Sunday, February 12, 2017

Rolls-Royce headed for historic loss; Mexico unites against Trump; Mulling a cashless society

1 Rolls-Royce headed for historic loss (Graham Ruddick in The Guardian) Rolls-Royce will report one of the biggest losses in British corporate history this week as Brexit and a corruption scandal leave an indelible mark on the famous aerospace company.

City analysts have forecast that Rolls could report a pre-tax loss of more than £4bn – its worst ever – due to the sharp decline in the value of the pound and the £671m penalty that the company has agreed to pay to settle corruption allegations.

Accounting rules mean Rolls will be forced to write down the value of its currency hedges to reflect sterling’s slump. The pound has lost almost a fifth of its value against the dollar since Britain voted to leave the EU last June. Rolls hedges billions of pounds of cash to protect itself against currency fluctuations because deals in the aerospace industry are conducted in dollars.

The financial results will also recognise the impact of the £671m penalty that Rolls agreed with authorities in the UK, US and Brazil to settle corruption charges. Although Rolls will make the payment over five years it is likely to recognise the full cost in the latest accounts as an impairment charge.

Rolls, which makes engines for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners and Airbus’s A380 superjumbos among others, has been affected by lower-than expected demand for the wide-bodied airliners to which it supplies engines. But it has also been hurt by cuts to defence spending and the decline in the oil price, which has lowered demand from the offshore oil and gas industry for its marine products.

2 Mexico unites against Trump (BBC) Tens of thousands of people in Mexico have taken to the streets to protest against Donald Trump's immigration policies and plan for a border wall. Demonstrators in more than a dozen Mexican cities, dressed in white, waved Mexican flags and anti-Trump placards.

Organisers said they wanted to send a message that Mexico was united against Mr Trump. They also criticised Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto for failing to tackle corruption and reduce violence. Demonstrators marching through the nation's capital, Mexico City, carried signs of unity. One banner read: "Gracias, Trump, for unifying Mexico!"

Mr Trump's plan to build a wall along the US border with Mexico has angered citizens in the country and Mr Pena Nieto has consistently refused to meet the US president's demands to pay for it. "Mexico does not believe in walls," he said.

Mr Trump's crackdown on immigration has also created fear among Mexicans living in the US, who may face deportation under the president's new measures. Mr Trump has signed three executive orders targeting crime and drug cartels with the aim of deporting illegal immigrants who have committed such crimes.

3 Mulling a cashless society (Aref Al Ramli in Gulf News) For more than 200 years, the world has used cash as the basis of economic activity. But is that about to radically change with the rapid development of digital payment systems, products and services?

Doing a quick online search, there are conflicting theories about what a cashless society actually means and whether or not it is a pipe-dream that will never fully realise its potential. An article in Fast Co makes a compelling point: “…one thing is clear: As online shopping becomes yet more prevalent, and prepaid credit cards take the place of more and more low-value cash transactions, cash is well on its way to becoming obsolete.”

When you couple this with the emergence of technology like Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), which allows chip-enabled cards, mobile phones and even smart watches to conduct transactions with a mere waft of the payment device over a programmed payment point, it is hard to argue against the growth of cashless transactions.

Other technologies like the peer to peer payments will also limit the transfer of cash among friends, colleagues and others. The possibilities for the future of digital banking are exciting. The way in which we bank and conduct transactions is rapidly changing and it is being driven from both customers and through emerging technologies.

The solutions need to work for the society as a whole, and be meaningful, simple, efficient and secure and not just a fad or gimmick that works for a while and then becomes obsolete. If we continue to embrace the digital revolution and keep the customer at the heart of every decision, of every product development, then they will come with us on that journey.”

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