Foreign visits to UK down in August despite Olympics

The number of visits to the UK by overseas residents was 5% lower in August, despite London hosting this year’s Olympic Games, figures showed today.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that there were around 3.0 million visits to the UK in August, down 5% compared to the same month in 2011.

Overall, however, these foreign visitors spent more money than their counterparts last year.

The amount of money spent was 9% higher than in the same period a year ago, at nearly GBP2.4bn. This includes any money spent on the purchase of Olympics tickets.

Visitors to the Games spent almost twice as much money, shelling out GBP1,290 per person on average, against GBP650 spent by other overseas visitors.

The majority of visits for the Olympic Games from overseas were made by European residents, while an equal proportion came from North America and other countries around the world.

Looking specifically at all visits made to the UK this summer for the sporting spectacle, there were an estimated 590,000 completed visits to the UK by overseas residents in July and August that were either specifically for the 2012 Olympics or Paralympics – by those participating, working or watching the Games – or primarily for another reason but involving attendance at a ticketed event.

The ONS noted that the decrease in total visit numbers in August followed similar falls in June and July, when visits to the UK were around 7% lower than in 2011 and spending on those visits was in line with the previous year. Across the whole of the year to date, the number of visits from overseas residents is unchanged in percentage terms from 2011, while spending is 3% higher.

UK residents made slightly fewer trips abroad in August 2012 compared to a year earlier, with visits abroad by Britons down 1% to a total of 7.3 million. Expenditure on these visits rose 6% from 2011, amounting to more than GBP4.5bn.

ING sells Malaysian insurance unit to Hong Kong-based AIA

 Dutch financial group ING Groep NV (AMS:INGA) said on Thursday it would sell its insurance business in Malaysia to Hong Kong-based insurer AIA Group Ltd (HKG:1299) for some EUR1.3bn (USD1.7bn) in cash.

Under the terms of the agreement, AIA is taking over ING’s Malaysian life insurance operations, its employee benefits business and its 60% in venture ING Public Takaful Ehsan Berhad, the vendor said.

The move marks ING’s first major step towards disposing of its insurance and investment management businesses in Asia, reflecting progress in its restructuring efforts, CEO Jan Hommen commented. The combination of this ING business with AIA’s operations in Malaysia will create a top player in this market with a good position for further growth, Hommen added.

The process for the sale of the rest of ING’s Asian insurance and investment management businesses is ongoing, the group said, adding it expected the disposal of its Malaysian insurance activities to result in a net gain of around EUR780m.

Completion is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2012, subject to securing regulatory clearances.

ING is among the major life insurers in Malaysia with a portfolio including life, general, employee benefits and Takaful, serving over 1.6m customers. The company has around 1,200 employees and 9,200 tied agents in the country.

Present in Malaysia since 1948, AIA’s footprint covers 15 countries in Asia Pacific, leading many of these markets.

new Unisys ClearPath Systems deliver mainframe performance on Intel-based Platform

Unisys Corp. (NYSE: UIS) announced new members of its ClearPath family of enterprise servers featuring a breakthrough architecture that combines the latest Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) processors with Unisys enterprise-class virtualization technology.

Unisys Corp. (NYSE: UIS) announced new members of its ClearPath family of enterprise servers featuring a breakthrough architecture that combines the latest Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) processors with Unisys enterprise-class virtualization technology.

The new high-end ClearPath systems demonstrate that servers based on Intel processors can deliver large-scale mainframe performance rivaling that of systems based on proprietary processor architectures.

The new offerings comprise the high-end ClearPath Libra 6200 Series, the mid-range Libra 4200 Series and the entry-level and mid-range ClearPath Dorado 4200 Series. All three series of systems use powerful new high-end members of the Intel Xeon Processor family, complemented by Unisys’ secure partitioning (s-Par) technology for enterprise-class virtualization, to boost performance significantly beyond that delivered by previous Intel processor-based and even proprietary systems.

The new systems represent the latest stage in Unisys’ ongoing evolution of the ClearPath family to an open architecture based on Intel processors. These “NextGen” systems enable ClearPath clients to continue using mission-critical applications without change, while simplifying application modernization and reducing enterprise-computing costs. The new system architecture also lays the foundation for further software enhancements that extend the capabilities of the ClearPath family to help clients meet future data centre challenges.

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