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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.