Euro zone businesses started 2018 by increasing activity faster than at any time in well over a decade as new orders surged despite firms raising prices at the steepest rate in almost seven years. As Sonia Legg reports, surveys also showed China’s services sector got off to a flying […]
SEOUL (Reuters) – Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee left a South Korean jail a free man on Monday after a panel of judges suspended his sentence, a surprise decision that sent shockwaves through the country’s political and business establishments. Coming just days before South Koreans gather to host the Winter Olympics, the ruling reignited an intense public debate over widespread corruption in a case that ousted President Park Geun-hye from office last year and has ensnared leading members of the family-run “chaebol” conglomerates.
Seoul High Court sentenced Lee to two and a half years in jail on charges including bribery and embezzlement – reducing the original term by half – but suspended the sentence for four years, meaning that he is unlikely to serve any more time in jail. Lee, 49, heir to one of the world’s biggest corporate empires, had been detained since last February. Emerging from a Seoul detention center where he had briefly returned for his belongings after the ruling, Lee stood in the frigid February air and apologized for “not showing my best side”.
“The past year has been a really valuable time of looking back on myself,” Lee told reporters in a sometimes shaky voice.
(Reuters) – Apple Inc and Cisco Systems Inc have teamed up with insurer Allianz SE to offer discounts on cyber insurance to businesses that primarily use equipment from both technology companies, they said on Monday. The arrangement, which also includes insurance broker Aon Plc, will help businesses fortify their cyber security defenses and make them eligible to score more favorable terms for cyber coverage, such as lower or no deductibles, along with support services in the event of attack, the companies said.
“The key here is a holistic approach to cyber,” Jason Hogg, chief executive officer of Aon Cyber Solutions, which helped develop the product, said in an interview.
The offering helps to streamline cyber security for businesses, which Hogg said are often addressed in a “siloed manner,” with everyone from technology staff to legal departments playing separate roles.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Nearly 100 Belgian companies called on Monday for Germany’s Lufthansa to keep Brussels Airlines based in Belgium and not to merge it with Eurowings, to protect jobs and business links. Lufthansa (LHAG.DE), which took control of the Belgian national flag carrier in 2016, is discussing proposals to change its chief executive and chief financial officer at a Brussels Airlines supervisory board meeting. Executives at Belgian firms including Solvay (SOLB.BR) and AB Inbev (ABI.BR) said in an open letter that the connectivity offered by Brussels Airlines was strategically important for Belgium and its ability to export products and services.
“We are today advocating that Brussels Airlines remains a strong airline, anchored in Brussels, that meets the needs of the various segments in the market,” they wrote in the letter published on the website of communications firm Akkanto.
Five businesses have been removed from takeaway food app Just Eat after an investigation found they were not registered for food hygiene ratings. One of the firms was supposedly based at the site of a car wash in Basildon, Essex, BBC Inside Out East found. The website and app takes orders on behalf of more than 28,000 food outlets in the UK and has 10 million customers. Just Eat said it required firms to have food hygiene ratings and was making them easier to access on its products. When the BBC visited the address in Basildon, there was no evidence it had been used for anything other than a car wash for at least two years.
Another takeaway not registered for hygiene checks, which has since ceased trading, was found in Braintree, Essex.
Sales of new diesel cars fell by 25% in January with the industry blaming “confusion” over government policy. Diesel sales were 25.6% lower than in January 2017, dragging overall sales down 6.3%, an industry body reported. The Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders said confusion over government policy was causing buyers to hesitate. Diesels have been the focus of air quality concerns, prompting speculation that owners could face higher taxes or limits on where they can be used. The government has stated a long-term goal to ban the sale of new cars running solely on petrol or diesel by 2040.
Ryanair is warning of “localised disruptions” as it recognises unions across the countries it operates in. The airline, which resisted worker representation for years, is also expected to extend union recognition to cabin crew. Last month Ryanair agreed to recognise a union for its 600 UK pilots. That followed a row over pilots’ rotas which saw thousands of flights cancelled. Ryanair also said that it expects fares to fall 3% this year. In a trading update the airline said profits for the three months to the end of December had risen 12% to €106m (£93.6m), while passenger numbers rose by 6% in the period to 30.4 million.
Ryanair said: “As we finalise union discussions along similar lines to that agreed in the UK, we expect some localised disruptions and adverse PR so investors should be prepared for same.” It said that once that process had been completed, it expected to have “similar engagement with cabin crew unions”.
Mike Fairman spent years working for big telecoms companies. He was struck by how distant they were from their customers. What if mobile phone companies could be run like local businesses, which people feel close to? Giffgaff calls its customers “members” and asks them to help run the company. Over two million people have now signed up – many of whom are looking for an alternative to the giant telecoms firms.
As bullets whistled down the streets and tear gas swirled through the air like a toxic fog, Florin and Mariuca Talpes knew that their lives would never be the same again. Little did the couple know then that they’d go on to become two of their country’s most successful business leaders. It was back in December 1989 that Florin and Mariuca were caught up in the Romanian revolution.
“We were on the streets while bullets and tear gas were around us,” says Mariuca, who was 26 at the time.
“We had two twin boys, they were three then… I said to Florin I have to go home and take care of them.”
Thankfully, they their sons were unharmed in the violent overthrow of the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his communist administration. But suddenly Mariuca and Florin, then 32, faced an uncertain economic future. As the state apparatus disintegrated, they were unsure if they would keep their jobs in the government’s computer research institute; or if they did, whether they would be paid. So they both quit in January 1990 to set up their own company. Today their business, Bitdefender, is one of the world’s most popular providers of cyber-security and anti-virus software. With annual revenues of more than $120m (£85m) the firm is valued at $600m.