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Visit One News Page for Europe news from around the world, aggregated from leading sources including newswires, newspapers and broadcast media. Search millions of archived news headlines. This feed provides the Europe news headlines.

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    We tried to make the design of our Alfa Romeo concept as forward-thinking as the company's earlier models

    Reimagining cars from the past is a trend we applaud. Twelve months on from our last go, we try again – with mixed results

    More often than you might think, new cars are created by people whose names aren’t on the bonnet badge.

    Car makers, especially start-ups spurred on by special circumstances like the rapid rise of the Chinese market and the onrush of electrification and autonomy, enlist the aid of discreet specialists who conceive, style, engineer and ready new cars for production, then fade away as if nothing ever happened. The UK has a good selection of such expert consultancies, and business is brisk.

     

    When we decided to repeat last year’s successful Christmas wheeze of reimagining a quartet of well-loved classics (via our resident designer Ben Summerell-Youde), it seemed sensible to get them assessed by proven car creators. 

    We have again approached Envisage Group, the Coventry-based consultancy with whom, a couple of years ago, we created and part-engineered an all-new five-door electric saloon for 10-15 years hence. This time, four of us proposed new iterations of old cars – an alternative Mercedes A-Class, a new-era Audi A2, an Alfa Romeo Duetto and a Ford Capri crossover – and each wrote a short justification of the concept. These were assessed for practicality, market appeal and innovative content by a three-man Envisage team led by engineering director Paul Arkesden, with project manager Craig Bonham and engineering manager Stuart Smith, all greatly experienced in other projects and at other companies – but unable to talk very much about any of it, such is the secrecy in car creation. 

    Talking about our projects, though, was something the team was happy to do. Not that their reactions were all sweet music to our ears, as the comments make clear…

    *Steve Cropley: Ford Capri*

    What makes me want to recreate this highly successful last-century Ford coupé is the catchy advertising label that always went with it: “The car you always promised yourself.” For car nuts, such cars are always lurking in the back of the mind. 

    Get serious about making a new Capri and you soon strike trouble. Any mission to recreate a long-nosed European 2+2 runs into two major problems: firstly, the fact that there isn’t a suitable Ford front-engine/rear-drive powertrain available on this side of the Atlantic; and secondly, the fact that Europe’s best-selling sports coupé is already a Ford – the Mustang. No sense in launching against that. 

    What would the people who built Ford’s performance image so high in the 1960s have done? Well, in Detroit a bit over a year ago, their descendants explained that Ford’s grand plan is to use iconic names to sell first-gen electric cars. To me, ‘Capri’ stands in the front rank of Ford’s great names, but what kind of electric car makes sense? What kind of electric car am I promising myself? Electric saloons are everywhere and the Capri was never a family car. SUVs sell strongly, but there’s no argument for a boxy Capri. The challenge is to propose something whose styling says compact, stylish, agile, at least semi-sporting and, above all, relevant to modern life. After all, that original Capri worked so well because it fitted people’s lives at the time. 

    That’s why I’m proposing the new Capri as a kind of diminutive, high-rolling electric fastback coupé, reminiscent of a stubby, downsized Aston Martin DBX concept but with the footprint of a Ford Ecosport, maybe plus an inch or two. That way, the car can be proud and practical, with sportiness chucked in, and its height can provide battery space more easily than a saloon. 

    There can be a bit of off-road toughness, with the wheel design and tyre tread adding character, along with a non-corporate grille (nothing says ‘mainstream’ more than a corporate grille). A radical roofline is essential, too. I’m seeing a fastback rear meeting a rising belt, with more extravagant surfacing than you normally see on a small car, although never overdone. It’d be a question of balance. Great designers might also find a detail or two, maybe even a rear window outline, to echo the original Capri. I’d certainly like to see them try. 

    There’s a need, or soon will be, I believe, for affordable electric cars that are compact, sporty and, above all, a little bit special. There’s absolutely nothing in this space at present and the customers are getting impatient. 

    *Expert view: there’s nothing like it*

    “This one really got us thinking, mostly because there’s nothing like it on the market. That’s where we struggled: it helps to have a buyer in mind even though both electrification is coming very rapidly and crossover architecture is fashionable. 

    “You can take comfort from the fact that there are no cars like this in the chosen size and price range — maybe you’ve discovered a car as special and trend-setting as the new Mini — or you can be alarmed by it. Or maybe it’s a car no one will want. 

    “It’s not obvious what existing platform you’d build this off, given the dimensions and that it’s electric. But we note the suggestion that Ford’s strategy for future EVs will be to attach iconic names and shapes to them to earn credibility and justify higher pricing. From that viewpoint, it works.”

    *Matt Prior: Audi A2*

    How to revive the Audi A2? Just restart the original production line. The A2 was a car so far ahead of its time that maybe we’re almost ready for it now. I’m joking, of course. Some of the original A2 bits would have to go, I suppose. We’d have to can the diesels, for a start, even though the original 1.4 TDI was good for 119g/km and 65.7mpg – 18 years ago. Later, there was a 1.2 diesel that averaged 94mpg. Key to the A2’s so-2018 frugality was that it weighed only 895kg, owing to its diminutive size and aluminium structure. It also had extremely slippery aerodynamics. 

    The A2 couldn’t be so light today, because a new version, if it matched the forward-looking ethos of its predecessor, would have to be based on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB electrified platform, have a floor full of batteries and an electric motor at one end or the other. Which means that, just like 18 years ago, hardly anyone will buy one, because unless you can plug it in at home and have a predictable commute, you’re exposing yourself to the wild west of the public charging network. And no one will do that unless they’re forced to, which is why soon we all will be. 

    Powertrain aside, for the new A2 little changes. The A2 didn’t rely on retro styling, which is why it still looks fresh. Its thick door pillars were for crash protection and its bluff, high rear and accompanying tiny window made for good aero but hurt visibility. Today, blindspot sensors and rearview cameras can fix that. 

    There’s no obvious fix to the original A2’s hard ride, save for the fact that we’ve become quite accustomed to EVs and Audis riding harshly and no one seems to mind. 

    The original A2’s only other issue is how few of them Audi managed to sell, which, given that it was priced from around £16,000, left profit margins far too slim. Today, we’re used to paying a lot for small Audis, so restart the cogs and price the new A2 from £30,000. 

    *Expert view: who would buy it?*

    “You’ve got to ask yourself why Audi never built another A2. A few people loved them and still do, but the questions linger: how do you make sure this car has appeal? What’s the USP? 

    “We think selling it would be the problem. Sure, the original A2 was light, but it wouldn’t be as light in production nowadays, and the original also had serious cost issues, like special plastic wings and a bespoke HVAC system. 

    “The Autocar proposal could have been a lot more radical, more edgy, we think. The proposed design looks like not much more than a mid-cycle action on the original model. The roof is a bit different, but we’d predict difficulties with getting in and out of the back seat as a result of that. Having said all this, it wouldn’t be too difficult to do, depending on the aggressiveness of the cost targets.” 

    *Hilton Holloway: Mercedes A-Class (Mk1)*

    It’s 21 years since the original Mercedes A-Class became infamous. For some reason, video of the tiny futuristic vehicle rolling over during testing by a Swedish motoring magazine hit the TV headlines around the world, and the phrase ‘elk test’ entered our vocabulary. 

    The main reason the new A-Class – just 2000 or so had been built at the time – rolled over when steered violently around an obstacle was because it was so tall and so short, and one of the reasons it was so tall was its ‘sandwich’ platform. 

    The double-decker floorpan, which allowed for an empty space under the A-Class’s flat floor, had a number of functions. In the event of a frontal collision, it allowed the slant-mounted engine to be pushed under the floor rather than into the cabin. Sitting passengers high also greatly improved the side-impact safety. 

    At the time – and this was 21 years ago, remember – Mercedes engineers also suggested that the space could also be used to store batteries for an electric A-Class or gas tanks for a fuel-cell version. 

    Indeed, experimental hydrogen fuel-cell versions of the original A-Class and its B-Class successor were made. (I drove the latter a few years ago in the RAC’s Future Car run from Brighton to London.) 

    Mercedes phased out the sandwich floor concept, saying lowish sales made the bespoke engine and gearbox very expensive to do. But I’m still a devotee of the idea. 

    The flat floor and tilted drivetrain make for a fantastically spacious package. (The original A-Class gave 70% of its overall length to occupant and luggage space.) Fitting removable seats to this concept turns it into a van, or build it without seats for a bespoke delivery vehicle. 

    This concept is inspired by both the experimental B-Class range-extender and Toyota’s new Japan Taxi, which has a petrol-hybrid engine albeit fuelled by LPG. The range-extending concept has much going for it, especially when it uses low-CO2, low-pollution natural gas. 

    Using natural gas also allows us to exploit the extensive fuelling network already under our feet. And unlike pure battery power, gas tanks are much lighter and much cheaper and vehicle range is unaffected by weather conditions. Two decades after it was launched, the original A-Class engineering concept is more relevant than ever. Using this architecture and a natural gas (or biogas) range-extender drivetrain could underpin a new generation of diesel-free premium crossovers, as well providing the basis for low-pollution haulage. 

    *Expert view: fashionable but flawed*

    “Leaving aside that Mercedes has moved on from the original, twin-floor A-Class (and is much more successful with today’s version), this revival of the concept does everything right for the modern era. It is smartly packaged, with the cab forward and a ‘flip diff’ to shorten the nose. These things are very fashionable. But you have to decide whether the market cares as much about the extremes of interior space as the designers. 

    “It goes back to the Austin Maxi: the company made much of the fact that you could lay all the seats down and sleep in the car – but nobody did. 

    “We’re not struck on that huge glass roof, either. It’s feasible, but you’d consume a lot of the energy you’ve just saved keeping the car cool.” 

    *Richard Bremner: Alfa Romeo Spider*

    The Alfa Romeo Spider was once the car in which much of the glamour of its maker’s name resided. Not only did it look pretty, with its artfully crafted triple-piece grille, faired headlights, scalloped flanks and delicate boat tail, but it also had the mechanicals to deliver a drive as dreamy as its looks. A rorty all-alloy, twin-cam 1600, a five-speed gearbox, well-engineered suspension and four-wheel disc brakes made it the most sophisticated sports car in its class. And class it had in spades. 

    Its fame was hugely amplified by a star appearance in the 1967 Hollywood film The Graduate, with Dustin Hoffman, but it didn’t need such publicity for success. Its basic excellence and loss-making Alfa Romeo’s inability to replace it caused it to live on for 27 years, in increasingly adulterated form, before being replaced in 1995 by the front-drive Spider loosely based on the Fiat Tipo. While not a landmark machine, that 916-series Spider sold decently, survived until 2004 and was eventually replaced in 2006 by the 159- and Brera-derived Spider. More cabrio than sports car, this overweight two-seater sold very slowly until being deleted, yet to be replaced, in 2010. 

    Despite this disappointing end, Alfa has a two-seat sports car heritage that deserves reviving. Before you mouth ‘4C’, I mean in a manner a lot more convincing than this Lotus Elise-alike underachiever manages. Happily, Alfa Romeo now has the hardware to make it happen, namely the rear-wheel-drive platform from the Giulia saloon. It’s too long for a two-seat Spider, but with a section of floor removed, an agility-enhancing action in itself, there is the platform, suspension and 197bhp, 276bhp and 503bhp engine range to form the fine basis of a sports car that would be a lot sportier than the Mercedes SLC and possibly the new BMW Z4. Oh, and a manual gearbox would be good. 

    A generous bonnet, a tail longer than both the SLC’s and Z4’s, as per the original ’66 Spider’s proportions, should produce a timeless design that would feature a handful of sculptural and decorative references to the earlier car. But this Spider would be boldly contemporary, subtly muscular, elegant, Italian and decidedly not retro. Alfa Romeo designs have always pushed ahead, and this should be no different. Achieving elegance will require a fabric hood, incidentally. 

    The interior would be Italian furniture post-modern lush, and the speedo and tacho would individually sprout front and centre from behind the wheel, ’66 style. But all else would be modern, driver-centric and thoughtfully equipped for the passenger, too. Sports cars often go through periods of waning appeal, before being reignited by fresh product. A brilliant new Alfa Spider should do it.

    *Expert view: not edgy enough*

    "This new version of the sports car that started as Duetto and became Spider looks very feasible. Alfa’s parent, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has platforms and powertrain hardware that could be adapted relatively quickly to make it. 

    “The car is very attractive but if anything it’s a bit too plausible. The proposer has a good understanding of how low-volume models are created from high-volume components, but if this were an Envisage project, we’d have made it more radical, with an eye on a longer life. Part of the appeal of cars like this is edgy styling. You want a design that starts as a piece of art and a finished shape that implies we can build this whereas others can’t.” 

    *The verdict*

    Mostly, we’ve proved again how hard it is to propose, let alone specify, a new car. Our cars all have a degree of credibility, but Envisage’s experts (veterans of dozens of live projects) found our Alfa Spider a bit too safe, our Audi and Mercedes somewhat lacking in sales appeal, and our Ford Capri a bit too off-the-wall for comfort. It might work, but it looks risky. Last year, our results were much like this: nobody proposed a market smash. With a year to improve, we hardly did. Perhaps the lesson for us is to stick to the keyboard. 

    *Read more*

    *Bettered by design: behind the scenes at Land Rover's design studio​*

    *The dark art of car design​*

    *How to design an electric car, according to Porsche design boss​* Reported by Autocar 22 minutes ago.

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    Get behind the scenes to see how today's cars are put together

    You can watch your favourite British cars in exotic locations on TV but we recommend seeing them being brought to life on the factory floor

    The arcing sparks of synchronised robot welders, the seismic thump of a multi-tonne press stamping body panels, the orderly bustle of a final assembly line – if you know about cars, you’ll likely be familiar with these processes, even if you haven’t seen them. And if you haven’t witnessed this amazing creative theatre, add it to your list of automotive must-dos. 

    There’s plenty of scope in the UK, despite Brexit, where you can see Minis, Jaguars and Land Rovers produced in profusion, by booking yourself onto a guided tour. Not all cars are mass-produced, of course: Aston Martin, Bentley, Lotus and Morgan are among those allowing you to see car construction at a less frenetic pace. 

    Sadly, not every UK car plant grants the public access, among them Nissan’s legendarily productive Sunderland plant. But one of the bigger factories allowing you a view is the Mini factory in Oxford, with the reactions of the almost invariably enthusiastic visitors visible on TripAdvisor. If you’re still sceptical, here are a couple of reviews: 

    “Watching the robots work was like being in another world. I enjoyed it even though I am not interested in cars!” Or this: “Mind blown by the complexity of the logistics.” And this: “The area with the robots welding the body parts together was utterly captivating. Big, heavy machines that moved like a cross between a human and a snake. The factory is amazingly clean and surprisingly quiet. Such a good experience, I went twice.” 

    As a bit of a seasoned car factory visitor, your reporter can confirm all this, and the fact that despite many similarities, car factories never stop being mesmerising – from the huge rolls of sheet steel at the start, to the moment when a car starts for the first time in its life. 

    *1. Aston Martin *

    *Gaydon*

    *Models featured:* DB11, Vantage, DBS Superleggera 

    *Tour includes:* Visits for two, including a history retrospective with previous models, a full factory tour with explanations from specialists and a tour of the current Aston range including lifestyle products. Refreshments included. Hotel accommodation and transfers optionally available. Three-day ‘At Home with Aston Martin’ tour for two: Day 1 – Gaydon factory tour; Day 2 – Aston Martin Works Newport Pagnell tour of restoration and servicing activities; Day 3 – dynamic driving day at Millbrook Proving Ground with professional tutors. 

    *Price:* Standard tour £350, but free for Aston Martin owners via franchised dealers. Three-day tour £4060, including accommodation at Dormy House hotel in the Cotswolds. 

    *When:* See website for availability 

    *How long:* One or three days 

    *Where:* Gaydon, Warwickshire 

    *Contact:* www.astonmartinartofliving.com/ experience/factory_tour

    *2. Bentley*

    *Crewe*

    *Models featured: *Continental GT, Bentayga, Mulsanne 

    *Tour includes:* Starts with a heritage exhibition and an explanation of the company’s origins, before an extensive assembly line tour and a visit to the woodwork and trim shops. Refreshments included. German spoken on request. Minimum age 14. 

    *Price:* £30 

    *When:* Most days from Monday to Friday, morning or afternoon. 2019 tour dates released early next year. 

    *How long:* Between two and two-and-a-half hours 

    *Where:* Bentley Motors, Pyms Lane, Crewe, Cheshire, CW1 3PL 

    *Contact:* 01270 505851

    *3. Ginetta*

    *Leeds*

    *Models featured:* G40, G55, G58 

    *Tour includes:* Detail tours with groups of 20 during a one-date winter open day, often in collaboration with a PistonHeads’ Sunday Service. Includes engine assembly, engine testing by dynomometer, chassis construction and the carbonfibre moulding process, plus an opportunity to inspect and sit in most of the current range. Refreshments (with charity donation) included. 

    *Price:* Free 

    *When:* Annually, usually over the Christmas/New Year break 

    *How long:* All day 

    *Where:* Ginetta Cars, Helios 47, Isabella Road, Garforth, Leeds, LS25 2DY 

    Contact: www.ginetta.com

    *4. Jaguar*

    *Castle Bromwich*

    *Models featured:* Jaguar XJ, XE, XF. Separate ‘Spitfires to Sportscars’ F-Type tour 

    *Tour includes:* A guided tour of the thunderous aluminium press shop, the sophisticated rivet-bond body assembly area, the paint shop and the final assembly line, including vehicle start-up. The bespoke options area is also visited. The F-Type tour includes explanation of the factory’s World War Two Spitfire fighter plane manufacture. 

    *Price:* £49 (children £39) 

    *When:* Twice daily, Monday to Friday 

    *How long: *Three hours

    *Where* The Jaguar Visitor Centre, Chester Road, Castle Vale, Birmingham, B35 7RA 

    *Contact:* www.experience.jaguar.com

    *5. Jaguar Land Rover*

    *Solihull*

    *Models featured:* Jaguar F-Pace, Range Rover Velar 

    *Tour includes:* A guided tour of the ground-thumping aluminium press shop, the advanced rivet-bond body assembly area, the paint shop and the final assembly line, including vehicle start-up. The increasingly busy bespoke options area is also visited. Refreshments included. 

    *Price:* £49 (children £39) 

    *When:* Twice daily, Monday to Friday

    *How long:* Two-and-a-half to three hours 

    *Where:* The Land Rover Visitor Centre, Lode Lane, Solihull, West Midlands, B92 8NW 

    *Contact:* www.experience.jaguar.com

    *6. Jaguar Land Rover*

    *Wolverhampton*

    *Models featured: *Ingenium engines 

    *Tour includes:* A guided tour of the machining hall, where engine blocks are ground, cut and honed, together with machining of cylinder heads and crankshafts. This is followed by the assembly of the engines by robots. The tour also includes an explanation of the factory’s advanced recycling processes, its energy generation methods and rainwater harvesting. Refreshments included. 

    *Price:* £39 (children £30) 

    *When: *Twice daily, Monday to Friday 

    *How long: *Three hours

    *Where:* Jaguar Land Rover Engine Manufacturing Centre, i54 Business Park, Innovations Drive, Coven, Wolverhampton, WV9 5GB 

    Contact: www.experience.jaguar.com

    *7. Land Rover*

    *Solihull; Halewood*

    *Models featured:* Discovery, Range Rover Sport, Range Rover (Solihull); Evoque, Discovery Sport (Halewood) 

    *Tour includes:* Guided tour of the aluminium press shop, rivet-bond body assembly area, paint shop and final assembly line, including vehicle start-up. Finishes with the Range Rover Story Exhibition. 

    *Price:* £49 (children £39). Taster tour at Halewood £29 

    *When:* Twice daily, Monday to Friday 

    *How long:* Three hours; one-and-a-half-hour taster tour 

    *Where: *Land Rover, Lode Lane, Solihull, West Midlands, B92 8NW; Halewood Visitor Centre, South Road, Liverpool L24 9PZ 

    *Contact:* www.experience.landrover.com

    *8. Lotus*

    *Hethel*

    *Models featured:* Elise, Exige, Evora, 3-Eleven 

    *Tour includes:* An introduction to Lotus’s history, followed by the engine and subframe preparation areas, the body bonding process, chassis assembly, final assembly and quality check process. There are also visits to the factory shop and Hethel Store. Refreshments provided.

    *Price:* £49 

    *When:* Monday and Wednesday 

    *How long:* Three hours 

    *Where:* See Lotus website for details 

    *Contact: *www.lotuscars.com/factory-tours; 01908 608000

    *9. Mini*

    *Oxford*

    *Models featured:* Mini Hatchback, Convertible, Clubman 

    *Tour includes:* A guided tour of a robot bodyshop that’s one of the most impressive in Europe, and a walk along the extensive and often very colourful final assembly line. A trip to the plant’s small museum and shop, which are housed in part of the original Morris works, is also included. German is spoken on request. 

    *Price:* £19 (concessions £16); guided tour for 15 £220; extended tour for 15 £320 

    *When:* Two or three times daily, Monday to Friday 

    *How long:* Two hours 

    *Where:* Mini Plant Oxford, Eastern By-Pass Road, Oxford, OX4 6NL 

    *Contact: *www.visit-mini.com/visitmini

    *10. Morgan*

    *Malvern*

    *Models featured:* 4/4, Plus 4, Roadster, Plus 8, 3 Wheeler, Aero 

    *Tour includes:* Gravity provides the assembly line movement here, as the factory is built on a hill. Wood, aluminium and leather are a Morgan’s main ingredients, and the tour starts in the aluminium shop that constructs the chassis. You’ll also see (and smell) the wood shop, the tin shop that forms the exterior panels, the trim shop and the final inspection area. 

    *Price:* £22.50 (children £11.50) 

    *When:* Monday, Thursday, Friday mornings 

    *How long:* Two hours

    *Where:* Morgan Motor Company, Spring Lane, Malvern Link, Worcestershire WR14 1AJ 

    *Contact:* www.morgan-motor.co.uk/factorytours; 01684 584580

    *11. Rolls-Royce*

    *Goodwood*

    *Models featured:* Phantom, Cullinan, Wraith, Ghost, Dawn 

    *Tour includes: *The factory building itself is worth the journey. Designed by architect Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, the limestone, glass, cedar and plant-clad building is adjacent to a lake, the grounds hosting more than 120 species of tree. The tour takes in the craftsmanship of the wood shop, the trim shop and the glazed final assembly line known as ‘the glass mile’. 

    *Price:* na

    *When:* There are no regular organised tours, but there are usually a couple of open days that the public can attend. Details of these can be found on Rolls-Royce’s Facebook and Instagram pages. 

    *How long:* Two hours, but they can be longer for those with a particular interest.

    *Where:* Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited, The Drive, Westhampnett, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0SH 

    *Contact:* Check the Rolls-Royce Facebook (en-gb.facebook.com/RollsRoyceGroup) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/rollsroycecars) pages for news of public tour days.

    *12. Toyota*

    *Burnaston; Deeside engine plant*

    *Models featured: *Auris hatchback and Hybrid, Auris Touring Sports, Avensis 

    *Tour includes:* Starts with rolled coils of sheet steel that are cut and pressed into panels that an army of more than 500 robots manipulates and welds into a body. The assembly line tour will see around 2300 sub-assemblies and components attached to the painted bodyshell to create the car, which comprises around 30,000 individual parts. The quality inspection and testing process will also be shown. Refreshments included. 

    *Price: *Free, but donations of £10-£15 are encouraged for the Toyota Manufacturing UK Charitable Trust and Air Ambulance. 

    *When:* Tuesday and Thursday mornings 

    *How long:* Three hours 

    *Where:* Vehicle plant: Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK, Burnaston, Derby, DE1 9TA (use DE65 6DX for sat-nav); Engine plant: Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK, Deeside Industrial Park, Tenth Avenue, Deeside, CH5 2TW 

    *Contact:* www.toyotauk.com/ community/public-visits; for Deeside engine plant, email joe.collings@toyotauk.com 

    *13. Vauxhall*

    *Ellesmere Port*

    *Models featured:* Astra hatchback, Astra Sports Tourer 

    *Tour includes:* The bodyshop, where robots handle and weld panels to create the two bodystyles, followed by a viewing of the extensive general assembly areas. Refreshments provided. 

    *Price:* Free, but tours are currently only being provided for fleet customers and marketing invitees. That may change, so it’s worth checking. 

    *When: *Once weekly on a Wednesday morning. Extensive walking involved. Minimum age 12. Maximum of 12 guests per tour. 

    *How long:* Two-and-a-half hours, 9.30am-12.00pm 

    *Where:* Gate 10/Reception, Vauxhall Motors Limited, North Road, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, CH65 1AL 

    *Contact:* ep.communications@vauxhall.co.uk 

    *Read more*

    *Touring Britain's car industry: three days, 1500 miles and 16 car plants*

    *Inside the BAC factory: how to make a Mono​*

    *Inside the secret morgue at Jaguar Land Rover’s Castle Bromwich plant​* Reported by Autocar 22 minutes ago.

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    Europe theme for Edinburgh New Year party Organisers of Edinburgh's Hogmanay say it will be a celebration of Scotland's cultural ties with Europe. Reported by BBC News 2 hours ago.

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    Phil Neville has claimed that Manchester United record signing Paul Pogba is the “best midfielder in Europe”. The France international scored twice in Manchester United’s 3-1 win against Huddersfield Town at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening. Pogba has enjoyed a new lease of life at Old Trafford over the past week or so following Ole […]

    The post Neville raves about Pogba: Man United have Europe’s best midfielder appeared first on The Sport Review. Reported by The Sport Review 3 hours ago.

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  • 12/27/18--23:04: Change in treasury shares
  • Aspo Plc
    Stock Exchange Release
    December 28, 2018, at 9 p.m.

    *CHANGE IN TREASURY SHARES

    *A total of 875 treasury shares granted as share-based incentives have been returned to Aspo in accordance with the terms of the incentive plan as the employment ended. After the return Aspo Plc holds a total of  304 361 treasury shares; that is 1.0% of the share capital.ASPO Plc

    Aki Ojanen
    CEOFurther information, please contact:
    Arto Meitsalo, CFO of Aspo Plc, tel. +358 40 5511422, arto.meitsalo@aspo.comDistribution:
    Nasdaq Helsinki
    Key Media
    www.aspo.com

    *Aspo* is a conglomerate that owns and develops business operations in the Northern Europe and growth markets focusing on demanding B-to-B customers. Our strong company brands - ESL Shipping, Leipurin, Telko and Kauko - aim to be the market leaders in their sectors. They are responsible for their own operations, customer relationships, and the development of these. Together they generate Aspo's goodwill. Aspo's Group structure and business operations are continually developed without any predefined schedules. Reported by GlobeNewswire 3 hours ago.

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    *Order for a production MBE system in Europe*

    *Bezons, December 28, 2018 - 8:00 am - RIBER, a global market leader for semiconductor industry equipment**, announces the order for a production MBE system in Europe.*

    A customer of the company has ordered a MBE 49 production system which will be used to increase its production capabilities of optoelectronic components.

    This commercial success confirms the suitability of RIBER's technological solutions with the production needs of semiconductor industry.

    This order will be delivered in 2019.

    *About RIBER:*
    Riber designs and produces molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) systems as well as evaporation sources and cells for the semiconductor industry. This high-tech equipment is essential for the manufacturing of compound semiconductor materials and new materials that are used in numerous consumer applications, from new information technologies to OLED flat screens and next-generation solar cells.
    Riber is listed on Euronext Paris (Compartment "C") and is part of the CAC Small, CAC Technology and CAC T. HARD. & EQ indices. Riber is eligible for SME share-based savings schemes.

    ISIN: FR0000075954 - RIB
    Reuters: RIBE.PA
    Bloomberg: RIB: FP
    BPI France-approved innovative company
    www.riber.com

    *RIBER *
    tel: +33 (0)1 39 96 65 00
    invest@riber.com *CALYPTUS *
    Cyril Combe
    tel: +33 (0)1 53 65 68 68
    cyril.combe@calyptus.net

    *Attachment*

    · Order for a production MBE system in Europe.pdf Reported by GlobeNewswire 3 hours ago.

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    According to Han de Jong, chief economist at ABN AMRO, the ongoing trade conflict has a large potential effect on the global economy and a further escalation and renewed US measures against Europe would be very damaging.

    *Key Quotes*

    “The uncertainty over the prospects will dampen business confidence and investment. On the other hand, it is possible that the US and China resolve their conflict and that the US administration does not take further measures against other trade partners.”

    “Clearly, in any economic forecast, this is a big unknown. We are assuming that the US will increase import tariffs on Chinese goods to 25% and apply it on all Chinese products.” Reported by FXstreet.com 3 hours ago.

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    · *Nasdaq’s Nordic markets remained active in 2018 despite market volatility*
    · *Record number of switches from Nasdaq First North to the Main Market*

    *Stockholm, December 28, 2018* – Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ) welcomed 83 new listings to its Nordic markets* in 2018, raising 2.56 billion EUR in capital. A majority of the new listings (50 companies/60.2 percent) occured on Nasdaq First North, Nasdaq’s junior growth market for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

    “It is exciting to see that the Nordic markets remain resilient despite current market volatility, with a continuous inflow of new company listings throughout the year,” said Lauri Rosendahl, President of Nasdaq Nordic. “It has been particularly exciting to see Finland having its most active listing year since 2000, while the SME market in Denmark has picked up nicely with nine new listings on Nasdaq First North.”

    A total number of 13 companies transferred from Nasdaq First North to the Nordic main market during 2018; a record year for switches. Since Nasdaq launched its growth market in 2006, 73 companies have matured and transferred from Nasdaq First North to the main market.

    Finnish real estate company Kojamo (capital raised: 483 mEUR) was the largest IPO in 2018, followed by NetCompany (416 mEUR) in Copenhagen and Cibus Nordic Real Estate  (311 mEUR) in Stockholm. A number of high profiled corporate spin-offs also occurred in 2018, including Epiroc (from Atlas Copco) and Veoneer (from Autoliv).

    “Nasdaq Nordic has maintained its position as one of the most active IPO markets in Europe in 2018,” said Adam Kostyál, SVP and Head of European Listings, Nasdaq. “We continue to see an interest from issuers both in the Nordics and across Europe, in particular from fast growing technology sectors. Based on current disucssions with companies and advisors, we expect continued activity in the first part of 2019, as long as markets remain relatively stable.”

    *2018 Nasdaq Nordic Listings Statistics** *

      *Main Market * *Nasdaq First North*
    *Total New Listings (incl. switches)**** *33* *50*
    Initial Public Offerings 14 37
    Switches from Nasdaq First North**** 13 ----
    Switches from non-Nasdaq markets 1 7
    Company spin-offs 3 ----
    Listing, no offering 2
      6
     
    Capital Raised (Million EUR) 1 881   683
    Largest IPOs (capital raised, million EUR) Kojamo Oyj    (483)
    Netcompany Group A/S   (416)
    Cibus Nordic Real Estate AB  (311)
    Sectors with most listings**** Health Care   (19)
    Industrials   (15)
    Financials   (14)

    *2018 Nasdaq Stockholm Listings Statistics***

      *Main Market * *Nasdaq First North *
    *Total New Listings (incl. switches)**** *23* *33*
    Initial Public Offerings 7 21
    Switches from Nasdaq First North**** 12 ---
    Switches from non-Nasdaq markets 1 7
    Company spin-offs 3 ----
    Listing, no offering --- 5
    Capital Raised (Million EUR) 460 564
    Largest IPOs (capital raised, million EUR) Cibus Nordic Real Estate AB  (311)
    Bygghemma Group First AB   (138)
    NCAB Group AB   (65)
    Sectors with most listings**** Health Care   (18)
    Industrials    (9)
    Consumer Services   (7)*Main markets and Nasdaq First North at Nasdaq Copenhagen, Nasdaq Helsinki, Nasdaq Iceland and Nasdaq Stockholm.
    **Data Source: Nasdaq Nordic, Econ & Stat Research
    ***Includes IPOs, listings with no offerings, company spin-offs as well as switches from Nasdaq and non-Nasdaq Markets
    ****Includes switches from Nasdaq First North to the Main Market

    *About Nasdaq First North*

    Nasdaq First North is regulated as a multilateral trading facility, operated by the different exchanges within Nasdaq Nordic (Nasdaq First North Denmark is currently regulated as an alternative marketplace, but will be regulated as a multilateral trading facility effective January 3, 2018). It does not have the legal status as an EU-regulated market. Companies at Nasdaq First North are subject to the rules of Nasdaq First North and not the legal requirements for admission to trading on a regulated market. The risk in such an investment may be higher than on the main market.

    *About Nasdaq*

    Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ) is a leading global provider of trading, clearing, exchange technology, listing, information and public company services. Through its diverse portfolio of solutions, Nasdaq enables customers to plan, optimize and execute their business vision with confidence, using proven technologies that provide transparency and insight for navigating today's global capital markets. As the creator of the world's first electronic stock market, its technology powers more than 100 marketplaces in 50 countries, and 1 in 10 of the world's securities transactions. Nasdaq is home to over 4,000 total listings with a market value of approximately $15 trillion. To learn more, visit business.nasdaq.com.

    *Media Relations Contact:*
    Erik Granström
    +46 73 449 78 07
    erik.granstrom@nasdaq.com  

      Reported by GlobeNewswire 3 hours ago.

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    *
    SSH Communications Security Corporation enters into a Patent License Agreement 

    *SSH Communications Security Corporation ("SSH") has entered into a patent license agreement with one of the leading providers of patent risk management solutions ("Provider"). As a part of the agreement, SSH will receive a one-time payment of 2,000,000 USD (approximately 1,750,000 EUR) for the patent license.

    The patent license granted to the Provider´s member companies focuses on SSH patents filed before 2010, including e.g. the so-called NAT Traversal patent family. Other terms of the agreement are confidential. 

    “This patent license agreement is a win-win proposition for all parties”, said Mr. Erkki Yli-Juuti, SSH's VP Intellectual Property. “The Provider's member network can continue using the licensed technology, and SSH gets a fair compensation for its intellectual property without having to resort to costly and time-consuming litigation.”

    According to the agreements between SSH and Clausal Computing Ltd., as reported in SSH's Annual Report 2015 (Related Party Transactions), SSH will pay to Clausal Computing Ltd. 440,000 USD (approximately 385,000 EUR) of the license revenue as a royalty fee. Therefore, SSH's share of this patent license payment is 1,560,000 USD (approximately 1,365,000 EUR). This will be fully recognized in SSH's Q4 2018 result.
    SSH COMMUNICATIONS SECURITY CORPORATION
    Kaisa Olkkonen
    CEOFor further information, please contact:
    Kaisa Olkkonen, CEO, tel. +358 40 5795216Distribution:
    Nasdaq Helsinki Oy
    Major media
    www.ssh.com*SSH Communications Security:*
    SSH.COM helps organizations access, secure and control their digital core – their critical data, applications and services. We have over 3,000 customers around the world, including 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies, many of the world’s largest financial institutions, and major organizations in all verticals. We are committed to helping our customers thrive in the cloud era with solutions that offer secure access with zero inertia, zero friction and zero credentials risk. SSH.COM sells online; through offices in North America, Europe and Asia; and through a global network of certified partners. The company’s shares (SSH1V) are quoted on the NASDAQ Helsinki. For more information, visit www.ssh.com.  Reported by GlobeNewswire 2 hours ago.

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    CRH PLC Announces Update to Share Buyback Programme * *

    *CRH Completes Phase 3 and Announces Phase 4 of Share Buyback Programme*

    * *

    *DUBLIN / ACCESSWIRE / December 28, 2018 /* On 25 April 2018, CRH plc (NYSE: CRH) (LSE: CRH) announced its intention to repurchase ordinary shares of up to €1 billion over the next 12 months. CRH is pleased to announce that it has completed the third phase of its share buyback programme, returning a further €100 million of cash to shareholders (the "Phase 3 Programme").

    Between 27 November 2018 and 21 December 2018, 4.1 million ordinary shares were repurchased on the London Stock Exchange. This brings total cash returned to shareholders under the ongoing €1 billion share buyback programme to €800 million.

    CRH today also announces that it has entered into arrangements with UBS A.G., London Branch ("UBS") to repurchase ordinary shares on CRH's behalf for a maximum consideration of €200 million (the "Phase 4 Programme").

    The Phase 4 Programme will commence on 2 January 2019, and will end no later than 29 March 2019. This will complete the €1 billion share buyback programme as announced on 25 April 2018.

    Under the terms of the Phase 4 Programme, ordinary shares will be repurchased on the London Stock Exchange and/or Euronext Dublin. CRH has entered into non-discretionary instructions with UBS to conduct the Phase 4 Programme on its behalf and to make trading decisions under the Phase 4 Programme independently of CRH in accordance with certain pre-set parameters.

    The Phase 4 Programme, the purpose of which is to reduce the share capital of CRH, will be conducted within the limitations of the authority granted at CRH's AGM on 26 April 2018 to repurchase up to 10% of the Company's ordinary shares in issue (being 56,199,571 ordinary shares following the completion of the first, second and third phases of the buyback programme).

    The Phase 4 Programme will also be conducted within the parameters prescribed by the Market Abuse Regulation 596/2014, the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/1052 and Chapter 12 of the UK Listing Rules. The repurchased ordinary shares will be held in treasury pending their cancellation or re-issue in due course.

    This announcement relates solely to the completion of the Phase 3 Programme and the commencement of the Phase 4 Programme and any decision in relation to any future buyback programmes will be based on an ongoing assessment of the capital needs of the business and general market conditions by the CRH Board of Directors.

    *Contact CRH at Dublin 404 1000 (+353 1 404 1000)*

    * *

    Albert Manifold

    Chief Executive

    Senan Murphy

    Finance Director

    Frank Heisterkamp

    Head of Investor Relations

    * *

    *About CRH*

    CRH (LSE: CRH, ISE: CRG, NYSE: CRH) is a leading global diversified building materials group, employing 85,000 people at over 3,600 operating locations in 32 countries worldwide. CRH is the second largest building materials company worldwide and the largest in North America. The Group has leadership positions in Europe, where it is the largest heavyside materials business, as well as established strategic positions in the emerging economic regions of Asia and South America. CRH is committed to improving the built environment through the delivery of superior materials and products for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure, housing and commercial projects. A Fortune 500 company, CRH is a constituent member of the FTSE 100 index, the EURO STOXX 50 index, the ISEQ 20 and the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) Europe. CRH's American Depositary Shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). CRH's market capitalisation at 30 November 2018 was approximately €20 billion. For more information visit www.crh.com.

    *Registered Office: No 12965. Registered Office: 42 Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin 2, R02 R279, Ireland*

    *This information is provided by RNS, the news service of the London Stock Exchange. RNS is approved by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a Primary Information Provider in the United Kingdom. Terms and conditions relating to the use and distribution of this information may apply. For further information, please contact rns@lseg.com or visit www.rns.com.
    *

    *SOURCE: *CRH PLC
    View source version on accesswire.com:
    https://www.accesswire.com/531541/CRH-PLC-Announces-Update-to-Share-Buyback-Programme Reported by Accesswire 1 hour ago.

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    Transfer news LIVE: All the deals in the Premier League and Europe The January transfer window opens in just four days and clubs are finalising their plans to bring in reinforcements this winter. Follow all the latest news with Sportsmail here. Reported by MailOnline 1 hour ago.

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    Han de Jong, chief economist at ABN AMRO, thinks that the factors that contributed to the slowing of growth in 2018 will be less forceful in 2019.

    *Key Quotes*

    “There is one factor working in the opposite direction, which is the effect of US fiscal policy. The effects of tax cuts, tax reform and spending increases boosted US activity in 2018 and will continue to do so, but the effects will wear off in the course of 2019. On balance, we therefore expect the pace of global growth to ease marginally from its current levels. That will translate in lower overall growth number for 2019 compared to 2018, but the differences are not huge. We are not expecting a recession in key economies in 2019, nor in 2020.”

    “If we are going to be wrong, the most likely reason will be that US inflation accelerates, forcing the Fed to tighten more aggressively. All bets are off if that happens as such a policy may be appropriate for the US, but it will be highly inappropriate for the rest of the world.” 

    “A second big risk to the outlook is a possible escalation of the trade conflict between the US and China and a renewed conflict between the US and Europe. Direct effects will increase and confidence effects will worsen. China remains a risk to the world economy, if only for the lack of transparency. The policymakers appear to have been successful in their deleveraging efforts. The risks of financial instability have been reduced, but most likely not eliminated.” Reported by FXstreet.com 2 hours ago.

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    [East African] Africa has received new trade alliance guarantees from the European Union of more than $200 million. Reported by allAfrica.com 1 hour ago.

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    · ZEROPACK is born, the new company created by Bio-on for the exploitation of the patents aimed to revolutionize the world of food packaging in the fruits and vegetable sector through the use of bioplastics. The aim is to allow all distributors to serve customers with sustainable and environmental friendly products.
    · Rivoira enters the capital of ZEROPACK buying 50% of the shares: a strategic operation that aims to quickly acquire a leading position in the new frontier of food packaging for fresh fruits and vegetables. To accelerate the development of the technology, ZEROPACK acquired an exclusive worldwide license for 10 million euros from Bio-on.
    · Bio-on researchers working in this field for 4 years have discovered that PHA bioplastics can replace most of the plastics used in food packaging, confirming the extraordinary versatility of the bioplastic, a platform product that can be used to transform and make environmentally sustainable also the sector of fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and cheese.

    *Bologna - Cuneo (Italy) 28 December 2018* – The demand for new eco-sustainable materials for packaging is constantly increasing and consumers reward the choices of producers and distributors that respect the planet. *Bio-on*, listed on the AIM of Italian Stock Exchange and active in the high-quality bioplastic sector, and *Rivoira*, one of the world's leading manufacturers of high quality fruit and always careful on innovation, announce a *strategic agreement to develop new materials for food packaging of fresh fruits and vegetables, even single use*, with *ZEROPACK* S.p.A., founded by Bio-on and of which *Rivoira acquires the 50%.*
    *ZEROPACK will be able to produce films, crates, small and large containers, fruit supports and completely natural labels based on bioplastic, 100% natural and biodegradable, produced also from fruit and vegetable wastes*. To accelerate the development of these solutions and quickly gain a leading position in this rapidly growing sector with a high demand for quality, *ZEROPACK has acquired from Bio-on an exclusive license to exploit the technology for 10 million euros*.

    *The technology* is based on the research activities that Bio-on researchers have been conducting for 4 years in this field of application in Italian and US laboratories and it *will help to limit the new environmental emergency represented by the enormous quantity of plastic waste*. As it is known, the traditional plastics nowadays used to package food products do not allow efficient recycling processes and often contain highly polluting components.

    "The investment announced today represents to us the entrance of a large company - explains *Marco Astorri, President and CEO of Bio-on* - and we are particularly proud that a prestigious group like Rivoira, through Marco Rivoira and Gualtiero Rivoira, recognise the innovation and the potentiality of the new technologies developed by Bio-on in the field of food packaging. The basis of our bioplastic has all the qualities to revolutionize the world of food packaging through ZEROPACK. This is what people are asking for and we will do it together with ZEROPACK and the Rivoira group”. Moreover, thanks to the diversification of the Rivoira group, Zeropack will have the possibility to use Bio-on technology also in the mineral water field. The Rivoira group controls Fonti Alta Valle Po spa, owner of Acqua Eva, a young company with a very strong expansion in the national and international market.

    "We are happy to enter the world of packaging for the future - explains *Marco Rivoira, Ceo Gruppo Rivoira* - and in particular to contribute with our experience and daily production quality to the creation of completely different products compared to those we can find on the market today. ZEROPACK anticipates the strategies of the Rivoira Group, always looking for innovations. The mission is to provide total quality of both product and packaging. To study materials to revolutionize this sector, starting from nature and naturally, will allow the giants of distribution to have a 100% sustainable alternative”.

    All the bioplastics developed by Bio-on (PHAs or polyhydroxy-alkanoates and PHBs or poly-hydroxy-butyrates) are obtained from renewable plant sources without any competition with food chains; in most cases they guarantee the same thermo-mechanical properties of traditional plastics with the advantage of being completely eco-friendly and 100% biodegradable in a natural way. Thanks to the exclusive characteristics of its materials, Bio-on now extends its use to another of the most innovative and interesting field of application such as food-packaging. The researches in this field of application are based on PHBs, the only organic material that derives from the nature having piezoelectric properties

    Rivoira completed the acquisition of 50% of ZEROPACK S.p.A through RK Zero Srl with Carlo Lingua and Paolo Carissimo partners. Following the transaction, the share of Bio-on and RK zero is equal to 50.00% each. Bio-on has granted ZEROPACK an exclusive license for the direct and indirect exploitation of technology for this specific sector for a total amount of 10 million euros. This agreement fully contributes to the 2018 Bio-on results and is part of the business plan presented in 2016. From 2019 ZEROPACK will present new patents and will begin various collaborations with distributors and producers worldwide. www.zeropack.it

    *Press information: Simona Vecchies +393351245190 – press@bio-on.it – twitter @BioOnBioplastic*

    Rivoira. Founded in 1950 by Giovanni Rivoira, a pioneer of innovation in agriculture, in Falicetto, municipality of Verzuolo in the province of Cuneo (Italy), Rivoira is today one of the leading fruit producers and distributors in Europe. The production, initially limited to apples and peaches, has grown over the years: today it reaches almost 100 thousand tons per year and includes kiwis, nectarines, plums, pears, grapes, cherries, mangoes and pomegranates produced mainly in Italy, where Rivoira has 6 owned farms, and in Chile. There are three factories equipped with the most advanced preservation and packaging technologies. Rivoira exports to the main European countries and is a leader in some non-EU markets such as Saudi Arabia and Libya. Since its foundation the company has been characterized by a high rate of innovation, both in the field with the adoption of the most modern principles of sustainable agriculture and integrated defense, both in the conservation, selection and packaging phase, to guarantee the final consumer a high quality standard. In terms of diversification, Rivoira invested in the production of water in 2010 and with the EVA brand it conquered the international markets thanks to the lightness of the highest water in Europe and to the sodium content, one with the lowest in the world. In the last 10 years, the group has also invested in the construction of hydroelectric plants and electricity production in Chile. Web link: www.rivoira.it Acqua Eva is born minimally mineralized from the slopes of Monviso at 2042 meters, from the highest source in Europe. Pure and light as it flows from the source, it is bottled keeping its key properties unaltered, including a very low fixed residue, only 48 mg / l and one of the lowest sodium content in the world, only 0.32 mg / l. In May 2013, the Monviso area in which the sources of Acqua Eva are located has been awarded the prestigious Unesco Biosphere Reserve award. Acqua Eva has always been committed to innovation and in July 2018 it inaugurated a fully automated warehouse that today remains unique in Europe in the field of mineral water. Thanks to its unique characteristics, Acqua Eva, after only eight years, is one of the best-selling waters in Italy and exports to over 10 countries worldwide. www.acquaeva.it

    Bio-On S.p.A., an Italian Intellectual Property Company (IPC), operates in the bioplastic sector conducting applied research and development of modern bio-fermentation technologies in the field of eco-sustainable and completely naturally biodegradable materials. In particular, Bio-On develops industrial applications through the creation of product characterisations, components and plastic items. Since February 2015, Bio-On S.p.A. has also been operating in the development of natural and sustainable chemicals for the future. Bio-On has developed an exclusive process for the production of a family of polymers called PHAs (polyhydroxyalkanoates) from agricultural waste (including molasses and sugar cane and sugar beet syrups). The bioplastic produced in this way is able to replace the main families of traditional plastics in terms of performance, thermo- mechanical properties and versatility. Bio-On PHAs is a bioplastic that can be classified as 100% natural and completely biodegradable: this has been certified by Vincotte and by USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). The Issuer's strategy envisages the marketing of licenses for PHAs production and related ancillary services, the development of R&D (also through new collaborations with universities, research centres and industrial partners), as well as the realisation of industrial plants designed by Bio-On. www.bio-on.it

    *Attachment*

    · CS_74_BIO-ON_28_12_2018_ZEROPACK_rivoira_ENG_v01_ok Reported by GlobeNewswire 1 hour ago.

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    Markets in Europe and Asia rose on Friday as positive momentum from the United States obscured downbeat economic numbers from Japan. Reported by NYTimes.com 30 minutes ago.

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    Stocks in Europe and Asia rose cautiously on Friday after Wall Street ended a volatile session with big gains, but fears of further price swings and worries about U.S. politics kept safe-haven currencies such as the yen and Swiss franc in demand. Reported by Reuters 17 minutes ago.

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    The European Union prohibits many food additives and other drugs that are widely used in American foods. Reported by NYTimes.com 3 hours ago.

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    Revolut, the UK's $1.7 billion star fintech, has big dreams as it takes on the American market· London's Revolut was founded only three years ago, but it already has 3 million customers and is aiming for 100 million customers in the next five years.
    · The challenger bank is set to hit the US market in early 2019, and it says 75,000 people are already on the waiting list.
    · "We want to one of the largest financial services companies in the world," CEO Nikolay Storonsky said.

    An app-based banking alternative in the UK valued at $1.7 billion has plans to grow even bigger. Just three years old, it's hitting the US early next year to continue its rapid expansion.

    Revolut, founded in 2015 by developer Vlad Yatsenko and former Lehman Brothers and Credit Suisse trader Nikolay Storonsky, already has 3.2 million customers, and the company boasts that it has long waiting lists outside Europe. Dubbed "the Amazon of banking," Revolut raised $250 million earlier this year and has reportedly lured a potential $500 million investment from Japan's SoftBank.

    The London-based company allows users to spend money worldwide in 150 currencies at a real-time exchange rate, with no fees, through a debit card. CEO Storonsky outlined his goal of seeing the bank reach 100 million customers in the next five years and break into North American and Pacific markets in the coming months.

    "We want to be one of the largest financial services companies in the world and continue our expansion," Storonsky said in an interview with Business Insider. "That's my dream."

    The US market has long been on Revolut's list for expansion, he said, but with significantly higher barriers to entry than Europe, progress has been slow. The company had originally planned to expand into the US by the end of 2018 but is now expecting a rollout early next year, in late March or early April.

    Among the hurdles: US regulations require domestically issued debit cards to use a different interbank messaging system — basically how banks send and receive information such as money transfers — from the rest of the world. And US debit cards must have at least two networks to be compliant. Rather than partner with a US provider, Storonsky said Revolut opted to build its own US-based processor.

    The company will decide soon which bank to partner with in the US as part of its offering.

    "Regulation is key — in the UK, it's very quick," said Storonsky, who holds a masters in economics from the New Economic School in Moscow. "But as you become a big organization, regulators pay much more attention, which can slow things down."

    In addition to the US, Revolut plans to expand to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan in 2019. The company recently announced it had received a Remittance License from the Monetary Authority of Singapore, as well as Stored Value Facility approval, and also noted it had been fully authorized by Japan's JFSA boosting its expansion plans. 

    *Read more:* UK fintechs claim Brexit could lead to a 'lost generation' of London businesses

    Storonsky declined to comment on any potential SoftBank investment and was coy on the prospect of future funding.

    "It depends how much investors are willing to invest," he said. "We're open to new investors, but them having a good reputation is important."

    Previous Series C funding was led by DST Global, the investment vehicle of Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, who was an early investor of Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify, among others. Existing Revolut investors Index Ventures and Ribbit Capital also took part in the financing.

    So far, Revolut's success has been built on its low-fee, multicurrency platform. But Storonsky sees cryptocurrencies, already on offer via Revolut, as an enduring part of the company's future. Cryptocurrencies have plunged in 2018, with their combined market cap now at $130 billion, down from a high of $800 billion in January, according to research site CoinMarketCap.

    "Banks are still very risk-averse of crypto, institutional funds as well," Storonsky said. "As a result, Wall Street is not really interested — there is no demand from institutional clients."

    On the product side, Revolut offers customers three options: a free account, a premium account, or the recently introduced metal account. The latter provides users with unlimited exchange in 24 fiat currencies, as well as five major cryptocurrencies: bitcoin cash, bitcoin core, ethereum, litecoin, and ripple.

    Storonsky said that Revolut has managed to sidestep the Brexit snags that have impacted a large number of other UK fintechs. The firm has applied for a European banking license from the Bank of Lithuania and is considering an application for an electronic-money license in Luxembourg as part of its plans to reduce any Brexit-related issues.

    *SEE ALSO: Revolut is planning a metal 'Platinum' card that will give people 1% cash back in cryptocurrencies*

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The legendary economist who predicted the housing crisis says the US will win the trade war Reported by Business Insider 3 hours ago.

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    Who was the top UEFA competition scorer of 2018? Chelsea and Netherlands prospect Daishawn Redan led Europe in 2018 to finish as the top scorer in UEFA competition. Reported by UEFA 3 hours ago.

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    British shares are gaining in strength on Friday, mirroring the trend seen across Europe, after U.S. stocks rebounded and finished on a firm note yesterday. Reported by RTTNews 3 hours ago.

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