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Starbucks chief Howard Schultz leaves firm after 36 years

Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz, who oversaw the growth of the coffee chain into a global powerhouse, has said he is quitting the company after nearly four decades.

Schultz, who retired as chief executive last year, is to relinquish his seat on the board on June 26, BBC reported on Monday.

The move has raised questions about his political ambitions.

In an interview with the New York Times, Schultz did not rule out a run for president.

 "One of the things I want to do in my next chapter is to figure out if there is a role I can play in giving back," he said.

"I'm not exactly sure what that means yet."

 He added: "I want to be of service to our country, but that doesn't mean I need to run for public office to accomplish that."

Schultz, 64, started working for Starbucks in 1982 as director of operations and marketing. He has led the board since 1985 and was chief executive for much of that period.

During his tenure with the firm, Starbucks grew from 11 outlets to more than 28,000 and its share price rose by 21,000 per cent, the company said.

Schultz, who will become chairman emeritus, also used his position to speak out in social debates.

Starbucks was one of the first US retailers to offer health insurance to its workers. It has also taken positions on issues such as immigration.

Schultz also offered a harsh assessment of his own firm last month, after Starbucks called police to report two black customers waiting for a friend, leading to their arrest for trespassing.

 "I think what occurred was reprehensible at every single level," he told CBS News.

Starbucks said Schultz planned to write a book and spend time with his family this summer.



Government loses £2.1bn on RBS stake sale

 

The government has incurred a loss of £2.1bn after selling another tranche of shares in Royal Bank of Scotland.

The shares were sold at 271p each, almost half the 502p a share paid in the government's bailout of RBS a decade ago when it rescued the bank at the height of the financial crisis.

The return was "based on the reality of the situation that RBS is now in", said Treasury Economic Secretary John Glen.

The taxpayers' holding in RBS will fall to 62.4% from 70.1% due to the sale.

Mr Glen told the BBC's Today programme that the bank was in a "much healthier position... and the taxpayer needs to receive some of that money back".

"I would love it if we could sell the shares at a much higher price. Obviously that is what everyone would like to do, but we need to be realistic and look at the market conditions."

He said RBS was "a completely different institution to where it was 10 years ago".

"They've gone from operating in 38 countries to nine, their total assets have fallen significantly."


 

The government has proved a lousy investor - but that misses the point. This was not an investment it was a rescue. The government had no choice - without the government buying shares, RBS would have collapsed taking the UK economy with it.

Does it matter that we are selling at a loss? Well, yes, it would be nice to have made a few pounds. Does that mean it's a mistake to start selling now? Not necessarily.

The government does not want to be the majority shareholder in a High Street bank. Waiting for the RBS share price to rise back to £5 could take another 10 years and, in the meantime, other investors would be put off investing because the know that one day there is going to be a massive seller of the shares - pushing the price down.

The hope is that over time, the gradual reduction in the government stake will make the shares more attractive and subsequent sales will be at higher prices. The other hope is that the government never has to get into the business of buying bank shares again

Value 'destroyed'

 

UK Government Investments, which manages the government's RBS stake, said the sale had raised £2.5bn.

The sale is the first time that the government has cut its stake in RBS since 2015, when a 5.4% stake was sold at a price of 330p a share.

The government has said it intends to sell £15bn worth of RBS shares by 2023.

After the details of the latest share sale were announced, RBS shares fell by about 3% to 271p.

Investec analyst Ian Gordon said the timing of the share sale was "not unreasonable", pointing out that the shares had been trading at close to their highest level for two years.

He said a combination of bad debts and restructuring costs had "destroyed the value of the business".

Heathrow Airport: Cabinet set for new runway decision

Controversial plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport are set to be approved by ministers later after years of argument and delay.

 

The economic sub-committee, chaired by Theresa May, is expected to back the plans, then send them to full cabinet.

If approved, MPs would be asked to vote on the issue in the coming weeks.

Ex-transport secretary Justine Greening said the plans were "ill-conceived" and ministers representing local areas should be given leeway to vote against.

The government backs expansion, despite opposition from local residents and key political figures like Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

A decision finally?

 With the Conservatives divided, she said Mrs May would be reliant on the support of Labour and the SNP to win the vote, which must take place within 21 sitting days of the statement's publication.

The BBC's assistant political editor Norman Smith said ministers whose constituencies would be directly affected might be given a "get out of a jail card" - by being allowed to miss the vote or even vote against.

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Petrol prices in record monthly rise, says RAC

Petrol prices rose by 6p a litre in May - the biggest monthly increase since the RAC began tracking prices 18 years ago.

Average petrol prices hit 129.4p a litre, while average diesel prices also rose by 6p to 132.3p a litre.

The RAC said a "punitive combination" of higher crude oil prices and a weaker pound was to blame for the increases.

It pointed out that oil prices broke through the $80-a-barrel mark twice in May - a three-and-a-half year high.

As well as the higher global market price of crude, the pound's current weakness against the US dollar also makes petrol more expensive as oil is traded in dollars.

The RAC said the average prices of both petrol and diesel had risen every single day since 22 April, adding 8p a litre in the process. The motoring body said this was the longest sustained price increase since March 2015.

Hill International selected as key engineering partner on new $585mn Crete airport

 

Hill International, the US multinational construction consultant and risk management firm, has been awarded a contract to become the ‘Independent Engineer’ for the New International Airport of Heraklion project on the Island of Crete.

The new airport, costing $585mn to build, will break ground in Q4 of this year and be ready in 2023.

The contract for the design, construction, financing, operation, and exploitation of the airport project and the construction/financing of the associated road connections was given to Ariadne Airport Group in May 2017.


 

The project comprises of a 72,000 sqm terminal building and 3.2km runway, and will replace the existing Heraklion Airport once operational.

When fully up and running, it will serve more than 9mn passengers a year, making it the second-busiest Greek airport behind Athens International.

Emmanouil Sigalas, Hill’s VP and Managing Director, Southern Europe, said: “The Kasteli Airport Project is an infrastructure project of particular significance for Crete and all of Greece.

“The airport will become a key hub for transportation and tourism, providing several benefits to the regional economy, not least by jobs creation. We are honored by this appointment and look forward to supporting the Hellenic Republic and the Investors for its delivery.”

Ariadne Airport Group comprises Greek corporation TERNA S.A. and GMR Airports Ltd, an India-based company. The project will be developed under a concession agreement for a period of 35 years, with the Hellenic Republic maintaining a 45.9% stake in this concession.

 

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