Business

Ah…..

Arena TV is understood to have borrowed about £300 million from asset-based lenders

Fine place to get money from if you’ve got an asset heavy business to run.

an auditor, acting for one of Arena TV’s lenders, attempted to verify serial numbers for company-owned equipment used as security for loans. When the auditor called the equipment suppliers, they were told the serial numbers did not exist.

Ah, not so asset heavy then.

I assume the auditor wasn’t reading the numbers off the back of the kit because if that were true then it would mean it had more assets than thought. Must be the numbers on the paperwork that don’t exist…..

This seems reasonable

We recently cashed in our pensions, despite everybody telling you how tax efficient they are. I don’t like it if the Government can move the goalposts and alter my wealth without my input. I prefer investments I can see.

Especially given the Lord High Tax Denouncer’s ambitions for pension funds.

A business which rather self-cures

As with house clearances, so with charity shops:

Move over fast fashion – second-hand clothing is cool again. And entrepreneurs from Generation Z are making a mint, reselling designer items bought on the cheap at huge mark-ups on new online marketplaces, today’s digital car boot sales.

Many of these young sellers are buying old clothes by the kilo and trawling through charity shops in well-heeled areas with an eagle eye to what will sell. They have clocked that it’s young buyers being drawn to environmentally friendly credentials and a “vintage” aesthetic that has catapulted it into the mainstream.

That the waste stream of society contains things that can be reused should not be all that much of a surprise. That a detailed sorting of that stream can uncover those things and a profit be made, well, that’s obvious from the first point.

The thing is, once the pickers at one end of the process have worked it out then pickers closer to the source get switched on to that knowledge.

Charity shops already sort clothes for what can be resold, what should be sent to Africa. Imperfectly perhaps, but given this money making they’ll get better at it.

As with house clearances. As with an old acquaintance (for Bathonians, Robbie at bottom of Walcot St) who did house clearances. Over the years he got a good eye for what was value, what was junk. A fine collection of first editions was a part of his pensions savings.

The capturing of that value started with people scouring the second hand bookshops he’d deliver to in bulk. Once he cottoned on then that picking moved a stage up the process.

The same’ll happen to clothing here.

Ah, no, not quite

However, it comes with a price tag. Estimates by the World Bank suggest air freight is usually four to five times more expensive than road transport, and up to 16 times more than sea. This has typically meant only some products earn a plane ticket: certain fresh foods, time-sensitive documents, pharmaceuticals and cut flowers, for example.

Depends what you include as an expense. Air freight might take 5 days. Sea freight – even in good times – 45 days.

Say you had high value electronics. iPhones, say. $700 each, imagine. Cost of capital on $700 for 40 days is what? Further, it’s electronics, suffering a 1% per week (rough idea, you understand) depreciation rate.

Now, is air freight more expensive than sea or not? Tweak the numbers as you wish, but don’t forget to include that cost of capital plus depreciation.

Oh, Apple flies its iPhones. Funny that.

Ahahahah

A spokesman said that at the time the stock exchange filing was released “Homebase, Boots and Ocado were amongst the multiple brands that accepted Mode to be part of their affiliate programme, through a number of intermediary affiliate platforms”.

So, rather than an actual deal they’ve signed up to get a commission when someone buys through the, – affiliate sales that is. Like any of us can do with Amazon. Cool, then they pay this out as cashback with bitcoin. And that’s it.

Err, yes?

The business select committee said it had identified “inadequate” accountability within Mr Gupta’s GFG Alliance following an investigation into the impact of the collapse of Greensill Capital, GFG’s main lender.

In a damning report, the committee said it has seen “no tangible evidence” that GFG was improving its corporate governance, and warned that delays to its accounts meant it was hard to understand the true finances of the company’s UK steel division Liberty Steel.

Be honest here. Why do you think he uses a boutique firm as his auditors? Does he want folks to be able to understand?

I will say this though. Whether it’s just plate spinning or he’s actually managing to keep the show on the road he’s done this for much longer than I thought he was going to be able to.

Fairly saucy wench here

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has delivered her strongest call yet for Mark Zuckerberg to step down as chief executive of his social media empire, saying the business will be better off with a leader who focuses on user safety.

Frances Haugen said Facebook’s parent company, rebranded Meta last week, is unlikely to change if its founder remains in charge. Speaking at the Web Summit in Lisbon, the former Facebook employee, who has leaked tens of thousands of internal documents detailing the company’s struggles with user safety and misinformation, also criticised Zuckerberg’s “unconscionable” decision to invest in its metaverse concept instead of focusing on fixing its current problems.

Mid-level exec ( and in 2019, she became a product manager in the Facebook civic integrity department.) knows how to run company better than CEO and founder.

Well, maybe she does but we’d probably like to see a little more proof of that other than woke confirmation bias.

This is fun

Auditors at PWC and company directors flagged a “material uncertainty” over its ability to continue as a going concern if trade did not improve.

Matches has already twice agreed covenant waivers with HSBC and Wells Fargo.

Apax has injected a further £85m since February last year, according to Companies House filings.

Sales fell by £41m to £392m for the 12 months to Jan 31, while pre-tax losses widened from £5.6m to £36.5m.

Yes, I know, the market is highly granular etc. A boost to the sector does not raise all boats. But imagine running an online retail site that lost sales when online retail near doubled?

No

Tesla: the $1 trillion company that doesn’t make any money
Elon Musk’s company is worth more than every other car maker combined despite making just 500,000 vehicles, meaning each is worth $2m apiece

It means that the capital value of the ability to produce each car is $2 million. Still absurd but also very different.

An interesting bit of research for someone here

The next day we received an email from production with lines quoted from their insurers saying that the premium for a pregnant artist would be so high that the company would not cover it, and therefore they would be dropping me from the job.

Actress doesn’t get gig because she’s pregnant. That’s clearly discrimination.

Ah, but, is it taste or rational discrimination?

Which is where the research comes in. It’s possible for someone out there to actually chase down – it’ll presumably be someone at Lloyd’s who underwrites this sorta stuff – the numbers.

My first guess is that it’s not, actually, the costs of the woman becoming sick or whatever that matter. Rather, it’s that there’s some elevated risk that she will. Which then means that the entire part of he movie with her in it needs to be reshot. The costs are NOT of taking care of someone pregnant. It’s the knock on effects of that heightened risk on the costs of the whole project.

The premium will therefore not be based upon whatever the actress is being paid – or not as the case may be – but on the costs of everyone else having to reshoot for however many days or weeks. A very much larger sum.

Again an assumption, that the producers aren’t looking at the total cost of the insurance premium as the decision maker. Rather, at the cost of that premium as a percentage of what they’ve got to pay to hire the actress.

Actresses looking for a role are not exactly scarce. So, substitution of one for another isn’t that difficult. If the lady cast is in fact one of those entirely substituitable then the premium is going to loom large as a percentage of the cost of getting her.

To entirely invent numbers. Say the premium is £30k. The price of the actress is £30k. The premium is 100% of her fee – hell, get someone else.

OK, now think of a star. Didn’t the Legally Blonde bird do one of them while pregnant (and if not then someone definitely has at some point)? But she would need the £30k premium and against her $3 million salary that’s peanuts. Pregnancy isn’t a problem therefore.

OK, it’s all rather minor but there is a fun bit of research for someone to do out there. The difficult bit would be finding the underwriter who specialises in actors insurance at Lloyd’s…..

Just for myself I think this will fail

“Axel Springer aims to create the leading digital media publisher in the democratic world,” the company told the Financial Times in August.

Bets on a string of US online news ventures have followed the failed tussle for the FT and the buyout of Business Insider, but success has been mixed.

Springer has a minority stake in Thrillist, the online entertainment and travel website with a dedicated section on cannabis culture.

They’ve just bought Politico, are eyeing up Axios apparently. Didn’t they end up with HuffPo too?

The strategy is obvious enough, it’s like Murdoch decades back with newspapers. Buy up a swathe of established brands and have a secure position with significant market power. Well, OK.

Except there’re two ways to think of these new media brands.

1) It’s a landrace, whoever colonises gets it for all time. Buying, hopefully cheap, those with the landclaims is an excellent strategy.

2) It’s easy enough – note that I’ve not achieved it but still – to set up a new brand and grow it. Therefore it’s not in fact a landrace, it’s a viciously competitive market, the value of any incumbency is low. Buying low value incumbents is not sensible.

The strategy depends upon 1) being true. I have a strong feeling that 2) is closer to the mark.

That makes this strategy more like GEC after Weinstock. Which didn’t, as we know, work out well.

Pay rates that might not quite make it

The Ultimate Sports Network is expanding our service to include coverage of the English Premier League. We require passionate fans of a particular team to communicate with your audience, an audience in need of information and entertainment.

Qualified candidates must be able to communicate utilizing proper grammar.

This a remote position, so qualified candidates must be able to work with a minimum level of supervision and follow instructions when provided.

We are seeking media members that are also passionate about their team, so please apply for your favorite team only.

Job Type: Part-time

Pay: From $5.00 per hour

Education:

High school or equivalent (Preferred)
Work Location:

Fully Remote

They’re looking for folks for pretty much any team. For an addict it would be quite fun. But $5 an hour?

Ahhhh, so they’re going to eat low down on the chain, are they?

A Boeing pilot involved in testing the 737 Max jetliner was indicted on Thursday by a federal grand jury on charges of deceiving safety regulators who were evaluating the plane, which was later involved in two deadly crashes.

The indictment accuses Mark A Forkner of giving the Federal Aviation Administration false and incomplete information about an automated flight-control system that played a role in the crashes, which killed 346 people.

Prosecutors said that because of Forkner’s “alleged deception”, the system was not mentioned in key FAA documents, pilot manuals or pilot-training material supplied to airlines.

A test pilot is to be blamed, not anyone in the executive suites or, Lordy Forbid, the c-suites.

Carole Cadwallader’s getting really, really, excited here

Not entirely sure why:

And although the SEC found that Facebook had made “misleading disclosures”, including lying to journalists,

Lying to journalists isn’t a crime.

But the whole thing is Ha! Facebook! Evil! without any particular evidence of any evilry. About the worst that can be said about the latest revelations is that the company operates to the rules of shareholder primacy. Which is pretty much what the law and custom says it should be doing.

I maintain my standard position here. The huge screaming match is simply progressives insisting that if there’s a source of power – as Facebook could be – then progressives should b running it. And that’s all there is going on here.

A fun thought about crypto

So, it has long been said – not least by me – that crypto is enabling folks to repeat and reiterate every monetary scam humans have come up with over the millennia at warp speed.

Hmm, so why not dig into those scams, find one that hasn’t been perpetrated yet, then launch a coin?

For example, I doubt anyone has done Polly Peck with a stablecoin yet but it would be entirely possible and most profitable. It would also be legal.

Is Ben Marlow normally this ignorant?

The elephant in the room is how customer deposits are used to fund day-to-day operations. It wasn’t just that the major carriers didn’t want to provide refunds, it is that they would have struggled to return the cash because much of it had already been spent. Some even admitted that a flood of payouts risked tipping them over the edge.

There’s no denying that the pandemic sent the airline industry into a tailspin but it’s not for consumers to prop up struggling businesses.

Imagine the uproar if a high street bank had refused customers access to their savings during the financial crisis. It might happen in failed socialist regimes or dictatorships but even then people would take to the streets. Besides, you can’t plead for special treatment if you’re not prepared to do the right thing by customers.

Because that’s exactly how banks always operate. Your money isn’t there in the vault for you to collect it. It’s in Mrs. Miggin’s, down the road, mortgage.

Which is why we have central bank support for fractional reserve banks, see?

The terrors of Ben Elliott’s film financing

This is just stupid:

Analysis of company filings suggests the documentary made a £70,000 loss. Without the HMRC cash rebates, it appears the UK business would not have been able to fully repay its offshore investors – the largest of which was Elliot and Goldsmith’s BVI company, E&G Productions, which had provided the £600,000 loan.

Goldsmith said a group of cricket enthusiasts had financed the film, chipping in £5,000 to £100,000 each. It is not clear if these contributions – mostly made by UK residents – were then converted into the £600,000 offshore loan from a BVI company, nor how much came from Goldsmith and Elliot.

One former HMRC tax inspector, who reviewed the structure for the Guardian, said: “In practice, I cannot see that the use of the BVI company by two UK residents could be anything other than tax motivated.”

Prem Sikka, emeritus professor at Essex Business School and a Labour peer, added: “With tax havens, there are two advantages: opacity and tax avoidance. There’s nothing else there.”
….
Elliot and Goldsmith added: “A Caribbean company was used at the outset because we anticipated securing investment to make Fire in Babylon largely from investors outside the UK and specifically in that part of the world. As it turned out, more UK-based investors than we expected backed the film, although as you have spotted, some of the film’s investors were indeed in the Caribbean.”

However, Fire in Babylon appears to have only attracted two Caribbean-based investors, and an offshore finance expert challenged the idea that a BVI company would have encouraged others.

“It is no more attractive for Caribbean investors to invest in a BVI company than a Netherlands company, or a Luxembourg company,” he said. “Perhaps even the reverse, as generally there is little substance to litigate. If anything, BVI is less attractive to a Caribbean investor.”

Damned idiots.

If you start with a UK company and have foreign investors then you’re exposing those foreign investors to both UK and foreign taxation. If you start with a tax-free company then each investor can pay the correct amount of tax, at the one level, on any income. The problem being that income from investments and companies is taxed differently in different countries. Therefore to ensure that each person can pay the correct – and only the correct – amount for their own home tax jurisdiction you make the first company itself tax free.

Class III NI contributions

Something vaguely seen this morning.

If you’ve not got 35 years of NI contributions then you can buy more. Pay £900 a year (or so) to buy an extra year’s contributions. This returns you £5 a week, or £260 a year. That’s a near 30% annual return and inflation protected too.

That might be the best investment on the planet right now.

At which point, so, how to turn that into a business?

Charge folks £50 to see if they need to/could do this? Then Something more to actually fill out all the HMRC docs to make it happen?

Does anyone, in fact, do this already as a specialty?

I assume that the NI payment records are not available in any online form so therefore it can’t be automated….

Good luck to you mate

No, really, good luck:

Australia has signed up to an empty promise by agreeing to a US nuclear powered submarine deal for which there is no clear delivery date or technology transfer agreement, the furious head of the French defence contractor Naval Group has warned.

Pierre Eric Pommellet also said his firm will be seeking compensation for Australia’s cancellation of a €56bn (£48bn) contract for 12 new Attack-class submarines, which he described as a purely political decision which came without warning.

If Oz has broken the contract then you should have compensation. If you screwed up and thereby broke the contract yourself then you don’t deserve compensation. The people to decide this are the courts. So, good luck.

New definitions of cheap

Sixties icon the Moke, a cheap, fun car

Right. And I live where one of those – or the 2CV equivalent, there are a couple around here – would be most, most, fun. Except:

The Moke sells for a base price of £20,000, with its 1.1-litre engine

That’s not my definition of cheap. Maybe that’s me and my anchoring of prices in the past. Or perhaps it ain’t cheap. If it’s the second I’d guess that it’s the costs of not mass manufacturing there….