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Rolls-Royce may face break-up after activist hedge fund reveals stake

US-based ValueAct Capital is renowned for pushing radical changes at established firms and now has biggest stake of 5.5%

The prospect of a break-up of Rolls-Royce, one of Britain’s biggest manufacturers, is back on the agenda after a US activist hedge fund revealed it has built a 5.5% stake in the company.

ValueAct Capital, which is based in San Francisco, is renowned for pushing companies for radical change but prefers to operate behind the scenes rather than make its case through public announcements. In the past it has targeted Microsoft and mobile phone maker Motorola, often looking for the company to sell itself or hive off assets.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Alexis Tsipras defends Yanis Varoufakis over secret Grexit plan

PM objects to mounting criticism of controversial ex-finance minister as Greece meets quartet of creditors for bailout talks

Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, has launched a staunch defence of his former right-hand man Yanis Varoufakis following revelations that the ex-finance minister drew up secret plans to ditch the euro if bailout talks failed.

Varoufakis, who was a controversial figure during his tenure in Athens, courting publicity and provoking his eurozone counterparts, has admitted he formulated a scheme for leaving the euro, which involved hacking into the Greek tax system.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Hedge fund manager new to Bank of England MPC severs links with old firm

Gertjan Vlieghe announces he will be bought out of Brevan Howard and maintains there was no conflict of interest despite others’ concerns

A hedge fund manager appointed to the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee (MPC) has succumbed to pressure about potential conflicts of interest by severing financial links with his former employer.

The appointment of Gertjan Vlieghe, a former partner and senior economist at hedge fund Brevan Howard, to the rate-setting committee was announced on Tuesday but prompted concern about his remaining ties to the investment firm. He was to have retained a financial interest in Brevan Howard, which is a partnership. This would have allowed him to receive long-term incentive payments based on the hedge fund’s size, according to a report by Reuters.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Portland's bridge-hangers and 'kayaktivists' claim win in Shell protest

In two of the most daring days in the modern environmental movement, Greenpeace activists set social media ablaze and, despite the Fennica’s moving on toward the Arctic, hailed the action as a ‘historic achievement’

They were two of the most daring days of the modern environmentalist movement: Greenpeace protesters, suspended from a bridge above – and others kayaking against a Royal Dutch Shell icebreaker below.

Thirteen activists hung from the St John’s bridge, while another 13 monitored their ropes from above. Then, on Thursday night in Portland, just when the Greenpeacers thought the Shell ship had turned away and they could fend off $2,500-an-hour fines, the authorities came in.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Supermarkets could stop hiring over-25s to avoid national living wage, say analysts

Credit rating agency Moody’s warns big four may close stores or try to avoid employing people eligible for rise to £9 an hour by 2020

Supermarkets could close stores and try to avoid employing over-25s to cover the cost of implementing a new “national living wage”, the influential credit rating agency Moody’s has warned.

Its research will raise concerns about the countermeasures big businesses could take to pay the national living wage, which was announced by George Osborne in the summer budget.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Fuel cell industry charges forward thanks to big corporate customers

Businesses that want low-carbon, reliable distributed power are turning to fuel cells which, if costs come down, could compete with solar and wind energy for these deep-pocketed customers

Unlike solar panels or wind turbines, fuel cells are usually hidden from sight. But a growing number of big companies are relying on these mini power plants for a steady supply of electricity with a lower carbon footprint.

Fuel cells, which date back to the 1800s, generate electricity by putting natural gas through a chemical reaction. They release about half the emissions of a conventional power plant, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Poundland puzzles over how to keep it cheap and in reach

CEO Jim McCarthy has to convince the regulator about the merits of its takeover of rival 99p Stores and expand successfully in a crowded market

If you gave Poundland’s chief executive a quid every time he says “amazing value” while accompanying him to a store, your outlay would be considerably more than the £4.72 that shoppers spend on an average visit.

Checking out the bargain chain’s Fulham outlet in west London, Jim McCarthy is gobsmacked by a sudden run on goldfish bowls – apparently being snapped up by students across the UK as makeshift cocktail glasses that can be shared by multiple tipplers dunking in straws. He marvels at other oddball bestsellers for the chain, such as two-for-a-pound Aloe Vera drinks which are selling more than some top drinks brands. And he is gutted that the company has sold out of selfie-sticks despite buying in tens of thousands of the gadgets. “We’re getting more in,” he says, firmly.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

A bionic hand in five days: how tech innovation is changing lives

Assistive technology is giving disabled people more control over their lives, but businesses and charities have a long way to go on accessibility and affordability

In the UK, more than 11 million people live with a limiting long-term illness, impairment or disability, according to government statistics. More than one in four disabled people, meanwhile, say that they don’t have choice and control over their daily lives.

For those who need it, a bionic limb can cost up to £80,000 and take three months to make. However, by using 3D scanning and printing, a Bristol-based start-up reckons it can provide an amputee with a bionic hand for less than £2,000 in less than a week.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Tsipras denies 'secret plan' to take Greece out of euro – as it happened

2.52pm BST

A quick round-up of the main events on Friday. Thank you for all your comments and have a good weekend. We’ll be back on Monday.

2.37pm BST

The Greek finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos and the economy minister Giorgos Stathakis have been meeting with the lead negotiators from the EU, ECB and IMF, after the IMF’s new head representative to Greece, Delia Velculescu arrived in Athens late on Thursday.

Greece’s BHMA FM radio station reports on its website that also present at the meeting, which is taking place at the Athens Hilton, is the European Commission’s Declan Costello, the European Central Bank’s Rasmus Refer and European Stability Mechanism’s Nicola Giammarioli. The four institution heads – dubbed the quartet – are scheduled to meet with the governor of the Bank of Greece Yannis Stournaras.

The creditors have reportedly requested:

The last request, for the abolition of solidarity tax, affects about 350 Greek taxpayers. The institutions have also proposed the introduction of a single 6% tax rate on incomes over €50,000.

On Thursday the institutions’ technical teams had a special meeting to discuss parafiscal taxes and the possibility of establishing an interministerial committee in order to simplify business licensing process. Talks will also begin so that by the end of the year there will be new a framework for collective bargaining that will guarantee justice and efficiency in the workplace.


@g_stathakis #Tsakalotos drink black coffee w/ @DeliaVelculescu et al on #Greecebailout talks

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Cyber attack hits RBS and NatWest online customers on payday

Banking group says Distributed Denial of Service attack prompted flood of complaints from customers

The RBS banking group has revealed it suffered a cyber attack on its online services that left customers struggling to log on for nearly an hour – just as monthly pay cheques were arriving in accounts.

The group, which boasts 6.5m customers under the NatWest, RBS and Ulster brands, said it was the victim of a deliberate surge in internet traffic, called “Distributed Denial of Service”. This floods a company’s site with millions of requests, potentially bringing it to a standstill. The “distributed” version of a cyber attack involves thousands of computers under the control of one attacker.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS