Planet Business

This week: All the latest news in coins, robots, IPOs and ‘anti-social’ apps

Image of the week: Happy robots
There were plenty of humanoid robots on display at this week's Innorobo fair, aka the Innovation Robotics Summit, but none of them were as cheery as this not-quite-humanoid one courtesy of French robotics centre CRIIF. The event, held in Lyon, is an annual shindig at which companies and research groups present their latest creations and technological advances.

Meanwhile, in a separate and sinister development, you may have read this week about a robot who wrote up a breaking news report on an earthquake for the Los Angeles Times. The good news for any flesh- and-blood journalists worried about being replaced by artificial intelligence is that the "robot" (cough, algorithm, cough) was so buoyed by its success that it has now ditched freelance reporting for a highly paid job in PR. Photograph: Robert Pratta/Reuters

In numbers: Coining it
Number of sides on the new £1 coin that will be introduced to the UK from 2017. Its shape is based on the design of the old threepenny bit, in circulation from 1937 to 1971.
1 in 30
The number of pound coins in circulation that are counterfeit, according to UK chancellor George Osborne, who says he will introduce "a resilient pound coin" for "a resilient economy".
2 m
Number of counterfeit pound coins removed from the system every year, out of a total of 1.5 billion coins estimated to be in circulation. So the switch might be worth the inevitable shopping trolley and vending machine havoc after all.

The lexicon: Anti-social app
It was only a matter of time before some misanthrope woke up in the morning and thought, "Hey, Zuckerberg, I really don't want to be friends with everyone in the world . . . sometimes I don't even want to be friends with my friends".

Two such reasonable people are Brian Moore and Chris Baker who have created an "anti-social app" called Cloak that uses the public location data from other social networks such as Foursquare and Instagram to determine the locations of others you know. Users can then choose to receive an alert when certain people are believed to be nearby.


Cloak describes itself as a method "to avoid exes, co-workers, that guy who likes to stop and chat – anyone you'd rather not run into". There's just one flaw . . . the people you would rather not bump into will have to have revealed their location on a social network in the first place.

Getting to know: Nemat "Minouche" Shafik
"Global citizen" Nemat Shafik, known by her nickname "Minouche", was this week appointed as a deputy governor of the Bank of England and a member of its monetary policy committee. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, the trilingual former World Bank vice-president and deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund was brought up by an "Anglophone-trained scientist" father and a "Francophone-trained literary type" mother, leaving Egypt at the age of four to live in the US. Her new senior role at the Bank of England, which has had some Threadneedle Street-watchers tipping her for the governorship, is unlikely to be as hairy as her time at the IMF. Just a month after she joined that organisation, Shafik had to step into Greek bailout negotiations at a key euro zone meeting after former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested on sexual assault charges.

The list: Let's float
Who's for an initial public offering? Who isn't, right? Stock market flotations are firmly back in fashion and here are just some of the investment-seeking companies who fancy their chances on the FTSE and/or various other exchanges.
1 Just Eat: Online takeaway service wants to order some £100 million off a London Stock Exchange listing, with some garlic bread on the side.
2 Jimmy Choo: No decision has been taken yet, but the luxury shoe designer is said to be tottering towards a £1 billion FTSE flotation.
3 Alibaba: The Chinese online retail giant, in which Yahoo! owns a 24 per cent stake, plans to float in the US in what will be the biggest IPO since Facebook, though hopefully not the most chaotic.
4 House of Fraser: After ending talks about a sale to French retailer Galeries Lafayette, the UK department store chain is reportedly poised to float.
5 King: The Candy Crush Saga maker wants to raise $5 billion from an imminent New York Stock Exchange listing under the modest ticker symbol "KING".