Philips misses its targets in 2014

Wintry weather on its way, say weather forecasters

Electronics giant Philips was hit by market turbulence and currency rates in 2014, CEO Frans van Houten said during the presentation on Tuesday of full year results. Turnover in 2014 fell 3% to €21.4bn. Operating profit was down to €881m compared to €2.3bn in 2013. The company issued a profit warning two weeks ago, saying adverse market conditions and delayed start-up of its factory in...  More >

Banks profit from low mortgage rates

Banks charge higher mortgage interest rates on more expensive homes The housing market recovery is not as evident for more expensive properties because banks are charging higher interest rates for homes not covered by the mortgage guarantee scheme, the Financieele Dagblad says on Tuesday. The national mortgage guarantee was introduced in 1995 to encourage home ownership and currently covers premises valued up to around €265,000. The guarantee means that if people default on a NHG mortgage, a special home ownership fund will pay off the debt. Banks and insurers offer lower interest rates to people taking out an NHG mortgage because they are covered against default. Before the crisis, the difference in rates was between 0.2 and 0.4 percentage points, the FD says. Now, however, the gap has stretched to around a full percentage point. Average NHG mortgages fixed for 10 years are around 3% while non-NHG mortgages are still in the 4% region. ‘People buying more expensive homes have not benefited as much from interest rate drops,’ Ger Hukker,...  More >

Dutch FA chairman challenges Blatter

Dutch football association chairman challenges Sepp Blatter for Fifa top job Dutch football association chairman Michael van Praag has launched a campaign to be appointed president of football’s ruling body Fifa, in a direct challenge to Sepp Blatter. Van Praag says he and the KNVB believe it is his responsibility to take the step. ‘Everyone knows that the KNVB is extremely worried about Fifa’s reputation and the way Fifa is organised and run,’ he said. ‘I had hoped that a reliable candidate would come forward. But that has not happened.’ ‘And that is why we, partly as one of the founders of Fifa, have to accept our responsibilities, and I have to accept my responsibility by coming forward as a candidate. Critic Van Praag is an outspoken critic of Blatter, 78, who has chaired Fifa since 1998. On Tuesday, his official candidacy with the required five letters from associations who support him will be sent to Fifa headquarters in Zurich, a KNVB statement said. The election will take place at Fifa’s Congress in May, with Blatter...  More >

'Chicken of tomorrow' fails cartel rules

‘Chicken of tomorrow’ falls foul of Dutch anti-cartel rules Agreements between supermarkets and meat producers on the ‘chicken of tomorrow’ are limiting competition to the detriment of consumers, according to the Dutch consumers' authority. The decision to replace all traditional fast-growing broiler birds with a slightly more animal and environment-friendly production method contravenes anti-cartel rules because the improvements in animal welfare do not go far enough, the ACM says. The ‘chicken of tomorrow’ will have a little more room to move, more straw and a slightly longer life. But this is not enough to merit an exception to the ban on cartel forming, the ACM says. In order to qualify, the advantages to the consumer must be greater than the disadvantages – the reduced choice and higher prices. Research shows consumers are prepared to pay more for better animal welfare and environmental protection, but not for the limited improvements in the life of the ‘chicken of tomorrow’, the ACM says. ‘On balance, there...  More >

Police seize 800 kilos of cocaine

Police seize 800 kilos of cocaine in Den Helder Customs officials in Den Helder last week seized nearly 800 kilos of cocaine from a silver-coloured van stopped after police became suspicious about the way it was being driven. The van was spotted by military police officers taking corners slowly and breaking excessively, leading them to stop and breathalyse the driver. In the back of the van they found a number of large packages wrapped in plastic. The suspect, a 27-year-old man from Amsterdam, said they contained compressed ships waste. Customs officials were brought in and found the bales contained cocaine with a street value of €28m. Some was hidden in a black sports bag. The man has been remanded in custody for 14 days pending further investigation. The find was made on Tuesday. That same evening a boat in Den Helder port fished a black sports bag out of the water which was found to contain cocaine. Police are investigating if the two instances are connected. Den Helder, in the north of Noord-Holland province,...  More >