Co-op's £140m takeover of Nisa cleared by competition watchdog

There are enough local alternative grocery stores to ensure people can still shop around to get the best value, CMA says
The UK’s competition watchdog has cleared the Co-op’s proposed £143m takeover of member-owned groceries wholesaler Nisa.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that the two companies do not compete head-to-head and that the deal would not result in reduced quality of service or higher prices for customers.
The CMA said it had carefully considered the impact of the deal because Nisa supplies over 4,000 groceries stores but it took into account the fact that those outlets would still be free to set their own prices and decide which products to stock after the merger.
Read more Co-operative Group secures Nisa deal in injury time thriller After an initial investigation, the CMA decided not to refer the deal for an in-depth “Phase 2” probe.
There are enough local alternatives to both Co-op and Nisa-supplied stores to ensure that people can still shop ar..

City drinks Capita kool aid as shares soar but is this wise?

Investors and ministers are desperately hoping new CEO Jon Lewis can pull off a turnaround. The man who called Capita's problems two years ago says they're taking a lot on trust
Talk about a strange start to the week: Troubled outsourcer Capita started it as the stock market’s hot share.
A company that sparked real fears of it being the next outsorucing domino to fall after Carillon shot up like one of Elon Musk’s rockets as it unveiled details of a £700m cash call, and a £300m disposal programme, four days earlier than expected. Alongside the small matter of a half billion pound pre tax loss.
If that makes you go ‘hmm’, the explanation for it is that there are an awful lot of people who really, really, really want to believe that turnaround specialist Jon Lewis can fix the thing. There are just as many of them working in the City of London as in there are in Westminster, where the government needs another Carillion like a hole in the head.
Read more Capita shares jump a..

Pound sterling falls to five week low against US dollar as GDP and Brexit pressures increase

Sterling has fallen back from a post-Brexit high last week
The pound fell to a five-week low against the dollar on Monday morning, continuing the downward momentum seen last week off the back of worse than expected economic data.
By mid-morning, sterling was down 0.2 per cent to $1.3971, a significant dip from last week’s post-Brexit vote high of more than $1.435.
“After being dragged lower by a disappointing wage growth/inflation/retail sales data hat-trick, and subsequent dovishness from Bank of England chief Mark Carney, the currency was unable to regain any of its first half of April momentum in Monday’s early moments,” said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at SpreadEx.
Read more Pound continues to slide as May interest rate rise put in doubt Traders had been pricing in an almost certain May rate hike, but comments by Mr Carney last week cast doubt on the prospect of rising interest.
“I don’t want to get too focused on the precise timing, it is more about the general p..

UK's best and worst locations for broadband speeds revealed

Despite pledges by the Government to ensure a bare minimum connection speed of 10 Megabits per second, 12 local authority areas are failing reach this level
Households across the UK are still lumbered with substandard broadband and Scotland is the worst-affected region for slow internet connections, new research has found.
The consumer group Which? has revealed the best and worst performing areas of the country and the bottom three – the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands and the Highlands – are all north of the border.
Tamworth in the West Midlands took the top spot for fastest average internet connection, followed by Reading, Adur in West Sussex, Enfield and Dundee.
Read more Welsh village completely cut off from the web finally gets broadband Despite pledges by the Government to ensure a bare minimum connection speed of 10 Megabits per second, Which? found that 12 local authority areas are failing reach this level.
Most of the local authority areas with the slowest connections..

TSB apologises after customers complain of online banking 'data breach'

Some customers say they can view other people’s accounts through app after bank completes technology upgrade
TSB has apologised to customers who could not access their accounts through the company’s app and online banking service on Sunday night and Monday morning.
A number of customers complained of a “data breach” and said that they were able to view other people’s account information through the app.
The problems came after TSB carried out planned upgrade work to its technology over the weekend. The bank had warned that some services would not be available from 4pm on Friday to 6pm on Sunday but customers found that problems persisted beyond this, leaving them locked out of their accounts.
Read more Major companies pull advertising from Facebook over data breach One customer told the BBC that he had been credited with a large sum of money that was not his once he managed to get back into the app.
“My balance, because of my overdraft, is in minus, but my balance was showing a..

Number of zero hours contracts rises by 100,000 in 2017, says ONS

There were 1.8 million contracts that did not guarantee a minimum numbers of hours in the year to November 2017. The equivalent number in November 2016 was 1.7 million
The number of zero hour contracts in the UK labour market rose by around 100,000 last year according to the Office for National Statistics.
The agency reported that in its latest survey of firms there were 1.8 million contracts that did not guarantee a minimum numbers of hours in the year to November 2017. The equivalent number in November 2016 was 1.7 million.
Read more The Taylor review fails to address underlying workplace problems However, as a share of all contracts, the proportion of zero hours contracts was unchanged at 6 per cent.
The ONS also said that the survey that collected the data changed from being voluntary to compulsory between the two periods, meaning that the year-on-year comparison should be “treated with caution”.
The highest number of zero hour contracts recorded by the survey was 2.1 milli..

Capita shares jump as it unveils plans to raise £701m from shareholders to restructure

Rising costs and contract problems have hit the company hard over the past year
Outsourcing group Capita’s shares rose at the open despite the firm reporting widening losses as it unveiled plans to raise £701m to fund a restructure.
The company, which carries out disability benefit assessments on behalf of the government and also runs the London congestion charge scheme, posted a 4 per cent drop in revenue to £4.12bn from £4.27bn in 2016.
The pre-tax loss widened to £513m from a loss of £90m the year before, and the operating loss also widened to £420m, from £16m. The firm slashed its dividend by 65 per cent to 11.1p, compared with 31.7p in 2016.
Read more Here's what Capita does and what you need to know about the firm The group put its widening losses down to contract difficulties and increased costs, and said it “does not expect to be able to offset these challenges through the benefit of cost actions and new business wins”.
Instead, the group will restructure to “bec..

By Stifling Migration, Sudan’s Feared Secret Police Aid Europe

By Stifling Migration, Sudan’s Feared Secret Police Aid Europe Photo Undocumented immigrants arrested last year by Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces. The European Union has made the country a nerve center for an effort to counter human smuggling, but many migration advocates say the moral cost is high. Credit Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters ABU JAMAL, Sudan — At Sudan’s eastern border, Lt. Samih Omar led two patrol cars slowly over the rutted desert, past a cow’s carcass, before halting on the unmarked 2,000-mile route that thousands of East Africans follow each year in trying to reach the Mediterranean, and then onward to Europe.
His patrols along this border with Eritrea are helping Sudan crack down on one of the busiest passages on the European migration trail. Yet Lieutenant Omar is no simple border agent. He works for Sudan’s feared secret police, whose leaders are accused of war crimes — and, more recently, whose officers have been accused of torturing migrants.
Indirectly, he is al..

State and Local Jobs Under Siege as a Middle-Class Gateway

State and Local Jobs Under Siege as a Middle-Class Gateway
OKLAHOMA CITY — The anxiety and seething anger that followed the disappearance of middle-income jobs in factory towns has helped reshape the American political map and topple longstanding policies on tariffs and immigration.
But globalization and automation aren’t the only forces responsible for the loss of those reliable paychecks. So is the steady erosion of the public sector.
For generations of Americans, working for a state or local government — as a teacher, firefighter, bus driver or nurse — provided a comfortable nook in the middle class. No less than automobile assembly lines and steel plants, the public sector ensured that even workers without a college education could afford a home, a minivan, movie nights and a family vacation.
In recent years, though, the ranks of state and local employees have languished even as the populations they serve have grown. They now account for the smallest share of the American civilian..