HSBC, BT, SoundCloud: Everything that matters this morning
HSBC half-year profits increase but warns of Brexit impact
HSBC’s profits rose 5% in the first half of the year after a turbulent 2016. The results were better than expected with Europe’s largest bank reporting that its pre-tax profit for the first six months to June came in at $10.2bn (?7.8bn), compared with $9.7bn (?7.4bn) for the same period last year. The bank has been on a recovery drive during the last two years to streamline the business and reduce costs. It has laid off tens of thousands of staff and shifted more of its focus towards Asia.
HSBC chairman Douglas Flint said there were still “uncertainties arising from increasing geopolitical tensions and ambiguous predictions around the shape of transition to, and final form of, the UK’s future relationship with its major trading partners in the EU” post-Brexit, but described HSBC’s performance as “resilient”. HSBC confirmed earlier this year that it may have to move 1,000 roles from London to Paris due to Brexit over the next couple of years.
Government calls for compensation for poor broadband speeds
Hate having a slow internet connection? MPs do too. A new Government report is calling on Ofcom, the media and telecoms regulator, to get tough on broadband providers that promise fast speeds but fail to deliver. The British infrastruture group of MPs, led by former Tory party chairman Grant Shapps, estimates that as many as 6.7m UK broadband connections may not hit the 10Mb minimum that the government wants to be the UK standard for a basic decent service.
The Broadband 2.0 report, which is backed by 57 MPs, calls for automatic compensation for customers who do not get the level of speed promised from the internet packages they buy.
“Although broadband is increasingly considered to be an essential utility, the quality of customer services has simply not caught up with demand,” said Shapps. “It is unacceptable that there are still no minimum standards in the UK telecoms sector to protect customers from protracted complaints procedures, and ensure that broadband providers are fully accountable to their customers.”
BT promises ?600m investment in rural broadband
BT has said it will invest up to ?600m to bring broadband to the UK’s rural areas in a bid to avoid tougher regulation. It wants to get 99% of the country connected to broadband of at least 10mbps by 2020, a speed that’s considered good enough to stream films, use video chat and browsing online at the same time. The proposals put forward to the government by the telecoms firm come after the right to request a minimum broadband service was made possible under new laws.
“We are pleased to make a voluntary offer to deliver the government’s goal for universal broadband access at minimum speeds of 10Mbps,” said BT chief executive Gavin Patterson.
“This investment will reinforce the UK’s status as the leading digital economy in the G20.
We already expect 95% of homes and businesses to have access to superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps or faster by the end of 2017. Our latest initiative aims to ensure that all UK premises can get faster broadband, even in the hardest to reach parts of the UK.”
SoundCloud looking to sell company stakes to stay afloat
SoundCloud has had a rough couple of months. There has been a lot of talk in the press of mismanagement, after the business laid off 40% of its staff. Bloomberg has since revealed that the music streaming service is in “advanced” talks to sell stakes in the company to two private equity firms. If the deals go through, it will be a bittersweet moment for the company.
While it will manage to stay afloat, it would also hand majority control to outside companies. In essence, SoundCloud would be giving up its vaunted independence in order to keep the lights on.
Number of UK women earning more than ?1m doubles over 5 years
The number of women earning more than ?1m a year has doubled in the five years to 2014-2015, but they are still outnumbered by men by a ratio of 10 to one. Women make up 9.2% of those earning above ?1m, according to an analysis of tax returns filed in 2014-15, and derived from a freedom of information request made to Revenue & Customs.
The figures, requested by financial advisor firm Salisbury House Wealth, show the number has doubled over five years, to 1,400, compared to 13,800 men.
“The data really clearly shows the gulf between what men and women earn when you get those top jobs,” said Sam Smethers, chief executive of The Fawcett Society, which promotes gender equality and women’s rights.
“It’s not that surprising but the difference is really stark when you look at the numbers.”
The tax data also show that more women are becoming entrepreneurs.
More than 1.6m women were self-employed in the first quarter of this year, compared with 1.2m in 2011.
- ^ READ MORE: HSBC half-year profits up 5% after turbulent 2016 (news.sky.com)
- ^ READ MORE: MPs demand compensation for poor broadband speeds (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ READ MORE: BT offers ?600m for 10mbps rural broadband investment by 2020 as MPs consider Universal Service Obligation plans (www.cityam.com)
- ^ READ MORE: SoundCloud is close to getting a lifeline (www.engadget.com)
- ^ READ MORE: Number of UK women earning over ?1m-a-year doubles over 5 years (www.ft.com)