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Hong Kong’s stock exchange has dropped its multibillion-dollar bid for the prized London Stock Exchange (LSE). The bid was worth £32bn ($40bn) and was dependent on the axing of the London exchange’s planned purchase of US financial data provider Refinitiv.

But the LSE had rejected the offer, saying it fell “substantially short” of an appropriate valuation.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) said it was now in the interest of shareholders to drop the bid.

In a statement, the board said it still believed a tie-up was “strategically compelling” and “would create a world-leading market infrastructure group”.

HKEX had until Wednesday to follow up its initial takeover proposal with a firm bid. Under UK rules, it is not allowed to make another approach for the LSE for six months.

“The board of HKEX is disappointed that it has been unable to engage with the management of LSEG in realising this vision,” it said in a statement.

Shares in LSE dropped 6% in reaction to the news. The LSE’s board rejected the bid unanimously last month and said it saw “no merit in further engagement”.

In a published letter sent to HKEX, the LSE said the bid was “inherently uncertain” because it was mostly in shares, and also because of Hong Kong’s questionable future as a strategic gateway.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said investors had “balked at the anti-trust, regulatory and deliverability issues that the tie up implied”.

However, he added: “We’re slightly surprised HKEX didn’t try again – the fact they didn’t suggests their charms… were completely lost on the big shareholders.

“[LSE] shares slipped… on the open, but what remains unclear is whether one of the large US exchanges comes in.”

We are overwhelmed by the response we received for the above event:

 

“It was very well done, and we thought the gap between presentations was perfect”

Chris Sharp​, becg

 

“Our thanks and congratulations for putting on the outstanding event yesterday.  People I spoke to during the day and the evening were unanimous in their praise of not just your organisational efforts, but also the quality of the gathered audience”

Tom Brooks, London Borough of Hounslow

 

“Well done I heard about all the hard work that went into it to set up such a fantastic and engaging event”

Sukhvinder Dhanjal, Heathrow Airport

 

“Thank you for a great informative session ”

Ash Sanjenbam, Kingfisher Sec

 

“Just wanted to drop you a quick note to say thank you for organising such an informative Regeneration Conference. The speakers were very well chosen and I felt it was time really well spent. Thoroughly enjoyable..”

Deborah Barnes, CLAYTON HOTEL CHISWICK

 

“I just wanted to pass on our thanks on behalf of West Thames, for a really good event”

Rezveer Dwyer, West Thames College

 

Thomas Cook customers who had booked holidays with the collapsed travel firm can now claim for a refund online. About 800,000 people had been due to take trips with the firm in the coming months, according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which is handling the refund process.

It will take 60 days for people to get their money back, the CAA said. The announcement came as the final flight bringing holidaymakers back by emergency repatriation was due to land.

The few remaining passengers who did not return on a CAA-organised flight will have to make their own plans, although those covered by the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence scheme (Atol) will be refunded.

CAA chair Dame Deirdre Hutton said she was “deeply relieved” that “Operation Matterhorn”, the two-week operation to return 150,000 passengers to the UK after the package tour company collapsed last month, was over.

“Staff worked like Trojans 24 hours a day to help everyone, but that was only task one, now it’s task two,” she said, referring to the refund process.

The CAA said the online refund system had been developed due to the large numbers of people affected by the firm’s collapse. In total, the aviation regulator has to refund 360,000 customers, three times larger than any previous refund programme.

People will have to wait up to 60 days for a refund, the CAA said. But those who paid by direct debit will get their money back by 14 October. In total, 100,000 Thomas Cook customers paid for their future holiday by direct debit, of which around a quarter of repayments were already in process, the CAA said.

Staff left without pay

Meanwhile, staff of the collapsed firm have not been paid for September and have to apply for their salary and redundancy related payments to the Insolvency Service’s Redundancy Payment Service (RPS).

About 9,000 staff in the UK were left jobless when the business failed to secure a last-ditch rescue deal.

The travel firm collapsed in the early hours of 23 September, after failing to obtain rescue funds from its banks. An inquiry has been launched by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, with MPs focussing on the directors’ stewardship of the company.

The Financial Reporting Council, the accounting watchdog, will also investigate the auditing of the company.

Unilever, which owns brands such as Surf and PG Tips, says it plans to halve the amount of new plastic it uses in a bid to appeal to younger shoppers.

The firm is responsible for producing 700,000 tonnes of new plastic a year. But Unilever plans to slash that figure over the next five years by using more recycled plastic and finding other alternative materials.

Nevertheless, Unilever boss, Alan Jope, holds that plastic is a “terrific material”. And he maintains that many of the alternatives are worse, saying: “A hysterical move to glass may be trendy but it would have a dreadful impact on the carbon footprint of packaging.”

Mr Jope said Unilever, the UK’s biggest food producer and which also own dozens of health, beauty and cleaning brands, was trying to remain relevant to younger consumers who worry about plastic use.

He said millennials – normally thought of as those born between 1980 and 1995 – and Generation Z, which is more poorly defined but generally considered to be those born between the mid-1990s and 2010, cared about “purpose and sustainability”.

They also worry about “the conduct of the companies and the brands that they’re buying”. “This is part of responding to society but also remaining relevant for years to come in the market.”

He said there was “no paradox” between sustainable business and better financial performance.

“We profoundly believe that sustainability leads to a better financial top and bottom line.”

200,000 bottles a minute

The move follows similar announcements by several other companies.

Procter & Gamble – which makes Fairy and Lenor – said in April that it planned to halve the amount of plastic it used by 2030.

Meanwhile, Nestle announced that it would phase out all non-recyclable plastics from its wrappers by 2025 and Coca Cola has said that it will double the amount of recycled plastic it uses in the 200,000 bottles it makes every single minute by next year.

Now, Unilever has added its name to the list of firms promising to cut back on plastic with a pledge to recycle as much plastic as it makes by 2025. But Mr Jope said responsibility for reducing plastic could not fall to industry alone.

He called on UK councils to harmonise recycling policies so that manufacturers can make instructions clearer to consumers.

“If there was a standardised approach to collecting, sorting and processing, I think it would allow industry to standardise labelling and make it easier for people to segment their waste,” he said.

Unilever, which is one of the largest companies in the UK, has insisted that changing its packaging would not push up prices.

BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley is stepping down next year after running the oil company during one of the most turbulent periods in its history.

Mr Dudley – who has spent 40 years with BP – has been chief executive for nine years, taking over after the Deepwater Horizon drilling accident.

He will be replaced by BP insider Bernard Looney in February. He is the third FTSE 100 chief this week to step down, following similar news from Tesco and Imperial Brands.

Helge Lund, BP’s chairman, said Mr Dudley “was appointed chief executive at probably the most challenging time in BP’s history”. The Deepwater Horizon drilling accident, in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, killed 11 workers and caused an environmental catastrophe.

It cost the oil company more than $60bn (£49bn) and caused extensive damage to its reputation.

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon

Mr Lund said: “During his tenure he has led the recovery from the Deepwater Horizon accident, rebuilt BP as a stronger safer company and helped it re-earn its position as one of the leaders of the energy sector.

“This company – and indeed the whole industry – owes him a debt of gratitude”. But there have been other controversies.

‘Creative’

In 2016, investors voted down a 20% pay increase for Mr Dudley, and only this week the Royal Shakespeare Company said it would end its partnership with BP after concerns were raised by students about the company’s impact on the environment.

In August, BP sold its last operation in Alaska but insisted this was not the result of pressure from environmental campaigners.

Mr Dudley said his successor was a “terrific choice to lead the company next”.

“He knows BP and our industry as well as anyone but is creative and not bound by traditional ways of working”.

Mr Looney, an Irish citizen, joined BP in 1991 after a degree in electrical engineering from University College Dublin.

Since 2016, he has been running the “upstream” part of BP since 2016, which produces about 2.6 million barrels equivalent of oil and gas a day.

But he began his career as a drilling engineer, worked in roles in the North Sea, Vietnam and the Gulf of Mexico, including as a drilling engineer on the Thunder Horse field discovery.

The 49-year old, who grew up on a farm, has spoken out on mental health issues. Last month, he told the industry publication Energy Voice said that his father suffered from depression and he had “decided to talk about the subject of mental health and my own experience”.

“The first thing we need to do is make it OK to talk about – end the stigma and make it a leadership act,” he said. Mr Looney will be paid a salary of £1.3m, as well as bonuses and a pension allowance of 15% of his salary.

BP’s announcement comes at the end of a week that has seen several departures of high profile FTSE 100 bosses.

On Wednesday, Tesco’s chief executive Dave Lewis surprised investors when he said he would leave the supermarket chain next summer. He will be replaced by Ken Murphy, who has held senior roles in the group that owns chemist chain Boots.

Imperial Brands announced on Thursday that its chief executive, Alison Cooper, would be standing down. It has not yet named a replacement for Ms Cooper, who was one of the five women running a FTSE 100 company

Airivo, flexible office space provider, are delighted to announce the acquisition of Chislehurst Business Centre in Kent.

The 15,000 ft² Grade II listed building, can deliver flexible office accommodation for up to 35 SME’s and provides support and virtual services to over 160 local businesses. It is one of the longest standing serviced offices in Greater London. The acquisition represents part of Airivo’s plan to expand across London as well as other key locations in the UK.

Airivo have already drawn up plans to significantly invest into the building over the next few years to enhance some of the period features of this late 1800’s character property.

Naveen Bhandari, Managing Director at Airivo said; ‘We are thrilled to add this fantastic period building to our portfolio. Neil Durrant and his team have operated the centre very successfully for many years and we look forward to developing the business and being part of t he Chislehurst business community.’

Spencer Tagg, Head of Operations commented; ‘Chislehurst is the third new centre to join the Airivo brand over the last two years, taking ou r portfolio to seven centres . We’ve established a winning formula to support a range of businesses of different sizes by creating flexible bespoke solutions and we welcome the opportunity of enhancing the offer at Chislehurst.’

Airivo have been providing flexible workspace for over 15 years. They currently operate from a number of locations in West London, Shoreditch and Birmingham City Centre.

Messrs Ereira Mendoza acted on behalf of Airivo to acquire the business. Gerald Eve acted on behalf of Chislehurst Business Centre Ltd.

For more information please contact;
Kate Akul on 020 8434 3400

Former Conservative leadership candidate Rory Stewart is quitting as an MP to run for London mayor as an independent candidate.

He will stand in next year’s election against current Labour mayor Sadiq Khan and Tory candidate Shaun Bailey.

Mr Stewart tweeted it had been a “great privilege” to serve Penrith and The Border for the last ten years.

He was expelled from the Tories in the Commons with 20 other Brexit rebels, but remained a member of the party. Mr Stewart announced his intention to stand for London mayor in a video on Twitter, saying: “I’m leaving that gothic shouting chamber of Westminster.

“I’m getting away from a politics which makes me sometimes feel as though Trump has never left London and I want to walk through every borough of this great city to get back to us on the ground.” It comes after his announcement that he was stepping down as an MP and quitting the Conservative Party earlier.

Writing for his local newspaper, the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald, he said: “As you will be aware, I am no longer allowed to run as Conservative MP in Penrith and The Border.

“Because I have loved the constituency so much, I had considered standing as an Independent; but I have decided that I wouldn’t want to run against those Conservative members who have been such wonderful colleagues over the last 10 years.”

In his newspaper column, he said he was “hugely grateful” for the support he had received from members of his local party, but added: “It should be no secret that there are also local party members who would rather I did not run again.”

‘Great shame’

Robert Craig, president of the Penrith and The Border Conservative Association, said Mr Stewart may not have resigned if he had not had the whip removed by the prime minister.

“It’s a great shame and it is not unexpected given he is still out in the wilderness with the whip removed,” he said.

“I suppose had that changed… it seems to have become clear that that wasn’t going to change and he has other ambitions.” He praised Mr Stewart as an “inspirational” MP who had attracted a broad church of followers, and criticised Mr Johnson for taking the party in an “extreme” direction.

  • Who were the Conservative Brexit rebels?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson expelled 21 MPs from the Parliamentary party at the start of September after they rebelled against him in a bid to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

Some long-serving figures – such as Ken Clarke and Sir Nicholas Soames – are planning to stand down at the next election, while others, such as former Chancellor Philip Hammond and former attorney general Dominic Grieve – are reported to be considering standing as independents.

Metro Bank has announced that its controversial chairman and co-founder Vernon Hill will leave the embattled lender by the end of the year.

The bank said in July that Mr Hill would be stepping down as chairman but had initially said he would stay on as a non-executive director and president. His departure was announced after last week’s share price crash when it abandoned plans to raise £250m. But those fundraising plans were revived on Wednesday.

The bank confirmed it had raised £350m in the bond markets. It is more than the original plan but Metro Bank has offering better terms to attract investors. Its share price soared by 22% in afternoon trade.

The fundraising comes as the bank remains under pressure since revealing a £900m accounting error at the beginning of the year.

The lender has already begun searching for Mr Hill’s replacement, which it said was “progressing well”. It added that if it does not find a new chair by the time Mr Hill is scheduled to leave, it will appoint one of its non-executive directors to the role on an interim basis.

In January, Metro Bank disclosed it had misclassified loans that it made to companies and landlords.

The Bank of England’s regulatory arm and the Financial Conduct Authority, the City watchdog, both began investigations into Metro Bank. Since then, its profits have fallen sharply after customers withdrew £2bn worth of deposits over the six months to June.

The lender subsequently admitted in the prospectus for its now failed £250m debt issue that both probes had been expanded to include senior members of management and warned that they could lead to “criminal and/or civil liability for the bank”.

It also said that “making redress, and the cost of any regulatory sanctions may involve significant expense”.

Tesco’s chief executive Dave Lewis is to leave next year after leading a turnaround plan for Britain’s biggest supermarket chain. In move that surprised analysts, Mr Lewis – who took the helm in 2011 – said the decision was “personal”.

Ken Murphy, who has held senior positions at the owner of chemist chain Boots, will replace him.

The departure was announced as Tesco reported a 6.7% rise in first-half profits to £494m. Tesco chairman John Allan said he had accepted Mr Lewis’ resignation with “regret” and said the chief executive intended to leave “in the summer of 2020”.

Mr Lewis said: “I believe the tenure of a chief executive should be a finite one and that now is the right time to pass the baton. The turnaround is complete, we have delivered all the metrics we set ourselves.”

The 54-year-old added: “I am going to take some proper time out, recharge the batteries and think about what comes next.” Analysts at Shore Capital said he was “the bloke that saved Tesco”. He took the helm at a tumultuous time for the supermarket group, announcing shortly after he took over in 2014 that the retailer had been overstating its profits.

The company subsequently revealed a loss of £6.4bn, the biggest-ever suffered by a UK retailer. Since then Mr Lewis has set about reducing costs, with the latest of round job cuts announced in August when it said 4,500 staff in 153 Tesco Metro stores would lose their roles. He also took on the discounters Aldi and Lidl by opening Jacks, Tesco’s own discount chain.

‘Total surprise’

Mr Lewis also orchestrated Tesco’s 2017 takeover of Booker, the biggest food wholesaler, in a £3.7bn deal to create the “UK’s leading food business”.

Bernstein analyst Bruno Monteyne told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that there had been speculation about Mr Lewis’ future after that deal as Booker’s chief executive Charles Wilson had joined at the time.

“We’re all trying to grapple exactly about the timing right now,” said Mr Monteyne. His departure now was “a total surprise”, he said.

Mr Lewis had joined five years ago “at a very difficult moment” for Tesco, Mr Monteyne said.

“Not only had it lost the trust of the customers, losing material market to the discounters, it ended up with an accounting fraud… internal morale broken. He really took over a broken company, and from being the most profitable retailer in Europe, suddenly had losses for the first time ever.”

A third of senior management jobs will be axed at the John Lewis Partnership as the company streamlines its structure from February next year.

The partnership is merging the managements of its High Street department stores and Waitrose grocery chain into a single team.

John Lewis has been struggling in a tough retail climate.The restructuring aims to save £100m, through the loss of about 75 of its current 225 senior head office roles.

One of the senior partners who will depart is Rob Collins, managing director of Waitrose, who has been with the business for 26 years. He said there was not a role in the new structure that he believed would be right for him.

John Lewis chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said: “These changes will be difficult for some of our Partners and we will implement as carefully and sensitively as we can.”

Employees at John Lewis, including both management and shop floor staff, are known as “partners” due to the company’s co-ownership model.

There would be “little or no disruption” for customers, he said, but the restructuring would create a more unified leadership team and cost structure.

Last month, the retailer reported a half-year loss for the first time in its history amidst a difficult UK retail environment.

“The lesson of the last two years is that we need more innovation, faster decision-making and bolder steps to align our operating model with our strategy,” the chairman said.

The company said of the customers that accounted for its greatest sales, the majority shopped at both its department stores and at Waitrose. Retail analyst Richard Lim said it was a “bold” move which should deliver cost-saving efficiencies.

“Against a backdrop of rising costs and fiercer competition, a new leaner and flexible operating model will help restore profitability during a period of rapid change within the sector,” he said.

However, Thomas Brereton, retail analyst at GlobalData, warned the changes would have to be implemented carefully to avoid disruption.

“The long-term impact of running a unified strategy for two retailers with such a varied proposition is questionable,” he said.