That’s right, the Redmond giant is buying the voice over IP network Skype. I is reported to have paid £5.2 billion making it the largest acquisition for Microsoft.
The previous owners were ebay who bought it in 2006 for $2.6 bn before selling 70% of it to a private equity firm for $2bn.
The move is considered to be stratigic for Microsoft who have considerable resources in the tablet and mobile phone market. While it is definitely a great acquisition for Microsoft, analysts question whether they have paid too much for it, considering it has yet to turn a profit. Most people know the company for its ability to connect call by voice and video over the internet. Anyone with a computer can speak across the world for free to another person with a computer. Charges are made for calls to conventional phones.
Centrica is warning that it will need to raise price for gas. In a corporate statement they said, “end user-prices” did not reflect the price it was paying for gas on the wholesale market.
At the same time, the Government also passed a windfall tax on the energy producing companies, this is also affecting the company’s investment in the UK.
Dispite what is said about the reasons for the price rises, I cannot help but feel that this proposed rise in prices is another example of money grasping companies trying to make more money by providing less? Gas companies are not going to invest, therefore, supply will be reduced and therefore prices rise in times of high demand.
The decision to pass on the price rise to customers has not been taken but I think we all know what the result will be.
BP is suing Transocean for $40 bn in damages after their oil rig, the Deepwater Horizon, exploded and caused the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
A seperate lawsuit has also been issued against Cameron International for the failure of the rig’s blowout preventer.
The oil spill was one of the worst in recent history spilling more than 200 million gallons into the ocean and killing 11 oil workers. Counter claims have been filed by Cameron to defend the integrity of their products.
Representative from consumer groups, trade unions, local councils and businesses gathered in Belfast to discuss the level of fuel poverty in Northern Ireland on Friday.
What is fuel poverty? A household is said to be in fuel poverty when it spend more than 10% of its income on fuel to maintain a satisfactory heating regime (usually 21 degrees for the main living area, and 18 degrees for other occupied rooms). Figures from the Housing Conditions Survey showed that 44% of households were in fuel povery. Low wages and high fuel costs have increased those in fuel poverty more than in the rest of the UK. It is three time more than in England and double that in Scotland. This year it is estimated that fuel poverty has risen to 50% as heating oil prices have increased further.
To combat fuel poverty a group known as National Energy Action NI has been created with more than 100 organisations that have signed up to urge the Northern Ireland Assmebly to act on fuel prices.
The annual inflation rate in the US has risen by 0.4 in March from 2.4% in February. Higher petrol and footd prices account for much of the increase. Petrol prices are causing concern for many Americans who in the past have had very cheap petrol and oil. Compared to the price of fuel in the UK the prices for fuel are very low, but this is another increase in a nine month consecutive rise in prices and it is having an impact on people’s income. Coupled with the stagnation in the growth of wages this will undoubtely cause pain to many.
The global picture is that inflation is increasing as a result of higher food prices and fuel prices in many developing countries such as China and India. There is an increase in demand for production of goods but there are supply concerns with the instability in North Africa.
At the first annual general meeting, following the Gulf Oil Spill, protesters have gather outside. They waved banners and banged drums. Inside there were scuffles as the protesters tried to enter the building. The oil spill after a safety device known as a blow-out protector failed causing an explosion and fire that killed 11 oil workers and caused an enivornmental disaster. In addition, the bonuses paid to boardroom executives caused anger and disbelief.
Also mentioned at the meeting was the proposed deal with Russian oil firm Rosneft. The deal was put in jeopardy when Rosneft’s partners got an injunction however, on Wednesday, an extension of the proposed share swap was announced. If the deal does go ahead it will give BP access to potentially new energy reserves in the Russian Artic Circle.
The inflation figures were released today for the UK economy. They showed that the consumer prices index (CPI) fell by 0.4 to 4.0% on the previous month. This drop in the inflation rate was largely unexpected but was due to a large fall in the price of food, which reduced in price by 1.4%. The cost of energy, fuel and cars rose but this was offset by a lowering in the cost of air fares, toys and games.
The retail price index, which includes the cost of mortgage payments also fell by 0.2 to 5.3%. The fall in inflation will ease pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates.
While the figures are welcome, the increase in wages was on average around 2% so as a whole most people will feel that their incomes are being squeezed.