Friday, 30 November 2012

Will the Media save Cameron in the defence of Freedom?

Today, David Cameron rejected the central recommendation of the Leveson Report that a law is needed to underpin a new press regulator. The report, a culmination of more than a year of investigations, recommended legislation that “would enshrine, for the first time, a legal duty on the government to protect the freedom of the press.” I would argue, as Mr Cameron does, that this sounds more like interference rather than protection.

Cameron’s opposing of statutory control has caused a divide within the Coalition and Parliament. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and opposition leader Ed Miliband want to see such a law implemented without delay and both are at risk of being labelled illiberal, opportunistic politicians who are jumping at the chance of the short-term advantage. The Prime Minister stated that the central recommendation of the Leveson Inquiry introducing new press laws would “cross the Rubicon” and undermine the centuries-old principle of free speech. He further urged the House of Commons, a “bulwark of democracy”, to think “very, very carefully” about such a move.

Leveson is firmly of the belief that the British press – all of it – serves the country very well for the vast majority of the time, and that press freedoms are a constitutional necessity and principle and part of our national culture. But he also states the very purpose of the press is to hold those with power to account and that there is “no argument but that changes do need to be made”.

In his reaction to the report, Mr Cameron is clearly trying to give the media a chance to right itself by installing its own stronger and better equipped regulator. The press, operating properly and in the public interest, is one of the true safeguards of our democracy and is something that Government should not interfere with.

According to the BBC’s political correspondent, Nick Robinson, “The Prime Minister knows he has given his opponents yet another stick to beat him with. He also knows, however, that the press are firmly on his side.”

But Culture Secretary Maria Miller points out the challenge Cameron faces, saying that “the gauntlet has been thrown down” to newspapers to clear up their own mess and self-regulate. If this challenge is taken up quickly it will rescue Cameron and enshrine him as a defender of the freedom of the press. However, if self-regulation is not improved in a timely fashion, public opinion may well force Parliament to follow the recommendations of the inquiry. But then, where would this regulation end?

I certainly agree with Mr Cameron in that the press needs to operate in a free manner, un-impeded by law and governed by itself. OFCOM needs to be given more teeth and the media must be allowed a chance to improve its own standing. The future of freedom of press is down to the press to gets its act together. Fast.

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Abchat Weekly Wrap Up: By George, it's a Canadian

Wow… Who would have guessed that old Sir Mervyn King’s replacement would be the spitting image of Hollywood heartthrob, George Clooney? This is the chat circulating the tabloids about George Osborne’s latest appointment. Being compared to such a high profile and charismatic individual will bring about high expectations. To the broad sheet readers amongst you, this is really the key – whilst Mark Carney does come with some considerable pedigree, managing expectations will be his primary task. In his current role as the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Carney has performed an excellent job by keeping Canada relatively recession proof – which is essentially why his appointment is followed by so much expectation. George Osborne has also talked up Carney’s credentials by describing him as “quite simply the best and most qualified person in the world to be the next Governor”.

Carney will have some testing times ahead, notably the high possibility that he will witness Britain losing her AAA credit rating. It will be seen by the public as the Chancellor’s fault, however the spill-over effect this would have for Carney will be bad – mainly a fall in the pound. Carney would have to intervene on the Bank’s behalf very early on in his tenure – probably before he has gotten used to the different regulatory structure. Carney will also have to tackle corporation tax, and encourage more start-ups and entrepreneurs to come to the UK and give us the economic spark we need!

One has to admire George Osborne for this appointment, and maybe this will pave the way for more members of Her Majesty’s Commonwealth to help us in our hour of need.

Governor of the Bank of Canada announced as next Governor of the Bank of England

Key points of the Leverson Enquiry:

• New self-regulation body recommended
• Independent of serving editors, government and business
• No widespread corruption of police by the press found
• Politicians and press have been too close
• Press behaviour, at time, has been ‘outrageous’
Underemployment affects 10.5% of UK workforce

Our CIPR Committee Member Jo attended the CIPR Corporate and Financial Group Annual Dinner with the very entertaining guest speaker Nick Hewer of Countdown and The Apprentice

We attended
CBBC’s first webinar on Effective Due Diligence in China LINK

Abchicks enjoyed the
Crowe Clark Whitehill Women in Business Christmas Shopping Event

We took some lucky guests to see Chelsea play Fulham at home, where the West London rivals played out a bore draw. New Chelsea manager, Rafael Benetiz failed to inject any testosterone into the ever declining Fernando Torres. This is now two points from a possible six (and still without a goal) for Rafa, who will have done himself no favours with Chelsea’s mid week showing.

Abchaps hosted a very interesting Market Lunch this week with guests from Cenkos, Cavendish, Dechert, Panmure Gordon, Reeves and Millnet Financial

Dechert has appointed Dmitry Kurochkin as a partner in the law firm’s dispute resolution practice. Previously head of litigation for central Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Herbert Smith, Kurochkin will be based in Moscow and will focus on litigation and arbitration matters.

Pinsent Masons has strengthened their corporate finance team with the addition of Jonathan Beastall, corporate finance specialist. He joins from Clifford Chance, where he was a partner for 19 years. Beastall specialises in advising clients on independent price offerings and other equity capital raising.

Cavendish Asset Management has appointed Liz Evans as director of portfolio management. She has been with the investment managers since 1987, and began as an analyst focusing on the UK before becoming a fund manager of their Asia Pacific Fund.

BNY Mellon has appointed Paul Solway as managing director and Regional Head of Equity Finance for Asia-Pacific (APAC). With over 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry, Solway will be based in Hong Kong and will be instrumental in developing a strong APAC equity financing business.

Ethical Vacuum” – Lord Justice Leveson’s damning view of the existence of social media and blogs

Ahead of the much talked about Rolling Stones 50th anniversary concerts, Hampstead’s Zebra Gallery is celebrating with a free exhibition that has many previously unseen photographs of the band.

Random International’s
“Rain Room” at the Barbican is causing quite a stir. Visitors and able to control the rain through motion sensors in the floor stopping the rain from pouring on you as you walk around the room. On until March, entry is free but be prepared to queue.

This weekend you can see the Kind Henry VIII’s
Tudor kitchens at Hampton Court Palace live in action. Historia food archaeologists are continuing their fascinating research project, experimenting with traditional recipes, ingredients and cooking methods.

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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Social Media: Fundamental to modern due diligence

When moving into any market, undertaking due diligence is essential. With the ever-expanding use of social media in China, it is proving a useful research tool to form part of this due diligence.

The CBBC’s new webinar series was launched this week by Pacific Strategies & Assessments' Shaghai Director, Greg Hallahan. The CBBC’s webinars offer ‘A China Expert on your Desktop’, and the first of these was on the topic of Effective Due Diligence.

The webinar explored the idea that “social media is a fundamental part of modern due diligence”, and to what extent this is true in China. The Chinese equivalent of Twitter, Weibo, provides a platform for advisers to do a basic level of investigation on companies and individuals prior to doing business. Even though Weibo is monitored by the Government, its instantaneous nature and sheer number of users undoubtedly makes it more transparent than other forms of media, which can make it invaluable when it comes to due diligence.

In addition to Weibo, online forums and bulletin boards enable the views of current and former employees to be taken into account when researching a potential client. This can be furthered by looking at current vacancies that the company is advertising to see whether the potential client is hiring and what positions within the company are changing.

Besides the informal information on the internet, Hallahan advised that “there is a wealth of information in the public domain within the PRC, you just need to know how and where to look”. He outlined how location within the country is key in terms of the information available; within tier one cities in the east of China the information regarding companies and individuals is of a very good standard and availability, but it may not be the case elsewhere.

Chinese companies are often part of a web of other companies that are inter-related on a management and investment level. The spread of wealth can make it complex to ascertain the ownership and management structure of a company at first glance. Hallahan advised that understanding the information that is available online becomes a lot easier when you have on the ground human intelligence.

Besides social media and desk top research, a crucial step for UK companies looking to move into the Chinese market is site visits, something Abchurch has much first hand experience of. Hallahan’s estimation is that one third of site visits that they undertake explore issues that they would been difficult to address from afar.

As a result of the growth in its usage, social media is a tool that is only going to grow in usefulness to undertake due diligence on any company, in any market across the world.

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Friday, 23 November 2012

FSA fines UBS: Who's banking on wholesale change?

This week the FSA issued one of the largest fines in its history, following the conviction and sentencing of rogue trader Kweku Adoboli for two counts of fraud by abuse of his position. In addition to Adoboli’s seven year prison sentence, UBS has been fined £29.7 million for system and control failing that allowed Adoboli to lose the bank £1.4 billion. The FSA’s view that UBS’s controls were “seriously defective” is an understatement.

This equates to the third largest fine the FSA has ever issued, beaten only by Barclays, which was fined £59.5m over the Libor scandal in June 2012 and JP Morgan which was hit for £33.3m in June 2010 for failing to protect client money.

In court, the jury was told the way in which Adoboli lost the money was “unprotected, unhedged, incautious and reckless”. In Adoboli’s defence argument, his lawyers made the point that the Swiss bank’s attitude to risk depended largely on how profitable it was and the culture was to ignore risk so long as it paid. But Perry Stokes the Deputy Chief Inspector outlined how this has become the “UK’s biggest fraud, committed by one of the most sophisticated fraudsters the City of London Police have ever come across.”

Adoboli’s actions cost fellow traders their jobs, prompted the resignation of the Chief Executive Oswald Gruebel and wiped £2.7bn from the UBS share price.

The lack of awareness Adoboli had for risk highlights major flaws in the banking sector, in terms of rogue traders themselves and the negative public image of banking as a whole. There is clearly a fixation on profits at any cost in the actions of Adoboli and an encouragement on behalf of the management for him to take greater risks – just until the house of cards came tumbling down.

These issues need to be addressed if the sector is going to be considered credible and trust worthy. The threat of an imposing prison sentence and fines for potential rule breakers will help develop this. Unless the current underlying culture within banking is addressed, nothing will change. In order to reduce the risk of future rogue trading, there needs to be a change in values, where risk management is prioritised over a yearning for profits at any cost. As well as this, a personal approach where individuals take more responsibility for their actions is required. Additionally the FSA should continue to issue fines and sanctions in the event of future misconduct.

Senior managers of such institutions must review the pressure they put on junior members to succeed, seemingly at any cost.

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Abchat Weekly Wrap Up: UK Exports Emerge in Russia

The UK government recently learned that Russia has agreed to lift its 16-year ban on British beef and lamb, giving UK farmers access to a rapidly growing consumer and business market. The ban originated in 1996 following the outbreak of BSE in the UK and subsequent worldwide ban on British beef. The World saw it fit to lift the ban on British bovines in 2006, however the Russians only decided to follow suit yesterday following the Moscow visit of Nigel Gibbens, the UK’s chief veterinary officer. This six year wait could not have come at a better time, with the UK’s food exports booming, recently hitting levels of £10bn per year. It is encouraging to see British farmers being exposed to as many markets abroad as possible – and last year food and drink exports rose by 9% to £18.2bn so long may this positive rise in UK agricultural exports continue.

British food is starting to be recognised around the world for high quality and rigorous production standards, and the change in Russia’s stance highlights this. Hopefully this will help to level out the UK’s somewhat negative balance of trade and Russians can joy a real Aberdeen Angus Steak

Abchurch’s Creative Director went to Google’s London Headquarters for a seminar on Google’s expanding social media product suite

The Life Sciences Team hosted an exclusive Roundtable lunch with Dorsey & Whitney for some of the industry’s top thought leaders. There were insightful discussions including the dichotomy between the scientist and CEO, whether AIM is the right market for pre-revenue companies and the growing importance of China as a scientific hub

Our Resources Team hosted a Market Lunch which also brought up some useful discussions on the value of PCIMs

Abchaps attended a number of impressive seminars this week, including:

Bank of New York Mellon Investment Panel discussing topics such as mezzanine finance and agriculture

Gorkana Breakfast Briefing with Estates Gazette Editor Damian Wild on whether online media is killing traditional journalism

Angel News’ VCT & EIS Investment Forum where we were particularly impressed with the Social Impact VCT presentation

Abchaps also went go-karting with the Shore Capital team and enjoyed Farrer & Co Entrepreneurs Reception

Some of the team also attended a Finance Talking course on Financial Results & Annual Reports

Credit ratings agency Moody, downgrades France’s debt from AAA to AA1 amidst it’s economic challenges and the threats that poses to economic growth

UBS rogue trader Kweku Adopboli, who totalled up £1.3bn of rogue trade losses, was jailed for seven years

Swiss Bank now faces a £50 million fine by the FSA for management control failings

Argentina’s economy raises cause for concern after the US ruling orders the country to pay $1.3bn to hedge fund creditors. The US victory sparks fears that Argentina could face being plunged into another sovereign default

A deal is finally sealed between David Montgomery’s Local World and the Daily Mail & General Trust. The £52.5m deal see’s the purchase of Northcliff Media - the 80-plus regional titles, as well as a 40% stake in the new Local World venture

Stockwatch: After encouraging talks regarding the US deficit and the looming fiscal cliff, Wall Street’s S&P stocks saw closed on Monday with their biggest one-day gain in over two months

Moreover, the retail sector announces a 26.8% rise this year – well ahead of the 10.6% seen by the broader equity market, which is particularly timely as today marks the shopping frenzy of Black Friday

Numis announced this week a new mining team, with John Prior heading up the corporate finance side and Matthew Hasson appointed as director in specialist sales

BDO has strengthened its financial services team with the appointment of a partner, senior manager and a director

Angelos Anastasiou has joined Seymour Pierce as an analyst covering Utilities

Former head of BBC News Tony Hall has been appointed Director General at the BBC following the departure of George Entwistle

Stephenson Harwood has appointed Marta Garcia as a competition partner in its corporate practice

'Hair Cut' - When investors agree to take less than they are owed in a settlement of a debt. For example, if lenders agree to take a 50% haircut, they are agreeing to lose 50% of the money they lent

London's leading artist-led "The Other Art Fair" opened yesterday and is on until Sunday. Buy directly from over 100 of the UK and other global unsigned artists
Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland 2012 opens this evening for the festive season - it is on until 6th January
The Scandinavian Christmas market is on for this weekend only in Rotherhithe - no doubt you'll catch our Finnish Commercial Manager there!

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Thursday, 22 November 2012

Is online media killing traditional journalism?

The idea that online media is killing traditional journalism is a concept strongly denied by Damian Wild, editor of the Estates Gazette. At yesterday’s Gorkana Breakfast Briefing, he explained that there is still money to be made in journalism, albeit with a few adaptations to their approach.
The Estates Gazette is a weekly business magazine published for the UK commercial property market. Like other traditional media providers, the circulation of its print edition is down, having peaked in 2007 at 28,000, it has been shrinking significantly and stands at just 19,000 today. Meanwhile, the Estates Gazette has adopted a subscription-based online news service, an approach which has failed for other news providers. So why is Wild so positive about the future of Estates Gazette?
Wild’s approach has been to appeal to an increasingly tech-savvy audience. The introduction of its iPad app has clearly been a hit with the Estates Gazette’s readers, since its digital readership is growing. Not only does the app allow readers to access content within hours of going to press rather than days, it also offers a more interactive approach. The online edition of the Estates Gazette has videos, podcasts, and offers opportunities for readers to express their views – and it seems that the Estates Gazette’s readers are prepared to pay for these services. Wild also described how this year the Estates Gazette hosted a live webinar from Cannes using the company iPad.
Image from
It seems, therefore, that through innovative ideas and working with online media, rather than in competition with it, traditional journalism does still have a place in the current market.

Alongside the advertisements of plush properties which appear in the its print editions, perhaps the Estates Gazette should consider selling Apple some advertising space in the weeks leading up to Christmas - a few more iPads under the tree on Christmas day might actually boost their business – not kill it.

Alice Prentice

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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Will a change in China's leadership bring about reform?

The 18th Communist Party of China National Congress resulted in only the second orderly transfer of power in the 63 years of Communist Rule. Xi Jinping will succeed Hu Jinatao in becoming General Secretary of the Communist Party of China.

By leading the smaller Politburo Standing Committee onto the stage at the Great Hall of People in Beijing, he signalled his procurement of the top role in the Party to China and the World. He will inherit the post of State president, adding to his status as Head of the Party and Chief of the Military, giving him extra clout within the committee.

The Politburo has been reduced from nine members to seven. The Party’s unofficial age restrictions mean that five of the Standing Committee will serve just one five-year term before stepping down to make way for a new crop of leaders in 2017. Both the reduction in number and age restrictions mean Xi will not be able to rely on the continuity and support of those around him for his entire term, as previous leaders have done. However he personally will rule China for the next decade.

Due to the Politburo operating by consensus, and with no outsider knowing how much gravitas Xi will carry within the Committee, it is hard to predict the outcome of the change in leadership. The new leaders however have been labelled “conservative” from the outset. Two particular members of the Committee will be staunch defenders of the state sector and orthodox socialist policies. They are the North Korean trained economist, Zhang Dejiang and the propaganda chief Liu Yunshan.

At the other side of the spectrum is the 7th man, the “floating voter” Zhang Gaoli. He has been blamed by many critics for a state run investment binge that built a financial district from scratch in the city of Tianjin, leaving it heavily in debt. Chinese analysts have referred to him as a ‘weather vane’ and during his time in charge of Shandong province, he forged economic links with South Korea and Japan. By most calculations the committee divides four to three in favour of cautious reforms.

The main resolution passed by the 18th Party Congress was named the Guiding Marxist document, however it did outline elements of a reformist manifesto. It spoke of a need to expedite economic change in China.

“Very few people know about who China's new leader will be, what he thinks”, said Minxin Pei, Claremont McKenna College. Within China, Xi is less famous than his wife, army general turned the folk singer Peng Liyuan, but this will undoubtedly change over the next decade.

Xi is often referred to as a ‘princeling’, the privileged son of a former leader. He has experienced both extremes of the Party - the benefits of being at the top and the results of being a target in governmental purge. Xi himself was sent away to ‘learn from the people’ when his father was purged from his position of power within the Party. This, combined with his military connections and support for state-owned industries, gives the expectation that he will be a rather conservative leader.

If Xi wants to reform the Party and the country, he has two major limitations: firstly, the system “is in favour of moderation, and nothing can change quickly. Steady as it goes, the political rhythm first has to be installed…. Significant shifts will come later”, (David Kelly, Director of the Beijing-based political think-tank China Policy.) Secondly, he will be constrained in his ability to set his own policies, due to having to consult with two retired presidents who have often clashed over the last decade. Senior leaders like former President Jiang Zemin appear to be keeping their fingers on the buttons of power long into retirement. As Kerry Brown, head of the Asia programme at Chatham House states, “the issue lies with who opposes you rather than who supports you.”

We will just have to wait and see what the effects of this change in leadership has in stall for the Communist Party, China and the resulting global knock-on effect.


Friday, 16 November 2012

Abchat Weekly Wrap-Up: Peaks and troughs, it's the economy...

Output forecasts are back to being gloomy according to Sir Mervyn King, when he gave the Bank of England’s Q3 Inflation Report on Wednesday 14 November. The rate of inflation will remain above the Bank’s target of 2% meaning our growth will remain sluggish for the foreseeable future. Mr King’s prognosis was that of an unpredictable situation where by the zigs will not be as positive as some say, and the zags not as bad as others say.

GDP in Britain actually grew 1% in the three months through to September, but Mr King said this was owing to the Olympic Games in the Summer which cannot be used as a reliable economic indication. The Country is certainly feeling the post-Olympic slump right now!

Also as mentioned above, inflation had not slowed as much as the Bank of England had hoped, making recovery more difficult. Higher prices, pay freezes and tighter lending have squeezed the British household’s wallet to spending less. This is in part due to the uncertainty of the state of the European economic situation, our biggest export market, meaning companies are unwilling to invest more and  less willing to pay more to their staff, meaning the British public has less to spend… You can see the trend here!?!?!

Mr King has left the door open to more quantitative easing; the BoE’s stimulus which included buying bonds to inject some capital in the economy. He also alluded to the fact the Bank will not be increasing its benchmark interest rate, currently at an all time low of 0.5%, as it would definitely slow recovery.

Mr King is not know to be a mindless optimist, in fact he is far more of a pessimist, so yesterday’s findings and forecasts can be viewed as reasonably encouraging as he was not predicting us to fall further into the economic and political abyss.

The unpredictability of the UK and World economy at the moment is quite daunting, but one thing that can be guaranteed is the British will maintain their stiff upper lip throughout.

  • HSBC, Britain’s biggest bank and the world’s ‘local bank’, have become one of the latest victims of whistleblowing. The UK’s tax authorities HMRC have obtained details of all of the bank’s 4,388 Jersey customers. The Telegraph suggests the list is to be heavily dominated by senior City figures and include celebrities such as James Blunt.

  • October figures reveal a surprising jump in UK inflation. With the rate rising to 2.7%, it marks a 5 month high, with increases in foot prices and tuition fees assisting the sharp increase.
  • The big six energy giants have come under fire this week as allegations emerge over price-rigging the wholesale gas market. Following the information supplied by a whistleblower, the FSA and energy regulator Ofgem have launched an official investigation.

  • STOCKWATCH: As Vodafone revealed their half year results on Tuesday morning, their shares took a 4.5% tumble. The Company reported disappointing figures for the first half of 2013, blaming a weakening in the macroeconomic environment. However, despite the decrease, the Company maintained its pledge to lift dividend payout.

Abchurch hosted the launch of the FSE Group and Social Finance’s Social Impact VCT, featuring keynote speaker Wol Kolade of ISIS Equity Partners. See our Social Impact VCT Launch event review for more.

Abchaps hosted three Market Lunches this week, two in London, one focused on Digital Media and the other on Cleantech, and the third by our office in Leeds.

ur team caught up with finnCap at their drinks reception, and with Smith & Willamson at their evening reception for up and coming young professionals.

WH Ireland has announced that it has appointed Richard William Killingbeck as an Executive Director, with effect from 1st December.

The merger of Singer Capital Markets and N+1 Brewin has now been completed and the combined N+1 Singer team recently moved into their new offices at One Bartholomew Lane. We look forward to catching up with the team.

"Tombstone" A newspaper or magazine advertisement showing the parties involved in an acquisition, merger, new issue, large syndicated loan, or other major financial deal

Somerset House ice rink opens this evening for it’s winter season. The stunning 900m rink will be open until 6th January 2013. Tonight Dimitri From Paris & Ministry of Sounds residents Cosmonauts are kicking off the festivities.

The Christmas Market on the Southbank also opened today, showcasing German handicrafts and fare.

The London Jazz Festival ends on Sunday. See some of the best Jazz acts in the world with over 250 shows across London.

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Thursday, 15 November 2012

Impact Investment: Doing good whilst making a profit

The launch of Social Impact VCT, enables investors to invest “with both their heads and their hearts” in a tax-advantaged vehicle.
Yesterday afternoon at our offices we saw the launch of the Social Impact VCT. The fund aims to make use of the existing tax incentive scheme to create a pool of readily available investment capital immediately deployable among socially driven companies in the UK.
  1. Support the growth of socially motivated companies which make a distinct positive contribution to improving UK society
  2. Capital preservation and predictable cash flows due to focus on established companies and companies whose revenue streams are wholly or partially underpinned by delivery contracts
  3. 30% income tax relief in year of investment, tax free dividend and capital gains.
  4. Planned Exit: return of capital planned for years 6,7 and 8
  5. Dividend planned from year 2 onwards.

The VCT will be managed jointly by FSE Fund Managers and Social Finance. It will focus on profitable and/ or growth companies delivering measurable social impact. As part of the launch we heard from the following two socially motivated companies.

CREATE Foundation is a company aimed at providing a place where people can rebuild their life and hope, in the form of work. It is a “for more than profit” company, this means they run a great business, but profits are ploughed back into training, work experience and jobs for people who need them most. In January 2011, they became only the second company to be awarded a Big Society Award by David Cameron.
CREATE is a social enterprise, and this means that it applies “capitalist strategies to achieving philanthropic goals.” The government defines social enterprises as businesses with social objectives whose surpluses are reinvested in the business or in the community, rather than maximising profit for shareholders and owners.

Another example of a social enterprise is Bromley Healthcare, a new community interest company founded of 800 people who will deliver a wide range of NHS Services to people of all ages. From health visiting to district nursing, school nurses to specialist nurses, their nursing services help new parents to care for new born children and older people to continue living at home through care and support. In addition to this broad range of nursing services they also have a wide range of therapy services for adults and children. This includes speech and language therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

Both Create and Bromley Healthcare are examples of companies that would benefit from Social Finance’s VCT and would in return offer duel level benefits for the investors (both financial and social).

This is a relatively new asset class, but it is growing. However there is still a problem surrounding the understanding of it. What is needed is the development of a clear message to outline to potential investors the financial returns available from social investments as well as the social benefits delivered. It is not philanthropy, but investment with “twice” the return both financially and socially.

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Monday, 12 November 2012

Goodnight to Newsnight?

On Saturday evening George Entwistle resigned as BBC Director General as a direct result of Newsnight falsely, and indirectly, accusing Lord McAlpine of child abuse earlier in November. Entwistle stated that “in the light of the unacceptable journalistic standards of the Newsnight film broadcast on Friday 2 November”, he must resign.  The Corporation was still trying to cope with the fallout surrounding Newsnight shelving an investigation into Jimmy Saville, when this crisis struck.

Unreserved apology
In George’s Entwistle 56 days on the job, Newsnight has managed to make the inner workings of the BBC the main news item, rather than the story it was originally supposed to be investigating. All Newsnight future investigations have been suspended and the BBC has apologised “unreservedly” for airing the false allegations about Lord McAlpine.

I am not sure which is worse in my mind: covering up a legitimate story or running a highly damaging and false story. But, what ever the answer, there can be no doubt that BBC reporting needs to be re-evaluated, in particular that of Newsnight.

Should Newsnight be axed?
BBC Executive Tim Davie has replaced Entwistle as acting director general, he has vowed to “get a grip” and set up a “clear line of command”, but I don't think this means that Newsnight should be axed. The cutting of Newsnight will simply result in a rebranding exercise and a similar programme emerging. What needs to be investigated is the actual practices of those involved in the journalism and production. This needs to be done alongside a reform of the Corporation’s approach to media; the BBC needs to return to better days of investigative journalism.

Lord Patten, the BBC Trust Chairman, says the Corporation “needs a thorough, structural, radical overhaul.” Perhaps if you followed this line then the Trust Chairman may also need reforming. There has been pressure on the government from within the Commons and outside to reform the BBC. Robert Murdoch tweeted recently “BBC mess gives Cameron golden opportunity to properly reorganise the great public broadcaster.” However, as with all comments this needs to be assessed with regards to its origin!

Return to Trust
In order to retain credibility I feel the government needs to allow the BBC to put its own house in order. “Continued pressure under the guise of public interest risks turning into political interference.” (Richard Sambrook) The BBC needs to be seen to be able to sort its own mess out whilst also distancing itself from both Corporation style management and politics.

Tim Loughton, former conservative Children’s Minister, very importantly stated that the current crisis at the BBC should not overshadow the child abuse allegations which sparked it. “We really mustn’t forget this is about child abuse.”

The BBC needs to return to its previously strong position of investigative media and continue, where evidence is provided, to assist the police in reporting child abuse allegations.  Alongside this, if the crisis and leadership is managed correctly, future credible investigations will return credibility and trust to the BBC. Perhaps it’s not necessarily Goodnight to Newsnight for good.


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Friday, 9 November 2012

Abchat Weekly Wrap-Up: Social media history: 4 more years

Barack Obama’s re-election made social media history this week. The photograph of Barack embracing his wife Michelle with the slogan “four more years” became the most liked and retweeted post in microblogging history. The post went live on the President’s Twitter page at roughly 4.15am UK time and right now the image has 4,168,334 likes on Facebook, and 800,827 retweets on Twitter.

Obama’s post gave the rest of the world an opportunity to congratulate him personally. The "hug" photo was shared across continents and time zones, with congratulations pouring in from Kenya to Albania, and many other countries. Several Britons also had their say; one message read "Well done Sir from England xxxxxxxx" Another Briton who was keen to share in Obama's victory was PM David Cameron. The prime minister tweeted: "Warm congratulations to my friend @BarackObama." Cameron's message was re-tweeted a somewhat humble 2,281 times. There was no "LOL" which featured in his well publicised text messages to Rebekah Brooks, but Cameron did add: "Look forward to continuing to work together." 

Others took to Twitter to criticise the election outcome, with the most notable Twitter ranter, Donald Trump saying “Another four years — not good for the country but we’ll have to live with it!

However the next four years pan out for the United States and ultimately the World, one thing is for certain, social media will be used more and to commentate on politics as well as a powerful lobbying tool.

  • Britain’s biggest bank, HSBC faced with $1.5 billion fine over the potential money-laundering claims raised by a US Senate. The bank has also put an additional $800 million aside to cover the potential fines
  • Lloyds bank considers the sale of its 60% stake in St. James’ Place, the Wealth Management Company with the hope of raising more than £1 billion
  • Broking house Panmure Gordon expand its investment fund business and look to build on its return to profitability as they hire a new team of 10 from Matrix Group
  • Tate & Lyle launch a £30 million venture fund to invest in new start-ups and expansion stage companies based around food science and related technologies
  • Stockwatch: US Equity stocks take a tumble following Barak Obama’s re-election. Since Tuesday’s result, stocks continue to fall on Wall Street as investors and analysts turn their focus back to the challenges of the upcoming fiscal cliff which is currently unnerving the market

Our Life Sciences team attended BioCap 2012 North of England Life Sciences Investment and Showcase conference. It was the first that BioNow had run, and it had an exceptional turnout of delegates and panel speakers. #BioCap2012

Graduate Abchaps attended the Gorkana Breakfast Briefing with Sunday Express Editor, Tracey Boles, gaining valuable insight into what Sunday papers want from PRs.
Abchaps were delighted to join Baker Tilly’s Capital Markets Team for their Autumn drinks reception.

The Cleantech team attended Envirotech and Clean Energy Investor Summit where we watched our Client Chargemaster plc chair the session on Sustainable Transport: Investing in Low Carbon Vehicle Infrastructure.
#Envirotech #Envirotech2012

We took some special guests to the UEFA Champions League Chelsea vs S Dontesk match at Stamford Bridge, and saw our team win 3-2, putting them in good stead to qualify for the knock-out stages.
Abchaps hosted a China focused Market Lunch with some great guests from KPMG, finnCap, LSE, Northland Capital Partners, Pinsent Masons and Hantime Capital.

It has been a week of analysts moving around the City, with Equity Development, appointing Matthew O’Keefe and Paul Hill to the team. Matthew has a background in transport and support services, while Paul, a small cap analyst, has particular experience in special situations.
Healthcare and Life Sciences analyst Mike Mitchell has moved to Panmure Gordon as a Director of Equity Research, with specialist sub-sectors including diagnostics, orthopaedics, healthcare equipment and services, biotech and specialist pharmaceuticals.
Canaccord Genuity has appointed Steve Buell as Global Head of Research. He will be based in New York and will remain Director of US Research for the international firm.

"Dead-cat bounce" – a temporary recovery on a stock exchange after a substantial fall, which does not imply a reversal of the downward trend.

For those whose appetites for horror have not been satiated by Halloween, Paper Dandy’s kirikami Horrogami works are on display at the Gallery One and a Half in Dalston, featuring iconic locations from all the best horror movies.
The annual
World Press Photo Exhibition opened today at the Royal Festival Hall. See the 167 that were picked out of the 101,254 pictures submitted.

Natural History Museum’s ice rink is now open for the winter season.

Round the corner, you can keep warm at the V&A's Hollywood costume exhibition, with over 100 costumes from the last century.

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