Friday, June 15, 2012

Liverpool owner John Henry plays down financial impact of new stadium - The Independent

Liverpool owner John Henry plays down financial impact of new stadium - The Independent

The lead figure in Fenway Sports Group has suggested a new-build in Stanley Park would most likely lead to increased ticket prices, quoting recent examples taken from the United States.

Henry believes the best way of improving the Reds' ability to compete financially is through worldwide commercial revenue streams and their long-term future is not dependent on the stadium issue, which casts doubt over whether the long-mooted Stanley Park project will ever come to fruition.

"A long-term myth has existed about the financial impact of a new stadium for Liverpool," the American wrote in an email to The Anfield Wrap website.

"A belief has grown that Liverpool FC must have a new stadium to compete with (Manchester) United, Arsenal and others.

"No-one has ever addressed whether or not a new stadium is rational.

"New stadiums that are publicly-financed make sense for clubs - I've never heard of a club turning down a publicly-financed stadium.

"But privately carrying new stadiums is an enormous challenge. Arsenal is centred in a very wealthy city with a metropolitan population of approximately 14 million people.

"They did a tremendous job of carrying it off on a number of levels but how many new football stadiums with more than 30,000 seats have been built in the UK over the past decade or so?

"New stadiums increase revenues primarily by raising ticket prices - especially premium seating."

Henry accepts there is a balancing act to be done when considering the worth of a new stadium against a redevelopment of Anfield, which presents numerous logistical problems.

"We've been exploring a new stadium for the past 18 months. At one point we made it clear that if a naming rights deal could be secured of sufficient size, we would make every effort to build a new facility," he added.

"Liverpool FC has an advantage in being a global club and a naming rights deal could make a new stadium a reality.

"It is something we are working on. There has been interest.

"Going in the other direction, many football clubs have successfully enlarged their seating capacity.

"LFC has had plans to expand the main stand at Anfield but this avenue has been very difficult for the club over the past couple of decades.

"There are homes behind the main stand. Expansion of the main stand would have to be a priority for the city, community and immediate neighbourhood in order for that to occur.

"This issue is vital to the neighbourhood's future but we cannot and will not act unilaterally.

"While a new stadium or an expansion of Anfield is beneficial over the long-term for the club, the financial impact of adding seats and amenities should be put into perspective.

"That's why I say that it is a myth that stadium issues are going to magically transform LFC's fortunes.

"Building new or refurbishing Anfield is going to lead to an increase from £40million of match-day revenue to perhaps £60-70m if you don't factor in debt service.

"That would certainly help but it's just one component of LFC long-term fortunes.

"Our future is based not on a stadium issue but on building a strong football club that can compete with anyone in Europe.

"This will be principally driven financially by our commercial strengths globally."

PA



Morning business round-up: ECB ready to act 'if necessary' - BBC News

What made the business news in Asia and Europe this morning? Here's our daily business round-up:

The European Central Bank (ECB) said it is ready to provide further support ''if necessary'' to the eurozone's banking system.

Its president Mario Draghi said: "The eurosystem will continue to supply liquidity to solvent banks where needed."

A general election in Greece on Sunday has heightened fears of further instability on financial markets.

Greece saw a major retailer, France's Carrefour, pull out of the country.

The French retail giant said it was selling its stake in its Greek joint venture owing to fears about Greece's deteriorating economic situation.

It is selling to partner Marinopoulos, and will take a financial charge of about 220m euros (£179m; $278m) on the deal.

In a statement, the company said the move was in response to "challenges posed by the Greek economic context".

Carrefour's shares rose 1.68% following the announcement.

Still in Europe, new EU car registrations slumped.

Demand for new passenger cars fell sharply across the European Union in May, reflecting weak consumer confidence in the wake of the financial crisis.

The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association said new car registrations totalled 1,106,845 vehicles, down 8.7% compared to the same month last year.

France led the decline with a 16.2% market contraction, closely followed by Italy, which fell 14.3%.

Only the UK market grew, rising 7.9%.

Meanwhile, in the UK, its central bank acted to try to boost confidence and lending against a backdrop of failing business nerve in the face of the eurocrisis.

UK bank shares jumped on the stimulus move.

The Bank of England's plan, announced late on Thursday, came in response to the worsening economic outlook, its governor Sir Mervyn King said.

Together with the government, it will provide billions of pounds of cheap credit to banks to lend to companies.

Business headlines

To Asia now, where Coca-Cola announced it would start business again in Burma.

It has been 60 years since it last operated there and its return follows a US decision to suspend investment sanctions against the country.

Officials suspended the sanctions last month as the country has moved towards democratic reforms.

Coca-Cola is waiting for a licence from the US government.

The country was one of only three that Coca-Cola does not do business with.

And as Burma opens up to international business, the latest Business Daily podcast reports from Rangoon, and asks if Burma is set to become a new Asian Tiger, or whether the legacy of 50 years of mismanagement is too great an obstacle.



U.S. targets financial abuse of elderly - Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON — Federal regulators launched an investigation into the financial abuse of the elderly, citing a new report that advisors, planners, family members and others were ripping off seniors more than ever.

Americans over 60 lost at least $2.9 billion in 2010 to financial exploitation — ranging from simple home repair scams to complex insurance swindles. That figure was up 12% from 2008, according to a study released Thursday by MetLife Mature Market Institute, the National Committee for Prevention of Elder Abuse and Virginia Tech University.

The rise in abusive tactics led the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to begin looking into the types of scams affecting older Americans and coming up with the best ways to prevent them. A specific focus will be on the credentials of people who tout themselves as financial advisors.

"The silent crime of financially exploiting the elderly is widespread, and it is devastating. It is critical for us to act," Richard Cordray, the agency's director, said at a White House forum Thursday ahead of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

"The generation that rebuilt and sustained this nation out of a devastating Depression, the dark hours of World War II and the anxious fears of the Cold War deserve our care now," Cordray said.

Tougher oversight by regulators is needed to prevent financial predators from preying on vulnerable elderly victims, said Patricia L. McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, a San Francisco group that often deals with financial abuse.

"The bottom line is, you need to go after the predators. You need to punish them and you need to convict them," she said. "Put them in jail and make an example of them, but more importantly, get the money back for that victim. Make them whole again."

McGinnis described efforts by regulators and advocates to prevent the scamming of older Americans as a game of Whac-A-Mole.

A recent scam enticed senior citizens to put large amounts of savings into deferred annuities, reducing their savings to qualify for a particular federal veterans benefit. The veteran might get $1,000 a month from the benefit, but loses access to the cash for years. Meantime, the annuity salesperson earned a commission of 8% to 12%, she said.

Victims often are reluctant to fight back.

"I can't tell you the times I talk to people and they say, 'It was my own fault,'" McGinnis said. "They are very embarrassed."

The scams have increased as the economy has struggled. Survey results released this week by the nonprofit Investor Protection Trust found that 84% of experts who deal with financial exploitation of the elderly said the problem has worsened.

But there is a lack of comprehensive information on the problem, which the consumer bureau's inquiry could help solve, said Elizabeth Costle, director of the consumer and state affairs team at the AARP Public Policy Institute.

Financial predators often target the elderly because they are viewed as gullible, Cordray said.

"Many seniors have routines, and their predictable patterns make them easier targets for predators," Cordray said. "Abusers often assume that the victim will be too embarrassed or too frail to pursue legal action against them, and unfortunately that assumption is too often proven to be correct."

The agency's inquiry seeks comments from the public on several issues. They include detailing the unfair, deceptive and abusive practices targeted at the elderly, finding the types of financial planning resources, and evaluating the credentials of financial advisors. The agency will be accepting public comments until Aug. 13.

Cordray said that some people who tout themselves as experts on elderly financial issues have had only a few hours of inadequate training.

"We need to distinguish between the true experts and those engaged in predatory conduct," he said.

The qualifications of financial advisors are important as new retirees must decide what to do with lump-sum 401(k) payouts and often must juggle many complex options, Costle said. The ability to understand those options gets more difficult as people age.

"As people get older, particularly up into their 80s ….they're just less able to process financial information," she said. "They're more likely to be trusting of people and they open themselves up to more abuse, which is perpetrated both by strangers and by caregivers and family members who are close to them."

Congress and the White House have increased their focus on the issue.

Lawmakers included the Elder Justice Act in the 2010 healthcare reform law to coordinate federal efforts. As part of the law, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday announced $5.5 million in grants to states to "test ways to prevent elder abuse, neglect and exploitation."

jim.puzzanghera@latimes.com


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