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CONCORD, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--USTDA is partnering with Kenyan renewable energy developer Xago Africa and US battery storage manufacturer Alevo USA, Inc and analytics service provider Alevo Analytics to support the development of a utility scale solar photovoltaic power plant with integrated battery storage in Siaya County, Kenya. The project will utilize battery storage technology from Alevo and will be among the first utility-scale battery storage installations in Africa. A $1.4 million technical study supported by the partnership will also provide detailed analytics for the Kenyan power system and serve as a roadmap to help advance the energy storage market in Kenya. Implementation of energy storage technologies can increase the efficiency and stability of the national grid, allow for increased integration of renewable energy generation sources, and reduce reliance on expensive fossil fuel generation in Kenya. "Our primary focus is on solar energy which has the potential to eliminate the power shortages that hold back socio-economic development across the continent,” said Paul W Webb, Xago Africa’s Managing Director. “Furthermore, energy storage will transform electricity transmission networks and rapidly accelerate the take‐up of renewables, and we are proud to be partnering Alevo which leads the field in battery technology and network analytics. This USTDA funded project builds on our valuable relationship with Power Africa and will lay the foundations for the Kenyan electricity system to become the most advanced in Africa." “Solar plus energy storage will enable Kenya to increase the adoption of renewable energy as the storage will provide grid stability, help to manage solar intermittency, and provide dispatchability of clean reliable and sustainable power to the Kenyan people,” confirmed Dr Randell M Johnson, PE, Chief Analytics Officer, Alevo Analytics. Julian Oteng, Xago Africa’s Director of Operations, said “We are also looking at expanding into other territories. Energy storage is coming and we aim to lead the way in North and Sub‐Saharan Africa with Alevo Battery Technology. This is the start of a long-term relationship which will help to bring clean power to the 600 million Africans who do not have access to electricity.” “USTDA is pleased to facilitate new business partnerships between US and Kenyan companies that can spur long-term, sustainable economic growth,” said Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Director Lida Fitts. “The adoption of innovative and cost-effective US technology can help Kenya to meet its energy development goals.” Xago Africa is currently developing a 40 MW solar power plant at a cost of around $75 million near Lake Victoria which will alleviate the chronic power shortages in Western Kenya. And together with construction partner, Solarcentury East Africa, Xago Africa will provide solar power systems to three schools in the area in addition to its ongoing support for the Mama Sarah Obama Foundation’s school building programme. Xago Africa was established in 2014 to deliver vital public infrastructure projects financed by private sector funding with the aim of fostering economic growth and sustainable industrial development in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya, Xago Africa combines environmental engineering and project development capabilities with an extensive investor network to accelerate socio‐economic development for the people of Africa. Alevo®, a leading provider of energy storage is redefining energy as a developer, manufacturer and provider of grid‐scale energy storage solutions featuring GridBank® & Alevo Analytics. GridBank lithium‐ion batteries feature a proprietary inorganic electrolyte (Alevolyte™), which is non-flammable and offers extreme long life and stability. Alevo’s vertically engineered turnkey energy storage solution can be placed anywhere on the electricity supply chain, to reduce energy waste, lower greenhouse gases and other emissions, create efficiencies and lower costs. Founded in 2009, Alevo is headquartered in Switzerland with GridBank manufacturing in the US. Alevo Analytics provides advanced energy storage and network analytics, simulation capabilities, business intelligence and advisory services with a primary focus on the power and energy sectors. Alevo Analytics offers Consulting Services, Analytics IQ databases and its GridMaestro™ product suite of real time software solutions for remote operation and control of energy storage with SCADA, SSE Stacked Services Emulator, Data Collector and Master Controller. The US Trade and Development Agency helps companies create US jobs through the export of US goods and services for priority development projects in emerging economies. USTDA links US businesses to export opportunities by funding project preparation and partnership building activities that develop sustainable infrastructure and foster economic growth in partner countries.


Following the continued successful partnership with Fred. Olsen Renewables (FOR), Natural Power has been selected to deliver the turbine servicing at both Rothes Wind Farm and Paul’s Hill Wind Farm which are located to the South West of Elgin in the north of Scotland. Anders Falkfjell, Operations Manager at Fred.Olsen Renewables, said: “This move marks a another step forward in our transition to independent service provision for our fleet, and I have high expectations of Natural Power as a partner in delivering improved performance and reduced service cost for our wind farms.” Euan Fenelon, Director of Operations and Asset Management at Natural Power, said: “Natural Power provided advice and on-site support throughout the development and construction phases at Rothes and Paul’s Hill, and we are delighted to be able to support FOR into the operational phase through the provision of independent servicing – providing a dynamic and transparent service that looks to maximise availability. “As an independent provider, we can offer a cost effective and flexible service provision through the wider sourcing of parts and consumables. We look forward to an open working relationship with Fred.Olsen Renewables to continually improve performance and optimise energy output at these sites, providing client access to all maintenance data.” Natural Power’s team of servicing and repair technicians form an integral part of the Total Asset Management team and the front line of defence on behalf of many clients. Having developed knowledge and experience of a wide range of wind farms, turbine types and fault scenarios, each team has dedicated on-site personnel with a high degree of ownership of individual assets, works proactively to ensure the efficiency and longevity of clients’ wind farms, and works closely with site management teams to deliver value for the client. Find out more about Natural Power’s approach to ‘total asset management’ visit https://www.naturalpower.com/our-services/total-asset-management/ Rothes Wind Farm The construction of the project commenced in January 2004 and the wind farm started full operation in May 2005. The site is located close to the city of Elgin in the north east of Scotland. The wind farm consist of 22 turbines, each rated at 2.3 MW, providing a total installed capacity of 50.6 MW. The turbines are Siemens 2.3 MW CS. The wind farm is connected to the grid via underground cables to the SSE plc (Scottish & Southern Energy) substation in Moray. Rothes is able to provide electricity generation equivalent to the consumption of 27,000 homes on an annual average basis. Paul’s Hill Wind Farm Paul's Hill Wind Farm consists of 28 turbines located southwest of Elgin. The project construction commenced in January 2004 and the wind farm started full operation in May 2006. The turbines are Siemens 2.3 MW CS and the site has a name plate capacity of 64.4 MW. The wind farm is connected to the grid via underground cables to the SSE plc (Scottish & Southern Energy) substation in Moray. Paul’s Hill is able to provide electricity generation equivalent to the consumption of 35,000 homes on an annual average basis. About Natural Power Natural Power is a leading independent renewable energy and infrastructure consultancy employing 320 staff globally. The company offers proactive and integrated consultancy, management and due diligence services, backed by an innovative product range, across the onshore wind, offshore wind, wave, tidal, renewable heat, solar pv and hydro sectors, whilst maintaining a strong outlook on other new and emerging renewable energy sectors globally.


News Article | May 17, 2017
Site: cleantechnica.com

A legal ruling in Scotland has given second life to as much as 2.3 gigawatts worth of offshore wind farms that had previously been halted due to concerns over their impact on migratory seabirds. Back in July a judge in the Outer Court of Session in Scotland revoked consent for four separate wind farms — the 600-megawatt (MW) Inch Cape Offshore wind farm, the 450 MW Neart Na Gaoithe offshore wind farm, and the 525 MW (each) Seagreen Alpha and Bravo projects — due to the potential danger to certain species of migratory seabird living in the Special Protection Areas. However, this week, the Inner House at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Scotland, overturned the July revocation. Lord Carloway, the Lord President of the Court of Session, penned an Opinion of the Court which dispatched the original judge’s findings, saying that the judge “strayed well beyond the limits of testing the legality of the process and has turned himself into the decision-maker following what appears to have been treated as an appeal against the respondents’ decisions on the facts.” Further, the judge appears to have acted “almost as if he were the reporter at such an inquiry… For this reason alone, his decision on this ground cannot be sustained.” The decision now opens the way for developers Mainstream Renewable Power (Neart na Gaoithe), Red Rock Power (Inch Cape), and joint partners SSE and Fluor (Seagreen Alpha and Bravo) to proceed with their respective developments. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the projects could pave the way for up to £10 billion in investments to develop up to 2.3 GW of offshore wind capacity. Unsurprisingly, the move was welcomed by all developers involved. “We welcome the ruling of the Inner House of the Court of Session in favour of Scottish Ministers, overturning last year’s decision by Lord Stewart,” said David Sweenie, Mainstream Renewable Power’s Offshore Manager for Scotland. “This £2 billion project is capable of supplying all the homes in a city the size of Edinburgh with clean energy. It will create over 500 jobs during construction and over 100 permanent jobs once operational. More than £540 million will be directly invested in Scotland during the construction phase and a further £610 million during the operational phase.” “Red Rock Power welcome the court’s ruling which supports the continued development of a £2 billion investment in Scotland’s energy infrastructure,” added a spokesman for the Project Owner Red Rock Power Ltd. “Red Rock Power also acknowledges the important and continued role that RSPB has in protecting our internationally important wildlife. We will therefore continue to work collaboratively with the RSPB and all stakeholders to refine the project design to ensure that the project can be delivered whilst minimising environmental impacts.” Check out our new 93-page EV report. Join us for an upcoming Cleantech Revolution Tour conference! Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech daily newsletter or weekly newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.


The smart way for Lloyds Banking Group to mark the government’s sale of its last shares would have been a short and dull statement. Something along these lines: “We thank the government and UK citizens for their support over the last nine years. The bank learned the lessons of the crisis many years ago and we’re sticking to our plan to support the UK economy.” Instead, Lloyds summoned trumpets and calculators and issued a three-page announcement. “We’ve turned the group around,” declared boss António Horta-Osório. The investor relations department found the most flattering way to present the state’s investment return: including dividends, £894m more has been returned than the £21.2bn put in. Up to a point, one can forgive the excitement. It would be churlish not to acknowledge that Lloyds was indeed in a mess and in danger of a relapse before Horta-Osório arrived in 2011. Then he faced the stiff challenge of getting through the tide of compensation claims for his predecessors’ PPI sins. Lloyds’ staff have done a decent job. And, given that Horta-Osório has a £850,000 bonus riding on the disposal of all the government’s shares in the bank (part of the £38m he’s earned along the way), his mood of celebration is understandable. It’s just that it all feels slightly over the top. You can cut the investment return in many ways. A £894m profit over nine years on a £20.3bn punt isn’t much to shout about if you annualise the return. But, in any case, turning a profit wasn’t the primary purpose of rescuing the banks: the deed was done to protect depositors and save the UK economy from a bigger meltdown. Let’s not forget, too, that Lloyds started with the immeasurable advantage of being the biggest retail bank in the UK by a country mile. It has a 25% share of UK current accounts, 22% of retail deposits and 21% of mortgages. Yes, the balance sheet was in “a very fragile condition”, but the market position was commanding and being made to sell TSB made only a minor dent. Horta-Osório, thankfully, remembered to look forwards, saying: “The job is not done.” Let’s hear more of that. The backslapping feels like it started in 2014 when Lloyds resumed paying dividends. It’s time to give it a rest. In the corporate world, a commitment is a commitment right up until the moment is broken. So you can’t blame SSE, the energy group with an unbroken record of dividend growth stretching back to privatisation in 1989, for saying that it continues to aim to increase distributions to shareholders by at least the rate of inflation. If retail price caps lie around the corner, however, this ambition has never looked so hard to fulfil. SSE’s dividend cover already looks thin, even by the standards of the utility industry. At the bottom end of the official target range – which is the end at which SSE expects to land – the dividend would be covered only 1.2 times by earnings this year. How much damage would a price cap do? Impossible to tell until the next government puts the industry out of its misery and explains the details. SSE, it should be noted, is a much broader business than energy supply. Its networks and power generation divisions contributed larger slices to overall operating profits of £1.87bn last year. Yet the £389m of profit from supply, where most of the customers are on standard variable tariffs, looks dangerously exposed to government intervention. When push comes to shove, SSE’s dividend should be able to survive at least one more lap of the track unscathed. The company has more generation capacity coming on stream soon, and the wheels of government do not turn quickly. But thereafter? Shareholders should read the small print: “The level of dividend cover is subject to … material change in sector regulation.” You bet. Financial markets supposedly offer a clean and clinical assessment of risk. Yet they are a reliably terrible guide to political risk. It is only now, with political commentators assessing the odds on impeachment, that one sees the first twitches of concern about President Trump. The US stock market had a bad day on Wednesday and the dollar has given up all its gains since last November’s election. This reaction is surely tame in the extreme given the pace of events in Washington. Even now, Wall Street continues to debate the chances, or otherwise, of Trump’s infrastructure spending boom arriving on schedule. That stuff is easy to process in a spreadsheet, but it’s hardly the full political story – and hasn’t been for months.


News Article | May 16, 2017
Site: www.fishupdate.com

ONE of Scotland’s rarest breeding ducks looks set to benefit from specially constructed floating nesting rafts manufactured by Fusion Marine. In the UK, common scoters (Melanitta nigra) breed in only a handful of freshwater lochs in the northern Highlands and it is hoped that the supply of these two nesting rafts will provide safe new breeding sites. The common scoter is on the Red List as a bird of high conservation concern, with only about 50 breeding pairs in the UK. Working with the RSPB and Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), Fusion Marine designed and manufactured the 7m by 3.75m rafts, made from durable polyethylene and recycled plastic sourced from redundant fish farm pens. Peat, turf and heather are placed on top of the rafts so as to create natural looking floating islands that will prove attractive for nesting and which are also safe from predators such as mink. The rafts will be sited on two lochs where scoters are known to breed. It is envisaged that the rafts will also enable researchers to better monitor scoter breeding behaviour, which will enhance knowledge of their requirements and aid conservation efforts. The project consortium is made up of the FCS, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), Blue Energy, the Ness and Beauly Fisheries Trust, the RSPB and Marine Harvest. Kenneth Knott of FCS said: ‘I am delighted that Fusion Marine took the challenge of helping the project develop and build a larger ‘island’ for use in the project. This was a critical part of completing the jigsaw to take the project forward. ‘The research showed that the problems associated with the scoters rearing their ducklings could be addressed, at least in part, by this new style of artificial island. ‘The more robust construction includes extra flotation allowing for a deep habitat layer to be supported on the island without fear of sinking. ‘We were pleased with the support from Marine Harvest in providing materials and from our two principal sponsors, SSE and Blue Energy, who have assisted with the finance, but principally to Fusion Marine for making ideas turn into reality.’ Corrina Mertens, operations officer for SNH in Lochaber, said:  ‘This initiative is a tremendous example of how a partnership of organisations from all walks of life can work together for the benefit of the natural heritage and we would like to express our gratitude to everyone who is involved. ‘We very much hope that this experiment will yield the result needed to ensure the future survival of the common scoter in this part of Scotland.’ Rhuaraidh Edwards of Oban based Fusion Marine said: ‘We have previously used our experience in polyethylene technology to manufacture rafts for nesting terns, which proved very successful. ‘It is great that we have now been able to use such knowledge to help secure the future of one of Scotland’s rarest breeding ducks.’


LONDRES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Offrant un autre exemple de ses solutions innovantes au sein d'un marché GNL en pleine croissance, Koch Supply & Trading (KS&T) a annoncé aujourd'hui l'achèvement du premier de nombreux transferts de GNL de navire à navire (Ship to Ship, STS) réguliers avec la société chinoise privée JOVO et l'armateur malaisien MISC. Cet accord est unique en son genre pour KS&T, JOVO et MISC, et représente le premier transfert de GNL de STS au Philippines. Puisque les transferts de GNL de STS dépassent le cadre habituel d'un rôle opérationnel, ce projet représente un jalon commercial clé alors que le transfert récurrent de STS démontre le potentiel commercial de ces activités. De telles opérations créent de nouveaux marchés pour les exportateurs et offrent des nouvelles sources d'approvisionnement à ceux nécessitant du GNL. Dans cet exemple, le navire-mère effectue le chargement de sa cargaison en Australie avant de la transférer vers un second navire plus petit dans la baie de Subic aux Philippines. L'opération est soigneusement gérée par Teekay Marine Solutions, avec Teekay et MISC offrant leur vaste expérience GNL pour administrer un transfert sécurisé et couronné de succès. La cargaison est ensuite livrée dans le terminal chinois de JOVO où elle sera distribuée par camion vers l'un des nombreux clients industriels ou commerciaux dans le Sud de la Chine. «  Ce partenariat entre des armateurs de première classe, des fournisseurs de services STS chefs de file du secteur et des consommateurs de GNL innovants permettent aux sociétés dans les marchés en développement d'accéder aux volumes internationaux et à une plus large sélection d'acteurs en logistique et infrastructure », a déclaré Peter Leoni, directeur des transactions pour Koch Supply & Trading. «  Lorsqu'on observe le développement du marché de GNL », a poursuivi Tim Mendelssohn, chef d'exploitation et du fret GNL chez Koch Supply & Trading, «  nous remettons en cause le modèle commercial existant comme agent orienté solutions et de résolution de problèmes pour les transferts de GNL de navire à navire au sein des économies émergentes du monde entier, réduisant ainsi les barrières à l'importation ». Les sociétés de Koch Supply & Trading du monde entier sont impliquées dans le commerce de pétrole brut, de produits pétroliers raffinés, de gaz liquide, de gaz naturel, de gaz naturel liquéfié, d'énergie, d'émissions et d'énergies renouvelables et de métaux. Les sociétés comptent des négociants, des initiateurs ou du personnel en marketing à Wichita, Houston, New York, Londres, Genève, Singapour et Shanghai. Pour en savoir plus, consultez le site www.ksandt.com. JOVO Group Co., Ltd. Guangdong est une société chinoise privée, fondée en 1990 ayant démarré ses transactions de GPL. Au cours des 25 dernières années, JOVO est devenue une entreprise énergétique chef de file du secteur, axée sur les énergies propres, comme le GPL, GNL et le DEM. Elle est impliquée tout au long de la chaîne d'approvisionnement industrielle, notamment les acquisitions internationales, le stockage, le traitement, la production, la logistique et les ventes. JOVO Group possède actuellement un terminal de réception entièrement opérationnel dans le delta de la rivière des Perles, en Chine, et peut stocker et distribuer du GNL, GPL, du méthanol, du pétrole et plusieurs types de produits pétroliers et gaziers. En dehors des grandes entreprises pétrolières, le projet de GNL de JOVO est le premier et le seul terminal à financement privé en Chine en service. Obtenez de plus amples informations en consultant le site www.jovo.com.cn. MISC Berhad (MISC) a été constitué en 1968 et est un fournisseur international chef de file de solutions et services maritimes associés à l'énergie. Nous sommes fiers de la fiabilité de nos services et actifs, de notre engagement pour assurer la conformité aux plus hautes normes de santé, sécurité et de l’environnement (SSE), par la favorisation d’une culture d'excellence au sein de nos employés, par l’exploitation de nos activités de manière responsable et par notre respect de l'environnement ainsi que par l’engendrement d’un impact positif dans les communautés au sein desquelles nous opérons. Les entreprises principales du Groupe comprennent l'expédition de l'énergie et ses activités connexes, la propriété et l'exploitation de solutions flottantes offshore, la conversion et la réparation maritimes, les travaux de construction et d'ingénierie, les services relatifs au port et au terminal, ainsi que la formation et l'éducation maritime. La flotte du MISC Group comprend plus de 110 navires de produits et produits pétroliers, de GNL affrétés et en propriété ; ainsi que 14 installations flottantes. La flotte possède une capacité combinée d'environ 12 millions tpl. Depuis 2014, nous sommes honorés d'être inclus dans l'indice FTSE4Good Bursa Malaysia, témoignage de notre performance de durabilité et de fortes pratiques environnementales, sociétales et de gouvernance (Environmental, Social and Governance, ESG). Teekay Marine Solutions (sous la marque de LNGSTS) est détenue à 100% par Teekay Tankers. C'est un fournisseur de services de STS chef de file du secteur, comprenant un service axé sur le GNL et spécialisé dans les transferts de GNL, le développement de projets, le conseil et la gestion de terminaux et d'installations. Teekay Marine Solutions a acquis ses connaissances des opérations de terminal et de transferts de GNL de navire à navire en participant à de nombreux unités flottantes de stockage et de re-gaséification (Floating Storage Regasification Units, FSRU) et unités flottantes de stockage (Floating Storage Units, FSU)/FSRU parmi les plus innovants du monde entier.


News Article | May 25, 2017
Site: globenewswire.com

Mobile and Online are included in our statutory results up to the date of their respective disposals resulting in this year's performance not being directly comparable to last year. To more clearly review our financial performance, we have included highlights of our ongoing Retail networks in addition to the reported statutory highlights. "We have continued to deliver a significant transition in our business to respond to the needs of our retail clients and the changing world of payments. Our transition has involved the sale of our Mobile business, a renegotiated agreement with our partner on Collect+ and, most importantly, launched our new terminal PayPoint One, which includes an industry-leading EPoS solution. This past year has seen further good growth in our core retail network, with net revenue up 6% and an increase in sites of 3%, up to 40,500. Looking beyond the current financial year, I see significant opportunities for our retail services business, accelerating the growth of ATM's, parcels and EPoS and we will continue to work to build our retailer relations. Our strategy is supported by balance sheet strength and the ability to continue to make superior returns to shareholders" A presentation for analysts is being held at 11.45am today (25 May 2017) at Canaccord Genuity Limited, 88 Wood Street, London, EC2V 7QR. This announcement is available on the PayPoint plc website: www.paypoint.com Delivering our strategy I am pleased to report that the past year has been one of further progress as we seek to simplify and refocus the Group on our Retail network business, in line with our declared strategy. The sale of our mobile payments business was completed in December 2016 and concludes our programme of rationalisation. In addition, we have restructured the Collect+ arrangements, enabling us to add new carriers to our UK retail services offering. We also successfully launched PayPoint One, our next generation PayPoint terminal with integrated Electronic Point of Sale Solutions (EPoS), till and card functionality, and had rolled out 3,600 by the end of this financial year. We also continue to drive existing and new retail services while seeking to improve service delivery throughout the network. The business is now more streamlined and focused on driving value from the strength of our established retail network. Whilst the board recognises there are structural changes in UK cash payments and the energy sector, PayPoint is well positioned to respond to these changes and to deliver continuing growth in its UK retail services and Romanian businesses. Delivering for our stakeholders Total dividends declared in the year to 31 March 2017 will deliver a total of £82.1 million or 120.6 pence per share to shareholders. This includes the ordinary dividend of 45.0 pence per share, the first annual instalment of the additional dividend of 36.7 pence per share and the gross proceeds from the sale of Mobile of 38.9 pence per share. The board recognises that successful execution of the PayPoint strategy is dependent on delivering first class service to our retailers. To ensure we are consistently measuring how we are performing against important key metrics, a new 'Retailer Pledge' has been developed and published. Our people are critical to the successful execution of the strategy and I would like to thank all colleagues for their hard work and dedication over the past year. Board appointments In early 2017, Rachel Kentleton joined the board as Finance Director following George Earle's retirement. I would like to thank George for his significant contribution over his 12 years of service since joining us upon our listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2004. Two of our non-executive directors, Neil Carson and David Morrison, will step down on 26 May 2017 and 26 July 2017 respectively. The board wishes them well and thanks them for their valued contributions. David has served as a director since 1999 and has been instrumental in the development of the Company. We welcome Rakesh Sharma, who was appointed to the board on 12 May 2017 and will chair the Remuneration Committee. Conclusion PayPoint is now a significantly more focused business. Looking ahead, our priorities are to continue to drive growth in retail services, manage the decline in cash payments through developing new payment channels, improve our service delivery and to run our business more efficiently. We are also excited by the growth opportunities for our Romanian business as we deepen and extend our presence in a rapidly growing market. Alongside this, we maintain our commitment to the capital allocation programme outlined in May 2016, to return £125 million of surplus cash to shareholders over five years to 2021 alongside our ordinary dividend. The board remains confident in the prospects for the business and the value creation opportunity for our shareholders. CHIEF EXECUTIVE'S REVIEW The past year has been one of significant strategic progress in reshaping and simplifying the business. We have restructured the Group, with a new Executive Board in place and a focused single company vision, set of values and culture which together will drive ongoing improvements in effectiveness and customer service. We have rationalised the portfolio of businesses within the Group, with the sale of Online in January 2016 for £14.3 million being followed in the year to 31 March 2017 by the sale of Mobile to VW Financial Services for £26.5 million. We have also concluded our discussions with Yodel, with a new Collect+ arrangement agreed that enables PayPoint to add new carriers to our UK retail services offering. We continue to focus on the needs of our retail customers. This year we launched our next generation terminal, PayPoint One, which received positive early feedback and at 31 March 2017 there were 3,600 sites operational. The terminal, with enhanced functionality, changes the proposition we can offer retailers and is a critical milestone for the business. We are excited about the growth potential from the rollout of the new terminal across our retail network alongside the other initiatives underway in the business. Our financial results reflect the refocusing of the business with reported profit before tax of £69.1 million (2016: £8.2 million), including the profit on the sale of Mobile to VW Financial Services of £19.5 million partially offset by the loss of £3.8 million on the restructure of the Collect+ arrangement with Yodel. The 2016 year included impairment charges on Mobile and Online of £49.0 million. This financial year also saw several non-recurring items, some of which will impact our operating profit performance in the financial year to 31 March 2018. These include a non-recurring VAT recovery of £2.0 million (included in retail services), the agreement to reduce Yodel parcel fees by £3.0 million over the next 3 years effective from December 2016, and the closure by the Department for Work and Pensions ("DWP") of their Simple Payment Service which has been generating over £4.0 million in net revenue per annum. Our Retail networks business delivered a profit before tax[4] of £53.3 million, an increase of £0.5 million. This was driven by growth in net revenue[5] from retail services of £9.6 million, but offset by a decline in bill payments and top-ups of £2.8 million and additional investment costs arising from PayPoint One, EPoS and MultiPay development and deployment. In total this financial year we paid £78.5 million to shareholders by means of the £29.5 million ordinary dividend, the first instalment of the additional dividend of £8.3 million and the return of £40.7 million from the proceeds of the sale of Online and Mobile. Our business model continues to be highly cash generative with £42.2 million of cash generated from operating activities in the year. Business model We have unrivalled strength in convenience retail payments and services with over 40,000 outlets across the UK and Romania. In both markets our business has two highly complementary business streams, payments and retail services. These operate from a common retail servicing capability and secure technology infrastructure. This technology platform and our site network form the foundation from which we will drive future value. Our first business stream, payments, provides convenient bill payment channels for the customers of major utilities and service companies. The PayPoint network supports the broadest range of payment types including bills, energy prepayments, mobile and eMoney top-ups, licences, rents, taxes, transport tickets, debt collection, deposits and repayments. We also pay out cash benefits and rebates. In payments, our retail partners are our distributors, earning commission and benefiting from the hundreds of millions of customer visits we generate. Some customers prefer to pay online and our MultiPay product extends to mobile app, web-site, IVR and text payments so we can help our clients to help customers pay in the way that suits them best. Our second business area builds on the strength of our retail networks and our technology, enabling us to provide multiple retail services to retailers. These additional services are highly competitive offers to retailers, charging fees for some services and earning commission for others. The range of retail services is already extensive but we continually innovate to generate new revenue streams. Our retail partners, in turn, are able to offer their customers a widening range of convenience payment products and services which keeps them coming into the store. The principal retail services are ATMs, card and other non-cash electronic payment solutions, Western Union agencies, SIM card sales, parcels and EPoS. As noted above, we have recently renegotiated the terms of our parcels joint arrangement with Yodel, to allow PayPoint to open the Collect+ network to other carriers. Our intention is to create the definitive industry solution, allowing consumers to pick up and drop off parcels at their local shop irrespective of the carrier. Retail services have continued to grow strongly in recent years and this business area is becoming increasingly significant within our business mix. In payments, we remain committed to delivering our strategy which is focused on delivering multi-channel payments solutions and services to our customers where we have retail networks. In retail services, we see significant growth opportunities for our unique retailer network and our differentiated and established technology platform to benefit from the high street evolution towards convenience. In order to execute our strategy we have set out five clear priorities for the year ahead: Market context PayPoint's services are particularly attractive to the convenience retail sector which includes newsagents, general convenience stores, off licences and petrol station forecourts. We are also complementary to the convenience offers of larger format supermarkets. We build our relationship with retailers through our field sales force of 50 professionals located throughout the UK and through our contact centre which is situated in Welwyn Garden City. We also hold quarterly Retailer Forums attended by PayPoint retailers and management to ensure open dialogue and communication. PayPoint has payment relationships extending to over 29,000 UK outlets drawn from an available market of approximately 51,000 stores comprising 37,500 independents (of which 14,000 symbol-affiliated stores) and 13,500 multiple and managed symbol stores. These 51,000 stores are PayPoint's core marketplace, with growth and any extension beyond the convenience sector also representing an opportunity for our retail services. Historically, PayPoint has restricted supply of its branded payments footfall rather than looking to achieve blanket coverage of the entire convenience retail sector. As a result, PayPoint retailers are typically of good quality, desired by our clients and envied by our competitors. Overall, PayPoint pays our retailers over £50 million annually in commission for their critical role in our payments and retail services delivery. Our retailers can be segmented into 3 broad sub-groups. We have 8,500 outlets that are in multiple chains, including The Co-op, McColls, One Stop and many other fuel and convenience chains. We also have coverage in all Asda stores, many Sainsbury's Locals and increasingly in Tesco Express, as even the major grocers see the power of our footfall generation. The balance of our network is in independents, who may be unaffiliated or linked to a symbol group such as Spar, Costcutter, Nisa or Booker Premier. We have 11,500 unaffiliated independents, out of 23,500 in the UK and a further 9,000 symbol-affiliated outlets out of 15,400 independent and managed symbol stores in the UK. To serve multiples, we deploy our PPoS solution, a virtual terminal that integrates into the retailer's own EPoS system for maximum operational efficiency. For independents, we offer a standalone terminal. Most of our retailers have our second generation yellow machine (T2) that has been deployed since 2003. Last year we launched PayPoint One, a transformational terminal platform, with a full range of connectivity options including WiFi and Bluetooth, which we will rollout across our estate over the next few years. With PayPoint One, we have also introduced a new EPoS capability which has seen encouraging uptake to date and that we expect to be a platform for significant future growth. PayPoint One provides our retailers with the ability to serve customers quickly, while providing advanced connectivity and improving business efficiency all within a flexible and fully-supported technology platform. Each of our retail services has its own market context and competitive dynamics, which are explained briefly here: ATMs - we provide 4,100 ATMs out of an overall population in the LINK network of 70 million, of which 52 million are non-bank branch machines[i]. Our machines are typically located in-store and are filled by our retailers using their own cash, including much of the money collected from our bill payments. We offer both free to use and surcharge machines with most new deployments being free to use. In general, cash withdrawal volumes are expected to decline steadily as the use of cash is eroded by contactless payments. However, while this decline is reflected in a rise in bank branch closures, growth in non-bank branch ATMs has continued and PayPoint's position in the market gives us plenty of scope to grow. Card Payments - we provide 10,000 of our retailers with in-store card payment solutions including Chip and PIN and contactless cards and mobile schemes such as Apple and Android Pay. We earn a margin on each payment through revenue share arrangements with merchant acquirers. In common with the market generally, we have been experiencing very strong contactless payment growth. These payments have a lower transaction value, earning us slightly less per transaction but for a much greater volume. This is a highly competitive market with many offers from merchant acquirers and intermediaries. Money Transfer - we provide 1,100 outlets in the UK with Western Union agencies to serve the international money transfer market. This is a value-added, rather than strategic, service and we expect to remain a minor player. SIM sales - we are selling mobile phone SIMs to 15,000 outlets and have approximately a 6% market share, making a strong net revenue contribution. We earn commissions based on the top-up values on activated SIMs which we share with our retailers, and bonuses for achieving predetermined targets. EPoS - this is a new market for PayPoint which we entered in June last year, with a price scanning solution built on the Android tablet characteristics of PayPoint One, with its large interactive screen, ergonomic design and advanced scanning capability. PayPoint One provides an integrated all-in-one solution, combining EPoS with card payments, bill payments, proprietary hardware, cloud management, business intelligence, service support and Android applications to support our retailers' businesses. We expect our EPoS solution to be attractive to the independent sector, many of whom may be first time users, but we also expect strong symbol group adoption when we launch our Pro version in summer 2017. The Pro version will have sophisticated stock management and ordering capability, managed in the cloud, representing a step change in EPoS market technology. We are also currently putting in place the necessary links to integrate with symbol group wholesalers, to make the product more attractive. There are numerous EPoS providers in the UK typically serving more than one vertical, such as retail and hospitality. In convenience retailing, EPoS provision is more fragmented outside of the suppliers to the multiple chains. Suppliers service a few thousand locations at most and often work with legacy software, sitting on older Microsoft Windows platforms, with localised back office functions which do not take advantage of cloud technology. EPoS products tend to carry an upfront hardware investment, with additional charges for installation and ongoing fees for service, support and licensing. As a consequence take up can be limited. With PayPoint's modern technology and no upfront fees for the hardware, we expect to make inroads into this market and have been encouraged by the early take up. Overall, the launch of PayPoint One integrates PayPoint's payments stream with card payments and EPoS into a single leading edge hardware device. Our retail services success over many years has built a balanced portfolio of strong and highly competitive products with a good mix of strategic and tactical services across high growth and maturing markets. The market leading qualities of the PayPoint One platform will enable us to significantly increase our revenue over time by charging fees for the platform and its EPoS capabilities. Progress in year Overall, retail services accounted for 36% of UK net revenues, generating £39.0 million net revenue which represented growth of 30.9% on the previous year. We enjoyed continued growth in ATMs, card payments and SIMs net revenues. We also secured a VAT recovery of £2.4 million in card payments. The recurring net revenue benefit from the corrected treatment is approximately £1.0 million per annum. We launched PayPoint One and have installed over 3,600 new terminals of which 60% have EPoS activated, with the remainder opting just to upgrade from our second generation terminal to use our Till App. We have also largely completed our EPoS Pro development for testing ahead of launch in a few months' time and have secured our first symbol group integration agreement. Future Delivery We expect to achieve a PayPoint One network size of 8,000 sites by March 2018, with high EPoS and card payment attachment. This will include symbol retailers as the Pro version of EPoS is launched and wholesaler links are implemented. Nisa is the first symbol retailer to contract to be integrated with our EPoS Pro platform and we expect to sign up others soon. Our card payments volume should continue to grow strongly. We will focus on protecting margins in a fiercely competitive market fuelled by the growth in contactless payments, which has made the convenience sector increasingly attractive. This year we plan to extend our net settlement capability from ATMs to card payments which should be a unique differentiator for PayPoint by off-setting our retailers' banking costs. We will be investing in our ATM network to continue to expand our presence throughout our retail network and to upgrade legacy hardware. Market context We provide 6,100 outlets with our Collect+ service, our joint arrangement with Yodel, a leading carrier. Collect+ was the first successful parcel collections and returns retail network in the UK, launched in 2009. The service has subsequently been copied by several other carriers but has not been matched in scale or customer popularity. This is a large market; IMRG states there are 250 million parcel returns a year and 165 million click & collect parcels, both growing rapidly. Progress in the year Collect+ is available in over 6,100 sites and the number of parcels processed in the year was over 23 million. Collect+ has gained a Trust Pilot score of 9.2 out of 10 and is now a trusted and well regarded consumer brand. The restructured terms of the Collect+ joint arrangement are now in place. In return for a reduced transaction fee, PayPoint is no longer exclusively tied to using Yodel and now has the opportunity to extend the network of carriers we work with. Future delivery PayPoint has an exciting opportunity to capture a significant share of the market. We have appointed a new Parcel Services Director with a significant track record in the parcels market to lead our efforts to capture new volumes. In the coming years, we expect strong growth with many more outlets and millions of extra parcels as the new approach beds in, supported by strong continuing delivery from our existing partner, Yodel. The new approach has come at a short-term cost as we have agreed to progressively reduce fees received from Yodel by £3.0 million over three years. On a like-for-like volume basis this is expected to impact the year to 31 March 2018 by £1.7 million with a further £1.0 million impact in the year to 31 March 2019. Market context Payments have traditionally been PayPoint's most successful business area and we have developed a market leadership position in payment collection through convenience retail outlets. Our UK network numbers 29,100 sites, meaning that we are in the majority of available convenience retail outlets and we handle approximately 500 million transactions per annum through the network to a value of £9.0 billion. There are over 4.9 billion regular consumer payments a year[ii], but the majority of these are made by direct debit through the banks, which would be the billers' preferred collection method. However, this does not suit all customers. PayPoint's strength is in serving the millions of householders who prefer to pay their bills in cash over the counter. This has been a resilient sector which has fuelled our growth despite the long-term steady decline in cash as a payment method in the UK economy, relative to electronic and card payments. PayPoint has always been particularly strong in energy payments as the breadth of our coverage in convenience retail outlets, combined with extended opening hours, provides an ideal solution for those who need to quickly and conveniently switch their energy back on. Growth in the prepay energy sector peaked four years ago when a combination of factors including high tariffs, cold weather, high energy debts and high prepay meter installation rates created strong demand. Recently however growth has slowed, as the impact of these factors has reduced. We expect that the introduction of smart meters, which has been subject to delays in commissioning by the Data Communications Company (DCC), will open more digital payment options for consumers, and that payments by app or web-site will erode some cash volumes in prepay mode. As of 31 December 2016 there was a total of 22.8 million gas meters and 27.5 million electricity meters[iii] operated by large and small energy suppliers in domestic properties across Great Britain. Active smart meters (gas and electric) accounted for 4.9 million of the total number of meters, an increase of 2.9 million compared to 2015. In order to address this opportunity, PayPoint has been developing its MultiPay service in recent years and is well placed to serve retail and digital payments through an integrated platform for energy clients. From 1 April 2017 the Competition and Markets Authority has introduced a price cap for prepayment customers which it estimates will reduce households' heating bills by on average £75[iv] a year. It is too early to fully understand the impact this will have on PayPoint, however we estimate each prepay customer's average top-up value is around £15 a visit. The slowdown in the energy payments sector and uncertainty around smart meters, combined with the longer term decline in mobile top-ups and in cash as a payment method in the UK economy means that we anticipate reducing net revenue in PayPoint's traditional sectors. As a result, our focus is on maximising profitability in UK bill payments and top-ups, managing margins and cashflow through both continuing innovation and a relentless focus on business process and cost efficiency. Progress in year Bill payment volumes reduced by 6.6% in the year because of softening energy prepay and a reduction in CashOut transactions. CashOut transactions reduced as a consequence of the two year government electricity rebate scheme coming to an end. Top-up transactions declined 15.3% as a result of the continuing long-term decline in UK mobile top-ups. Payments account for 64% of overall UK net revenues. Net revenues held up better than volumes as bigger clients lost share to challengers, benefiting our pricing mix. MultiPay volumes have been growing strongly and we handled 10.3 million payments, up 4.9 million from last year, through our non-retail digital channels. We have also recently completed the implementation for SSE, our first big 6 energy client for MultiPay. The service is also proving particularly attractive to some of the main challengers in the energy market as well as smaller suppliers. At the end of the financial year 15 clients had contracted to use the service. We have had a steady stream of new business and have added 67 new schemes in the year including, for the first time, local authorities deciding to work with us directly and exclusively, having previously split their volumes across the Post Office and PayPoint. We have also added clients for digital voucher services, including a new arrangement with Amazon which is still in its early days. We also went live with our new FCA regulated Payment Institution, PayPoint Payment Services Limited, which allows us to provide certain regulated payment services and to extend the range of our CashOut services. Future delivery The payments business is likely to continue to be affected by the uncertainty relating to smart meters and the general long-term decline of cash and top-ups. However, there is a strong residual demand for cash payment that we will continue to serve successfully and expand where possible, with new schemes and products for our customers. As more challenger businesses take share from the big traditional suppliers, we would also expect to see some margin benefits through less revenue concentration. We have also been able to renegotiate terms with retailers and symbol groups, improving margin, as a result of the diminishing importance of mobile top-up volumes. We expect the year ahead to be adversely affected by a recent decision of the DWP to discontinue its Simple Payment Service from this summer, for which we have been the retail partner. Unfortunately, the service has been a victim of its own success in migrating customers away from the traditional girocheque into other methods, giving the DWP the ability to close down the option. This service has generated revenue for PayPoint of over £4 million per annum historically. PayPoint will continue to handle hundreds of millions of payments for the UK's leading consumer service organisations and payments will remain a critical element in our business mix going forward. Our unique payments portfolio is central to the popularity of our brand with retailers and consumers and provides the platform on which our retail services are thriving. In addition, we are well placed to drive further MultiPay growth with more challengers, our first volumes for a big 6 supplier and the potential to extend into other bill payment sectors, including housing. Market context PayPoint Romania follows a similar business model to the UK, but in a market in which cash bill payment is a mass market proposition. Over 10 years, PayPoint has become one of Romania's most successful and popular financial brands, handling on average 24% of our clients' payments. We expect cash to be the dominant bill payment method well into the future. The range of payments solutions offered by PayPoint is extensive including energy, telecoms and pay TV bills, road tax, eMoney vouchers, insurance premiums and loan repayments. As in the UK, we work with all the leading suppliers. Romania is also a strong remittance market, mainly as receivers of payments from overseas. As in the UK we work with the market leaders Western Union in what is still a high growth sector. Progress in year We have continued to make strong organic progress in the year growing our net revenues in Romania to £9.1 million, an increase of 28.2% on the prior year. Our retail network has grown to 11,300 sites and includes strong representation from independents and multiples, including Profi, Cora and Carrefour. We enjoyed record volumes of 75 million transactions, including growth in mobile top-ups, not just bill payments. Future delivery The Romanian payments market continues to evolve with clients moving away from the local post office creating further opportunities for us. We will continue to expand our market share with existing clients and to add new clients. In the year we successfully added our first local authority which we will use as a case study to entice other local authorities. We plan to extend our retailer services offering in Romania. We are trialling a parcels service, Colet Expres, in Bucharest, working with the leading Romanian carrier, FAN courier. The home shopping market in Romania is still developing and is generally based on cash on delivery, but we are excited about the opportunity the parcels service presents. In addition, we are trialling a card payment service for retailers. We currently have an agreed offer to buy Payzone in Romania, which is subject to competition authority approval. Our refocus on our retail businesses has highlighted opportunities for us to invest in tools and capabilities to enable our client and field teams to more effectively sell a portfolio of products. In conjunction with the rollout of PayPoint One, we have also publicly pledged to our UK retailers that we intend to deliver first class servicing of their requirements through the entire lifecycle of on-boarding, operational support and status changes. This will require us to invest in efficient workflow and billing systems with accurate and timely supporting information, for our retailers and ourselves, so we can serve them effectively. We are making a considerable investment of £4.0 million over 18 months in these tools and capabilities but are expecting significant improvements in sales and operational efficiencies. We are also reviewing our processes to ensure we are innovating efficiently and driving maximum return from our investments in product and technology. Outlook We have made good progress in reshaping the business, including the disposal of Mobile and Online. This enables greater focus on our retail network specifically by providing EPoS solutions to our retailers and on pursuing a multi-carrier strategy for parcels, both of which are exciting prospects going forward. In time I believe there will be opportunities to further extend our geographic footprint, leveraging the scale and capability of our platform, however international expansion will be a lower priority for the immediate future. To support our growth agenda, we are making incremental investment in capabilities and tools to improve our sales productivity, foster continued innovation, accelerate commercial deployment and deliver greater operational efficiencies. For the current financial year, we expect robust net revenue growth in UK retail services and Romania. This will broadly offset the impact of our additional investments, the reduced fees earned from Yodel and the expected continuing net revenue reduction in UK cash payments, including the ending of the Simple Payment Scheme and the changing energy market dynamics. We are confident that PayPoint is well positioned to continue to drive sustainable medium-term earnings growth, generate cash and support superior returns to shareholders. KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS In order to realise its strategic aims, PayPoint has identified areas of strategic focus and records a number of KPIs to measure progress against them. The KPIs presented this year have changed in that they exclude the disposed activities of Mobile and Online. Whilst these KPIs are helpful in measuring the Group's performance, they are not exhaustive and the Group uses many other measures to monitor progress. REVIEW OF BUSINESS The review of business presented includes highlights on page 1, the Chairman's statement on page 3 and the Chief Executive's review on pages 4 to 8. OPERATING REVIEW PayPoint is a service provider for consumer transactions through various distribution channels, involving the processing of high volume transactions, the management of retailers and clients, the settlement of funds (collection and transmission) and transmission of data in a secure environment, by the application of technology. The application of technology is directed on a Group basis by the Group's Executive Board to develop products across the business, prioritised on an economic value basis (generally by product), rather than on a subsidiary by subsidiary basis and therefore the Group has only one operating segment. We have however, included an analysis of the number and value of consumer transactions, revenue and net revenue distinguishing between our Retail networks and Mobile and Online. Retail networks The Group has established retail networks in the UK, Ireland and Romania which continued to grow by 3.2% to 40,478 sites. In the first half of the year our focus was on the rollout of PayPoint One terminals with 3,601 terminals installed at sites by 31 March 2017. Our focus on rollout of PayPoint One to our existing sites resulted in low growth in the total number of UK sites of 0.3%. PayPoint One will replace the previous version of our terminal and is a platform from which we can launch and offer new services to retailers. We continue to rollout PPoS to symbol groups who want to provide PayPoint services, but have their own till and EPoS applications and do not take our PayPoint One platform. At year end there were 8,487 PPoS sites (2016: 8,101 PPoS). In Romania, we increased the number of terminal sites by 1,161 in the year, an increase of 11.4%. Within retail networks we distinguish between three business categories, namely bill and general, top-ups and retail services and each is reviewed separately below. Overall transactions declined by 13.4 million to 654.8 million (2016: 668.2 million), with UK declining by 3.6% offset by robust growth in Romania of 12.1%. Average transaction values in prepaid energy and UK mobile top-ups continue to increase which has offset the declining transaction volume. Transaction value of £10.4 billion (2016: £10.4 billion) was broadly in line with last year. Despite the decline in transactions, revenue2 increased £7.0 million to £203.4 million (2016: £196.4 million) due to card payment VAT (discussed below), change in mix of clients and growth in setup and service fees. In prior years, card payment revenue was treated as standard rated for VAT purposes with the VAT element deducted from revenue. To bring our treatment in line with the industry practice, this was changed to be VAT exempt, resulting in a VAT recovery from HMRC of £2.4 million relating to prior years. We expect that on an annualised basis revenue will be approximately £1.0 million higher than when treated as standard rated. As a result of the change in VAT treatment, irrecoverable VAT, which is included as a cost in administrative expenses, increased by £1.2 million including £0.4 million related to prior years. Net revenue has increased by £6.8 million to £117.5 million (2016: £110.7 million) for the same reasons as revenue set out above, plus a reduction of retailer commission (£1.3 million). Bill and general Bill and general is our most established category and consists of prepaid energy, bill payments and CashOut services. Bill and general transactions were lower than the previous year by 4.2%. UK and Irish bill and general transactions were down 6.6% due to lower prepaid and CashOut energy transactions. MultiPay continued to grow strongly with transactions for the year ended 31 March 2017 reaching 10.3 million (2016: 5.4 million). Growth in Romanian bill payment transactions continued with an increase of 11.6% to 67.2 million (2016: 60.2 million). Romania continued to expand its market share with existing clients to 23.8% in March (2016: 21.8%) and also continued to add new clients across new sectors, including its first local authority. Net revenue of £58.5 million was 1.7% down on last year's £59.5 million, the mix of clients (increase in smaller but higher yielding clients) and changes to our retail commission terms reduced the impact from the decline in transaction volume. Top-ups Top-ups include transactions where consumers can top up their mobiles and prepaid debit cards. They can also purchase eMoney vouchers and lottery tickets. In Ireland and Romania, PayPoint is principal in the sale of mobile top-ups and, accordingly, the face value of the top-up is included in revenue and the corresponding costs deducted when deriving net revenue. Top-up transactions decreased 12.8% to 68.9 million. The reduction in UK mobile top-up transactions and The Health Lottery was only partly offset by an increase in other UK and Romanian top-up transactions. Romania increased its top-up transactions by 16% to 7.3 million. The average value of UK mobile top-ups continued to increase which mitigated the reduction in net revenue, which declined 8.4% to £19.1 million. Retail services Retail services are those we provide to retailers who form part of our networks. Services include providing the PayPoint One platform, which has a basic till application, EPoS, ATMs, card payment, parcels, money transfer and SIMs. Retail services transaction volume has increased across all major products: ATM transactions increased by 8.0%, card payment transactions by 12.2% and parcels by 12.6% over last year. Net revenue growth of 31.6% to £39.9 million exceeded the growth in transactions as a result of the benefit from the change in VAT rating in card payments (see page 10 for further details), the growth of service fees from PayPoint One, a reduction in the card payment wholesale rate and bonuses earned on our SIM activations. The number of sites in the UK with retail services is as follows: Mobile and Online The Group disposed of its online payments business on 8 January 2016 and its mobile payments business on 23 December 2016. The results below reflect the trading of these businesses up to the date of their respective disposals. FINANCIAL REVIEW Mobile and Online are included in our statutory results up to the date of their respective disposals resulting in this year's performance not being directly comparable to last year. In order to assist users to more clearly review our financial performance for the year we have provided an analysis of our reported statutory results split between the ongoing Retail networks and the now disposed of Mobile and Online. Revenue Revenue for the year was £211.9 million (2016: £212.6 million) and consists of Retail networks revenue of £203.4 million (2016: £196.4 million) and Mobile and Online revenue of £8.5 million (2016: £16.2 million) up to the date of their respective disposals. Revenue and net revenue analysis is included in the operating review on pages 10 to 12. Cost of revenue In the current year 'cost of sales' was renamed 'cost of revenue' to better reflect the nature of the costs included in this category. The costs allocated to this category are consistent with prior year's allocations. Statutory Cost of revenue reduced by £0.5 million to £106.0 million (2016: £106.5 million), with a reduction from Mobile and Online of £1.5 million offset by an increase in Retail networks of £1.0 million. Retail networks Cost of revenue in Retail networks increased to £102.7 million (2016: £101.7 million). The revenue growth achieved in Romanian top-ups, where PayPoint acts as principal, increased the cost of top-ups by £4.2 million to £32.3 million (2016: £28.1 million). Depreciation and amortisation increased by £1.7 million principally due to the launch and rollout of PayPoint One. The above increases were partially offset by a reduction in transaction costs from the lower level of energy CashOut schemes and commissions paid to retailers reducing to £53.7 million. Retailer commissions reduced as a result of the decline in UK bill payments and top-up transactions and revenue and changes to the level of commission share with symbol retailers. Statutory gross profit margin remained broadly similar to last year at 50.0% (2016: 49.9%), with Retail networks gross margins increasing from 48.2% to 49.5% driven by the £2.4 million VAT recovery and changes to the level of commission share. Operating costs Statutory Operating costs (administrative expenses) decreased £2.1 million (3.8%) to £53.6 million (2016: £55.7 million) caused by a £7.6 million reduction from Mobile and Online with Retail networks increasing £5.5 million. Retail networks Retail networks' operating costs increased by £5.5 million to £47.5 million as a result of: Share of profit in joint venture The accounting policy for joint arrangements and details of the arrangement with Yodel are included in note 1 and note 8 to the financial information. Our share of the Drop and Collect Limited profit up to the date it was disposed of as part of the arrangement was £1.2 million (2016: loss of £0.2 million). A loss on disposal of £3.8 million was recorded at the date of sale. The new Collect+ joint arrangement has been accounted for as a joint operation with the Group's share of the royalty fee included in revenue. Our share of income from 16 December 2016 to 31 March 2017 was £0.3 million. Operating margin Statutory The improved operating margin of 1.5ppts to 42.2% (2016: 40.7%) includes the benefit of reduced losses in the Group results from Mobile and Online and the improved result from the Drop and Collect joint venture. Retail networks Operating margin in retail networks declined by 2.4ppts to 45.3% (2016: 47.7%), as a result of increased operating costs. Profit on sale of Mobile Mobile was sold to Volkswagen Financial Services AG for £26.5 million. After deducting sale costs, a profit on sale of £19.5 million was recorded, details of which are included in note 7 to the financial information. The gross proceeds of £26.5 million from the sale were distributed to shareholders on 11 January 2017. Profit before tax and taxation The tax charge of £9.5 million (2016: £10.2 million) on profit before tax of £69.1 million (2016: £8.2 million) represents an effective tax rate[11] of 17.8% (2016: 20.5%). The effective tax rate reduced due to an adjustment to prior year taxes following finalisation of those tax returns (£1.1 million, effective tax rate reduced by 2.0%), reduction in Mobile losses for which there was no tax relief and the increase of a deferred tax asset for share based payments, taking into account the increased likelihood of share schemes vesting and related tax relief. The statutory tax rate reduced to 13.8% (2016: 125.7%) primarily as a result  of no goodwill impairments being recognised in the current year (2016: £49.0 million). Statement of financial position and capital expenditure Non-current assets of £47.6 million were £8.4 million higher than last year driven by substantially higher capital expenditure (£17.5 million). Working capital increased by £7.4 million caused by reduced client funds within trade and other payables. Prior year client funds held were higher than in previous years and this year due to the early Easter holiday delaying transfers to clients. Cash flow and liquidity Cash generated by operations was £51.0 million (2016: £69.0 million), reflecting strong conversion of profit to cash and the reduction in client funds from last year. Corporation tax of £8.6 million (2016: £9.9 million) was paid in the current year and was net of refunds for over payments made in prior years. Capital expenditure of £17.5 million (2016: £8.2 million) comprised the purchase of the freehold of the adjacent building at Welwyn Garden City for £3.6 million, which we already partly occupied, PayPoint One terminals, EPoS and MultiPay development, data centre development and purchase of ATMs. Share incentive schemes settled in cash absorbed £0.4 million (2016: £0.6 million). Dividends paid were £78.5 million (2016: £27.4 million) details of which are included in note 5 to the financial information. The Group has cash of £53.1 million, and has an undrawn £45.0 million revolving term credit facility expiring in May 2019. Cash includes amounts held to settle short-term client settlement obligations, which at the year end, amounted to £20.2 million. The additional dividend and final dividend, if approved by shareholders, will utilise £37.1 million cash. The financial statements have been prepared on a going concern basis having regard to the identified risks and viability statement on pages 15 and 16. The Group's cash and borrowing capacity provide sufficient funds to meet the foreseeable needs of the Group including dividends. Economic profit PayPoint's own measure of economic profit (defined as operating profit excluding impairment and profit on disposals of businesses, less tax and a nominal capital charge of 10%) was £39.2 million (2016: £32.8 million), an increase of 19.6%. Dividend We propose to pay a final dividend of 30p per share on 31 July 2017 (2016: 28.2p) to shareholders on the register on 23 June 2017, subject to the approval of the shareholders at the annual general meeting together with the additional dividend of 24.5p per share. An interim dividend of 15.0p (2016: 14.2p) was paid on 15 December 2016, making a total ordinary dividend for the year of 45.0p per share (2016: 42.4p), up 6.1%. Risks PayPoint's business, financial condition or operations could be materially and adversely affected by the risks summarised below. Although management takes steps to mitigate risks where possible or where the cost of doing so is reasonable in relation to the probability and seriousness of the risk, it may not be possible to avoid the occurrence of some or all of such risks. The Group's level of risk in each area remains broadly the same as last year except for exposure to country and regional risk which has reduced due to the sale of the mobile business, together with the risk of acquisitions not meeting expectations and the addition of the risk associated with Brexit. Viability and going concern statements The directors consider the Group's viability over a three year period, on an annual basis, as part of their risk monitoring programme. The three year period is considered appropriate as it aligns with the Group's financial planning cycle. In determining the Group's viability its business activities together with factors likely to affect its future development and performance described in the Chief Executive's review on pages 4 to 8 (in particular changes to the Group's structure, strategy and priorities) and the principal risks set out on pages 15 and above were considered. It was determined that none of the individual risks in isolation would compromise the Group's viability and therefore a number of different severe but plausible principal risk combinations were considered. These included the downside scenario of the loss of large clients, slower than anticipated growth in retail services and a quicker than expected decline in the cash payments business. In making the assessment, the directors have also considered the Group's robust capital position, the cash-generative nature of the business, the ability of the company to reduce costs and the access to available credit. The financial statements have, therefore, been prepared on a going concern basis and the directors have a reasonable expectation that the Group will remain viable over the three year assessment period. These financial statements were approved by the board of directors and authorised for issue on 25 May 2017 and were signed on behalf of the board of directors. CONSOLIDATED STATEMENT OF CHANGES IN EQUITY NOTES TO THE FINANCIAL INFORMATION Basis of preparation While the financial information included in this preliminary announcement has been computed in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards as adopted for use by the EU (IFRS), this announcement does not itself contain sufficient information to comply with IFRS. The company expects to publish full financial statements that comply with IFRS in due course. The financial information set out above does not constitute the company's statutory accounts for the years ended 31 March 2017 or 31 March 2016, but is derived from those accounts. Statutory accounts for 2016 have been delivered to the Registrar of Companies and those for 2017 will be delivered following the company's annual general meeting. The auditor has reported on those accounts; the auditor's report was unqualified, did not draw attention to any matters by way of emphasis without qualifying its report and did not contain statements under s498(2) or (3) of the Companies Act 2006. The financial information complies with the recognition and measurement criteria of IFRS, and with the accounting policies of the Group which were set out on pages 68 to 71 of the 2016 annual report and accounts. No subsequent material changes have been made to the Group's accounting policies with selected accounting policies included below. The directors are satisfied that the Group has adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future, a period of not less than 12 months from the date of this report. Alternative performance measures Non-IFRS measures or alternative performance measures are used by the directors and management for performance analysis, planning, reporting and incentive setting purposes and have remained consistent with prior years. These measures are included in these financial statements to provide additional useful information on performance and trends to shareholders. These measures are not defined terms under IFRS and therefore they may not be comparable with similarly titled measures reported by other companies. They are not intended to be a substitute for, or superior to, IFRS measures. These measures include net revenue, Retail networks earnings per share and effective tax rate. Net revenue Net revenue is revenue less the cost of mobile top-ups (where PayPoint is principal), SIM cards and other costs incurred by PayPoint which are recharged to clients and merchants. These costs include retail agent commission, card payment merchant service charges and costs for the provision of call centres for PayByPhone clients. Net revenue reflects the benefit attributable to PayPoint's performance eliminating pass-through costs and further assists with comparability of performance where PayPoint acts as a principal for some clients and as an agent for others. Net revenue is a reliable indication of contribution on a business sector and product basis and is shown in the operating and financial review. The reconciliation of revenue to net revenue is as follows: Reconciliation from the Group statutory income statement to Retail networks Following the sale of Mobile and Online, the ongoing business of the Group is Retail networks. In order to assist users, a reconciliation has been presented of the Group's results for the year from Group's statutory income statement to Retail networks to aid with the users' understanding of the results for the year. Neither Mobile nor Online met the definition of a discontinued operation set out in IFRS 5 Non-current assets held for sale and discontinued operations as each did not constitute a separate major line of business. Significant accounting policies Cost of revenue In the current year 'cost of sales' has been renamed 'cost of revenue' to better reflect the nature of the costs included in this category. The costs allocated to this category are consistent with prior year's allocations. Cost of revenue primarily consists of expenses related to delivering our services and products. These include commissions payable to retailers, cost of mobile top-ups and SIM cards (where PayPoint is principal), card scheme sponsors' charges, transaction costs, terminal and ATM maintenance costs, telecommunications costs, field service/customer service employee costs and depreciation and amortisation. Joint arrangements A joint arrangement is an arrangement in which two or more parties have contractually agreed to sharing of control of an arrangement which requires the unanimous consent when making decisions about the relevant activities. Joint arrangements are classified as either: Joint ventures are accounted for using the equity method, whereby the investment is initially recognised at cost and adjusted thereafter for the post-acquisition change in the investor's share of the investee's net assets.  Joint operations are accounted for by recognising, in relation to the interest in the joint operation: The Group accounts for the assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses relating to its interest in a joint operation in accordance with the IFRSs applicable to the particular assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses. As explained in the operating review on page 10, the Group provides a number of different services and products, however these do not meet the definition of different segments under IFRS 8 and the Group has only one operating segment. In the current year 'cost of sales' was renamed to 'cost of revenue' to better reflect the nature of the costs included in this category. The costs allocated to this category are consistent with prior year's allocations. The income tax charge is based on the United Kingdom statutory rate of corporation tax for the year of 20% (2016: 20%). The charge for the year is reconciled below to the profit before tax as set out in the consolidated income statement. Profit before tax for purposes of calculating the effective tax rate is as follows: The proposed final ordinary dividend is subject to approval by shareholders at the annual general meeting and has not been included as a liability in these financial statements. Basic and diluted earnings per share are calculated on the following profit / (loss) and number of shares: In the current year (23 December 2016) the Group disposed of its interest in the mobile payments business which comprised PayByPhone Technologies Inc., PayByPhone Limited, Mobile Payment Services SAS and Adaptis Solutions Limited. Included in the Group's results in the current year was a net loss of £1.0 million (2016: £2.2 million) related to Mobile's operations up to the date of its sale. In the prior year (8 January 2016) the Group disposed of the online payments business. Included in the Group's results in the prior year was a net loss from the online business of £0.2 million. The profit on disposal of these businesses is set out as follows: Net profit / (loss) on disposal Together with the loss on disposal of Drop and Collect Limited (note 8), the profit / (loss) resulting from the disposal of businesses is shown below: Impairments In the year no goodwill impairments were recognised. In the prior year the carrying value of the Mobile and Online assets were tested for impairment with impairments recorded as follows: Joint venture On 15 December 2016, PayPoint entered into an arrangement with Yodel Delivery Network Limited ("Yodel") regarding its investment in Drop and Collect Limited. The arrangement included the formation of the Collect+ Group consisting of Collect+ Holdings Limited, held 50:50 by PayPoint and Yodel, and its wholly owned subsidiary Collect+ Brand Limited. Yodel and PayPoint sold their respective investments in Drop and Collect Limited to Collect+ Holdings Limited. The Collect+ brand was transferred from Drop and Collect Limited to Collect+ Limited. Drop and Collect Limited was then sold to Yodel. This resulted in PayPoint retaining its 50% share in the Collect+ brand but disposing of its share in the remaining operations and assets of Drop and Collect Limited. The result of the Group's share of Drop and Collect Limited up to the date of disposal as follows: The loss recognised relating to the sale of Drop and Collect Limited was as follows: Joint operation The new joint operation, the Collect+ Group, has licenced the use of the Collect+ brand to both Drop and Collect Limited (now a wholly owned subsidiary of Yodel) and PayPoint. In consideration, PayPoint and Drop and Collect Limited will pay royalties to the joint operation for each parcel they introduce to the Collect+ network. The royalties in the arrangement will then be distributed equally to Yodel and PayPoint on a regular basis. The only source of revenue for the Collect+ Group in the period was the royalty income received from licencing the brand to Drop and Collect Limited. The Group's share of £0.3 million has been included in revenue and there were no operating costs incurred by the arrangement. 1 The average credit period on the sale of goods is 25 days (2016: 33 days). 2 Items in the course of collection represent amounts collected for clients by retail agents. PayPoint bears credit risk and will have title to the cash collected on only £13.5 million of this balance at 31 March 2017 (2016: £17.8 million). Credit risk is mitigated by daily direct debiting and the suspension of terminals where direct debits fail. At the date of this report, all but £47,300 has been collected from retailers. 10.    Cash and cash equivalents The Group operates cash pooling amongst its various bank accounts in the UK and therefore individual accounts can be overdrawn without penalties being incurred so long as the overall position is in credit. Included within Group cash and cash equivalents are balances relating to funds collected on behalf of clients where PayPoint has title to the funds (client cash). An equivalent balance is included within trade payables (note 11). 1 Relates to monies collected on behalf of clients where the Group has title to the funds (client cash). An equivalent balance is included within cash and cash equivalents. 2 Payable in respect of amounts collected for clients by retail agents. 3 The Group aims to pay its creditors promptly, in accordance with terms agreed for payment. The Group had 22 days purchases outstanding at 31 March 2017 (2016: 27 days) based on the average daily amount invoiced by suppliers during the year. The total charge of £1.3 million recognised directly in equity for the LTIP 2013, which lapsed, and DBS scheme, which vested, was transferred from share-based payments reserve to retained earnings during the period. On 2 June 2016 the 2016 LTIP award was granted with vesting based on a TSR performance over a three-year period ending on 2 June 2019. The performance period and the vesting period are the same. The number of shares granted was 271,508. Remuneration of the directors, who are the key management of the Group, was as follows during the year: Amounts received from Drop and Collect Limited during the year totalled £17.8 million (2016: £13.3 million) and PayPoint held a trade debtor at year end of £0.6 million (2016: £0.5 million). Movements in items in the course of collection (see note 9) and settlement payables (see note 11) have not been included in this reconciliation as the directors do not consider them to be operating working capital balances. This table does not form part of the audited financial statements or notes (as listed in the Independent Auditor's Report in the company's statutory accounts for the year ended 31 March 2017). ABOUT PAYPOINT We support market leading national networks across 40,400 convenience stores in the UK and Romania so that our customers are always close to a PayPoint store. In thousands of locations, as well as at home or on the move, people use us better to control their household finances, essential payments and in-store services, like parcels. Our UK network contains more branches than all banks, supermarkets and Post Offices together, putting us at the heart of communities for over 10 million regular weekly customers. We have a proven track record of decades of tech-led innovation, providing retailers with tools that attract customers into their shops. Our industry-leading payments systems give first class service to the customers of over 1,500 clients - utility companies, retailers, transport firms and mobile phone providers, government and more. We are on and offline; providing for payments by cash, card including contactless; retail, phone and digital; at home, work and whilst out and about from Land's End to the Highlands and Islands - helping to keep modern life moving. Multichannel payments MultiPay is our multichannel payment service, offering consumer service providers a ready-made solution for their full range of payments via app, web, phone, text and IVR, complementing our cash in store services. Clients benefit from streamlining their consumer payment processing and transaction routing in a seamlessly integrated and cost-effective solution. The services are available either as a full portfolio or by the client's choice of preferred channels, including our app which has a 4 star rating on the Google Play and Apple App Stores. Clients can choose to access our services as a full outsourced model or by linking their own digital solutions to our MultiPay payment suite. MultiPay is particularly targeted to serve the rollout of smart meters within the energy market. For example, our service has helped Utilita to become the fastest growing, challenger prepay energy supplier and we have also signed several other energy companies, including SSE, our first Big 6 energy client. Among other relevant sectors, MultiPay is available to the local authority and social housing sectors through a framework with Procurement for Housing. Retail networks In the UK, our network includes over 29,200 local shops including Co-op, Spar, Sainsbury's Local, Tesco Express and thousands of independent outlets. These outlets are quick and convenient places to make energy meter prepayments, bill payments, benefit payments, mobile phone top-ups, transport ticket payments, TV licence payments, cash withdrawals and more. Our Romanian network continues to grow profitably. We have more than 11,300 local shops, helping people to make cash bill payments, money transfers, road tax payments and mobile phone top-ups. Our clients include all the major utilities and telcos and many other consumer service companies. In the UK, our Collect+ network offers parcel collection and return services in over 6,100 convenient outlets. Customers use Collect+ for their parcels from major retailers including Amazon, eBay, ASOS, New Look, John Lewis, House of Fraser, M&S and Very. The Collect+ brand is jointly owned with Yodel. The UK network also includes over 4,100 LINK branded ATMs, and 10,000 of our terminals enable retailers to accept debit, credit and contactless payments, including Apple Pay. We operate over 4,100 Western Union agencies in the UK and Romania for international and domestic money transfers. [1] Net revenue is an alternative performance measure. Refer to note 1 to the financial information for a reconciliation to revenue. [2] Gross margin is an alternative performance measure and is calculated by dividing gross profit by revenue. [3] Retail networks consists of our UK, Ireland and Romanian retail businesses. A reconciliation, for each measure, from the statutory results to Retail networks is included in note 2 to the financial information. [4] Retail networks consists of our UK, Ireland and Romanian retail businesses. A reconciliation, for each measure, from the statutory results to Retail networks is included in note 2 to the financial information. [5] Net revenue is an alternative performance measure. Refer to note 1 to the financial information for a reconciliation to revenue. [6] These KPIs are alternative performances measures and are not directly comparable to statutory measures. [7] Retail networks consists of our UK, Ireland and Romanian retail businesses. A reconciliation from the statutory results to Retail networks is included in note 2 to the financial information. [8] Net revenue is an alternative performance measure. Refer to note 1 to the financial information for a reconciliation to revenue. [9] Net revenue is an alternative performance measure. Refer to note 1 to the financial information for a reconciliation to revenue. [10] Net revenue is an alternative performance measure. Refer to note 1 to the financial information for a reconciliation to revenue. [11]             Effective tax rate is the tax cost as a percentage of operating profit before impairments and profits and losses on business disposals. [12]             2017 profit before tax and earnings per share excludes the profit on disposal of Mobile of £19.5 million and the loss on the Collect+ restructure of £3.8 million (2016: impairments of £49.0 million and the profit on disposal of the online payments business of £7.0 million). [iii] Department for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy:  Smart Meters Quarterly Report to end December 2016


BRIDGEWATER, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwired - May 25, 2017) - Silver Spruce Resources Inc. ("Silver Spruce" or the "Company") (TSX VENTURE:SSE)(FRANKFURT:S6Q) is pleased to announce it has reached a final purchase agreement with Cedar Forest, Inc. (the "Vendor") to acquire 100% ownership of 70.84 acres of patented claims covering the past-producing Kay Mine, located in Yavapai County, Arizona, roughly 50 miles north of Phoenix. The Kay Copper Company and others produced Au-Ag-Cu-Pb-Zn ore on the property intermittently from 1916 until 1956. Exploration conducted from 1972 to 1982 by Exxon Minerals Company, a subsidiary of Exxon Petroleum, indicates that substantial additional mineralization exists down dip and potentially along strike from the previously producing mineral deposits. The Kay mine consists of 10 patented mining claims which cover the bulk of the Kay mine deposit. Exxon Minerals has estimated 6,400,000 tons of inferred reserves (non 43-101 compliant) containing a gold equivalent of 1,650,000 ounces; the zinc equivalent is 12.8%. This estimate was based upon historical underground sampling and drilling of 26,000 feet. The deposits are open to depth and along strike. The company also staked an additional 400 acres to cover the down dip extension of known mineralization. The terms of purchase call for $977,000 USD which includes the land and mineral rights paid to Cedar Forest, Inc on the following terms: Silver Spruce to issue Cedar Forest, Inc. 8,648,000 common shares of the company at a deemed value of 7.5 cents per share and $500,000 USD cash of which $50,000.00 USD has already been paid. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and the closing date is slated for on or before June 20, 2017.


News Article | May 25, 2017
Site: en.prnasia.com

HONG KONG and SHANGHAI, May 25, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- On May 25, Forbes released the 2017 Global 2000. Thanks to the strong growth in multiple performance indicators, including revenue, profits and assets, Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China, Ltd. (hereafter "Ping An") (HKEx: 2318; SSE: 601318) has featured on the List for 13 consecutive years. This year it ranks 16th, jumping four places on the previous year, and tops global insurers as a diversified player. Ping An ranks 5th among shortlisted companies in Mainland China, and is the top-ranked among Chinese insurers. In addition, the Group is in 10th place among global financial companies this year. Forbes Magazine compiles the "Forbes Global 2000" rankings annually. The list is regarded as one of the world's most authoritative and closely-watched corporate rankings, and is based on the integrated rating of revenue, profit, assets and market capitalization. Based on the 2017 list, Ping An had revenues of US$106.6 billion, profit of US$9.5 billion, assets of US$801 billion and market capitalization of US$100.8 billion. Forbes said that China is still an economic powerhouse and despite its challenges revenue from Chinese companies on the list increased 2% to $3.9 trillion over the trailing 12 months, while profits slid 3% to $368 billion. In 2016, Ping An kept its growth pace ahead the market. Total income reached RMB774.488 billion, up 11.7% compared to the same period a year earlier; net profit amounted to RMB72.368 billion, up 11.0% year-on-year; net profit attributable to shareholders of the parent company rose by 15.1% year-on-year to RMB62.394 billion. The Company's assets totaled about RMB5.58 trillion, up 17.0% from the beginning of the year. In addition, its solvency was adequate. In the face of volatility in international financial markets and the slowdown of the domestic financial industry, Ping An has adhered to its established business strategy and maintained its stable and healthy growth, with its individual integrated finance model reflecting greater value and stronger competitiveness. In 2016, Ping An focused on customers as individuals, and adhered to the concept of "one customer, multiple products and one-stop services", in order to bolster customer service and consumer experience. As at the end of 2016, the number of individual customers of the Group reached 131 million, and the number of internet users accumulated across various services reached 346 million, while total app users reached 233 million. 69.05 million users migrated among various internet platforms; on average, each internet user accessed 1.94 online Ping An services. In 2016, net profit from the individual business totaled RMB40,829 million, up 29.5% year-on-year, accounting for 65.4% of the net profit attributable to shareholders of the parent company. The individual business has become a strong driver of the Group's organic growth in value. Through years of strategic planning and cultivation, Ping An's internet finance companies were able to record prominent growth in its innovation business, while Ping An's core finance companies have been proactively adjusting and adapting to the internet business environment. As of December 31, 2016, the number of registered users of Lufax totaled 28.38 million, while the number of active investor users reached 7.4 million. Assets traded on Lufax maintained rapid growth. In 2016, the trading volume of retail channels amounted to RMB1,535,163 million, with end-of-period retail AUM reached RMB438,379 million, continuing to lead the industry. Ping An Good Doctor has provided health management services to over 130 million users and continues to consolidate its leading position across the nation in terms of online health medical care, with monthly active users and the peak number of daily inquiries hitting 26.25 million and 440,000 respectively. Ping An commented that its transformation from the first joint-stock insurance company in China to the world's leading integrated financial group has much benefited from the era of reform and liberalization, from its extensive customers, from the trust and support of shareholders, as well as from the business management concept of "Survive in Competition and Thrive through innovation". Ping An will actively pursue the two-pronged development approach of core finance business and internet finance business to meet the customer needs and create value for customers, thereby delivering better returns to its investors. As a globally recognized list of business enterprises, the companies on the list of Forbes' 2017 Global 2000 are considered to be among the world's largest, most powerful and most influential enterprises. This year's ranking spans 58 countries and regions, with US$169.1 trillion in total assets. In Top 100, there are 18 Chinese enterprises in total: ICBC (#1), China Construction Bank (#2), Agricultural Bank of China (#6), Bank of China (#8), Ping An Insurance Group (#16), China Mobile (tie with Allianz #21), China Petroleum & Chemical (#25), Bank of Communications (#34), China Merchants Bank (#42), China Life Insurance (#52), Postal Savings Bank Of China (#55), Industrial Bank (#63) , Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (tie with Ford Motor #64), China State Construction Engineering (#71), Citic Pacific (#72), China Minsheng Banking (#75), China CITIC Bank (#78) and Hon Hai Precision (#98). As China's first joint stock insurance company, Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China, Ltd. ("Ping An") is dedicated to becoming a world-leading personal financial services provider. Today, it is an integrated, compact, multi-functional financial services group with services that include insurance, banking, and investment. As of December 31, 2016, the Group had over 1.4 million employees and agents and 130 million individual customers. As at the end of 2016, the Group's consolidated total assets reached RMB5.58 trillion while equity attributable to shareholders of the parent company stood at RMB383,449 million. Ping An Life and Ping An Property & Casualty are both ranked the second largest in China, Ping An Annuity ranked top in China in their respective areas by premium income. Its subsidiary Ping An Bank is China's first joint stock bank. The Company's key areas of business include investment, with subsidiaries such as Ping An Trust, Ping An Securities and Ping An Asset Management. Further, Ping An strives to develop internet finance, including Lufax, Ping An Good Doctor, Ping An Haofang, E-Wallet, Finance One Account. It has achieved significant growth in both the scale and user base of internet finance. As of December 31, 2016, the number of internet users of the Company reached 346 million. Ping An ranked 16th in Forbes' 2016 Global 2000, it ranked 41st in Fortune Magazine's 2016 Global 500 Leading Companies, being 1st among China's non-state-owned enterprises and the top-ranked China's insurance companies. Apart from these accolades, Ping An ranked 57th in WPP Millward Brown's BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking. For more information, please visit http://t.sina.com.cn/pingan, http://t.qq.com/pingan or www.pingan.com.cn. SOURCE Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China, Ltd.


News Article | May 28, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

The UK is lobbying Europe to water down a key energy-saving target despite the fact it will not take effect until after Brexit, according to leaked documents that sparked warnings that energy bills could rise and jobs put at risk. On the day Theresa May triggered article 50, government officials asked the European commission to weaken or drop elements of its flagship energy efficiency law. Green campaigners warned that the efforts to undermine the energy efficiency directive were a sign the Conservatives would dilute or abolish European energy and climate policies after the UK leaves the EU. In the past, the UK has publicly welcomed the targets, which end in 2020, as an important driver for reducing consumer bills and reliance on energy imports. The European commission wants a binding target of improving energy efficiency 30% by 2030, compared with business-as-usual. But documents obtained by Greenpeace, dated 29 March, show the UK urging the commission to lower the goal to 27% and make it non-binding on the EU’s 28 members. A more recent version, dated 22 May and seen by the Guardian, shows the UK has maintained its stance. Hannah Martin, the head of energy at Greenpeace UK, said: “The government is trying to lock the rest of the EU into weaker energy policies, just as we are leaving. The message ministers seem to be sending is that Brexit could trigger a race to the bottom and be used as cover for getting rid of key environmental safeguards.” The UK is also pushing to drop an obligation on suppliers – including the big six of British Gas, EDF, E.ON, Npower, SSE and ScottishPower – to cut the amount of energy they sell during the next decade. Under the commission’s plan, energy companies would have to achieve energy savings of 1.5% a year until 2030, using energy efficiency measures. The UK called for the target to be abolished or, failing that, it should no longer be legally binding. The directive was important for giving companies the long-term certainty to plan their investments, one business group said. “Seeking to reduce the level of ambition in the directive is entirely counter-productive both environmentally and economically, and completely undermines the UK’s aspirations to maintain a leadership position on climate change,” said John Alker, policy director at the UK Green Building Council. Roland Joebstl, of the European Environmental Bureau, a network of environmental groups, said the UK’s lobbying could “crash” the European energy efficiency industry and jeopardise jobs. David Symons, environmental director at consultancy WSP, said: “It’s surprising that the government is lobbying against a measure that is expected to deliver €70bn of additional gross domestic product and 400,000 jobs across Europe by 2030.” One expert warned the move could push up household energy bills. Joanne Wade, the chief executive of the UK-based Association for the Conservation of Energy, said: “At an EU level, we need a binding target for energy efficiency, to make sure that there is not an over-emphasis on supply-side options which could result in higher energy bills for consumers.” However, the industry body that represents the big six and other energy suppliers welcomed the stance taken by the UK. “Market-based measures, rather than binding obligations, should be used to drive energy efficiency investment,” said Lawrence Slade, the chief executive of Energy UK. The EU has said it committed to putting “energy efficiency first” as part of its action on climate change. Miguel Arias Cañete, the EU’s climate chief, has said he was “particularly proud” of the 2030 target. The Conservative party’s manifesto pledged to improve the energy efficiency of Britain’s draughty housing stock It said it would establish an energy-saving scheme for big industrial companies, because “an energy-efficient business is a more competitive business”. A government spokesman said: “Any future decisions on energy efficiency policy would be a matter for the next government.”

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