This week’s news includes; over 1 billion Yahoo accounts compromised, Lloyds & Japanese Banks plan post-Brexit moves to the EU, Just Eat acquires rivals, Trump wiped $3.5 billion of Lockheed’s share price with one tweet.
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Opinion articles of the week:
- The tech revolution – not Brexit – will reshape the face of London. – (City A.M)
- Britain needs to have a serious conversation about the NHS (The Financial Times)
- Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister claimed that globalization isn’t working for “the middle class. (Business Insider)
1. YAHOO HACK: 1 BILLION ACCOUNTS COMPROMISED BY BIGGEST DATA BREACH IN HISTORY
The latest incident to emerge – which happened in 2013 – is probably distinct from the breach of 500m user accounts in 2014. Yahoo has said the stolen user account information may have included dates of birth and telephone numbers.
Yahoo said on Wednesday it had discovered another major cyber attack, saying data from more than 1bn user accounts was compromised in August 2013, making it the largest such breach in history.
The number of affected accounts was double the number implicated in a 2014 breach that the internet company disclosed in September and blamed on hackers working on behalf of a government.
“An unauthorised party” broke into the accounts, Yahoo said in a statement posted on its website. The company believes the hacks are connected and that the breaches are “state-sponsored”.
The hackers used “forged ‘cookies’” – bits of code that stay in the user’s browser cache so that a website doesn’t require a login with every visit, wrote Yahoo’s chief information security officer, Bob Lord. The cookies “could allow an intruder to access users’ accounts without a password” by misidentifying anyone using them as the owner of an email account. The breach may be related to theft of Yahoo’s proprietary code, Lord said.
The company began to suspect the breach in November, when law enforcement approached the company with what a third party claimed was “user data;” Lord’s post suggests that the data included forged cookies. (The Guardian)
2. FINANCIAL SERVICES PLAN EU MOVE AMID BREXIT UNCERTAINTY
London’s 328-year old Lloyd’s insurance market will definitely create an office somewhere within the European Union and move some of its operations to the continent in reaction to the UK’s Brexit vote.
The Financial Times reports that the insurance market, the world’s oldest, has created a shortlist of five possible destinations for the new subsidiary and will put a proposal before members of the market early next year, before the triggering of Article 50.
Lloyd’s, the non-stock market listed group which focuses on marine, energy, and political risk insurance, will set up a subsidiary in a country that will still be part of the EU because of a Brexit will likely strip the UK of its financial passport — the right to operate across the remaining 27 EU nations.
According to Lloyd’s, last year business within the European Economic Area “accounted for £2.93 billion or 11% of Lloyd’s Gross Written Premium.” It does not want to risk that 11% once Britain leaves the EU, so will now set up elsewhere.
Ideally, Lloyd’s would keep 100% of its operations in the UK, but realises that the UK’s potential loss of financial passporting could severely hinder its ability to operate in Europe, and it simply does not want to take that risk. (Business Insider)
Japanese banks have told the Government they will begin moving operations to the EU within six months unless the Government can provide clarity on the UK’s access to the single market.
Banks including Nomura and Daiwa Capital Markets, which employ thousands of people in Britain, reportedly held a “frank” meeting with the City minister Simon Kirby and international trade minister Mark Garnier on 1 December.
According to the Financial Times, one senior Japanese finance executive said it “would be better for our EU-based customers to have an alternative hub”.
Ministers have met with top Japanese bank bosses, who reiterated fears about the potential negative impact of Brexit on their UK businesses and urged clarity from the Government about its plans.
The Chancellor Philip Hammond has himself conceded on a trip to Japan this week that: “It’s fairly binary for them: they either have access to their markets or they don’t have access. (The Independent)
3. METRO BANK TO OPEN MORE BRANCHES
More than 1,000 bank branches have closed across the UK over the last 2 years, according to new stats from Which? (see below). But challenger Metro Bank is swimming against the tide, planning to open up to 12 new branches next year and over 50 more by 2020.
“You can’t look at Metro through British bank eyes, because we’re nothing like RBS or Lloyds,” founder and chairman Vernon Hill told Business Insider in a recent interview. “What we really are is a growth retailer that happens to be a bank.”
Metro Bank’s branches — or “stores” as Hill likes to call them — are not just unusual because they are multiplying rather than disappearing. The branches, each hand picked by Hill, are open late, 7-days a week, and feature coin counting machines, credit and debit card printers, safety deposit boxes, and, perhaps most unusual of all, dog bowls.
“Everything we did in New York worked better here,” he continues. Hill, 71, set up Commerce Bank in the US when he left university and left the multi-billion dollar lender in 2007. He was forced out by the bank’s board over deals struck with companies run by family members. One commentator described his exit as a “Greek tragedy” in the New York Times.
The “stores” are crucial to Hill’s expansion plans. Metro aims to have 100 stores by 2020, up from today’s 46 (the 47th opens in Colchester on Friday). If the big High Street banks are pulling back at the same time, all the better — less competition. (Business Insider)
4. UK BANKING CLOSURES – MORE THAN 1000 SHUT OVER PAST 2 YEARS
More than 1,000 high street bank branches have closed over the past two years as more customers go online and banking services are offered at Post Offices, research from Which? has found.
Across the UK, 1,046 bank branches were shut or were set to close between January 2015 and the end of this month, according to the consumer group.
According to Which?, HSBC cut the most branches, at 321, equating to about a quarter of its network, followed by RBS Group, closing 191 branches, or 10% of its network.
It said Lloyds Banking Group, which includes Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland, had shut 180 branches, or 14% of its network. The rapid growth of customers going online to do their day-to-day banking is often given as a reason for closing branches.
Which? said it was told by HSBC that the number of visits to branches had fallen on average by 40% in the past five years as customers moved to banking online.
But Which? said that many of those who did not use online banking had poor broadband connections. It said bank branch closures often happened in rural areas with poor broadband speeds. (Business Reporter)
5. JUST EAT IS SPENDING £266 MILLION TO ACQUIRE RIVALS HUNGRYHOUSE AND SKIPTHEDISHES
London-based food delivery company Just Eat is continuing its recent acquisition spree, announcing Thursday it plans to spend at least £266 million to acquire two of its rivals.
Just Eat said it has agreed to acquire British takeaway service Hungryhouse from German parent company Delivery Hero for a base purchase price of £200 million, with a further cash consideration of up to £40 million, based on performance.
The acquisition, which is being funded through cash and credit, is expected to generate incremental EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization) of between £12 million and £15 million, Just Eat said in its announcement.
The acquisition will be subject to approval from UK competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority. The company is also acquiring Canadian online food delivery service SkipTheDishes for an initial consideration of £66.1 million ($110 million Canadian dollars).
Just Eat has acquired a number of its competitors in 2016. In August, it bought the British assets of food delivery startup Takeaway.com for an undisclosed price. And in February, Just Eat spent £94.7 million to acquire Spain’s La Nevera Roja, Italy’s PizzaBo/hellofood Italy, Brazil’s hellofood Brazil, and Mexico’s hellofoodMexico.
While Just Eat is buying up its rivals in order to expand, it still faces healthy competition in the UK from the likes of Uber Eats and Deliveroo. Just Eat reported a 59% increase in revenues to £171.6 million in the six months ended June 30 2016. (Business Insider)
6. LIDL UNDERLINES POST-BREXIT COMMITMENT BY CREATING 5,000 JOBS IN LONDON
Lidl is to create 5,000 jobs in London and invest £70 million in a new UK headquarters in the capital as the German supermarket reaffirms its commitment to Britain following Brexit. The budget retailer said the jobs are part of plans to open nearly 250 new stores in London as it pushes ahead with a three-year £1.5 billion UK investment plan.
Lidl has also received planning permission for a new 240,000 square feet head office in Tolworth, Kingston, where it will move 450 staff from Wimbledon.
The group currently employs 19,000 in the UK and has been stepping up the expansion of its UK operations of late. It plans to more than double the number of British stores to 1,500, recently opened a distribution centre in Southampton and has committed to open warehouses in Wednesbury, Exeter and Doncaster.
In September, Ronny Gottschlich was replaced as Lidl’s UK boss by Christian Hartnagel after overseeing the supermarket’s rapid rise across the country. Lidl and its fellow German discount chain Aldi have shaken up the UK grocery sector and sparked a bitter supermarket price war by stealing market share from Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. (Business Reporter)
7. TRUMP WIPES $3.5 BILLION OF LOCKHEED STOCK WITH ONE TWEET
US President-elect Donald Trump has sent another stock reeling into the red. Barely a week after taking shots at Boeing, Donald Trump took aim at Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet programme, saying the cost was “out of control”.
“The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th,” Mr Trump said.
Following the tweet on Monday morning, shares of the aerospace company plunged by more than 4 per cent in early trade. Based on the number of shares outstanding, the tweet has shaved just over $3.5bn from Lockheed’s market value.
Shares of the New York-listed company fell by more than 5 per cent by midday on Monday, and had not fully recovered by market close. By 4pm Eastern Time, the share price had only bounced back half way by about 2.5 per cent.
The President-elect’s comment has also had a knock-on for other companies involved in the project, which is worth up to $400bn over the contract’s duration. Shares in Northrop Gumman were down 4 per cent, while Britain’s BAE Systems saw its stock slip 1.3 per cent after Mr Trump’s tweet. Neither of those companies’ share prices have recovered throughout Monday.
Mr Trump’s latest twitter firestorm comes just one week after he used the same social media platform to take aim at Boeing over costs for the replacement Air Force One. Boeing fell by 1.5 per cent after the tweet but ended the trading day positive.
Although Lockheed’s dip is temporary, it is a reminder of investors’ knee-jerk reaction when the President-elect expresses his views on a company. His tweet is also a cause for concern in the longer term, as the anticipated increase in defence spending in 2017 may not be as lucrative to contractors as they had hoped. (The Independent)
8. ASOS CREATES 1,500 UK JOBS
Asos has proven online fashion retail is still firmly en vogue – after it said it wants to create another 1,500 jobs at its Camden headquarters, and is taking another 40,000 sq ft to house them. The roles will stretch across disciplines including technology, marketing, content and retail, it said this morning.
That means it needs to increase the size of its current HQ at Greater London House to 250,000 sq ft. Architects Spacelab are redesigning the building using “bespoke, mobile-first technology” as part of a £40m overhaul.
“Our people are what make ASOS special. We are creating a workspace that fosters creativity, where they can enjoy what they do” said Nick Beighton, the retailer’s chief executive.
“Greater London House is such an important part of the company’s history, as well as Camden’s, so I’m thrilled that we get to stay in our home, while building a workplace for the future.”
In October the company reported a 26 per cent jump in sales in the year to the end of August, although profits fell by a third thanks to one-off costs.
Still – it bucked the trend of the overall fashion industry, whose market has shrunk by £700m in the past year, according to research from Kantar Worldpanel. (City A.M)
9. INFLATION FIGURES AND INTEREST RATES
The Bank of England has scaled back its outlook for rising inflation over the next few years after a recent upturn for the pound. It said sterling had recovered some ground thanks to “evolving expectations” of the nature of the UK’s EU divorce arrangements, amid growing speculation about a “soft” Brexit deal.
The Bank set out its revised expectations as it announced interest rates were being left on hold at 0.25% – after they were cut to the all-time low in the wake of the Brexit vote.
All nine members of its Monetary Policy Commttee (MPC) voted for no change and to leave its quantitative easing (QE) stimulus programme at £435bn. The Bank targets inflation of around 2% and would be under pressure to raise rates to keep it under control if prices surge. (Sky News)
Inflation has risen to a two-year high as the impact of the fall in the pound starts to feed through to households. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation rose to a higher-than-expected 1.2% in November, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
It was up from 0.9% in October and the highest rate since October 2014. ONS analysis showed that the slump in sterling since the Brexit vote was starting to feed through to the CPI rate in “high import intensity” areas such as fuel. (Sky News)
10. WORKING CONDITIONS
Retailer JD Sports is to launch an investigation following claims aired in a documentary that conditions are “worse than a prison”.
The company said it was “deeply disappointed and concerned” by footage broadcast by Channel 4 into the Kingsway site in Rochdale – though insisted it was not an “accurate reflection of our culture”.
Claims that the firm operated a “three strikes and you’re sacked” policy and airport-style security checks were made in the broadcaster’s report.
The episode will inevitably draw unwelcome comparisons with practices at rival Sports Direct, which has been under intense scrutiny over working conditions at its Shirebrook facility in Derbyshire.
JD Sports said that it did not operate a “strike” policy and that “workers cannot be fired on the spot”, with the firm following a fully-outlined disciplinary procedure based on the ACAS code of practice.
But it said it would be launching an “investigation onto the implementation of our policies at our Kingsway facility”. (Sky News)
Amazon has been accused of creating “intolerable working conditions” after allegations that workers have been penalised for sick days and that some are camping near one of its warehouses to save money commuting to work.
Willie Rennie, the Liberal Democrat leader in Scotland, said Amazon should be “ashamed” that workers at its warehouse in Dunfermline have chosen to camp outside in the winter.
He made the comments after the the Courier newspaper published photographs of tents near the site that it said were being lived in by Amazon workers. It said at least three tents were pitched close to the warehouse by the M90 in Dunfermline and that a man living in one of them had said he was an employee who usually lives in Perth.
A Sunday Times investigation found that temporary workers at the warehouse were being penalised for taking time off sick and put under pressure to hit targets for picking orders. It also claimed that although workers could walk up to 10 miles a day doing their jobs, water dispensers were regularly empty.
Amazon has hired 20,000 agency workers for the peak Christmas season, more than doubling its workforce. Staff have to pay to catch an agency-provided bus to the Dunfermline site. (The Guardian)