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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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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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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Dow, S&P hit new highs in quiet trading

Category : Business, Stocks

U.S. stocks continue to set new records as investors welcome better-than-expected corporate earnings and signs of strength in the job market.

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VIDEO: Euro rate concern for Europe

Category : Business

France is set to voice concerns about the strength of the euro at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers later.

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Euro rises as finance ministers meet

Category : Business, World News

The euro has risen against the pound and the yen as eurozone ministers prepare to discuss the currency’s recent strength.

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Draghi pledges ‘monitoring’ of euro

Category : Business, World News

Comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on the euro’s recent strength prompt it to fall more than a cent against the dollar.

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British twins make a mint from sweet company sale

Category : Business

50 year-old family firm Hancocks is sold to Dutch equity group for £50m – just weeks after its former owners’ 50th birthday

Bags of “pick’n'mix” usually change hands for pocket money but Leicestershire twins Andrew and Adrian Hancock have scooped £50m after selling their confectionery company to private equity investors.

The brothers, who recently turned 50, have sold the family firm Hancocks, which was started in 1962 by their parents Liz and Ray from a single sweet shop in Shepshed, near Loughborough, to the Dutch firm H2 Equity Partners.

Andrew Hancock said he was confident the business was in good hands: “We hand the baton on with pride,” he said, predicting it would “go from strength to strength”.

“From a sweet shop in Shepshed, our family has grown the business to a group that serves many thousands of businesses. This can only be great news for our customers, employees and suppliers,” Hancock said.

The British passion for jelly beans, humbugs, fudge, cola bottles and liquorice has added up to big business for Hancocks, which has expanded to become the country’s biggest confectionery wholesaler.

With 18 cash and carries around the country, the pick’n'mix specialist supplies sweet shops and convenience stores with 5,000 products ranging from jars and pails of boiled sweets to bestsellers from major manufacturers such as Mars and Haribo.

It has also cashed in on a surge in popularity for retro sweet brands selling penny sweets – such as sherbet lemon, flying saucers and rhubarb-and-custards – from days gone by.

The company’s growth has accelerated since the demise of Woolworths in 2008 and it made a pre-tax profit of £4.3m last year on sales of £120m.

Following the deal, H2 Equity Partners will own a majority stake, with the remainder owned by a management team led by chief executive Mark Watson. The Hancocks have left the company.

Watson insisted it was “business as usual” and promised current supplier arrangements would remain in place.

“I am delighted to be leading such a strong company,” he said. Future plans include expanding the network of depots and its internet operation and developing new own label ranges.

Caroline Belcher, a partner at advisory firm Cavendish Corporate Finance which acted for the brothers, described it as a “sweet deal” that had found a “supportive home” for the 50-year-old family firm.

“From the outset, H2 showed an understanding of the wholesale sector and an appreciation of Hancocks and its family roots,” she said.

‘The Walking Dead’: Rick’s grief rampage, Michonne’s hit-the-road-rage (recap) –

Category : Stocks
'The Walking Dead': Rick's grief rampage, Michonne's hit-the-road-rage (recap)
If Rick (Andrew Lincoln) was in bad shape at the end of last week's shattering episode of “The Walking Dead,” in Sunday's outing, “Say the Word,” Rick was barely human. Warning — spoilers ahead: Rick's grief at the death of Lori — after her baby daughter
'The Walking Dead': Only the Insane Have Strength Enough to SurviveThe Atlantic
The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 5 “Hounded” PromoThe Walking Dead Podcast
The Walking Dead Review: Wreck-It RickTV Fanatic

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Ipswich tries to curb street drinkers by banning super-strength cider and beer

Category : Business

Street drinkers as young as 35 are dying from extra-strong booze so Ipswich is hoping retailers will observe a voluntary ban

From afar it is a pretty wooded area, dappled in the autumn sunshine, which breaks up the urban concrete landscape next to Ipswich’s renowned New Wolsey theatre.

But closer inspection reveals this to be the regular haunt of the town’s notorious community of hardened street drinkers.

Large, empty plastic bottles of Frosty Jack’s cider – emblazoned with “50% free!” – and abandoned cans of 9% Skol Super lager are strewn by the dozen in the soggy bushes along with cigarette stubs, tobacco pouches and empty condom packets.

But on some days the volume and content of rubbish is even worse. Luke Collins, who works for Ipswich borough council’s litter-clearance squad, said the regular cleanups here can take two or three men at least 45 minutes: “It’s not pleasant. Last time we removed 100 or so used needles and there’s always human excrement too.

“Lots of families come through this car park and as well as the rubbish left by the drinkers we worry about their violent behaviour and foul language.”

Collins has welcomed the town’s new campaign to stop the sale of “super-strength” drinks in a co-ordinated local approach that is believed to be the first of its kind in Britain.

In a ground-breaking move, off-licence owners and other retailers in Ipswich are being asked to remove strong beers and ciders from their shelves in an effort to tackle alcohol abuse and stamp out anti-social behaviour. Four street drinkers have been murdered in the past three years and police say the scheme would not only help those who depend on alcohol but also the wider community and those in charge of clean-up operations.

Big chains including Tesco, the East of England Co-op and McColls newsagents have signed up along with smaller independent retailers to voluntarily remove products such as White Ace, Carbon White and White Star ciders, which have a 7.5% alcohol content and sell for as little as 59p for a 500ml can.

The Reducing the Strength campaign, backed by Suffolk police, NHS Suffolk, Ipswich borough council and Suffolk county council, is targeted at beers and ciders with an alcohol volume of 6.5% and over, which are often sold cheaply. There are 130 off-licences in Ipswich; 53 will be super-strength free following the launch and more are likely to follow.

PC John Alcock, the town’s street-drinking liaison officer, said: “A single can [of super-strength alcohol] contains more than the recommended daily allowance for a male. The street drinkers are drinking copious amounts of this. Some are drinking 10 to 12 cans a day.

“Cheap super-strength alcohol is also attractive to underage drinkers as the cost means it is affordable and achieves the desired effect without them knowing, or even caring, how strong the cider or lager is.”

The long-term health risks – brain damage (Korsakoff’s syndrome), liver damage and death – have been highlighted by the homelessness charity Thames Reach in a long-running campaign. The charity, which first called for such a ban seven years ago, has found people as young as 35 dying from problems related to drinking super-strength lagers.

Collins added: “My only concern is whether relying on a voluntary approach from retailers is really going to be effective. There are plenty of local off-licences which rely on the street drinkers for business. And I know of one that would not hesitate to sell alcohol to a 10-year-old.”

His colleague Paula Edwards, standing near the town’s Little Waitrose – which does not stock any of the offending brands – said: “Most of them are not homeless people. They are people out of work who drink all day, even though there is an exclusion zone, and the worst behaviour tends to be at night.

“As well as the local drinkers, Ipswich attracts lots of young people for stag nights etc, so there is plenty of binge drinking with cheap booze. It’s a great shame – Ipswich is a great town and this gives it a very negative image.”

The campaign is also supported by the local newspaper, the Ipswich Star. From her stall by the busy market square, Ivy Brame, a 78-year-old newspaper seller, said she had been attacked by a street drinker a year ago, when he tried to punch her in the face. “I wouldn’t let him have a free paper and that’s the thanks I got,” she said. “I support this campaign. It really is about time something was done.”

Speaking for the campaign partners, Inspector Andrew Mason, of Ipswich police, said: “This campaign aims to take the problem away at the source.

“We are the first county in the country to launch a campaign of this kind, and we hope that with support from our off-licences, we can roll this out across Suffolk, and eventually offer the campaign as a model for public services across the UK.”

But in a McColls newsagent at the town’s Tower Ramparts bus station, which had advertising hoardings outside trumpeting cut-price beers and wines in its “discount depot”, super-strength products were still for sale.

Despite the new campaign, it was stocking litre bottles of Amber Jack, described as a “crisp premium cider”, with 7.5% alcohol, for just £1.69. Sean Adams, the supervisor, said he had not been told by head office not to stock it.

Taliban says attack on base was retaliation – ABC Online

Category : Stocks
Taliban says attack on base was retaliation
ABC Online
TONY EASTLEY: There are fears as many as eight women have been killed accidentally in an air strike in Afghanistan. The women died as NATO targeted suspected insurgents operating in a remote north-eastern province. The deaths came at the end of a
Eight Nato troops killed in AfghanistanThe Guardian
Tough words from general on Afghan insider attacks The Associated Press
Inside Attacks Show Taliban StrengthDaily Beast
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German economic strength: The secrets of success

Category : World News

What we can learn from Germany’s economic strength

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JJB Sports struggles against rival Sports Direct

Category : Business

Shares in JJB Sports crash by 25% as company reveals cash crisis, while Sports Direct staff to receive average £15,000 bonus

The gulf between the high street’s biggest sports retailers has widened after loss-making JJB Sports said it was once again running out of cash, while rival Sports Direct is set to hand a £24m bonus to its billionaire founder Mike Ashley and pay its 2,000 staff a bonus averaging £15,000 each for hitting growth targets after record sales.

Shares in JJB crashed 25% as the company revealed it has approached its suppliers and “strategic partners” for more money, four months after persuading them to part with £35m to save the business.

Net debt has increased £2.3m to £17.7m since a profit warning earlier this month, like-for-like sales in the 24 weeks to 15 July were down 8.7% and the planned refurbishment of up to 25 stores before the end of the year has been put on hold.

JJB had hoped the cash injection from US firm Dick’s Sporting Goods, which stumped up £20m in April to stave off administration, and suppliers including Adidas and Nike, would last until the new year.

But bosses have said it needed extra cash now, blaming bad weather and poor sales of football shirts during the Euro 2012 championships.

This comes despite the company saying in 2010 it was “implementing measures to reduce the level of dependency on tournament years by concentrating on all major sporting events and offering a wider perennial product portfolio”.

Using the weather as an excuse for poor sales has also been a regular excuse. “Severe weather” was blamed in the 2009/10 winter and “adverse weather conditions” in February and December 2010, while half year losses in October 2011 were attributed to unseasonably warm weather.

Last January “weaker UK employment numbers” was cited for the bad results at what was once the country’s biggest sports retailer.

Thursday’s announcement is the latest setback for the retailer, which has suffered years of decline, several rights issues, two company voluntary agreements with landlords to reduce its rent and been dumped out of the FTSE into the junior stock market AIM.

By comparison, Sports Direct has gone from strength to strength, with founder Mike Ashley on course to earn a £24m bonus, thanks to record sales and an 82% increase in online purchases.

The company, which has 395 stores and owns brands including Slazenger and Donnay, made £240.5m in underlying profits last year, up 11.5%, on sales of £1.84bn up 13%.

The profits are well ahead of the £225m needed under the bonus scheme which will give 2,000 full time staff an average of 5,000 shares each, worth £15,000.

The company introduced the successful bonus scheme in 2009 and has seen staff turnover drop significantly from 29% in 2009 to 17% in 2012.

It employs around 17,000 staff, but the bonus is only open to permanent members including the 400 at its head office.

A new scheme has been proposed which will pay out 12,000 shares to 3,000 staff if they hit targets over the next four years.

Retail analyst Peter Smedley at Charles Stanley Securities explained the reason for the gulf between Sports Direct and JJB is Sports Direct is cheaper.

He said: “JJB was a market leader and then Sports Direct picked them off store by store by offering the lowest possible prices and the best quantity.”

He added that JJB could be saved by either Dick’s Sporting Goods, which has a 5% stake, or rival JD Sports could launch a takeover. “Maybe Dick’s will resurrect JJB, but perhaps they will look a bit more closely at the company and realise what a basket case it is.

“It will probably limp along for another two years, although JD Sports might take a look at it, something they’ve done in the past.”

Shares in JJB were down 1.8p, 24.1%, at 5.7p, while shares in Sports Direct were down 4p, 1.4%, at 293.2p mainly due to the company delaying the introduction of a dividend.