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Newspapers: The Times, Independent, FT, Telegraph, Guardian, Mail, Express, Herald 061217

The Times

Peer-to-peer lender Ratesetter loses £23 million after ad investment flops: Ratesetter slumped to a £23 million loss for the year after a disastrous investment in an advertising business. The loss was due in large part to a £14 million write-off on Adpod Limited, which the lender ended up owning after using its own capital to prevent a huge default on its peer-to-peer loan book from hitting investors.

Motor industry blames government as diesel slump hits car sales again: New car registrations have plunged again after a further collapse in the sale of diesel vehicles that is being widely blamed on the government.

GE to pull the plug on 4,500 jobs: General Electric is set to cut 4,500 jobs across Europe. The American conglomerate is swinging the axe after reviewing the energy assets it bought from Alstom, of France, in 2015 for $9.2 billion.

Insurance offer sweetens gig for Deliveroo drivers: Deliveroo has tried to address criticism of how it treats its self-employed workers by offering them an income insurance policy that protects their pay if they get injured or fall ill.

Boom gets $10 million boost from Japan to get superjet off the ground: Boom, the American aerospace company hoping to build a successor to the Concorde supersonic aircraft, has received a $10 million investment from Japan Airlines.

Bank warned High Court of flood of Brexit insurance cases: The Bank of England secretly warned the High Court in a private letter this year to prepare for a deluge of insurance cases aimed at resolving Brexit-related concerns.

The Independent

BMW electric car advert banned for ‘misleading’ zero-emissions environmental claims: An ad for BMW has been banned for falsely claiming that its i3 is a zero-emissions “clean car” that “helps to give back to the environment”.

EU creates blacklist of 17 ‘tax haven’ countries: The European Union has released a blacklist of 17 countries which it says are tax havens, after 10 months of investigations by officials.

Amazon launches in Australia – just in time for Christmas: Amazon.com is now up and running in Australia, offering millions of products and one-day delivery in some areas, seeking to seize a share of the nation’s growing online retail market.

U.K. services sector slows sharply in November as Brexit-related uncertainty hit firms: The U.K.’s dominant services sector slowed sharply in November as Brexit-related uncertainty hit firms, according to the latest survey snapshot.

Financial Times

Glencore creates mining royalty JV with Canadian pension fund: Glencore has formed a joint-venture company to invest in mining royalties around the world, in a deal that gives the Switzerland-based miner greater access to a diverse supply of metals.

Statoil gives go-ahead to delayed Arctic oilfield: Statoil has finally given the go-ahead to a much-delayed but crucial oilfield in the Norwegian Arctic, at a time of intensifying debate about the merits of drilling so far north.

EDF faces forked path to renewable future: In the port of Saint Nazaire on the Atlantic coast, France’s first floating wind turbine is being readied for a trip out into deep water, where it will form part of France’s push into renewable energy.

‘Mr. LNG’ plans to pivot Jera into global trading powerhouse: The world’s largest buyer of liquefied natural gas has vowed to transform itself into a global trading powerhouse as it moves to defend its position as the biggest purchaser of the super-cooled fuel.

Canada’s Laurentian Bank knocked on mortgage buyback costs: Shares in Canada’s seventh-largest bank by assets suffered their biggest fall in almost nine years on Tuesday, after the bank said it has had to buy back C$180 million (U.S.$142 million) of mortgages sold to third parties.

U.K. group adds bitcoin to cross-border payment service: A British digital payments company backed by Lloyds Banking Group and MasterCard is to allow its more than 1 million customers to trade bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies using 25 traditional currencies on their mobile accounts.

Allegern shares sag on promising results for potential Botox rival: Shares in Allergan fell after a biotech group published two late-stage trials of a wrinkle smoothing drug that could rival its all-important Botox franchise.

Nestlé to buy vitamin maker Atrium Innovations for $2.3 billion: Nestlé, the world’s biggest food group, is spending $2.3 billion buying Atrium Innovations, a Canadian nutritional products company, from private equity group Permira as it seeks to pep up its portfolio of consumer healthcare businesses.

Australian regulator to take GSK, Novartis to court: Australia’s competition watchdog is to take local units of GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis to court over alleged false or misleading marketing of pain relief gels.

Nissan, DeNA to start ‘robo-taxi’ public tests in March: Nissan Motor and Japanese software maker DeNA will commence public tests of their “robo-taxis” project from March next year.

Apple acquires podcast search engine Pop Up Archive: Apple has acquired the start-up behind a podcast search engine, as it tries to capture more of the fast-growing market for internet audio that it helped to invent more than a decade ago.

Warner Music records second straight year of sales growth on streaming strength: Warner Music Group has posted its second consecutive year of annual sales growth, as the label behind Ed Sheeran continues to benefit from a streaming gold rush.

Ikea to take TaskRabbit to Canada and beyond: Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer, will expand its newly acquired TaskRabbit odd-jobs service into Canada and is examining taking it to Europe and Asia in the future.

Carrefour and Fnac Darty link up for buying electrical goods: Carrefour’s new Chief Executive Alexandre Bompard has teamed up with his former employer Fnac Darty for a purchasing partnership.

Steinhoff Chief steps down, company to probe accounting ‘irregularities’: South Africa-based retailer Steinhoff said on Tuesday evening that its Chief Executive, Markus Jooste, was resigning, and that new information had surfaced regarding “accounting irregularities requiring further investigation.”

Google blocks YouTube on Amazon devices as feud heats up: Google is withdrawing its popular YouTube app from Amazon’s smart speaker and video streaming devices, the latest skirmish in a rare public battle between the tech titans that are increasingly butting heads over TV and gadgets.

Dish Network names new Chief as Charlie Ergen steps aside: U.S. satellite-TV provider Dish Network said Tuesday that co-Founder Charlie Ergen would relinquish his Chief Executive title in order to focus on the company’s emerging wireless business.

Vodafone links with Softbank for Japanese enterprise customers: Vodafone has signed an agreement with Softbank to provide enhanced services for its enterprise customers that operate in Japan.

Lyft raises target for latest funding round to $1.5 billion: Lyft has upped the target for its latest funding round plans from $1 billion to $1.5 billion, the car-booking service company announced on Tuesday, as it hopes to gain more ground on Uber amid its larger rival’s recent string of controversies.

Lex:

Disney: fox in the mouse house: A Magic Kingdom in search of a prince. A prince in search of a kingdom. Disney acquiring most of 21st Century Fox and installing James Murdoch as Chief Executive might be a fairytale ending.

Contracts for difference: kicking the bucket shop: European financial regulators begin to flex new powers in January. Their prerogatives will include deciding how much of the financial derivatives industry that serves individuals should survive. IG Group, a U.K. broker and spread betting group, says it has no idea what the impact of the as-yet nebulous regime will be. What is clear is that simple steps to protect the credulous can and should be taken.

Sina/Aristeia: hitting the great wall: Investors, activist or otherwise, were warned. Sina, the China based internet company had neatly outlined the course of action it could take should a shareholder have the temerity to seek boardroom representation. In response to an Aristeia Capital campaign, the $7 billion U.S.-listed group issued voting shares without investor approval last month. With technology shares stumbling since, providing a reason to sell looks unwise. Sina’s stock has trailed well behind the Nasdaq index.

Lombard:

Executive pay rules could make your bonus truly discretionary: Shock news on Executive pay! A Lombard investigation can reveal that the new U.K. Corporate Governance Code covering bonuses and long-term incentive plans is marginally shorter than the previous one. Yes, you read that correctly: a rule book has just become shorter. How much shorter cannot be entirely quantified, because Lombard lost count of in Principles A-Q and Provisions 1-41, as set out and cross-referenced in Appendices A-C. But the Financial Reporting Council, which compiles the Code, insists it is “shorter and sharper”.

The Daily Telegraph

Russia eyes global gas dominance with first export from $27 billion Arctic LNG project: Russia took a step closer to becoming the world’s largest exporter of shipped gas with the start-up a $27 billion (£20 billion) project in the Arctic circle.

Deutsche Bank’s €710 billion asset management arm gets pre-IPO makeover: Deutsche Bank’s €710 billion (£620 billion) asset management arm is getting a makeover ahead of its stock market listing with a rebrand that ensures the German lender keeps a foot in the company.

Strong U.S. sales help Ferguson weather ‘challenging’ U.K. market: Strong sales in the U.S. helped FTSE 100 plumbing supplies firm Ferguson weather a tough U.K. market and grow revenues in its first quarter. The company, formally known as Wolseley, said organic revenues climbed 7.6% in the three months to October 31 on the back of 8.3% growth in its U.S. business.

Mitie pulls the sale of its property management business: Support services business Mitie has pulled the planned sale of its property management business after failing to drum up enough interest from potential buyers.

The Questor Column:

Feeling brave? Buy defence contractor Babcock as it is evicted from the FTSE 100: This column appreciates that taking profits last week on Halma just as it entered the FTSE 100 and now warming to Babcock, the support services group, as it drops out of the blue-chip index may look barmy and there is no denying that it brings risk. Babcock is currently unpopular and the question is whether this is merited because the stock is cheap, trading on a single-digit price-to-earnings ratio with a dividend that gives a 4.3% yield and is 2.8 times covered by earnings. The order book is fat, interest cover is good and cash conversion is healthy. Any firm that can increase its dividend every year for more than a decade must be doing something right, yet the market’s (sceptical) view must be respected and there are three legitimate concerns. First, the support services sector has been a disaster zone, Second, the Government is delaying the release of its National Security Capability Review until next year to give the new Defence Secretary time to settle in. Finally, pressure is growing from politicians of all parties to prove that the outsourcing model really offers taxpayers value for money; Contracts are long-term, are currently being extended and do not rely on “cost-plus” mechanisms for Babcock to make a profit either. A reaffirmation of earnings forecasts from Archie Bethel, the Chief Executive, alongside last month’s interim results was encouraging and 90% of revenues are already in place for this year, as are 60% of those for next. Relegation from the FTSE 100 could prompt selling from tracker funds and brave, patient investors may see this as an opportunity. Questor says “Buy”.

Update: Cineworld: Plans on the part of FTSE 250 leisure group Cineworld to acquire America’s second largest cinema chain, Regal Entertainment, have hit the shares hard, as the deal is likely to be funded in part by a rights issue. This leaves us sitting on a book loss of just over 20% and with a tricky decision to make. However, Cineworld’s solid record of generating organic and acquisitive growth suggests that investors should be patient and stick with the stock. Its last sizeable acquisition was Cinema City International in 2014, which took Cineworld into Eastern Europe and Israel. The shares fell by more than a quarter as investors digested the £110 million rights issue that funded that deal but anyone who got involved did well as the shares subsequently soared. A weak summer slate for film releases has weighed on Regal’s share price and Cineworld may have spotted a chance to bag a bargain. Questor says “Hold”.

The Guardian

U.K. has lowest state pension of any developed country: Britain’s workers can look forward to the worst state pension of any major country, according to a report by the developed world’s leading economic thinktank.

FCA investigates Provident Financial’s car finance firm Moneybarn: Provident Financial’s share price has fallen more than 10% after the City watchdog revealed it has launched an investigation into Moneybarn, a company controlled by the subprime lender that provides car loans to people with poor credit history.

Housebuilders issue Brexit plea as poll shows U.K. reliance on EU workers: More than one in six people working on housebuilding sites across Britain come from other EU countries, rising to half of site workers in London, according to a new report.

Daily Mail

The Gym Group facing fresh criticism for failing to give workers a fair wage: Fit Pay Controversial fitness firm The Gym Group is facing fresh criticism for failing to give workers a fair wage. It claimed personal trainers at its facilities are self-employed, meaning they have not been entitled to holiday pay and other rights.

Disney £45 billion Fox deal to be ‘done in days’ with James Murdoch being tipped for a top role: Disney was last night closing in on a deal to buy 21st Century Fox’s entertainment businesses for £45 billion. The two sides have been locked in talks for more than a month but could announce a sale within days – with many expecting it to happen next week.

Cineworld agrees £2.7 billion ‘reverse takeover’ of U.S. chain Regal to create second largest cinema group in the world: Cineworld has agreed an £2.7 billion ‘reverse takeover’ of U.S. chain Regal which will make it the second biggest cinema group in the world. Cineworld, which opened its first cinema in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, 21 years ago, has 2,049 screens across 221 sites in nine countries and also owns the popular Picturehouse chain.

Daily Express

Greece collapse nears end – but are they set for calamity: Greece says that it is ready to stand on its feet again after seven years of austerity, claiming that a deal with international creditors is just around the corner.

Bitcoin may become the new gold says JP Morgan analysts: Bitcoin may become the new gold, as the cryptocurrency is seen as a more reliable, long-term way to store wealth by some experts. An analyst at banking giant JP Morgan believes that Bitcoin may become a solid asset class.

Six-hour flights to Sydney step closer after JAL invests millions to Branson-backed firm: Flights from London to New York lasting just three and a half hours and to Sydney in six hours are a step closer after Japan Airlines made a major investment into a Richard Branson-backed plan.

The Scottish Herald

Standard Life Private Equity Trust continues to favour Europe: The Majority of the Standard Life Private Equity Trust’s assets continued to be invested in Europe in the year to the end of September despite the trust dropping its European focus 12 months ago.

Jobs boost in Selkirk as Spark Energy announces 160 new positions: Spark Energy has outlined plans to expand staff numbers by 40% with the creation of 160 new positions. The majority of the jobs will be based in the energy supplier’s Selkirk base, with the new roles being filled throughout 2018 across customer service and back-office departments including IT, finance, legal and compliance, human resources and training.

Glasgow firm discovers things to do in Denver when you are a design studio: THE Glasgow-based digital agency which led the design on the new RBS banknotes has opened an office in Denver as it continues its expansion. O Street, which also has a London studio, has outlined an ambition to create a network of boutique studios across the world.

Green Highland Renewables acquired by steel to energy giant: The owner of the Liberty House metals giant has bought Green Highland Renewables and announced plans to develop more hydro power plants in Scotland, write Mark Williamson.

Hampshire oil and gas firm acquires North Sea exploration licence: Egdon Resources, the onshore specialist which plans to explore for shale gas in England with Ineos, has acquired a licence in the North Sea in a deal that reflects confidence in the exploration potential of the area.

City A.M.

Brighton Pier Group putts into shopping centre leisure with £10.5 million Paradise Island Adventure Golf acquisition: The leisure group which looks after Brighton Pier has agreed the terms for an acquisition of Lethington Leisure, the owner of Paradise Island Adventure Golf.

Royal Mail strike threat diminishes as warring parties edge towards accord: The chances of a mass walkout by Royal Mail workers are diminishing this evening after a “philosophical agreement” was struck between the warring parties.

Chinese property developer buys former Bear Stearns HQ for £270 million: Chinese property firm Cheung Kei Group has bought Bear Stearns’ former headquarters for £270 million. The property developer bought the Canary Wharf Tower, which is now largely leased to JP Morgan, from Said Holdings, according to the Financial Times.

Wipro opens new U.K. office as London boosts efforts to attract Indian firms: Indian IT giant Wipro is opening its third office in London as the capital continues to extend ties within the Indian business community. Wipro, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, already has two offices in London and is now opening a third near the Broadgate circle.

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Disclaimer: Statements in this article should not be considered investment advice, which is best sought directly from a qualified professional.