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World’s biggest investment firm BlackRock to shun fossil fuels

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The world’s biggest investment manager BlackRock has said it will sell-off its shares in coal firms and other major polluters as it called for a ‘fundamental reshaping of finance’ to tackle climate change.

Chief executive Larry Fink warned company boards they must step up efforts to tackle climate change in his annual letter to business bosses.

Fink said they need to act or will face increased wrath from investors concerned about how unsustainable business practices might cut their future wealth.

Laurence 'Larry' Fink, chief executive of BlackRock, during a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos

Laurence 'Larry' Fink, chief executive of BlackRock, during a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos

Laurence ‘Larry’ Fink, chief executive of BlackRock, during a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos

He said BlackRock itself, which looks after $7trillion of clients’ money, will exit investments that present ‘high sustainability-related risk’, including thermal coal producers.

Fink’s intervention comes at a time when City firms are increasingly facing pressure to do more to combat climate change.

Large asset managers such as BlackRock own vast quantities of shares and therefore have a great deal of leverage over companies.

However BlackRock and investment heavyweight peers such as Vanguard and State Street have been criticised for not doing enough to guide the firms they invest in up until now.

‘We don’t yet know which predictions about climate change will be most accurate nor what effects we have failed to consider,’ Fink stated in the letter. ‘But there is no denying the direction we are heading. Every government, company and shareholder must confront climate change.’

BlackRock, which looks after $7trillion of clients' money, will exit investments that present 'high sustainability-related risk'

BlackRock, which looks after $7trillion of clients' money, will exit investments that present 'high sustainability-related risk'

BlackRock, which looks after $7trillion of clients’ money, will exit investments that present ‘high sustainability-related risk’

He went on the say that questions around climate change are driving ‘a profound reassessment of risk and asset values’.  

‘In the near future – and sooner than most anticipate – there will be a significant reallocation of capital.’ Fink added.

The letter also specifically aligned BlackRock with the goals set out in the 2016 Paris climate agreement despite this not being the official policy of its home nation the United States, which under President Donald Trump has backed away from the accord.

 

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RAY MASSEY: Honda’s new e electric city car is a virtual aquarium

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There’s something fishy about the cute and zippy new Honda e electric city car, which arrives in UK showrooms in June at less than £30,000.

It comes with its own on-board virtual aquarium with which you can relax while watching marine life glide by. It is just one of a number of electronic ‘wallpaper’ options.

The fish and their aquatic abode appear on two linked 12.3-in LCD infotainment touch-screens dominating the dashboard, which houses a panoramic vista of five digital screens in all.

Home comforts: Honda's new electric city car, the e, aims to be a sitting room on wheels

Home comforts: Honda's new electric city car, the e, aims to be a sitting room on wheels

Home comforts: Honda’s new electric city car, the e, aims to be a sitting room on wheels

But the virtual aquarium turns off when driving so as not to be distracting, says Honda. In motion, the driver’s main focus is on the 8.8 in screen behind the steering wheel.

In the manner of modern computer games, you can even select the fish to swim in your tank. Other calming digital options include woodland scenes and traditional, tranquil Japanese houses. 

You can also use the screens to play video or access social media via the Honda e’s on-board wi-fi. You flick between modes like the swipes on a smartphone.

But the driver can also select one centre screen for, say, navigation while the front passenger selects music playlists. Is it a gimmick? 

The rear-wheel drive runaround has a compact, water-cooled 35.5Kw lithium ion battery which can be charged up to 80 per cent capacity in 30 minutes using a DC rapid boost charger

The rear-wheel drive runaround has a compact, water-cooled 35.5Kw lithium ion battery which can be charged up to 80 per cent capacity in 30 minutes using a DC rapid boost charger

The rear-wheel drive runaround has a compact, water-cooled 35.5Kw lithium ion battery which can be charged up to 80 per cent capacity in 30 minutes using a DC rapid boost charger 

No, says Honda, which intends the interior to be as familiar and comfortable as your own home, with soft-touch fabrics.

The result is a ‘John Lewis on wheels’, blending the best of the furniture and the home-technology departments with fuss-free styling inside and out at a reasonable though not bargain basement price. 

Another innovation is that it swaps bulky wing mirrors for slim, rear-facing cameras which project what they see on screens on the left and right corners of the dashboard. Honda says the cameras offer a wider view, better vision in bad weather, and less reflective glare at night.  

There are two trim levels. The base model with a 100kW electric motor costs from £26,100 after the £3,500 Government ‘plug-in car grant is taken off. 

But Honda reckons more than nine in ten sales will be for the more powerful, higher-specified 113kW Advance grade costing from £28,660 after the subsidy.

And what’s really tempting is monthly finance from £299.

There are two trim levels to chose from. The base model with a 100kW electric motor costs from £26,100 after the £3,500 Government ‘plug-in car grant is taken off

There are two trim levels to chose from. The base model with a 100kW electric motor costs from £26,100 after the £3,500 Government ‘plug-in car grant is taken off

There are two trim levels to chose from. The base model with a 100kW electric motor costs from £26,100 after the £3,500 Government ‘plug-in car grant is taken off

It’s practical, too — the rear seats fold down to add boot space. With a claimed 125-mile range, the rear-wheel drive runaround has a compact, water-cooled 35.5Kw lithium ion battery which can be charged up to 80 per cent capacity in 30 minutes using a DC rapid boost charger, with the charging point in the front of the bonnet.

Rest to 62 mph takes about 8.5 seconds up to a top speed of 90 mph. Honda aims to have all its cars with a degree of electrification by 2025. 

Around 2,000 Honda es will allocated for sale in the UK in the first year and already there have been ‘hundreds’ of firm orders and around 10,000 ‘expressions of interest.’ 

Honda e project leader Kohei Hitomi said: ‘Using familiar materials such as wood grain and textured fabric is reminiscent of a living room.’

The Honda e has a voice-activated ‘personal assistant’ to help with queries when prompted with the spoken command: ‘OK Honda.’

Zippy: Rest to 62 mph takes about 8.5 seconds up to a top speed of 90 mph. Honda aims to have all its cars with a degree of electrification by 2025

Zippy: Rest to 62 mph takes about 8.5 seconds up to a top speed of 90 mph. Honda aims to have all its cars with a degree of electrification by 2025

Zippy: Rest to 62 mph takes about 8.5 seconds up to a top speed of 90 mph. Honda aims to have all its cars with a degree of electrification by 2025

Five exterior colours are available: Platinum White, Crystal Blue and Modern Steel as metallic, plus Crystal Black Pearl and the striking Charge Yellow.

It’s already picked up a gong for its tech in the 2020 DrivingElectric Awards. 

Judge Vicky Parrott said: ‘With full width screens facing the driver and front passenger, and cameras in place of door mirrors, the Honda e feels more spacecraft than city car inside.

‘But while it may seem overwhelming at first, a logical lay-out and responsive controls mean it all works well in practice.’

Hot Yaris has true rally pedigree

Fancy a red-hot Yaris that’s about as far from tame as a lion in the wild?

Well, the new Yaris GR — developed as the basis for a future World Rally Championship competitor — could be just the job for navigating the urban jungle, too.

The new £32,000 Yaris GR is virtually hand-built in Japan by a team backed by Toyota’s Gazoo Racing and rally champion Tommi Makinen

The new £32,000 Yaris GR is virtually hand-built in Japan by a team backed by Toyota’s Gazoo Racing and rally champion Tommi Makinen

The new £32,000 Yaris GR is virtually hand-built in Japan by a team backed by Toyota’s Gazoo Racing and rally champion Tommi Makinen

Powered by a vigorous 257 bhp, 1.6 turbocharged, 3-cylinder engine linked to a 6- speed manual gearbox, it will accelerate from rest to 62 mph in less than 5.5 seconds with a top speed likely to be about 140 mph. 

Each car is virtually hand-built in Japan by a team backed by Toyota’s Gazoo Racing and rally champion Tommi Makinen.

Mind you, for the expected price of about £32,000 you could buy two of the forthcoming, standard, French-built Yaris hatchbacks, which will be priced from about £15,000 to £16,000.

Average cost of a car accident is around the same as a year’s comprehensive insurance

The true cost of a car accident is £415, according to new research by MoneySuperMarket.

That’s about as much as the average £459 cost of a year’s fully comprehensive car insurance, and can add up to 9 per cent (or £69) on to a driver’s premium when they renew.

The average cost of an accident is £415 - about as much as the average £459 cost of a year’s fully comprehensive car insurance

The average cost of an accident is £415 - about as much as the average £459 cost of a year’s fully comprehensive car insurance

The average cost of an accident is £415 – about as much as the average £459 cost of a year’s fully comprehensive car insurance

More than a third of drivers (37 per cent) have been involved in an accident over the past five years, says the report, but a quarter of drivers made no claims.

However, Confused.com puts the annual premium cost at a much higher £815, and says it expects the 2011 record of £858 to be broken by the end of this year.

It says young drivers are hit hardest with the average 18-year-old paying £2,130.

Women drivers have seen their premiums rise by £48 to £767, but they are still lower than men’s at £854.

Drivers in inner London pay the highest premiums, up £91 to £1,260 on average.

 

 

 

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Cher’s hit Believe snapped up by music investment fund Hipgnosis

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A music investment fund has snapped up the rights to number one Cher hit Believe along with other chart-topping songs.

Hipgnosis said it bought the catalogue from Brian Higgins, a songwriter and producer.

It includes partial rights to Believe, a song the 53-year-old co-wrote which went on to top music charts in 21 countries in the late 1990s and sell 11m worldwide.

Cher (pictured) scored a big hit with Believe which topped music charts in 21 countries in the late 1990s and sold 11m worldwide

Cher (pictured) scored a big hit with Believe which topped music charts in 21 countries in the late 1990s and sold 11m worldwide

Cher (pictured) scored a big hit with Believe which topped music charts in 21 countries in the late 1990s and sold 11m worldwide

Higgins has also worked with the Pet Shop Boys, Dannii Minogue, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Girls Aloud and S Club 7 among other musicians.

He owns the production company and record label Xenomania. His catalogue of 362 song rights were bought for an undisclosed sum.

Merck Mercuriadis, the boss of Hipgnosis Songs Fund, said Brian Higgins ‘is one of the finest writers of the last 25 years and Believe in particular is an evergreen song that has gained iconic status’.

Higgins said: ‘I started Xenomania in 1996 and to see it in 2020 as a stand-alone independent record label and publishing company is something that gives me deep pride and great joy.’

 

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MARKET REPORT: Forex group Finablr flounders after tycoon’s shares pledge

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On a strong day for the stock market, forex group Finablr stood out for all the wrong reasons.

It lost more than a quarter of its value after it emerged billionaire majority owner BR Shetty had pledged 392m shares, or 56 per cent of the company, to refinance debts related to the acquisition of Travelex in 2015.

It has been a rocky start to the year for Finablr, which was a victim of a cyber attack that forced Travelex to take its systems offline earlier this month.

Finablr lost more than a quarter of its value after it emerged majority owner BR Shetty had pledged 56 per cent of the company, to refinance debts related to the acquisition of Travelex

Finablr lost more than a quarter of its value after it emerged majority owner BR Shetty had pledged 56 per cent of the company, to refinance debts related to the acquisition of Travelex

Finablr lost more than a quarter of its value after it emerged majority owner BR Shetty had pledged 56 per cent of the company, to refinance debts related to the acquisition of Travelex 

The stock closed down 27.3 per cent, or 35.8p, to 95p.

After a fairly gloomy week, the FTSE 100 clawed back a good chunk of its losses as worries over the coronavirus and a potential UK-US trade war receded.

The mood was further lifted by a monthly survey of purchasing managers that revealed the UK has returned to growth. The index of UK blue-chip stock ended the day up 1.1 per cent, or 83.76 points, to 7591.43 points. 

The FTSE 250 was up 1 per cent, or 207.73 points, to 21,748.29 points. Shares in Trainline were shunted into the sidings after a City broker downgraded its recommendation on competition fears.

Stock Watch – Norman Broadbent

 Headhunter Norman Broadbent surged after it returned to profit for the first time in almost a decade.

Revenue at the firm rose 22 per cent to £11.5million in 2019, it said in a trading update.

The latest proof that a restructuring programme launched in 2016 is working comes as many of its rivals are reporting that the recruitment sector in the UK has struggled amid Brexit and election worries.

Shares jumped 14.3 per cent, or 1.12p, to 9p last night.

Panmure Gordon went to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’ as it flagged the imminent launch of a Virgin Trains app and potential disruption from a rail review that will also look at fares.

Trainline (down 0.6 per cent, or 3p, to 500p) was floated last summer at 350p. So those lucky enough to nab shares at the IPO are now sitting on a profit.

Sticking with e-commerce success stories deemed slightly overvalued by the market, Rightmove (up 0.8 per cent, or 5.4p, to 676.6p) was on the wrong end of a downgrade to ‘underweight’.

The online estate agency group is facing some stiff competition from smaller rival On The Market, which advanced 7 per cent, or 5p, to 76.5p after inking a marketing deal with Bellway, Britain’s fourth largest builder by volume, who were also up, by 1.8 per cent, or 72p, to 4092p.

On The Market has struck similar transactions with Barratt Developments (up 1.6 per cent, or 12.4p, to 809.6p) and Persimmon (up 1.1 per cent, or 34p, to 3049p), providing sites users with access to over 700 developments.

Delving into the small-caps, RTC Group shot up 13.9 per cent, or 8.5p, to 69.5p after the recruitment and conferencing firm delivered an upbeat trading update highlighting its ‘extremely pleasing’ net debt position.

Long-term investment specialist Hansard Global saw its shares rise 2.4 per cent, or 1p, to 43p after reporting a strong uptick in new business for the first half of its current year.

Intellectual property investor Tekcapital rose 2 per cent, or 0.12p, to 6.25p after its portfolio firm Salarius unveiled a deal with a US ingredients supplier for its low-sodium salt substitute, Microsalt.

Oil minnow 88 Energy bobbed up 2 per cent, or 0.03p, to 1.27p after it managed to raise around £2.6million through a share placement to help fund development of its projects in Alaska.

Turning to the fallers, water treatment specialist Modern Water plunged 30 per cent, or 0.38p, to 0.88p after it raised just shy of £1.9million in a steeply discounted share placing to help pay down its debts.

Columbus Energy fell 8.5 per cent, or 0.25p, to 2.7p after investors were rattled by news it will progress with testing its Saffron well in Trinidad without full analysis.

‘Super budget’ hotelier EasyHotel was kicked out of bed, falling 8.6 per cent, or 7.5p, to 80p as charges connected to its hotel in Ipswich sent it swinging to a loss in 2019.

 

 

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