London to welcome China’s first freight train

China’s multi-billion dollar One Belt, One Road plan is a strategy launched in 2013 and focus on infrastructure and trade network connecting Asia with Africa and Europe along old Silk Route trading routes in an effort to boost trade and economic growth.

With that in mind China launched its first freight train to London, which will travel from Yiwu West Railway Station in Zhejiang Province, Eastern China to Barking, London, taking 18 days to travel over 12,000 kilometres.
The route runs through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France, before arriving in London. The UK is the eighth country to be added to the China-Europe service, and London is the 15th city.

China estimates that it will gain heavily from opening the ancient trade routes which will, in turn, boost regional cooperation and better relations between countries that lie along the Silk Route.

UK government announced plans on Monday to build 17 new towns and villages

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Mon, 2 Jan , 2017) London, UK – –

Chinese Developers
Gareth Williams/www.flickr.com

 

Britain’s government announced plans on Monday to build 17 new towns and villages across the English countryside in a bid to ease a chronic housing shortage.

The new “garden” communities – from Cumbria in the north to Cornwall on England’s southern-most tip – would be part of a scheme to build up to 200,000 new homes, housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell said in a statement.

That would still be a fraction of the million houses the government has said it wants to see built from 2015-2020 in an already densely populated nation.

Successive governments have promised to tackle a shortage that has seen house prices spiral in London and other major cities, out of the reach of many buyers.

But developers have complained about a lack of available land and strict planning laws that outlaw development on “greenbelt” land around existing towns and give local councils the power to block construction.

Britain asked local authorities last year to say if they were interested in having new garden developments – based on a 19th century idea of housing growing populations in self-contained towns surrounded by countryside.

Barwell announced the locations for the first time on Monday and said the state would loosen planning restrictions and give 7.4 million pounds ($9.10 million) to help fund the building.

The three newly announced towns, with more than 10,000 homes each, will be built near Aylesbury, Taunton and Harlow, the government said.

The new garden villages, including Bailrigg in Lancaster, Long Marston in Stratford-on-Avon, Welborne in Hampshire and Culm in Devon, would each have 1,500-10,000 properties.

Together with seven other garden towns already announced, the new developments could provide almost 200,000 homes, Barwell said.

by Kylie MacLellan

Bitcoin started the new year above $1,000 for the first time in three years

It has been a bumper year for bitcoin.

Having risen in value in 2016 by 125 percent the digital currency started the new year by jumping above $1,000 for the first time in three years.

As most bitcoin trading is done in China, analysts linked that to the fall in the value that country’s currency – the yuan. Last year the yuan slipped seven percent, it’s weakest showing in over 20 years.

Theresa May’s New Year 2017 Message

The New Year is a time to reflect on what has passed and to look ahead to the opportunities to come. And this year, as I consider all that 2017 has in store, I believe those opportunities are greater than ever. For we have made a momentous decision and set ourselves on a new direction.

And if 2016 was the year you voted for that change, this is the year we start to make it happen. I know that the referendum last June was divisive at times. I know, of course, that not everyone shared the same point of view, or voted in the same way. But I know too that, as we face the opportunities ahead of us, our shared interests and ambitions can bring us together. We all want to see a Britain that is stronger than it is today.

We all want a country that is fairer so that everyone has the chance to succeed. We all want a nation that is safe and secure for our children and grandchildren. These ambitions unite us, so that we are no longer the 52% who voted Leave and the 48% who voted Remain, but one great union of people and nations with a proud history and a bright future. So when I sit around the negotiating table in Europe this year, it will be with that in mind. The knowledge that I am there to get the right deal, not just for those who voted to Leave, but for every single person in this country.

Of course, the referendum laid bare some further divisions in our country; between those who are prospering, and those who are not. Those who can easily buy their own home, send their children to a great school, find a secure job, and those who cannot.

In short, those for whom our country works well, and those for whom it does not. This is the year we need to pull down these barriers that hold people back, securing a better deal at home for ordinary, working people. The result will be a truly united Britain, in which we are all united in our citizenship of this great nation. United in the opportunities that are open to all our people, and united by the principle that it is only your talent and hard work that should determine your future. After all, it is through unity that our people have achieved great things. Through our precious union of nations – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Through our union of people – from sports teams to Armed Forces, businesses to charities, schools to hospitals. And, above all, through our union of communities and families.

Of course, it isn’t just big, global events that define a year – it is the personal things. 2017 might be the year you start your first job or buy your first home. It might be the year your children start school or go off to university, or that you retire after a lifetime of hard work. These things – life’s milestones – are the things that bind us, whoever we are. As the fantastic MP Jo Cox, who was so tragically taken from us last year, put it, “We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.” We have a golden opportunity to demonstrate that – to bring this country together as never before, so that whoever you are, wherever you live, our politics, economy and society work for you, not just a privileged few.

So as we look ahead to a year of opportunity and unity, let me wish you and your family a peaceful, prosperous and happy New Year.

Business rates in London could be up an extra £4bn over the next five years

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Sat, 31 Dec  2016) London, Uk – –

UK public finances
London Skyline/Megan Trace/flickr.com

London properties should be uncoupled from the national business rates system to prevent companies in the capital being treated as a cash cow, say the capital’s businesses.

Businesses in London could be forced to stump up an extra £4bn over the next five years under an upcoming revaluation, which has led the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry to call for the capital to have a separate business rates system or risk a “profound” impact on the capital’s economy.

The extra rates burden could force small, independent shops, bars and restaurants, which are already reeling from rocketing rents, to close down or move to cheaper locations, the LCCI has warned.

Property values in London have soared since the last revaluation in 2008, meaning that many businesses will be hit with rocketing bills under the new regime.

Business rates are often the third largest outgoing for companies after salaries and rents.

In total, the extra burden for London could be as much as £885m a year because of an upcoming revaluation, due in April, as companies across the city face an average rise of 11pc.

Few other places have seen values rise so significantly, with the result that businesses in the capital will pay disproportionately more than elsewhere in the UK. St Pancras Station will face the biggest jump in rates, paying £10.1m a year, an increase of £21.5m, or 73pc, over the next five years, exclusive analysis for The Telegraph by CVS, the business rates specialist, has found.

The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel also faces a £13.5m jump in its rates bill over the next five years while the demand on the BBC for Broadcasting House in Portland Place will rise by £19.5m.

Harrods, Selfridges and John Lewis will also face steep rises, CVS calculated. Some West End retailers and office occupiers in Shoreditch will see bills more than double as a result of the delayed revaluation, which was held back for two years to prevent the changes from taking effect just before the last general election.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, has proposed a relief scheme that would limit increases for business to 42pc in a year. This has been considered as woefully inadequate by critics who have highlighted that in the last business rates revaluation, rises were capped at 12.5pc.

Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the LCC, said: “The Government should consider proposals for London to be ‘uncoupled’ from the national valuation system that gives London’s businesses an unfair deal.

“We are not asking for special treatment for London nor do we seek to implement changes that will see the rest of the country lose out, but at the same time we do not want to risk businesses shutting up shop or moving out of London altogether.

“We need to be wary of potential pitfalls including business being viewed as a ‘cash cow’,” Mr Stanbridge said.

The LCCI says there is a case for “substantive” changes to the rates system, including breaking the link between revaluations and the fixed tax yield it generates. Doing so would prevent what the chamber described as “punitive rises” in the future.

According to the LCCI, the new rates will hit small- and medium-sized businesses particularly hard, as they are less able to find the resources to pay the higher bills.

There has also been criticism of the Government’s plans to reform the business rates appeals process, which will mean that companies have to pay their rates bills for an entire year, even if the bill is incorrect.

Ashley Armstrong and Alan Tovey

Investors of RBS asked bank to create investor committee to avoid repeat of crisis-era mistakes

Royal Bank of Scotland
morebyless/flickr.com

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Fri, 30 Dec, 2016) London, UK – –

More than 160 investors in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) have asked the bank to create a committee of shareholders to improve its corporate governance and help avoid a repeat of mistakes that led to its 45 billion pound ($55 billion) bailout.

ShareSoc and UKSA, two shareholder groups, will submit the proposal at the bank’s next annual meeting in May, with the aim of improving the lot of long-term investors who have seen RBS shares fall more than 95 percent since their 2007 peak.

The shareholders said their aims were to improve the representation of individual retail investors in how the bank is run and to avoid a repeat of past mistakes.
“A dominant CEO; concealing the true financial position of the company from investors; proceeding with a reckless acquisition; and then publishing a rights prospectus which concealed the problems faced by the company,” Mark Northway, Sharesoc Chairman, said in describing those mistakes.

RBS could not immediately be reached for comment.

For the resolution to pass, it would need at least 75 percent of shareholder votes cast at the meeting. That means the government, which holds 71 percent of shares in the bank, would need to support it or abstain for it to go through.

A spokesman for UKFI, which manages the government stake, declined to comment on how UKFI might vote.

Shareholder committees are largely unheard of in Britain, though are a staple of corporate governance in Sweden, where they nominate who should sit on a company’s board.

RBS is still in the throes of a restructuring, which includes asset sales, job cuts and tackling multi-billion dollar charges to settle litigation and pay regulatory fines for past misconduct.

The bank said this month it will pay more than 800 million pounds to settle claims by four investor groups that the bank misled them during a 12 billion pound fundraising at the height of the financial crisis in 2008.

RBS along with other banks also faces an investigation by the United States Department of Justice over its sale and pooling of toxic mortgage securities in the run-up to the crisis.

 By Lawrence White

Britain to New York flights set to launch costing less than £60

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.businessinsider.com via standard.co.uk — Thu, 29 Dec, 2016) London, Uk —

Flights between Britain and New York costing less than £60 are set to be introduced in the new year.

Budget airline Norwegian plans to slash the price of flights from Edinburgh to smaller airports in the Big Apple to as little as £56, it was announced last week.

Tickets will be sold on flights to airports other than JFK using six Boeing 737MAX aircraft which burn less fuel than other long-haul planes, the Times reported.

Earlier this month the airline revealed that it would cut US-bound services leaving Gatwick from 34 to 22 flights a week from next year.

British Airways cut flights to the US from the UK earlier this year.

Flights on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft will start at £135.

Fiona Simpson

Billionaire Tilman Fertitta on identifying the next billion-dollar idea

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com — Wed, 28 Dec, 2016) London, Uk —

Imagine coming up with the next Uber, Airbnb, Instagram or Snapchat. How do you know when you have thought of the next billion-dollar idea?

Hospitality mogul and star of CNBC’s “Billion Dollar Buyer” Tilman Fertitta, who meets with entrepreneurs nationwide looking for the most innovative products to add to his portfolio, told Yahoo Finance’s Seana Smith in the video above the key characteristics he looks for when identifying the next big business idea.

“Look at edgy products,” said Landry. “There are so many young millennial entrepreneurs out there right now coming up with different products…. You’re looking for somebody that can scale up, that has a unique product that people want. It can be anything. Being in casinos, restaurants, hotels, aquariums and amusement parks, we buy everything, so we’re just looking for that one unique product.”

Fertitta has a proven track record of success over the last four decades. He’s the sole-owner of dining, entertainment, gaming and hospitality group Landry’s, which is comprised of more than 500 properties including the Rainforest Café, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Chart House and McCormick & Schmick’s. Fertitta’s a self-made billionaire with an estimated net worth of $2.8 billion.

Don’t be fooled though, it takes much more than just a “unique” product to turn a billion-dollar idea into a prosperous business. Fertitta says key traits that separate successful entrepreneurs from those that fail include passion, perseverance and effective management.

“It’s really about knowing all facets of your business,” he said. “Know your numbers and never give up. And when you get kicked down, keep picking yourself up.”

Seana Smith

Boss Rewards 800 Staff with Caribbean Cruise

Employees at an Iowa cabinet company are about to get a sunny reprieve from the winter cold, all thanks to the boss. All of the more than 800 employees of Bertch Cabinets in Waterloo, Iowa will get a free trip to the Caribbean next month. company president Gary Bertch said “We leave January 8, We’ve got four charter aircraft that will be flying directly to Miami Sunday and staying at a nice five-star hotel. Then on Monday, we’ll bus over from the hotel to the port and load up on the ship.” Bertch told his employees the trip was a reward for them after the company meet its goals for the year.

Danny Meyer’s New Union Square Cafe Location

Union Square Cafe is the restaurant that led Danny Meyer to open a slew of hits including Gramercy Tavern, 11 Madison Park and Shake Shack. Meyer opened Union Square Cafe in 1985 and the restaurant thrived until a major rent increase forced him to relocate. Bloomberg Pursuits restaurant editor Kate Krader sat down with Danny Meyer at Union Square Cafe’s new Manhattan location as he was putting on the finishing touches before opening night.

Amazon Shipped 1 Billion Items Over The Holiday Season

Enlarge ImageEcho devices dominated holiday shopping lists from November 1 to December 19. Amazon Prime is really giving Santa Claus a run for his money. The Seattle-based retailer giant shipped more than 1 billion items around the world for the holiday season, more than five times its sales last holiday season, between November 1 to December 19. The Echo Dot was the most coveted gift out of the hundreds of millions of items shipped from Amazon, which quickly sold out. “Despite our best efforts and ramped-up production, we still had trouble keeping them in stock,” Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s CEO of Worldwide Consumers said.

A standout year for technology giant Samsung, but not for the right reasons

The South Korean smartphone maker’s flagship Galaxy Note 7 device came to market ahead of the latest iPhone and sales were brisk, until reports started coming in of handsets overheating and catching fire.

Recalls and battery changes failed to fix the problem; airlines banned the phones from their flights, and Samsung eventually had to make the decision to stop producing its star product.