Costa to be separated from Premier Inn within two years, owner Whitbread confirms

Following weeks of speculation, the group has confirmed it will demerge the coffee chain
The Costa coffee chain will be spun off from its owner, Whitbread, within the next two years, the group revealed on Wednesday.
Shares in Whitbread rose at the open after the company confirmed that it would demerge the high street cafe business and retain control of hotel chain Premier Inn, following weeks of speculation.
Read more Coffee cups: major chains fail to match Costa’s recycling targets Costa launches ‘chatter and natter’ tables to help combat loneliness Now activists want Costa cut free of Whitbread Earlier this month, it emerged that activist investor Elliott Advisors had built up a stake of more than 6 per cent of Whitbread, enabling it to apply more pressure on the group to split Costa off, on the basis that both Costa and Premier Inn would do better as more focused individual businesses.
In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, Whitbread said it is “confident” that Costa ..

Lloyds Bank profits rise 23% as lender cuts jobs and branches

Shares in the lender edged down Wednesday morning
Lloyds Banking Group has reported a 23 per cent increase in profits to £1.6bn in the first quarter of the year, weeks after announcing another round of branch closures and job cuts.
The lender posted a 4 per cent increase in net income for the three months to 31 March, from £4.18bn this time last year to £4.33bn, while earnings per share rose 36 per cent to 1.5p from 1.1p.
Read more Lloyds Banking Group to cut 305 jobs and close 49 branches across UK Lloyds rakes in billions, but how much is too much? Lloyds posts largest annual profit in over a decade “In the first three months of 2018 we have again delivered strong financial performance with increased profits and returns, a significantly reduced gap between underlying and statutory profit and a strong increase in capital. These results continue to demonstrate the strength of our business model,” said chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio.
“The UK economy continues to be resilien..

Wanted at Chinese Start-Ups: Attractive Women to Ease Coders’ Stress

Wanted at Chinese Start-Ups: Attractive Women to Ease Coders’ Stress BEIJING — China’s vibrant technology scene is searching for people like Shen Yue. Qualifications: Must be attractive, know how to charm socially awkward programmers and give relaxing massages.
Ms. Shen is a “programmer motivator,” as they are known in China. Part psychologist, part cheerleader, the women are hired to chat up and calm stressed-out coders. The jobs are proliferating in a society that largely adheres to gender stereotypes and believes that male programmers are “zhai,” or nerds who have no social lives.
“They really need someone to talk to them from time to time and to organize activities for them to ease some of the pressure,” said Ms. Shen, a 25-year-old who has a degree in civil engineering from a university in Beijing.
Chinese women have made great strides in the workplace. The country has the world’s largest number of self-made female billionaires, while many start-ups have women in senior roles. But..

Fraud against small businesses has cost 50,000 UK jobs, new study shows

Almost one in four SMEs has fallen victim to fraud
Fraud against small businesses has led to the loss of up to 50,000 UK jobs, according to research by Barclays.
A study carried out by YouGov on behalf of the bank found that 44 per cent of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) had been targeted by fraudsters and almost one in four (23 per cent) had fallen victim to fraud.
Read more UK consumers at risk of fraud because British bank security 'lagging' The study showed 10.6 per cent of all SMEs surveyed had suffered a cyber-attack, with 8.58 per cent of those making staff redundant to cover the cost of cybercrime. Based on a total of 5.687m small businesses in the UK, that equates to 52,120 jobs lost.
The average cost of fraud to a business was £35,000, which means the total cost could be up to £40bn to date.
Ian Rand, chief executive of Barclays Business Banking, said: “Fraudsters are targeting hard-working entrepreneurs, in some cases impersonating suppliers and..

Charles Zwick, Who Balanced Budget Under Johnson, Dies at 91

Charles Zwick, Who Balanced Budget Under Johnson, Dies at 91 Photo Charles J. Zwick, left, with Brig. Gen. Paul L. Barton of the Air Force in 1961, when Mr. Zwick was a researcher for the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif. Credit RAND Corporation Charles J. Zwick, who as President Lyndon B. Johnson’s last budget director helped engineer the only federal surplus posted within a span of nearly four decades, died on Friday at his home in Coral Gables, Fla. He was 91.
The cause was cancer, his wife, Barbara, said.
In 1968, Mr. Zwick faced a clamor among congressional conservatives for cutbacks in Great Society social-welfare programs. But he also had to contend with Johnson’s demands to safeguard that agenda and relieve the continuing budgetary pressures imposed by the Vietnam War.
Mr. Zwick managed to reconcile these competing forces with an income tax surcharge.
“When you couldn’t support both guns and butter without an increase in taxes, then you were in trouble,” Mr. Zwick said i..

Gig economy union saves outsourced cleaners at EY from redundancy after protests

Workers had been told last month they faced job cuts and cuts to hours before company u-turned
A union for gig economy workers has scored a victory by saving the jobs of workers who cleaned the London offices of accountancy firm EY.
A group of 65 cleaners contracted through outsourcing company ISS, were told last month that some would lose their jobs and others may be given reduced hours aimed at achieving “operational effectiveness and financial efficiency”.
ISS, which posted revenues of £9.4bn last year, said it had agreed these changes with EY.
Read more Gig economy union files £200,000 holiday pay claim against CitySprint Following action by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), ISS wrote to the workers on Monday night telling them that it had cancelled the planned redundancies and reduction in hours. The company also thanked the staff and their appointed representatives for their professionalism.
The u-turn came after IWGB staged two protests, the first ..

European Regulators Ask if Facebook Is Taking Too Much Data

European Regulators Ask if Facebook Is Taking Too Much Data Data. It is the gasoline that fuels advertiser-supported internet giants like Facebook and the gold that companies mine for their algorithms.
Now regulators in Europe are asking whether Facebook is excessively collecting details about the online activities of internet users — in effect, forcibly extracting a valuable commodity from consumers.
The authorities in a number of European countries contend that Facebook has unfairly used its leverage to collect details about the activities of both Facebook users and nonusers on millions of third-party sites that use tools like Facebook’s “like” button and analytics service. Some of those regulators have developed a novel argument: data coercion.
This month, Italy’s Competition Authority said Facebook was using “undue influence” to get consumers to “consent to the collection and use of all the information concerning them.” In February, a court in Belgium found that Facebook had collec..