Early-stage funding gets a boost in the UK

In yesterday’s budget speech by Gordon Brown, he announced:

” Venture capital is the seed-bed of future enterprise and so for the next two years, Venture Capital Trusts will secure tax relief for investments of up to £200,000 a year not at the lower rate of 20p but at the higher rate of 40p. From 1 April, firms with turnovers under £58,000 will not have to register for VAT —- the most generous VAT threshold in Europe. And also from 1st April an additional 13,000 businesses will be eligible to benefit from simplified VAT accounting. And from next year in 2000 enterprise areas we will further increase the tax incentives to invest. ”

A 50% rise in the tax relief is very good news on the heels of increased investing in early-stage companies. This could really serve to jump-start innovation in the UK. I wonder where the hidden costs are though…

When is 99¢ not 99¢?

“Sony today announced the June opening of its European Connect Internet music store, where consumers can buy songs from 0.99 euros apiece and download them on their computer before exporting them to Sony minisdisc players and walkmans.”

I just love pricing policies in various currencies. .Mac costs $99 in the US and 99 Euros in Europe. That translates to a $125, or 25% more expensive in Europe.

I knew before any downloading services were released that the price point would, once again, be 99 cents (Euro cents) per song. And I’d almost be willing to bet 99p in the UK (could be 79p, but I doubt it).

So, what does this mean? Well, if you live in Europe, it means you’ll pay 25% extra for the same thing you get in New York for 99¢. If you are lucky enough to live in London, you might be paying 82% more (if they price it at 99p) or 45% more if they’re nice enough to price it at 79p.

Market theory says these price differences should be eliminated through arbitrage. However, thanks to the DRM built into the songs, it’s difficult to transfer the songs after buying low (in the US) and selling high (in the UK).

There is, perhaps, a way to get the lowest price, regardless of where you live. Londoners might be able to purchase iTunes gift certificates for themselves at the US store (paying the $.99 price) and using that from the comfort of their home on Abbey Road to download songs from the American iTunes store.

I’ll give the gift certificate trick a try when I can and report back with the findings….because if I buy one song at 99 cents from the US, it’s only really costing me only 54p, which is less then the Evening Standard. Now *that’s* a fair price for music.

CSFB and Morgan Stanley revive Spanish IPO market

“Fadesa Inmobiliaria, a real estate company, has filed for the first Spanish initial public offering (IPO) for two years in an offer led by Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB), and Morgan Stanley.”

Ok, so it’s not a Google or Salesforce.com IPO, but if it breathes life back into the IPO market in Spain, it’s a good thing. However, I’m really concerned about the real estate bubble in Spain, and can’t help thinking this is just going to add fuel to the fire… a serious crash is coming (although it seems to be taking a long time to arrive).