Palmer & Harvey’s pension deficit balloons to £80m

Palmer & Harvey’s pension deficit balloons to £80m

Palmer & Harvey’s pension deficit more than doubled over the past 10 years to £80m, as shareholders and some directors took about £70m in dividends from the heavily indebted and loss-making convenience store supplier. The company, which went into administration last week with the loss of 2,500 jobs and a further 900 at risk, was owned by dozens of private individuals via a complex web of equity and loans. Shareholders received more than £8m a year in dividends even as the company made losses of more than £10m a year,…

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CVS to buy insurance giant Aetna in $69bn deal

CVS to buy insurance giant Aetna in $69bn deal

CVS will buy insurance giant Aetna in a roughly $69bn deal that will help the drugstore chain provide more healthcare and keep a key client, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The person said on Sunday that CVS Health will pay about $207 in cash and stock for each share of Aetna. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been announced publicly. Reports of a possible deal first surfaced in late October. The deal pairs a company that runs more than 9,700…

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Presents from Santa Claus: average bill of €150 per family

Presents from Santa Claus: average bill of €150 per family

The cost of presents from Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus) amount to an average of €150 per family in Belgium. This emerges from an opinion poll of BD myShopi, the platform behind the mobile application of the same name. As part of this, 94% of parents having children aged up to 12 will give a hand to the patron saint of school children for his purchases. So as to find their inspiration, 80% of them will resort to special retailer leaflets. Santa Claus distributes presents to an average of three children…

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Central banks are right when they say no one understands them

Central banks are right when they say no one understands them

Central banks have been talking a lot about the need for clear communication with the public lately, and they may have a point about how that could improve their standing. A working paper published by the Swiss National Bank this week analysed survey data from its UK counterpart and found that the average Briton’s knowledge of what the Bank of England does is pretty sparse. While that isn’t a radical revelation – policy makers from across the world came to Frankfurt just last week to discuss how tough it is…

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Millions of cash out of porn: Dating oligarch from Zaporozhye Max Polyakov and his inconspicuous empire

Millions of cash out of porn: Dating oligarch from Zaporozhye Max Polyakov and his inconspicuous empire

Right now, while you are reading this text, hundreds of Ukrainian young women are undressing in front of webcams, writing sweet words to foreigners or appointing meetings that they will never come to. This is a serious global business. Who runs a huge system of pumping money out of online porn industry? Another reason for pride of Zaporozhye: our fellow countryman, wealthy IT entrepreneur of Ukrainian origin, who earned millions of dollars on dates, sex and flirting on the Internet, is the one who is at the helm. Ukraine has…

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Bitcoin 2018: what we are waiting for?

Bitcoin 2018: what we are waiting for?

The digital currency Bitcoin is going through the roof. One bitcoin is now worth $10,000 (£7,530) – a staggering rise, given that it started the year at $1,000. So what exactly is Bitcoin, and what’s behind the buying frenzy? What is Bitcoin? There are two key traits of Bitcoin: it is digital and it is seen as an alternative currency. Unlike the notes or coins in your pocket, it largely exists online. Although there are some specialist ATMs which issue bitcoins, it may be best to think of them as…

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Pension reform from December 1st: each worker can buy back their years of degree study

Pension reform from December 1st: each worker can buy back their years of degree study

From December 1st, 2017, each worker is able to buy back any years of degree study, so that they count as part of their statutory state pension. The amount of this rebate has been fixed at a global gross amount of €1,500 for each year of their given degree study. The procedure, which all categories of worker and the self-employed must now pay for, anticipates that only years relating to a degree can be adjusted. The system does not take account of resit years. The rebate for study years was…

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Impact of Brexit on financial services still unclear

Impact of Brexit on financial services still unclear

With uncertainty surrounding the negotiations on the UK’s exit from the EU, financial services firms in London, across Europe and all over the world still have no clear answers as to what the situation will be post-2019. After the UK becomes a third country, the EU will lose its main financial markets centre, and Brexit will mean the end of City of London firms’ automatic license to do business throughout the EU, the so-called passporting rights. The potential impact of Brexit on financial services in UK was discussed this week…

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Belgium at risk of non-compliance with EU budget requirements

Belgium at risk of non-compliance with EU budget requirements

The European Commission presented yesterday its Autumn Package where it sets out EU’s economic and social priorities for the year ahead and gives policy recommendation for the Member States in the euro area. Belgium and four other countries were singled out. According to the Commission, economic growth is accelerating strongly, with the euro area economy on track to grow at its fastest pace in a decade this year. The good performance is propelled by resilient private consumption, robust growth around the world and falling unemployment rates. However, “For all the…

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Labour costs and the workforce shortage reduces the “pull” of Belgium

Labour costs and the workforce shortage reduces the “pull” of Belgium

Labour costs and taxes thereon, the administrative burdens and the lack of available workforce are constraints upon the “pull” of Belgium, as regards employment. Our country is 25th in the world in the workforce rankings. This is known as the Total Workforce Index, developed by Manpower. The index compares the conditions for staff recruitment (both permanent and flexible) in 75 countries. Belgium “can rely upon a skilled workforce, with good linguistic knowledge. With an employment rate of 62.8% and an ageing active population, our labour market risks being faced with…

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