From the world of business: October news highlights
Welcome to this month’s news round-up, containing all the major stories that have kept us talking in October.
Virgin Money announced plans to pursue an initial public offering, and is reportedly aiming for a valuation of around £2 billion. The company made underlying pre-tax profit of £59.7 million in the first half of the year, rocketing upwards from £13.1 million in the same period last year. It will also have to pay £50 million to the government on completion of the IPO as part of the agreement it made with the government three years ago.
Tech firms based in London have attracted record levels of venture capital, after figures from London & Partners showed that some $1 billion has been raised by the companies so far this year. It represents a 30 per cent leap from the investment gained in the whole of last year. Venture capital has actually rocketed tenfold among London tech companies since 2010 as the city’s reputation for innovation grows.
The UK has risen to fifth place in terms of the percentage of women on large company boards in Europe. According to the 2014 European Board Diversity Analysis compiled by Egon Zehnder, some 22.6 of directors in those companies are women – a long way from the 38.9 per cent figure in frontrunner Norway, but demonstrating a sizeable improvement.
Small businesses in the UK are more confident than they have been for four years, the most recent Sage Business Index has shown. With an index score of 66.29, small businesses indicated that they are feeling positive about their own prospects. Not only was that an increase of 3.74 points from last year, but it was the highest score since 2010.
Research conducted ahead of the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) summit showed that as many as 43 per cent believed educational content will be mostly provided by online platforms by 2030. Teachers will instead become “learning facilitators”, but there will always be room for a physical presence in the classroom, they said.
Unemployment is falling faster than expected, with 154,000 fewer people out of work in the third quarter of the year compared to the previous three months, data from the Office for National Statistics showed. As a result unemployment fell to six per cent between June and August – the lowest rate since the recession hit in 2008.