Live Blog

Gotham City
April 28, 2015, 4:45pm
Gotham City Research has got investors' attention with a note about Endurance International Group (EIGI), with a target share price of “$0.00 per share”. 
 
The shadowy analyst firm posted an intriguing tweet earlier today saying it had found a company “that gets us just as excited as Quindell and Gowex did”. 
 
 
It followed that tweet up with another, equally tantalising post, saying between 40 per cent and 100 per cent of its profits “are suspect”. But still it didn't tell us the name.
 
 
The big reveal came minutes later, along with a blog post entitled “A web of deceit”. 
 
As well as questioning its profits, Gotham City claims that its organic growth is “overstated 3x”, and noted that the management team, including chief executive, recently sold off 30 per cent of their stake. 
 
Here is the full note. 

Nasdaq-listed Endurance's share price has fallen off a cliff, tanking more than 26 per cent this afternoon. The company could not be contacted as City A.M. published. 
 
 
 
Gotham famously brought Quindell almost to its knees when it published a blog post claiming the company was "a country club built on sand". 
 
Quindell's share price fell 39 per cent in one day, but went on to win a libel claim against the analyst.
 
However in November chairman Rob Terry left amid increasing pressure to get the company back on track and his failure to shake off the legacy of the note. 
Chocolates and cakes
April 28, 2015, 4:30pm

If you can't seem to stop munching on cakes, chocolates and every other kind of sweet thing, don't get angry with yourself – it's just the way you evolved.

Scientists from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the US have identified a bunch of cells, known as AGRP neurones, as being the cause of those nasty pangs of hunger we feel when anything delicious is presented to us, either literally or just in our minds. 
 
When the body lacks energy, AGRP neurons become active and make us reach for the snacks. Why? Because eating reduces the activity of those brain cells and rids us of the unpleasant feeling. 
 
The discovery, published in the journal Nature, was made by manipulating hunger signals in the brains of mice and monitoring the how they reacted in terms of searching for food.
 
From an evolutionary point of view, the feeling makes perfect sense – it would have caused us to put effort into searching for food at a time when it was not readily available. Not all our searches would have proved successful, so weight gain would have been unlikely. For the first time ever, we are faced with the difficult situation of having to ignore our natural inclinations if we want to stay slim. 
 
"We suspect that these neurons are a very old motivational system to force an animal to satisfy its physiological needs. Part of the motivation for seeking food is to shut these neurons off," explained Scott Sternson, one of the lead researchers involved.
Apple
April 28, 2015, 4:15pm
Apple's share price just won't quit. 
 
Shares in the iPhone maker have reached another new high – this time the share price peaked at $134.54 during early trading. That gave it a market cap of more than $775bn. 
 
It has slipped back down now to around $131.5 – and its market cap has likewise dropped to a mere $764.15bn.
 
Back in January, Apple neared the $700bn barrier. That was dwarfed in February when its share price soared to $131.44, pushing the market cap up to $770bn.
 
Today's surge followed yesterday's strong set of results, with a 27 per cent increase in revenues to $58bn (£38bn) for the second quarter, with profits rising to $13.6bn, up from $10.2bn last year. 
 
Much of this was powered by sales in China, which offset declining iPad sales. 
 
Investor Carl Icahn has previously said he believes Apple is worth more than $1 trillion. Certainly Tim Cook and team appear to be edging ever closer to that historic market cap.  
 
 
 
April 28, 2015, 3:48pm

American authorities have denied reports that an American ship with 34 sailors on board was seized by Iranian forces and directed to an Iranian port.

The original report that Iranian forces seized a US cargo ship came from the Saudi broadcaster Al Arabiya.

The ship was reported to have been directed to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on the country's southern coast. The Iranian Fars news agency said the cargo ship was detained for "trespassing on Iran's territorial waters."

Al Arabiya reported that the Iranian forces had opened fire on the ship but has gave no further details. However, American officials told Reuters there were "no indications so far" of a US ship being directed to an Iranian port. Pentagon officials added that the vessel in question was a Marshall Islands ship.

There were no American sailors aboard. The incident comes at a crucial time for both nations with talks on nuclear disarmament ongoing and a deal "closer than ever," according to US secretary of state John Kerry.

Yanis Varoufakis and Alexis Tsipras
April 28, 2015, 3:37pm

Greece is on the verge of securing a bailout agreement with its EU creditors, according to the struggling nation's Prime Minister.

During an interview on Greece's Star TV last night, Alexis Tsipras said the final and most important stage of talks had been reached, and that an interim deal is likely to be achieved by 9 May. 
 
Greece faces bankruptcy unless it manages to unlock the latest €7.2bn (£5.15bn) tranche of bailout funds, which it needs to pay back its debts to the EU and IMF. 
 
"I believe we are close. I believe that if no-one wants to undermine or torpedo [the talks] we are close to an accepted package," Tsipras said. 

Varoufakis difficulties

Talks took place in the Latvian capital Riga at the weekend, with the aim of reaching a deal either this week or next week at the latest.
 
But finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who was central to the talks, faced criticism from those around the negotiation table, and on Sunday Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is currently president of the talks, sidelined Varoufakis by contacting the Prime Minister directly.
 
Tsipras acknowledged there was a “negative atmosphere” at the talks, but said this was to be expected under the circumstances and defended Varoufakis. He said the finance minister was an important asset to Greece, and that the other Europeans were annoyed by him because he spoke their languages better than they did. 
 
Nonetheless, the negotiations will now be led by Euclid Tsakalotos, another economist in Greece's government. 
 
Wimbledon prize money
April 28, 2015, 3:24pm

Wimbledon has increased its prize money by seven per cent for this year's tournament, guaranteeing the men and women singles champions £1.88m apiece.

Tennis' premier grass court tournament will this year boast the highest-ever prize money pool in professional tennis at £26.75m, although the growth in the fund did slow down following the 10.5 per cent rise between 2013 and 2014.

Since 2011, overall prize money at the All England Tennis Club has soared a massive 152 per cent from £14.6m. Last year's champions, Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova, pocketed £1.75m for their efforts.

Even those players who do not enjoy the same Centre Court successes as Djokovic and Kvitova will leave Wimbledon with a princely sum, with first round losers guaranteed a cool £29,000 for their day in the sun.

The All England Club chairman Philip Brook told a press conference the big payouts reflected Wimbledon's status on the tennis calendar. 

Brook said:

You need the world's top performers to have the world's best tennis tournament. So the players are an essential ingredient of our championships and this level of prize money is affordable. Therefore it's important that we should reflect that in what we pay the players.

Only a fortnight ago The French Open boosted its prize pool by 12 per cent to €28.03m (£20.2m) yet Roland Garros' remuneration remains some way off Wimbledon. 

Last year's US Open offered winners $3m from a pot of $36.2m (£23.65m) while the Australian Open awarded champions Djokovic and Serena Williams AUD$3.1m from AUD$40m (£20.8m).

Down Street Tube
April 28, 2015, 3:04pm
Transport for London is calling on businesses to come up “something exceptional” to take on the lease of its disused Down Street Tube station.
 
Down Street Tube, on a quiet residential street just off Piccadilly, opened in March 1907 on the Great Northern Piccadilly and Brompton Railway. It closed in May 1932 because of low passenger usage – people were choosing to go to nearby Hyde Park Corner and Green Park – at the time called Dover Street – instead. 
 
But that's not all. It played a vital role during the Second World War, when it was used as the underground headquarters of the Railway Executive Committee. It is also thought to have been used by Sir Winston Churchill and the War Cabinet when the Cabinet War Rooms were being prepared. 
 
But now TfL is hoping to turn it into a commercially viable business. The transport group said it was a “a unique opportunity for established and enterprising businesses to develop the untapped potential of the disused station, which is located in the heart of one of the most exclusive postcodes in London”. 
 
TfL will lease out around 400 square metres of the station, part of which is still in regular use as part of the Tube infrastructure. 
 
 
 
Graeme Craig, TfL’s director of commercial development, said: “The combination of space, history, and location, makes this a unique opportunity. We are looking for a partner with the imagination to see the potential here and the capability to deliver it.”
 
“Adjoining parts of the station are still required for running the Tube, but we will work with interested parties to ensure the commercial and operational activities can happily coexist.”
 
The station played a vital role in the Second World War when it was used as the protected underground headquarters for the Railway Executive Committee.  It is also believed that the station was used by Sir Winston Churchill and the War Cabinet while the Cabinet War Rooms were being prepared.
 
April 28, 2015, 2:20pm

We're just nine days away from what many believe to be the most uncertain election outcome in living memory. And with the polls showing no clear majority, a hung parliament is looking increasingly likely.

This could lead us towards another coalition government, or its more obscure friend "confidence and supply", which is a much less formal alternative.

It's not a regular arrangement. In fact the most recent time it was used was back in 1977, when the Labour government made a deal with the Lib Dems after it was left with no overall majority in the face of a by-election defeat. It hobbled on for a year before collapsing, owing to an ambiguity in the contract.

So what is it?

This is a scenario in which a larger party governs by making a confidence and supply agreement with a smaller party (or parties). While this kind of arrangement is often weaker than a coalition government, it does tend to be more predictable than a minority government.

And there are two distinct elements. The first is "confidence" - implying support for or abstinence from any votes of no confidence, which could threaten to topple the government.

The other is "supply" which refers to voting through the Budget.

But why would the smaller party (or parties) sign up for this? Generally, the larger party will agree to enact elements of its smaller ally's manifesto.

At the same time, they get the opportunity to benefit from elevated power without the risk of being tainted by its role coalition government, which - as evidenced by the Lib Dems' current state - can become unpopular.

Why does it matter? 

The prospect of a confidence and supply government is being touted in the run-up to this General Election because neither Labour nor the Tories look likely to secure an outright majority.

The latest YouGov polls put the two main parties Labour and the Tories at 35 per cent and 34 per cent respectively. They're followed by Ukip with 12 per cent, the Lib Dems with nine per cent and the Greens at five per cent. 


(Source: YouGov)

What are the possible scenarios?

We could see David Cameron put forward a confidence and supply deal to the Lib Dems or Ukip (or both).

And while Ed Miliband could theoretically make a similar offer to the Lib Dems, he's ruled it out for the SNP.

Ed Miliband
April 28, 2015, 2:20pm

Ed Miliband has received a ringing endorsement from one of the country's leading business groups for Labour's immigration stance.

Labour have said they will not set out a specific immigration target to reduce the net inflow of people coming to the UK differentiating themselves from both the Tories and Ukip. This is welcome news to business groups.

The Conservatives fell well short of their ambition to cut immigration to the tens of thousands by the end of their term. 

Miliband shifted the focus of Labour's campaign today to give a 10-point address on the party's plans to reform the immigration system.

The plan includes toughening Labour's stance on some aspects of the immigration debate, pledging to recruit 1,000 extra border guards and introduce full exit checks within 100 days of a Labour government taking office.

Director general of the Institute of the Directors (IoD) Simon Walker said:

Ed Miliband is right to rule out net migration targets. Putting an arbitrary figure on the number of people you think should be arriving in the UK every year is not the stuff of serious policy-making. The target has damaged our reputation overseas and put off the very people we should be welcoming into our country, including entrepreneurs and students.

Business leaders have been unimpressed to say the least by the negative rhetoric surrounding the immigration debate. Two-thirds of IoD members said the way political leaders discussed immigration had a negative impact of the public's understanding of the issue.

“Businesses value – and need – access to a highly-skilled and international talent pool in order to compete in the global economy," Walker said.

He added:

As the parties have recognised in their manifestos, part of the long-term solution is to address our skills gaps at home. But growing businesses need engineers, developers and scientists now and the UK will always benefit from being able to attract people with different skills, backgrounds and experiences from across the world.

Flash crash home
April 28, 2015, 2:14pm
So-called “flash crash” trader Navinder Sarao is expected to appear in court tomorrow after failing to raise the bail needed to secure his release from custody. 
 
 
Investigators claim the 37-year-old made $40m (£26.7m) between 2010 and 2014 as he traded from his parents' home in Hounslow, west London. 
 
Sarao has been charged with wire fraud, commodities fraud and market manipulation by the Department of Justice, which is seeking his extradition. He was granted bail for a surety of just over £5m. 
 
But, according to Reuters, he has been unable to raise the cash, meaning he is likely to appear in London's Westminster Magistrates' court again tomorrow.
 
This is what he looked like when he appeared last time:
 
 
Details that have emerged since his arrest by the Metropolitan Police, working alongside the FCA, last week include the suggestion that he allegedly told his broker that he had told US regulators to “kiss my ass”.
 
Sarao's fund was also allegedly called “Milking Markets”. 

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