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HSBC chairman takes Govt trade and investment role

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that HSBC chairman Stephen Green will take on the role as minister of state for trade and investment.

Green is quitting his position as chairman for the unpaid role, where he has been tasked with leading the Government’s effort to establish the UK as the most attractive location for international investment and to drive growth in UK export.

He has also quit his role as chairman of the British Bankers’ Association, with Barclays group chairman Marcus Agius taking on the role.

Green will report to both the secretary of state for business and the foreign secretary. Prime Minister David Cameron says the appointment shows the Government’s dedication to developing international relationships and boosting British businesses abroad.

On the appointment of Agius to the BBA, chief executive Angela Knight says: “The banking industry is facing fresh challenges as it works to play its full part in the UK’s financial recovery. Marcus Agius, in his role as Barclays’ group chairman, has helped the international banking giant grow and successfully weather the last three year’s financial turbulence, brings a sound understanding of the City, the key issues facing the industry and an international perspective which reflects well the BBA’s broad global membership.”

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Apple: a stellar technology story

By Ali Unwin, head of technology sector research

Apple recently announced the highest-ever recorded quarterly net profit ($18bn), with the sale of 74.4 million iPhones helping the company deliver $74.6bn of revenue for the quarter ending December 2014. These sales were largely driven by strong demand for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Highlights included Chinese iPhone sales doubling year-on-year and unit growth of 44% in the US — supposedly a well-penetrated market. Apple ended the quarter with $178bn in cash on its balance sheet, having generated a staggering $30bn in free cash flow during the quarter.

At Neptune, we have been long-term believers in the Apple story, and continue to hold the stock in a number of our portfolios based on the company’s long-term growth prospects. This is predicated on our belief that Apple has proved thus far that it can — unusually for a consumer electronics company — maintain high margins for a sustained period of time, even as adoption of new technology slows down and competitors produce similar-specification products.

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