Business Law: Competition law applies to small firms too, warns Victoria Judge of Gotelee Solicitors - East Anglian Daily Times Business Law: Competition law applies to small firms too, warns Victoria Judge of Gotelee Solicitors - East Anglian Daily Times

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Business Law: Competition law applies to small firms too, warns Victoria Judge of Gotelee Solicitors - East Anglian Daily Times

Business Law: Competition law applies to small firms too, warns Victoria Judge of Gotelee Solicitors - East Anglian Daily Times

YOU might think that competition law only applies to large business and does not affect your business. But you might be wrong.

Whenever your business deals with its competitors, there are competition law issues that you need to consider.

Competition law applies to all companies and is designed to ensure that companies compete fairly with each other. Failure to comply can have serious implications for your business, including large fines. Certain serious breaches of competition law may also expose an individual to the risk of criminal prosecution. Businesses can also be exposed to claims that may exceed any fines imposed on them.

All forms of cartel activity are strictly prohibited regardless of the size of your business. A “cartel” describes any organisation or arrangement between at least two competitors that is designed to reduce competition between them and so increase prices or profitability beyond the level that could be achieved competitively. The main examples of cartel activity are:

n Price fixing. Any understanding or agreement about price levels or increases can constitute price fixing. Even a statement to a competitor like “we intend to increase prices next year”, can constitute unlawful price fixing.

n Bid rigging. This is when companies agree the outcome of a tender or pitch process amongst themselves. Bid-rigging eliminates fair competition from the process, removes the customer’s free choice and will almost certainly lead to the customer paying higher prices.

n Market sharing. This may involve an agreement to allocate particular customers or sales territories to individual cartel members.

Your business must not agree to share confidential or commercially sensitive information with competitors such as prices, customers or sales information.

Some forms of information exchange may be permissible, for example if the information provided has no value in predicting future commercial behaviour, or is anonymised, aggregated, etc.

Sales or production quotas are often used to control the market position of cartel participants and maintain artificially high prices.

To be safe, always take legal advice before any co-operation with competitors that may reduce competition and breach competition law. Competition law is easy to fall foul of. If you become aware that your business is involved in any cartel activity, or you are approached by a competitor to participate, you should take legal advice immediately.

Investors flee Spain as financial crisis spirals - Economic Times
MADRID: Spain's debt risk premium smashed euro-era records Wednesday after the central bank chief quit early and Madrid scrambled to finance a major banking rescue.

The borrowing rate on Spain's 10-year bonds shot to a danger level of 6.703 per cent -- unsustainable over the longer term -- as Spain battled to avoid becoming the next nation to fall to the eurozone crisis.

When compared to safe German debt, investors in Spanish bonds were demanding an additional 5.39 per centage points, a level that easily crashed through euro-era records set each day of this week.

Markets recoiled as a sense of turmoil engulfed Spain.

Stock prices skidded across the world on fears of a Spanish economic collapse and the European single currency plunged to $1.2439 -- striking a low point that was last seen in July 2010.

Bank of Spain governor Miguel Fernandez Ordonez shook investors by announcing late the previous evening that he would depart June 10 -- a month before his term comes to an end July 12.

The central bank chief, who said he was leaving early to give his successor time to take the reins, had sought in vain a hearing in the lower house of parliament to explain stricken lender Bankia's woes.

"Nothing is more important now than regaining confidence because without that we cannot resolve any of our problems," Ordonez told the Senate on Wednesday.

Confidence in Spain has deteriorated in past months, and took a further hit in past weeks over "the management of the latest banking crisis," he said.

Spain's conservative government this month instructed banks to set aside 30 billion euros in 2012 in case property-related loans go bad, on top of 53.8 billion euros demanded under February reforms.

It also appointed independent auditors to value banks' real estate assets, hammered since the 2008 property crash. That decision was widely seen as showing a lack of confidence in the central bank.

At the centre of the banking storm, Bankia has asked the government for 19 billion euros in capital in addition to 4.465 billion euros invested by the state earlier this month to salvage its books.

But no-one seems clear about where the money will come, especially when debt markets are charging exorbitant sums to lend to Spain.

Economy Minister Luis De Guindos said the state-backed Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (FROB) would issue bonds to raise capital, which it could then inject into the bank.

He denied a report in the Financial Times that the European Central Bank had rejected one option being considered by Madrid.

The Economy Ministry had floated this week a plan to issue government bonds and transfer them directly into Bankia, which could then use them as collateral to borrow from the market or the ECB.

"Pay more attention to the Spanish government than the Financial Times," De Guindos said.

"The Spanish government has not presented any plan to the European Central Bank nor has the European Central Bank rejected anything whatsoever related to it."

The ECB issued a statement denying it had taken a position or being consulted on the plan.

But the government failed to quash growing concerns over Spain's financial sector.

Centre-right daily El Mundo this week said three other banks, CatalunyaCaixa, NovacaixaGalicia and Banco de Valencia, could need another 30 billion euros in public funds to meet new regulations.

Yet another lender, Banco Popular, whose bonds have been downgraded to junk bond-status, said this week it was in talks to sell its Internet banking business in a scramble for cash.

In addition to the banking crisis, displayed graphically in daily home-owner evictions, investors fret about a recession, predicted by the authorities to last at least until mid-2012, and a jobless rate of 24.4 per cent in the first quarter, the highest in the industrialized world.

Despite all those troubles, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says he will not flinch from an austerity plan aimed at cutting the public deficit from 8.9 per cent of economic output last year to 3.0 per cent by 2013.

In Brussels, an official told AFP that the European Commission may recommend giving Spain an extra year to meet that target but only with tough conditions attached.

Leading Spanish daily El Pais said those conditions would include accelerating the calendar for raising the retirement age and broadening value-added tax.

Lord Browne urges business to end 'intolerance to homosexuality' - Daily Telegraph

"People guessed, and it was only a matter of time before it came out. I realise now that the people we dealt with certainly knew I was gay. Putin had files on everybody. But at the time I was trapped by the fear of exposure."

"In fact I was trapped for most of my adult life, unable to reveal who I was to the world. I led a double-life of secrecy, and of deep isolation, walled off from those closest to me".

Lord Browne said he first realised he was gay in 1960 at boarding school. At the time homosexuality was illegal, though the law was abolished when he went to Cambridge.

"After Cambridge, when I joined BP as a graduate, it was immediately obvious to me that it was unacceptable to be gay in business and most definitely the oil business. It was a very macho and sometimes homophobic environment; I felt I had to conform."

On BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday, he said being gay in 1960s 'was terrifying' and described keeping his sexuality a secret during his time in business as "a little reign of personal terror".

"Homosexuality remains illegal in more than 70 countries. In seven countries, it can carry the death penalty. That injustice is primarily a British export, shipped abroad in the days of the empire. In my view, we should be working overtime to correct it," he said.

A Financial Q&A with New Jersey Divorce Advisors LLC Founders Bryan Koslow CFP®, CDFA™ and Jodi Carter CPA - YAHOO!

With 50% of all marriages ending in divorce, the founders of New Jersey Divorce Advisors, LLC have provided expert advice on some of the most common questions a divorcing couple has.

Red Bank, NJ (PRWEB) May 30, 2012

The United States, as a whole, has the fifth highest divorce rate in the world, according to the global statistics published in the United Nations Statistics Division’s Demographic Yearbook. To put it in perspective, in the U.S. there are 7.3 marriages per 1,000 people every year and 3.6 divorces per 1,000 people every year. In other words, close to 50% (49.3%) of all marriages end in divorce. New Jersey Divorce Advisors, LLC Founders Bryan Koslow and Jodi Carter were recently interviewed regarding some of the more commonly asked questions about divorce finance.

It’s one thing to know these statistics, and quite another to have to deal with them on a more personal basis. That’s why, after witnessing too many clients, family, and friends go through the divorce process without proper guidance, Bryan Koslow founded New Jersey Divorce Advisors LLC, along with Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Jodi Carter. Koslow is a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®), and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™). As a CDFA™, Koslow assists couples determine the short- and long-term financial impact of any proposed divorce settlement. Leading the Matrimonial Accounting Division of New Jersey Divorce Advisors, Carter uses her tax and accounting background to help clients and their attorneys navigate the complex financial and tax implications of both marriage and divorce. Here these two professionals take time out of their busy schedules to answer some of the most common questions about divorce:

Q: Divorce seems so ugly, does it have to be that way?

Koslow: When you see people getting divorced on TV or in the movies, you’re likely seeing a litigated divorce. It’s contentious, heated, and very expensive. Litigated divorces can drag on for years, and often result in settlements that make neither side happy. Families can be torn apart, and everyone involved usually suffers. Mediation and Collaborative Divorce are methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that seek to minimize the adversarial nature of divorce, provide families with an outcome that is amenable to both sides, and control the costs of the process. While each spouse would typically retain their own attorneys, a neutral expert such as a financial planner or accountant may be brought in to examine the financial aspects of the divorce.

Q: What is the role of the financial professional?

Carter: The financial professional plays a crucial role in every step of the divorce process. Often, a CDFA™ will be utilized to prepare the Case Information Statement(CIS) or a marital lifestyle analysis. A CPA will provide recommended distributions of assets to minimize tax liabilities and maximize the use of available tax deductions and credits. A CFP® will create a plan showing the projected impact on retirement, college savings, or cash flow and make recommendations about how assets should be invested after the divorce. In situations where there are complex financial holdings or where one spouse is self-employed, a financial expert may be hired to conduct a forensic analysis or business valuation.

Q: How do we compile all of the financial information?

Carter: The process starts with the preparation of a Case Information Statement, also known as a Financial Affidavit or Statement of Net Worth. This is a document that captures the family’s assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. The financial information within the CIS is used by the Court as a basis for determining alimony and child support. At the heart of the CIS is the household budget during the marriage, and a projected budget for each of the spouses once the divorce is finalized. We use the projected budgets to determine the answers to frequently asked questions such as “can I keep the marital residence.”

Q: What is going to happen with my health insurance?

Koslow: Health insurance, particularly for families with children, is often a primary concern. In the event of divorce, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (“COBRA”) provides up to 36 months of health insurance for a spouse. Keep in mind, however, that the spouse is often required to pay the health insurance costs under COBRA including an administration fee.

Q: How do we divide our retirement accounts?

Koslow: Retirement accounts come in many different forms. There are 401(k)s, defined-benefit pensions, defined contribution pensions, traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, 403(b)s, 457 plans, SEPs, Simple IRAs, and profit sharing plans. The rules for dividing or rolling over retirement plans differ depending on the plan type. For example, to divide a defined contribution pension plan, you will need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). The QDRO needs to be written in accordance with the plan guidelines and submitted to the plan administrator for execution. An IRA, on the other hand, does not require a QDRO but could result in early withdrawal penalties and tax liabilities if not rolled over properly. The decisions made for the settlement agreement that relate to the retirement plans should be considered carefully with the advice of a financial professionals.

Q: Who pays the bills during the divorce?

Carter: During the divorce process, couples are encouraged to maintain the status quo. Major changes to budget items should be avoided, and bills should be paid as they had been during the marriage. For this reason, often the couple will remain living together until the divorce is finalized. If it is not practical to remain in the home together, or if the higher earning spouse unilaterally decides to stop paying bills, the Court may impose a temporary order for support known as Pendente Lite. Like many aspects of the divorce process, determining a proper amount for Pendente Lite requires a detailed assessment of the household budget. If Pendente Lite is set too high, there may be little incentive for the receiver of support to finalize the divorce. Conversely, if the Pendente Lite is set too low, the payer may look to stall the process.

About NJDA

New Jersey Divorce Advisors, LLC is a financial consulting and planning firm specializing in the financial aspects of divorce. By analyzing the unique situation of each client, the firm structures equitable settlements and creates a plan for the client’s future. The firm, founded by a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Financial Planner™, provides clients a comprehensive financial assessment that includes tax analysis, financial planning, retirement and estate planning, and insurance recommendations. The firm may be utilized in Divorce Mediation, Litigation, or Collaborative Divorce.

Bryan Koslow
New Jersey Divorce Advisors
Email Information

Apple CEO 'not interested in being in the console business' - CVG Online

Apple is a major player in the games market, but CEO Tim Cook has said he's "not interested in being in the console business".

iPad 3 Screenshot
The successor to Steve Jobs told AllThingsD: "I view that we are in gaming now in a fairly big way. One of the reasons people buy an iPod touch is gaming. Some buy it for music. I realize that is not the big screen you are talking about. Gaming has kind of evolved a bit. More people play on portable devices. Where we might go in the future, we'll see. Customers love games.

"I'm not interested in being in the console business in what is thought of as traditional gaming," he added. "But Apple is a big player today, and things in the future will only make that bigger."

Last October, Cook said of the iPod Touch: "Not only is it the most popular music player in the world, but we're excited to announce it's now also the most popular portable game player in the world."

Reports earlier this week claimed the first Apple smart TVs have entered production, but Cook wouldn't be drawn on the company's plans in the market when asked if it intends to release its own TV set. "You were right. I'm not going to tell you," he said.

He was then asked if he thinks the existing Apple TV product is a good enough solution for improving the TV viewing experience, and whether Apple's content to leave TV panel production to others.

"We would look not just at this area, but other areas, and ask, can we control the key technology? Can we make a significant contribution far beyond what others have done in this area? Can we make a product that we all want? Those are all the things we would ask about any new product category."

Tinkle's new pact requires 'money' games - Great Falls Tribune

HELENA The new three-year contract for Montana men's basketball coach Wayne Tinkle includes a requirement that the Grizzlies generate at least $80,000 each year in game guarantees.

It also allows Tinkle and his assistants to share any additional money up to $150,000 brought in by the so-called "money games."

"We're kind of behind the times on it," interim athletic director Jean Gee said Tuesday. "It's a pretty common provision in Division I coaches contracts."

The contract the school announced Friday sets Tinkle's base pay at $135,000 a year, along with various benefits including a $500 monthly vehicle allowance, pay for appearing on coaches' shows and bonuses for his team's academic and athletic success.

Tinkle said he has been required to play one guarantee game in each of the past several years to help support other sports programs, but the new provision allows the school to give the men's coaches a more competitive salary without using state money.

"I think I'm the first (UM) coach that they've kind of required to play one of those games per year a minimum of one to bring money into the department for some of the other programs," Tinkle said.

"Money games" are road games played against larger schools in exchange for a guaranteed payment to the visiting school. In recent years, Montana has played Colorado State, UCLA, Oregon and Washington.

"I like playing bigger teams anyway," Tinkle said. "It's a good experience for our guys."

The Griz beat UCLA during the 2010-11 season and Oregon the year before.

Tinkle notes it can be difficult for Montana to schedule nonconference home games anyway, because it's "tough to get here," the teams don't recruit in Montana and the Griz are pretty tough to beat in Dahlberg Arena.

Should the Griz bring in more than $150,000 per year in game guarantees, 75 percent of the additional money will go to the athletic department and 25 percent to the men's basketball program. The additional basketball money can be used for recruiting, professional development or summer school funding for student-athletes, but not for salaries or bonuses, the contract states.

Gee said reaching the $80,000 benchmark won't be easy, but she said it's achievable.

Women's basketball coach Robin Selvig doesn't have a similar provision in his contract, Gee said, because the guarantee games just aren't there for the women's teams.

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