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Jaguar launches I-Pace one-make racing series

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Luxury carmaker Jaguar has announced a one-make racing series based around its electric I-Pace sports car, with the first race taking place next year.

The series, known as the I-Pace eTrophy, will use an ‘arrive and drive’ format for 20 drivers at each race with full technical support, spare parts and equipment. The modified electric I-Paces will use technology from the manufacturer’s I-Pace SUV, which will go on sale later this year.

“With 20 identical specification production based I-Pace eTrophy race cars going head to head, it comes down to the drivers and their individual driving styles to be crowned champion,” the company said. “Held over ten races and in some of the world’s most celebrated cities, the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy promises to be the next chapter in our Race To Innovate.”

The new series will appear on the supporting bill of the all-electric Formula E world championship, which Jaguar Racing joined in 2016. The company recently announced that all its new road cars will be electric or hybrid from 2020 onwards.

“Jaguar returned to racing in 2016 with the mission ‘Race to Innovate’,” explained Gerd Mäuser, Jaguar Racing chairman. “With the launch of the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy, we’ve strengthened our commitment to battery electric vehicles, international motorsport and Formula E. As a British team, we’re proud to announce today the launch of the world’s first production battery electric vehicle championship. We’ve always said we want to prove our electrification technologies on the track – this is the proof.

“I’m looking forward to seeing a full grid of Jaguar I-Pace race cars in late 2018, soon after the first Jaguar I-Pace hits the road in Europe. Ultimately, this innovative series will enhance the technology in our future electric vehicles and benefit our customers. Formula E has grown exponentially since we joined as the first premium manufacturer last year, with recent commitments from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche,” he said.

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Evo Payments and AA announce new partnership and brand

Brian Cleary, managing director, Evo Ireland and UK.

Dublin-headquartered Evo Payments international has announced a deal with the AA in the UK to provide card pay technology to UK merchants under the new CardPay brand.

The deal is the first of its kind for the AA, which is moving into B2B financial services on the back of high consumer trust research rankings.

The service will be managed from Evo’s Dublin HQ where it operates under the BOI Payment Acceptance brand, a collaboration between Evo and Bank of Ireland.

“We are very excited to announce this new partnership with the AA,” said Evo Ireland and UK managing director Brian Cleary. “BOIPA only entered the payments market in early 2015, and in a very short space of time we have been hugely successful in delivering a superior payment service and value proposition for businesses across Ireland.

“From small corner shops and online traders to some of the country’s large corporates, Irish business owners have been quick to recognise the obvious benefits of our products, including the ability to process more transactions, experience reduced banking costs, and less exposure to theft and the misappropriation of cash.

“Applying these same principles to the UK market felt like a logical next step, and in partnering with the AA we are joining up with a universally trusted brand that prides itself on its market-leading financial products and first-class customer service.”

The deal follows a jobs announcement earlier this year, with 50 new roles created amid a €9.1m investment and the opening of a new Irish HQ – bringing the company’s headcount to 120 serving Ireland, North America and Europe.

AA Financial Services director David Searle also welcomed the news.

“From roadside emergencies to home insurance and savings, the AA has always been trusted to stand by the consumer’s side, whatever happens, and campaign for a better deal. With nearly a fifth of our members also running a small business, we have for some time been looking at what we can do to help, particularly given the current economic climate.

“UK small businesses are the bedrock of the country’s economic confidence. The challenges many SMEs have with payment terminals, often relating to opaque pricing tariffs and surprise add-ons, need to be put right and the status quo needs to be disrupted.

“Our partnership with EVO allows us to become a force for change in the UK card payments market, to bring greater simplicity, trust, and fairness for our members – which is at the heart of everything we do.”

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Amazon doubles London R&D headcount with new head office

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US multinational online giant Amazon has opened a new head office for its UK operations, in a move that grows its London R&D staff from 450 to 900.

The company has announced that it will take all 15 floors of its new London Development Centre in Shoreditch, taking its London corporate and R&D headcount to over 5,000 across its three facilities. It has invested over £6.4bn in the UK since 2010, and will add 5,000 UK jobs this year as its UK workforce will reach 24,000.

According to its UK country manager, Doug Gurr, “London is one of the world’s truly great cities and home to some of the most talented, creative people on the planet, and we are delighted to provide our teams of innovators with a new, purpose-built workplace.

“While we open a new development centre to house today’s innovators, we also want to help foster the next generation of inventors by funding a million healthy breakfasts to give schoolchildren the fuel to learn, and expand our bursary programme to help more women get university educations for high tech roles.”

The news was also welcomed by Minister for Digital Matt Hancock and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

 

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£150m aviation investment announced at Rolls-Royce

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Aircraft engine giant Rolls-Royce has announced £150m of investment in its civil engineering facilities in the UK.

The development at new and existing facilities is intended to provide for a plan to double engine production and will come onstream over the next few years, with the company developing and testing the next generation of aviation engines.

“This investment comes at a time of unprecedented growth in Rolls-Royce, said Eric Schulz, Rolls-Royce president. “We are doubling the production of new engines at the same time as introducing three new engines to the market.

“With this investment, we are creating the capacity and flexibility to deliver on our goals, while committing to sustain employment in the UK and I would like to thank the unions for their support in delivering this important package of investment.”

The group employs over 22,000 in the UK and the bulk of the investment will be formed by a civil aero engine testing facility at Derby. Derby’s maintenance repair and overhaul facility, its Derby manufacturing facility and its Nottinghamshire factory are also in line for investment, and the company announced a reversal of previously announced plans to close its Derby precision machining facility.

The news was welcomed by business secretary Greg Clark and Unite negotiator Simon Hemmings.

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British tech firm Imagination for sale amid Apple dispute

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UK computer processor firm Imagination Technologies Group is on the market and has received takeover interest from a number of parties, the group announced in a statement today.

The company, which designs and makes graphics and processing chips for products such as Apple’s iPhone, said that following approaches from potential buyers “the board of Imagination has therefore decided to initiate a formal sale process for the group and is engaged in preliminary discussions with potential bidders”.

Imagination’s share price collapsed in April after Apple said it would no longer use its licensed technology in 15 months’ to two years’ time. “Apple has not presented any evidence to substantiate its assertion that it will no longer require Imagination’s technology, without violating Imagination’s patents, intellectual property and confidential information. This evidence has been requested by Imagination but Apple has declined to provide it,” the company announced at the time.

“Further, Imagination believes that it would be extremely challenging to design a brand new GPU architecture from basics without infringing its intellectual property rights, accordingly Imagination does not accept Apple’s assertions.

“Imagination has reserved all its rights in respect of Apple’s unauthorised use of Imagination’s confidential information and Imagination’s intellectual property rights,” it said in April.

The company “remains in dispute with Apple Inc”, today’s statement also said.

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KPMG lands BT auditing role

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Global consulting firm KPMG is to replace PwC as auditor of British Telecom.

“Following completion of the audit of the BT accounts for the 2017/18 financial year by PwC, KPMG will be appointed as auditor subject to approval by shareholders at the Annual General Meeting in 2018,” the telecoms giant said today in a statement.

The news comes following a fraud scandal at BT’s Italian operations earlier this year, and ends PwC’s 33-year role as auditor to the former state telco, which was privatised in 1984.

It is reported that KPMG landed the deal ahead of EY, with the other ‘big four’ firm, Deloitte, not participating in the bid due to its existing role as a BT technology consultant.

The auditing crisis had a dramatic effect on BT’s share price and forecasts, forcing it to bring forward an audit tender process that had previously been expected in 2020.

“BT, KPMG and PwC will commence transition planning immediately to ensure a smooth and effective migration during 2017/18,” the company said.

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Nokia relaunches iconic 3310

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The mobile phone market has thrived on innovation and newness for the past 20 years – but Nokia’s latest model aims to capitalise on anti-smartphone sentiment.

The brand, now owned by HMD, is re-imagining its landmark 3310 handset complete with Snake, retro levels of internet access – and battery that’s good for a full month of standby.

The reboot comes as Nokia launches three new smartphones at Mobile World Congress: the Nokia 6, Nokia 5 and Nokia 3

“Consumers today are seeking relationships with brands that they can trust,” explained Pekka Rantala, Chief Marketing Officer of HMD Global. “The Nokia brand has over 150 years of heritage giving it an authentic, differentiating experience which we are proud to introduce to a new generation of fans.

“Our new Android Nokia smartphone portfolio, together with the return of the iconic Nokia 3310, is a real statement of our ambition and commitment to honouring the hallmarks of a true Nokia phone experience.”

The new/old handset is expected to retail at €49.

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EE to introduce balloon and drone-based masts

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Mobile provider EE has revealed its own patent-pending drone and baloon-based mobile masts aimed at improving coverage throughout the UK.

The company claims that its air masts will be able to serve sites where 4G coverage is absent, or to aid search and rescue operations. EE expects to first use the technology in the UK later this year.

“We are going to extraordinary lengths to connect communities across the UK,” said CEO Marc Allera. “Innovation is essential for us to go further than we’ve ever gone, and deliver a network that’s more reliable than ever before. Rural parts of the UK provide more challenges to mobile coverage than anywhere else, so we have to work harder there – developing these technologies will ultimately help our customers, even in the most hard-to-reach areas.”

The drones and balloons will use small cells to connect into the EE network via satellite or 4G.

“Looking ahead, I see innovations like this revolutionising the way people connect,” Allera said. “We’re developing the concept of ‘coverage on demand’. What if an event organiser could request a temporary EE capacity increase in a rural area, or a climber going up Ben Nevis could order an EE aerial coverage solution to follow them as they climb? We need to innovate, and we need to think differently, always using customers’ needs to drive the way we create new technologies.”

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The price of your next MacBook just went up

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Brexit Bad Apple bites back at consumers

British consumers got bitten by Brexit as Apple quietly raised the cost of some of its products in the U.K. by 20 percent.

The computer-maker overnight began charging £2,999 ($3,650) for its “Mac Pro” desktop machine, the latest blow to shoppers after the decision to leave the European Union sent the pound sliding to a three-decade low.

The price hikes came days after supermarket giant Tesco battled with supplier Unilever over the cost of goods in “Marmitegate” and Microsoft also yanked prices. With inflation already accelerating at the fastest in two years, price pressures are likely to mount.

Separately, Electrolux Chief Executive Officer  Jonas Samuelson said he needs to “compensate by raising prices” by up to 10 percent. British Airways owner IAG also cut its earnings outlook for the second time since the Brexit vote in part because of sterling.

Highlighting the concerns for the economy, separate reports from Gfk, YouGov and Asda all showed consumer confidence falling and household spending power weakening as inflation accelerates. That’s a test for the Bank of England as its officials prepare to meet next week with traders not expecting an interest-rate cut.

(Bloomberg)

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British firms not adequately insured against cyber risk

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Inadequate insurance products leave companies exposing themselves to cyber threat

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The number of British firms insured against cyber threats has fallen sharply in the past year even though many doubled their security budgets after some high-profile companies suffered attacks, a survey by PwC showed on Wednesday.

The auditing and corporate advisory firm said companies were reluctant to invest in cyber insurance because they viewed products available as inadequate.

PwC interviewed 479 executives at British companies and only 38 percent said their company had a cyber insurance policy, downfrom 59 percent in a similar survey a year ago.

“The drop in take-up of cyber insurance shows that this is still maturing as a product,” Domenico del Re, insurance director at PwC, said.

“Companies do not see the cover currently on offer as targeted to their individual risks and therefore not value for money.”

The amount of cover insurers offer does not come close tothe potential losses seen by companies from a truly damaging cyber attack, PwC said.

Over the past two years, British companies such as broadband operator TalkTalk, Experian, the world’s biggest credit data company, and Sage Group, a financial software provider, have been targeted by hackers.

Cyber attacks cost British firms 34 billion pounds ($44billion) a year in lost revenue and increased IT spending after the attacks, research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research and computer security group Veracode estimated in a report last year.

PwC also spoke to 14 specialist insurance companies in London to look at how the insurers view cyber risks.

Half of insurers who responded sell cyber policies, or see cyber insurance as an area of growth, while the other half do not actively pursue it, often believing the risk to be “borderline insurable”, PwC said.

Most of the insurers who offer cyber cover, however, still “tread carefully” and tend to limit the amount of cover offered under each policy.

About 95,000 subscribers left TalkTalk following the cyber breach, when the personal details of 157,000 customers were stolen from its database via its website.

The cost of the attack was clear in TalkTalk’s full-year statutory pretax profit which more than halved to 14 million pounds after exceptional items of 83 million pounds.

British companies, which now spend about 6.2 million poundson average on security, are also more likely than firms around the world to keep their cards close to their chest and not share security knowledge, PwC said.

($1 = 0.7857 pounds)

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Additionalreporting by Sanjeeban Sarkar; Editing by Susan Fenton)

Copyright(c) Thomson Reuters 2016.