Oct 22, 2017

UK companies step up battle to rein in pension costs

British companies are stepping up efforts to rein in pension costs with controversial measures aimed at lowering retirement payouts for former staff. With the collective pension deficit - or shortfall between assets and liabilities - of FTSE 350 companies sitting at about £65bn, employers are looking for ways to control their future payout costs. Carillion, a major UK government contractor that employs 50,000 people worldwide and is facing significant challenges after reporting a first half...

Oct 22, 2017

Carlyle joins battle for OMGI fund business

US private equity group Carlyle has joined the heated takeover battle for Old Mutual Global Investors' £25bn fund business, with four parties now bidding for the investment arm run by star UK manager Richard Buxton. Carlyle joins Challenger and Macquarie Investment Management, two Australian financial services groups, and TA Associates, a buyout specialist that previously invested in British fund management boutique Jupiter, according to two people close to the process. Goldman Sachs is...

Oct 20, 2017

Ryanair hire Peter Bellew flies into new challenge

Just days before Malaysia Airlines' chief executive Peter Bellew announced he would be leaving to move back to his former employer, Ryanair, the Irishman donned his guitar and sang at an industry dinner in London. Mr Bellew worked in a variety of roles at Ryanair for almost a decade before ending his time there as director of flight operations in 2014. One industry executive, who has known Mr Bellew for two decades, says he is not a typical Ryanair director. "It always struck me that . . ....

Oct 20, 2017

Nissan halts production in Japan over inspection concerns

Nissan shares fell 2% on Friday after the firm suspended domestic production for two weeks over concerns with its inspection procedures. Earlier this month Nissan recalled 1.2m cars after uncertified inspectors conducted checks on domestic models. Nissan has declined to directly confirm or deny the NHK report. Checks by uncertified technicians continued even after Nissan had said it had strengthened its inspection processes, when the issue first came to light late last month. Nissan will...

Oct 20, 2017

Thames Water: freshwater leaches

Thames Water, whose recent mea culpa report into burst pipes followed an £8.5m fine, has nothing on the Amasya Water Utility Department. So the "Sustainable economic level of leakage" for areas such as Amasya, from whose mountains plentiful rain water runs, is commonly 48 per cent. The sustainable level can be as low as 9 per cent in dense urban areas with expensive water treatment. Last year leakage at Thames Water was 26 per cent, and the target for 2020 is 24 per cent. It looks likely that...

Oct 20, 2017

New Great Western Railway trains fixed after software upgrade

New trains which were taken out of service after problems hampered their first days in use, have been fixed. They were stopped on Wednesday with issues including water leaking from air conditioning systems on to commuters. On Monday, the first of the four Intercity Express Trains destined for Wales from London was cancelled. Great Western Railway said the faster and bigger trains, which are designed to run for the next 27 years, are working again after a software upgrade. They were retested...

Oct 20, 2017

Universal credit: Tory peer criticises 'insane' wait for payments

Next retail boss and Tory peer Lord Wolfson says a six-week wait for benefit payments "Must be wrong". He told a BBC Question Time audience that the government could borrow money more cheaply than anyone else while those waiting for universal credit payments would have to go to the most expensive lenders. "It is insane for the government not to be the borrower, rather than the receiver of benefits," he said.

Oct 20, 2017

Tech firms to remove extremist posts within hours

Tech giants including Facebook, Twitter and Google have agreed to do more to remove extremist content within hours of it being posted. The aim, according to officials, is to remove jihadist content from the internet within two hours. Twitter and Google declined to give further comment. In September, UK prime minister Theresa May said technology companies must go "Further and faster" in removing extremist content. She said then that she wanted such content removed within two hours.

Oct 20, 2017

BMW headquarters searched by EU investigators

BMW has confirmed its head office was searched this week by European Union officials investigating an alleged cartel among five German carmakers. EU investigators are looking into allegations that BMW, Daimler, VW, Audi and Porsche colluded to limit their spending on emissions technology. BMW said EU staff had inspected its Munich offices, adding that it was assisting the regulators in their work. BMW said it wanted to make clear the distinction between potential violations of EU antitrust...

Oct 19, 2017

UK banks 'exposed to money laundering in South Africa'

The UK Chancellor has asked financial regulators and the Serious Fraud Office to review whether banks HSBC and Standard Chartered are linked to a corruption scandal in South Africa. Lord Peter Hain has raised concerns the banks may "Inadvertently have been conduits" for laundered money. A Treasury spokesman said: "We take allegations of financial misconduct very seriously, and have passed Lord Hain's letter on to the Financial Conduct Authority and relevant UK law enforcement agencies,...

Oct 19, 2017

Unilever says emerging markets a bright spot amid poor Q3 weather

Unilever, the consumer goods group that fought off a $143bn takeover bid from Kraft Heinz this year, said growth in its third quarter had been hit by poor weather in Europe and the hurricanes in the Americas but that it was seeing a recovery in demand from some of its biggest emerging markets. The Anglo-Dutch group behind Dove soap, Magnum ice cream and Lipton tea said on Thursday that underlying sales - excluding M&A and at constant currencies - increased by 2.6 per cent on the same quarter...

Oct 19, 2017

Opening Quote: Unilever ‘Connected 4 Growth’; LSE’s Rolet says C U L8R

Unilever's latest strategy is not called "Connected for Growth", but "Connected 4 Growth". Underlying sales growth in the third quarter slowed to 2.6 per cent, having stood at 3 per cent at the half year stage. Having already hit the bottom end of its 3-5 per cent target for like-for-like sales growth in July, Unilever was able to reaffirm that range for the full year. At London Stock Exchange chief executive Xavier Rolet is saying C U L8R and thanks 4 the near-merger. In a separate trading...

Oct 19, 2017

FTSE 100 down at close as Unilever sales slow

Shares in Unilever led the UK market lower after the consumer goods giant reported slowing sales growth. Unilever cited poorer weather in Europe and hurricanes in the US for the sales slowdown. Shares in Unilever were down 3.1% in early trade. In the FTSE 250, shares in IWG plunged 30% after the serviced office provider issued a profit warning. The company said third quarter sales had been weaker than expected, and group operating profit for 2017 was set to be "Materially below" market...

Oct 19, 2017

Unilever hit by weather in Europe and hurricanes in the Americas

Unilever, the consumer goods group that fought off a $143bn takeover bid from Kraft Heinz this year, said growth in its third quarter had been hit by poor weather in Europe and the hurricanes in the Americas. Underlying sales - excluding mergers and acquisition activity and at constant currencies - increased 2.6 per cent on the same quarter last year to €13.2bn. That was below consensus expectations of 3.9 growth and the first-half's 3 per cent rise in underlying sales. Sales in emerging...

Oct 19, 2017

UK retail sales in sharp fall in September, ONS says

Retail sales suffered an unexpectedly sharp fall of 0.8% in September, reversing a jump in August, according to the Office for National Statistics. It meant that third-quarter retail growth slowed to a year-on-year rate of 1.5%, its lowest since the second quarter of 2013. The figures come at the Bank of England contemplates its first interest rate rise in a decade. A fall in the value of sterling has pushed up the price of imported goods. Kate Davies, ONS statistician, said: "There is a...

Oct 19, 2017

Native American tribe sues Amazon and Microsoft

A Native American tribe is suing Amazon and Microsoft for infringing data-processing patents it is holding. The patents were assigned to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe by technology company SRC Labs, and it will receive a share of any award. Tribal sovereignty means that the patents cannot be reviewed by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Democratic US senator Claire McCaskill drafted a bill this month, in response to another attempt to transfer patents to the same tribe. The tribe issued a...

Oct 19, 2017

Amazon: More than 100 cities bid for new headquarters

US cities seeking to bid for Amazon's second headquarters will need to submit their proposals by the end of Thursday. Amazon plans to invest $5bn and create 50,000 new jobs at the new headquarters, which will be a "Full equal" to its Seattle base. More than 100 cities have expressed an interest in hosting Amazon's new headquarters. While the new Amazon base presents an attractive opportunity for many cities and regions, the company is likely to expect billions of dollars in incentives and tax...

Oct 19, 2017

BP chair Carl-Henric Svanberg to retire after 8 turbulent years

BP has launched the search for a new chairman after announcing that Carl-Henric Svanberg will step down after a turbulent eight years in the post. The handover comes at a time when BP is refocusing on growth after years of asset sales and cost cuts in response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster followed by the 2014 oil price crash. Mr Svanberg, 65, who also chairs truckmaker Volvo and was previously chief executive of Ericsson, the Swedish telecoms group, drew criticism for BP's initial,...

Oct 19, 2017

BT adds further legal hurdle to UK spectrum auction

The UK's wireless spectrum auction and the building of 5G networks could be further delayed because of BT extending its legal challenge to Ofcom's plan to open bidding for the airwaves. If Ofcom succeeds in seeing off those challenges, the main thrust of the debate around the auction, a long-awaited sale of spectrum needed to beef up 4G services and launch 5G networks as soon as 2020, can go ahead as soon as March. BT has added a separate element to its challenge related to Three's...

Oct 19, 2017

Unilever needs more deals to weather competitive storm

As the sixth FTSE 350 group to mention the weather in nine days - after Rentokil Initial, Regus owner IWG, Merlin, Dunelm and Domino's Pizza - Unilever found its third quarter update met with a frosty reception. Unilever - given its unique exposure to ice cream, washing powder and deodorant - has some justification for waxing meteorological. In the US, challenger ice cream brand Halo Top took 5 per cent of the market - 1.5 of it from Unilever - in no time at all. Group sales grew at a...

Oct 18, 2017

Shell opens its first UK electric vehicle charging points

Royal Dutch Shell has opened its first charging points for electric vehicles at UK filling stations in a further sign of the Anglo-Dutch group's diversification beyond fossil fuels. The launch on Wednesday follows Shell's acquisition last week of NewMotion, one of Europe's largest EV charging companies with 30,000 private home charging points and 50,000 public sites. As well as building an EV-charging business, Shell has also moved into wind and solar power generation, electricity trading,...

Oct 18, 2017

Amazon and eBay warned by MPs about VAT fraudsters

Amazon and eBay are profiting from sellers who defraud UK taxpayers by failing to charge VAT, according to a report by MPs. The report estimates up to £1.5bn has been lost from third-party sellers on online marketplaces not charging the tax on sales they make in the UK. MPs in the Public Accounts Committee criticised HMRC for being "Too cautious" in pursuing the "Fraudsters". The fraud has increased because foreign firms selling goods to UK shoppers - usually via online marketplaces like...

Oct 18, 2017

Twitter pledges tougher action against abuse

Twitter is planning to impose new restrictions on pornographic and hateful imagery as part of a renewed effort to tackle abuse on its social network. Twitter's chief executive, Jack Dorsey, had said on Friday that he planned to announce a "More aggressive stance" against online abuse this week, after Twitter was criticised for temporarily blocking the account of Rose McGowan - an actress who had accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of rape. The UK government had also recently urged...

Oct 18, 2017

Tesco to start selling green satsumas and clementines

Tesco has announced it will start selling green satsumas and clementines, as part of plans to cut food waste. Higher early season temperatures in Spain have slowed down the natural process by which the skin of the fruit turns orange. Satsumas and clementines actually grow as green fruit to begin with, and the skin only turns to orange as summer wanes and the nights cool. In recent years, warmer temperatures during the early growing season for satsumas in September and October have continued...

Oct 18, 2017

Would you eat green satsumas?

Tesco has announced it will start selling green satsumas but would you be willing to eat them?

Oct 17, 2017

Smiths Group hires new CFO from Dyson

FTSE 100 engineering group Smiths has hired John Shipsey as its new chief financial officer - a role he will assume in January after a handover from Bill Seeger, who himself took on the post on an interim basis in May. Mr Shipsey was the CFO at Dyson for 12 years. He said he was "Excited by the opportunity". Smiths has enjoyed brighter fortunes of late, posting the first rise in half-year profits since 2013 in March, due in part to the weaker pound but also boosted by upbeat demand for...

Oct 17, 2017

Asos profits surge as overseas sales boosted by weak pound

Online fashion retailer Asos has reported record annual sales and profits, boosted by the weak pound and a "Strong international performance". Asos, which targets people in their twenties, also said it had upgraded its outlook for sales growth in the current financial year. It now expects sales to growth by 25-30%. Asos said that UK sales rose by 16% in the past year while international sales shot up by 47% as they were helped by the weaker pound. The retailer exports more than it imports and...

Oct 17, 2017

FTSE 100 flat as Merlin shares slump

Shares in Madame Tussauds owner Merlin Entertainments sank 20% after it said summer trading had been poor due to bad weather and terror attacks. The company, which also runs Legoland theme parks, said it now expected full-year like-for-like revenues to be unchanged from last year. It also forecast full-year earnings of £470m-£480m, compared with analysts' estimates of £490m. The FTSE 100 share index fell 2.27 points to 7,524.70. There was better news from publisher Pearson, which saw its...

Oct 17, 2017

Uber, Lyft, take heart from fellow disrupters and gig responsibly

The sector deploys roughly 50m agency workers each year, according to the World Employment Confederation, the industry body. Europe, the region that was most hostile to these disrupters, is now the second-biggest temp agency market in the world. The rest of the labour market has been so rigid in France that demand has remained high for the employment agencies' flexible workers, in spite of the extra costs. Research suggests temp agencies do help low-skilled young and unemployed people into...

Oct 17, 2017

Legoland owner warns of terrorism impact to its profits

Shares in Legoland-owner Merlin Entertainments have plunged after the company said recent terrorist attacks had continued to hit visitor numbers. Analysts say Merlin's explanation for the dip in popularity of its UK attractions is at odds with official figures which show the number of foreign visitors to Britain over the summer rose. The deal excludes the UK and China and Merlin said it expects to open Peppa Pig attractions in two resort theme parks next year as well as a standalone park in...