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Baroness Catherine Ashton joins board of Passport maker De La Rue  

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baroness catherine ashton joins board of passport maker de la rue
Baroness Catherine Ashton has joined the board of Passport and banknote maker De La Rue

 Baroness Catherine Ashton has joined the board of Passport and banknote maker De La Rue

Passport and banknote maker De La Rue has added former EU trade representative Baroness Catherine Ashton to its board as it steps up efforts to fix the business.

Ashton was the European Commissioner for Trade between 2008 and 2009 before becoming the EU’s first high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. The 64-year-old, who is a life peer, also sits on the advisory board of Garda World, the Canadian security company trying to buy G4S in a hostile takeover.

Her appointment comes as De La Rue is part-way through a three-year turnaround plan kicked off by chief executive Clive Vacher when he joined last year.

The world’s largest banknote maker had put out a string of profit warnings after losing the contract to print Britain’s blue post-Brexit passports in 2017.

Its reputation was hit in July 2019 when the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced an investigation into ‘suspected corruption’ in South Sudan. 

The SFO scrapped the probe in June this year and soon after De La Rue raised £100million from investors that it said would go towards plans to double its capacity to print plastic banknotes, which are easier to clean and likely to be more popular in the Covid era.

De La Rue has also added Margaret Rice-Jones, a technology specialist who was a director at industrial inkjet print head maker Xaar from 2015 to 2020, to the board.

De La Rue chairman Kevin Loosemore said Ashton and Rice-Jones ‘bring highly relevant experience in global government and geopolitical affairs in the software, telecoms and technology industries’.

De La Rue shares fell 2 per cent, or 2.6p, to 130p.

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Tesla on track to deliver 500,000 cars despite Covid

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tesla on track to deliver 500000 cars despite covid

Tesla smashed through Wall Street’s expectations as it released its thirdquarter results last night.

The electric car maker said revenue rose to a record £6.7billion from £4.8billion a year earlier — well ahead of the £6.4billion analysts had pencilled in.

And its profit hit £534million for the three month period, higher than estimates of £404million. 

Electric car maker Tesla, led by Elon Musk (pictured) said revenue rose to a record £6.7bn from £4.8bn a year earlier - well ahead of the £6.4bn analysts had pencilled in

Electric car maker Tesla, led by Elon Musk (pictured) said revenue rose to a record £6.7bn from £4.8bn a year earlier - well ahead of the £6.4bn analysts had pencilled in

Electric car maker Tesla, led by Elon Musk (pictured) said revenue rose to a record £6.7bn from £4.8bn a year earlier – well ahead of the £6.4bn analysts had pencilled in

Tesla, led by maverick entrepreneur Elon Musk, had already reported that it delivered 139,300 vehicles during the quarter — a record.

But if it is to meet its goal of delivering half a million cars in 2020 — a target it has stuck to despite Covid — it must send out more than 181,600 vehicles in the last three months of the year.

Tesla said last night that it would still meet the target, but that it was becoming increasingly difficult. 

But shares still jumped more than 2 per cent in afterhours trading as investors who were worried about Tesla’s ability to hit targets had their concerns eased.

Adam Vettese, an analyst at investment platform eToro, said: ‘Tesla’s skyhigh valuation will be causing some investors to worry. 

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34681090 0 image a 12 1603314780135

Paying a premium for a stock isn’t necessarily an issue but it does mean that the electric car giant will need to keep shifting through the gears if it is to avoid a share sell-off.’

The Tesla figures came after an update from Netflix disappointed investors. 

The streaming giant added 2.2m paid subscribers around the world in the three months to the end of September. 

That was the weakest growth rate in four years and compared with the 15.8m paying customers it gained between January and March as the Covid-19 pandemic forced people to stay home.

Netflix shares almost 7 per cent – wiping £12.3billion off the value of the company. However, it was still worth more than £160billion having seen its shares rise more than 50 per cent this year.

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Steelworkers cheer £2bn pension deal: 30,000 set for retirement boost 

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steelworkers cheer 2bn pension deal 30000 set for retirement boost

Thousands of steelworkers will be hoping to receive a boost to their pension pots following a £2billion deal.

Specialist insurance provider Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC) has agreed to buy out the Old British Steel Pension Scheme and take responsibility for more than 30,000 workers’ retirement funds.

The scheme was dumped into the Government’s pensions lifeboat, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), after former owner Tata Steel restructured its business in 2017.

Pensions rescue: Specialist insurance provider Pension Insurance Corporation has agreed to buy out the Old British Steel Pension Scheme

Pensions rescue: Specialist insurance provider Pension Insurance Corporation has agreed to buy out the Old British Steel Pension Scheme

Pensions rescue: Specialist insurance provider Pension Insurance Corporation has agreed to buy out the Old British Steel Pension Scheme

The PPF spent more than two years analysing it and in the spring concluded its funding was more robust than expected. 

This meant the scheme did not need to stay in the fund and could be taken over by an insurance firm.

What members can receive by being in the PPF can differ depending on a variety of factors. 

PIC says that under the deal every pension will now be ‘at or above’ the levels that would have been received in the protection fund.

Many will take home more because the extra funding available will be distributed into their pension pots.

The arrangement has been praised by the industry and unions.

A spokesman for steelworkers’ union Community said: ‘This is welcome news as it means many scheme members should be better off than they would otherwise have been.

‘The buy-in supports what the trade unions have always said, that the British Steel Pension Scheme was a well funded scheme that could not be allowed to collapse into the PPF.’

An industry source said the deal would be ‘like Christmas’ for those who had been expecting to receive the PPF’s terms.

But PIC has not revealed any details. It has not said who will get more than they would have done had the scheme remained in the protection fund, or how much any uplift might be.

Those in the scheme will not find out what they are owed until the deal completes at the end of next year. About half of the 30,000 members receive a pension.

PIC has around £48billion in assets and manages pension schemes for the likes of BHS, Cadbury and the London Stock Exchange Group. 

It is tightly regulated but if it runs into difficulties, its shareholders, which include the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and South Africa’s wealthy Rupert family, will be forced to pay up and cover the costs of the pensions. 

If PIC were to collapse, then all members’ pensions would be covered fully by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Jonathan Hazlett, managing director of Open Trustees, which is running the scheme, said: ‘Whilst the PPF provides a valuable safety net and a significant level of protection, many members will now receive higher benefits than they might otherwise have expected had the scheme entered the protection fund.’

The British Steel pension scheme is not related to British Steel, the company that operates steelworks in Scunthorpe and bought out of liquidation by Chinese group Jingye.

The pension scheme dates back to 1967 when it covered employees at the former British Steel, which then became Corus in the 1990s before being sold to India’s Tata Steel in 2007.

Tata, which operates the sprawling Port Talbot plant in South Wales, wanted to sell its UK business in 2016 but agreed to keep it on following an outcry from ministers and unions.

The retirement scheme had been a millstone around Tata’s neck and it eventually struck an agreement to hold on to its UK arm in return for a major restructuring of its pensions liabilities.

Under the deal, Tata agreed to shut the final salary pension scheme and replace it with a less generous alternative. 

Tata also injected a £550million lump sum into the fund and gave the PPF a 33 per cent stake in its UK business.

Most of the British Steel Pension Scheme’s 120,000 or so members chose to transfer into a new fund in 2018.

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£12bn wiped off Netflix with fewer customers joining over the summer

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12bn wiped off netflix with fewer customers joining over the summer

More than £12billion was wiped off the value of Netflix last night after fewer customers joined the streaming service over the summer.

The company added 2.2m paid subscribers around the world in the three months to the end of September as it released Enola Holmes, The Devil All the Time and Emily in Paris.

That was the weakest growth rate in four years and compared with the 15.8m paying customers it gained between January and March as the Covid-19 pandemic forced people to stay home. 

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34678608 0 image a 12 1603310173946

French connection: Emily in Paris is the streaming giant’s latest hit show. But it was not enough to reverse the downturn in the number of new subscribers

Netflix shares fell almost 7 per cent – wiping £12.3billion off the value of the company.

However, it was still worth more than £160billion having seen its shares rise more than 50 per cent this year.

Elsewhere on Wall Street, Snap shares surged more than a third higher after the Snapchat messaging app owner posted better-than-expected figures as more people signed up to chat with friends and family during the pandemic.

The results boosted shares in Facebook and image sharing company Pinterest. Netflix ended the third quarter with 195.2m global streaming customers. 

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34676286 8865149 image a 3 1603305382021

‘Next time we get together, we should be over 200m members,’ co-chief executive Reed Hastings told analysts. 

Netflix forecast in the fourth quarter it would bring in 6m new subscribers around the globe, short of the 6.51m that analysts expected.

It is trying to win customers and fend off competition as viewers embrace online entertainment. 

Netflix acknowledged that competition was increasing as studios across Hollywood from Walt Disney to AT&T’s WarnerMedia have restructured to compete more directly for video subscribers.

Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘Subscriber growth was always going to stall this quarter, but it’s stuttered more than expected.’

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