Live Blog

Steven Gerrard
September 16, 2014, 11:33pm
Steven Gerrard earned Liverpool €500,000 (£398,000) with his last-gasp penalty against Ludogorets Razgrad in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
 
With one swipe of the boot the Liverpool captain won his side three points, detonated an atom bomb of ecstasy in the Kop, and doubled the club’s earnings from the evening. 
 
Clubs in the Champions League are awarded €1m (£796,331) by Uefa for every win in the group stage of the competition, and €500,000 for a draw.
 
Cruelly for Liverpool’s Bulgarian opponents, Gerrard’s winner also denied Ludogorets what would have been a welcome windfall. Razgrad spent just £2m on new players this summer. 
 
Meanwhile, the Reds would need to progress all the way to the final to even come close to recouping some of their massive transfer spend.
 
Liverpool spent over £100m on new players in the most recent transfer window, while a repeat of the 2005 heroics would see the club pick up a minimum of £18m.
 
Clubs pick up £2.79m from the round of 16, £3.11m from the quarter final-stage and £3.9 from the semi-finals. Competition runners up receive £5.18m while winners receive £8.6m.
No campaign
September 16, 2014, 10:54pm
A new poll has shown that support for Scottish independence has risen to 48 per cent.
 
The poll, conducted by the Telegraph and Research agency Opinium, demonstrates that the result of Thursday’s vote remains almost too close to call.
 
Compared to a poll published last week, Telegraph/Opinium say support for independence has risen by one percentage point to 48 per cent, while pro-union sentiment is down from 53 per cent to 52 per cent.
 
Over 61 polls have been conducted on the independence referendum since the beginning of the year, with the majority showing the support for the No campaign. However, in recent weeks some have recorded a shift in sentiment over to Yes.
 
 
The Telegraph says its poll, which concluded on Monday, shows eight per cent of voters still remain undecided with just days to go until the vote.
 
Support for No is most strong amongst women, with 58 per cent opposing independence compared to 53 per cent of men.
 
Yesterday it was revealed that over £17bn of shares, bonds and assorted financial assets were dumped by investors spooked by a potential victory for a Yes vote, while Scotland-based banks such as RBS and Lloyds have indicated that they will move south in such an eventuality.
 
Since the results have been published, the pound has risen 0.25 per cent against the dollar to $1.6271 and is also up against the euro by 0.11 per cent to $1.2557.
Ultrasonic
September 16, 2014, 8:55pm
Two of the most senior figures in a Chinese footwear firm have vanished, along with most of the company’s cash funds.
 
Chief executive officer (CEO) and chief operating officer (COO) of Ultrasonic AG have been missing “since the weekend”, while the company’s cash has been transferred out of China and Hong Kong and beyond the company’s range of influence.
 
Ultrasonic AG is listed in Germany, where shares have unsurprisingly plummeted 71.6 per cent on the news.
 
Chief financial officer Chi Kwong Clifford Chan said that CEO Qingyong Wu and COO Minghong Wu are “not traceable”, but said Ultrasonic’s German holding company has a “relevant six-figure amount” that will enable it to meet its payment obligations as normal.
 
Last Friday Minghong Wu announced he would be taking a six-month leave of absence for health reasons and Qingyong Wu was assigned his operational duties.
 
A statement on the company’s website read:
 
Mr. Chan and the Supervisory Board are in talks with authorities and business partners, trying to gather information to clarify the situation. 
 
As soon as new, reliable facts can be verified, they will be disclosed immediately.
 
Ultrasonic manufacture “premium urban footwear” that is “specifically designed to the needs and taste of the growing urban middleclass”.
 
In its half-year results, the firm reported a 1.4 per cent increase in sales to €74.8m.

Phones 4u
September 16, 2014, 7:27pm

The administrator for Phones 4u is in talks to sell off parts of its business to EE and Vodafone, according to reports.

The two mobile operators recently withdrew their business in Phones 4u, causing the high street mobile retailer to collapse into administration.

The Financial Times has reported that the same two companies are now in talks with administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers to buy parts of the Phones 4u business.

Other parties may also be interested in acquiring parts of the company, offering hope to the 5,596 staff currently at risk of losing their jobs. 

Salvation could also be sought from Dixons Carphone, who are planning to offer jobs to Phones 4u workers. The company said; "with regards to our Phones 4u shop-in-shop colleagues we hope to help them secure new jobs with us and will be opening up discussions with the administrators to agree what we can do."

Vodafone and EE had considered a joint takeover of the company earlier this year, but said they "quickly dismissed" their idea after being advised against it.

Yesterday Phones 4u's owner BC Partners accused EE and Vodafone of going back on their word by opting not to renew their contract with the retailer.

Stefano Quadrio Curzio, a representative of BC Partners, said:
 
Vodafone has acted in exactly the opposite way to what they had consistently indicated to the management of Phones 4u over more than six months.
 
Their behaviour appears to have been designed to inflict the maximum damage to their partner of 15 years, giving Phones 4u no time to develop commercial alternatives.
 
On EE, Curzio was no less scathing:
 
Their behaviour appears to have been designed to inflict the maximum damage to their partner of 15 years, giving Phones 4u no time to develop commercial alternatives.
Destiny
September 16, 2014, 5:39pm
In its first week on shelves, Destiny has sold more copies in the UK than any other new video game series in history.
 
According to official sales monitor Chart Track, Activision's new game has beat a record previously set by Ubisoft's Watch Dogs in May.
 
Activision will be cheered by the top-line figures, however Sony will not be pleased to hear that their exclusive advertising deal with Destiny has not resulted in a dominance of sales.
 
Destiny, a first-person shooter incorporating massive multiplayer online (MMO) elements, was marketed exclusively for PlayStation platforms, however opening week sales were evenly split between PlayStation and Xbox.
 
36 per cent of opening week sales came from Xbox One users and a further 14 per cent came from those using the Xbox 360. The PS4 was the most popular console for the game, accounting for 46 per cent of sales, yet only 3 per cent came from the PS3.

As they couldn’t advertise Destiny for their consoles, Microsoft were forced to think outside the (X)box in order to promote the game. The company set up destinyfragrance.com, advertising the game and the Xbox logo on...perfume. 
 
“Destiny is actually an epic new first-person shooter, available on Xbox”, it said.
 
“Thing is, we didn’t have permission to run adverts for the game. So we didn’t. Thanks for smelling that something was up. Now get the game and become a legend.”
 
 
On top of Destiny’s record first-week sales for a new intellectual property in the UK, Activision has announced in a press release that is has sold $500m (£308.5m) worth of copies into retailers, however the actual number sold to customers is currently unknown.
 
The impressive sales come in spite of mixed reviews for the game. Destiny for PS4 currently has a 77 score on Metacrtic, making it just the 34th best received game on the platform this year.
 

The current UK top 10:

  1. Destiny
  2. The Sims 4
  3. Watch Dogs
  4. Call of Duty: Ghosts
  5. The Last of Us: Remastered
  6. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition
  7. NHL '15
  8. Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare
  9. Minecraft: PlayStation 3 Edition
  10. Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution
iPhone 6
September 16, 2014, 5:06pm

Apple’s brand new iPhone 6 has seen unprecedented demand - a record four million pre-orders have been taken in the few days since its announcement, double that for the iPhone 5 - but which smartphones are people ditching for the shiny new device?

Perhaps confirming the obsessive stereotype of an Apple fan needing the latest device, the phone being traded in most since the iPhone 6 launch is its predecessor, the iPhone 5.

More than half of people looking to sell their device through website Mazuma Mobile had an iPhone 5.

Here’s how each brand's different models breaks down.

The number of people searching on Mazuma rose 50 per cent following the launch, with searches hitting 55,000 in just a single day after Apple’s event.

Mazuma chief Charlo Carabott said the site experiences a spike during September and October due to iPhone releases every two years and this drives more trade-ins than Samsung launches.

Microsoft logo
September 16, 2014, 4:59pm

UK mergers and acquisitions may be looking shakier than usual - but across the rest of the world, M&A is already worth more this year than during the whole of 2013.

According to data from Mergermarket, $18.1bn (£11.2bn) of deals took place yesterday (including Microsoft's $2.5bn agreement to buy Minecraft creator Mojang), the highest value "Merger Monday" since the end of July, when $16.1bn of deals were made.

That pushes the total for the first three quarters of 2014 up to $2.29tn - three per cent above 2013's grand total of $2.22tn. The third quarter alone saw global M&A deals worth $686.3bn go through.

But it wasn't just the likes of Microsoft boosting that figure - Mergermarket said a "large influx of deals involving a German bidder" made yesterday particularly exciting.

German manufacturer ZF Friedrichschafen spent $12.7bn buying out US-based TRW Automotive holdings, while German firm Tui AG bought the UK's Tui Travel for $3.1bn.

Will that help the UK?

Earlier this month the Office for National Statistics published figures showing just 73 mergers and acquisitions involving UK companies worth more than £1m had taken place during the second quarter, the lowest since figures began in 1987.

Although figures for the third quarter are yet to be published, the scuppered attempt by builder Carillion to buy rival Balfour Beatty, not to mention US firm Destination Maternity's ill-fated go at buying retailer Mothercare, suggest things are unlikely to have improved when the numbers do come out.

Here's how the UK's chart looks for the last few quarters. Those of a nervous disposition: look away now.

Scotland sign and flag
September 16, 2014, 4:21pm

If Scotland votes Yes to independence, would there be a Scottish stock exchange and how well would it perform?

In the world of Scottish independence hypotheticals, it's a good one. Just two countries to gain independence have ever decided not to set up their own stock exchange: Kosovo and Turkmenistan.

While there's been no word on whether it would create its own index or not, Markit analyst Simon Colvin has attempted to answer the question of how it would perform.

He concludes, the 12 Scottish headquartered companies in the FTSE 350* have been more volatile in the UK market, but if listed separately they would have performed in line with the broader index.

The index of the “Saltire 12” would have returned 15.3 per cent since the start of 2013 compared to the wider index of UK stocks at 17 per cent.

The standard deviation in daily returns has been a third higher than the FTSE 350 average.

The energy firm SSE would be the largest constituent of a Scottish index and the financial sector would make up a “disproportionate portion, with 40 per cent of the index weight”, though this doesn’t take into account RBS’s decision to move its HQ south of the border, says Colvin.

What about dividends? Well, Scottish companies only account for two per cent of the aggregate FTSE 350 dividend payments, according to number crunchers in Markit’s dividend forecasting group- or about £1.8bn in the current fiscal year.

Again, SSE and financial companies dominate, with SSE accounting for half the aggregated total of dividend payments and Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management for over a third.

In a longer-term study by researchers at the London Business School which looked at 100 Scottish stocks over the last 60 years, the Scottish index, or the Scotsie 100 as they call it, slightly outperformed the UK index if you exclude RBS and HBOS.

The poor performance of the banks and financials brought down the performance of the Scottish index.

Until 1973 when it merged with London, there was a Scottish stock exchange and before that there were four separate stock exchanges in Glasgow, Edinburgh , Aberdeen and Dundee - so while there are few blueprints for Scottish independence, there would be previous form for a Scotsie 100.

*Aberdeen Asset Managment, Firstgroup, SSE, Weir Group, Standard Life, John Wood Group, A.G.Barr, Stagecoach Group, Cairn Energy, RBS, Aggreko, Exova Group.

Holiday
September 16, 2014, 3:56pm
With the Scottish independence referendum just two days away, a question on many people's minds is what will happen to their finances if Scotland does decide to leave.
 
Here are some of the ways in which those left in Britain will feel the effects.
 
House price fall
 
Online estate agency Emoov has predicted house prices could fall by as much as 20 per cent in Scotland if it decides to go solo, and the remainder of the UK may well feel the knock-on effect of that. 
 
“In precarious times, one of the first things to suffer will be jobs. Unemployment means home repossessions and downward pressure on values,” Emoov chief executive Russell Quirk told This is Money. 
 
It may be worth holding off on that purchase for a couple of days...
 
Mortgage cost decline
 
While in Scotland, activities such as the adoption of a new currency would cause a rise in interest rates and push up mortgage costs, the opposite would be likely to occur south of the border -  borrowers may benefit as the government tries to keep the economy stable by holding off on an interest rate rise.
 
Equities would be hit
 
Increased uncertainty would result in an overall decline in share prices for UK companies – as a sign of what's to come, share prices have already been tumbling for Scotland-based companies after polls last week suggested independence was becoming increasingly likely. 
 
That said, certain companies such as Ryanair and Easyjet could benefit from independence -  the Scottish government has confirmed it would halve passenger duty on a Yes vote. 
 
Savings uncertainty
 
Because the government is likely to hold off raising interest rates for longer, this would be a disadvantage for savers. 
 
Additionally, those with savings in Scottish banks might want to switch in anticipation of a mass exodus of businesses and banks from the country.
 
More expensive holidays
 
As uncertainty mounts, the pound has depreciated in value compared to the dollar and the euro – a trend that will only continue if Scotland votes for independence. Bad news for those who like to travel. 
 
Apple Watches
September 16, 2014, 3:42pm
What was the most popular item unveiled at Apple's big launch last week? And what has the launch event done for Tim Cook's standing among social media users?
 
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were the least popular of the products launched by Apple last week – at least that is what chatter on social media seems to suggest. 
 
According to analytics firm TalkWalker, which looks at 150 million different sources to track online sentiment, on the launch day itself (September 9),14.6 per cent of the comments about the iPhone were positive, compared with negative comments which made up 11.3 per cent of messages. 
 
Apple's iPay system – which will allow users to pay by swiping their device in the same way to using an Oyster card – started out as the most popular product unveiled on the night, but negative sentiment has caught up with positive over the week, both reaching 21 per cent of all chatter about it online. 
 
The Apple Watch appeared to be more popular than the iPhone, with 17.5 per cent of comments expressing positive views, compared with 11.5 per cent that were negative. 
 
In the week that followed, the new iPhone's popularity has dipped even further, with positive sentiment dropping to 12 per cent of comments, while the Watch has grown in popularity, with one in five comments praising the device. 
 
Meanwhile the stats appear to suggest that Cook's popularity has really declined since the launch. 
 
In the days before the launch – when he was, in fact, fighting the fire of the iBrute hack – he scored a 38 per cent positive ranking across social media. On the launch day that had dropped to 22.2 per cent – although the proportion of negative sentiment had also fallen, to 12.9 per cent. 
 
During the week after launch, however, Steve Jobs' successor found positive sentiment about him expressed on social media falling to 16.8 per cent – with negative messages creeping up to 16.9 per cent. 
 
Talkwalker chief executive Robert Glaesener believes there is still “a healthy respect” for Apple, but he said: 
 
“While we saw growing popularity for the Apple Watch, we also saw a drop in enthusiasm for the iPhone 6 with questions over need vs cost, an emerging negative trend on iPay, based around issues of hacking and privacy, alongside a fall in positive sentiment for Tim Cook”.
 
How closely will this tie in with behaviour? Well if the pre-orders are anything to go by, Cook will not need to lose any sleep just yet. 

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