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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Firms to get army reservist cash

Category : Business, World News

Small firms are to get cash incentives to release staff for service in the military reserves, says defence secretary Philip Hammond.

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Defence secretary to announce plans to expand and revitalise Territorial Army

Category : Business

Philip Hammond aims to give TA greater stature and considers incentives for ‘patriotic’ companies that employ reservists

Thousands of former soldiers, including those who have just been made redundant, are to be targeted to join the Territorial Army (TA) as part of controversial plans to reduce the size of the UK’s full-time force in favour of the reserves, the government will announce on Thursday.

Ministers are also considering giving kitemarks to reward “patriotic” companies that employ reservists and make it easy for them to be deployed, a green paper will say.

The proposals are all part of the restructuring of the British army, which is being cut in numbers by a fifth to 82,000.

To help offset the reduction, the Ministry of Defence intends to boost the number of reserves from 18,000 to 30,000 by 2020 – it is spending £1.8bn over the next decade providing new equipment, training and uniforms for the part-timers. Ministers are keen to rebrand the reserves to give them more stature.

To ensure the recruits are high quality, the army wants to encourage some of the 18,000 soldiers who leave the service every year to come back into the military fold with the TA.

“At the moment we do not know where they go or what they do after they leave the army,” said a source. “So we need to look at providing incentives for them to become reservists.”

In a speech on Thursday, Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, will say the reserves have “for too long been the forgotten part of our armed forces” and there needs to be a radical shift in the way they are treated and used.

“Over the last two decades, our reserves have fought alongside their regular colleagues, in the Balkans, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, taking the same risks, making the same sacrifice, decorated with the same honours and deserving the same recognition … they have been stretched, but have risen to the challenges they have been set.”

Hammond, who hopes to rename the TA the “Army Reserve”, will say the military is “looking for people who are going to turn out when they’re required to turn out, who are going to do the training they need to do and who are available for deployment.

“So the message to future reservists is clear, promise us you will make the commitment, turn up regularly to train and be prepared to deploy. And in return, we promise to equip you, train you, fund you and use you as an integral part of the British army.”

The green paper will set out ideas to overhaul the reserves and encourage companies to employ them.

The government wants to “reward supportive employers by creating a league of patriotic employers”. It has also promised to give companies more notice before reservists are deployed. However, the army will also need to increase the number of training days for reservists from 35 to 40 a year.

Companies that have already pledged to support the reserves include Deloitte, the AA, BAE Systems, BT, Capita, Carillion and Rolls-Royce.

Jim Murphy, the shadow defence secretary, said: “We support action to enhance the role of the reserves, but the government can go further to protect our reservists’ patriotism. Anti-discrimination legislation, improved pre-deployment training and better mental healthcare are vital. At a difficult time for many companies, employers must be given the support they need when their workers serve on reserve duty.”

Earlier this year, Hammond announced plans to scrap 17 units and up to 20,000 posts from the army. The cuts were one of the major consequences of a budget squeeze which forced the army into a root-and-branch review, and has left it trying to recruit an enormous number of reserves while pushing full-time soldiers to the door.

BAE Systems and EADS in last-ditch talks to salvage deal

Category : Business

BAE and EADS must decide whether to seek an extension for talks, outline the terms of their deal or abandon negotiations

BAE Systems and EADS are fighting to keep their proposed €35bn (£28bn) merger alive as the UK, German and French governments wrangled over the deal before a crucial 5pm deadline on Wednesday.

The UK defence secretary, Philip Hammond, indicated that the three powers – any of which could veto the deal – had outlined their positions on the merger after protracted talks, but negotiations were expected to go to the wire amid a last-minute push to achieve consensus.

Speaking to Reuters on the fringe of a Nato defence ministers’ meeting in Brussels, Hammond said: “I think the companies now have a very clear understanding of the positions and the red lines of the governments involved.” However, it is understood government-level talks were continuing last night.

A source with knowledge of talks between the UK, French and German governments said Berlin was being “particularly difficult”.

BAE and EADS face a deadline of 5pm on Wednesday on whether to seek an extension from the Takeover Panel for their discussions, outline the terms of their deal or abandon talks. Another source close to the negotiations said an extension or failure were the most likely results. The source added: “It is unlikely that a deal will be announced. It is either a case of stating that progress cannot be made, or that there will be an extension.”

An outburst against the transaction this week by BAE’s largest shareholder, Invesco Perpetual, is not being viewed as an immediate deal breaker. “The key thing is to resolve the politics,” said the source.

BAE declined to comment but EADS said the BAE chief executive, Ian King, and his EADS counterpart, Tom Enders, had discussed progress on Tuesday, followed by board meetings expected to last into the evening. “Ian King and Tom Enders will discuss the situation and then decide, jointly with the respective company boards, the way forward,” said EADS.

It is understood that if an extension is sought, it will be for between seven and 14 days.

Last week Germany asked for the combined company’s headquarters to be based in Munich, having sought assurances that the French state shareholding in the new business would be no larger than 9% – the same as Germany’s.

The source familiar with the government-level talks said that France and the UK appeared to have reached an accord, thought to relate to guarantees over state shareholdings in the merged entity. The source added: “The position is that the French and the British are pretty closely aligned, but with the Germans there is another round of negotiations to be done. The Germans feel pretty strongly about this.”

The UK government is concerned that France’s stake could be increased by acquiring the 7.5% shareholding in EADS owned by Lagardère, a French media conglomerate, although that could be mitigated by putting a limit on overall state shareholdings in the combined group.

Speaking at the Nato summit, the French defence minister, Jean-Yves le Drian, said: “We had made a lot of progress, I think, but have we progressed enough? That is up to those who initiated the project to say.”

EADS said on Tuesday morning it was “surprised” to see reports from Germany that the deal had collapsed. However, Berlin is keen to establish parity with France in the combined company and would be unlikely to accept a combined state shareholding limit if that allowed the Élysée to own a larger stake, provided an overall ceiling is not breached.

Germany’s interest in EADS is represented by the 22.35% stake owned by Daimler, the car manufacturer, while the French state and Lagardère also own a combined 22.35%. The British government’s interest in BAE is represented by a golden share that allows Downing Street to block a foreign takeover of the group. However, the biggest barrier to BAE pulling off the deal is located elsewhere on its share register after Invesco, which owns 13.3% of the group, issued a detailed critique of the deal on Monday. Warning that it did not see the strategic rationale for the deal, it said the transaction could jeopardise BAE’s US business, depress dividend payments and create a company driven by politics rather than shareholder value.

“Other than diversification, which investors can achieve for themselves more cheaply and simply, Invesco does not understand the strategic logic for the proposed combination,” the fund management firm said.

Hammond set to discuss BAE merger

Category : World News

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will discuss the proposed merger between BAE and EADS with his French and German counterparts at a Nato meeting in Brussels later.

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Never mind the figures, the economy is ‘healing’, says minister

Category : Business

Defence secretary Philip Hammond will say that gloomy economic data doesn’t chime with more optimistic views in business community

David Cameron’s Tories will this week proclaim the UK economy to be on the road to “sustainable recovery” in a risky attempt to convince voters that short-term austerity will deliver financial prosperity before the next election.

In an interview with the Observer ahead of the Tory conference, cabinet minister Philip Hammond, seen by some in his party as a future chancellor, said gloomy economic data did not seem to chime with the more optimistic views in the business community.

Echoing an opinion likely to be supported by the chancellor, George Osborne, in a speech on Monday, defence secretary Hammond said: “You won’t find anybody, hardly anybody in the business community or in the financial community, who thinks that the economy is doing right now what the data tell us it is doing. There is a mood that the economy is healing.”

Hammond, a multimillionaire former businessman, said that if the eurozone stabilised and there were no economic upsets in the US or Middle East, people could expect a real improvement by the end of 2014.

“If the eurozone remains stable, I think there is at least a good chance that we will start to see some sustained recovery in this economy over the next two years,” he added. “It won’t be growth probably at the levels that we got used to in the last decade, but I suspect it is not unreasonable for us to look for levels of growth that will look healthy by comparison with some of our economic competitors.”

While he refused to utter the phrase “green shoots”, his comments will inevitably draw comparison with those of former Tory chancellor Norman Lamont, who hailed the “green shoots of economic spring” in 1991, well before the economy emerged officially from recession in 1993.

The upbeat message is in tune with the Tory conference slogan “Britain can Deliver”. It shows that the Tories, under pressure in the opinion polls and divided over policy and strategy, are pinning their hopes on securing a recovery well in time for the next election in 2015.

An Opinium/Observer poll on Sunday put the Conservatives on 30%, 11% behind Labour, which has enjoyed a mini-bounce (up from 39% since last weekend) following Ed Miliband’s well-received conference speech on Tuesday. The Labour leader’s personal ratings have improved more dramatically however, with his net approval rating of -10% well above that of Cameron on -21%. Equally problematic for Cameron is that Boris Johnson is now viewed favourably by 51% of voters, compared with just 29% for Cameron. Some 62% think Johnson would attract voters who do not normally vote Tory to the party, against 16% who think Cameron would do so.

The Tories will attempt to launch a fightback against Labour, claiming Miliband has failed to come clean about where he would make cuts and appears in denial about the need to stand firm on the deficit. A theme of the conference will be that after Miliband and Labour “it is time for the grown-ups”.

Hammond added that businesses were now sitting on huge amounts of cash, waiting for confidence to return. “There is an absolute wall of money out there waiting to invest as soon as it appears safe to do so. Once investors can be confident that we are achieving our fiscal objectives, and that we’re not going to deviate from them, the consumer confidence will begin to recover – you will start to see business investment picking up.”

His comments conflict, however, with a ComRes opinion poll for Saturday’s Independent, which showed only 28% of business leaders say economic growth is returning in their sectors, while 32% say it is decreasing and 37% say it is staying the same.

Hammond’s optimism is also at odds with a slew of disappointing economic indicators that suggest the British economy is struggling to climb out of recession. Last week, an industry poll pointed to slowing growth in the important services sector, which accounts for about 75% of UK economic output. The respected Markit purchasing managers’ index for services activity, in which a reading above 50 represents growth, came out with 52.2 in September, down from 53.7 the previous month. Similar monthly surveys for the manufacturing and construction sectors have also suggested a weakening trend.

Last month, the ONS said the UK’s recession-hit economy contracted by 0.4% in the second quarter, slightly less than its previous estimate of 0.5%, and economists are optimistic the third-quarter growth figures, due at the end of this month, will show growth, if only thanks to the Olympics and a bounce-back from the disruption caused by the extra jubilee bank holidays.

While Britain’s economy is still 4% smaller than it was when the recession began in early 2008, both the US and German economies have more than recovered. The US’s economic trajectory is regarded as fragile with its growth for the second quarter revised down to 1.3%. But as eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis rumbles on, Germany’s powerhouse economy is also showing signs of catching a cold with growth slowing to 0.3% in the same period.

The Tories will try to reassure voters about the rising cost of living by promising to freeze council tax for another year, in 2013-14, and cap rail fares at 1% above inflation in 2013. George Osborne had faced a storm of protest from Tory MPs in commuter seats over the soaring cost of rail travel, with many warning that they could lose their seats unless the cap was imposed.

With Johnson’s visit to Birmingham threatening to overshadow the Cameron fightback, there were fresh signs last night of unrest within the party over the prime minister’s leadership.

The Observer has learnt that two senior cabinet ministers, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Gove, are backing a move by the ConservativeHome website to define an alternative path back to power to the modernisation programme pioneered by David Cameron.

The two ministers have helped raise around £500,000 for the new initiative that will fund research, opinion polling and a series of publications. Sources said the organisation believed that Tory modernisation had been badly flawed since it was first launched in 2005.


Hammond Power Solutions Inc. Quarter 4, 2011, Financial Results Gaining Momentum

Category : World News

GUELPH, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – March 12, 2012) - Hammond Power Solutions Inc. (“HPS”) (TSX:HPS.A) -

(Dollar amounts are in thousands unless otherwise specified)

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Proposed 75-Mph Speed Limit for Trucks in Idaho Rejected

Category : World News

Idaho Senator Jim Hammond’s proposal to raise the truck speed limit to 75 mph has been rejected by a Senate committee vote.

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