Saudi Arabia and Japan's Softbank to create world's biggest solar power project

Planned project is expected to have the capacity to produce up to 200 gigawatts of energy by 2030
Softbank Group has announced a $200bn (£141bn) investment to create the world’s biggest solar power project in Saudi Arabia through its Vision Fund private equity arm.
The Japanese conglomerate’s chief executive, Masayoshi Son, told reporters on Tuesday that the planned project is expected to have the capacity to produce up to 200 gigawatts (GW) of energy by 2030.
According to Reuters, that would add to around 400GW of globally installed solar power capacity and is comparable to the world’s total nuclear power capacity of around 390GW as of the end of 2016.
Read more Softbank chief signals interest in Uber and Lyft investment The deal will also fit into Saudi Arabia’s broader goal of diversifying economically and reducing its reliance on the often volatile oil industry – a programme it has dubbed Vision 2030.
The kingdom is one of the sunniest countries in the world but it is also ..

Average British person wastes more than £30,000 in lifetime on monthly direct debits they never use

Around £40 of direct debit spending each montih is for products or services we have either forgotten about or never use
The average Briton will waste more than £30,000 in their lifetime after losing track of monthly direct debits.
Researchers found the typical adult pays out just over £111 in direct debits every month.
But around £40 of that is for products or services we have either forgotten about, or never use.
Of the monthly outgoings we regularly find ourselves paying for, gym memberships were deemed “most expendable”.
Museum memberships, subscription to the National Trust and Cinema club fees were all also considered direct debits we’d cancel if we could be bothered.
The shocking figures emerged following a study by Sky Mobile which was launched after discovering their UK consumers were wasting an estimated £2bn a year paying for data on their phone tariff they didn’t use by the end of each month.
Sophia Ahmad, director of Sky Mobile said: “It’s important to keep an eye on..

Andy Murray invests in UK tech startup

Former Wimbledon champion has investments in over 30 UK startups
Tennis star and three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has injected cash into a UK tech startup and has proposed future investment in a second fintech company.
Murray invested in mortgage lender Landbay, having already invested in the company two years ago. The startup also has the backing of online estate agent Zoopla.
Murray has taken up the option of making a future investment in Landbay in order to maintain his stake in the startup.
Read more How East London's traders are joining forces to demand fair rent The tennis player also intends to back Investly, a startup that offers invoicing solutions for small businesses.
He has now invested in more than 30 UK businesses using Seedrs, a popular crowdfunding platform.
Seedrs did not disclose the amount Murray invested in either startup.
“I can really see the value in Investly for small businesses – the early days of a business can be really tough so helpi..

Mini unveils one-off electric version of iconic original car

It has top speeds of 75 miles per hour
Mini has unveiled a one-off electric version of its iconic original car, as the British firm showcases its zero-emissions technology.
The classic Mini is one of the world’s most recognisable city cars, with more than five million sold between 1959 and 2000.
Now engineers at the Oxford-based manufacturer have transported a classic model into the 21st century by turning it into an electric car.
Read more Sweden steps up hunt for cobalt as electric cars boost demand How electric car batteries sparked a cobalt frenzy in 2017 BMW targets 50% rise in electric car sales in 2018 Global electric car sales jump to record high in third-quarter The road-legal car is fitted with 30 lithium-iron phosphate batteries to give it a range of 65 miles and a top speed of 75mph.
Mini has created the modern vehicle by combining the compact but practical old design with the new zero-emissions technology.
A statement from Mini said: “With this unique vehicle, Min..

Ikea reveals gender pay gap of 6.9%, far lower than retail sector as a whole

Swedish retailer also reports reversed gender pay gap of 10.6% in its distribution business
Ikea has revealed a gender pay gap of 6.9 per cent in its retail business, a significantly smaller difference than the UK average.
The Swedish retailer reported a reversed gender pay gap of 10.6 per cent in its distribution business – meaning it pays women in the division more than men.
Women are paid more in distribution – which makes up just under one-tenth of Ikea’s UK operation – because of a higher number of women in management positions, the company said
Read more EHRC warns of reputational damage for firms that don’t report pay gap In the UK retail sector as a whole, the gender pay gap is 16.4 per cent, according to the latest official figures, while across all businesses the gap is 17.4 per cent.
Ikea acknowledged that while it was ahead of many competitors on equal pay it still has more work to do to close the gap entirely.
Carin Hammer Blakebrough, Ikea’s HR manager for the ..

Trade Deals Take Years. Trump Wants to Remake Them in Months.

Trade Deals Take Years. Trump Wants to Remake Them in Months. Photo Shipping containers at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, Calif. To secure trade agreements quickly, the White House has taken a contentious approach to negotiations. Credit Andrew Gombert/EPA, via Shutterstock Trade pacts typically require years of detailed negotiations. The North American Free Trade Agreement needed two years. Creation of the World Trade Organization took eight.
The Trump administration wants to remake global trade in a matter of months.
To secure agreements quickly, the White House has taken a contentious approach to negotiations not seen in decades, threatening allies and adversaries alike with harsh sanctions like tariffs and quotas. Those tactics have returned a few early concessions from trading partners, including South Korea, whose revised trade agreement was formally announced by the United States on Wednesday.
But it remains to be seen how much American workers would benefit from these de..

One year to Brexit: How businesses in the most economically exposed region of the UK are coping

The North-east has a decent claim to be the economic ‘ground zero’ of a hard Brexit. Yet it’s also one of the heartlands of Leave. The Independent travelled to the region to see how firms there are dealing with the threat hanging over their heads, and the social contradictions thrown up by the referendum
A sword of Damocles hangs over the economy of the North-east of England. That at least is the implication of the government’s own economic analysis when it comes to Brexit.
Internal research leaked from Whitehall earlier this year suggested the North-east’s economy could take a hit of up to 16 per cent from an ultra-hard Brexit, in which the UK crashed out of the European Union with no trade deal. That’s compared to the 8 per cent injury estimated for the UK as a whole.
And that’s a projection of the economic damage over the course of 15 years, relative to staying in the EU. This highly export-reliant region could be damaged even more grievously in the short term if the UK-EU negot..

Brexit: UK car production slumps 4% in February as industry demands 'frictionless' trade with EU

Output for domestic market sees particularly marked decline of 17%
British car manufacturing output fell by 4.4 per cent in February while output for the UK market registered a double-digit monthly decline, the industry’s trade body said.
Production for the domestic market, which accounts for a minority of the UK car industry, plummeted 17 per cent on the previous month to 28,336 vehicles, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said on Thursday.
The figure is the seventh consecutive monthly decline in production for the domestic market.
Read more Car industry issues fresh Brexit warning as one-year countdown looms Exports remained relatively steady, dipping 0.8 per cent to 117,139. More than eight out of ten cars assembled in the UK are destined for overseas, the SMMT said.
Mike Hawes, the SMMT's chief executive, said: “Another month of double-digit decline in production for the UK is of considerable concern, but we hope that the degree of certainty provided..

Bargain Booze owner Conviviality on brink of collapse with 2,500 jobs at risk

Company went cap in hand to investors to raise £125m but it has been unable to convince them of long-term future
Bargain Booze owner Conviviality could be heading for administration after failing to secure emergency funding, placing 2,500 jobs at risk.
Over the past few weeks the firm has seen its chief executive step down after issuing a string of profit warnings and revealing a £30m tax bill.
Conviviality was forced to go cap in hand to investors to raise £125m as a result, but it has been unable to convince them of its long-term future.
Read more Bargain Booze owner says suppliers remain supportive despite tax bill A statement read: “Despite a significant number of meetings with potential investors resulting in good levels of demand, and constructive discussions with a number of key customers and suppliers regarding the provision of support, there was ultimately insufficient demand to raise the full £125m.
“The board wish to thank its customers, suppliers and employees for t..