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Stagecoach Group
10 декабря 2015, 10:41

Европа: снижение было довольно сдержанным. США: рост сошел на нет следом за нефтью

Среди аутсайдеров торгов оказалась компания Bayer, акции которой опустились на 2,1% ввиду того, что Европейское агентство по лекарственным средствам начало расследование в отношении хода клинических испытаний производимого компанией антикоагулянта Xarelto (ривароксабан).

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26 августа 2015, 12:43

Stagecoach зафиксировала рост квартальной выручки

Британская транспортная компания Stagecoach Group зафиксировала рост выручки за 12 недель с окончанием 25 июля. Так, выручка подразделения U.K. Bus поднялась на 1,0%, а London Bus - на 1,5%. Между тем, выручка U.K. Rail повысилась в рассматриваемом периоде на 5,5%, а подразделения Virgin Rail Group - на 7,5%.

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26 августа 2015, 11:30

Stagecoach зафиксировала рост квартальной выручки

Британская транспортная компания Stagecoach Group зафиксировала рост выручки за 12 недель с окончанием 25 июля. Так, выручка подразделения U.K. Bus поднялась на 1,0%, а London Bus - на 1,5%. Между тем, выручка U.K. Rail повысилась в рассматриваемом периоде на 5,5%, а подразделения Virgin Rail Group - на 7,5%.

24 июня 2015, 17:16

Великобритания: компания Stagecoach Group отчиталась об увеличении прибыли за фискальный год

Британская транспортная компания Stagecoach Group отчиталась о финансовых результатах за год с окончанием 30 апреля. Так, прибыль до уплаты налогов выросла с 180,7 млн фунтов стерлингов годом ранее до 185 млн фунтов ($291,4 млн). Выручка за рассматриваемый период, в свою очередь, увеличилась на 9,4% до 3,2 млрд фунтов. Кроме того, компания повысила дивиденды на 10,5% до 10,5 пенса на акцию.

24 июня 2015, 10:07

Великобритания: компания Stagecoach Group отчиталась об увеличении прибыли за фискальный год

Британская транспортная компания Stagecoach Group отчиталась о финансовых результатах за год с окончанием 30 апреля. Так, прибыль до уплаты налогов выросла с 180,7 млн фунтов стерлингов годом ранее до 185 млн фунтов ($291,4 млн). Выручка за рассматриваемый период, в свою очередь, увеличилась на 9,4% до 3,2 млрд фунтов. Кроме того, компания повысила дивиденды на 10,5% до 10,5 пенса на акцию.

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10 декабря 2014, 14:53

Великобритания: Stagecoach отчиталась о финансовых результатах за первое полугодие

Британская транспортная компания Stagecoach Group отчиталась о финансовых результатах за первое полугодие. Так, прибыль до уплаты налогов за шесть месяцев с окончанием 31 октября снизилась с 98,5 млн фунтов стерлингов годом ранее до 98,3 млн фунтов ($153,3 млн). Выручка за рассматриваемый период, в свою очередь, увеличилась с 1,47 млрд фунтов до 1,55 млрд фунтов.

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10 декабря 2014, 11:59

Великобритания: Stagecoach отчиталась о финансовых результатах за первое полугодие

Британская транспортная компания Stagecoach Group отчиталась о финансовых результатах за первое полугодие. Так, прибыль до уплаты налогов за шесть месяцев с окончанием 31 октября снизилась с 98,5 млн фунтов стерлингов годом ранее до 98,3 млн фунтов ($153,3 млн). Выручка за рассматриваемый период, в свою очередь, увеличилась с 1,47 млрд фунтов до 1,55 млрд фунтов.

10 сентября 2014, 19:40

How to trade ‘Scotsie 100’ if Scotland votes to split

Say no to Scotland's stocks if its voters say yes to independence. Among the stock-market losers will be Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, oil-services company John Wood Group Plc (WG/), power provider SSE Plc (SSE) and Stagecoach Group Plc (SGC), which are all based in Scotland. They are among the 20 companies Credit Suisse has included in an index of stocks exposed to a possible "Yes" vote. The Credit Suisse analysis, published yesterday, was inspired by a study earlier this year from Paul Marsh of the London Business School and Scott Evans of consultancy Walbrook Economics, in which they created the "Scotsie 100" of Scottish stocks.

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10 сентября 2014, 08:33

Jason Sorens on Scottish independence

From a longer post: A closer look reveals that different stocks responded differently to the poll news. Two transportation companies, FirstGroup and Stagecoach Group, lost virtually nothing, and Aggreko, which rents temperature control systems, lost absolutely nothing. Financial and energy/power companies were pounded. An engineering company closely linked to the oil industry, the Weir Group, […]

12 декабря 2013, 21:08

Европа: заокеанский консенсус оказался в центре внимания

Европа: заокеанский консенсус оказался в центре внимания В среду, 11 декабря, основные фондовые индикаторы Европы завершили сессию в "красной" зоне. Инвесторы рассматривали возможность сокращения программы количественного смягчения в более ранние сроки на фоне предварительного соглашения, достигнутого двумя заокеанскими "спорщиками" в лице демократической и республиканской партии США, способного предотвратить очередной потенциальный "shutdown". В ходе торгов появилась информация из осведомленных источников о том, что демократы и республиканцы договорились о финансировании госбюджета сроком на два года. Так, затраты в текущем фискальном году составят $1,01 трлн, что выше, чем установленная в 2011 году планка в $967 млрд. И снова об избитом, но неизбежно обсуждаемом в инвестиционных кругах начале сворачивания программы количественного смягчения. Прогнозы Уолл-стрит разделились следующим образом: 12 из 35 опрошенных аналитиков ожидают сокращения программы выкупа государственных облигаций на ближайшем заседании FOMC 17-18 декабря, еще 9 склоняются к январским изменениям в QE, тогда как оставшиеся 14 специалистов придерживаются мнения о более поздних сроках (март 2014 г.). Из выходившей накануне статистики в регионе отметим лишь окончательный индекс потребительских цен Германии за ноябрь, совпавший с предварительными данными. По итогам торгового дня региональный индикатор STXE 600 убавил из своего актива 0,51% и закрылся на отметке 313,30 пункта. Британский FTSE 100 ослаб на 0,24%, в то время как основной индекс фондового рынка Германии DAX "похудел" на 0,41%, а французский CAC 40 - на 0,1% соответственно. Аналитики банка BNP Paribas повысили рейтинг акций французского кредитора Natixis с "нейтрального" до "покупать", и на фоне данных новостей его бумаги прибавили 3,1%. Британская железнодорожная франчайзинговая компания Stagecoach Group отчиталась о полугодовой скорректированной прибыли, превзошедшей прогнозы рынка, после чего ее акции подросли на 2,8%. Котировки британского производителя чипов Imagination Technologies Group снизились на 24% и достигли минимального с октября 2009 года значения в 190 пенсов за акцию на фоне публикации полугодовой прибыли компании, не оправдавшей ожидания рынка. Так, прибыль за 6 месяцев с окончанием 31 октября составила 85,2 млн фунтов стерлингов ($129,6 млн), тогда как аналитики прогнозировали 93,3 млн фунтов. СFO Нэйтон Босток (Nathan Bostock) шотландского кредитора Royal Bank of Scotland сообщил о намерении покинуть свой пост, и на фоне данной информации акции банка скатились на 2,9%. Перед открытием торгов фьючерсы на ключевые индексы Европы демонстрируют отрицательную динамику. К 11:41 МСК фьючерсы на британский FTSE 100 с поставкой в декабре дешевеют на 0,53%, фьючерсы на немецкий DAX с поставкой в декабре понижаются на 0,46%, а фьючерсы на французский CAC 40 с поставкой в декабре торгуются в минусе на 0,27%. ИндексСтранаЗакрытие (пункты)Изменение за день (пункты)Изменение за день (%)Изменение с начала года ATX Австрия 2 507,28 -26,31 -1,04% 4,42% BEL20 Index Бельгия 2 778,16 -12,45 -0,45% 12,21% FTSE 100 Великобритания 6 507,72 -15,59 -0,24% 10,34% DAX Index Германия 9 077,11 -37,33 -0,41% 19,24% IBEX 35 INDEX Испания 9 358,70 -79,60 -0,84% 14,58% FTSE MIB Италия 17 973,96 -262,76 -1,44% 10,45% AEX Нидерланды 383,15 -2,41 -0,63% 11,80% OMX Nordic 40 Скандинавия 1 202,82 -5,27 -0,44% 13,38% CAC 40 Франция 4 086,86 -4,28 -0,10% 12,24% SMI Швейцария 7 956,32 -15,52 -0,19% 16,62% Хорина Алина младший специалист отдела анализа мировых рынков (ИК "Финам")    

11 декабря 2013, 19:46

Великобритания: компания Stagecoach отчиталась о полугодовых результатах деятельности

Британская железнодорожная франчайзинговая компания Stagecoach Group отчиталась о полугодовых результатах деятельности. Так, прибыль до уплаты налогов за шесть месяцев с окончанием в октябре составила 98,5 млн фунтов стерлингов ($161,8 млн), совпав со средними прогнозами аналитиков. При этом выручка за рассматриваемый период увеличилась на 5% до 1,5 млрд фунтов, а чистая задолженность снизилась на 43,4 млн фунтов до 494,6 млн фунтов.

11 декабря 2013, 14:54

Великобритания: компания Stagecoach отчиталась о полугодовых результатах деятельности

Британская железнодорожная франчайзинговая компания Stagecoach Group отчиталась о полугодовых результатах деятельности. Так, прибыль до уплаты налогов за шесть месяцев с окончанием в октябре составила 98,5 млн фунтов стерлингов ($161,8 млн), совпав со средними прогнозами аналитиков. При этом выручка за рассматриваемый период увеличилась на 5% до 1,5 млрд фунтов, а чистая задолженность снизилась на 43,4 млн фунтов до 494,6 млн фунтов.

26 июня 2013, 16:32

Великобритания: компания Stagecoach отчиталась о 8%-ном росте годовой прибыли

Британская железнодорожная франчайзинговая компания Stagecoach Group отчиталась о 8%-ном росте годовой прибыли в связи с увеличением спроса на услуги компании в Великобритании и США. Так, доналоговая прибыль компании за год с окончанием в апреле составила 218,9 млн фунтов стерлингов ($337,21 млн). Выручка за рассматриваемый период выросла на 8,2% до 2,8 млрд фунтов. Стоит отметить, что компания также увеличила размер дивидендов на 10% до 8,6 пенса на акцию.

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26 июня 2013, 12:20

Stagecoach drives forward sales

Perth-based Stagecoach Group reports a rise in sales driven by its regional bus business and operations in the US.

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07 июня 2013, 15:36

Frontrunning: June 7

Reports on surveillance of Americans fuel debate over privacy, security (Reuters) Apple to Yahoo Deny Providing Direct Access to Spy Agency (Bloomberg) Misfired 2010 email alerted IRS officials in Washington of targeting (Reuters) Spy vs Spy: Cyber disputes loom large as Obama meets China's Xi (Reuters) When NSA Calls, Companies Answer (WSJ) How the Robots Lost: High-Frequency Trading's Rise and Fall (BBG) Japan's Pension Fund to Buy More Stocks  (WSJ) ‘Frankenstein’ CDOs twitch back to life (FT) China’s ‘great power’ call to the US could stir friction (FT) Toyota Tries on Corolla Look That’s Just Different Enough (BBG) Five criteria Obama may weigh in seeking Bernanke successor (Reuters) Forest braces for third bout with Icahn (Reuters) Record outflows from US junk bond funds (FT)   Overnight Media Digest WSJ * The National Security Agency's monitoring of Americans includes customer records from the three major phone networks as well as emails and Web searches, and the agency also has cataloged credit card transactions. * The Obama administration acknowledged the existence Thursday of a secret National Security Agency program dubbed Prism, which a senior administration official said targets only foreigners and was authorized under U.S. surveillance law. * U.S. and British authorities are preparing to bring criminal charges against former employees of Barclays for their alleged roles in trying to manipulate benchmark interest rates. * Online sports retailer Fanatics raised $170 million in a new funding round that more than doubles the company's valuation to $3.1 billion from just a year ago. * The net worth of U.S. households rose 4.5 percent, or about $3 trillion, in the first three months of this year to $70.35 trillion, the highest level since at least 2007, according to a Fed report. * A government panel called for easing restrictions on diabetes drug Avandia, in a remarkable about-face nearly three years after concerns over heart risk led regulators to curtail use of the drug. * The U.K. has left itself vulnerable to cyber attacks by allowing a Chinese telecommunications company to become a major player in Britain without adequate security checks, a parliamentary committee said. * The bloom appears to be off the rose at Vera Bradley , an accessories maker known for its floral quilted cotton bags. The stock fell sharply following a profit warning and news that its CEO was stepping down.   FT A U.S. court heard on Thursday that Bank of America executives and lawyers told bondholders that their "grandchildren would have grandchildren" before they received the $10 billion compensation for bad mortgage-backed securities that they were seeking. A report published by a British parliamentary committee criticizes the government's failure to inform ministers about BT Group's use of equipment from China's Huawei Technology in the UK national telecommunications network. Airbus Chief Executive Fabrice Bregier said its planned new A350 aircraft would allow the company to catch up with Boeing Co's lead in the lucrative long-haul passenger jet market. Facebook Inc's shares fell nearly 21 percent over the past month on investor confusion over the social network's long-term prospects and a recent barrage of negative news. Virgin Group and Stagecoach Group venture Virgin Rail is suing railway operator Network Rail in an attempt to force the latter into reducing delays on the West Coast mainline. Dalian Wanda is close to paying 300 million pounds ($465.72 million) for Sunseeker, Britain's largest luxury boatmaker, known for its Predator 108 Special Edition yacht that was used by the villain in the James Bond movie Casino Royale.   NYT * The federal government has secretly taken information on foreigners overseas for years from companies like Google Inc , Facebook Inc and Apple Inc, according to documents that emerged Thursday and were confirmed by a senior government official. * More than a year ago, the European Union's top justice official proposed a tough set of measures for protecting the privacy of personal data online. * General Motors Co's Chief Executive Daniel Akerson stood before a packed hall and took a victory lap of sorts at the company's annual meeting on Thursday, celebrating a new level of financial stability and GM's return to the ranks of the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index. * A year after a shareholder meeting with strong opposition to Wal-Mart Stores Inc board members after a bribery scandal in Mexico, many investors are asking why more change has not occurred. * When it comes to advertising, Facebook Inc has decided it needs a new friend: simplicity. On Thursday, the social network announced that it was going to simplify the process of buying ads significantly, starting with the first question posed to a buyer.   Canada THE GLOBE AND MAIL * Canadian Broadcasting Corp is acknowledging that it mishandled the rebranding of its French-language services by creating the impression that it was getting rid of the name Radio-Canada. * The resignation of an Alberta minister of Parliament from the Conservative caucus has left Prime Minister Stephen Harper facing another fire storm, raising new questions about transparency on spending in Ottawa and the role of his staff in steering government. * The Okanagan wine producer who is giving up his seat for Premier Christy Clark to run in a by-election hopes the Liberal government sticks to its plan to improve liquor and alcohol laws. Reports in the business section: * A venture capital firm founded by Peter Thomson is teaming up with a New York private equity company to acquire Public Mobile, in a bet that the wireless startup can become a viable player in a crowded market. * The new Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz likes to talk in metaphor, suggesting a new approach in communication. He likened the state of the global economy to "postwar reconstruction," a novel way of explaining why growth remains so lackluster nearly five years after the height of the financial crisis. * Canadian airlines are pushing for new revenue streams from onboard wireless services, including Internet shopping, but questions remains about regulations and the technology infrastructure to support in-flight Wi-Fi in the country. NATIONAL POST * Only hours after Brent Rathgeber quit the Tory caucus, there were more people stuffed into the Minister of Parliament's small, Spartan constituency office than at any time previous. He was the center of the whirlwind, having defied the powerful Prime Minister's Office. But Rathgeber did not blame Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a man he pointedly said he respects. * Throwing more oil onto the blaze of controversy over transparency in Stephen Harper's government, the opposition Liberals in the Senate are asking that the auditor general do a "comprehensive audit" of the Prime Minister's Office. FINANCIAL POST * Battling resistance to its Gateway pipeline on the West Coast, Enbridge Inc is tying the fortunes of the project to British Columbia's liquefied natural gas industry. * Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc is revamping its Canadian manufacturing operations in Montreal as investors savor a tripling in the company's shares over the past year. * Rather than compete with smartphones and tablets for the attention of wandering eyes, television broadcasters are increasingly trying to embrace these second screens, where the majority of conversations during popular broadcasts and live events are taking place.   China CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL - The Shanghai Futures Exchange said it plans to launch the asphalt futures contract in mid-July, subject to regulatory approvals. Analysts have said that the launch of asphalt futures is a step towards establishing China's crude oil futures contract as asphalt is used heavily in road construction and is an important downstream product of oil. - The net profit of 16 brokerages jumped 80.14 percent from April to reach 2.45 billion yuan ($399.27 million) in May, according to data by Wind Research. SECURITIES NEWS - Ma Huateng, chairman and CEO with Tencent Holding Ltd , said that it will not charge fees for its popular social software, Wechat, and the company is looking for opportunities to cooperate with telecom carriers. SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS - The China Securities Regulatory Commission said it will accelerate the development of the country's capital market. It will promote IPOs of emerging companies, delisting of some from exchanges and encourage more participation from institutional investors. - The National Development and Reform Commission, China's powerful economic planning agency, said it is pressing ahead with market reforms. It plans to roll out market-oriented interest rate reforms by this year, expand over-the-counter pilot trading scheme and broadening the scope of private capital investment. SHANGHAI DAILY - China Railway Corp, a spinoff of the former Ministry of Railways, said it will revamp its freight transport business to benefit from the logistics market. - China's Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said foreign companies should have confidence in China's economic growth and he expects China to import $10 trillion worth of goods and services in the next five years. CHINA DAILY - China's emerging western region is increasingly attracting global investors, with money flowing into high-end industries rather than old factories that might have been relocated from coastal areas, said the mayor of Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan province. PEOPLE'S DAILY - Vice Premier Ma Kai met foreign leaders attending the first China-South Asia Expo held in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province. China is willing to make joint efforts with Sri Lanka on deepening bilateral relations, Ma said   Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot ANALYST RESEARCH Upgrades Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/MerrillBrocade (BRCD) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at ISI GroupCoca-Cola Femsa (KOF) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at CitigroupDeutsche Telekom (DTEGY) upgraded to Buy from Hold at JefferiesDun & Bradstreet (DNB) upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at JPMorganMain Street (MAIN) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond JamesUnited Continental (UAL) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at GoldmanVera Bradley (VRA) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Sterne AgeeYum! Brands (YUM) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBSlululemon (LULU) upgraded to Underperform from Sell at CLSA Downgrades Bofi Holding (BOFI) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond JamesCalgon Carbon (CCC) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW BairdInsulet (PODD) downgraded to Hold from Buy at WunderlichIntel (INTC) downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at Piper JaffrayIsle of Capri (ISLE) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC CapitalJPMorgan (JPM) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at MacquarieMannKind (MNKD) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/MerrillMercadoLibre (MELI) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan Initiations American Software (AMSWA) initiated with a Buy at B. RileyBank of America (BAC) initiated with an Underperform at MacquarieCitigroup (C) initiated with an Outperform at MacquarieConsolidated Water (CWCO) initiated with a Buy at Roth CapitalCrosstex Energy LP (XTEX) initiated with a Buy at CitigroupGarmin (GRMN) initiated with an Outperform at Raymond JamesMorgan Stanley (MS) initiated with an Outperform at MacquarieMyriad Genetics (MYGN) initiated with a Buy at CantorPiedmont Natural Gas (PNY) initiated with a Hold at BB&TSteven Madden (SHOO) initiated with an Overweight at Piper JaffrayTake-Two (TTWO) initiated with a Buy at StifelWolverine World Wide (WWW) initiated with a Neutral at Piper Jaffray HOT STOCKS Royalty Pharma raised offer for Elan (ELN) to $13 per share plus CVRBlackstone (BX), partner reached deal to acquire Gafisa (GFA) unit for $1B, Dow Jones reportsAT&T (T), IBM (IBM) announced eCommerce agreementMonsanto (MON) announced new $2B share repurchase programAlexander & Baldwin (ALEX) acquired Grace Pacific for $235M, initiates dividend Quiksilver (ZQK) sees 2H13 adj. EBITDA being greater than the $91M achieved in 2H12 Mad Catz Interactive (MCZ) sees sharp drop in FY14 console product salesConstellation Energy (CEP), PostRock Energy (PSTR) entered confidentiality agreementIron Mountain (IRM): IRS reviewing company request for REIT conversion EARNINGS Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:IDT Corp (IDT), Thor Industries (THO), Rally Software (RALY), SeaChange (SEAC), RealD (RLD) Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:Quiksilver (ZQK), Vail Resorts (MTN) NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES Tyson Foods (TSN) CEO Donnie Smith said the planned sale of rival Smithfield Foods (SFD) to China's largest pork processor highlights the intensifying globalization of the agriculture industry and could help increase Tyson's pork exports to the Asian nation along with Smithfield's, the Wall Street Journal reports Samsung Electronics (SSNLF) shares fell 6.2% today, their biggest single-day percentage drop in more than nine months, on concerns the company’s new flagship phone, the Galaxy S4, may not be selling as strongly as expected, the Wall Street Journal reports The European auto industry (VLKAY, DDAIF, PEUGY) is concerned China could impose retaliatory trade duties on luxury cars imported from the EU, should the EU Commission not back down over unfair trade practices in China, Reuters reports Royalty Pharma's $6.4B bid for drug firm Elan (ELN) had been accepted by only 7.5% of the target company's shareholders before the U.S. investment firm extended the closing date by just over two weeks, Reuters reports Economists lowered estimates for how much the Fed will reduce the amount of its monthly asset purchases, according to a  Bloomberg survey. Policy makers led by Chairman Bernanke will trim their so-called quantitative easing program to $65B from $85B a month at an October 29-30 meeting, according to the median estimate in the survey of 59 economists this week, Bloomberg reports Gold traders are the most bullish since before the bear market began two months ago after a retreat in equities from an almost five-year high and a weakening dollar spurred demand for bullion. Nineteen analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expect prices to rise next week, with eight bearish and six neutral, the largest proportion of bulls since March 22, Bloomberg reports SYNDICATE Aircastle (AYR) to issue 15.25% of its common shares to Marubeni Corp.General Motors (GM) 50M share Secondary priced at $34.41James River Coal (JRCC) files to sell 24.65M shares for holdersPBF Energy (PBF) 15.95M share Secondary priced at $27.00Textura (TXTR) 5M share IPO priced at $15.00Thermo Fisher (TMO) 25.73M share Secondary priced at $85.50    

20 марта 2013, 22:00

The myth of the cowboy

How did the lone cowboy hero become such a potent figure in American culture? In an extract from his final book Fractured Times, the late Eric Hobsbawm follows a trail from cheap novels and B-westerns to Ronald ReaganToday, populations of wild horse-riders and herdsmen exist in a large number of regions all round the world. Some of them are strictly analogous to cowboys, such as gauchos on the plains of the southern cone of Latin America; the llaneros on the plains of Colombia and Venezuela; possibly the vaqueiros of the Brazilian north-east; certainly the Mexican vaqueros from whom indeed, as everyone knows, both the costume of the modern cowboy myth and most of the vocabulary of the cowboy's trade are directly derived: mustang, lasso, lariat, sombrero, chaps (chaparro), a cinch, bronco. There are similar populations in Europe, such as the csikos on the Hungarian plain, or puszta, the Andalusian horsemen in the cattle-raising zone whose flamboyant behaviour probably gave the earliest meaning of the word "flamenco", and the various Cossack communities of the south Russian and Ukrainian plains.In the 16th century there were the exact equivalents of the Chisholm trail leading from the Hungarian plains to the market cities of Augsburg, Nuremberg or Venice. And I do not have to tell you about the great Australian outback, which is essentially ranching country, though for sheep more than cattle.There is thus no shortage of potential cowboy myths in the western world. And, in fact, practically all the groups I have mentioned have generated macho and heroic semi-barbarian myths of one kind or another in their own countries and sometimes even beyond. But none of them has generated a myth with serious international popularity, let alone one that can compare, even faintly, with the fortunes of the North American cowboy. Why?Our starting point is the fact that, in and outside Europe, the "western" in its modern sense – that is, the myth of the cowboy – is a late variant of a very early and deep-rooted image: that of the wild west in general. Fenimore Cooper, whose popularity in Europe followed immediately upon his first publication – Victor Hugo thought he was "the American Walter Scott" – is the most familiar version of this. Nor is he dead. Without the memory of Leatherstocking, would English punks have invented Mohican hairstyles?The original image of the wild west, I suggest, contains two elements: the confrontation of nature and civilisation, and of freedom with social constraint. Civilisation is what threatens nature; and their move from bondage or constraint into independence, which constitutes the essence of America as a radical European ideal in the 18th and early 19th centuries, is actually what brings civilisation into the wild west and so destroys it. The plough that broke the plains is the end of the buffalo and the Indian.It is clear that many white protagonists of the original wild west epic are in some sense misfits in, or refugees from, "civilisation", but that is not, I think, the main essence of their situation. Basically they are of two types: explorers or visitors seeking something that cannot be found elsewhere – and money is the very last thing they seek; and men who have established a symbiosis with nature, as it exists in its human and non-human shape, in these wilds.In terms of literary pedigree, the invented cowboy was a late romantic creation. But in terms of social content, he had a double function: he represented the ideal of individualist freedom pushed into a sort of inescapable jail by the closing of the frontier and the coming of the big corporations. As a reviewer said of Frederic Remington's articles, illustrated by himself in 1895, the cowboy roamed "where the American may still revel in the great red-shirted freedom which has been pushed so far to the mountain wall that it threatens soon to expire somewhere near the top". In hindsight, the west could seem thus, as it seemed to that sentimentalist and first great star of movie westerns William S Hart, for whom the cattle and mining frontier "to this country … means the very essence of national life … It is but a generation or so since virtually all this country was frontier. Consequently its spirit is bound up in American citizenship." As a quantitative statement this is absurd, but its significance is symbolic. And the invented tradition of the west is entirely symbolic, inasmuch as it generalises the experience of a comparative handful of marginal people. Who, after all, cares that the total number of deaths by gunshot in all the major cattle towns put together between 1870 and 1885 – in Wichita plus Abilene plus Dodge City plus Ellsworth – was 45, or an average of 1.5 per cattle-trading season, or that local western newspapers were not filled with stories about bar-room fights, but about property values and business opportunities?But the cowboy also represented a more dangerous ideal: the defence of the native Waspish American ways against the millions of encroaching immigrants from lower races. Hence the quiet dropping of the Mexican, Indian and black elements, which still appear in the original non-ideological westerns – for instance, Buffalo Bill's show. It is at this stage and in this manner that the cowboy becomes the lanky, tall Aryan. In other words, the invented cowboy tradition is part of the rise of both segregation and anti-immigrant racism; this is a dangerous heritage. The Aryan cowboy is not, of course, entirely mythical. Probably the percentage of Mexicans, Indians and black people did diminish as the wild west ceased to be essentially a south-western, even a Texan, phenomenon, and at the peak of the boom it extended into areas like Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas. In the later periods of the cattle boom the cowboys were also joined by a fair number of European dudes, mainly Englishmen, with eastern-bred college-men following them.The new cowboy tradition made its way into the wider world by two routes: the western movie and the much underrated western novel or sub-novel, which was to many foreigners what the private eye thriller was to become in our own times. As for the movies, we know that the genre of the western was firmly established by about 1909. Show business for a mass public being what it is, it will surprise nobody that the celluloid cowboy tended to develop two subspecies: the romantic, strong, shy, silent man of action of exemplified by WS Hart, Gary Cooper and John Wayne, and the cowboy entertainer of the Buffalo Bill type – heroic, no doubt, but essentially showing off his tricks and, as such, usually associated with a particular horse. Tom Mix was no doubt the prototype and much the most successful of these.The cowboy tradition was reinvented in our times as the established myth of Reagan's America. This is really very recent. For instance, cowboys did not become a serious medium for selling things until the 1960s, surprising though this seems: Marlboro country really revealed the enormous potential in American male identification with cow-punchers, who, of course, are increasingly seen not as riding herd but as gunslingers. Who said: "I've always acted alone like the cowboy … the cowboy entering the village or city alone on his horse … He acts, that's all"? Henry Kissinger to Oriana Fallaci in 1972, that's who. Let me quote you the reductio ad absurdum of this myth, which dates back to 1979: "The West. It's not just stage-coaches and sagebrush. It's an image of men who are real and proud. Of the freedom and independence we all would like to feel. Now Ralph Lauren has expressed all this in Chaps, his new men's cologne. Chaps is a cologne a man can put on as naturally as a worn leather jacket or a pair of jeans. Chaps. It's the West. The West you would like to feel inside yourself."Reading this on a mobile? Click here to viewThe real invented tradition of the west, as a mass phenomenon that dominates American policy, is the product of the eras of Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Reagan. And of course, Reagan, the first president since Teddy Roosevelt whose image is deliberately western and on horseback, knew what he was doing.Is this Reaganite myth of the west an international tradition? I think not. In the first place because the major American medium by which the invented west was propagated has died out. The western novel, as I have suggested, is no longer an international phenomenon. The private eye has killed the Virginian. Larry McMurtry and his like, whatever their place in American literature, are virtually unknown outside their native country. As for the western movie, it was killed by TV; and the western TV series, which was probably the last genuinely international mass triumph of the invented west, became a mere adjunct to children's hour, and in turn it has faded away. Where are Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Laramie, Gunsmoke and the rest on which the kids of the 1950s thrived? The real western movie became deliberately highbrow, a carrier of social, moral and political significance in the 1950s, until it in turn collapsed under their weight as well as the advancing age of the makers and stars – of Ford and Wayne and Cooper. I'm not criticising them. On the contrary, practically all the westerns that any of us would wish to see again date from after Stagecoach (which was released in 1939). But what carried the west into the hearts and homes of five continents was not movies that aimed at winning Oscars or critical applause. What is more, once the late western movie had itself become infected by Reaganism – or by John Wayne as an ideologist – it became so American that most of the rest of the world didn't get the point, or, if it did, didn't like it.In Britain, at least, the word "cowboy" today has a secondary meaning, which is much more familiar than the primary meaning of a fellow in the Marlboro ads: a fellow who comes in from nowhere offering a service, such as to repair your roof, but who doesn't know what he's doing or doesn't care except about ripping you off: a "cowboy plumber" or a "cowboy bricklayer". I leave you to speculate (a) how this secondary meaning derives from the Shane or John Wayne stereotype and (b) how much it reflects the reality of the Reaganite wearers of dude Stetsons in the sunbelt. I don't know when the term first appears in British usage, but certainly it was not before the mid-1960s. In this version, what a man's got to do is to fleece us and disappear into the sunset.There is, in fact, a European backlash against the John Wayne image of the west, and that is the revived genre of the western movie. Whatever the spaghetti westerns mean, they certainly were deeply critical of the US western myth, and in being so, paradoxically, they showed how much demand there still was among adults in both Europe and the US for the old gunslingers. The western was revived via Sergio Leone, or for that matter via Kurosawa – that is, via non-American intellectuals steeped in the lore and the films of the west, but sceptical of the American invented tradition.In the second place, foreigners simply do not recognise the associations of the western myth for the American right or indeed for ordinary Americans. Everyone wears jeans, but without that spontaneous, if faint urge that so many young Americans feel, to slouch against an imagined hitching post, narrowing their eyes against the sun. Even their aspiring rich don't ever feel tempted to wear Texan-type hats. They can watch John Schlesinger's Midnight Cowboy without a sense of desecration. In short, only Americans live in Marlboro country. Gary Cooper was never a joke, but JR and the other platinum-plated inhabitants of the great dude ranch in Dallas are. In this sense the west is no longer an international tradition.What was so special about cowboys? First, clearly, that they occurred in a country that was universally visible and central to the 19th-century world, of which it constituted, as it were, the utopian dimension: the living dream. Anything that happened in America seemed bigger, more extreme, more dramatic and unlimited, even when it wasn't – and of course often it was, though not in the case of the cowboys. Second, because the purely local vogue for western myth was magnified and internationalised by means of the global influence of American popular culture, the most original and creative in the industrial and urban world, and the mass media that carried it and which the US dominated. And let me observe in passing that it made its way in the world not only directly, but also indirectly, via the European intellectuals it attracted to the US, or at a distance.This would certainly explain why cowboys are better known than vaqueros or gauchos, but not, I think, the full range of the international vibrations they set up, or used to set up. This, I suggest, is due to the in-built anarchism of American capitalism. I mean not only the anarchism of the market, but the ideal of an individual uncontrolled by any constraints of state authority. In many ways the 19th-century US was a stateless society. Compare the myths of the American and the Canadian west: the one is a myth of a Hobbesian state of nature mitigated only by individual and collective self-help: licensed or unlicensed gunmen, posses of vigilantes and occasional cavalry charges. The other is the myth of the imposition of government and public order as symbolised by the uniforms of the Canadian version of the horseman-hero, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.Reading this on a mobile? Click here to viewIndividualist anarchism had two faces. For the rich and powerful it represents the superiority of profit over law and state. Not just because law and the state can be bought, but because even when they can't, they have no moral legitimacy compared to selfishness and profit. For those who have neither wealth nor power, it represents independence, and the little man's right to make himself respected and show what he can do. I don't think it was an accident that the ideal-typical cowboy hero of the classic invented west was a loner, not beholden to anyone; nor, I think, that money was not important for him. As Tom Mix put it: "I ride into a place owning my own horse, saddle and bridle. It isn't my quarrel, but I get into trouble doing the right thing for somebody else. When it's all ironed out, I never get any money reward."In a way the loner lent himself to imaginary self-identification just because he was a loner. To be Gary Cooper at high noon or Sam Spade, you just have to imagine you are one man, whereas to be Don Corleone or Rico, let alone Hitler, you have to imagine a collective of people who follow and obey you, which is less plausible. I suggest that the cowboy, just because he was a myth of an ultra-individualist society, the only society of the bourgeois era without real pre-bourgeois roots, was an unusually effective vehicle for dreaming – which is all that most of us get in the way of unlimited opportunities. To ride alone is less implausible than to wait until that marshal's baton in your knapsack becomes reality.US televisionWesternsUS politicsJohn WayneUnited StatesEric Hobsbawmguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

06 ноября 2012, 00:38

City trader Nicholas Levene gets 13-year sentence for £32m Ponzi scam

Celebrities and tycoons cheated out of millions by gambling addict who spent £18m on lavish lifestyleHe was the very embodiment of the flash City trader – a self-made millionaire who rode the wave of the 1980s big bang to become a financial player famed for throwing lavish parties attended by celebrities and leading business figures.But Nicholas Levene's story was ended at Southwark crown court when he was sentenced to 13 years in jail on Mondayfor swindling investors out of more than £32m.The 48-year-old former stockbroker, who once checked himself into London's Priory clinic for his gambling addiction, orchestrated a lucrative Ponzi scheme to live a life of luxury, raking in hundreds of millions of pounds between 2005 and 2009, the court was told.Among his victims were Richard Caring, the restaurant tycoon who owns The Ivy and Le Caprice in London's West End; Sir Brian Souter and his sister Ann Gloag, the founders of the Stagecoach bus and rail group; Russell Bartlett, director of the R3 Investment Group and ex-owner of Hull City FC; and Ray O'Rourke, founder of construction firm Laing O'Rourke.Sentencing Levene, who pleaded guilty in September to 12 charges of fraud between 2005 and 2009, Judge Martin Beddoe said: "It was a fraud from the outset, where countless lies were told. It was rank dishonesty. There were separate acts of individual moments of betrayal."Levene – known as "Beano" because of his love of the comic book – once had an estimated wealth of £15m to £20m and was a former vice-chairman of Leyton Orient Football Club. Barry Hearn, the club's chairman, once described him as a "nice family man [with] three lovely kids".But Levene was also a compulsive gambler who loved a spread bet before his empire collapsed in bankruptcy. Levene told investors he had bought shares on their behalf but instead spent the money on buying property in the UK and Israel, expensive guns, flash cars, private schools for his children and flying friends to parties in St Tropez. He once spent nearly £600,000 on a family celebration and his parties attracted luminaries such as Simon Cowell and Sir Philip Green, the retail tycoon who owns Topshop.Once one of the best-connected figures in the City, Levene also counted Jeremy Isaacs, Lehman Brothers' former London boss, as his friend.To keep up the illusion Levene provided investors with false "profits", conning them into believing he was a successful trader. The profits were in fact funds from new investors – a classic Ponzi scheme, such as the one run by the American fraudster Bernard Madoff, where money is taken from one client to give to another.The son of an electrician, Levene quit school at 15 without qualifications and joined the London Stock Exchange as a trader in the runup to the big bang deregulation of the City in 1984. He described himself as having 25 years' experience in the equity and derivative markets, having worked at the stockbroker Phillips & Drew, the moneybroker Tullett & Tokyo and Trio Equity Derivatives, where he was managing director. He also worked as an executive director at the hedge fund Integrated Asset Mangement.His sales pitch was that he could get access to share offerings in companies that were unattainable for ordinary investors. Between 1 January 2005 and 31 October 2009 he pocketed more than £250m from investors, according to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).The fraud came to an end in 2009 when several investors sued him in the civil courts to recover their money. Gloag and Souter, for example, handed Levene £5m each to invest in fundraisings by the mining firm Xstrata and HSBC bank.When they made £3.8m each they instructed him to sell, but said they never received the capital back or the profit they were due. Their litigation marked the beginning of the end for Levene. The Essex businessmen Victor Lupson and John Bennett made a claim for £38m. Levene was also chased by spread betting firms.Levene also admitted one charge of false accounting and one of obtaining a money transfer by deception.He was declared bankrupt in the high court on 7 October 2009 and the SFO started a criminal investigation the same month. The SFO said he used the money to fund his lavish lifestyle. More than £18m was spent on property, luxury holidays and other lifestyle expenses.Jonathan Midgley, lawyer for the SFO, said: "This was a complex and extensive fraud where Nicholas Levene used investors' monies to finance a lavish personal lifestyle."Confiscation proceedings have been fixed for 25 March at Southwark crown court. Separately, a Deloitte partner, Louise Brittain, who was appointed trustee in Levene's bankruptcy in 2009, has still not finished collecting all his assets.She said they could be worth tens or hundreds of millions of pounds. His villa in Israel and chauffeur-driven Bentley have already been sold and the bulk of the remaining assets are property and bank accounts, both in the UK and abroad.It is one of the toughest sentences ever issued for financial fraud. Abbas Gokal was jailed for 14 years for his role in the Bank of Credit & Commerce International fraud in 1997 and later got a further three years' imprisonment for failing to comply with his confiscation order.InvestingSerious Fraud OfficeFinancial sectorCrimeJulia Kolleweguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

23 августа 2012, 15:21

Frontrunning: August 23

Australian minister says resources boom is over (Reuters) China dismisses reports of lost gold reserves (China Daily) - so China really did lose 80 tons of gold. Inconceivable: Former JPM CEO and Chairman William B Harrison Jr come out "In Defense Of Big Banks" Qantas Cancels 787 Order After Posting Annual Net Loss (Bloomberg) EU Official Says Crisis is Eroding Influence (WSJ) Greece Faces New Pressure on Cuts (WSJ) Philippines' black market is China's golden connection (Reuters) Hollande government responds to criticism (FT) LG Display Starts Touch Screens Output Before New IPhone (Bloomberg) Greek Crisis Evasion to Fore as Merkel Hosts Hollande in Berlin (Bloomberg) Stakes rise as US warned of double-dip (FT) Brazil’s Richest Woman Unmasked With $13 Billion Fortune (Bloomberg) Older Dads Hand More DNA Changes To Kids, Research Shows (Bloomberg) Overnight Media Digest WSJ * The Fed sent its strongest signal yet that it is preparing to take new steps to bolster the economic recovery, saying measures would be needed fairly soon unless growth picks up substantially. * The United States is planning a major expansion of missile defenses in Asia, a move American officials say is designed to contain threats from North Korea, but one that could also be used to counter China's military. * The U.S. economy would likely slide into a significant recession next year if Congress doesn't avert tax increases and spending cuts set to begin in January, the Congressional Budget Office said. * Layoffs at a San Onofre, California nuclear power plant shut down for technical problems are sowing fresh doubt about a major source of Southern California electricity. * Researchers unraveled a medical mystery that left six patients dead in 2011 at the National Institutes of Health's elite research hospital, demonstrating that gene sequencing can help in the fight against hospital-acquired infections. * The current West Nile outbreak is one of the largest in the United States, with four times the usual number of cases for this time of year, the CDC said. * Sales of previously occupied homes in the United States were up slightly from a month earlier and were more than 10 percent above a year ago. * Most Afghan troops behind recent killings of U.S.-led forces were recruited by foreign spy agencies, Afghanistan said in an account likely to heighten tensions with the U.S. * The U.S. Department of Justice, in a first for the agency, said Tuesday it has shut three Websites that allegedly catered to customers seeking illegal copies of copyrighted apps for the Android-based mobile devices and seized their domain names. * A group that lobbies for small businesses released a big survey showing that uncertainty over the economy and fiscal policy have zoomed to the top of the list of businesspeople's concerns. * Former AL Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon of the Oakland Athletics has been suspended for 50 games after testing positive for testosterone. * The average length of stay for families with children at New York City homeless shelters increased more than 30 percent during the fiscal year that ended in June, placing additional pressure on an overloaded system.   FT SOUTH AFRICA MINING UNREST SPREADS Labour unrest engulfing the South African platinum industry spread on Wednesday. FURTHER EASING 'WARRANTED SOON', SAYS FED The U.S. Federal Reserve is set to ease policy unless there is a sharp change in economic data. TORIES ASKED TO REPAY NADIR DONATIONS The Conservative party has been asked to repay 440,000 pounds ($695,400) in donations made by Asil Nadir. ANGLO NEARS DEAL TO END CODELCO DISPUTE Anglo American is close to a deal with Codelco that would see the Chilean copper miner buy a 24.5 percent share of the London-listed group. ISS CRITICISES GLENCORE-XSTRATA MERGER The proposed Glencore-Xstrata merger suffered another blow after ISS recommended shareholders vote against the combination. CONCERN OVER STAGECOACH CHIEF'S NEW ROLE Investors have raised concerns over the planned move of Sir Brian Souter to the role of chairman of Stagecoach. BHP SHELVES OLYMPIC DAN EXPANSION BHP Billiton has shelved its planned $20 billion Olympic Dam expansion in Australia and put all other approvals on hold. EURO ZONE LEADERS DELAY GREECE AID DECISION Euro zone leaders have reiterated that they will not make decisions about supplying fresh aid to Greece until September. WARY CONSUMERS DRIVE 5PC SALES DROP FOR HP Hewlett-Packard reported a 5 percent fall in revenues as consumers bought fewer printers and PCs   NYT * Sales of existing homes were up in July, continuing a trend of several months that real estate agents said was good news for the housing market. * Attempts to make sweeping changes to a popular type of mutual fund that played a central role in the 2008 financial crisis have been derailed. * Google Inc's efforts to recruit and promote more women have resulted in more hires, but not in the executive offices. * Minutes of the most recent policy meeting are likely to solidify expectations that the central bank will introduce new measures this fall. * Revenue was down in Hewlett-Packard Co's all major units, but when a write-down is excluded, earnings slightly exceeded analysts' expectations. * Illinois-based energy producer Exelon Corp has sometimes benefited from close ties with the Obama administration.   Canada THE GLOBE AND MAIL * Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney has taken a rare swing at corporate Canada, accusing companies of sitting on huge piles of "dead money" that should be invested productively or returned to investors. Reports in the business section: * Canadian energy and mining companies listed on U.S. exchanges will have to start publishing all payments made to governments around the world under regulations adopted Wednesday, rules that critics say will undermine the international competitiveness of North American resource producers. NATIONAL POST * Media tycoon David Black's proposal to build a massive refinery in Kitimat on the northern British Columbia coast may be getting the cold shoulder outside the province - but inside it's stirring some interesting debate. FINANCIAL POST * Canadian banks set to increase dividends as third-quarter earnings roll in, analysts say. Hiking dividends would also provide markets with evidence that the banks' mostly positive outlook on the economy is justified.   European Economic Update: German GDP 1.0% y/y – in line with expectations. Consensus 1.0%. Previous 1.0%. France Flash Manufacturing PMI 46.2 – higher than expected. Consensus 43.7. Previous 43.4. France Services PMI 50.2. Previous 50.0. Germany Flash manufacturing PMI 45.1. Previous 50.3. Germany Flash Services PMI 48.3. Previous 50.3 Sweden Unemployment 7.0% - lower than expected. Consensus 7.2%. Previous 8.8%. Euro Area Flash composite PMI 46.6. Previous 46.5. Euro Area Flash Manufacturing PMI 45.1 – higher than expected. Consensus 43.4. Previous 43.0. Euro area Flash Services PMI 48.3 – higher than expected. Consensus 47.7. Previous 47.9. Norway GDP 1.2%q/q. Previous 1.4% q/q.

15 августа 2012, 17:55

Virgin Trains loses west coast mainline franchise to FirstGroup

FirstGroup takes on routes from London to Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool, promising more seats and extra trainsThe UK's largest rail operator FirstGroup is to take over the running of the west coast mainline – one of Britain's most profitable routes – run by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Trains since 1997.The new deal, first revealed in the Guardian, runs from December until 2026 and is the first of several long and lucrative franchises to be decided over the next two years. FirstGroup bid £5.5bn, rising to £6.1bn if it sees out a 20-month extension, plus £250m in guarantees for the right to operate the Intercity west coast services from London to destinations including Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool. The bid means it will have to find £390m in premiums each year compared with the £160m currently paid by Virgin.Branson said his company would never have bid at the levels of FirstGroup because of the risk of "almost certain bankruptcy", and branded the Department for Transport's decision "insanity". Virgin tabled a bid of around £4.8bn, £5.4bn for the full term. The other shortlisted competitors, Abellio and Keolis-SNCF, are believed to have bid substantially less.FirstGroup said it would add around 12,000 seats, with 11 extra trains, and new services to stations including Blackpool, Shrewsbury and Bolton. It will also reduce the amount of first class seating while reconfiguring the Pendolino trains to add more seats.Tim O'Toole, chief executive of FirstGroup, rejected claims that there was excessive risk in his company's bid and said there was huge scope for growth on the line. He also categorically denied there would be job losses as unions fear, although he said many would be redeployed.O'Toole said: "Our winning bid is a deliverable proposition that is compelling for all who want to see a greater use of our rail networks."We think it delivers an appropriate return. This line has had all this investment, it has enormous capacity that is yet to be taken up, and even more to come."Longer trains and additional seating will mean 35% more seats on the line in five years, O'Toole said."We will be making significant improvements including reduced journey times and introducing new direct services. We will improve marketing and deliver a smart ticketing system, refreshed and improved train interiors, station upgrades and even better catering."He would not confirm the name of the new service that will succeed Virgin — the railways' most recognisable brand — although FirstGroup has registered the name Horizon at Companies House.O'Toole said he believed Virgin had failed to exploit the possibilities to attract customers onto the trains in quieter periods. "We believe the whole pricing structure is warped and cliff edged — if we give more products we can improve the yield."He promised a 15% reduction in standard anytime fares over the next two years — a pledge that would see the price of a £148 single from London to Manchester drop by around £22. Overall, fares are set to rise above inflation every year for the foreseeable future.The FirstGroup bid depends on passenger growth of 5.8% each year, a figure O'Toole said matched government predictions for trains to be at the limits of capacity by 2026, when the proposed high speed rail network should start operating. Responding to Branson's criticisms, he said: "I think he lost the bid."Virgin Trains, which is 49% owned by the transport group Stagecoach, is believed to be considering challenging the decision in the courts. Stagecoach said that it was "disappointed" by the decision. It said it had bid for the new franchise but only on terms that offered "an acceptable risk"."We considered that a number of the features of the new franchise increased the risk to the train operating company relative to other franchises awarded over recent years," Stagecoach said. The features included the increased length of the franchise, the method used to calculate premiums and "greater macroeconomic uncertainty" which would make it harder for the operator to make a return.Unions and campaigners have been warning that the size of the bid – around £700m more than that of the nearest challenger, believed to be Virgin – means that the operator will have to cut services.The RMT leader, Bob Crow, said: "It is clear that this franchise is being let on pure McNulty terms with a gold-plated, extended contract linked to massive cuts to jobs and passenger services and huge increases in fares as the winning FirstGroup looks to extract every penny that they can in profit."RMT will work with MPs and communities along the west coast route to stop the savage assault on staffing levels and budgets that we expect to be at the core of this new franchise arrangement."The union also pointed to a disclaimer over "risks and uncertainties" in the bid which it claimed was "tantamount to saying whatever promises we make we are at liberty to break as and when it suits us". Transport analyst Stephen Glaister, of the RAC Foundation, said: "The big test here is that this award is going to a company that can deliver on what it promised."He said the biggest risk was that the forecast growth in traffic would not materialise and the company could end up walking away from the franchise. Previous big bids, including the one from National Express to run the east coast mainline, ended with the company being unable to see out the full length of its contract.FirstGroup declined to take up the last three years of its contract to run Great Western services, when it would have had to pay around £800m in premiums to the government.The rail minister, Theresa Villiers, said: "This new franchise will deliver big improvements for passengers, with more seats and plans for more services. Targets to meet on passenger satisfaction will be introduced for the first time in an InterCity rail franchise and passengers will also benefit from smart ticketing and from investment in stations."However, some queried how much the service and quality element played in the award, given FirstGroup's other train services have scored below Virgin in customer satisfaction ratings.Richard Hebditch of the Campaign for Better Transport said: "Whatever the merits of either the First bid or that of Virgin, there is a fundamental problem with the way that franchises are let. The government has moved to have longer franchises to encourage more investment from train companies in the railway, but when it comes to assessing bids the only thing that really matters is who offers the most money."• The embedded map on this article was corrected on 15 August 2012. The original had incorrect spellings for Stoke-on-Trent and Llandudno.FirstGroupRail transportVirgin RailTravel & leisureTransportGwyn Tophamguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds