Ms Kelly was non-committal on the precise timing of home reversion’s regulation, saying she would bring forward the necessary legislation “as soon as time parliamentary time allows”.Lifetime mortgages – where homeowners take a loan on their property, which is repayable on death – proved relatively straightforward to bring within the FSA’s remit, as they are simply a type of mortgage. It can have significant implications for tax, benefits, inheritance and long-term financial planning. Regulation will help people to make informed choices, offer valuable consumer protection and ensure there is a level playing field in the equity release market.”The Treasury’s reluctance to regulate home reversion plans until now has stemmed principally from the fact that the move will require primary legislation. They currently fall outside of the remit of the Financial Services Authority, meaning they can be sold by unregulated or unqualified individuals.However, later this year, lifetime mortgages – the other main form of equity release – will be brought within the FSA’s remit. This will create an uneven playing field in the equity release market – an anomaly that both consumer and industry groups have been campaigning to eliminate.Ruth Kelly, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Buying a home reversion policy is a huge financial decision involving the most important, and sometimes only significant, asset of elderly people. The treasury backed down over controversial plans to leave the home reversion equity release market unregulated yesterday, conceding that lack of regulation could pose a risk to consumers.
Home reversion schemes allow elderly homeowners to raise cash from the sale of all or part of their property, while retaining the right to live in it.
The job cuts represent 15 per cent of ebookers’ workforce and could save the company about £2.5m.. The company now says it needs to axe at least 70 administration jobs it has in Asia, bringing the total employed there down to 680.The company will make 170 people redundant in the UK despite a 47 per cent leap in sales over the first quarter of the year. Commissions have fallen to 1 per cent recently, from 6-8 per cent this time last year, and they could go down to zero. Operators in this market will have to start selling other products rather than just administering flight bookings, or they will get eaten up,” Mr Dhamija said.But ebookers, which was one of the first major UK company to start offshoring jobs to India, is also taking pains to cut costs. Ebookers, the online travel agency, yesterday predicted the decline of short-haul tour operators as it axed 270 jobs to cut costs, including 70 in India.
Dinesh Dhamija, the chief executive of ebookers, which specialises in long- and mid-haul destinations, yesterday said many short-haul operators would not survive without a radical change in their business model “There is so much capacity in the short-haul market. The bank is also acting as joint broker with Evolution Beeson Gregory.Intelligent Energy is seeking a finance director, the previous occupant of the post having been poached by the Lord Chancellor’s office. But the replacement is unlikely to be on board in time for the AIM listing..
It is also working with Japan Steelworks on storing and dispensing energy.Mr Bradbury said Intelligent Energy’s aim was to license its know-how to industrial partners, rather than manufacture and sell fuel cells itself.JP Morgan is acting as adviser on the flotation, which will see between a third and a half of the company offered to outside investors. Of these, Intelligent Energy said a “significant proportion” could lead to agreements being signed.Intelligent Energy has already developed, in partnership with Boeing, a light aircraft powered by a fuel cell and is now working on fuel cells that would provide ancilliary power for commercial airliners.The company is also working with the South African chemicals group Sasol and the country’s main electricity provider Eskom to bring power to remote areas. Yukos owns 26 per cent.Intelligent Energy is one of a growing number of companies developing fuel cell technology – batteries which run on hydrogen and can power anything from cars to mini-generators.The company aims to tap into the growing requirement for low-emission cars which do not pollute the environment and highly portable generating units to provide electricity in developing countries where the cost of full-scale power stations would be prohibitive.The company said it was engaged in discussions with 70 potential partners, a third of whom were negotiating specific programmes with it. Its chairman is Sir John Jennings, a former group managing director of Royal Dutch/ Shell and chairman of the oil major’s UK arm, Shell Transport and Trading.Harry Bradbury, Intelligent Energy’s chief executive who founded the company in 2001 after branching out from management consultancy, is the biggest individual shareholder with a stake of nearly 20 per cent.