as part of a package with an ATOL certificate have financial protection. But the majority of passengers, around 95 per cent, have bought flight-only deals, for which consumer protection is much more complex and uncertain.

The airline reported a loss of £291m for the year to October 2016, compared with a profit of £27m for the previous 12 months. Monarch, founded in 1968, is made up of a scheduled airline, tour operator and an engineering division. In total it employs about 2,500 people.

These potentially fatal conditions for the company have come amid “bloodbath” trading for short-haul airlines, the source said, as terrorism attacks and security concerns in traditionally strong sales areas such as Tunisia and Turkey have hit consumer demand.

International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways, has expressed an interest in acquiring some of Monarch's take-off and landing slots, fleet and crew, according to Sky News.

It raises hopes that some jobs could be saved. IAG declined to comment.

Scheme which could have helped stranded Monarch customers was rejected in 2011

In 2011 the aviation industry resisted plans for a scheme to protect those who book their flights directly with an airline.

As things stand the Air Travel Organisers Licensing (ATOL) scheme only provides security for those who bought package holidays.

In the case of Monarch this applies to only five per cent of their customers.

The rest would have had to fend for themselves, but the  Civil Aviation Authority has said those repatriated will not have to foot the bill.

David Cameron’s coalition government wanted to extend the protection to an estimated six million people who made their own travel arrangements online.

It proposed a £2.50 levy on all do-it-yourself internet holiday bookings to fund a scheme to get people home should any of the companies involved in a vacation went bust.

Independently the CAA had called for a £1 levy on all flights to to get people home when an airline collapsed. The move followed a wave of high-profile failures the depths of the recession which left thousands of people stranded abroad when carriers such as Zoom, Maxjet and XL ceased trading.

But leading carriers including British Airways and Ryanair opposed the initiative arguing that its passengers should not have to subsidise those who chose to fly on less well established airlines.

The scheme was never introduced.

By  Katie Morley

UK housebuilders hooked on the help to buy binge

( via – – Mon, 2 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

It's been clear for some time that housebuilders are hooked on the help to buy drug.

Now it seems the government is, too.

In a bid to ensure that the Tory party conference has something to unveil, Theresa May has confirmed that an additional £10bn will be pumped into the scheme, helping (we are assured) another 135,000 people get on the housing ladder with as little as a five per cent mortgage.

The market movements this morning will likely tell you all you need to know about the housebuilders’ reaction to this news, but beneath that there’s an almighty political row rumbling on about the extent to which the government should be helping people buy homes with greater enthusiasm than it has for actually building them.

Help to supply, not help to buy – that’s the reaction of the free-market think-tanks, who are also joined by housing charity Shelter – whose chief executive said the scheme had increased house prices while propping up a system in need of reform.

When the PM is being criticised by the Adam Smith Institute and the charitable sector, alarm bells should ring. Clearly, there is a problem with housing policy in this country.

Twenty years ago, over 40 per cent of under 25s owned a property. Today that figure has fallen to just 20 per cent, and many people (regardless of age, and particularly in London and the south east) can see no route out of renting.

The scheme is bundled up with other government initiatives including the Help to buy Isa, the London Help to buy Isa and the equity loan scheme, all of which tinker with a market whose fundamental problem is a lack of supply – not demand. To compound matters, analysts warned recently that many using help to buy do not actually need it – adding weight to the argument that the whole process simply drives up prices of existing stock.

It’s hard to disagree with the Adam Smith Institute’s assessment over the weekend that the property market is “totally dysfunctional because supply is so tightly constrained by planning rules, and adding more demand without improving the supply of houses is just going to raise house prices and make homes more unaffordable for people who don't qualify for the help to buy subsidy.”

Rather than injecting more taxpayer cash into this monetary doping of the housing sector, the PM should loosen rules to allow the construction of more homes in high demand areas – including in her own green belt constituency.

By Christian May

25 Things You Didn’t Know About Money


We love money! We work hard to get it, spend it fast, always on the chase for more. As the famous lyrics say: money makes the world go round! But for something we use so frequently we know very little about. Let’s see how many of these you already knew!

1. 90% of the US dollar bills contain traces of cocaine!

2. The first Credit Card was created because of the embarrassment of a man who had to pay for dinner but forgot his wallet.

3. US Debt is 10 times larger than the US dollars in circulation.

4. All US$ coins and bills in circulation today are worth US$1.2 trillion.

5. Two thirds of that money is held overseas.

6. Paper money originated in China 1400 years ago.

7. Changing the $1 bill into a $1 coin would save the US 4.4 Billion in the next 30 years.

The hologram invented to fill the romantic void in Japanese lives


Meet Hikari, an anime virtual wife, and Eisuke, a virtual boyfriend who plays to a masochist fantasy, these are products of a multi-million dollar industry that's sprung up in response to Japan's relationship crisis. In episode three of the Bloomberg video series Love Disrupted, we look at the characters invented to fill the romantic void in Japanese lives.

Reading University introduces the self-serve beer pump technology

In a move that could speed the decline of the humble bar tender, Reading University has introduced a self-serve 16-tap “beer wall” at its onsite student union, allowing students to pull their own pints and buy beverages with a single tap of their debit or credit card.

Screens above each tap will allow customers to choose which brand of draft beer they want, show how much it will cost, and display information about the beer, including the percentage of alcohol by volume.

With students able to pour themselves a beer and pay with their contactless plastic or mobile wallet, the bars will have increased capacity, speedier service and a reduced threat of theft, claims Drink Command, the company behind the self-serve beer technology, which is also being rolled out in other bars across the UK and Ireland, including in Hilton Hotels.

The self-serve beer pump technology, which is integrated with Verifone's electronic payments system, is not the first to be launched in Britain. In 2012, The Thirsty Bear pub in Southwark, London, introduced pumps for customers to pull their own pint after placing their order from an iPad installed on each table.

Customers of the pub were also able to order food or change the songs on the jukebox via the iPad.

While the technology allows customers to easily and conveniently refill their glasses, potentially leading to a higher consumption of alcohol, Drink Command insists the system “makes it easier for bar staff to monitor users’ beer consumption to ensure compliance with local responsible drinking guidelines”.

The soaring popularity of contactless payment methods is prompting more retailers to look at ways they can introduce technology that enhances the customer experience with quicker service and less interaction with staff.

A new study from Worldpay revealed that two thirds of 21 to 34-year olds would happily make a payment without any human interaction.

Robbie Ward of Drink Command, said: “There is a change of mind-set happening in the beer dispense industry, similar to how self-serve technology has improved the way we buy petrol for our cars, or how supermarkets have improved queuing times with self-scan checkouts.”

Matt Tebbit, head of residential catering and bars at The University of Reading, said: “Our 16-tap self-serve beer wall has allowed us to increase our capacity to serve more customers and hold our existing staff levels by giving patrons the option to order from the bar, or serve themselves at their leisure.”


Boxing titan Mayweather’s networth explained

( via – – Sat, 30 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –

Mayweather has generated around 19.5m in PPV buys and $1.3bn in revenue throughout his career, with the McGregor fight likely to boost his career earnings over the $1bn mark

Floyd Mayweather is one of the biggest pay-per-view attractions of all time and one of a very elite group of athletes to see their career earnings nose above the $1bn mark.

A shrewd businessman and the greatest boxer of his generation — if not all time — Mayweather has been listed as the highest paid athlete in the world four times by the American business magazine Forbes.

Mayweather is so rich that he even changed his boxing identity to reflect his staggering wealth.

The American was known as “Pretty Boy” throughout his entire career, as a result of how little he got hit due to his superior defensive skills. But in 2007 before the biggest fight of his life against Oscar De La Hoya, Mayweather unleashed a new name: “Money.”

He is also known as the ‘PPV King’ due to his phenomenal success at the box office. His fight against Canelo Alvarez attracted over 2m buys and $150m (£116m) in revenue — but these numbers were dwarfed by his fight against Manny Pacquiao, with 4.6m buys and $400m (£308m) in revenue.

In total, he has attracted 19.5 buys and around $1.3bn in revenue.

But what is his estimated net worth? Who are his sponsors? And exactly how much money does he stand to make by fighting McGregor?

Here everything you need to know about Mayweather’s extraordinary financial muscle.

What is Mayweather’s estimated net worth?

Floyd Mayweather is one of the very richest athletes in the world, topping the Forbes and Sports Illustrated lists of the 50 highest-paid athletes of 2012 and 2013 respectively, and the Forbes list again in both 2014 and 2015.

Mayweather has generated just under 20m PPV buys and over $1bn in revenue throughout his career, surpassing the likes of former top boxers such as Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Oscar De La Hoya, and Manny Pacquiao. His PPV buys and revenue dwarf that of McGregor.

In 2016, the American business magazine Forbes reported that Mayweather banked $32 million (£25m) from his ‘retirement’ fight against Andre Berto fight to bring his career earnings to around $700 million (£540m).

Given that Mayweather made roughly $250 million (£193m) for the Pacquiao fight, it can be safely assumed that his career earnings will surpass $1bn this summer.

According to Forbes: “Another massive purse awits the five-division world champion in August for his boxing match versus UFC star Conor McGregor. If Mayweather can secure a similar payday to his 2015 Manny Pacquiao bout, it will push his career earnings to $1 billion.”

How many other athletes have made over $1bn during their careers?

Not many. The only other athletes to earn such a large amount of money during their sporting careers are basketball player Michael Jordan ($1.5bn) and Tiger Woods ($1.4bn), who both enjoyed a number of lucrative sponsorships, principally with Nike.

There are three others if you adjust for inflation: golfers Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, and seven-time Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher.

Who sponsors Mayweather?

Perhaps surprisingly, Mayweather doesn't have that many active sponsorships. In 2015, he told Fortune magazine that this was not because brands were not interested in working with him, but because his baseline for entry is too high for most. How much does he demand? $1m.

This may only partially be the reason. Mayweather also has a chequered past, and has previously been charged with domestic violence and misdemeanor battery, which means that some brands may have been reluctant to work with him.

For the Pacquiao fight, three brands did decide to sponsor him however. Burger King, daily fantasy sports site FanDuel, and Swiss watchmaker Hublot all dished out over $1m.

Why did he split with Top Rank?

In 2007 Mayweather founded his own boxing promotional firm, Mayweather Promotions, after defecting from Bob Arum's Top Rank.

He broke ties with Top Rank after activating a $750k (£578k) break clause, believing that he could make more money promoting his own fights.

It proved to be a shrewd choice: he earned pay checks ranging between $25m-$40m (£19.3m-£31m) over the next six years, before he broke new records for his fight against Canelo Alvarez, which netted him over $70m (£54m).

What has his richest fight been?

Until now, it has been the contest with Pacquiao. Mayweather is believed to have made $220m (£175m) from the contest, with the fight generating an incredible $600m (£470m) in revenues.

For his last fight, a unanimous points decision win against Andre Berto, he secured far less: $32m (£25m).

And how much does Mayweather stand to earn from this fight?

If the PPV stays roughly in line with the Mayweather v Pacquiao fight, the Mayweather v McGregor fight purse is likely to be worth around $390m (£300m). Total revenues are meanwhile expected to exceed $500m (£390m).

Somewhat unfortunately, the two men signed a confidentiality agreement when they signed their contracts, meaning the exact split will not be revealed.

We know that Mayweather is getting more however, with estimates ranging in the 70-75% region

By Luke Brown

Carillion share price fall 18% enlight of full year expectations

( via – – Fri, 29 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –

Troubled UK building and services firm Carillion has seen its share price fall 18% after it said full-year results would be below current expectations.

The firm reported a first-half loss of £1.15bn and said it had taken an impairment charge of £134m on its UK and Canadian construction businesses.

It had also made provision of £200m for losses on its support services contracts.

This is on top of an £845m write-off announced in July.

Carillion's full-year revenues are now forecast to be between £4.6bn-£4.8bn, down from a previous expectation of £4.8bn-£5bn.

“This is a disappointing set of results,” said interim chief executive Keith Cochrane, who took over following the resignation of Richard Howson in July.

The company's shares have lost two-thirds of their value since its problems came to light in the summer.

It is one of the firms involved in building the forthcoming HS2 high-speed railway line.

A government spokesperson said: “Carillion is a major supplier to the government with a number of long-term contracts. The company has kept us informed of the steps it is taking to restructure the business.

“We remain supportive of their ongoing discussions with their stakeholders and await future updates on their progress.”

‘Challenge' ahead

The firm said it was still in talks to sell its UK healthcare arm and its Canadian business. It said it now expected sell-offs to raise £300m, up from an earlier target of £125m.

Other options were also under consideration, “including raising equity to repair and strengthen the balance sheet in due course,” it added.

“No-one is in any doubt of the challenge that lies ahead,” said Mr Cochrane. “We have made an encouraging start and the ambition is there to build on that progress.”

Carillion said it had reduced its pension fund deficit by £80m and had the potential to cut it by another £120m.

It had also agreed a credit facility of £140m with a number of banks.

Michael Hewson of CMC Markets told the BBC that Carillion's problems stemmed largely from its construction business, because it had won major contracts on the basis of bids that were too low.

“They low-balled an awful lot of bid work and they're finding they can't make any money out of it and it's caught up with them,” he said.

According to other analysts, those contracts include a hospital in Liverpool, a road in Aberdeen and a tramway in Sheffield.

Inflexible contracts have meant that extra costs could not be passed on to customers, leading to a big dent in the firm's expected income.


Ikea buys gig economy odd-jobs company TaskRabbit

( via – – Fri, 29 Sept, 2017) London, Uk – –

Ikea has bought the gig economy odd-jobs company TaskRabbit, becoming the latest retailer to move into offering services alongside products.

Jesper Brodin, the president and chief executive of Ikea Group, said the Swedish homeware chain was responding to increasing urbanisation and a shift to digital shopping that challenged traditional retail.

“We need to develop the business faster and in a more flexible way. An acquisition of TaskRabbit would be an exciting leap in this transformation,” he said.

TaskRabbit, based in San Francisco and set up in 2008, operates in 40 cities in the US and the UK, connecting customers through its app with home maintenance tradespeople who can handle furniture assembly, decorating, cleaning and deliveries.

Users flag jobs they want doing, and taskers, as the company refers to them, can select work nearby, apparently choosing the rate at which they will be paid.

TaskRabbit will continue to operate as an independent company within the Ikea Group and link up with other retailers. The value of the deal was undisclosed.

Ikea joins the likes of John Lewis and Debenhams in seeing services as a route to growth.

John Lewis launched its Home Solutions service this month after signing up 150 independent tradespeople, all of whom were vetted by the department store. After being tested in Milton Keynes, the service is being extended to Bristol, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Taunton.

Brodin said: “We will be able to learn from TaskRabbit’s digital expertise, while also providing Ikea customers additional ways to access flexible and affordable service solutions.”

The acquisition takes Ikea into the gig economy, with TaskRabbit workers classed as independent contractors who work when they want, where they want and at rates they set, but are not necessarily entitled to a minimum wage or holiday pay.

Other gig economy employers, including Uber and Deliveroo, have faced court action over the treatment of their workers, some of whom say they are not independent contractors and should receive holiday pay.

The buyout comes after Ikea tested recommending TaskRabbit workers to assemble furniture for customers late last year at some of its London stores.

TaskRabbit was founded by the former IBM software engineer Leah Busque. The company has struggled to expand and partnered up to offer its services via Amazon last year.

By Sarah Butler

Ryanair facing legal action by CAA over flight cancellations

( via – – Thu, 28 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –

Ryanair is facing legal action from the UK’s aviation regulatory body for “persistently misleading passengers”.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced it had launched enforcement action against the Irish airline on Wednesday night, accusing the carrier of “failing to provide customers with the necessary and accurate information relating to their passenger rights, particularly around rerouting and care and assistance entitlements, which includes expenses”.

It believes that Ryanair has failed to tell affected passengers that they are legally obliged to be put on an alternate flight of any airline – not just those operated by Ryanair.

Ryanair yesterday said it would be cancelling a further 400,000 bookings on 18,000 flights between November this year and March 2018 as the carrier sought to alleviate some of the pressure on its packed schedule. It follows a swathe of some 315,000 cancellations announced last week, which CEO Michael O’Leary blamed on a mishandling of pilots’ holidays.

The airline said at the beginning of the week that refunds or alternative flights had been processed for 97 per cent of those affected by the initial cancellations, but the CAA has rounded on the carrier for how it handled passengers.

“There are clear laws in place, which are intended to assist passengers in the event of a cancellation, helping minimise both the frustration and inconvenience caused by circumstances completely out of their control,” said the CAA’s chief executive Andrew Haines.

“We have made this crystal clear to Ryanair, who are well aware of their legal obligations, which includes how and when they should reroute passengers, along with the level of information it provides its passengers. The information Ryanair published [yesterday] again fails to make this clear.

“In expediting our enforcement action we are seeking to ensure that Ryanair’s customers will receive the correct and necessary information, to make an informed choice about an alternative flight.”

The CAA has published a letter, which it sent to Ryanair in the wake of the cancellations, informing the airline that O’Leary had misled passengers when he said Ryanair was not obliged to re-route passengers on airlines other than Ryanair. The CAA also said the airline had “failed to make [a] correction”.

“It light of the information published by Ryanair, the CAA is concerned that Ryanair is not complying with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008,” the letter said.

“In light of these urgent and continuing concerns, we are now commencing consultation under Section 214 EA02 to achieve cessation by Ryanair of the breaches of consumer protection legislation identified in this letter.”

The CAA has asked to meet with Ryanair to discuss the matter.

A spokesperson for Ryanair said: “We will be meeting with the CAA and will comply fully with whatever requirements they ask us to.”

The CAA has brought legal enforcement 22 times in its history, twice previously to Ryanair, the most recent of which was in October 2015.


Lloyd’s of London to expect net losses of $4.5 billion from hurricanes Harvey and Irma

( via — Thur, 28 Sept 2017) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Lloyd’s of London SOLYD.UL expects net losses of $4.5 billion from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which analysts said would eat into the insurer’s capital and hit its profitability.

Although losses from natural catastrophes have been low in recent years, including in the first half, that is set to change in the second half of the year, Lloyd’s chief executive Inga Beale said following Thursday’s results.

“There was limited major claim activity in the first half. There’s a very different second half emerging – it’s not only the hurricanes but we’ve got the Mexican earthquakes, floods in Asia, typhoons in Asia,” Beale told Reuters.

“The hurricane season is still in play, earthquakes can happen at any time,” Beale said as Lloyd’s reported a 16 percent profit fall in the first half of 2017.

Lloyd’s 80-plus syndicates have already paid out more than $160 million in claims from Harvey and more than $240 million from Irma, Beale said. The $4.5 billion net loss estimate was based on modeling of “known exposures”, she added.

“Given that the Lloyd’s of London market typically produces earnings of 2.1-3.5 billion pounds, it is highly likely that the market faces a capital loss,” Jefferies analysts said in a note.

Modeling firm RMS estimates total insured losses from Harvey and Irma of up to $80 billion.

Meanwhile, Beale said it was too early to assess losses from Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico last week and which some analysts have predicted will lead to greater insurance losses than Harvey and Irma.

Lloyd’s made 1.22 billion pounds ($1.63 billion) in profit before tax in the six months to the end of June, down from 1.46 billion pounds a year earlier, although Beale said part of the drop in profit was related to currency fluctuations.

Insurance rates have been falling for the world’s largest specialist insurance market and other insurers for several years due to strong competition.

Lloyd’s return on capital worsened to 8.9 pct from 11.7 pct, due to pressure on returns from low interest rates.

Gross premiums rose to 18.9 billion pounds from 16.3 billion pounds last year, and its combined ratio improved to 96.9 pct from 98 pct in 2016. A combined ratio is a measure of underwriting profitability, with a level below 100 percent indicating a profit.

Jefferies said recent natural catastrophes meant that a combined ratio for the year of 112.5 percent for Lloyd’s “is now a possibility”, indicating higher underwriting losses than 2011, which it said was “the last major catastrophe year”.

Lloyd’s was on track to open its planned EU subsidiary in Brussels by the middle of next year, Beale said, adding the new hub would employ “tens” of people and the firm would be submitting its formal license application “very shortly”.

More than 20 insurers have announced plans for EU hubs in the event that Britain loses access to the single market as a result of its departure from the European Union.

By Emma Rumney and  Carolyn Cohn

May dissapointed Bombardier jobs at risk over Boeing’s dispute with a rival aerospace firm


( via – Wed, 27 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –

Boeing's dispute with a rival aerospace firm that threatens thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland is “unjustified” and “damaging”, the British Government has said.

The US has hit Canadian firm Bombardier with a punitive import duty of nearly 220% on a new model of passenger jet, the wings for which are made in Northern Ireland.

Bombardier, which employs more than 4,000 people in Belfast and contributes an estimated £400m to the Northern Ireland economy, said the C-Series jet was “critical” to its operations there.

:: Bombardier ruling risks thousands of Belfast jobs

One union described the ruling as a “hammer blow”, while Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “bitterly disappointed”.

The dispute between the two rival companies centres around claims from US firm Boeing that Bombardier received unfair state subsidies from the UK and Canada, allowing it to sell airliners at below cost prices in the US.

Announcing the US Department of Commerce's initial finding coming down on the side of Boeing, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said the subsidisation of goods by foreign governments was something the Trump administration “takes very seriously”.

A final ruling is expected to be made in February.

:: How the battle for our skies landed in Belfast

A UK Government spokeswoman said the initial finding was “only the first step in the process”.

“As the Prime Minister said last week, we will continue to strongly defend UK interests in support of Bombardier at the very highest level because an adverse outcome risks jobs and livelihoods among the 4,200 skilled workers in Belfast,” she said.

“Boeing's position in this case is unjustified and frankly not what we would expect of a long-term partner to the UK – as well as damaging the wider global aerospace industry.”

Mrs May has lobbied US President Donald Trump over the dispute, and raised it in talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a visit there last week.

Bombardier labelled the decision “absurd” and said Boeing was guilty of hypocrisy.

But the US aerospace giant said the row “had nothing to do with limiting innovation or competition” but was about “maintaining a level playing field and ensuring that aerospace companies abide by trade agreements”.

Unions accused Mrs May of being “asleep at the wheel” on the dispute, saying the preliminary finding was “unlikely” to be overturned by Mr Trump.

Ross Murdoch, the GMB union's national officer, said it was a “hammer blow” to Belfast and could have wider ramifications.

On top of the 4,000 people directly employed at Bombardier's plant, Mr Murdoch warned another 9,400 supply chain jobs could be wiped out.

DUP leader Arlene Foster – whose 10 MPs are propping up Mrs May's minority government – said the DoC's determination was “very disappointing”.

By Alan McGuinness

Possible fine for homeowners who sell draughty homes, a report has suggested


( via – – Wed, 27 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –

Homeowners who sell draughty homes could be fined, a report has suggested.

Economic consultancy Frontier Economics says the money raised could underpin government funding for insulating the homes of the least wealthy homeowners.

It is the most radical idea in the report, which also urges interest-free loans and tax and stamp duty rebates for people to insulate their homes.

Frontier warns the government will miss its targets on cutting carbon emissions unless it stops energy waste in homes.

  • Households ‘need help to get warmer home'
  • ‘Abysmal' take-up for Green Deal loans

The government said it is considering many options as part of its long-delayed Clean Growth Plan, which is expected soon.

Frontier's report notes that government advisers say ageing housing stock is the biggest obstacle to meeting the UK's climate change targets.

Improving homes also gives a boost to health and comfort and keeps bills down. But renovating homes is often an expensive hassle.

The report says that, following the collapse of the ill-fated Green Deal home loan scheme, ministers must find new ways of incentivising people to take on improvement work.

The Green Deal was criticised for offering loans at 7% interest.

The report suggests instead offering equity loans at lower than the standard mortgage rate, to be paid back when owners die or move house.

Another idea is to charge differential stamp duty depending on the level of insulation in the property.

Traditionally the Treasury has been unwilling to fund improvements that will increase the value of people's homes, but it's under pressure to be creative to solve the problem.

Infrastructure priority

The report also suggests that people should be tempted to invest in home improvements through a “salary sacrifice” scheme – where part of a person's salary goes towards energy efficient renovation, and they then save on the associated income tax.

Frontier Economics' report was funded by a coalition of groups concerned about housing stock – including the architects' body Riba; the green thinktank e3g; the Institution of Civil Engineers and the electricity group Energy UK.

They all want housing treated as an infrastructure priority.

“It's the package of measures that matters,” a spokesman, Ed Matthew, told BBC News.

“We want to stop the government's incremental, short-termist, approach – and treat this like the major infrastructure programme it is… after all every home must be zero carbon within 30 years.”

By Roger Harrabin

Apple smart assistant Siri to now use Google rather than Bing for searches

( via – – Tue, 26 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –

Apple confirmed that its smart assistant Siri will now use Google rather than Bing for searches, in a sign of increasing integration between the two tech giants.

Customers searching on Apple's Safari browser across its Mac, iPad and iPhone portfolio already received Google search results, and investment firm Bernstein has estimated Google currently pays around $3bn (£2.2bn) for this deal, based on the fact Google paid around $1bn for the same deal in 2014.

However, from Monday, Google will also act as the web provider for Siri as well as being the default provider for the ‘Spotlight' function on Apple devices. The switch was first reported by TechCrunch.

The iPhone maker said it decided to switch its default search provider to “allow these services to have a consistent web search experience with the default in Safari”.

However, the spokesman added: “We have strong relationships with Google and Microsoft and remain committed to delivering the best user experience possible.”

Google did not respond to requests for comment.

By Hannah Boland

Thomas Cook forms hotel joint venture with Swiss LMEY

( via — Tue, 26 Sept 2017) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Tour operator Thomas Cook has formed a strategic partnership with LMEY Investments to grow its own-brand hotel portfolio, as it confirmed its full-year outlook.

As part of the deal, Thomas Cook acquired a 42 percent stake in Aldiana, a German tour operator and hotel management firm, from the Swiss-based hotel development company.

Thomas Cook Chief Executive Peter Fankhauser said the acquisition was a significant step in the firm’s strategy to expand its range of own-brand hotels.

“The development of a strong portfolio of own-brand hotels is absolutely key to our success,” Fankhauser said in a statement.

 “Our new strategic partnership with LMEY, with its proven track record of identifying and redeveloping highly successful properties in sun and beach locations, gives us the perfect launch pad to accelerate this critical part of our strategy.”

Thomas Cook operates or franchises over 180 hotels in 17 countries, with 11 new hotels added this summer.

Rival TUI is also investing more into its own hotel portfolio, including setting up its own brand TUI Blue.

The partnership follows an alliance with Expedia to make the online travel company its preferred provider of hotels for holiday sales that are not in Thomas Cook’s own-brand offering.

Thomas Cook also said that its Chief Financial Officer Michael Healy had decided to retire, and would be replaced by director of financial reporting Bill Scott.

The company said that summer trading was ending as expected and its full-year earnings outlook was unchanged.

Thomas Cook said its summer season was 91 percent sold, which is 2 percent more than the same time last year, and that sales to Spain remained level with last year despite a highly competitive market.

Shares were up 0.6 percent at 121.7 pence at 0745 GMT.

Thomas Cook also said its German airline Condor, with bookings up 12 percent, was benefitting from the uncertainty surrounding the fate of Air Berlin, which filed for insolvency in August.

Condor was among those interested in bidding for Air Berlin assets to shore up its position in Germany, but Air Berlin’s creditors have instead opted to hold talks with Lufthansa and easyJet.

By Alistair Smout; Additional reporting by Victoria Brya