Unemployment in Spain reaches new heights as tourism trade slows

Unemployment in debt-ridden Spain rose by 1.7% in September, according figures released by the country’s Labour Ministry on Tuesday.

The increase in unemployment last month follows an increase in August, with 4.7 million Spaniards currently out of work.

Analysts attribute the increase to redundancies in the service sector as the steady flow of summer tourists slows, with seasonal jobs being terminated in the winter months.

“There is a certain slowing down in the rate of increase in unemployment but the negative side is that jobs are still disappearing,” Estefania Ponte, head of economy at trading house Cortal Consors, told Reuters.

Ponte said that today’s monthly figures suggested that the unemployment rate in Spain will mostly exceed 25% in the third quarter.

Unemployment in Spain, one of Europe’s largest economies, is the highest in the European Union. Analysts are also expecting that recent floods due to torrential rains could further dent tourism activity.


UK security firm G4S ignored warnings that could have prevented Iraq murders — report

In the wake of the Olympic Games vetting scandal, private security company G4S may have hoped that its period on the public rack had come to an end. But G4S’s vetting, it appears, is fraught with failure abroad just as it is in East London – only with far deadlier consequences.

Last night on BBC Scotland, reporter Samantha Poling investigated the the deaths of private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan and the lax security standards of the mutli-billion pound firms that send young men to war zones and arm them with deadly weapons.

In the summer of 2009, former British paratrooper turned private security contractor Daniel Fitzsimons shot dead two colleagues in Baghdad’s highly-securitised Green Zone. In a vodka-fuelled squabble and only 36 hours after arriving in the sandy nation, Fitzsimons killed Paul McGuigan, from Peebles in Scotland, and Australian Darren Hoare.

The three men had come to Iraq to work for the British private security company ArmorGroup Iraq, which G4S now owns.

While the media widely reported on the deaths at the time and on Fitzsimon’s subsequent trial before the Supreme Court of Iraq, BBC Scotland reveals a shocking new fact: a whistleblower had sent G4S numerous emails only days before Fitzsimons arrived in Iraq warning the company that the lives of fellow contractors would be put at risk if he were given a weapon.

‘I am alarmed that he [Fitzsimons] will shortly be allowed to handle a weapon and be exposed to members of the public,’ the whistleblower wrote, who signed off as ‘a concerned member of the public and father.’

‘I am speaking out because I feel that people should not be put at risk.’

Fitzsimons had a criminal record, including firearm and assault convictions. The former British paratrooper was also suffering post-traumatic disorder from the gruesome sights he had witnessed during previous work in war zones such as Kosovo. Despite this background, G4S employed Fitzsimons and sent him to Iraq.

The mother of slain British contractor, Paul McGuigan, said, ‘[Fitzsimons] fired the bullets. But the gun was put in his hand by G4S ArmorGroup. They put the gun in that man’s hand.’

‘I want G4S to be charged with corporate manslaughter and be held accountable for what they did.’

Responding to the BBC Scotland investigation, G4S acknowledged that Fitzsimon’s ‘screening was not completed in line with the company’s procedures.’ G4S claims to have since improved.

The investigation shines a light into the murky world of private security. BBC Scotland spoke with security contactors who claim to have been forced to work on dangerous tasks with the wrong equipment. Numerous incidents have not been reported for the sake of G4S’s reputation, one of them alleged.

Bob Shepherd, a security contractor, told Poling, ‘We know when a soldier dies it’s all over the newspapers, it’s on the TV. But we never know when security contractors die.’

In response to the news that a whistleblower had repeatedly warned G4S about hiring Fitzsimons, the company told BBC Scotland that it was unable to find the email trail. It appears that a company selling security management software that allows businesses to monitor staff in the farthest reaches of the world is unable to carry out a simple email search; ‘I can’t track down the relevant individual so I am afraid we can not comment further on when we received the emails,’ G4S said.

G4S, one of the major players in the constantly growing yet constantly scandal-ridden private security sector, had a 2011 turnover of £7.5bn.

The International Code of Conduct for Private Service Providers is currently aiming to improve standards in the sector, which is dominated by UK-based companies. Out of the 511 companies to have signed up to the Code, 177 have headquarters in the UK  – more than three times the number based in the United States of America.

Britannia may no longer rule the waves, but it does rule the world of private security.

BBC Scotland’s investigation, Britain’s Private War, aired on Monday October 1 at 21:00.

The editor of the Bureau worked with Sam Poling on the Scottish Bafta winning film Security Wars.

UK sponsor CVC acquires majority stake in US insurance claims firm Cunningham

British private equity firm CVC Capital Partners Ltd said it had agreed to take a majority stake in US insurance claims management firm Cunningham Lindsey Group Limited, currently owned by Stone Point Capital LLC and Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd (TSE:FFH).

The parties did not disclose the price CVC would pay for the majority ownership, but Reuters cited an informed source as saying that the deal valued Cunningham at as much as USD1bn (EUR774.5m).

Stone Point bought in 2007 a majority stake in the over 100-year old Cunningham, with Fairfax keeping a significant minority position. The target firm has now around 7,000 staff operating in 61 countries. Its current management team led by CEO Philippe Bes will stay in place after the deal with CVC, while Bes will join Cunningham’s board. The management team will remain substantial shareholder, backing the firm’s plans for future global growth. Stone Point will also continue to be an equity owner alongside Fairfax and CVC, it said.

Bes welcomed the deal saying it would help his company’s ongoing efforts to expand and boost its position in key insurance markets. Cunningham will be able to use CVC’s diversified international coverage to widen its global footprint, the CEO added.

The transaction is being carried out under a recapitalisation agreement. CVC plans to bring its global network and resources to Cunningham to enable it to continue its growth, Kamil Salame, CVC partner and chief of US Financial Institutions Group, mentioned in a comment. The private equity firm will use secured debt to finance the transaction.

Completion is pending regulatory approvals among other conditions.

Cunningham Lindsey used the advisory services of BofA Merrill Lynch and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. CVC was advised by Willis Capital Markets and Advisory Ltd, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP and Clifford Chance LLP.

Netgear opens its Smart Network Platform to developers

Networking company Netgear, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTGR) has released its new Netgear Developer Program for developers to create new apps to help customers get more out of Netgear devices.

Networking company Netgear, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTGR) has released its new Netgear Developer Program for developers to create new apps to help customers get more out of Netgear devices.

Netgear has created the ability for developers to produce apps by leveraging the Netgear Smart Network architecture built into an increasing number of its consumer and small-business devices, including a selection of routers, gateways and network-attached storage devices.

Developers simply register at the Netgear Smart Network website at http://developer.netgear.com, where they can access all the Java-based building blocks they need to create apps. Netgear makes it easy for developers to share or sell their apps through the Netgear genie+ marketplace. For the first time, home and small business customers can remotely download apps directly to their connected Netgear devices just as they would to a smartphone or tablet to expand functionality. No other network vendor offers an app development platform or app store for these types of devices.