Data Problems Hit O2 Mobile Network

Data Problems Hit O2 Mobile Network
cO2 has 25 million customers, but also provides services for the Sky, Tesco, Giffgaff and Lycamobile networks which have another seven million users. Many users took to Twitter to complain about the difficulties, which were first reported at about 05:30.

Data Problems Hit O2 Mobile Network

An O2 spokesperson said a software issue identified by a third-party supplier was to blame for the outage.

“We believe other mobile operators around the world are also affected. Our technical teams are working with their teams to ensure this is fixed as quickly as possible,” she said. “We’d encourage our customers to use wi-fi wherever they can and we apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

O2 is the second-largest mobile network in the country, behind EE.

Voice calls are unaffected by the problem.

The outage is having knock-on effects for other services that rely on the O2 network, including Transport for London’s electronic timetable service at bus stops, which has stopped working.

 

UK’s Richest Man Eyes North Sea Oil and Gas Fields

UK’s Richest Man Eyes North Sea Oil and Gas Fields
Britain’s richest man Jim Ratcliffe is hoping to extend his grip on the North Sea by buying oil and gas fields from US giant ConocoPhillips. Mr Ratcliffe’s company Ineos and ConocoPhillips have both confirmed that they are in exclusive talks.

Among the assets up for grabs is Conoco’s 6.5% stake in the Clair field, west of Shetland. The field potentially has 7 billion barrels of oil in place, according to BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley.

BP recently bought a 16.5% stake in the Clair field from ConocoPhillips, giving the UK oil giant a total holding of 45.1%.

Reports suggest that the assets ConocoPhillips is selling could be worth as much as $3bn (£2.3bn). They do not include the company’s oil terminal in Teesside or its commercial trading group based in London.

The North Sea is still a relatively new area for Mr Ratcliffe and Ineos.

The billionaire, whose £21bn fortune makes him the UK’s richest man according to the Sunday Times rich list, has traditionally invested in speciality chemicals businesses.

Ineos owns the Grangemouth oil refinery site in Scotland which manufactures a range of petrochemicals that are used in a wide range of products including bottles, food packaging and in the pharmaceuticals industry.

Ineos first acquired a number of North Sea gas fields in 2015 before it buying up the oil and gas business owned by Denmark’s Dong Energy for £1bn two years later.

The Sunday Times reported that Ineos had put down a deposit in exchange for three months of exclusive talks with ConocoPhillips.

Ineos declined to comment.

Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn Arrested over ‘Misconduct’

Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn Arrested over ‘Misconduct’
The BBC are reporting that Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has been arrested over claims of financial misconduct, the carmaker has said. Mr Ghosn, a towering figure in the car industry, will be sacked from the Japanese firm after a board meeting on Thursday, its chief executive said. He has been accused of “significant acts of misconduct”, including under-reporting his pay package and personal use of company assets.

Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn Arrested over 'Misconduct'

Nissan said it was unable to give further details on the offences.

Japanese prosecutors have yet to comment on Mr Ghosn’s arrest.

Nissan is the world’s sixth-largest carmaker and its site in Sunderland is the UK’s biggest car plant.

“I feel despair, indignation and resentment.” said Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa at a news conference. As the details are disclosed I believe that people will feel the same way as I feel today,” he added.

Mr Saikawa said Nissan would now try to “stabilise the situation, and normalise day-to-day operations” for staff and business partners.

It said it had been conducting an internal investigation for several months, prompted by a whistleblower.

According to Japanese media reports, which have not been confirmed, he under-reported an amount totalling 5bn yen ($44m; £34m) over a five-year period from 2011.

Mr Saikawa said he believed the misconduct “went on for a long period”.

From 2010, Japanese firms have been required to disclose the salaries of executives who earn more than 100m yen.

UK Retail Sales Hit by Mild Autumn

UK Retail Sales Hit by Mild Autumn
Retail sales fell by a worse-than-expected 0.5% in October, after a mild autumn hit sales of winter clothes. Sales at household goods stores fell 3% following a particularly strong August and September, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

For the three months to October, retail sales rose 0.4% – a considerable slowdown from the 2.3% increase recorded for the three months to July.

Analysts said October’s fall suggested shoppers were cutting back spending. Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics said the drop was the “first real sign that consumers are tightening their purse strings due to uncertainty about Brexit”.

Non-food sales fell 1.3%, with a 1% decline in clothing sales, which he said could not be blamed on the weather.

“Consumers’ confidence already has weakened in recent months due to concerns about the economic outlook and we doubt households are feeling any surer that a no-deal Brexit will be avoided after this week’s political turbulence,” Mr Tombs said.

“Unless the government miraculously manages to force the current withdrawal agreement through parliament soon, growth in consumers’ spending will weaken markedly in the fourth quarter.”

Thomas Pugh at Capital Economics said some of October’s weakness may reflect consumers delaying spending ahead of “Black Friday” discounts this month. “High oil prices also weighed on the volume of fuel sold. As such, we suspect that there could be a rebound in sales volumes in November a

Royal Mail Profits Halve

Royal Mail Profits Halve
Half-year profits at Royal Mail have tumbled after the company failed to cut costs as quickly as hoped. Pre-tax profit more than halved to £33m for the six months to 23 September despite a 1% rise in revenues to just over £4.9bn. Revenue from its GLS European parcel operations was up 9%, offsetting a 1% fall in the UK parcels and letters.

Royal Mail Profits Halve

Chief executive Rico Back said Royal Mail had put a “range of actions” in place to improve performance. “There will be a greater emphasis on how we connect customers, companies and countries through our domestic and international businesses. There will be a clearer focus on financial performance and management accountability,” he said.

Growth in online shopping helped drive a 6% rise in revenues for the UK parcels business, but total revenue from letters was down 7%. Adjusted pre-tax profit was down 27% to £183m.

Royal Mail warned on profits at the start of October in an unscheduled update after revealing that cost savings would be just £100m this year rather than the £230m forecast, sending shares down almost a fifth.

The company reiterated its commitment to the £100m target for the 2018-19 financial year and Mr Back said the management team was “focused on pulling all the short and medium-term levers at our disposal to improve our performance”.

It said it would update investors on its strategy in March next year.

“This is a great company with great brands. We have, by far, the best delivery network in the UK: our ability to deliver most of our letters and parcels together is a major asset,” said Mr Back, who took over from Moya Green as chief executive earlier this year.

“Royal Mail has been in existence in one form or another for over 500 years. We have transformed ourselves many times before.”

 

Chanel Chooses London for Global Office

Chanel Chooses London for Global Office
The luxury goods maker Chanel has told the BBC it’s elected to set up its global office in the UK. For the first time in its 110-year history, the brand is gathering the majority of its global business functions under one roof.

Chanel, renowned for its tweed suits, handbags and perfume, had global sales of over £7bn last year, and employs more than 20,000 people. It has over 30 million social media followers on Instagram.

Chanel Chooses London for Global Office

Chanel told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it “wanted to simplify the structure of the business and London is the most appropriate place to do that for an international company. London is the most central location for our markets, uses the English language and has strong corporate governance standards with its regulatory and legal requirements”.

The decision – which is understood to involve dozens of jobs – means that Chanel has picked London as the base for its global team over other locations such as New York, or even its creative hub of Paris.

Chanel, whose Little Black Dress has come to epitomise the label’s Parisian heritage, is retaining its head designer Karl Lagerfeld and his team in the French capital.

Justine Picardie, editor-in-chief of Harpers’ Bazaar and Coco Chanel’s biographer, hailed the move as a mark of the global powerhouse’s confidence in the UK’s long-term prospects.

She pointed out that it also moves Chanel closer to one of its fastest growing customer bases with “spending on luxury goods by affluent London households being only second to Hong Kong, in terms of growth”. She added: “Chanel leads the way. My strong intuition is that other (luxury brands) will follow.”

The reasons Chanel gives for its decision echoes those cited by the likes of banks and manufacturers who’ve opted to move operations to the UK over the years.

The news comes as many businesses voice concerns about the continued uncertainty over Brexit and future trading arrangements, and the impact that may have on investment and jobs.

Chanel’s decision will be welcome news to British designers as London Fashion Week gets underway. They’re potentially facing upheaval to their supply chains in the form of tariffs, delays at the border and exchange rate volatility in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Such concerns could, according to Paul Alger, of the Fabrics and Textiles Association, make buyers at catwalk shows hesitate to place orders, which would be due for delivery next spring.

The fashion industry contributed over £32bn to the UK industry in 2017, according to the British Fashion Council. That’s an increase of 5.4% on 2016, making it one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy.

 

Tax Cut for Self Employed Workers Scrapped

Tax Cut for Self Employed Workers Scrapped
A planned tax cut for 2.7m self-employed workers has been scrapped by the UK government. It was originally due to scrap Class 2 National Insurance contributions in April but the move had been delayed by a year and has now been shelved. It cited concerns that low-earning self-employed people would pay more to access the state pension, and it would make the tax system more complex.

Labour’s John McDonnell called it a “betrayal of the self-employed”.

The government was originally due to scrap Class 2 NI contributions, paid by self-employed people with profits of £6,205 or more a year, in April 2018 but last year announced it was delaying that for a year.

But it announced on Thursday that they would not now be abolished in this Parliament. The move was set to save millions of workers about £150 a year.

But there had been concerns that the move would hit more than 300,000 self-employed people earning less than £6,000 a year who were paying the Class 2 NICs voluntarily, in order to access the state pension. They would have faced being moved to Class 3 contributions, raising weekly payments from £2.95 to £14.65.

In a written statement, Treasury Minister Robert Jenrick said the change had been intended to simplify the tax system for the self-employed but it had “become clear” that a “significant number” of self-employed people with the lowest profits would have ended up paying more.

“Having listened to those likely to be affected by this change, we have concluded that it would not be right to proceed during this Parliament, given the negative impacts it could have on some of the lowest earning in our society,” it said.

Trying to address the concerns would have meant “greater complexity to the tax system, undermining the original objective of the policy”. He added: “The government remains committed to simplifying the tax system for the self-employed and will keep this issue under review in the context of the wider tax system and the sustainability of the public finances.”

But shadow chancellor Mr McDonnell said: “This is yet another betrayal of the self-employed. These people are the engine of the economy and have been let down again, while giant corporations have seen their tax bills slashed.”

The Federation of Small Businesses said it would hit more than three million people and would “net the Treasury more than £350m annually in the three years to 2021”.

FSB Chairman Mike Cherry said the Treasury “should have worked harder” to find ways to protect low-earners.

“The self-employed community has been let down today, missing out on a promise to reduce their tax burden. This raises serious questions once again about the government’s commitment to supporting the self-employed. ” He added: “Class 2 NICs is a regressive levy that indiscriminately hits sole traders and makes life even tougher for those who are hard-up.”

Google & Mastercard in Credit Card Data Deal

Google & Mastercard in Credit Card Data Deal
Google has reportedly bought Mastercard credit card data in the US to help it track users’ offline spending in stores. The two firms had not made the deal public but it was discovered by Bloomberg.

Mastercard denied suggestions that its data could be used to identify exact purchases.

The Open Rights Group told the BBC the confidential nature of the deal raised privacy issues.

“This raises serious concerns regarding the use of private financial data,” said legal director Myles Jackman. “Will Mastercard be compensating their clients for the data they have given away to Google for their own financial gain?”

Google says all the data is anonymised and that users can opt out of ad tracking by switching off the web and app activity control.

It is testing a service for ad buyers in the US that shows how digital ads influence in-store spending.

On its website, the firm claims that advertisers who qualify to use its “store sales management” service can see whether an ad click or video view results in an in-store purchase within 30 days.

Google said the service was a test product in the US and only available to certain ad buyers. It launched the ad tool in 2017.

“Before we launched this beta product last year, we built a new, double-blind encryption technology that prevents both Google and our partners from viewing our respective users’ personally identifiable information,” the firm said in a statement.

“We do not have access to any personal information from our partners’ credit and debit cards, nor do we share any personal information with our partners.

Mastercard told the BBC it offers its own “media measurement services” to retailers, in which the merchant provides advertising campaign details and it supplies spending data for the duration of the campaign.

“We only provide merchants and their designated service providers trends based on aggregated and anonymised data, such as the merchant’s average ticket size and sales volumes,” said a spokesman. “We do not provide insights that track, serve up ads to, or even measure ad effectiveness relating to, individual consumers.”

Funding Circle to Raise £300m with Listing

Funding Circle to Raise £300m with Listing
Funding Circle, the peer-to-peer lender, plans to raise £300 million by listing on the stock market in London. The firm offers loans to small businesses in the US, Germany and the Netherlands as well as the UK and the funds will be used to expand in new markets.

Funding CircleFunding Circle said the listing would help “engender trust” with investors, borrowers and regulators.

The venture was founded in London in August 2010.

Under its business model, small firms can apply to borrow money from a pool of funds supplied by individuals or firms. The arrangement cuts out banks, hence the term peer-to-peer.

It is the first such lender to float on the London stock market and could be valued at up to £2bn.

Since 2010 Funding Circle has lent more than £5bn in loans to 50,000 small businesses from 80,000 investors – including some £1bn in the first half of this year. Revenue jumped to £63m in the first half of 2018, up from £41m in the same period last year.

Loans under management as at the end of June were more than £2.5bn.

Samir Desai, chief executive and co-founder of Funding Circle, told the BBC it was a “very simple business. We allow anyone to lend money directly to small businesses, cutting out the banks. We are not a savings product.”

Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are acting as advisers for the IPO.

As part of the share sale, Danish billionaire Anders Povlsen will take a 10% stake in the firm. His holding company, Heartland, is a major investor in online fashion retailers Asos and Zalando.

 

Workers in Open Plan Offices are ‘More Active’

Workers in Open Plan Offices are ‘More Active’
Workers in open-plan offices are more active and less stressed than those with desks in cubicles or private offices, research suggests. This could be because they make the effort to find privacy to talk away from their desk, the researchers said.

The US study used chest sensors to track movement and heart rate in hundreds of people in different buildings over three days. The potential health benefits should not be ignored, they said. But they said the study was observational only and factors like location of stairs and lifts could be at play too.

The University of Arizona study, published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine, claims to be the first to measure activity and stress in office workers, rather than asking them in a survey.

It said office workers tended to be a sedentary group compared to other workers, making them more likely to have health issues, including heart problems, tiredness and low mood.

Being less active during working hours has also been linked to greater feelings of stress.

In the study of 231 office workers in government buildings in the US, those in open-plan offices – with no partitions between desks – clocked up 32% more physical activity than workers in private offices and 20% more than those in cubicles. And those who were more active had 14% lower levels of stress outside the office compared to those who were less active.

Participants in the study also answered questions about their current mood every hour on their smartphones during work time. Older office workers were more likely to have higher stress levels. The most stressed people at work were also those who were highly stressed at home too. On the whole, men were more active than women.

Esther Sternberg, study author and professor at University of Arizona College of Medicine, said: “We all know we should be increasing our activity but no matter how we try to encourage people to engage in healthy behaviour, it doesn’t work for long. “So changing office design to encourage healthy behaviour is a passive way of getting people to be more active.”

Although people tend to like individual offices or cubicles more because they are more private, the researchers found open plan offices could have other benefits, such as better communication, more impromptu conversations and increased awareness of colleagues.

The researchers said other design features could also affect activity levels – such as how people circulate in their offices, where meeting spaces are located and how accessible stairs and lifts are.