Uk’s Royal Mail Privatization Subscribed In Hours: Sources

UK’s Cameron speeds up launch of controversial housing plan

RELATED NEW DELHI: A hip fracture after the age of 65 could lead to death for one out of four people, but UK scientists are working on a method that will help diagnose weakened bones before they break and provide more effective treatment should a break happen. Scientists at four universities across the UK are developing a framework that helps determine the quality and strength of an individual patient’s bone tissue. The research will gather clinical data using advanced imaging techniques that look inside bone on a microscopic level, compared with conventional radiography that simply measures bone mineral density (BMD). As bone is not made of completely solid material, the mathematical tool will measure how porous bone tissue is, its connectivity on a microscopic level and therefore, how bone tissue manages daily loads. This will not only measure bone density, but provide essential information to diagnose individual patients’ conditions and identify the most efficient treatment plan following a fracture or the general wear and tear on bone throughout life. Understanding bone quality on a microscopic level will assist the pharmaceutical industry to target relevant biological processes and develop better drugs, as well as giving doctors more information on patients’ specific bone structures, meaning more effective treatment both to prevent a break or following one. Dr Yuhang Chen, an expert in computational biomechanics in the School of Engineering and Physical Science at Heriot-Watt University, said: “Currently, around 25% of patients aged 65 to 80 die after a hip fracture. This figure could be reduced by this unique tool.” “In addition to existing technologies, our research will help doctors assess the quality and strength of a patient’s bone tissue leading to more effective and detailed diagnosis of individual conditions, as well as the ability to predict the likelihood of a bone fracture occurring. It will also allow people to live more flexible lifestyles after something like a hip fracture, which can often be quite debilitating and emotionally stressful.” Dr Chen is working with scientists from the University of Liverpool, who are leading on the project, the University of Edinburgh and Durham University, to create the new diagnostic tool, in a project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Professor K Chen, Director of CMIT, in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Liverpool University, said: “This award is the result of a genuinely collaborative effort by a national team bringing together leading experts in material sciences, computational mechanics and biomedical engineering.” ALSO ON TOI

“Now, if you haven’t got rich parents, you can’t get that sort of money. So we’re going to launch the Help To Buy Scheme – it’s not coming in next year, it’s coming in next week, because I’m passionate about helping people who want to own their own flat or home.” The initiative involves the government providing 12 billion pounds in guarantees to encourage lenders to provide mortgages of up to 95 percent of the value of properties being bought. It had been due to launch in January and key details such as the fees banks will pay to participate have yet to be announced. Cameron’s announcement comes on the eve of the start of the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester. Such occasions are used by British political parties to make eye-catching announcements and this year offer the chance for them to set out their programs before a general election due in 2015. Earlier this month, opposition leader Ed Miliband said a government run by his center-left Labour Party would freeze energy bills for 20 months, a move aimed at winning over British voters, many of whom have seen their living standards fall during the slow economic recovery from the financial crisis. Signs that Britain’s economy is on the mend had boosted the Conservatives’ standing among voters, but Labour’s support has risen in opinion polls since the announcement by Miliband. A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times puts Labour at 42 percent, with the Conservatives at 31 percent. Cameron’s coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, languish at 9 percent. CONCERNS IN THE COALITION Seeking to give a boost to homeownership carries risks for the government. Since the mortgage guarantee component of Help to Buy was announced in March, house prices have picked up, raising questions about whether it is still needed. Britain’s business minister, Vince Cable, a Liberal Democrat, has expressed his concerns about the program. House prices rose at their fastest pace in more than three years in September, one set of housing data showed on Friday. In London, prices have jumped by nearly 10 percent over the past 12 months, although other regions have seen barely any increase In a nod to the concerns about a new boom, Britain’s finance minister, George Osborne, last week asked the Bank of England to keep a closer eye on the impact of Help to Buy.

Analyst Robin Byde at brokerage Cantor Fitzgerald said that while the medium-term issue remained how fast Royal Mail can grow its parcels business to offset falling letter volumes, the valuation range made it attractive versus European peers such as Austrian Post (POST.VI) and Belgium’s bpost (BPOST.BR). “The headline really is that it’s priced to go,” Byde said, estimating Royal Mail was valued on a forward price-to-earnings multiple of around 8 times versus an average of about 10 for the European sector. “We would expect it to debut pretty well.” Royal Mail follows the initial public offering of bpost in June and comes after stronger equity markets have helped revive new listings in Europe this year. European firms have raised $15.9 billion from flotations in the first nine months, three times the year-ago level, according to Thomson Reuters data. The sale is the fourth time Britain has tried to privatize Royal Mail, which traces its origins back to 1516 when mail was delivered by horse from King Henry VIII’s court. Three selloff attempts in the last 19 years have failed due to opposition from within the governing majority, which feared an electoral backlash from tampering with a revered institution whose red post-boxes are known around the world. The latest sale effort has been criticized by the current opposition Labour party and unions, who on Friday sent out ballot papers for strike action. The ballot will close on October 16, five days after Royal Mail is scheduled to make its stock market debut, with the earliest possible strike date being October 23. UNDER PRESSURE Labour, which polls show is the frontrunner to win the next election, has come under pressure from its union backers and party activists to pledge to renationalize Royal Mail. While it has not ruled this out, Labour said it would be irresponsible to do so without knowing how much it could cost. The head of equities at a UK fund manager said Labour leader Ed Milliband’s promise earlier this week to freeze energy prices for 20 months if his party wins power in May 2015 may have made Royal Mail more attractive to some investors. “The income fund managers are quite intrigued by it (Royal Mail),” said the manager, who declined to be named. “If our friend Ed is going to make things difficult for utilities …

UK basketball notebook: Big Blue Madness planners hoping to one-up themselves

“I’m a big UK fan.” Roberts voiced her support for charitable giving. “But I just think, couldn’t they think of something a little more current to make money?” she said. In ending her letter to Abell, Roberts wrote, “UK, in a backhanded way, is instrumental in raising funds for their foundation. I find this beyond stupid and ridiculous.” King-sized mistake When the Sacramento Kings announced last week that Shaquille O’Neal was buying a share of the team, a local news announcer noted that perhaps he could help school “Demetrius Cousins.” Ailene Voisin, a columnist for the Sacramento Bee, hit on the same theme while correctly identifying the former UK star. Of course, it’s DeMarcus Cousins. “Who better to challenge, coax, teach and mentor DeMarcus Cousins than the biggest, baddest dude of his generation?” she wrote. “The fact he can rap, dance, rhyme and read O’Neal has a doctoral degree advances his cause and his case.” X doesn’t mark spot Xavier Coach Chris Mack “signed” 12-year-old Trey Couch to a national letter of intent, a goodwill gesture announced at a news conference last week. Couch has Cerebellar Degeneration, a neuro-degenerative disease that has no known cure. In a statement, Mack said that Couch can help the players put in perspective the everyday challenges faced in basketball. During the news conference, Xavier players posed as reporters. One player asked who his favorite team is. A smiling Couch answered, “Kentucky.” Congrats To former UK staffer Brandon Weems.