Archive for January, 2009

4.5m users at risk following monster-sized hack.

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

The recruitment giant Monster said hackers now held confidential information contained on its database, including user names, passwords, telephone numbers, email addresses and “some basic demographic data”, according to Yahoo news.

The company said the stolen information did not include CVs, national insurance numbers or personal financial data.

It is thought 4.5 million people are registered with the website and could be affected by the breach, which, if confirmed, will be the largest data loss since the details of 25 million child benefit recipients went missing in 2007.

In a statement issued on Friday, signed by Monster’s senior vice president Patrick Manzo, customers were told to change their passwords when they next log on to the website.

The statement said hackers could use email addresses to “phish” for further information.

Who wants to be a Trillionaire?

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Zimbabwe is set to introduce a 100 trillion dollar note, in its latest attempt to keep pace with hyperinflation.

The new 100,000,000,000,000 Zim Dollar bill was worth about 300 US dollars (225 euros) at its exchange rate on the informal market, where most currency trading now takes place, but the value of the local currency erodes dramatically, every single day.

The central bank had introduced billion-dollar bills in denominations of 10, 20 and 50 with the same goal, but those notes are no longer large enough to keep up with hyperinflation.   The last official estimate put inflation at 231 million percent in July, but outside experts now believe it is many times higher.

Bank shares tumble after RBS record loss.

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) fell 67% to 11.6 pence after the bank warned it was heading for a record loss in 2008.

Analysts said RBS’s gloomy forecast had put pressure on other banking shares, particularly Lloyds Banking Group, whose shares closed down 34% at 65p.

HSBC ended 6.5% lower at 501p, despite saying it did not need government help.

Banking shares around Europe were also affected by the RBS news.

BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale were all between 8 and 15% lower.

HMV and Primark winners in retail battle

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Total sales at Primark rose 18% in the 16 weeks to 3 January, the chain’s owner, Associated British Foods, said.  The firm said Primark’s Christmas sales had beaten expectations. It added like-for-like sales growth had been “very good”, but did not give a figure.

HMV also said that sales in the five weeks to 3 January - which includes the Christmas period - were up by 2.9%, or by 0.5% not including new stores.

DSG International, which owns Currys and PC World, said like-for-like sales - which ignore new stores - had dropped 10% in the three months to 10 January.

Home Retail Group said like-for-like sales at its Argos chain had fallen 7.5% in the 18 weeks to 3 January.

DIY chain Homebase, which is also owned by Home Retail Group, saw like-for-like sales in the same period drop 10.2%.

Job cuts at Barclays, Zavvi & Jaguar Land Rover

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

On another bleak day for the UK job market: Barclays says it will cut 2,100 jobs from its UK banking business in addition to the same number it announced on Tuesday; the administrators of music, games and DVD chain Zavvi have announced it is closing a further 18 stores with the loss of 353 jobs; and Jaguar Land Rover has announced it is cutting 450 staff.

This isn’t just cost cutting, it’s M&S cost cutting

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Marks and Spencer plans to close 25 of its small Simply Food stores and another two of its normal stores.

The closures will mean the loss of 780 jobs. The retailer is also planning to cut 450 head office jobs.

Marks and Spencers, the UK’s biggest clothing retailer, averted a profit warning on Wednesday but responded to weak Christmas sales with a massive cost-cutting plan.

The Financial Times reports, UK like-for-like sales fell 7.1 per cent in the 13 weeks to December 27, with the clothing-dominated general merchandise category down 8.9 per cent and food down 5.2 per cent.

The falls, reported in the eagerly awaited third quarter trading update, came in spite of a decision by Sir Stuart Rose, executive chairman, to introduce the biggest programme of pre-Christmas discounting for several years.

Discounts helped eat into the retailer’s margin and Ian Dyson, finance director, said the gross margin for the full year would be 1.7 percentage points lower than in 2008 compared with a previous indication of a 1 percentage point decline.

But as analysts reviewed the numbers, they appeared broadly in line with City forecasts, and M&S shares jumped 3.3 per cent to 246½p in early London trading.

Group sales, including international operations and the impact of new stores, were down 1.2 per cent. UK sales were down 3.4 per cent.

“It is not a profit warning,” said Sir Stuart, who said he had no regrets about the raft of pre-Christmas discounting and said M&S had held market share.

The future’s bright for CIMA Future

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

CIMA has launched its updated professional qualification, CIMA Future, at the CIMA annual Lecturers’ Conference in Warwick, reports

Developed in conjunction with the University of Bath, the new qualification follows extensive research and contributions from more than 4,500 employers and other stakeholders worldwide.

As an employer-led body, CIMA is the only professional accountancy qualification that is reviewed and updated every four years to ensure it remains the most relevant international accountancy qualification for business.

The first examinations on the new qualification will be in May 2010. A dedicated website area explaining details of the new qualification is available here.

The three pillars of study for all levels are now named Enterprise, Performance and Financial, and the prerequisite entry requirements still apply to gain entry onto the professional qualification.

The Managerial level is now split into two parts - Operational and Managerial.

This means the qualification structure will now comprise of three levels, beginning with Operational, rising to Managerial, and then Strategic.

There will be a new stepped qualification for students successfully completing three papers at Operational level – the CIMA Diploma in Management Accounting. This decision to split the Managerial level into two parts reflects the career progression and development of students by marking their achievement at attaining this level of the qualification.

The Test of Professional Competence in Management Accounting (T4) will now comprise two parts: Part A – Initial Professional Development – Work Based Practical Experience comprises the practical experience requirements from the 2005 qualification. Part B is the case study examination. The T4 assessment is the ultimate test of professional competence and fitness to practice as a Chartered Management Accountant by bringing together the two key elements of technical expertise and practical experience.

Robert Jelly, CIMA’s Director of Education, commented, ‘In the present economic climate it is more important than ever for finance professionals to be trained and attuned to the current needs of industry. As the CIMA qualification is updated every four years after extensive consultation with leading employers and business, it acts as a quality benchmark for Management Accountants. Employers know that CIMA qualified finance professionals have the up-to-date skills and expertise to strategically manage their business, enabling them to stay competitive.’