April 15, 2015

Most followed: Burberry, Dixons, Elon Musk, Google, Imp Innovations, Yoyo, Pets At Home, Horse Hill

The top story on the business news section of Google’s site is about Google, and possible sanctions from the European Union (EU).


The EU’s regulators are expected to file formal charges against Google today, claiming that the advertising-funded firm has an overly dominant position in the Internet search engine market.


You don’t need to do a search on Infoseek, Magellan, Excite, blekko or Lycos to find evidence of Google’s 90%+ market share; in some cases you can’t, anyway, because some of those once popular search engines are defunct, and the rest are virtually irrelevant.


We’ve been down this path before, when the EU tried to remove Microsoft’s stranglehold on the computer desktop market, with little success. Eventually, technological trends – the rise of mobile devices, mainly – and nimbler rivals, such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter, achieved what EU regulators could not.


If Google is found guilty of acting in a monopolistic manner then reported it could face fines of up to US$6.6bn, which a quick search on Duckduckgo.com tells me is roughly equivalent to about €6.25bn or £4.5bn.


On the subject of currency conversion, Burberry (LON:BRBY), the fashion firm, is to follow in the footsteps of ASOS and adjust its prices to reflect currency movements.


The company cheered the market with its trading update, posting a second half sales increase with double digit growth across the Americas and Europe.


Burberry probably won’t regard Pets at Home (LON:PETS) as a sector peer, but according to the FTSE it is, and this morning the retailer revealed it has sealed a new financing agreement.


It has inked a new five year, £260mln revolving credit facility at an interest rate 1.5 points above LIBOR, the London inter-bank offer rate.


Another retailer, Dixons Carphone (LON:DC.), has agreed to dispose of The Phone House Deutschland GmbH to Drillisch AG, a leading mobile virtual network operator in Germany.


Among the tiddlers garnering attention, UK Oil & Gas (LON:UKOG) has repeated and clarified a number of points about the Horse Hill discovery in the Weald Basin as a result of recent reports in the media.


The BBC suggests today’s announcement was at the invitation of the Alternative Investment Market, which was concerned that some people had got hold of the wrong end of the stick.


Another AIM stock creating a bit of a stir is intellectual property firm Imperial Innovations (LON:IVO), which has led a £5.9mln funding round in mobile payments and loyalty company, Yoyo Wallet.


Innovations has committed £5.0mln in this round with the balance made up by a number of angel investors with sector background.


Of course, a number of big players have entered this market, including Apple and Google, but Yoyo has a number of highly experienced technology-focused entrepreneurs backing it who no doubt pull a few string.


Elon Musk made his fortune in the electronic payments business with Paypal, but he had moved on to other things now, such as electric cars (Tesla) and reusable space rockets.


The latest attempt by Musk’s SpaceX company to send a rocket up to the International Space Station and then land it safely on a pontoon in the sea succeeded in the first part but failed in the second.


SpaceX will have another stab at it in June, but Musk did not seem too disheartened, judging by the following Tweet: “If this works, I'm treating myself to a volcano lair. It's time.”



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