• Cobham sale is a bad deal but not a national security threat Link
    Guardian Business Wed 18 Sep 2019 18:31
  • Airbus forecasts 48,000 aircraft to be in operation by 2038 Link
    Guardian Business Wed 18 Sep 2019 17:00

    The number of commercial aircraft in operation will more than double in the next 20 years to 48,000 planes worldwide, Airbus has forecast.

    The European aerospace company said that despite mounting concerns about the effects of aviation and the climate crisis, it believes air travel will continue to grow rapidly.

    Urbanisation and development will mean the emerging global middle class of air passengers could rise 50% by 2038 to almost 6 billion people.

    Most of the expected 4.3% annual growth in air traffic will occur in the Asia-Pacific region, where demand for new planes is set to surpass that of Europe and North America combined.

    Airbus executives said that aviation growth had proved resilient in the face of economic and geopolitical shocks, such as war and oil price rises, and they expected it to continue.

    Last year, the growth in flying exceeded predictions, with the number of flights per year up by 280 million. Christian...

  • House prices in Britain rising at slowest rate for seven years Link
    Guardian Business Wed 18 Sep 2019 16:30

    House prices in Britain are rising at the slowest annual rate for seven years as Brexit uncertainty dampens consumer demand.

    Dragged down by steep declines in London and the south, national house price growth for the country at large dropped to 0.7% in July from 1.4% a month earlier, hitting the slowest growth rate since 2012, said the Office for National Statistics.

    House prices fell in four of nine English regions, with the biggest decline in the north-east where the average cost of a home slid by 2.9% over the year. The average property price for the country at large increased over the year by £2,000 to stand at £233,000 in July.

    The north-east remains the cheapest place to buy a home, at £127,000, and is the only region of Britain where prices have yet to rise above the level recorded before the 2008 financial crisis hit.

  • Our quiet county has nothing against McDonald’s. But we prefer our own burgers | Helen Walmsley-Johnson Link
    Guardian Business Wed 18 Sep 2019 15:00
  • British Airways pilots call off second September strike Link
    Guardian Business Wed 18 Sep 2019 14:30

    British Airways pilots have called off a strike due next Friday, the union said.

    The second strike, following action on 9 and 10 September, was scheduled for 27 September.

    The British Airline Pilots Association said the first strikes had “demonstrated the anger and resolve of pilots” and it “was now time for a period of reflection before the dispute escalates further and irreparable damage is done to the brand”.

    The union said it hoped BA would now negotiate seriously with a view to ending the long-running pay dispute.

    BA has already cancelled passengers’ flights for next week. Around 1,700 services were cancelled in the strike action this month.

    Balpa said it could still announce further strike dates if BA refused to hold meaningful new negotiations.

    More follows…

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  • Have you been affected by the closure of pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond? Link
    Guardian Business Wed 18 Sep 2019 13:00

    Pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond has been criticised for “woefully inadequate” communication with customers after the company closed its shops and website last Friday.

    The National Pawnbrokers Association (NPA), the UK trade body of which Albemarle & Bond is a member, said it was receiving hundreds of calls a day from concerned customers who had been unable to get through to a helpline set up by the pawnbroker.

    Ray Perry, NPA chief executive, said there were only 10 people working in Albemarle & Bond’s contact centre and they had been overwhelmed by demands for information. A statement on the company’s website said that it would transfer all existing accounts to its pawnbroking centre and would not sell any items without first speaking to customers.

  • Executive who worked for Ireland's former richest man abducted and beaten Link
    Guardian Business Wed 18 Sep 2019 12:00

    An executive running companies once owned by one of Ireland’s richest men has been found at the side of a road near the Irish border after being abducted and assaulted in a “horrific attack”.

    The Police Service of Northern Ireland believe Kevin Lunney was abducted near his home north of the border in Co Fermanagh and seriously assaulted before being dumped on a roadside in the Republic.

    Lunney, 50, was found by local residents just before 9pm on Tuesday night with a broken leg and other non life-threatening injuries.

    It is the latest in a series of incidents to have hit Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) in Co Cavan since the former billionaire and entrepreneur Seán Quinn lost control of his businesses under the weight of €2bn (£1.8bn) debts.

    The building materials and packaging company said it feared that someone would be killed unless the violence, which the police believe is being conducted by those who remain loyal to Quinn,...

  • China to auction 10,000 tonnes of pork from state reserves Link
    Guardian Business Wed 18 Sep 2019 11:30

    China will auction 10,000 tonnes of pork from its state reserves as surging prices threaten to mar an important political holiday.

    The sale on Thursday will be limited to 300 tonnes a bidder, according to the China Merchandise Reserve Management Centre.

  • Pendragon gives bleak outlook for the year as it reports first-half loss Link
    Guardian Business Wed 18 Sep 2019 09:00

    Pendragon, Britain’s biggest car dealer, blamed political and Brexit uncertainty as the company said its annual loss would meet its worst expectations and announced 300 job cuts.

    The company slumped to an underlying pretax loss of more than £32m for the six months to the end of June from a profit of more than £28m a year earlier. Including a £102m charge for the reduced value of its business and assets such as property, the first-half loss was £130m compared with a £21m profit the year before.

    The loss was mainly caused by Pendragon cutting prices to clear excess stock at its Car Store used vehicle business and falling prices in the wider market. Pendragon, whose other brands are Stratstone and Evans Halshaw, said it would close 22 of 34 Car Store branches and a preparation centre in Stoke with the loss of about 300 jobs.

    Pendragon said: “The heightened political and Brexit uncertainty, as to both outcome and timing, is adversely...

  • Leadsom intervenes in takeover of defence supplier Cobham Link
    Guardian Business Wed 18 Sep 2019 07:30

    The government has intervened in the £4bn takeover of Cobham, a UK aerospace and defence supplier, by a US private equity firm on the grounds of national security.

    In a rare move, Andrea Leadsom, the business secretary, has instructed the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate the takeover of Cobham, a world leader in systems for planes to refuel in mid-air, by Advent International.

    Leadsom said: “Following careful consideration of the proposed takeover of Cobham, I have issued an intervention notice on the grounds of national security. The government’s goals are to support private sector innovation whilst safeguarding the public interest.”

    Shares in Cobham fell more than 1% in early trading following the minister’s announcement. Leadsom, who was appointed business secretary by Boris Johnson in July, has told the CMA to report back by 29 October.

    Shareholders on Monday approved the sale of Cobham, established 85 years ago...

  • Markets brace for UK inflation data and Fed rate decision – business live Link
    Guardian Business Wed 18 Sep 2019 07:00

    Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

    Two issues dominate the City today – August’s UK inflation data, and a likely US interest rate cut.

    Following a heavy barrage of criticism from president Trump, the Federal Reserve seems certain to cut interest rates at the end of its policy meeting today. This would be the second rate cut in under two month.

    The Fed will probably lower borrowing costs by a quarter-point, from 2% to 1.75%. It could cite the global slowdown, the impact of the trade war with China, Brexit, and even the latest geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East.

    But it’s a difficult decision. Some US economic data has weakened recently – the factory PMI went into contraction last month for the first time in a decade.

    But other indicators, such as retail sales, look strong -- so the Fed may dampen expectations of further...

  • Importers stockpile alcohol for Christmas to avoid Brexit drought Link
    Guardian Business Tue 17 Sep 2019 23:35

    Companies across Britain have begun stockpiling beer, wine and spirits to keep the alcohol flowing at Christmas as concerns grow that Brexit could disrupt supplies over the festive period.

    Rushing to bring forward their imports, firms warn that the Brexit deadline on 31 October stands to clash with the run-up to Christmas, when import volumes rise, temporary staff are employed and warehouse space is at a premium.

    More than a fifth of companies have taken steps to import stocks earlier than usual to avoid any border disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to a survey from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (Cips).

    John Glen, an economist at Cips, said alcohol wholesalers in particular had started stockpiling imports from the EU in recent weeks, rather than waiting until November as usual.

    “It’s particularly wine from the EU,” he said. “Companies have bought well ahead of Christmas this year, due to...

  • WeWork's IPO delay a blow to Japanese investment giant Softbank Link
    Guardian Business Tue 17 Sep 2019 22:05

    WeWork’s decision to delay its public share offering after a lacklustre response from investors comes as a blow to Softbank, the Japanese investment giant that has thrown serious sums at several successful tech “unicorns” – and watched as some companies it has backed have floundered.

    The WeWork delay saves Softbank, the brainchild of Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son, from having to write down the value of its $10.65bn investment in WeWork through its Saudi-backed Vision Fund.

    Last week Softbank was reportedly urging WeWork, or the We Company as it now known, to postpone its offering. Valuation of the company dropped to around $5bn- $10bn, less than a quarter of the $47bn originally envisioned.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, WeWork is expected to wait until mid-October “at the earliest” to start its investor roadshow. Softbank, its largest investor, reportedly wants the share offering pushed back further.

    WeWork is in a...

  • Japanese parent company pulls plug on Albemarle & Bond over Brexit Link
    Guardian Business Tue 17 Sep 2019 20:04

    The Japanese company behind the pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond pulled the plug on the business amid concern that its losses would increase after Brexit, it has emerged, shedding light on the mysterious closure of its 113 shops last week.

    Albemarle & Bond and its sister company Herbert Brown pulled down their shutters without warning last Friday, leaving customers concerned that they may never retrieve their belongings, pawned for short-term cash.

    The Tokyo-based parent company Daikokuya Holdings has so far offered no update to customers on the future of Speedloan Finance, the UK subsidiary that owns the two pawnbroking brands and employs nearly 400 staff.

    But in a statement issued to investors in Japan, it said: “Since acquiring Speedloan Finance in October 2014, the company (Daikokuya Holdings) has been working to improve its management.

    “However, despite the implementation of various measures to improve management such as...

  • Britons are still worse off than in 2008, new research claims Link
    Guardian Business Tue 17 Sep 2019 18:34

    Britons are £128 a year worse off on average than they were in 2008, according to a report that reveals household incomes were hit harder in the wake of the financial crash than official figures have revealed.

    The New Economics Foundation said figures used to calculate GDP, which is adjusted to take account of rising prices, failed to include essential items that affected the cost of living over the last 10 years.

    The report argues that tax increases pushed through by former chancellor George Osborne as part of the coalition government’s austerity measures were excluded from the calculation of GDP.

    It adds that the impact of the falling pound, especially since the Brexit vote, has been underestimated in GDP calculations, while rising housing costs were also excluded.

  • Lack of decent jobs fuels UK drugs trade | Letters Link
    Guardian Business Tue 17 Sep 2019 17:34
  • Virgin Atlantic plans to take on British Airways for Heathrow flights Link
    Guardian Business Tue 17 Sep 2019 17:04

    Virgin Atlantic has laid out plans to expand its network of international routes by more than 400% and challenge the dominance of British Airways at an expanded Heathrow.

    The airline said its ambitious proposals would mean more choice and lower fares for passengers.

    However, Virgin acknowledged growth would depend on how the government chooses to allocate the hundreds of new daily slots available at the London airport after the third runway is built, possibly by 2026.

    Virgin currently flies to 19 long-haul destinations from Heathrow, but wants to serve 103 airports including European and domestic routes, and become a “second flag carrier”.

    The airline said the government could put “an end to IAG’s [International Airlines Group] stranglehold over the UK’s only hub airport” by allowing a serious competitor to emerge. IAG, the parent company of BA, as well as Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling, controls more than half of Heathrow’s...

  • French Connection extends deadline to find buyer Link
    Guardian Business Tue 17 Sep 2019 16:09

    Ailing fashion chain French Connection has extended its deadline to find a buyer until the end of January as it revealed further losses and falling sales.

    Shares in the 47-year-old group fell more than 10% to 38p on Tuesday as it delayed the conclusion of a strategic review for the second time. Less than 12 months ago the shares were worth 61p.

    The retailer first announced it was looking at “strategic options”, including a sale of the business, in October last year. At that time the retailer said it expected to reach a conclusion in early 2019.

    On Tuesday it said discussions about a potential sale were “still ongoing with a number of parties” but “further time is required to bring the process to a successful conclusion”.

    Potential buyers are likely to include Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, which owns 26% of French Connection. Any deal would need the backing of Stephen Marks, the group’s chairman and chief executive, who owns a 41%...

  • The Body Shop goes green again with refill stations and 'activist zones' Link
    Guardian Business Tue 17 Sep 2019 13:44

    The Body Shop has opened a new UK concept store to test out a range ofshopping experiences, as it marks a return to the activist roots of its late founder, the environmental and human rights campaigner Anita Roddick.

    As well as a dedicated “activist” zone to encourage shoppers to to be part of a collective of local campaigners, new ideas being trialled in the central London outlet include a refill station – initially just for shower gels – which the ethical chain scrapped in the late 1990s after customers failed to understand how it worked.

    The new-look store is a refurbishment of the original 1,200 sq ft outlet opposite Bond Street tube station – the busiest of its 242-strong UK portfolio with strong footfall driven by office workers as well as tourists.

    The Body Shop managing director, Linda Campbell, said the global beauty brand was hoping to revive the spirit of its founder, who died in 2007, with environmental and community-minded...

  • Wall Street investment giants voting against key climate resolutions Link
    Guardian Business Tue 17 Sep 2019 13:14

    Some of Wall Street’s largest asset management companies are failing to live up to commitments to use their voting power to fight the climate crisis, according to a new report.

    The report, published on Tuesday by the Washington DC-based Majority Action and the Climate Majority Project, claims that BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest asset manager with more than $6tn under management, and Vanguard, with assets of $5.2tn, have voted overwhelmingly against the key climate resolutions at energy companies, including a resolution at ExxonMobil’s annual shareholder meeting, and at Duke Energy.

    Had BlackRock and Vanguard not torpedoed these investor efforts, at least 16 climate-critical shareholder resolutions at S&P 500 companies would have received majority support in 2019, representing a significant corporate shift on climate, the report claims.

  • Plan for huge Yorkshire mine in doubt as firm pulls £400m bond sale Link
    Guardian Business Tue 17 Sep 2019 11:14

    The construction of a huge fertiliser mine in the North York Moors has been thrown into doubt after the company behind it, Sirius Minerals, pulled plans for a $500m (£403m) fundraising, blaming difficult global market conditions and lack of support from the UK government.

    The company had already postponed the bond issue last month and chief executive Chris Fraser said “due to the ongoing poor bond market conditions” Sirius would not be able to go ahead with it. He saida request for government support was turned down.

    The company’s shares plunged 52% to 4.8p after the announcement on Tuesday.

    Sirius has been forced to slow development of the project and will carry out a major review of its business, while looking for a strategic partner for the project , which involves digging the world’s biggest polyhalite (multi-nutrient fertilizer) mine near Whitby in North Yorkshire.

    Russ Mould, the investment director at stockbroker AJ Bell,...

  • Restaurateurs are leading the way in loan approvals – but they need a side of caution | Gene Marks Link
    Guardian Business Tue 17 Sep 2019 10:14
  • WeWork delays $20bn IPO after struggling to interest investors Link
    Guardian Business Tue 17 Sep 2019 07:44

    WeWork, the US office-sharing company, has postponed its stock market flotation after receiving a lukewarm response from investors.

    WeWork’s parent, the We Company, had planned to launch an investor roadshow this week to drum up interest in its $20bn (£16bn) share sale, slashed from an initial valuation of $47bn. It hoped to price and list its shares next week, but has put the plans on ice amid operating losses and corporate governance issues.

    The We Company said it still aimed to complete the flotation before the end of the year.

  • Oil price shock leaves markets on edge, as WeWork postpones float – business live Link
    Guardian Business Tue 17 Sep 2019 06:44

    Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

    Global stock markets are extremely edgy today as investors worry about rising tensions in the Middle East.

    Last weekend’s attack on Saudi Arabia’s massive oil facility at Abqaiq, and America’s threat of military response, has knocked shares around the world and driven oil prices alarmingly higher.

    Fears of supply shortages drove crude prices alarmingly higher on Monday, up over 14%. Brent crude spiked to $69 per barrel, the biggest one-day jump since the 1980s. US crude finished at $62, the biggest one-day move since the financial crisis.

    The jump in oil prices has hit airline stocks. Higher crude prices could mean slower global growth -- hurting banks, industrial firms and consumer goods makers.

    Last night, the US Dow Jones lost 142 points, or 0.5%. Stocks have fallen in Asia overnight, with...

  • Chinese takeover of Bellamy's infant formula would benefit tax-haven entities Link
    Guardian Business Tue 17 Sep 2019 06:19

    More than $176m will find its way to a mysterious entity in the Caribbean tax haven Curaçao linked to Kathmandu founder Jan Cameron if a proposed takeover of the infant formula company Bellamy’s Australia by a Chinese group goes ahead.

    The $1.5bn takeover bid, lodged by Hong Kong-listed China Mengniu Dairy Company, has drawn fire from Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie because one of Mengniu’s key shareholders is a company owned by the Chinese state, the China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation (Cofco).

    Bellamy’s success has been driven by the immense popularity of Australian infant formula in mainland China following a scandal in 2008 in which the local product was adulterated with melamine, killing several children and sending several thousand to hospital.

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