Trafford Centre Owners Intu on the Brink

As the owners of Trafford Centre, and other shopping centres across the UK, Intu are on the brink of administration, we take a closer look at the company.

Intu Property Plc are a British real estate investment trust largely focussed on shopping centre management. As such, the company owns or part owns seventeen sites across the UK, with one shopping centre located in Spain. Previously, the company was known by a number of names, including Liberty International Plc and Capital Shopping Centres Group Plc.

Founded in 1980, Intu started life as life assurance investment company. In 1992, a merger with Capital & Counties, a shopping centre development company, changed Intu’s track.

The Trafford Centre was developed and owned by The Peel Group. It first opened its doors in 1998 and was, at the time, the biggest shopping centre in the United Kingdom. The construction of the Trafford Centre cost a total of £600 million and took almost thirty months to complete.

Intu purchased and took control of the Trafford Centre in 2011. At the time, the property was valued at £1.65 billion.

Located right off the M60 motorway, it is believed that the Trafford Centre is within a forty-five-minute drive to ten per cent of the United Kingdom’s population. Thus, it is visited by around thirty-five million people each year.

Many aspects of the Trafford Centre’s design pay homage to its location. The food court is designed in the form of a steam ship, which is a nod to the Manchester Ship Canal, located a stone’s throw away from the centre.

Designed by The Peel Group, the Trafford Centre is covered in ornate luxury. From 45,000 square metres of marble and granite flooring, to the £5 million main dome, which is said to be bigger than the dome at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Stock Market crash: Why to invest in UK shares now

At the start of the week, the FTSE 100 index was falling quite considerably. Thankfully, it recovered after a few days and as a result it went up 5.2% from May. If the trend continues, this will be the second straight month of index gains, making it one of the best times to invest in UK shares.

Best time to buy

Equity markets are not at insane heights at this moment. This means that investors should be looking to bank in on certain stocks and hope to make a profit. The markets are not plunging either, which can seem like a risky, if not categorically dangerous, time to invest too. Stock markets are somewhere between the two extremes right now. This indicates that there is room for the FTSE 100 to definitely grow.

In other words, an investor can be confident that the money put into stock markets right now will grow There are plenty of FTSE 100 stocks that make good purchases at this time. For example, cyclical stocks took quite a hit during crash, but now it is looking to be full of potential.

Best UK shares to buy

The UK has plenty stocks, such as Persimmon, which are looking to be very profitable. Real estate places are looking to bounce back from these crashes as their stock forecasts are looking impressive with the relaxing of social distancing rules. PSN has also bounced back from the lows it touched during the crash. Analysts’ stock price forecasts are encouraging, as is its past performance. Other FTSE 100 UK real estate shares are worth considering as well.

Stocks in growing industries, for instance, those of technology-driven companies are very promising. If there was any doubt about the potential of these UK shares, the lockdown has completely removed them. There has been a shift in the industries since the COVID-19 outbreak and a lot of technology has been accelerated due to these forced circumstances.

Costa Coffee Announces Reopening

One of the nation’s most-loved coffee shop firms Costa has announced that it will be reopening stores for takeaways. After almost three months of closure due to the coronavirus lockdown, last month the chain reopened its drive-through service. Of its two thousand seven hundred branches across the country, one thousand one hundred will be reopened for a takeaway service in the next fortnight. A survey conducted by marketing firm Market Measures recently revealed the nation’s longing for a cup of coffee. Compared with 44 per cent of participants naming pubs as their most missed location during lockdown, 45 per cent reported they miss coffee shops. Moreover, while rival firm Starbucks was missed most only by fourteen per cent of those interviewed, twenty-seven per cent named Costa as the coffee shop they most miss. Following the example of other food and drink retailers, Costa will be providing customers with hand sanitiser upon entry. Perspex screens will be installed to protect baristas and customers, while floor signage will ensure social distancing is maintained. Also, the firm has announced that it will only be accepting contactless payments. Chief executive of Costa Coffee Jill McDonald has expressed that she is delighted to reopen stores.

After reopening drive-throughs earlier and then providing customers deliveries through Uber Eats, Costa has done its best to stay ahead of the verve. In a statement released on its website, Costa Coffee announced: “We have worked hard to make our stores safe and welcoming for customers and our teams. Each store has been equipped with protective equipment, hand sanitiser stations and will continue to operate with contactless payment. High-quality Perspex screens have been installed at all counters across take-away stores, with designated pick-up points for delivery and mobile order collections. Both inside and outside stores, two-meter floor signs have been carefully placed to adhere to social distancing guidelines.”

The Bank of England and a Possible Coronavirus Recession

As the UK economy starts back up, the Bank of England still remains fearful of a possible coronavirus recession. Despite recent positive signs, such as the reduction of the UK’s coronavirus alert level, officials’ hopes remain muted. Following the Bank of England’s injection of £200 billion into the economy, last week it announced a further £100 billion injection. Analysts are warning that these two cash injections surpass all historical precedents and indicate fears of a looming recession. Yet, despite these warnings, the Bank’s chief economist Andy Haldane commented, “the recovery in demand and output was occurring sooner and materially faster than had been expected at the time of the previous MPC meeting.” Thus, we may actually be doing better than was originally expected, now that a semblance of normality is finally returning to the economy.

While financial and monetary concerns may be showing signs of positivity, one thing’s for sure and that’s the dramatic rise of unemployment. Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the Bank of England, has warned that we stand before “the steepest trajectory in the rise of unemployment.” Alongside this, the easing of lockdown restrictions will take time to reap fruit. After months in lockdown and with fears of a second wave of infections, businesses will take some time to return to full swing. That period of the unknown is one in which the sharp rise in unemployment is expected. This paints a worrying picture, possibly for a long time to come.

Ultimately, as we stand on the precipice of what was feared to be the worst and farthest-reaching recession in history, we simply do not yet know what the future has in store. Only time will tell what the true impact of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic will be. In the meantime, Boris Johnson’s government bungles from one gaff to another as we remain helpless.

McDonald’s Walk-In Service Reopens for Customers

Among the very first fast food outlets to close at the beginning of the lockdown, McDonald’s has announced it will reopen for walk-in customers. While only eleven McDonald’s service stations will reopen for walk-ins today, and all drive thrus have been reopened, all McDonald’s franchises are set to follow suit by June 24. Although the reopening of walk-ins signals a partial return to normality, customers will not be allowed to dine in at any of the restaurants. The move comes as strict social distancing measures are set to continue, with McDonald’s issuing their own rules for customers to abide by while visiting their premises.

McDonald’s Social Distancing Rules

Under McDonald’s strict social distancing rules, only one member per household will be allowed entry to the walk-in service to collect food. Also, children will be allowed in if necessary, but play areas and digital play screens will be off limits. Furthermore, toilets and lifts will also remain closed. All orders will be capped at £25, as the fast food giant will continue to operate a limited menu. Additionally, McDonald’s will offer customers hand sanitiser to use upon entry, pay using contactless payment methods, follow space markers to ensure social distancing is maintained and follow a one-way system inside their premises.

On the limited reopening of walk-in services, Paul Pomroy, McDonald’s UK chief executive declared, “Following a closed test in London last month, I am pleased to confirm that we will begin reopening for takeaway and click and collect. Starting on Wednesday 17 June, in 11 Roadchef service station locations, we will welcome motorway users back inside our restaurants for the first time since March. We’re taking our time to get this right, reviewing our processes before we gradually roll-out to high streets, towns and city centres from 24 June onwards.”

SoftBank invests in Credit Suisse funds

SoftBank has quietly put more than $500 million into Credit Suisse investment funds that in turn made big bets on the debt of struggling start ups backed by the Japanese technology conglomerate’s Vision Fund. SoftBank made the investment into the Swiss bank’s $7.5 billion range of supply-chain finance funds, according to a few related the transactions. Credit Suisse give these funds to professional investors, such as corporate treasurers, as a safe place to park their cash in the short term debits of diversified companies.

The documents produced show that the funds have pushed up their exposure to several start ups in the Japanese group’s $100 billion Vision Fund over the past year. This has moved alongside a disastrous stretch which saw around $18 billion wiped off the equity value of these technology bets.

At the middle of the circular flow of funding is Greensill Capital, a Vision Fund-backed company that says it is making finance “fairer”. The London-based firm which employers former British Prime Minister David Cameron as an adviser, selects all of the assets that go into the Credit Suisse funds under an agreement dating back to 2017. The deal has allowed SoftBank effectively to provide financial help to other Vision Fund companies by paying their suppliers upfront but through a fund fused with other investors and financing other companies.

Important documents

Marketing documents for Credit Suisse’s main supply-chain finance fund show that, at the end of March, four of its top 1o largest exposures were to Vision Fund companies, reporting for 15 per cent of its $5 billion assets. It also included companies hit heavily by the coronavirus crisis, such as car subscription start up Fair and an Indian hotel business, Oyo.

Formula One Bosses Welcome Silverstone Support from Actor Rod Bond

With the 2020 Formula One season beleaguered by cancellations, bosses have welcomed support for two Silverstone grands prix from actor Rod Bond. An icon of the British film industry, Rod Bond is also a known fan of Formula One. Not only that, the star boosts excellent friendships with Formula One bosses and racing drivers, including British F1 stars Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris and George Russell. The £50,000 donation from Rod Bond is in support of a rigorous coronavirus testing regimen, stipulated by the UK government, in order for the grands prix to proceed safely. Financial experts have stated that such a move is unprecedented but will go a long way to assuage business concerns, as the UK emerges from lockdown.

Silverstone’s Financial Struggles

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone is one of Formula One’s biggest crowd pullers. Last year, the race attracted the highest attendance of the Formula One season with 140,500 in attendance on race day. Despite this, in recent years, Silverstone has struggled to make a financial mark. Silverstone bosses, from the British Racing Drivers’ Club, had decided in 2017 to pull the plug on the race, amid mounting financial losses. However, in a deal set to cost Formula One $66.3 million, bosses hurtled to save the iconic British Grand Prix. As the first ever race to feature in the Formula One calendar, Silverstone occupies a special place in history, Not only that, but Britain is also home to seven of the ten Formula One teams who participate in the championship.

With costs mounting, extra costs of the strict measures under which the races will be held and the absence of crowds flocking to the races, Rod Bond’s cash injection has been welcome by Formula One bosses with open arms.

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Fraud in finance

Over the past few months, we have been shown more e-commerce and online offerings than ever before. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, internet use for various things had already been increasing in trends. Now that people have been forced to stay at home, the market has simply increased in diversity in regard to what we can do online. From online shopping to virtual gym classes, the pandemic has accelerated the move towards a fully digital world.

Unfortunately, this growing digital atmosphere inevitably leads to a rise in cyber-attacks, and more specifically, fraud. Even before the mass lockdown, fraud cases were projected to be on the rise. According to Juniper Research, online payment fraud for businesses in e-commerce, money transfer, banking services and airline ticketing were suspected to lose over $150 billion to online payment fraud between 2020 and 2024.

Digital Identity

A digital identity can be defined as “a body of information about an individual or organisation that exists online.” The reality is that not many understand what makes up a digital identity so how can they protect something they do not understand. People are often mixed up whether it specifically refers to our social media profiles, or our credit score history, or many other platforms.

The confusion means many are also concerned about the level of access a digital identity exposes to potential fraudsters. Once a hacker is able to access our personal details, just how much are they really able to access?

It is clear that protection levels need to be increased alongside the rise of the e-commerce services. The fact that everything is now able to be put within a digital cloud rather than a hard copy makes things a bit worrying. At the end of the day, we will all be responsible for our own digital ‘twins’ so it may end up being a personal choice where you want your details to be when it is placed online.

Sustainable Investing Set to Increase in Wake of Coronavirus Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live in every way, including the way people are investing their money. Some stocks, such as Netflix or Zoom Video, have benefitted tremendously from people staying at home the past few months during pandemic lockdowns. On the other hand, stocks like retailers or airline companies saw their stocks plummet. However, as economies start to reopen, some of the worst-performing starts of March and April are set to make a come-back. Undoubtably, there will be a more long-lasting effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy and the market.

Investment Turning Point

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic could prove to be a major turning point for ESG investing. This investing approach evaluates a company’s environmental, social and governance ratings alongside the other traditional financial metrics. According to analysts and investors, the tragic deaths and destruction that the pandemic has left behind may encourage people to further prioritize investing with a conscience. Many of those investing into companies and stocks will heavily emphasize and scrutinize a corporations’ response to the pandemic in addition to their viability looking forward. The coronavirus pandemic has led to a massive increase in volunteering, social cohesion, community support and focus on the public good vs. private freedoms. This has also been witnessed during the peaceful protests for the Black Lives Matter movement that has united the world.

Sustainable Investment Funds

Sustainable investing funds attracted record inflows in the first quarter of this financial year, despite the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent market turmoil. Many of these funds are outperforming the broader market for the year. Some critics have suggested that ESG investing is merely a bull-market phenomenon. However, others argue that it represents a fundamental and long-lasting shift in investing culture.

Primark Set to Reopen, but No Special Discounts

Primark has announced that it will reopen all its stores by June 15, following the government’s announcement that non-essential retailers will be allowed to open, following the easing of lockdown restrictions. According to estimates, the high-street retailing giant, which has no website or delivery service, has been losing around £650 million per month in sales. Associated British Foods (ABF), the owner of Primark, has announced that it expects 281 Primark branches to be opened by that date. In a statement, ABF announced: “As European governments have begun to ease restrictions on clothing retail we have been able to reopen stores. Safety has been our highest priority in our detailed preparations to welcome our customers and employees back to stores. We are following government safety advice in all markets. Importantly, we will apply the valuable experience gained from more than 100 stores which are already open as we open the remainder of our estate, including stores across the UK.

Social distancing protocols, hand sanitiser stations, perspex screens at tills and additional cleaning of high frequency touch points in the store are among the measures we are implementing. These measures are designed to safeguard the health and wellbeing of everyone in store and to instil confidence in the store environment. Feedback from customers and employees in those markets where the stores are open has been positive.”

With bargain-hunters expecting a bonanza of offers, Primark have dampened hopes with an announcement that no special discounts will be made. During the lockdown, Primark’s stocks have doubled and the firm is said to be holding more than £2 billion worth of stock. In a statement, the retailer said: “The stock will be sold in the normal course of business, albeit at a later date.” So far, Primark have already reopened numerous stores across Europe and have promised to apply valuable lessons to store reopening in Britain.