US multinational Johnson and Johnson ordered to pay 100 million Euros in Lawsuit

 

US multinational Johnson and Johnson has been ordered to pay around 100 million euros to a woman who says the firm's talcum powder caused her to develop ovarian cancer.

The verdict by a state court in St Louis, Missouri is the largest in terms of damages awarded so far.

The Virginia woman says she developed cancer after using J & J's talc based products over four decades.

Volkswagen profits jump 44% Post Dieselgate Cost Cutting

 

Volkswagen says its profits have soared so far this year as a huge cost-cutting effort starts to pay off and as it prepares to invests billions of euros in developing electric cars, new mobility services and self-driving technology.

For the VW brand alone operating profit surged to 869 million euros between January and March from 73 million a year earlier even as its sales slipped 1.3 percent to 1.44 million vehicles.

M&S Possible Surrender to Online Food Delivery With Ocado Partnership

Simon D/Fickr.com

Marks & Spencer could do a deal with Ocado for online food delivery, according to reports.

Marks & Spencer announced last week that it is planning to launch an online grocery service this autumn. The Telegraph reported on Sunday that the department store and food retailer is considering partnering with online grocer Ocado to handle the fulfilment of the orders.

The tie-up makes sense (I flagged it as a possibility when M&S first announced its plans).

M&S has a strong own-brand food business but has never done online groceries before and has struggled with online delivery in the past. Ocado, meanwhile, is a pioneer of online groceries in the UK and has the logistical know-how to pull it off. It has done similar deals with Morrisons and Waitrose in the past.

Credit Suisse said in a note published on Tuesday that it believes the most likely deal would see M&S products stocked on Ocado's website, rather than have Ocado provide the white label plumbing for a new M&S Food website.

“M&S's range is too narrow and its basket size too small to offer a credible standalone online grocery service,” said analyst Stewart McGuire in a note.

However, Bernstein believes that an “in-store picking” model is more likely. Rather than having all of M&S' food stock stored in Ocado's central warehouse to be distributed as part of bigger orders, an “in-store picking” model allows M&S to pick products for home delivery from its own stores, using Ocado's technology.

Bernstein's Bruno Monteyne said in a note on Tuesday: “Typically M&S has customers shop smaller baskets, serving customers in the ‘something-for-tonight' or ‘top-up' shopping missions rather than the ‘main shop.'

“The economics of central fulfilment are hugely in favour of bigger baskets. Hence, it's more likely that a solution would be in store pick for M&S.”

Amazon & Waitrose could stand in the way
Credit Suisse flagged two major obstacles for any deal being done between the two: Amazon and Waitrose.

On the Amazon front, Credit Suisse said that the online retail Goliath could be tempted to make an attractive offer to get M&S' high-end food onto its platform.

“The potential to access a loyal and lucrative segment of the market may provide enough of a draw to offer lucrative terms to M&S,” said McGuire. But he adds that the fact M&S has already pulled its clothing from Amazon makes a deal less likely.

McGuire also warned that Ocado's contract with Waitrose could make a deal with M&S difficult. Under the terms of the deal, 70% of all non-own brand products sold on Ocado have to come from Waitrose. If you count M&S as a brand, this would make a deal impossible as Waitrose can't and won't stock its competitor's products.

McGuire said: “It is unclear whether M&S product would be considered ‘branded', thereby preventing their listing, but the ability to renegotiate the contract is always available.”

What does it mean for both companies?
If a deal does go through, what would it mean for M&S and Ocado's businesses?

Credit Suisse said that for M&S “it might be better for sentiment than its financials as we would assume 25-50% of online sales would be cannibalised from stores, and the split with Ocado would reduce margins below 33% retail gross margin.”

Meanwhile, Bernstein forecasted that Ocado could make £2-4 million in profit over the medium term from a deal with M&S. However, Monteyne added: “This could be significantly lower if there was a competitive bid process with other players vying to provide an in-store pick solution for M&S.”

By Oscar Williams-Grut

 

 

 

Bank of Mum and Dad UK’s 10th Biggest Mortgage Lender

 

The burden on parents to help fúnd their children's property purchases has increased dramatically this year, effectively making the Bank of Mum and Dad the UK's 10th biggest mortgage lender.

Parents will lend more than £6.5bn in 2017 – that's up from £5bn calculated in last year's survey for the financial services group Legal & General.

That's just under the £6.6bn lent by Yorkshire Building Society – the country's ninth biggest mortgage lender – and means parents are involved in more than a quarter of all UK property transactions.

Legal & General's chief executive Nigel Wilson tells Ian King Live why they carried out the research.

Tata Steel Sale Creates 300 UK Jobs

Bri_J/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 2 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

Britain’s steel industry has been given a vote of confidence with a pledge to create hundreds of new jobs at a business sold by Tata.

Industrials and commodities group Liberty House has said it will add 300 roles at the speciality steels operations it is has bought from Tata.

The new jobs were revealed as Liberty and Tata completed the £100m deal that will protect the existing 1,700 staff at the business’s main sites in Rotherham, Stocksbridge and Brinsworth in South Yorkshire, smaller operations in Bolton, Lancashire, and Wednesbury, West Midlands, and distribution centres in China.

Liberty, headed by entrepreneur Sanjeev Gupta, said it would invest £20m in the first year of its ownership the business, which will be renamed Liberty Speciality Steels, with plans to increase production to 1m tonnes a year.

The business supplies high-value steel that is used in the automotive, aerospace and energy industries.

“The speciality steels business is a global leader in its field with a highly skilled and motivated workforce and we are eager to invest so it can grow to its full potential,” said Mr Gupta.

“By acquiring it we are casting a big vote of confidence in the future of British industry. With the right business model and an innovative approach, the UK steel and engineering sectors can recover and thrive.”

The purchase comes after Tata started a wholesale disposal of its loss-making UK steel businesses – including the giant Port Talbot plant – last year as the crisis in the UK steel industry resulted in thousands of job losses. Tata later did a U-turn, instead deciding to hive off parts of the business piecemeal.

Bimlendra Jha, chief executive of Tata Steel UK, said: “As a responsible owner, Tata Steel in the last couple of years has undertaken a transformation plan at speciality steels. We thank employees, trade unions and management for their diligent hard work in the journey to turn around the business in difficult times and we wish them a successful future under new ownership.”

Privately owned Liberty has a strategy of buying up distressed businesses as it seeks to build up its portfolio, and in the UK has acquired other units from Tata, as well as an aluminium smelter from Rio Tinto, and much of the collapsed Caparo engineering group.

The latest deal will make it one of the largest engineering and steel companies in Britain with more than 4,500 staff. In the year to the end of March Liberty’s industrial business had revenue of $410m (£330m) and earnings of $29m.

By  Alan Tovey

Barclays Shares Slide on Missed Out Bond Trading Boom

Roberto Herrett/flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 2 May 2017) London, UK —

Barclays shares fell sharply on Friday as investors focused on a poor performance at its markets business, a key part of its growth strategy, that missed out on a bond trading boom enjoyed by Wall Street rivals in the first three months of 2017.

The British bank is seeking to press ahead with restructuring plans which have seen it shift towards a transatlantic U.S.-UK focus and an emphasis on investment banking under its American Chief Executive Jes Staley.

In its trading division, income from its markets business fell 4 percent to 1.35 billion pounds, as macro income fell 14 percent due to a weaker performance by its U.S. rates business and the impact of exiting energy-related commodities.

Equities trading income also fell 10 percent, driven by lower revenue from U.S. equity derivatives.

By contrast, Barclays' Wall Street rivals saw bond trading revenues rise by an average of 21 percent in the first quarter, with investors adjusting their portfolios in response to rising interest rates, and elections in Europe.

Deutsche Bank reported on Thursday that its markets business also lagged its U.S. peers last quarter, but reported an increase nonetheless in revenues.

Analysts were unimpressed by Barclays' results.

“After a strong set of fixed income results from U.S. and European peers, Barclays Q1 results are disappointing,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said in a note.

Barclays shares traded 4 percent lower at 0850 GMT, their worst day since the aftermath of the Brexit vote last June.

Staley attributed the poor performance to weakness in the bank's U.S. rates business and a tough comparison with the previous year and said that it would be wrong to start questioning the business based on one-quarter's performance.

“You can't make a judgement on the investment bank based on one-quarter,” he said on a conference call with reporters.

WHISTLEBLOWING CASE

Staley's attempts to revitalise the investment banking business have been clouded by probes in the U.S. and Britain and criticism from investors following his attempts to unmask a whistleblower, which Barclays insiders fear could unseat Staley if the investigations' findings are damning.

Former JPMorgan banker Staley told reporters he had not offered his resignation to the board over the affair and that he was fully cooperating with the regulators.

Barclays said its profit before tax was 1.7 billion pounds, up from 793 million pounds a year ago and better than the 1.46 billion pounds average estimate of analysts' forecasts compiled by the bank.

But part of that increase was driven by proceeds of sales of a credit card portfolio and a gain in the value of the bank's preference shares in Visa Inc, with underlying earnings growth more muted.

Barclays still faces a series of regulatory obstacles, with an ongoing probe by Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) over its 2008 cash call at the height of the financial crisis and accusations by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) over mortgage misselling.

Barclays also faces a further headache from political upheaval in South Africa, which is hindering the bank's efforts to sell its business there – a key element in its strategy to boost capital levels to meet regulators' demands.

Barclays said it would take a one-off goodwill impairment charge of 884 million pounds on its stake in Barclays Africa Group, which it has given itself 2-3 years to sell down.

Its core capital ratio, a key measure of financial strength, rose to 12.5 percent from 12.4 percent last quarter, making it the most thinly capitalised of the major UK banks.

“The bank continues to ride a capital tightrope,” Bernstein analysts wrote in a note.

“UK macro and South African politics will dictate whether Barclays escapes another capital raise,” they added.

The bank said it would create 1,000 new roles in the UK in operations and technology, with a further 1,000 to come over the next three years.

By Anjuli Davies

 

 

Social Media Companies Shoud Pay Fines Over Extremist and Hate Crime Content:MPs

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 01 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

Social media firms are “shamefully far” from tackling illegal and dangerous content, says a parliamentary report.
Hate speech, terror recruitment videos and sexual images of children all took too long to be removed, said the Home Affairs Select Committee report.
The government should consider making the sites help pay to police content, it said.
But a former Facebook executive told the BBC the report “bashes companies” but offers few real solutions.
The cross-party committee took evidence from Facebook, Twitter and Google, the parent company of YouTube, for its report.
It said they had made efforts to tackle abuse and extremism on their platforms, but “nowhere near enough is being done”.
The committee said it had found “repeated examples of social media companies failing to remove illegal content when asked to do so”.
It said the largest firms were “big enough, rich enough and clever enough” to sort the problem out, and that it was “shameful” that they had failed to use the same ingenuity to protect public safety as they had to protect their own income.
“White Genocide” and “Ban Islam”
Among the examples the committee found were:
Twitter refused to remove a cartoon depicting male ethnic minority migrants abusing a semi-naked white woman while stabbing her baby to death on the grounds it was not in breach of its “hateful conduct policy”
YouTube refused to remove a video entitled “Jews admit organizing White Genocide” on the basis it “did not cross the line into hate speech”
On Facebook there were openly anti-Semitic and Islamophobic community pages such as “Ban Islam”. Facebook removed some posts but not the community pages themselves because its policy allows criticism of religion, but not hate against people because of their religion
The MPs said it was “unacceptable” that social media companies relied on users to report content, saying they were “outsourcing” the role “at zero expense”.
Yet the companies expected the police – funded by the taxpayer – to bear the costs of keeping them clean of extremism.
The report's recommendations include:
The government should consult on requiring social media firms to contribute to the cost of the police's counter-terrorism internet referral unit
It should also consult on “meaningful fines” for companies which failed to remove illegal content within a strict timeframe, highlighting proposals in Germany which could see firms fined up to £44m and individual executives £5m
Social media companies review urgently their community standards and how they are being interpreted and implemented
“Social media companies' failure to deal with illegal and dangerous material online is a disgrace,” said committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper.
Ms Cooper said the committee's inquiry into hate crime more broadly was curtailed when the general election was called and their recommendations had to be limited to dealing with social media companies and online hate.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she expected to see social media companies take “early and effective action” and promised to study the committee's recommendations.
In a statement Simon Milner, Facebook's policy director, said: “We agree with the Committee that there is more we can do to disrupt people wanting to spread hate and extremism online.”
He said the social network was working with King's College, London and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue to make its efforts to curb hate speech more effective.
Mr Milner added that Facebook had developed “quick and easy ways” for people to report content so it could be reviewed and, if necessary, removed.
Twitter and Google have not yet responded to a BBC request for comment.
The firms had previously told the committee that they worked hard to make sure freedom of expression was protected within the law.
Football parallels
A former European policy manager for Facebook, Luc Delany, told BBC Radio Four's Today programme the report had failed to look at more than a decade of work the industry had done with police and successive governments on the problem.
He said: “It bashes companies and gets a few big headlines for the committee but the solutions proposed don't really play out in reality.”
However, committee member and Labour MP Naz Shah disagreed: “It's not headline-grabbing when people are making money off terrorist content, headline grabbing when we've got child abuse online.
“Not working fast enough is not acceptable to the committee, to myself or anybody quite frankly.”
Ms Shah suggested that internet companies giving money to the Met's counter-terrorism unit would be similar to football clubs contributing to the cost of policing matches.
But Mr Delany rejected this, adding a football stadium was a “fixed place” with “one obvious and historic type of behaviour” whereas social media companies had hundreds of millions of users and hours of content.
The child protection charity NSPCC has also called for fines for social networks that fail to protect children.
Internet companies' voluntary regulations on child protection are “not up to scratch”, the charity's chief executive, Peter Wanless, said last week.

 

Mark Lack interviews Beate Chelette – CEO of The Women’s Code

 

Mark Lack interviews Beate Chelette – CEO and Founder of The Women’s Code, a revolutionary system to help women cope, collaborate and lead in their careers! Beate talks about why she decided to start this business and her aha moment! She tells the story about of reaching out to the President of the United States and how that led her to where she is today!

Vauxhall Showed “reckless disregard for safety” over Zafira car fires, say MPs

 

 

UniversityBlogSpot/Flickr

Qlm referencing: (qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 28 Nov 2017) London, Uk – –

Vauxhall had a “reckless disregard for safety” by letting people drive its Zafira cars which it knew were unsafe and could catch fire, says damning parliamentary report.

The car maker has come under attack from the Transport Select Committee about its actions following a spate of fires in 2015 involving the Zafira B model people-carriers.

The cars burst into flames because of problems in their heating and ventilation systems but MPs said Vauxhall was “too slow to begin an investigation, too slow to address the causes and too slow to alert drivers of real safety concerns. Drivers and their families were needlessly put at risk.”

Louise Ellman, chairman of the committee, added Vauxhall was also too quick to blame the fires on “improper and unauthorised repairs”.

“Vehicle fires can be terrifying,” she said. “Vauxhall does not appear to have grasped the seriousness of the problem, placing the blame on third parties.”

More than 230,000 Zafiras Bs were sold, but by the time it was realised there was a problem, the model had been superseded and there are no records on the number of cars which caught fire as a result of the issue.

An initial recall of the cars for repairs did not totally solve the problem, with MPs saying Vauxhall did not accept there was a wider problem.

“The initial recall reduced the risk of fire, but owners were left thinking their cars were safe when the reality was there was some form of risk,” Ms Ellman said. “Vauxhall’s decision to continue to let people drive affected cars once it knew that cars that had already been recalled still caught fire amounts to reckless disregard for safety.”

A second recall to fix the problem was needed and MPs also said the vehicle registration body the DVSA should have worked more closely with Vauxhall to deal with the problem, as well as carrying out independent tests to discover the true cause of the fires.

In a statement, Vauxhall said it “apologised for any anguish or distress caused”.

“Nothing is more important to us than safety and we go to enormous lengths to maintain the safety of our vehicles and have strengthened these processes further as a result of the learnings from Zafira B.”

So far 183,000 Zafira B models have been recalled for the second fix. However, Vauxhall cannot force owners to bring their vehicles in and is working with the authorities to track down those still to be repaired.

By Alan Tovey

NHS Funding Woes Could See Big Drug Companies Abandon The UK

 

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has warned that the world's biggest drug companies could abandon the UK unless the NHS receives substantially more funding.

The association represents firms including GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, as well as the UK operations of international giants like Pfizer and Novartis. It says health spending should rise from the current 9.9% of GDP to the G7 average of 11.3%. That would amount to an extra £20.8bn.

Lisa Anson, the UK boss of AstraZeneca, and new President of the ABPI tells Ian King Live why the body is making the call in its election manifesto.

UK Retail Sales Increase to Highest in April Since mid-2015 – CBI

 

Tim Tabor/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 27 Apr 2017) London, UK —

British retailers reported the biggest increase in sales volumes since mid-2015 during April, according to an industry survey on Thursday that may help to allay fears of a worsening consumer-led slowdown.

The Confederation of British Industry's monthly retail sales balance spiked to +38 from +9 in March, confounding expectations for a decline to +6 in a Reuters poll of economists.

The upbeat figure contrasted with official data that showed retail sales posted their biggest quarterly fall in seven years in the first quarter of 2017, reinforcing economists' view that household spending, the main driver of the economy, is now slowing sharply.

The CBI said the strength during April was notable because the survey of 57 retailers did not cover the Easter holidays, one of the most important shopping periods of the year.

However, the CBI's retail balance has been volatile from month to month recently.

“Retailers are still cautious over the outlook, expecting slower growth over the year to May, as higher inflation eats into household spending,” CBI economist Ben Jones said.

“With price competition remaining fierce and rising costs squeezing margins, retailers face mounting pressures in the months ahead.”

The CBI said retailers expected sales growth to slow next month, with the index falling back to +16.

By Andy Bruce

Is Twitter Social Media Platform Enjoying a Trump Fuelled Turnaround?

 

Twitter – the social media platform beloved by US president Donald Trump – saw its shares surge on Wednesday after we learned it added a lot more users that had been expected in the first three months of this year.

The number of monthly active users was up by six percent compared with the same period last year, reaching 328 million.

Investors had expressed concerns about Twitter's future as user growth stalled last year.

The company credited changes to its timeline function which is now content listed by themes rather than in chronological order.

McDonald’s to Offer 115,000 UK Zero-Hours Workers Fixed Contracts

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 26 Apr, 2017) London, Uk –

McDonald’s is to offer 115,000 UK workers on controversial zero-hours contracts the option of moving to fixed contracts with a minimum number of guaranteed hours every week.

The move is a significant development in the debate about employee rights because McDonald’s is one of the biggest users of zero-hours contracts in the country. Sports Direct has also used workers on zero-hour contracts in its shops.

The fast-food chain is to offer fixed hours contracts after staff in its restaurants complained they were struggling to get loans, mortgages and mobile phone contracts because they were not guaranteed employment each week.

Zero-hour contracts are controversial because companies can use them to exploit workers, offering unpredictable working hours and changing shifts at short notice.

The TUC has called for the government to ban zero-hours contracts. It has found that staff on these contracts earns a third less per hour than the average worker.

McDonald’s has been trialling the shift to fixed hours contracts in 23 sites across the country. The company said that about 80% of workers in the trial chose to remain on flexible contracts and it has seen an increase in levels of employee and customer satisfaction after the offer. Staff have been offered contracts in line with the average hours per week they work. This includes contracts of either four, eight, 16, 30 or 35 hours a week.

The company will initially expand fixed contracts to 50 more restaurants before rolling it out nationwide to existing and new employees later this year.

Paul Pomroy, the chief executive of McDonald’s UK, said: “The vast majority of our employees are happy with their flexible contracts, but some have told us that more fixed hours would help them get better access to some financial products.”

Pomroy denied that McDonald’s was reacting to political pressure by making the change. “We are reflecting people’s lives. In a growing business, we need people to come and work for us, it’s a mutually beneficial approach,” he added.

The McDonald’s boss also confirmed that staff who are paid by the hour have had their pay increased by an average of 15% since April 2015.

“The hard work of our restaurant teams has enabled us to deliver 44 consecutive quarters of growth in the UK,” Pomroy said. “It’s right that we continue to invest in our people so they can deliver the experience that our customers want and expect.”

The changes are part of a modernisation drive by McDonald’s that includes the launch of a premium burger, digital touch screens in restaurants and a new delivery service that will be trialled from June alongside a partner such as Deliveroo.

McDonald’s has defended zero-hours contracts in the past, saying they offer flexibility to workers. However, the company has been targeted by protesters over its treatment of staff. Earlier this month, campaigners from Fast Food Rights and Better Than Zero dressed as clowns and demonstrated outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Glasgow over its use of zero-hours contracts.

The TUC has warned that 3.5 million people could be stuck in insecure work such as zero-hours contracts, agency work or low-paid self-employment by 2022 – 290,000 more than at present.

Frances O’Grady, the TUC general secretary, said: “MPs aren’t the only ones feeling insecure in their jobs right now. If nothing changes, hundreds of thousands more Brits could be stuck in insecure work, being treated like disposable labour. That’s the same as 13 extra Sports Directs or the entire working population of Sheffield.

“Paying rent and bills can be a nightmare when you don’t know how much you’ve got coming in each month. And planning childcare is impossible when you’re constantly at the beck and call of employers.

“The next government will need to tackle this problem head on. Every party manifesto must have real commitments to crack down on zero-hours contracts and bogus self-employment. And agency workers should always get the going rate for the job.”

By Graham Ruddick

 

Consumer Group Finds Airport Duty-free Prices Not Always Cheapest

Timo Newton-Syms/Flickr.com

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 26 Apr, 2017) London, Uk –

Consumer group finds products such as gin, Toblerone and Lego cheaper in supermarkets or online

Bargain airport prices for favourites such as gin and Toblerone are now likely to be cheaper at the supermarket, Which? has found.

A 360g bar of Toblerone cost £4 at Bristol World Duty-Free but £3 at Asda, while a 70cl bottle of Tanqueray gin cost £18 at Heathrow Terminal 2 and £15 at Morrisons, the consumer group found.

Despite a common assumption that airport shopping will cut out VAT, shoppers could save £21 by buying a 100ml bottle of Eternity for Men eau de toilette on Amazon for £25 rather than at Birmingham World Duty-Free for £46.

The Lego Star Wars Millennium Falcon was £20 cheaper at Toys R Us online than at Gatwick South World Duty-Free.

Which? said it was “stunned” to find the SanDisk Extreme Plus 64GB camera memory card selling for £73 more at Glasgow International’s Dixons Travel than at Currys online.

The organisation checked all the prices between 10 and 13 March. They are rounded to the nearest £1 and include the cost of delivery for online orders.

The watchdog also said consumers could find savings at airport shops, noting that it found the iPad mini 2 and Fitbit Flex 2 both for £10 less at Dixons Travel at Glasgow International airport than online at John Lewis.

It urged shoppers to “always do your research before you head to the airport to make sure the ‘deal’ is not actually dearer than you find on the high street or online”.