Risk & Economy » 5 things FDs need to know this week

1. Air Berlin frequent flyer programme files for insolvency

After Air Berlin filed for insolvency last week, it’s frequent flyer programme, Top Bonus, has been forced to do the same.

Members who have points on their accounts will not be able to use them, and the programme stopped members from collecting and using points after the Air Berlin’s insolvency filing.

Germany’s second largest carrier was forced to file for insolvency after its major shareholder, Etihad, pulled funding. Etihad has a 70% stake in the Top Bonus frequent flyer programme.

Air Berlin will continue flying after being bailed out to the tune of a €150 million loan from the German government.

2. Spotify signs deal with Warner Music

After two years of negotiations, Spotify and Warner Music have signed a long-term licensing deal.

The deal will allow Spotify to make Warner Music’s catalogue of artists available to its 140 million subscribers and is the final of the three music label giants to agree to long-term deals, after Universal and Sony also signed.

The deal is seen as the final obstacle for the Swedish company to list shares, which it is hoping to do via a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange trading private stock on the public market, which allows investors to buy shares from existing owners without raising money.

 3. Non-executive director course launched

University of Edinburgh Business School is offering a new programme that aims to teach participants what it means to be a non-executive director.

The experiential course has been developed in partnership with executive search and selection firm, FWB Park Brown and will cover topics including the audit committee, managing boardroom dynamics, understanding conflict and gaining influence, the remuneration committee and the role of a non-executive director in a crisis.

The programme features workshops delivered by some of the UK’s most senior company executives, including: Gary Hughes, Chairman, Audit Committee, Booker Group plc; George Elliott, Chairman, Craneware plc; Isobel Sharp, Non-executive Director, IMI plc; Crawford Gillies, Chairman, Remuneration Committee, Barclays plc; Ian Marchant, Chairman, The Wood Group plc.

The four intensive evening sessions will run between September and December 2017, led by the Business School’s Professor John Amis.

4. SMEs hit by HMRC for VAT underpayment

HMRC collected an extra £3.4 billion from small and medium sized businesses through investigations into the under-payment of VAT in 2016/17.

VAT revenue from SMEs accounted for 49% of the additional tax take from investigations into SMEs by HMRC’s compliance teams, up 4% from the total VAT take last year, when it made up 45%.

SMEs are being hit hard by HMRCs crack down on tax evasion, and as the investigations continue to yield good results, there is speculation that this increasing pressure on SMEs is set to continue.

5. US charges two Société Générale execs over Libor manipulation

The United States Department of Justice has indicted two French bank managers for participating in alleged Libor manipulation.

Danielle Sindzingre, 54, and Muriel Bescond, 49, were charged with one count of conspiring to transmit false reports concerning market information that tends to affect a commodity, and four counts of transmitting such false reports.

The FBI is investigating claims that when Sindzingre was Global Head of Treasury and Bescond was Head Treasury Paris at the French bank, the pair knowingly instructed their employees to submit inaccurately low Libor contributions, to make it appear that Société Générale was able to borrow money at more favourable rates than it actually was. This was allegedly done with knowledge that the true rates at which Société Générale was borrowing money were higher than the rates it was submitting as part of the Libor calculation.

In total, it is estimated that the defendants’ misconduct caused over $170 million in harm to the global financial markets, according to the indictment.

 

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