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Business

Eh?

British Airways comes to rescue of England fans with more flights and bigger planes for final
Supporters had been facing travel misery for Euro 2024 showdown with Spain in Berlin due to lack of direct flights

Business spots profitable short term niche, no?

What an idea!

The chancellor insisted there would be a clear distinction between the NWF and GB Energy, another publicly owned company proposed by Labour. While GB Energy will focus on the “production of clean, low carbon energy”, investment made via the NWF will seek to deploy £1.8bn to ports, £1.5bn for gigafactories including for electric vehicles, £2.5bn to clean steel, £1bn for carbon capture and £500m to green hydrogen.

Reeves said the new government was in a prime position to attract investment, amid ongoing political uncertainty in other major western economies. That includes the US, where Donald Trump is due to challenge an under-fire Joe Biden in the November presidential elections, and France, where elections resulted in a hung parliament.

“I think for the first time in a long time investors will look at Britain and say it’s a country with a stable government. It’s got a clear plan, but clear mandate in the election. And that’s different from some other countries around the world today,” Reeves told journalists.

So, it’s gonna make a profit, right? Green steel, ports, gigfactories, they’re all gonna make a profit, right?

D’ye recall how Hertz went bust?

The value of used cars fell. The used car fleet they’d financed with bonds. The bonds had a clause in there meaning the capital value must be maintained – by cash movements from the company into the bond fund if necessary. Hertz didn;t have the cash, Hertz went bust.

Of course, when in Chapter 11 used car prices then rose so the equity became worth something again. But, you know……

A motor leasing giant chaired by the retail veteran Lord Stuart Rose is facing a debt crunch amid a slump in prices for second-hand electric cars.

Zenith Automotive, which is owned by private equity giant Bridgepoint, has been put on debt downgrade watch by the ratings agency Moody’s owing to concerns over its finances.

The Leeds-based group is one of Britain’s largest independent fleet managers, owning and managing more than 170,000 cars including electric vehicles (EVs) for companies such as Travis Perkins.

The recent plunge in EV prices has spooked Zenith’s bondholders over fears the group’s portfolio of vehicles will be worth less in future.

Hmmmm

Although Zenith has no need to refinance its debts and has around £100m of cash it can draw on, the group has borrowed around £1bn of loans and a further £475m of debt repayable to bond investors.

The issue has spooked bond markets, which have sent the price of Zenith’s debts down sharply in recent months.

The group’s £475m bond, a key indicator for the group’s health, has fallen to around 65p in the pound versus around 80p six months ago.

Depends on the terms of the bonds, no?

That Elon Musk’s no good at his job

Two US astronauts will be left on the International Space Station (ISS) for almost two weeks longer than planned because of faults with the Boeing spacecraft designed to return them to Earth.

Nasa said Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita Williams would not return to Earth on board the Boeing Starliner until June 26.

The vehicle has been plagued by helium leaks and thruster issues, in the latest setback to Boeing’s space programme which has been beset by delays and high costs.

The ISS mission was Boeing’s first crewed space launch after more than a decade of planning and two launches had been aborted at late notice.

Myself I think what he’s done at SpaceX is more impressive than Tesla. But the base and underlying trick is the same. To have been able to drive for mass manufacturing much earlier in the development process than anyone thought possible and so get to economies of scale.

Today’s business idea

We need something that uses electricity, where the cost of the electricity is the or a major cost, which produces something saleable and can be run on an intermittent basis.

This should also be possible at domestic scale.

So, mining bitcoin is an obvious one, tho’ that no longer works at domestic scale at all. Might be possible to imagine a net which does it tho’.

The electricity grid operator wants to pay people to use more electricity when supplies from wind and solar farms are abundant under an update of its “demand flexibility” service.

The system was launched in 2022 to help the National Grid lessen the risk of blackouts by paying families and businesses to use less electricity when supply was tight. Last winter 2.6 million signed up to use the service.

They will pay us to use electricity. So, we’ve a negative input cost. We can use that to make what? Note that it will be intermittent…..can’t, therefore run a furnace etc

It’s possible to see why shipbuilding left these isles

The embattled shipyard that built the Titanic is facing the threat of strikes over plans to force workers to come in on Fridays.

Members of the GMB union at Harland & Wolff’s Belfast shipyard overwhelmingly voted for industrial action on Monday, amid a backlash against proposals to extend their working hours.

It is understood that managers are seeking to move away from a four-day week to a mandatory five-day one as the amount of work at the shipyard increases.

The yard is trying to refinance. It’s not obvious that it will be able to do so – and therefore will go bust.

But the plan for longer hours has sparked outrage among workers, who currently receive overtime pay for working Fridays under arrangements secured by unions decades ago.

But they’re willing to strike over overtime on Fridays.

Well, yes, true

It isn’t just the way our cars are powered that is altering in profound ways – the way they are sold is changing dramatically too.

It is a shift so radical that some believe it could herald the death of the car dealer, immortalised by Arthur Daley in the classic 1980s TV series Minder.

Since the days of Henry Ford, carmakers have relied on franchised dealers to sell and service their cars.

Manufacturers would deliver the models to the dealers and then it was up to their salesmen and women to shift them. They had discretion to offer deals and throw in perks and were rewarded with commissions based on the value of what they sold.

It’s also worth noting that the vast majority of the car market – by transaction volume – is of used cars. So the dealer modek still has some legs to it…..

This is drivel

Fossil fuel companies are forcing governments to compensate them for lost earnings in the transition to a low-carbon global economy, and destroying the world’s ability to counter their harmful activities, former top UN officials have warned.

Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland who was twice a UN climate envoy, said she was “outraged” by the activities of fossil fuel companies, including forcing governments into “investment treaties” that reward them with billions in compensation when countries reduce their reliance on oil, gas and coal.

“It is well worth looking at these investment treaties, there are lots of them – 2,000 of various sorts,” Robinson said. “[Under their terms], if countries do the right thing on climate, they have to compensate fossil fuel companies. And they compensate to the tune of $62bn (£49bn) over a five-year period. It’s another of these hidden subsidies. I was outraged.”

ISDS – for that’s hat this is – is a venue where the company can sue the government over whether the government has broken its own contract. The ability to sue in a court not controlled by the government.

The majority of cases are won by governments. For no one can demand money because govt has changed policy. Only if the change in policy then causes a loss on a contract under ISDS provisions. Why? Because it’s easier to attract investment if the rules are settled in advance. Also, it’s very tempting for governments to change them after the investment has been made.

Word, this is a surprise

PwC is facing a backlash from its own staff amid allegations that Middle Eastern partners prevented the appointment of a woman as the firm’s new boss.

Senior partners in London are understood to believe that voters at the firm’s offices in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other parts of the Middle East played a decisive role in the victory of Marco Amitrano over his two female rivals.

It follows a lengthy process to elect a new senior partner for PwC UK and Middle East, one of the most important – and best-paid – positions in the global accounting firm.

D’ye mean that foreigners, working in foreign, are diverse in their views?

Shocker, eh?

Ahhh

Shares in Aston Martin plunged by as much as 14pc on Wednesday after the struggling luxury carmaker revealed losses almost doubled in the first three months of the year.

The company said it had sunk £139m into the red during the opening quarter, as losses rose almost 90pc compared to £74m a year ago.

This stemmed from a 10pc fall in overall sales to £268m, fuelled by a 63pc drop in the number of SUVs sold to dealerships.

So the dash for volume with the DBX isn’t working then. Or, as we might put it, brands are less expandable than some are willing to bet they are.

Being known for really top notch two seater sporties doesn’t quite carry over to the sensible car for the second wife or, perhaps, her potential replacement in training.

One of those little Russian details

A Russian deputy defence minister has been detained on suspicion of bribe-taking, the country’s top law enforcement agency has said, a rare move amid the offensive in Ukraine.

The investigative committee reported Timur Ivanov’s detention on Tuesday without offering any details of the accusations against him, saying only that he is suspected of taking an especially large bribe….

“Especially large” is the crime. Which does tell us something about bribery in the Russian system.

Back when the first question in business there was “Who do we bribe?” The second was “How much do we bribe them?” It was only when we got to third in the list that we got the “For what? What are we trying to do here?”

Bribery really was first and second.

No, really, really. The route to success was to look around and work out who you knew, who you had access to, what bribing them would give you access to. Only then did you decide what line of business you were going to go into.

A surrise, eh?

As liquidators take over the debt-ridden property giant, which owes more than $300bn to banks and bondholders, critics now question who should take responsibility for Evergrande’s downfall.

According to claims in anonymous letter shared on Chinese social media platform WeChat last week, questions surround the role of Evergrande’s former auditor: PwC.

The open letter, which purports to have been signed by unnamed PwC partners, claimed the professional services firm “turned a blind eye” while auditing Evergrande for more than a decade.

If the big, planned, government supported, state thing – and the Chinese property market was that, even if done by privately owned firms – goes tits up then it can’t be the government, nor the plan, that was wrong. Must be the capitalist lackeys, right?

John Naughton, sigh

One symptom of their anxiety is the way they have been throwing unconscionable amounts of money at the 70-odd generative AI startups that have mushroomed since it became clear that AI was going to be the new new thing. Microsoft reportedly put $13bn (about £10.4bn) into OpenAI, for example, but it was also the lead investor in a $1.3bn funding round for Inflection, Deepmind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman’s startup. Amazon put $4bn into Anthropic, the startup founded by refugees from OpenAI. Google invested $500m in the same outfit, with a promise of $1.5bn more, and unspecified sums in A121 Labs and Hugging Face. (Yeah, I know the names make no sense.) Microsoft has also invested in Mistral, the French AI startup. And so on. In 2023, of the $27bn that was invested in AI startups, only $9bn came from venture capitalist firms – which until recently had been by far the biggest funders of new tech enterprises in Silicon Valley.

This is used as evidence of imminent monopoly in AI.

Sigh.

Worth getting the Body Shop story right

The Body Shop collapsed after HSBC withdrew a line of credit and the chain’s private equity buyer failed to secure new funding, The Telegraph can reveal.

A shortfall worth at least £100m arose after Aurelius acquired the retailer in November, much of which stemmed from HSBC’s decision to withdraw credit facilities.

This “unplanned” funding gap led to the retailer’s rapid downfall in February, just three months after Aurelius bought The Body Shop from Brazilian cosmetics company Natura for £207m.

The revelations shed fresh light on the events that led to The Body Shop’s controversial administration and are likely to raise more questions about the collapse of the business.

Not necessarily wholly and really. At lesat, my contention is that it’s all a plan to screw the landlords.

Err, yes?

They show that Amazon often had its thumb on the scale, creating scenarios to give itself a leg up or create hit products at the expense of rivals.

They bought lots of Trader Joe’s products in order to work out what to make themselves. And this is the WSJ making this complaint?

Wide boy

Not that anyone thought different:

A lab-grown diamond company founded by one of Labour’s biggest donors has been banned from showing adverts that fail to say its gems are artificial.

Skydiamond, set up by the founder of energy firm Ecotricity, Dale Vince, has been accused of misleading consumers in some of its advertising campaigns.

The green energy tycoon’s company, which sells engagement rings starting at £3,000, claims to have created the world’s first carbon-negative certified diamonds “mined entirely from the sky”.

Umm

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Eh?

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Oh…..first time I’ve had one in Greek…..

Err, whut?

In one year alone, Thames paid a £656m dividend – pushing the group into the red.

Dividends are post-profit, right?

It’t literally impossible for a dividend to cause a loss – to go into the red.

Seems fair

Arnault seems to be turning LVMH into a family fiefdom.

Possibly, possibly.

And yet his control of the empire is opaque, with 48pc of the equity, and 68pc of the voting rights.

Not much opaque about that. It is a family fiefdom.