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What is the contribution of rail to the UK economy?

By most measures, the GB rail sector is a success. Over the last 20 years, since the creation of the new industry model (in which rail freight services are operated by competing freight operating companies, passenger rail services are specified by the government and delivered by train operating companies, and first Railtrack—and now Network Rail—have managed the infrastructure, regulated by the Office of Rail Regulation), the number of passenger journeys has risen, and now stands at 115% higher than it was 20 years ago.1 The distance travelled by trains has increased by 36% over the same period, and there has been an improvement in safety and an increase in passenger satisfaction.2 There has also been a 70% increase over this time period in the amount of freight transported by rail.3


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Input methodologies

Where in a range should the weighted average cost of capital (WACC) be set? In New Zealand, the Commerce Commission is required to set formal rules for the choice of WACC over time. Based on an assessment that the risks of setting the WACC too high were greater than the risks of setting it too low, the Commerce Commission chose to allow a WACC premium representing a point from above the middle of its range (the ‘75th percentile’).

Following a Court decision resulting from a legal challenge, the Commerce Commission is seeking analysis on whether its approach is consistent with the evidence of the scale of risks arising from the choice of WACC. Having reviewed the evidence, Oxera has concluded that there is evidence that a premium would be appropriate. For electricity, our report presents a range of evidence, and proposes options for the Commerce Commission to use in its response to the Court’s decision. 


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Review of the beta and gearing for UCLL and UBA services

What is an appropriate benchmark for profitability of fixed access networks in the telecoms sector? Oxera undertook a review of evidence for the New Zealand Commerce Commission, looking at debt betas, equity betas, gearing ratios and credit ratings. New Zealand now has a separated access operator (Chorus) and our report assesses the level implied by market data from Chorus, relative to other regional and international comparators. We also consider the impact of fibre on the risks faced by access operators.


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Global cost benchmarking of cash equity clearing and settlement services

To fulfil one of ASX's commitments under the Code of Practice agreed in 2012, Oxera has undertaken a comprehensive international cost benchmarking of clearing and settlement costs. The analysis estimates the costs for a wide range of investors active in the Australian cash equity market, from retail investors with small order sizes to fund managers of large pension funds. The results demonstrate economies of scale in the provision of trading, clearing and settlement, with the costs of ASX's services in line with the costs of services provided by FMIs of a comparable size.


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What is the forecast difference between RPI and CPI?

Ofcom is examining the right level of licence fee payments that should be paid by mobile operators over the next ten years. As part of this process, Ofcom is considering the right way to index these licence fee payments to the consumer price index (CPI), rather than the retail price index (RPI). Vodafone asked Oxera to consider this question. We have proposed two simpler methods for implementing a CPI-linked approach to setting the fees, both of which would reduce the need for potentially arbitrary assumptions over the relative size of RPI and CPI across the 20-year life of the proposed licence fee arrangements.


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What could be the economic impact of the proposed financial transaction tax?

A comprehensive assessment of the potential macroeconomic impact.

Oxera has been involved in the debate about the proposed financial transaction tax (FTT) for Europe since the European Commission first presented its proposals in September 2011. Oxera has consistently called for more and better research to be conducted into the potential economic impact of the FTT, as there are reasons to believe that the economic impact is likely to be more detrimental than the Commission assumes. In particular, there is a significant risk that the imposition of the FTT actually worsens overall government finances, as it has a negative impact on other tax revenues from the economy, and increases the cost of funding government debt.


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Impact on doubtful debt as a result of changes in deprivation and bill levels over 2015–20: an update

Using its ‘risk-based review’ of companies’ business plans, Ofwat, in assessing South West Water (along with Affinity Water) for ‘enhanced status’, has requested additional information on South West Water’s proposed adjustment on doubtful debt.1 In particular, Ofwat has requested information on the appropriate adjustment that reflects the impact of changes in deprivation and bill levels over 2015–20.2

As a response to Ofwat’s request, Oxera3 examined how changes in deprivation and bill levels over PR14 affect the adjustment on doubtful debt for South West Water. 


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Non-household retail competition

The UK government is proposing to introduce a seamless cross-border retail market for non-household water and sewerage customers in England and Scotland by 2017. 


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Pricing of market data services: an economic analysis

Is market data provided by trading venues too expensive? Would imposing a strict definition of 'reasonable commercial terms' for market data be expected to benefit the real economy? New economic analysis by Oxera tackles these challenging questions. The results of the analysis question the need for regulation.


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Modernising state aid through better evaluation

In November 2013, the European Commission began its consultation on a guidance paper to help member states evaluate the effects of state aid. The evaluation of large aid schemes is an important element of the Commission’s state aid modernisation agenda to achieve more efficient and effective public spending. The guidance paper sets out suggested methodologies, best practice, and examples of how to carry out a meaningful evaluation in this field. 

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