This Quadriga thing fascinates

So, Canadian crypto exchange. Founder dies. All passwords to the stock of crypto are lost. Oooops!

Then it occurs to people that perhaps said founder was a bad ‘un. For he certainly had been involved in scams before. Hmm:

Lawyers representing the customers of a collapsed trading platform have demanded that the founder’s body is exhumed given what they claim are “questionable circumstances” surrounding his death.

Well, yes, first step is to find out whether he actually did die…..this one is going to run for years I think. ‘Cuz I think the first step is going to find out that he didn’t.

That Brexit uncertainty

Berkeley has also built up record cash reserves of £1.1 billion. It has indicated that it holds about £500 million of surplus cash that it will decide how to deploy once the political situation becomes clearer.

At some point the uncertainty, being cumulative, becomes more damaging than the act itself. We’re past that – in my view.

Get in there

Just to crow a bit. On the 25th (actually written a couple of days before) I tipped Ocado. On the following basis:

I don’t think the market is properly appreciating this move away from low margin and into potentially high margin business. I therefore think that there’s a good probability of a rerating of the stock over time. As with the gold rush, selling the tools is a better business than digging for it. And there’s an awful lot of supermarket chains out there in the different retail markets.

The price was 1,152p. Today we see:

Japan’s biggest supermarket chain has called on Ocado to build its new automated warehouses, even though the country leads the world in robot technology.

The deal, which marks the British technology and online retail group’s first move into Asia, lifted its shares by as much as 22 per cent yesterday before they closed 117p, or 9.7 per cent, higher at £13.25, valuing it at £9.5 billion.

Pure blind luck as a tip of course but fun all the same.

Not really

Travellers short-changed 7pc by choosing wrong option when spending overseas

Not short changed, no:

Foreign holidays and business trips are often expensive affairs, but travellers could be short-changing themselves by up to 10pc by choosing the wrong card machine option when they spend abroad.

Those who travel overseas are often given the option of paying in local currency or sterling when they pay by card in shops, bars and restaurants. However, travellers who pay in sterling are typically offered a currency conversion rate much poorer than the market rate.

“Make a choice that others disagree with” might be closer to hte truth.

Sure, it’s possible to surmise that they’re all stupid and thus make the “wrong” choice. It’s also possible to ponder that perhaps they prefer the certainty of knowing how much is going to be sucked out of their account to the extra they could gain through uncertainty.

More research is needed, as they say, to work out which of the two explanations holds.

Pah, mere raising of money

A secretive US start-up founded ­using technology developed at the University of Bristol has raised $230m (£179m) as it seeks to beat Google and IBM in the race to develop a working quantum computer.

PsiQuantum, founded by former Bristol professor Jeremy O’Brien, has secured the funds from investors ­including a venture capital fund started by former Google executive Andy ­Rubin.

It is believed to be one of the biggest investments to date in quantum computing, a potentially world-changing technology that relies on quantum ­mechanics to produce computers more powerful than any existing “classical” counterpart.

The professor of quantum computing at a more senior university, one of our lurkers here, is interested in making things work, not this mere cash malarkey.

God Lord, building something is artisanry, not even rising to the depths of trade!

Entirely, gloriously, classic

It’s time for McDonald’s to give its workers a new deal. I’ve worked at McDonald’s for six years, and today I’m on strike for the fourth time.


London is one of the most expensive cities in world to live in, yet McDonald’s pays barely more than the minimum wage. I get £8.80 an hour, and by the time I’ve paid rent and bills, I don’t have enough to live on. I had to work full time while I was studying at university just to be able to support myself.

Wonder what that degree was in, eh?

The truly weird thing here being that McDonald’s is well known for being a truly great place to try to work yourself up. Show any aptitude at all and they’ll have you on management track like a ferret up a Northern trouser leg.

Really would be fun to know what that degree was in…..

Woodford did what?

The troubled investment trust once run by Neil Woodford has been forced to slash the value of its investment in cold fusion firm Industrial Heat for a second time, in another blow for its long-suffering savers.

Woodford Patient Capital Trust cut the valuation of Industrial Heat – which is focused on next-generation energy technology viewed sceptically by most scientists – on the advice of the custodian Link Fund Solutions, a company tasked with ensuring the trust follows the rules.

Patient Capital first reduced the value of its £67m holding in Industrial Heat in August. The new cut on Monday means the stake’s estimated worth has dropped as much as 83pc and is less than £10m, according to analysts…

Sure, I know, “value” and “how bloody much money did he put in?” aren’t the same thing. But seriously, a fund investing in cold fusion?


This sounds fun

Can anyone join in?

KPMG to cull a tenth of its UK partners as part of overhaul

Are accounting partners protected under the hunting with dogs stuff? What’s the recommended method of putting them out of their misery? Forcing them to read the Joy of Tax?

Well, I don’t believe it

Tesla rebounds from rocky start to year with surprise profit of $143m

I don’t know why I don’t believe it but that’s just because I’ve not bothered to work out what the fiddle is yet.

Note that I’m not claiming illegality or lying. Just that I expect there to be something interesting in the accounts – say, possibly and as an example – about revenue recognition or summat.

Seriously, no, corporate law doesn’t work that way

While the split in SoftBank’s contribution between equity and debt is still being negotiated, its investment could make it the majority owner of WeWork. Were this to translate to formal voting control for SoftBank, it could force it to consolidate the loss-making company on its balance sheet, the sources said.

This in turn could result in SoftBank assuming WeWork’s liabilities, which include long-term leases for office space that it refurbishes and rents out under short-term contracts, according to the sources.

No, just because you’ve got to consolidate the subsidiary doesn’t mean you’re now responsible for the subsidiaries debts.

You still have limited liability at that level of the subsidiary.

You might have to show them on your balance sheet, sure, that’s what consolidation means. But still not responsible for them.

How many consumers are snowflakes?

One Friday last month, climate activists walked out of workplaces and schools around the world demanding immediate action from global leaders to address what they describe as a climate “emergency”.

Among those taking to the streets were employees from Ben & Jerry’s, a brand best known for making tubs of ice cream in flavours including Phish Food and Chunky Monkey.

Ben & Jerry’s has campaigned on causes ranging from LGBTQ+ rights to supporting the resettlement of refugees since it was set up by founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield in 1978.

And now its owner Unilever, one of the largest consumer goods companies in the world, wants its entire stable of brands from Marmite to Magnum to follow…

Sure, why not? The glory of the market, that people can try things, do as others don’t. Even, consumers can spend their money as they wish, in fact should. You £ is indeed your vote as to how production should be done.

There is the possibility that a consumer goods company might not be best placed to appeal to anti-consumerists but what the heck.

The interesting bit of this is going to be finding out – this is the only way we can do it, revealed preferences and all that – just how many of the consumers out there actually are snowflakes?

Well, that’s one idiocy less

I was astonished to find that T Cook planes couldn’t be used to bring T Cook peeps back. Because planes owned by a bankrupt company can’t be used. I even asked the CAA about this and they muttered summat about not us Guv.

Planes owned by failed airlines would be used to repatriate passengers under plans announced by the government.

Proposed legislation would enable collapsed carriers to be placed in special administration, meaning their aircraft and crew can continue flying to bring customers back to the UK.

Under the existing system, when an airline folds its planes are grounded, leaving passengers at risk of being stranded.

There does seem a certain sense being deployed here.

Oh no they don’t!

Two brothers from Blackburn whose parents came to Britain “with nothing” stand to gain a £5bn fortune by floating their petrol station empire.

The company currently exists and they own half of it. Therefore they currently have a fortune.

True, it might become a little larger, as significant stakes in listed companies tend to be worth more than similar stakes in privately held ones.

But the “gain a fortune” part is simply wrong. They have a fortune. The listing isn’t what creates it at all.

This is likely, yes

Almost a tenth of the Thomas Cook stores snapped up by Hays Travel this week are within 100 metres of the independent travel agent’s existing shops, raising the prospect of mass closures.

Hays Travel, which already had 190 outlets, purchased Thomas Cook’s 555 UK stores from liquidators in an ambitous deal which stunned the City. It has pledged to reopen all of them under the Hays brand.

But as many as 49 of the 555 former Thomas Cook stores are within 100 metres of existing Hays Travel sites, analysis by the Local Data Company shows. Of these, 33 are within 50 metres.

And a total of 76 the acquired stores are within a kilometre of a Hays store – suggesting major overlaps between the pair’s businesses…

We would indeed expect a number of them to close. The deal guarantees rents ’till the end of November. After that renegotiations with landlords. And all T Cook redundancy payments are the problem of the administrator, not Hays.

The deal, signed late on Tuesday night, was funded without debt and was for less than £50m, according to one person close to the negotiation.

Not that anyone would actually do this, heaven forfend. But take over the entire estate, at pretty much zero cost (£100k max per site is that) then sort through it at leisure. And, of course, entirely kill off the idea of anyone else taking over the competing network of travel agents shops. Those you don’t want can be sat upon for a few months just to kill off any idea of that competing offer too.

Nice move. The major competition has gone, for a pittance you’ve ensured the non-appearance of a new rival and also expanded the estate of your now much closer to major player with market power.

Who will really lose from this? Well, obviously, too soon to tell but I’d not want to be a small scale packager of holidays selling into the UK retail network now. There’s going to be substantial pressure on margins from that dominant retailer……..

Why not use a sexual analogy?

A billionaire investor is facing a furious backlash after telling an industry conference that success in business is like “trying to get into a girl’s pants”.

Ken Fisher’s comments at the San Francisco gathering sparked outrage from other attendees, who branded them “horrifying”.

Mr Fisher is understood to have spoken about genitalia and likened winning new clients to “trying to get into a girl’s pants” at the meeting hosted by Tiburon Strategic Advisors earlier this week.

The point of an analogy is to present a case, and argument, in a form that people grasp. Humans are interested in sex. Therefore sexual analogies work because they employ the situations and language humans are interested in to shape a case, an argument, in a form that humans understand.

We all do understand that it’s difficult to seduce a girl/woman for the first time. Women understand this too. Also that it’s rather easier to seduce for the second time than it is the first.

It’s a great deal easier to get your second order from a customer than it is your first. It’s a good analogy, it works.

Unless, of course, it’s a simile.