Manchester United sack Jose Mourinho after poor start

Jose Mourinho, sacked by Manchester United after two-and-a-half years at Manchester United

Jose Mourinho, sacked as Manchester United manager after two-and-a-half years at Old Trafford (pic: SNS Group)


 

Zinedine Zidane is the favourite to become the next Manchester United manager following the sacking of Jose Mourinho.

The Portuguese was in charge at Old Trafford for two-and-a-half years, during which time he won the League Cup and Europa League.

Despite those successes, though, fans have long been unhappy with the team’s style of play under the 55-year-old, who will pocket a reported £22.5 million pay-off.

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and his board of directors finally lost patience with their manager after the weekend loss to Liverpool, which left United 19 points behind the Premiership leaders and in fact closer to the bottom of the table than the top.

The search for a permanent successor is already under way, although the club said it would appoint a caretaker manager until the end of the season with Laurent Blanc fancied to get the nod.

“A caretaker-manager will be appointed until the end of the season while the club conducts a thorough recruitment process for a new, full-time manager,” a club statement said.

“The club would like to thank Jose for his work during his time at Manchester United and to wish him success in the future.”

United’s season has been littered with a string of poor performances and their tally of 26 points from the first 17 league matches is their worst in the top flight at this stage for 18 years.

Frenchman Zidane is out of work at the moment having left Real Madrid in the summer after two-and-a-half years at the Bernabeu.

He won three successive Championship League titles and La Liga during his successful spell in charge.

Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pottechino and ex-Chelsea manager Antonio Conte are also understood to be among the early front-runners to replace Mourinho.

Manchester United sack Jose Mourinho after poor start was originally published on Daily Business

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Emergency services have been called out to a “major incident” on a ferry from Northern Ireland to Scotland after a number of lorries toppled over

Emergency services have been called out to a “major incident” on a ferry from Northern Ireland to Scotland after a number of lorries toppled over was originally published on Daily Business

Squeeze on costs helps Ogilvie profits rise 8%

Duncan OgilvieOgilvie Group has achieved another year of stable financial performance in 2018, increasing annual profit by 8% to £5.8 million while group turnover fell from £269m to £238m, excluding joint ventures.

Ogilvie Fleet continued to grow its client base across the UK and the fleet size increased by 13% to over 18,200 vehicles, consolidating the company’s position as a top 20 vehicle contract hire company.

It acquired Scorpion Vehicle Management in January 2018 and continued tight controls on vehicle costs and disposals, along with a sustained buoyant used car and van market have contributed to a strong performance.

Ogilvie Construction delivered a strong financial performance in a slow market environment but is now seeing a significant improvement in its order book.

Ogilvie Homes achieved steady growth over the year in line with its business plan as private house sales and average selling prices continued to improve. While there is less dependence on substantial incentives, Help to Buy continues to be popular.

Net-Defence is focused on the provision of IT and cyber security solutions to corporate clients. The company’s staff continue to grow the client portfolio.

Active Auto Solutions, the Lincoln-based accident management business acquired in 2017, has performed well and is expected to deliver continued profit as the full benefits of synergies with Ogilvie Fleet are realised.

Duncan Ogilvie, chief executive, pictured, said: “Despite a drop in overall group turnover last year the increase in profit demonstrates the efficiency of our business processes during what has been a very solid performance throughout the year.

“With a healthy order pipeline, we are confident that the business will continue to grow in the coming year. The Group’s strength lies in the diversity of its businesses and the expertise of their management teams, who are specialists in their sectors.

“We continue to invest in skills and training across the workforce to maintain the high standards of delivery and customer service for which Ogilvie Group is recognised.”

Squeeze on costs helps Ogilvie profits rise 8% was originally published on Daily Business

Technology hope Blippar collapses into administration

Jessica Butcher

Jessica Butcher addressing last year’s Scale-Up Summit at Gleneagles (pic: Terry Murden)


 

One of the big hopes of the UK tech sector, Blippar, has collapsed into administration amid a dispute over further funding.

The augmented reality firm was one of the UK’s tech unicorns – a business worth at least $1bn – and its technology was used for the BBC’s Planet Earth II series.

Corporate insolvency firm David Rubin & Partners announced that it has been appointed as the firm’s joint administrators following an investor dispute.

In 2016 it was named one of CNBC’s top 50 disruptor businesses globally, alongside Uber, Spotify and AirBnB. The company attracted more than $100 million in funding and grew from four co-founders to employing staff across a network of international offices, working with many of the world’s leading brands.

It was set up in 2011 by Ambarish Mitra, Omar Tayeb, Steve Spencer and Jessica Butcher who last year was named one of the 50 most influential women in technology in Europe. She addressed last year’s Business Women Scotland Awards and the Scale-Up Summit at Gleneagles.

In a statement, the administrators said: “Paul Appleton and Paul Cooper of David Rubin & Partners were appointed as joint administrators of Blippar.com Limited on 17 December 2018. They are managing the affairs, business and property of the company.

“The appointment of administrators has arisen effectively as a result of an alleged dispute over continued funding. Following their appointment, the administrators are now exploring all possible options for the future of the business for the benefit of all Stakeholders.”

Employees of the London-based business were said to be concerned about whether they would be paid before Christmas. It is understood the payroll has shrunk from about 265 early last year to 125.

Technology hope Blippar collapses into administration was originally published on Daily Business

Watchdog wants banks to slash customer overdraft fees

Money - own picBanks may be forced to charge a single interest rate for all types of overdraft in order to simplify the system and stop customers being confused.

Some are being charged ten times more for using their overdraft than if they took out a payday loan.

Banks are accused of taking advantage by ramping up fees for unarranged overdrafts, charging flat rates and imposing big fees on customers if they have a payment refused.

Under new proposals customers would be able to compare banks for the best deal. City regulator the Financial Conduct Authority, is also proposing a ban on any fixed fees linked to an overdraft.

Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority the proposals are “the biggest intervention in the overdraft market for a generation.”

Andrew Hagger of Moneycomms says the changes “will prevent customers getting a raw deal on both arranged and unauthorised overdrafts”.

He said: “The banning of fixed-fee overdrafts is long overdue as they are simply punitive, particularly for those who borrow short term or relatively small amounts.

“The banks have tried to claim that fixed fee charging is easier for customers to understand – that might be so but such ‘transparency’ comes at a huge cost for the borrower.”

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said the plans were “negative for investors who own shares in certain parts of the utility sector.”

He said: “Energy distribution group National Grid, loved by many investors for its dividends, is particularly affected by the announcement.

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“Power generation is a free market in most parts of the world, yet regulated utilities’ earnings are usually decoupled from demand, in theory substantially reducing risk.

“Someone like a gas pipe owner would effectively receive back their capital investment over the lifetime of the asset through a tariff set by the regulatory formula, plus receive a rate of return set by the regulator and adjusted over time to take into account movements in interest rates.

“Returns are usually inflation-linked in that most regulation is carried out on a real rather than nominal basis.

“Ofgem says its new proposals will lower returns for investors and generate more savings for consumers. National Grid is not happy, saying the proposed finance package doesn’t reflect the level of risk borne by transmission networks.

“The consensus analyst forecast is for National Grid to pay 48.9p per share in dividends for the financial year to March 2020, implying a 6.1% yield. One could expect dividends beyond 2021 to potentially be less generous should Ofgem’s proposals be finalised without any amendments.

“It shows that even the most defensive companies are still at risk from regulatory changes.”

The proposals include:

  • Ensuring the price for each overdraft will be a simple, single interest rate – with no fixed daily or monthly charges;
  • Tackling the highest costs in the market by stopping firms from charging higher prices when customers use an unarranged overdraft;
  • Banning fixed fees for borrowing through an overdraft;
  • Mandating that arranged overdraft prices must be advertised in a standard way, including an APR (annual percentage rate) to help customers compare them against other products;
  • Telling banks to do more to identify overdraft customers who are showing signs of financial strain or are in financial difficulty, and to help them to reduce their overdraft use.

Watchdog wants banks to slash customer overdraft fees was originally published on Daily Business

Watchdog plans market shake-up to cut energy bills

gas, Ofgem, price capsEnergy regulator Ofgem has proposed reforms that it says could save consumers £45 per year.

It wants to lower the returns network companies can pay to shareholders, and it also wants to lower borrowing costs for energy firms.

Ofgem says Britain is generating increasing amounts of renewable energy and millions of electric vehicles will be on the roads in coming decades. Homes and businesses in the future will get their power and heat from cleaner energy sources.

Consumers pay for the cost of maintaining and upgrading the networks to enable these changes through their energy bills.

Ofgem today has proposed a much lower cost of capital for network companies to raise the billions of pounds of investment needed in the next price control period from 2021. It says this will result in lower returns for investors and more savings for consumers.

Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem’s executive director for systems and networks, said: “We will drive a hard bargain with the companies that build the pipes and wires that bring energy to our homes. From 2021 these proposals will save around £6.5bn, and overall that means households saving around £45 a year.”

National Grid responded with dismay. In a statement it said: “We are disappointed with the proposed financial package, in particular the cost of equity range, as we do not believe it appropriately reflects the level of risk borne by transmission networks.

“In order to deliver the major capital programme required across our networks in a rapidly changing energy market, we need to ensure the regulatory framework also provides for fair returns to shareholders.

Watchdog plans market shake-up to cut energy bills was originally published on Daily Business

Wood hails Amec merger after securing nuclear deal

SellafieldEnergy services firm Wood hailed its merger with Amec Foster Wheeler as the big factor in securing a $66m nuclear power deal.

Aberdeen-based Wood has won a contract to supply programmable digital control technologies to the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria, UK.

Bob MacDonald, CEO of Wood Specialist Technical Solutions, said: “Securing this important framework is proof of the rationale for acquiring Amec Foster Wheeler 12 months ago and a good revenue synergy. We could not have won this contract as separate businesses.”

The 10-year framework covers all stages of system design, manufacture and assembly of equipment, obsolescence management and maintenance support to project work and decommissioning carried out by Sellafield.

The contract will help Sellafield and its wider supply chain to deliver safe, sustainable and cost-effective solutions to full lifecycle controls integration supply at the site.

It was secured by a joint approach from nuclear and automation and controls specialists within Wood.

Wood hails Amec merger after securing nuclear deal was originally published on Daily Business

Fenton takes up director role at Lovell Scotland

Sarah FentonPartnership housing developer Lovell has appointed quantity surveyor Sarah Fenton as regional commercial director.

She joins the Scotland office having spent the previous five years with Robertson Group, preceded by a number of roles with developers including Barratt Homes, NG Bailey, Strathclyde Homes and Bett Homes. 

The appointment is the latest step in developing Lovell’s senior leadership team in Scotland as the company looks to take advantage of a range of land-led development opportunities across the central belt.

Commenting on Sarah’s appointment, Lovell Scotland Interim managing director Kevin McColgan said: “We look forward to new opportunities to develop the business in 2019.

“Sarah brings a broad range of valuable prior experience to her new role and I know she is keen to make sure that Lovell is in a position to take full advantage of future land-led development opportunities here in Scotland.”

Ms Fenton said: “This is a really exciting opportunity to join a well-established company that is open to new ideas.”

Fenton takes up director role at Lovell Scotland was originally published on Daily Business

Big Four accountants face shake-up over audit failures

Carillion sign

The failure of Carillion this year brought concerns over audits to a head


 

Big Four accountancy firms will be forced to split their advisory and audit work in response to failures to spot big company failures.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) also wants to encourage a wider choice of auditors, with audits of the UK’s biggest companies, listed on the FTSE 350, carried out by at least two firms, one of which should be from outside the big four.

The proposals are published as another review calls for the abolition of the accounting industry’s regulator, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), amid claims that it has been too cosy with firms it is meant to regulate.

The review of the audit business follows high-profile company collapses such as construction firm Carillion, which was audited by KPMG, and Bhs, audited by PwC, but goes back at least 20 years to the failure of Enron and the subsequent collapse of the banks.

In spite of this, partners at these firms have typically earned huge payouts and Bill Michael, the UK chairman of KPMG admitted that they operate an oligopoly – a state of limited competition.

The Big Four, which also includes Deloitte and EY, control 97% of big companies’ audits, but also provide them with a range of management services.

The CMA said companies choose their own auditors and,  as a result “we have seen too much evidence of them picking those with whom they have the best ‘cultural fit’ or ‘chemistry’, rather than those who offer the toughest scrutiny.”

The CMA said businesses should be audited by the most challenging firm, rather than  the cheapest.

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While the recommendations fall short of a full break up the CMA said that if they fall short then it will propose further action.

It also proposed changes aimed at opening up the market to give smaller accounting groups access to the largest clients. The regulator is considering a possible market share cap to ensure that some major audit contracts are only available to firms outside the Big Four.

The CMA’s chairman, Andrew Tyrie, said: “Addressing the deep-seated problems in the audit market is now long overdue. Most people will never read an auditor’s opinion on a company’s accounts. But tens of millions of people depend on robust and high-quality audits. If a company’s books aren’t properly examined, people’s jobs, pensions or savings can be at risk.”

Its three main recommendations are:

  • A split between audit and advisory businesses, with separate management and accounts
  • More accountability for those appointing auditors, with the aim of strengthening their independence
  • A “joint audit” system, with a Big Four and a non-Big Four firm working together on an audit.

FRC under fire

Sir John Kingman, who led the review into the FRC, said the regulator should be serving consumers who rely on financial information rather than the accounting firms themselves.

The review recommends that the FRC is replaced by a new Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority. It would have powers to pursue any company director and not just those who are a member of an accounting professional body like the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), heralding the end of industry self-regulation.

Sir John, Legal & General’s chairman, queried why the FRC did not face an overhaul following the 2008 banking crisis, “even though the financial crisis was as much as anything else a crisis of accounting and financial reporting”.

The watchdog cleared KPMG over its audit of HBOS which was said to be in good financial health just months before the bank’s collapse and government bailout.

Brydon review

A third review, led by the outgoing London Stock Exchange Group chairman, Donald Brydon, will question how auditors verify information, identify public expectations and the gap between what audits can and should deliver.

Big Four accountants face shake-up over audit failures was originally published on Daily Business

Flats on Leith waterfront fill one of last big gap sites

Leith flats

Flats on the waterfront


 

Four blocks of flats will be built on a derelict site on Leith waterfront, filling one of the last remaining large gap sites close to the Ocean Terminal shopping centre.

S1 Developments has secured planning permission for 245 flats at a development branded ‘Skyliner’ at Ocean Drive on the edge of Albert Dock.

The flats will be built in four blocks ranging from seven to 13 storeys high and will include 61 affordable homes, of Port of Leith Housing Association is providing 50.

The development will include 154 underground car parking spaces, including 27 electric car charging points and 320 cycle spaces.

The Skyliner development will be built opposite the Cala Homes development of 388 homes.

Flats on Leith waterfront fill one of last big gap sites was originally published on Daily Business