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افتتاح پالایشگاه نفت پایا در بندرعباس

به گزارش خبرنگار مهر، صبح سه شنبه با حضور عباس علی آبادی وزیر صنعت، معدن و تجارت پالایشگاه نفت پایا به بهره‌برداری رسید. این پالایشگاه ظرفیت فرآوری ۲۵۰۰ بشکه ماده اولیه را در روز دارد که در زمینی به مساحت ۳.۸ هکتار با سرمایه‌گذاری ۴۰ میلیون دلار احداث شده است و برای ۲۰۰ نفر اشتغال ایجاد کرده است. روغن پایه، اسلک وکس و انواع روغن‌های صنعتی از تولیدات این مجموعه است.

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Joe Biden signs bill banning US imports of Russian uranium

Washington: US President Joe Biden signed into law a bill that will prohibit US imports of unirradiated low-enriched uranium from Russia. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement that Biden signed the Prohibiting Russian Uranium Imports Act, which is aimed at “reducing, and ultimately eliminating, our reliance on Russia for civilian nuclear power.” Having already been passed in the House and the Senate, the bill stipulates that 90 days after its enactment, unirradiated low-enriched uranium produced in Russia or by a Russian entity may not be imported to the United States, Xinhua news agency reported. Enriched uranium is the main fuel used by nuclear power plants. The bill will provide waivers until January 1, 2028, for utilities having to shut down nuclear reactors due to the cutoff of the Russian uranium supply. It also frees up 2.72 billion US dollars in federal funding that Congress recently appropriated, according to Sullivan, who said the money will be used to “jumpstart new enrichment capacity in the United States.” US companies pay around 1 billion dollars per year for enriched uranium from Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear power conglomerate, according to The Washington Post. The paper said in a report that the newly enacted law intends to “cut off one of the last significant flows of money from the United States to Russia” amid the latter’s conflict with Ukraine. IANS

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Greggs thanks ice coffee and pizza as expansion continues and milestone reached

High Street bakery giant Greggs has celebrated a strong start to the year after notching up a sales hike as its expansion continues across Britain’s high streets. The firm reported a 7.4% rise in like-for-like sales for the first 19 weeks of 2024. It recently hit a milestone for 2,500 shops trading nationwide, having expanded the chain by 27 on a net basis – those opened less those closed – in the 19 weeks to May 11. Greggs added that its new range of iced drinks was “performing well”, with plans to roll it out further from 300 shops now to up to 700 in the coming months. The new range includes coffee, flavoured lemonades and coolers. The firm said demand for pizza boxes has been strong in the recent 19 weeks following a dedicated campaign, while hot food favourites include its southern fried chicken goujons and southern fried potato wedges. The group said it remains on track for full-year expectations after the first quarter trading and said that it continues to forecast a 4% to 5% rise in its own costs over the year. “We have made a good start to the year with continued like-for-like growth in a challenging market, reflecting the strength of our strategic plan,” Greggs said. The update comes after Greggs recently became the latest UK retailer to suffer a systems outage. A raft of its stores were forced to close during one morning last month after technical issues left it unable to accept payments. The problem impacted shops nationwide, including in London, Sheffield and Birmingham, but it was resolved later in the same day. In its latest update, Greggs said it was “building capacity for further growth in the UK” as is confident of opening up to another 160 shops on a net basis over the full year. The group has also been expanding its healthier food ranges, recently launching a vegetarian pesto and mozzarella pasta dish, as well as feta and tomato pasta. Around 25,000 workers shared £17.6 million in bonuses in MArch after the high street bakery chain notched up a 27% hike in annual profits. The group’s boss, Roisin Currie, said the staff will be given the bonus in their pay packets at the end of March to recognise their “hard work and effort” over 2023.

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Knights wary of Roosters raid as third party speaks out over Ponga deal

Knights sources with knowledge of the situation who requested anonymity in order to speak freely told this masthead that Gardner recently spotted Andre Ponga having coffee with Roosters recruitment manager Clint Zammit, as part of a regular catch-up, at the Pullman Hotel in Sydney’s CBD. Zammit, who used to work at the Knights and led the negotiations that led to Ponga extending his contract at the Knights in 2022 until the end of 2027, is a close friend of the Ponga family. The recruitment manager signed Kalyn Ponga to the North Queensland Cowboys as a teenager and is still in regular dialogue with Andre despite joining the Roosters in 2023. A senior Roosters official told the Herald on Tuesday night that the club was not attempting to lure Ponga out of his Knights deal and that Zammit had met with Andre Ponga in an unofficial capacity. Newcastle’s recruitment manager Adam Doyle was also seen at the Pullman Hotel with Ponga and Zammit on their way to a junior representative game.

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Japan’s Sony reports surge in profit on strong sales of movies, games and music

Profit at Sony surged 34% in the last quarter on strong sales of its video games, music and movies, the Japanese electronics and entertainment company said Tuesday. Tokyo-based Sony Corp.’s quarterly profit totaled 189 billion yen ($1.2 billion), up from 141 billion yen the year before. Quarterly sales for the maker of the PlayStation game machines rose 14% to 3.48 trillion yen ($22 billion). For the fiscal year through March, Sony recorded a 3% decline in profit at 970 billion yen ($6.2 billion) from more than 1 trillion yen in the previous fiscal year. Its annual sales climbed 19% to 13 trillion yen ($83 billion). Sony’s operating profit was hurt by its financial services segment, which is being partially spun off next year. Sony’s chief financial officer and president, Hiroki Totoki, said the company is reshaping its strategy to focus on its more profitable entertainment operations. “We hope to improve our profitability and build our resilience to an ever-changing business environment,” he said in an online presentation. Totoki declined to comment on media reports that Sony was interested in purchasing Paramount Global but he confirmed that the company’s strategy “in general” was to build “synergies” that would leverage the intellectual property Sony has in games, music and movies. In that report, first in the Wall Street Journal but also by The Associated Press, Sony Pictures and the private equity firm Apollo Global Management have expressed interest in buying Paramount Global for $26 billion. Sony would be the majority shareholder and Apollo would have a minority stake, according to a person familiar with the deal, who requested anonymity because details of the offer have not been made public. Sony’s movies, music, video games and imaging solutions units did well in the past fiscal year. Paid subscription growth at Crunchyroll, a U.S. video streaming service, added to Sony’s bottom line. In music, the most successful releases for the latest quarter included SZA’s “SOS” and Travis Scott’s “Utopia,” while Beyonce’s “Cowboy Carter” recently reached No. 1 on Billboard and other nations’ rankings. In films, the biggest hits over the past fiscal year were “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” which grossed $691 million in theater revenue worldwide, and “Napoleon” at $221 million. The strikes in Hollywood last year hurt motion pictures earnings. But upcoming movies like “Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” the latest in the popular series starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence playing police detectives, which is set for release in June, are expected to help a turnaround. In February, Sony said it was cutting about 900 jobs in its PlayStation game division, or about 8% of its global workforce, citing changes in the industry that required restructuring. But Sony set a positive tone and stressed online gaming was going strong, as well as console sales. PlayStation 5 sales totaled 20.8 million machines for the fiscal year through March. This year, Sony expects to sell 18 million PS5 consoles. Among the recent hit game software for the PS5 was “Helldivers 2,” a shooting game, according to Sony. Like other Japanese companies, Sony has benefited from the weakening yen, which boosts the value of Japanese exporters’ overseas earnings when converted into yen. The U.S. dollar has been trading about 156 yen lately. Sony projected that its profit for this fiscal year will fall to 925 billion yen ($5.9 billion) as sales edge down to 12.3 trillion yen ($79 billion). ___ Yuri Kageyama is on X: https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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The good and the bad of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on show right until the end

For Jurgen Klopp, the long goodbye will not prove the fairytale farewell. Instead of bowing out with his greatest Liverpool campaign, his final away game offered something of the story of a season. A 3-3 draw at Aston Villa, at a ground where Klopp got one of the pivotal, and most dramatic, wins in the season he won the Premier League title and suffered his heaviest, and most surreal, defeat, 7-2, the following year, was a snapshot of the themes and the dreams. It illustrated the flawed brilliance of his Liverpool 2.0, how they flirted with glory and ended up with entertaining improvement. Klopp will not go out having subdued the rest of the division, as Sir Alex Ferguson did, or in sad decline, like Arsene Wenger was, but as a manager who built one great team and leaves a work in progress for his successor. There was a twist on a theme: late goals and comebacks have been a staple of Liverpool’s season. This time they suffered from them, Aston Villa scoring twice in four late minutes. Eight days earlier, they had led 4-0 against Tottenham and risked only drawing. Amid a lack of control, each told a tale: the loss of leads in two games against Manchester United, in the FA Cup and the Premier League, are why Klopp’s reign will end at Anfield on Sunday with a celebration, but without anything at stake. But there was something fitting in the way Klopp’s penultimate game was a thriller. His has been a hugely entertaining ride; it is why Liverpool have enjoyed it even without knowing the destination. A more pragmatic manager with a duller style of play could be judged on trophies alone; Klopp won everything he entered – apart from the Europa League where, long before he reached Villa, Unai Emery denied him in the 2016 final – but not always. But he turned matches into events. He bent many of them to his will. Yet sometimes the wild nature of it all meant Liverpool suffered amid the anarchy and the jeopardy. The excitement threatened to be their undoing. One of Klopp’s first great games, three months into his reign, was a 3-3 draw with Arsenal. Perhaps his last will be a 3-3 draw with Aston Villa. But there has been a sense of electricity and urgency, a non-stop drama, plenty of glorious games. There are ways of assessing the Klopp years. In a sense, it ends as it starts: his second team, like his first, has been built from the front, forever capable of scoring. In the 27 years before Klopp’s arrival, Liverpool had only scored 80 league goals in one season. They have done so in five campaigns under the German. Yet Villa’s three goals make it 41 conceded this season: in Klopp’s three best seasons, Liverpool were defensively outstanding, conceding a mere 22 goals in 2018-19, 33 the following year and 26 in 2021-22. In those three seasons, they were either the world’s best or very close. Without that defensive frugality that stemmed from positional chemistry, they have been entertainers but imperfect. They may end this season having conceded 50 per cent more goals than Arsenal. This has become Liverpool’s longest run without a clean sheet since 1998; they have conceded at least twice in four consecutive league games for the first time since 2014, when an inability to keep clean sheets ultimately cost Brendan Rodgers’ side the title, when their 3-3 draw with Palace was nicknamed ‘Crystanbul’. Ultimately, Liverpool were not defensively good enough to be champions; they were too profligate at times as well. They scored three goals at Villa Park but did not kill the game with a fourth. They have had the most shots in the Premier League but some have been glaring misses. It is now someone else’s problem. “I am allowed to see just the good bits of the season,” Klopp said. “If you carry on then you have to think about what didn’t well and make changes and adjustments of whatever. But that’s obviously not me.” So it is for Arne Slot to decipher the enigma of Darwin Nunez, to add goals to the other excellent work Luis Diaz does, to work out which of the players who have had outstanding spells this season – the breakout star Jarell Quansah, the fast-improving Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones, Joe Gomez, the early-season revelation Dominik Szoboszlai – figure in his strongest side. If the task is to add solidity, the last few weeks have suggested that there is still a vacancy for a high-class defensive midfielder. Wataru Endo had a fine winter but looked a stop-gap replacement for Fabinho. Alexis Mac Allister is more suited to an advanced role. Liverpool’s defensive record reflects on the midfield too. But don’t expect to see Klopp criticising his players. It is one reason why he found the difficult seasons even tougher because he had to conjure eloquent explanations without blaming anyone. He has been true to himself to the last. “For me, the story of the season is the boys showed have a really, really good character and a sensational attitude,” said Klopp. That may help Slot. Klopp leaves a void, a legacy, a host of memories, a series of indelible moments. And, more prosaically, a team in third. “I’m not over the moon about it, but we have to accept we cannot be the best or the second-best team in the league,” Klopp said. “That’s a good basis for the future and that’s all you can ask for.” And he has been generous in suggesting there is room for another to do better. “New influences always help, that’s how it is,” he said. “We did what we could. If we could have done better, we probably would have. We are where we are and that’s it.”

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History says Manchester City will win the title – but one statistic gives Arsenal hope

For a game that literally has the title on the line, Tuesday at Tottenham Hotspur might be one of those where the stands are more interesting than the pitch. Demand for tickets at the stadium has been huge all season, but not for this one. There are a lot of available seats on the official website’s exchange. Many fans evidently don’t want to be in the position where they’re supporting their team to help Arsenal – that’s especially to help Arsenal do something historic. The view from many Spurs supporters – as articulated to the Independent by match-goer Aaron Sutton – is “we can’t be the reason they win the league”. That’s what it may come down to. With Manchester City and Arsenal both facing winnable home games on Sunday, Tuesday is likely to be the winning of the league. Spurs fans, no matter the sentiment about always supporting your own team no matter what, can’t escape that reality. It’s an invidious position to be in, that ensures it’s going to be a very strange night at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. There is still one point worth stressing, that both managers actually involved in the game were insisting on. None of this will change the players’ motivation. “We have a game of football to win,” Ange Postecoglou said. Given that typically spiky demeanour, Pep Guardiola had reasonably warned “don’t ask this question to Ange or the players… they’d be offended”. That may be true, but it doesn’t mean the strange atmosphere won’t influence them. That can happen on these occasions, and even work both ways. Players sometimes become so determined to prove a point they end up overexerting. Spurs actually did it for Arsenal on the final day of the 1998-99, going ahead against Manchester United, only for Sir Alex Ferguson’s team to come back in the way they always did. The problem is that there’s already a potential quip about this being the third time Arsenal win the league at Spurs, after 1971 and 2004 – not that anyone around Mikel Arteta’s squad is even indulging in such lines. They don’t want to tempt fate. With so many confusing emotions swirling around this match, it’s natural to point to the certainty of numbers, and records. One is a stat that has come up a lot around City. That is their dismal record at this stadium, after half a decade of its existence. City have lost all four of their league games here, with their first match – a 1-0 defeat in the 2018-19 Champions League quarter-finals – setting the tone. Such numbers naturally bring talk of negative emotions and hoodoos. Some of it is much more simple than that, which is also why this need not be so complex for this City team. Every single one of those victories was based on a specific tactical approach. You might even call it the Jose Mourinho gameplans, which makes it all the more fitting that he was responsible for half of those league wins. That is to sit deep, frustrate and counter with pace. From that, you can already see a specific issue for this game, that was foreshadowed in City’s FA Cup fourth-round win this very season. Postecoglou has basically declared himself ideologically opposed to this approach. While there was a tactical compromise in Spurs’ own recent match against Arsenal, that basically amounted to just playing a defensive midfielder. It’s not even like Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg worked out that well. The wider point is that it’s almost impossible to go from the ideology that Postecoglou has been trying to ingrain this season to the type of finely-tuned defensive gameplan that has previously won this fixture. It doesn’t work that easily. There would be too many gaps for City to exploit. The only real approach for Spurs is to go for it. That largely worked in the 3-3 at City back in December, but Guardiola’s side were in very different form. That brings us to the other, opposing, figures, that feels like it carries much more weight. City are now on a run of seven consecutive victories, with an average of exactly four goals a game. None of those wins have been by less than two goals. Two have been by three goals. Three have been by four goals. Six of the matches, meanwhile, have involved City scoring before the 18th minute. It is form that is strikingly like last season, and why we would be talking about another treble had Real Madrid not somehow managed to reduce their Champions League quarter-final to the finest margins. City can instead get two more points in the league than last season’s 89, to achieve 91. That might be symbolic, given that 89 is the maximum Arsenal can get, and what they might well rise to. Mikel Arteta’s side may get there, only for City to go that bit further. This is why Guardiola was asked about it being “demoralising” before the game, even though he of course said that Arsenal are right there and defiant. His team still have to go and do it. Just as the widespread feeling is that the champions will always just have more, though, the sense going into this game is that they will indeed do what they always do in run-ins rather than what they always do at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium stadium. That is just win with maximum focus. City have almost just industrialised this process, to go with the general club approach under this ownership. There’s another telling stat in that regard. In proper “run-in” games – when the title has been on the line with just seven games left – Guardiola’s City have only dropped two points. That was a 2-2 draw at West Ham United, and is the only such example from seven years of victory. It’s why it’s asking so much for Spurs to do something here, before you even get to their own form, and the emotional context of this game. If we’re reducing this to numbers, it’s likely City just take all of this out of the equation. That has after all been “normality”. The wonder is whether the strange circumstances are sufficient to distort that normality. Guardiola tellingly referred to it as like a knock-out. “We know what we’re playing for, it’s a knockout like a quarter-final second leg, we won’t get it back. Win, or lose – bye bye.” But that’s where there also might be an outcome that yet suits everyone – not least the broadcasters and neutrals. If Spurs don’t lose, but it ends in a draw, it means the final day is a shoot-out on goal difference. Stranger things have happened. Tuesday might well illustrate that, not least in the stands.

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Fury vs Usyk: Conspiracies, cuts and collapses line treacherous road to undisputed title fight

It was the cut that led to the collapse and the conspiracies: a gash over Tyson Fury’s right eye, derailing his undisputed title fight with Oleksandr Usyk on two weeks’ notice and giving way to claims that the wound was self-inflicted. These suggestions were, frankly, nonsensical. Fury looked as fit as he had ever been when he was sliced open by a stray elbow in sparring in February, finally ready to put an end to a drawn-out boxing saga but thwarted by severe misfortune. It was the latest bump on an already rocky road, and the only fear now is that there could be one last swerve. Fury and Usyk, both unbeaten, are finally set to clash on Saturday, barring any late drama. But even then, judging in fights of this magnitude has robbed the sport of clear winners before. Fury, 35, and Usyk, 37, are contracted for a rematch regardless of what happens in Riyadh, so here’s hoping there is no deflating draw, no controversial scorecard, no asterisk on any achievement. If none of the above tarnish Saturday’s main event, boxing will have its first undisputed heavyweight champion in 24 years – its first since Lennox Lewis lost that status in 2000, having secured it by beating Evander Holyfield one year earlier. How has it taken the best part of a quarter of a century to arrive at this point? Boxing’s frustrating politics have deprived fans of an undeniable king in the sport’s glamour division; greedy promoters and managers, more specifically, have done the damage. Since Lewis’s brief reign as undisputed champion, Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, Roy Jones Jr, Shannon Briggs, Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua and Usyk have been among those to hold world titles. In some of these cases, the boxers held multiple belts at once and/or did so in numerous reigns. Yet, since Lewis, no man has carried all the major belts simultaneously. There was a time, not long ago, when dreams of an all-British bout to crown a new undisputed champion were far from fanciful. In February 2020, two months after Joshua avenged a shock knockout to regain the unified belts from Andy Ruiz Jr, Fury took the WBC strap from Wilder – 14 months after fighting the American to a controversial draw (see?). That summer, at the height of Covid lockdown, negotiations began for the biggest fight in British boxing history – and one of the most significant in the sport ever. Yet talks stalled, and the moment passed. “AJ” went on to stop Kubrat Pulev that December, but he lost the unified gold for a second time in 2021, when he was outclassed by Usyk. Fury would not compete again until October 2021, a month after Joshua’s loss to Usyk, stopping Wilder again in a war. Since then, Usyk has recorded two title defences, as has Fury. The Ukrainian and Joshua fought more closely in August 2022, but Usyk again beat his fellow Olympic champion after 12 rounds, and he dismissed another Briton in August 2023, climbing off the canvas to stop Daniel Dubois after suffering a controversial low blow. Meanwhile, Fury stopped Dillian Whyte in April 2022 then Derek Chisora in a pointless bout eight months later – marking his third win over his friend – before a lucky escape against Francis Ngannou in a non-title bout last October. Fury, dropped to the mat by the ex-UFC champion and boxing novice, made it to the final bell and was rewarded with a fortunate decision. Moments later in the Riyadh ring, the Gypsy King sheepishly faced off with Usyk, who had watched the fight with a startled and concerned expression from ringside. Fury had evaded a historic upset, and Usyk was acutely aware of how close the pair had been to losing their legacy fight. Yet this episode, in fact, came after a prior collapse. Indeed, Fury-Usyk was made official in September, one month before Fury-Ngannou, but several months earlier, the bout was desperately close to coming to fruition. In spring, Usyk verbally agreed to Fury’s farcical demand of a 70-30 purse split in his favour, only for talks to end due to arguments over the rematch purse split. Fury’s team accused Usyk’s of pulling out of negotiations, placing the blame at their feet. Usyk’s side admitted to withdrawing, but blamed Fury’s outlandish demands. With the Saudis’ influence increasing as the year went on, they finally got Fury-Usyk over the line in September. The deal was done after the southpaw beat Dubois, and after Fury signed to box Ngannou. Turki Al-Sheikh, a key adviser in the Gulf state, played a vital role. So did the Saudis’ money. Five months later, when Fury suffered that fateful cut so close to the initial date of the fight, Al-Sheikh acted decisively. He revealed that either boxer would face a $10m penalty if they were to withdraw ahead of the new May date, and that Joshua had agreed to step in, in such a scenario. However, Joshua would only be paired with Fury, while Usyk – who had missed the birth of his daughter while training abroad – could choose his opponent if Fury were to pull out again. Now, though, we are surely too close for such a twist. Al-Sheikh is already planning Joshua’s next move: a September date at Wembley, against Wilder, Dubois, Zhilei Zhang or Filip Hrgovic. Any of those would be a fine match-up, and Joshua has had many of them in a career for which he has never received enough credit. Fury has felt his fair share of criticism over past opponents, while Usyk’s historic undisputed run at cruiserweight and daring move to heavyweight have earned him plenty of kudos – and rightfully so. Yet we are beyond all that now. For Fury and Usyk, there is no disputing the calibre of opponent on Saturday, or the significance of this bout. If all goes to plan in Riyadh, there will be no disputing the heavyweight champion, either. Fury vs Usyk will air live on DAZN worldwide, at a cost of £24.99 for new subscribers and £23.99 for existing customers. New subscribers will receive a free month’s subscription for the above cost. You can also purchase a DAZN subscription here, with plans starting at £9.99 a month. We may earn commission from this link, but we never allow this to influence our content. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

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Ofgem proposes scrapping ban on cheaper energy tariffs for new customers early

The ban on energy firms offering cheaper deals to new customers could be scrapped from October as the regulator clears the path back to competition between suppliers. Ofgem has announced it is consulting on removing the ban on acquisition-only tariffs – or cheaper prices that are only for new customers in order to lure them away from their existing supplier. The ban was introduced as a short-term measure in April 2022 to protect consumers during the energy crisis and was due to be lifted in March next year. Now, the regulator has said that it is the right time to consider removing it as the energy market continues to stabilise. It said the move would drive a faster return to competition and better price savings and service standards for consumers. Martin Lewis, the founder and chairman of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “The energy market is broken. We need anything possible right now to stimulate competition and bring prices down. “In normal times, I wouldn’t call for firms to be allowed to offer new customers cheaper prices than existing, yet these aren’t normal times. “The current UK retail energy system was built on the premise that firms would fight each other for customers and compete on price – yet that’s hardly happening. Most firms are currently happy to sit on their existing customers and profit – where once you could switch and save 30%, now it’s a few percent at most. So, in reality, the Energy Price Cap, set up as a remedial backstop rate, is now pretty much the price.” Richard Neudegg, director of regulation at Uswitch, said: “Getting rid of the ban on acquisition-only tariffs in October heralds good news for households seeking cheaper energy bills. “With a final decision from Ofgem due in July, this move is a no-brainer to improve the chances of decent fixed deals in time for winter. “Forcing providers to offer the same energy deals to new and existing customers has meant that suppliers have been encouraged to give up delivering cheap deals. “But with the price cap changing every three months, consumers desperately need good value fix options to give them more certainty on their bills. It makes complete sense for Ofgem to remove the piece of regulation that is actively holding this back. “Removing the ban will incentivise providers to work harder to compete for customers on price, service and choice.”

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Currys lifts profit expectations after shrugging off takeover interest

Currys has raised its profit expectations for the year, following a return to sales growth. The electronics chain now expects pre-tax profits to be at least £115million for the year ending April 27, up from previous analyst expectations of £105million. This comes after a period of underwhelming sales for the retailer, which sells everything from TVs and mobile phones to kettles and dishwashers. The company had previously noted that the cost-of-living crisis was impacting demand for its more expensive items. However, like-for-like sales grew 2% for the 16 weeks to April 27 compared to the Christmas period. Despite this, like-for-like sales for the year are expected to have dropped 2% compared to the previous 12 months. Currys also revealed that cost savings made across the group were “more than offsetting inflation” and its year-end net cash position is expected to be around £95million. Earlier this year, the company was in the spotlight due to a potential bidding war between US group Elliott Advisors and Chinese retail giant JD.com. Hopes for a takeover of Currys were quashed as two potential bidders backed out. Elliott Advisors pulled the plug on its pursuit after “multiple attempts to engage with Currys’ board, all of which were rejected”, including a bid exceeding £750million. Currys dismissed Elliott’s offers as too low, stating they did not reflect the company’s true worth. Chinese retail giant JD.com also toyed with the idea of placing an offer but ultimately decided against it. The potential takeover bids come at a time when Currys is revamping its strategy, concentrating on its UK and Ireland operations following the sale of its Greek and Cypriot division last year. In the Nordics, where Currys has been struggling, there are signs of a turnaround, with earnings forecast to more than double from the previous year. Currys reported that like-for-like sales remained steady in the Nordic region during the second half of the year. Currys chief executive Alex Baldock said: “Our performance is strengthening, with good momentum in the UK and Ireland, and with the Nordics getting back on track. Sales are now growing again, margins are benefiting from higher customer adoption of solutions and services, and cost discipline is good. All this means improved profits and, with our strong cash position, we’re well set up for the year ahead.”

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