Category: Markets

Copper Slump as Price Plummets

Copper Slump as Price Plummets

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The London Metal Exchange has reported a drop in the price of copper as Greek economy fears and lower than predicted purchases by the Chinese cause price crash. The speculation has left the price of the metal at 5723.00 US dollars per ton today, with the last month seeing a low of 5,642.50 US dollars per ton on Monday 22nd June.

Wood Mackenzie analysed the issue in February and cited numerous worldwide social and economic factors as key to the slump in price that has been taking place since the start of this year: ‘The fall in the oil price at the end of 2014 was clearly the initial trigger, compounded by the collapse of the Russian rouble, slowing growth in China, Japanese recession, the Greek elections and further signs of weakness within the European economy.’

Greece, a major importer of copper, has been holding tough negotiations on the repayment of their vast debts and faces problems with staying in the European Union, leaving them with an uncertain economic future. Another major factor could be the strike at Chile’s copper mine Collahuasi, with workers caught in a fierce dispute with the mine’s managers over working conditions.

 China, a global force in the imports market, reduced their importing of copper, with many speculating that this was due possibly to necessary smelting machinery maintenance. The acquisition of Las Bambas copper mine in Peru, which is held in majority by Chinese state owned firm Minmetals, highlights China’s commitment to the purchase of the metal and its use in construction, but recent predictions expect them to produce more copper than expected in a new contract with MMG.



NovaBay Announces $6.86 Million “At Market” Private Placement
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

NovaBay Announces $6.86 Million “At Market” Private Placement

Investors have agreed to purchase 10,893,648 units consisting of one share of NovaBay common stock and a warrant to purchase an additional one-half share of common stock. The cost per unit is $0.63. The warrants, totaling rights to 5,446,824 shares, exercisable beginning on the date six months after the date of issuance, entitle the holders to purchase one share of common stock at a price of $0.78 per share, and include a provision for forced conversion if the common stock trades at or above $1.00 for 10 out of 20 consecutive trading days. This warrant will expire, unless exercised, 18 months following the date of issuance. If fully exercised, these warrants would bring approximately $4.2 million of gross proceeds to NovaBay. The closing of the private placement is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions. The offering is expected to close on or about May 22, 2015, subject to customary closing conditions.

China Kington Investment Co Ltd acted as the sole placement agent of the offering, with Maxim Group LLC acting as financial advisor to NovaBay. Eric Wu, Executive Director of China Kington Investment, commented on the private placement by affirming his company’s support for NovaBay. “We are optimistic about NovaBay’s future prospects through its ability to establish a large sales network and grow its market share in the global eye care market. We also believe that NovaBay has the potential to become a leading pharmaceutical company in Asia with its partner China Pioneer Pharma. We plan to be the company’s long-term financial partner to support these goals.”

NovaBay intends to use the net proceeds from this offering for working capital and general corporate purposes, including research and development, clinical trials and selling, and general and administrative expenses, including sales and marketing expenses related to launching its Avenova™ product across the U.S.

The foregoing securities were offered in the private placement and have not been registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or under applicable state securities laws. Accordingly, these securities may not be offered or sold in the United States except pursuant to an effective registration statement or an applicable exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act and such applicable state securities laws. As part of the transaction, NovaBay has agreed to file a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for purposes of registering the resale of (i) the shares of common stock sold to the investors, and (ii) the common stock issuable upon the exercise of the warrants.

This notice is issued pursuant to Rule 135c under the Securities Act and does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy the securities, nor shall there be any sale of the securities in any state in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to the registration or qualification under the securities laws of such state. Any offering of the securities under the resale registration statement will only be by means of a prospectus.

Banks are to pay £3.6bn for Forex Rigging
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Banks are to pay £3.6bn for Forex Rigging

Four banks – JPMorgan, Barclays, Citigroup and RBS – have agreed to plead guilty to US criminal charges.

The fifth, UBS, will plead guilty to rigging benchmark interest rates.

Barclays was fined the most, $2.4bn, as it did not join other banks in November to settle investigations by UK, US and Swiss regulators.

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that “almost every day” for five years from 2007, currency traders used a private electronic chat room to manipulate exchange rates.

Phil Beckett, partner at Proven Legal Technologies – the corporate forensic investigation and e-disclosure experts, comments on the latest news that five banks are to pay a total of £3.6bn worth of fines for forex rigging.

He says “The Forex scandal brings to life the real need for effective communications monitoring. Serious employee malpractice could have been captured by a more thorough analysis of communications in a proactive context. Intelligent analysis of company data and communications – such as chat messages – on a regular basis can provide early warnings of issues such as those uncovered in the Forex scandal.

“Until now, audits of company data have primarily been used posthumously as way of finding out “what went wrong”. However, prevention is always better than cure, and the financial services sector needs to get much better at using technology to spot problems before they occur if we are to avoid future crises – and penalties – such as these.”

Demands of the  Digital Consumer

Demands of the Digital Consumer

The evolution of consumer expectations as a result of the digital revolution has drastically altered their approach to financial services according to new research by IRESS, the leading supplier of wealth management, financial markets and mortgage systems.

IRESS’ report “Data, Disruption and the Digital Consumer” highlights the level of pre-purchase research undertaken by consumers. 80% of consumers surveyed online now conduct research before making a significant purchase or investment decision. This is largely due to the impact that price comparison sites have had, as 52% of consumers use them, 60% trust them and 33% say that they have had a positive impact on them personally. Company websites are the next most popular method (49%) to research products while 19% use peer review websites and 29% say that they use a specialist website.

• 80% of consumers now conduct research when making significant purchases or investments, with online crucial
• Despite this, consumers less likely to secure complex products unassisted online
• Consumers believe financial services lags behind other industries (retail and music lead) in technology adoption
• Consumers call for single view of all their financial information and improved security
• A quarter (25%) of consumers are willing to pay for professional financial advice

The Online Opportunity
Despite the research consumers are undertaking online, their comfort in making online unassisted decisions is inconsistent across financial services. While 56% of people in the online survey had carried out a bank account transaction online, consumers are less likely to implement more complex product decisions or make transactions with longer lasting impacts without using any other channels. For instance, just 2% have secured a retirement product solely via the internet, 3% have secured a mortgage while only 9% have invested in stocks, shares or funds. However, there is clearly appetite for greater online access, with almost one third of people saying they would feel comfortable securing a mortgage solely online (30%) or investing in stocks and shares or funds (31%). The gap to be filled here would seem to be providing some level of assistance or scaled advice.

More than two thirds of consumers (68%) were positive on the impact of technology in their interactions with financial services firms. However, it is clear that the industry has more progress to make. When asked which industry had embraced technology the most in the last five years, nearly a quarter (23%) stated retail, with music a distant second at 12%. Financial services scored lower, with 9%.

There are clearly innovations that consumers need and would like to see implemented. Nearly a quarter of people (23%) said they would like the ability to view their financial world – bank accounts, mortgages, investments, insurance – in one place. The joint most popular response was increased security through the use of biometrics, which 23% of people said was one of the innovations that they would most like to see. Fully integrated customer service options across phone, online, social media and text (18%) was the next most popular prospective advance.

The Future Shape of Advice
Financial advice remains an important service for many people. Overall, a quarter (25%) of consumers are willing to pay for professional financial advice, with this figure rising steeply for those with higher incomes (42% of respondents with a household income of more than £60,000). There are clearly online opportunities for efficiently delivering this advice to a wider audience. However, when it comes to planning how much to save for future retirement, almost half (44%) of consumers still prefer the reassurance of face to face advice with an adviser – clearly, digital is to form part of a ‘menu’ of advice options.

Simon Badley, Managing Director (UK), IRESS, commented: “Digitalisation has meant the needs and demands of consumers has undergone a seismic shift in the last decade. Financial Services companies need to do more to match the consumer experience and engagement expectation and build more trust from the digital consumer. Without innovation from established companies, the industry will be more prone to disruption.

“Regulatory change and in particular the pensions freedoms have highlighted a need for access to financial advice but the solution will not be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This research has shown that many consumers still want face to face advice when planning for retirement yet will happily make financial decisions online in other scenarios. The future is undoubtedly multi-channel.”

The report has also led IRESS to the development of five key foundations:
• Unify engagement via multiple financial advice options ranging from full advice, scaled or guided advice and self-service.
• Simple and secure multi-channel engagement and customer support will help consumers switch between channels based on advice need or assistance in real-time.
• Integration of research and advice functions into digital models to take advantage of the high level of online research already being conducted on financial decisions
• Provision of simple but detailed information and guidance online via semi-automated prompts for people to utilise when researching, selecting or altering products
• Leverage technology to provide consumers with a consolidated single view of their overall financial position, ensuring consistency between channels.

Investors Urged to Reviews Portfolios After Global Bond Market Sell-off
MarketsStock Markets

Investors Urged to Reviews Portfolios After Global Bond Market Sell-off

The message from Nigel Green, deVere Group’s founder and chief executive, comes as the woes surrounding government bonds prompt wider market volatility.

He says “It is still too soon to say if this is the start of the bear market in bonds that some analysts have been forecasting for the last couple of years.

“Unsure if this is a blip or not, now is not the time for hasty decisions. Now is the time for investors to review their portfolios, to be vigilant, and to seek out the potential opportunities with a good adviser.

“Whenever there is a fall-out, or periods of heightened market turmoil, there will always be opportunities for investors and it’s up to financial advisers to seek out the right ones for their clients.”

He continues: “Bonds have had an overdue correction in some countries, whilst other countries appear to have had a more knee-jerk reaction.

“We could indeed have reached a turning point for the bond market, but investors shouldn’t react with haste at this point.”

Toshiba Stocks Drop 17% After Accounting Probe - $2.5 Billion
MarketsStock Markets

Toshiba Stocks Drop 17% After Accounting Probe – $2.5 Billion

The stock closed 16.6 percent lower at 403.30 yen in Tokyo on Monday, giving the company an overall market value of about 1.7 trillion, close to 300 billion lower than Friday’s close.

In April Toshiba warned that it could have underestimated costs of their infrastructure prohects throughout 2012-2013. They reported that an internal probe found more irregularities, which includes a failure to records losses related to construction work. 

Global Bitcoin Exchange
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Global Bitcoin Exchange, itBit, Starts Accepting U.S. Customers Nationwide.

 Through a trust company charter, granted by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), itBit has established the itBit Trust Company, organized under New York State banking law. This makes itBit the only U.S.-chartered and supervised bitcoin exchange able to offer unique protection and security for customers in full compliance with New York and federal law.

“Our mission at itBit has always been to create a trusted, institutional-grade exchange and regulatory compliance is an important pillar of that mission”

“Our mission at itBit has always been to create a trusted, institutional-grade exchange and regulatory compliance is an important pillar of that mission,” said itBit CEO and co-founder Charles Cascarilla. “Regulatory approval from the NYDFS allows us to serve as a custodian for our clients’ assets and expand our services to U.S. customers – the largest market of bitcoin traders in the world – and allows us to do so with the highest standard of care afforded by any Bitcoin company.”

With oversight from the NYDFS, the itBit Trust Company provides unparalleled security and protection for all client deposits and assets. All client deposits and assets, including both bitcoin and fiat currency, are held for customers in secure custodial accounts in order to ensure the safe return of customer balances. In order to provide further heightened protection, itBit has partnered with an FDIC-insured and regulated U.S. banking institution to provide assurances to all U.S. clients that their fiat balances are held in the U.S. and with the benefit of FDIC-insurance (up to $250,000 per account).

Keurig Green Mountain Earnings Stock Fall
MarketsStock Markets

Keurig Green Mountain Earnings Stock Fall

The company had a number of excuses for the reasons why. However it is mainly due to the fact that there is just too much of it’s stock sitting in stores – unsold. Especially the new Keurig 2.0 Model. 

“We do have some headwinds,” said Chief Financial Officer Fran Rathke on a call with analysts.

Investors are withdrawing substantially. Stocks in Keurig (GMCR) fell 10% on thursday after the markets opened for trade. Overall this year their stocks are down by 25%. This must have come as a big shock for the company as it was previously one of the most desirable stocks in 2013 and 2014 with over $1 billion in sales. 

Brian Kelley, CEO, assures consumers that he is listening and promises that the changes will be made. One of the biggest problems consumers have is that the 2.0 model only allows branded coffee from Keurig to be brewed. He also said “Quite honestly, we were wrong. We underestimated the passion the consumer had for this,” on a call with analysts on Wednesday. 

For the future Keurig plans to bring back the ‘My K-Cup’ accessory that allows other brands to be brewed in the machine. It is also working to launch the Keurig KOLD system in the fall, which it hopes will drastically change how people consume cold beverages in the home. Still, the company lowered its financial projections for 2015, citing the challenges of the “complex product transition.”

Will China Become a Net Exporter of Sulphuric Acid?
MarketsStock Markets

Will China Become a Net Exporter of Sulphuric Acid?

Over the past four years, sulphuric acid production from smelters alone in China has ballooned by 6 million tonnes, while total supply from all forms of production is up by 16 million tonnes.

Despite the growth in domestic acid production, China remains a key market for global sulphuric acid trade. Imports total around 1 million tonnes of sulphuric acid each year for the fertilizer and industrial chemicals sectors, to meet growing domestic demand. Smelter acid from South Korea and Japan are the key sources of imports. Throughout the research for Integer Research’s new Sulphuric Acid Market Service, we delved into the impact of the future supply/demand acid balance in China on global trade.

Only around 7% of global sulphuric acid production is currently traded on an annual basis, with prices in the merchant market often fluctuating significantly based on smelter acid availability. Any drop in Chinese imports as a result of increased domestic supply and without an equivalent increase in demand could have a dramatic impact on the flow of trade to and from the country. At the same time, with the risk of Chinese acid imports of acid potentially reducing, we expect the same outlook for Chile, an even larger importer of acid. The potential drop in imports in these two countries begs the question over sulphuric acid pricing in the future, and what markets will absorb any diverted trade or trade reversals. Brazil had earlier been expected to increase its consumption of acid, but with key phosphate fertilizer projects shelved, the outlook is also stagnant in the coming years.

Sequa Petroleum N.V. Closes Convertible Bond Offering of U.S.$300 Million
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Sequa Petroleum N.V. Closes Convertible Bond Offering of U.S.$300 Million

Following the launch on 21 April 2015 of the offering of a convertible bond of up to U.S.$300 million maturing in April 2020, Sequa Petroleum N.V. announced that pricing of the Bonds took place on 24 April 2015 and settlement completed today.

The Bonds, which were issued at par in an initial aggregate principal amount of U.S.$300 million and will be convertible into approximately 85.7 million new Sequa Petroleum N.V. ordinary shares, representing up to approximately 30% of the ordinary shares of Sequa Petroleum N.V. following conversion in full of the Bonds.

Proceeds from the offering will allow the Sequa Petroleum group to finance its acquisition activities as well as being used for its general financing and corporate purposes.

The Bonds were issued with an annual coupon of 5.00% (which will be payable semi-annually in arrear). The initial conversion price is U.S.$3.50 per ordinary share. The conversion price is subject to customary adjustments pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Bonds. The Bonds were issued by Sequa Petroleum N.V. and are intended to be listed on the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange on or before the first interest payment date in respect of the Bonds.

The repayment obligation under a previously existing shareholder loan (drawn down in an amount of approximately U.S.$126 million with approximately U.S.$3 million of accrued interest) was settled by issuing Bonds in exchange for that loan on a dollar for dollar basis, free of payment.

In addition, U.S.$95.6 million in aggregate principal amount of the Bonds were issued and are held on behalf of the Issuer for the purposes of prospective sales to third party purchasers outside the United States. Any such Bonds which have not been sold during the period of six weeks immediately following today’s closing will be cancelled and holders of the Bonds will be notified of the final issue size following the expiry of the six week period referred to above.
U.S.$75 million of the proceeds from the issuance of the Bonds (less certain fees and expenses) were paid to Sequa Petroleum N.V. at closing.

Anoa Capital S.A. is acting as Sole Global Coordinator, and, together with ADS Securities LLC, Abu Dhabi, as Joint Bookrunner. In addition, Sapinda Asia Limited, an existing shareholder of Sequa Petroleum N.V. has entered into a commitment, subject to regulatory approvals, to subscribe for up to U.S.$62.5 million of additional ordinary shares in Sequa Petroleum N.V. during 2015.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Prices €1.15 Billion of Senior Notes
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Bristol-Myers Squibb Prices €1.15 Billion of Senior Notes

€575,000,000 in aggregate principal amount of 1.000% notes due 2025 and €575,000,000 in aggregate principal amount of 1.750% notes due 2035, in an underwritten public offering.BNP Paribas, Goldman, Sachs & Co., Merrill Lynch International and Morgan Stanley & Co. International plc are acting as joint book-running managers of the underwriters.

Bristol-Myers Squibb intends to use the net proceeds from the offering, together with cash on hand, to fund the redemption of €500 million aggregate principal amount of 4.375% Senior Notes due 2016 and €500 million aggregate principal amount of 4.625% Senior Notes due 2021. The offering is expected to close on May 5, 2015, subject to customary closing conditions.

The final prospectus supplement and accompanying prospectus, when available, may be accessed through the SEC’s website at Alternatively, the issuer, the underwriters or any dealer participating in the offering will arrange to send you the prospectus and prospectus supplement if you request it by calling BNP Paribas at 1-800-854-5674, Goldman, Sachs & Co. at 1-866-471-2526, Merrill Lynch International at 1-800-294-1322 or Morgan Stanley & Co. International plc at 1-866-718-1649.

These securities are offered pursuant to a registration statement that has become effective under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. These securities are only offered by means of the prospectus supplement and prospectus relating to the offering. This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any offer or sale of these securities in any state or other jurisdiction, where the offer, solicitation or sale of these securities would be unlawful prior to the registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or other jurisdiction.

About Bristol-Myers Squibb

Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases.

Sequa Petroleum N.V. Launches Convertible Bond Offering of up to U.S.$300 Million
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Sequa Petroleum N.V. Launches Convertible Bond Offering of up to U.S.$300 Million

The Bonds, which will be issued at par, are expected to be convertible into up to approximately 85.7 million new Sequa Petroleum N.V. ordinary shares, representing up to approximately 30% of the ordinary shares of Sequa Petroleum N.V. following conversion in full of the Bonds.

Proceeds from the offering will allow the Sequa Petroleum group to finance its acquisition activities as well as being used for its general financing and corporate purposes.

The coupon (which will be payable semi-annually in arrear) will be determined via an accelerated bookbuilding process currently expected to take place on 21 and 22 April 2015, the results of which are expected to be announced on no later than 23 April 2015. The initial conversion price will be U.S.$3.50 per ordinary share. The conversion price will be subject to customary adjustments pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Bonds. The Bonds will be issued by Sequa Petroleum N.V. and are intended to be listed on the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange on or before the first interest payment date in respect of the Bonds.

The repayment obligation under an existing shareholder loan (drawn down in an amount of approximately U.S.$126 million with approximately U.S.$3 million of accrued interest) will be settled by issuing Bonds in exchange for that loan on a dollar for dollar basis, free of payment.

The remainder of the Bonds will be offered to third party investors outside the United States.
Anoa Capital S.A. is acting as Sole Global Coordinator, and, together with ADS Securities LLC, Abu Dhabi, as Joint Bookrunner.

In addition, Sapinda Asia Limited, an existing shareholder of Sequa Petroleum N.V. has entered into a commitment, subject to regulatory approvals, to subscribe for up to U.S.$62.5 million of additional ordinary shares in Sequa Petroleum N.V. during 2015.

UK Trader Reveals $82.5k Return on Two-Year $10k Challenge
MarketsStock Markets

UK Trader Reveals $82.5k Return on Two-Year $10k Challenge

A home trader who aimed to show how you could turn $10k into $100,000 in just two years has revealed a final position of $82,500.

Charlie Burton, who featured last year on BBC2 documentary Millions By The Minute, began the challenge in March 2013 to show regular traders what can be achieved with a typical starting balance.

His progress was tracked through regular video blogs on YouTube with his return revealed last night (April 23rd 2015) during a live stream at his website.

Charlie says: “My goal was always to reach $100,000 and I am naturally disappointed not to have done so. But the outcome clearly shows how trading is not an exact science.

“Just because you think you can achieve a final position, it doesn’t mean you will. It’s the most important reality of trading. However much you plan, things will happen to knock you off course.”

Charlie placed two or three trades on average each day during the challenge – alongside his day-to-day trading in major currency pairs and U.S. stock index futures. His biggest loss amounted to $9,000 with his biggest single gain at $27,000 coming from a trade on the S&P futures.

He adds: To have turned $10k into $82,500 in just two years is a fantastic return. Whether you’re trading as a professional or from home to supplement your income or pension, it shows just what can be achieved from a relatively moderate sum.”

Charlie’s Top Ten Lessons from the Challenge 

– To focus on what is in front of me, not the end result. Breaking things down into small achievable segments is much easier.
– Ignore the winnings and losses of previous trades. Do not react to them on future trades. What is important is what’s happening now.
– The best trading is done in the mornings.
– After a good winning spell, don’t get over confident.
– After a losing spell, tighten up the trading up and reduce risk. This works well to recoup lost ground.
– The best periods were when I traded the most strictly on the best setups rather than getting side-tracked by average ones when the better ones were scarce.
– I had two larger drawdowns, both as a result of trading at the high-risk tolerance I allowed myself. The lesson is higher leverage doesn’t necessarily give you greater returns. The tolerance was a max risk of 5% on a single trade. Most of the time I traded at a lesser risk.
– At times I was too laid back putting on trades I didn’t need to.
– Focus on just a few markets to keep things simple.
– This was proof of what can be achieved but it takes hard work.

FairFX - First FX Apple Watch App
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

FairFX – First FX Apple Watch App

The free app will enable users to monitor online money transfer and currency exchange rates on the go, with the next iteration also allowing FAIRFX customers to check their prepaid card balances and monitor their spending wherever they are.

FAIRFX already offers an iOS and Android app to its customers, and this latest release for the Apple Watch meets demand for smart devices as customer preferences change and shift towards wearable tech.

Over the coming months, an updated version of the app for the Apple Watch with increased functionality will allow users to manage their prepaid currency card balance from the app.

CEO of FAIRFX Ian Strafford-Taylor, said: “FAIRFX customers use our mobile and web services to save money and hassle on foreign exchange, so it’s key to offer them a choice of the latest technologies that fit with their active and busy lifestyles. We are proud to offer an app which enables people to stay up to date with currency rates and make smart choices about when to transfer money internationally or order travel money.”

The app will be available to download from the iOS app store shortly after the Apple Watch is released on Friday (April 24th 2015).

Synergy FX Announces over 150 % Gain in First 19 Months for Funds Management
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Synergy FX Announces over 150 % Gain in First 19 Months for Funds Management

The extreme performance, along with the company’s varied innovative products, such as the Hybrid ECN account, are primary reasons Synergy FX is on the verge of dominating the Forex broker market.

CEO Christian Dove had this to say: “We are very pleased with the results of our Funds Management team. The gain for the first 19 months indicates an annualized return rate of over 95 percent, which is unheard of for fully regulated funds of this type, and displays a truly robust nature. Coupled with our new Hybrid ECN account, which offers a completely innovative approach to trading, our results show precisely why Synergy FX is a market leader. In the future the company will continue to innovate and surprise the market with additional high performance funds management products such as the upcoming “Arbidyne” equity based product, cementing our dominant position in the industry.”

Synergy FX recently launched the Hybrid ECN account as a result of Black Thursday, when many traders took a massive hit after the National Bank of Switzerland removed the ceiling on the Swiss franc, causing the currency to double in value almost overnight. Thousands of accounts were wiped out, with many going steeply into a negative balance. The market demanded a solution, which Synergy FX quickly offered.

“The Hybrid ECN account has been designed to offer traders protection from negative balances, which are automatically forgiven. This is a promise we make in writing and is guaranteed for every trader who holds a Hybrid ECN account. What makes this account unique in the marketplace is that it also offers excellent performance thanks to raw bank spreads and our low commissions,” Dove said of the Hybrid ECN account.

Synergy FX has seen a massive spike in new accounts after launching Hybrid ECN, and the company has expanded accordingly by taking on staff and investing in server and network capacity upgrades to make sure the increased load can easily be handled.

New Investment Platform Launches to Unlock the Potential of Frontier and Emerging Markets
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

New Investment Platform Launches to Unlock the Potential of Frontier and Emerging Markets

The platform is the brainchild of Co-Founders Lucien Moolenaar and Will Tindall and aims to link ambitious, well-run companies seeking finance with international investors pursuing the potential of higher returns from some of the world’s fastest growing markets.

Many small and medium-sized businesses around the world find themselves in a ‘funding gap’, where banks and private equity firms have failed to provide much needed financing for growth. Emerging Crowd offers qualifying businesses an alternative financing solution using state of the art crowdfunding technology.
The first two companies to list on Emerging Crowd are Bozza and Neo:

• Bozza is an exciting new mobile and desktop platform for downloading and streaming music, video and spoken word content created by emerging and established artists from across Africa. “About 60% of Africa’s population is under 25, and they’re eager media consumers willing to pay for quality online content” says Bozza founder and CEO Emma Kaye, a veteran of several successful startups and a globally recognised leader in mobile innovation. The unique Bozza catalogue goes beyond platforms like iTunes, Spotify and Netflix, bringing a diverse range of new programming to a global audience while letting artists stay in control of their content. Bozza has set an initial funding target of £500,000 to scale its unique mobile-centric platform throughout the continent and the globe.

• Neo is an established and fast-growing chain of coffee shops in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy. Founded in Lagos in 2012 by two brothers, former bankers Ngozi and Chijioke Dozie, it already has the largest number of coffee shops of any chain in West Africa. Neo’s CEO, Ngozi Dozie, explains: “Nigeria’s consumers are only just discovering coffee shop culture — the growth potential is huge. To put this in context, South Africa, with a GDP of $350bn and a population of 50 million, has over 200 outlets owned by branded coffee chains. Nigeria has a GDP of $520bn, three times the population and a middle class that has grown by 600% over the past 15 years, and yet Neo, with just a handful of locations, is already the largest branded chain of coffee shops in Nigeria. Well executed coffee shop chains are a proven business model that has been hugely successful in the world’s richer countries, and the trend is now taking off among the millions of aspirational middle-class Nigerians.” Neo is looking to raise £500,000 of equity on Emerging Crowd to expand across Nigeria.

Interested investors can view detailed disclosure documents and financial information on the Emerging Crowd platform and can ask questions directly to Neo’s and Bozza’s management teams before deciding to invest. Emerging Crowd also offers a streamlined investor relations service so that investors in any deal can monitor their portfolio on the platform and see how their money is being put to work over the lifetime of their investment.

Emerging Crowd’s Co-Founder, Will Tindall, said: “Our aim is to build an online community of investors who are passionate about the exceptional growth opportunities available in frontier and emerging markets. Until now the vast majority of investors have had no way to reach these types of companies, let alone consider buying a stake in them.”
Neo and Bozza are the first of many promising companies to be successfully pre-screened and to be admitted to Emerging Crowd. “We’re committed to investor protection, and all companies on the platform are subjected to world-class legal and commercial due diligence, conducted by Emerging Crowd’s team of experienced investment analysts and external legal and due diligence specialists. The minimum investment in any opportunity is £500, and investors pay no fees to the Platform.

Emerging Crowd’s Co-Founder, Lucien Moolenaar added: “Frontier and emerging markets can offer investors significant growth and income as part of a diversified investment portfolio. Emerging Crowd allows investors to access individual growth-stage companies that would not otherwise be accessible. We combine best practices from private equity, capital markets and crowdfunding, including extensive background checks, thorough due diligence and unparalleled disclosure on every deal. We also require companies to provide quarterly and annual updates, allowing our members to monitor their investments and see the impact they are having in these rapidly growing markets.”

Emerging Crowd is secure and transparent, and the investment documents are governed by English law. Investors will nevertheless need to be comfortable with the higher risks associated with investing in unlisted companies in frontier and emerging market countries. In order to invest on the platform, Emerging Crowd investors will need to meet the eligibility requirements laid down by the Financial Conduct Authority for investment-based crowdfunding.
Emerging Crowd is an appointed representative of Resolution Compliance Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 574048).

Trader Set to Reveal Result of $10k to $100k Challenge
MarketsStock Markets

Trader Set to Reveal Result of $10k to $100k Challenge

A successful home trader is all set to reveal the results of a two-year challenge aiming to turn $10,000 into $100,000.

Charlie Burton, who featured last year on BBC2 documentary Millions By The Minute, has spent 24 months trying to make a 1000% uplift on his starting funds.

During this time, prolific trader Charlie – who deals in major currency pairs and U.S. stock index futures – has run a series of live and recorded video blogs charting his progress. These are available to watch on his company EzeeTrader’s YouTube channel –

And on Thursday night (April 23rd 2015), Charlie will reveal just how he got on.

He says: “I am very excited to have reached the end of my $10k to $100k challenge and to reveal the final total. It hasn’t been easy and there have been plenty of highs and lows.

“I took up the challenge to demonstrate what can be achieved by regular traders with a typical starting balance. And the past two years have shown the realities of trading. It isn’t an instant win or a quick fix.

“As I teach those who come on my EzeeTrader courses, mastering the art of trading takes time and lots of patience to become successful. You can’t make your millions overnight.”

Charlie adds: “I cannot wait to reveal the amount I have made in the past two years during this tough challenge and to talk about the pitfalls and positives that I was confronted with throughout the whole experience.”

Will Big Tobacco Become Big Marijuana?

Will Big Tobacco Become Big Marijuana?

Bud Genius, Inc., a leading laboratory for cannabis testing and profiling, developer of data-driven rating systems for marijuana strains, brand and retail development specialist, and licensee of celebrity-endorsed marijuana-related merchandise, commented today on an article in USA Today, which examined the potential role of major tobacco companies in the cannabis industry.

“At marijuana business conventions and in private conversations, it sometimes seems like everyone has heard a rumor about Big Tobacco getting in.”

“Many fear that tobacco companies, with their deep pockets, longstanding experience dealing with heavy government regulation, and relationships with generations of farmers will jump into the burgeoning marijuana market,” the article stated. “At marijuana business conventions and in private conversations, it sometimes seems like everyone has heard a rumor about Big Tobacco getting in.”

Angel Stanz, CEO of Bud Genius says the corporate giants are inevitable and very few companies will survive the incursion regardless of whether they are publicly traded or privately held. “The one thing that the big tobacco companies will need is data, which they do not have and currently cannot collect. Multinational corporations base their marketing, brand positioning, and product management on data. This includes detailed demographics of their consumers and how attributes of each product appeal to them,” he said. “As the company with the largest combination of quantitative and qualitative data regarding cannabis strain composition and specific consumer interests, I believe that the day the tobacco companies enter the cannabis market is the day that our company value soars.”

In a June 2014 paper titled, “Waiting for the Opportune Moment: The Tobacco Industry and Marijuana Legalization,” researchers Rachel Ann Barry, Heikki Hiilamo and Stanton Glantz wrote: “Since at least the 1970s, tobacco companies have been interested in marijuana and marijuana legalization as both a potential and a rival product… As public opinion shifted and governments began relaxing laws pertaining to marijuana criminalization, the tobacco companies modified their corporate planning strategies to prepare for future consumer demand.”

Stanz thinks this level of competition will be good for the cannabis industry and will keep businesses innovating. “Big tobacco will cause a catastrophic thinning of the herd. Smart companies are acting now to position themselves with unique intellectual property. For example, the tobacco industry is built on brands — Are you the cowboy or the jazz guy? However, these outdated brands will not work in the cannabis industry,” Stanz commented. “The three biggest brand names in the marijuana industry, one of which we recently announced, are beginning down the path of carving out market share and creating market dominance,” he added. “We view the eventual competition from the tobacco industry as building immense value in our data and stimulating the value of name brands – an area where we hold the industry’s brightest star.”

Buyer Demand Drives Double-Digit Growth in Home Sales
Derivatives and Structured ProductsMarkets

Buyer Demand Drives Double-Digit Growth in Home Sales

Although more people are buying in 2015, increased supply has so far kept competition and prices in balance. The last time year-over-year growth in home sales eclipsed 10 percent was in September 2013.

Redfin analysis revealed continued stable price growth last month, at 5.7 percent year over year. While 18.5 percent of homes sold above the asking price, that share is down year over year for the 17th month in a row. It was 19.5 percent in March of last year.

March was also the first month since December 2013 when the overall number of homes for sale shrank year over year, by 0.7 percent, even though the number of newly listed homes increased. New listings will need to keep pace with the high demand we’re seeing so far this year in order to prevent another national shift in favor of sellers. In the West, market conditions have already tilted further in the favor of sellers, according to the most recent survey of Redfin agents. Denver had the highest price growth in the country while also being the fastest market in March, with the average home going under contract within six days.

Local Market Insights

Redfin also took an in-depth look at home prices, inventory and sales across neighborhoods for three cities: San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. A common theme across the three cities was rising prices and a tight supply of homes for sale. San Francisco’s median sale price was above $1 million for the second straight month, rising 15.4 percent from last March to $1.13 million. In the Pacific Heights neighborhood, the median sale price reached $2 million, a 38 percent increase from March 2014. Home values in D.C. rose 5.5 percent in March from a year ago, with the median sale price now at $500,000. Chevy Chase D.C. was the city’s most expensive neighborhood, with the median sale price reaching $1,089,000. Chicago home values rose 11.7 percent from a year ago in March, the third consecutive month of double-digit growth in a traditionally slower market.

As prices rose, inventory remained below a balanced market or grew tighter. There were only 409 properties on the market in San Francisco at the end of March, fewer than in February and a 3.5 percent drop from a year earlier. Locals saw only 1,109 units on the market in D.C., which is less than two months’ supply of homes for sale. In Chicago, the number of homes for sale rose 25.6 percent in March from a year ago, but higher buyer demand is keeping inventory at just 4.6 months of supply.

Mobile Learning Market Worth $37.60 Billion by 2020
Derivatives and Structured ProductsMarkets

Mobile Learning Market Worth $37.60 Billion by 2020

Communication and learning have been an integral part of the education and training process. These, reinforced with technological advancements such as mobility, real time content delivery and others have resulted into the genesis of the mobile learning market. Mobile learning solutions enable educators and trainers to provide real-time interactive training and instructions to the end users through the medium of smartphones and mobile devices.

This not only helps to provide an interactive learning experience but also makes learning not restricted to a classroom or a training room. Furthermore, the applications such as video lectures, audio & video course material, eBooks and others allow the access to information on the go, which further bridges the time and distance gap between the educators and the students / employees.

Mobile Learning Market caters to users from both the academic as well as the corporate world. The market consists of various large and niche players who provide proficient software solutions such as mobile content authoring, e-books, portable learning management system, mobile and video based courseware, mobile content authoring, interactive assessments, content development and m-Enablement.

These solutions are gaining traction in various industry verticals along with education, such as BFSI, healthcare, government, professional services, telecom and IT to name a few. The Mobile Learning Market is consolidated with big players such as IBM, SAP, Net Dimensions, Citrix, Upside learning, among others.

The factors driving this market are growing mobile and smartphone penetration across the globe along with the rise in demand for advanced and digital education. However increasing cost associated with equipment, connectivity and maintenance for mobile learning solutions, is the major restraint for the growth of this market. A large number educational institutions and organizations lack the necessary funding to implement such solutions. Also there still exists a lack of digital clarity among end users thus further restraining the market growth.

MarketsandMarkets broadly segments the global Mobile Learning Market by regions as North America (NA), Asia-Pacific (APAC), Europe, Middle East & Africa (MEA) and Latin America (LA); by solutions as mobile content authoring, e-books, portable learning management system, mobile and video based courseware, mobile content authoring, interactive assessments, content development, m-Enablement; by application as in-class learning, simulation-based learning, corporate learning, online-on-the job training; by user type as Academic (K-12, Higher education), Corporate (SMBs, Large Enterprise), Verticals (BFSI, Healthcare, Government, Professional Services, Telecom and IT and Others).

Bluerock Residential Growth (BRG) Announces Second Quarter 2015 Common Stock Dividends
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Bluerock Residential Growth (BRG) Announces Second Quarter 2015 Common Stock Dividends

Bluerock Residential Growth today announced that its Board of Directors has authorized and the Company has declared monthly cash dividends for the second quarter of 2015 equal to a quarterly rate of $0.29 per share on the Company’s Class A common stock and $0.29 per share on the Company’s Class B common stock.

The monthly dividend on the Class A common stock and Class B common stock will be as follows: $0.096666 per share to be paid on May 5, 2015 to shareholders of record on April 25, 2015; $0.096667 per share to be paid on June 5, 2015 to shareholders of record on May 25, 2015; and $0.096667 per share to be paid on July 5, 2015 to shareholders of record on June 25, 2015.

Why Current Energy Prices Will Not Impact UK Shale Potential

Why Current Energy Prices Will Not Impact UK Shale Potential

To put this potential find in perspective, the entire North Sea production over the last 4 decades is around 45 billion barrels, and the world’s largest oil reserve, Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar, produced an estimated 65 billion barrels of oil since 1951.

Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Energy Corporation (OTCBB: BECC) based in Dallas, Texas, and known by the media as the ‘Frack Master’, will be available for interview in Birmingham on April 15 and 16, when he attends the Shale World UK conference and exhibition. He will also be in London for interviews following the conference.

“We knew about this potential long before it became news and now UKOG has proven what the geology showed. This is actually an extension of the same formation that was being extracted in the North Sea. It just comes on land, and ironically is not far from Gatwick Airport,” Faulkner said. “This is a game changer for England, and they will now have to shift their entire focus on how to approach oil and gas production. There’s too much at stake now for them not to,” he added.

Even at current oil and gas prices, Chris Faulkner thinks shale exploration will still be viable in the UK. “Shale oil gas will take some time to bring online, but this is a long-term investment and prices will always fluctuate up and down. Now the UK can gain independence from foreign supplies by developing this massive resource under its own soil.”

Faulkner feels that the two biggest obstacles to shale in the UK are the complex planning regulations and public opposition. Opponents base their argument on unfounded safety fears, which been proven untrue by US production and confirmed by the highly respected 2014 University of Manchester study claiming fracking can be done safely domestically. Drilling restrictions in the UK are more stringent than the US, pointing to stronger safety precautions amidst increased regulatory hurdles.

Energy security and shale development have not become issues in the current General Election campaign, mostly because of milder temperatures this winter. Last fall, with Russia jawboning to reduce gas flowing through the Ukraine, a cold winter could have led to shortages, and energy independence would certainly have propelled up the political agenda. “The UK is at the end of a very long pipeline and only has two weeks of storage capacity if anything goes wrong,” Faulkner says.

Chris Faulkner will be speaking at the Shale World UK conference and exhibition being held at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Birmingham on Wednesday and Thursday, April 15 and 16. His topic will be: “Can unconventional exploration be economic at current oil and gas prices?”

Iranian Nuclear Deal Could Lead to Oil Flooding the Market

Iranian Nuclear Deal Could Lead to Oil Flooding the Market

“The global oil market could be braced for more uncertainty in the coming months. The Iranian nuclear deal is likely to see sanctions on exports lifted leading to an increase in Iranian crude oil production. The speed at which these barrels hit the market is currently unclear and foreign investment will be key to unlocking this potential.

“Any incremental rise in production will certainly test the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) 30 million barrels per day production quota and add a new dimension to the OPEC meeting in June.”

Institute Launches Six-month Global Trader Mentoring Programme Starting in the Caribbean

Institute Launches Six-month Global Trader Mentoring Programme Starting in the Caribbean

The Institute’s three and six-month Global Trader Mentoring Programmes are open to all Retail Traders globally, and include full trader coaching on a weekly basis with Institute Senior Mentors Raj Malhotra (New York) and Jason Mcdonald (London). Weekly coaching is done on a remote basis after the initial 10-day period of the Mentoring Programme which is held in the Turks and Caicos in July 2015.

During this initial 10-day period, Institute mentees will be expected to complete a hands-on programme directly with Raj Malhotra, Jason Mcdonald, Institute Managing Partner Anton Kreil and their Mentoring Programme peers. After the initial period of 10 days in Turks and Caicos, Institute mentees return to their home countries and the remainder of the three or six-month Mentoring Programmes are spent trading with real money in a live Trading Account and communicating with Raj and Jason directly, via screen sharing and Skype calls.

Traders also have the opportunity to trade as part of a remote trading desk as a team which is backed with real Institute capital and overseen by Institute Managing Partner Anton Kreil.

Eurasia Liquefied Petroleum Gas Market Forecasts

Eurasia Liquefied Petroleum Gas Market Forecasts

Russia is one of the major countries in the Eurasia liquefied petroleum gas market, which is not only expected to garner the largest share, but is also estimated to grow at the highest CAGR. Russia is one of the largest producers of natural gas worldwide and a majority of its production is consumed in the western European countries such as Germany and U.K.

Considering the overall Eurasian LPG market, the market is dominated by the Russian and CIS countries in terms of production; in terms of consumption, the market is dominated by the Western European countries in Eurasia. In the Eurasian region, the demand varies according to various applications that are particular to different countries. For example, the North and East European countries use a large portion of the LPG for residential/commercial application, whereas the Western European countries preferably use LPG for industrial and auto gas applications.

The Eurasian LPG market is segmented on the basis of different applications. Eurasia has lower average annual temperatures; hence, in order to keep homes warm during the winter, the Europeans use different heating mediums. LPG is a better fuel for such applications, as it burns without generating smoke. Hence, in Eurasia, the residential/commercial application of LPG is mostly driven by the use of LPG for heating applications.

The Eurasian LPG market is expected to grow considering the applicability of LPG in various applications. Europe, being a developed region, has people who are conscious about their carbon emission. Hence, the Eurasian LPG market is expected to grow in the auto gas application of LPG.

As of 2014, the Eurasian liquefied petroleum gas market was dominated by Gazprom, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP Plc, and Total S.A. Of these, Gazprom has the highest market share in Eurasia. New product launches and partnerships, agreements, collaborations, and joint ventures are the major strategies adopted by most of the market players to boost the market growth.


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Mongolia - Agrarian Society to Industrialized nation?

Mongolia – Agrarian Society to Industrialized nation?

The daylong Investing in Mongolia Conference will highlight the recent rise of the Asian country as a global hotspot for minerals, precious metals and coal and ask if its booming mining sector can birth a true market economy.

The conference will showcase presentations from a number of private and publicly traded companies with a well-established footprint in the Mongolian market, including:

– Golomt Bank and its wholly owned financial services firm Golomt Securities

– Leading importer Ulemj

– Road and transportation infrastructure developer Khot

– Commercial real estate investor and developer Mongolia Growth Group

– Erdenes MGL, the largest state-owned mining operation in Mongolia

– Mine-owner Sharyn Gol JSC

– Petroleum importer MT Group

In addition, officials from the Mongolian Embassy and Mongolian Stock Exchange will on be hand to provide macroeconomic perspectives. The conference will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.


LV= Comments on UK Inflation Rate
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

LV= Comments on UK Inflation Rate

Steve Lewis, LV= Head of Retirement Distribution commented: “The current economic environment creates a real challenge for someone retiring today. The Governor of the Bank of England has clearly stated that the outlook for inflation in 2015 may well be negative and yet in the next few years inflation will return to target and then rise a little further. The impact on interest rates in the short term has been negative and the knock on effect to annuity rates has been inevitable. Some may therefore take the view that higher rates in 3 to 5 years’ time may provide more attractive conditions for locking into long term guaranteed returns.

“The retiree has to recognise that inflation is perhaps the biggest risk to their retirement income plans. Setting out for a lifetime in retirement based on an expectation that today’s environment will continue would just be wrong. Individuals and advisers need to understand and plan for inflation.

“Pension Freedom regulations coming into force on the 6th April do offer a helping hand to anyone looking to access their pension funds today. The ability to secure a baseline income to cover the household essentials and use the balance of the retirement savings to provide a fund for lifestyle expenditure is now possible. It is still of course essential for individuals to make sure they are underwritten before they look to secure any annuity. Identifying health issues, or lifestyle factors, is not only a good thing to do, but can also result in a significantly higher guaranteed income from an annuity.

“One of the most popular solutions in the LV= portfolio today is the guaranteed income drawdown, commonly referred to as a fixed term annuity, as this offers the individual a guaranteed income for an agreed period of time, with a guaranteed maturity value. It is of course not without risk. Inflation is a very important factor, but predicting inflation for the next 5 years is a lot easier than for the next 25 years.”

UK Businesses Not Sufficiently Prepared for Future Workforce Challenges
Derivatives and Structured ProductsMarkets

UK Businesses Not Sufficiently Prepared for Future Workforce Challenges

The results of the research show that few businesses have comprehensive workforce strategies, with the majority taking a piecemeal approach to planning human capital. Only 15% of organisations polled said there is a clear link between their workforce planning and their overall strategic business plan, showing that where workforce plans exist, they often do so in isolation.

Organisations tend to react to workforce challenges, rather than plan for them. An alarming 47% of those surveyed said that recruitment forecasts for the next 12 months have not been undertaken in their organisations. This reluctance to identify workforce risks leads to poor succession planning, insufficient anticipation of recruitment needs and a lack of understanding of future skill requirements.

The research also reveals that HR departments aren’t segmenting workforces thoroughly enough. This leads to taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach to assessment, management and appraisal, which can be detrimental to the long term performance of a business.

David Knight, Associate Partner at KPMG comments: “One of the biggest issues that business will face in the coming years is the management of human capital. Workforce planning is now seen as critical to sustaining performance and growth, and the responsibility for this lies not only with HR Directors, but with the wider executive team. Poor planning can make it difficult to adapt to changing market conditions, as well as retain talent in competitive industries. The ability to forecast skills requirements, pre-empt workforce risks and deploy resources efficiently will underpin financial success for organisations in future.”

Manufacturing Growth Going Steady
Derivatives and Structured ProductsMarkets

Manufacturing Growth Going Steady

Output has been growing at a decent pace since last August, and despite easing slightly from the previous month, remained above average in March. Manufacturers expect to ramp up production even further in the next three months, just short of February’s robust prediction.

The survey of 468 manufacturers found that total order books climbed down a little from February’s six month high, but remained well above average, with fifteen of the survey’s eighteen sub-sectors reporting stronger than average orders.

Export orders weakened significantly from February’s half year high, falling below their long-run average.

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Director of Economics, said:

“Our manufacturers lost some of their steam from last month, but they continue to move steadily along a decent growth track.

“Sluggish export performance seems to be a headache that won’t go away, with a still subdued Eurozone and headwinds from a stronger pound. But measures in the Budget to support exporters should be a welcome boost for the sector’s longer-term prospects.

“With emerging markets facing a tough time and uncertainty continuing to hang over the Eurozone, firms are having to work even harder for opportunities to sell their products and services around the world.”

How Much Are the UK's Natural Resources Worth?

How Much Are the UK’s Natural Resources Worth?

Between 2008 and 2012 the value of the UK’s freshwater ecosystems, which covers inland wetlands and open water, rose by 26% from £29 billion to £37 billion.

These figures form part of ONS’s efforts to measure Natural Capital, which is aiming to place a value on the economic benefits of our natural resources.

ONS has become an international leader in developing natural capital accounting, which is highlighting the losses, gains and importance of the services provided by natural assets.

Alongside the new analysis of freshwater ecosystems, the ONS is also publishing an interim review of the work to measure natural capital, examining what has been achieved so far and what the project aims to produce by 2020.

The key findings uncovered from Natural Capital to date include:

A preliminary estimate valued the UK’s natural assets at £1.6 trillion, broadly equivalent to the UK GDP.

The value of UK’s non-renewable assets (oil & gas reserves, coal and minerals) reduced by 30% between 2007 and 2011.

The value provided by the UK’s woodlands for carbon storage and recreation was 13 times higher than if it were used solely for timber, an estimated £2.4 billion.

Urban land use increased by 5.4% between 2000 and 2010.

Glenn Everett, Director of the ONS Measuring National Well-being programme, said “The degradation of our natural resources and loss of the services nature provides to people and the economy in not accounted for in the nation’s balance sheet. So there is an important need to take stock of the economic benefits that we receive from our natural assets.”

British Land Exchanges £733 Million of Joint Venture Properties With Tesco

British Land Exchanges £733 Million of Joint Venture Properties With Tesco

The transaction is in line with our strategy to evolve our retail portfolio. It further reduces our foodstore weighting and increases our exposure to multi-let retail parks and shopping centres. Our full ownership of these assets will provide significant potential to add further value through asset management and development.

Charles Maudsley, Head of Retail & Leisure, British Land, said: “This mutually beneficial transaction clearly demonstrates the great relationship we enjoy with Tesco. It plays to our strengths of managing multi-let assets and gives Tesco more control of their stand-alone portfolio. We see significant opportunity to add value and drive returns through asset management and development.”

Key transaction terms

Sale of 50% stake in the Tesco Aqua Limited Partnership (“Aqua”) comprising 21 stand-alone foodstores; portfolio value £352 million (50% share); weighted average lease length of 13.3 years; NIY 4.8%
Acquisition of 50% stakes in Tesco BL Holdings Limited (“TBLH”) and The Tesco British Land Property Partnership (“TBLPP”) comprising 3 retail parks and 3 shopping centres, all anchored by Tesco stores, and 3 stand-alone foodstores; combined portfolio value £381 million (50% share); weighted average lease length of 11.4 years; topped up NIY 5.2%
British Land will make a net cash payment of £96 million to Tesco reflecting the difference in net asset value (including mark to market on debt) for Aqua (£81 million) and the combined TBLH and TBLPP joint ventures (£177 million).
In line with strategy to evolve the Retail portfolio

Stand-alone foodstore weighting reduced from 10% of portfolio to 8%
Increases focus on multi-let assets; number of stand-alone foodstores reduced from 79 to 58
Reduces the number of British Land joint ventures by 3 and the number of assets held in joint ventures by 30
Opportunity to drive returns through asset management and development

Taking full ownership of 660,000 sq ft of retail parks and 730,000 sq ft of shopping centres
Potential to enhance returns through asset management notably at Serpentine Green, Peterborough, Beaumont Leys, Leicester and the Kingston Centre, Milton Keynes
Asset swaps in line with valuation and accretive to earnings

Property asset swaps in line with latest reported valuations
Transaction accretive to earnings
Group weighted average interest rate reduced by 15 basis points

Financial effects

Overall, the transaction is accretive to earnings in 2016 reflecting a £2 million increase in net rent and an £8 million reduction in net interest.

The assets acquired within the TBLH and TBLPP joint ventures generate annual accounting net rental income of £20 million. The assets sold within the Aqua joint venture generate £18 million.

The acquired debt held within the TBLH and TBLPP joint ventures currently bears interest of £5 million per annum. The Aqua disposal saves £14 million of interest per annum and including the £96m of net cash payable to Tesco the interest saving is £8m per annum. The net cash payable will be funded from existing resources.

The Group’s proportionally consolidated weighted average interest rate is reduced by 15 basis points. The proportionately consolidated weighted average debt maturity is unchanged at 8.9 years. The transaction increases LTV by 0.4%.

Net asset value per share is reduced by 3 pence per share principally due to the impact of mark to market on the debt.



Beer Duty – Brewers and Pubs Toast “Hat-Trick Hero” Chancellor

Beer Duty – Brewers and Pubs Toast “Hat-Trick Hero” Chancellor

“The Chancellor really is a ‘Hat Trick Hero’. His third, successive beer tax cut shows he has listened to consumers, publicans and brewers.

“Beer tax is now ten pence lower than it would have been under the beer duty escalator, which he abolished.

“It will boost employment by 3,800 this year alone and attract new capital investment. It will put 180 million pounds in the pockets of beer drinkers and pubgoers. That is a huge difference.

“Cutting beer duty supports a great British Industry which contributes £22 billion to GDP and supports almost 900,000 jobs. It’s also a boost for pubs, as beer accounts for seven out every ten alcohol drinks sold in our pubs.

“The renewed confidence in our sector is reflected in rising beer sales in 2014, for the first time in a decade.

“There is of course more work to de done, and we look forward to persuading MPs in the next Parliament that further action is needed to encourage consumers towards our lower-strength, British-made national drink.”


FireChat Takes Home SXSW Innovation Award

FireChat Takes Home SXSW Innovation Award

Open Garden announced that its app, FireChat, won the prestigious SXSW Innovation Award at this year’s event. FireChat, the first off-the-grid messaging app, took home the coveted award in the “Innovation in Connecting People” category. The winners were announced yesterday at the 18th Annual SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards Ceremony in Austin, TX.

Previously called the Interactive Awards, the SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards showcase the evolving and broadening scope of the digital industry by reflecting the increasingly multifaceted and diverse ecosystem of platforms, software, apps and devices.

“We’re ecstatic that FireChat was chosen for such a respected award at this year’s festival,” said Micha Benoliel, cofounder and CEO of Open Garden. “Our mission is to connect people around the world. The recognition from this team of judges and our peers is wonderful and exciting for our team as we continue our efforts.”

FireChat is a free application for Android and iOS devices. It is available here.

About Open Garden

Open Garden Inc. is a San Francisco based startup dedicated to connecting the next billions of mobile devices with peer-to-peer connections. Open Garden is the publisher of FireChat, the first messaging app that works off-the-grid. Launched in March 2014, FireChat has reached the top 10 amongst social networking apps in 124 countries around the world. 

How the Chancellor's Budget Will Affect UK Businesses Trading Abroad

How the Chancellor’s Budget Will Affect UK Businesses Trading Abroad

“Trade with China dominated the Chancellor’s coverage of exports in his 2015 Budget. He promised to double UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) resources to support exports to China, and posed the reminder that the UK is the first Western country to seek to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Bank in Beijing.

“I would have liked to hear further detail about how the Chancellor expects to achieve the Government’s target of £1 trillion UK exports by 2020. It is encouraging that the Government aims to encourage exports to areas outside of the beleaguered Eurozone, which is currently still the UK’s largest exports market. China is in the process of opening its doors, and is an exciting market to consider. However, although all currencies are subject to national and global uncertainties and risk, China’s currency is less predictable, given that it is in the process of moving towards a free-floating currency. Without the right guidance, companies could see significant currency losses given unfavourable exchange rates.

“Seen this way, it could be said to be risky to place all of our eggs in one basket if the Government is to focus pumping new resources into opening up China to UK exporters. It would seem prudent to spread or extend resources to help UK businesses export to a wider range of overseas markets, so that UK exporters can make the most of other markets in addition to China and the Eurozone.”


BT Opens 'Alexander Black' Concept Store in Milan to Showcase the Future of in-Store Retailing

BT Opens ‘Alexander Black’ Concept Store in Milan to Showcase the Future of in-Store Retailing

BT today announced the opening of a concept store in Milan that gives retailers a vision of how creative use of technology can radically transform the in-store shopping experience. Designed as a real shop branded ‘Alexander Black’, it showcases more than 40 innovative technologies that create a personalised experience for customers who do their shopping in ‘brick and mortar’ stores.

The Alexander Black shop also demonstrates how the in-store experience can be seamlessly integrated with the brand’s online, mobile and customer service channels to create an intelligent and consistent experience across all channels.

The Milan shop, opening six months after the launch of the first Alexander Black store in New York, contains live, real time demonstrations of BT solutions that:
• improve individual customer engagement and the overall in-store experience
• improve the retailer’s in-store operations and support their omnichannel strategy
• provide shop floor staff with real-time visibility of inventory across all channels and global supply chain
• enable shop floor staff to quickly access customer and product information
• provide innovative ways to verify product authenticity and identify counterfeited goods
• make all those solutions accessible through managed mobile devices
• provide in-store security with innovative video surveillance and anti-theft systems, and help manage the flows of cash.

“Bricks and mortar stores are challenged by the very deep changes in customer expectations created by the rise of online shopping,” said Hubertus von Roenne, vice president, Global Industry Practices, BT Global Services. “Successful retailers absolutely need to orchestrate new technology in a creative way and blend the digital and physical worlds so that their customers have the same amazing experience regardless of the place or time of their shopping.”

The Alexander Black store shows how technologies such as RFID, NFC (Near Field Communications), BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), beacons and Wi-Fi can transform the in-store shopping experience.

“From interactive displays to digital screens where the content is personalised by relevant criteria, such as individual shopping history and demographics, there is a huge range of new ways to engage and delight the customers. Being able to integrate these multiple experiences to provide a consistent, joined up brand experience across all channels has become a key priority for retailers. We are delighted to open this new showcase store in Milan, home of some of the world’s most creative retailers,” added von Roenne.

BT’s solutions for in-store retail are globally managed end-to-end solutions, supported by a single global multilingual help desk.

The new Alexander Black concept store is located within BT’s Customer Innovation Showcase in Milan. BT owns a global network of 18 Showcase facilities providing interactive live demonstrations of all the latest solutions that BT is developing and delivering to improve business efficiency, support enterprises’ critical applications and keep ICT services secure.

Specialist Travel Security Team to Take Aviation Data Security to New Heights.

Specialist Travel Security Team to Take Aviation Data Security to New Heights.

The new division is already working with global travel organisations, such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and a number of other key organisations within the travel sector; with the experience gained in years of travel-sector related security work, the team works to protect the world’s largest airports, airlines, associations, data processing centres, global distribution system suppliers and travel agents.

The dedicated airline team will provide comprehensive professional security guidance and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance support for the common use environment and the various organisations operating within the BSP, as well as advice and guidance for the complex challenges the industry faces daily.

Commenting on the launch of this specialist division, Pascal Buchner, Director ITS & CIO at IATA, said:

“As the association that represents 250 of the world’s airlines, we keenly support the development of more intelligent and robust data security within our sector.

“The travel-sector-specific experience that Foregenix has developed and brings to the airline industry will certainly benefit the airlines and our partners in improving their payment security. “

Speaking about announcement, Benjamin Hosack, Director at Foregenix, said:

“We have been working in the travel sector for years with organisations such as IATA and many other large multi-nationals. The payment card data security challenges in the sector are complex and require a very good understanding of the travel industry ecosystem in order to be able to provide guidance.

“Our division is made up of experienced industry professionals who have a background of working with some of the leading travel organisations in the industry. We have the experience and credentials to support our clients in such a complex, yet highly valued sector.”