Published: 13 May 2021
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said yesterday that imports of goods from the rest of the world in the first quarter of 2021 were higher than EU imports for the first time since it began collecting data in 1997. Trade with the EU fell by £18.4bn in the first three months of the year. The ONS says it is too soon to assess whether the post-Brexit shift would be permanent, saying: "With only one quarter of data available, and the ongoing pandemic and recession, it is too early to assess the extent to which this reflects short-term trade disruption or longer-term supply chain adjustments."
Stephen Hill, a former boss of the Financial Times Group will this week be named as a non-executive director of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), as Kwasi Kwarteng tackles a backlog of appointments at boards overseen by his department, Sky News reports. He will replace Nigel Boardman, who relinquished his role at BEIS to spearhead the government-commissioned inquiry into the Greensill lobbying affair. Whitehall sources also told Sky that Vikas Shah, the chief executive of Manchester-based textiles and commodities trading firm Swiscot Group, would be appointed to the BEIS board.
Darren Jones MP, chair of parliament’s business select committee, has told Yahoo Finance UK that businesses across the UK are struggling to get to grips with new post-Brexit VAT rules that are adding billions of pounds to operating costs and could send many smaller businesses to the wall. Goods shipped to EU countries are now liable for VAT when they enter the single market, a levy tax experts have estimated could add £34bn to the cost of UK trade with the EU. The increased costs are a “kick in the teeth” for businesses, Jones said, and he urged the government to intervene. “The government needs to lead on getting these issues resolved urgently and explain to businesses how they are going to help them prosper in the future,” he said.
Amazon has won a major court case at the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which has scrapped a 2017 decision made by the European Commission ruling that Amazon must pay Luxembourg €250m (£214m) in back taxes. "The contested decision should be annulled in its entirety," the ECJ said yesterday, because: "the commission did not prove to the requisite legal standard that there was an undue reduction of the tax burden of a European subsidiary of the Amazon group."
Air France and Airbus are to stand trial for manslaughter over the 2009 Paris-Rio de Janeiro crash, which killed 228 people. Investigators said that the crash was caused by pilot errors due to disorientation brought on by faulty speed monitoring equipment, and prosecutors accuse Air France of indirectly causing the tragedy by failing to provide the necessary training for pilots in such these situations. Lawyers for Airbus immediately said that they would lodge an appeal.
Airbus said yesterday that it has revived plans to install a new production line for its A321neo jet in Toulouse in the deserted assembly hall where it once built its A380 superjumbo jets. Hamburg and Mobile (Alabama) are currently the only Airbus plants that assemble the A321.
Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video and BBC Sport have agreed a proposal to roll over their existing television deal with the Premier League for a further three years from 2022 to 2025, the league has announced.
Sky News has interpreted the latest figures from travel firm TUI as holidaymakers “giving up” on summer holidays because of a “lack of clarity" on the easing of travel restrictions. The German-based travel giant said 2.6 million customers were booked for its peak season, down from 2.8 million reported in February. Summer 2021 booking levels are 69% lower than those seen at the same point ahead of summer 2019, before the repeated lockdowns and travel bans.
The world’s biggest catering group, Compass Group, will pay back £25 million it has received in furlough cash since October, and staff who are still on furlough will now have their pay covered by Compass. However, the company will not return the furlough cash its staff received before October, PA Media reports, as it was struggling during that period and forced to raise money from shareholders.
Aveva said yesterday it has agreed to sell three businesses to Schneider Electric for £2.6m. The industrial software company will sell its Acquis Software, Termis Software and Water Loss Management Software businesses. in or around July 2021.
BT says it is speeding up its rollout of full-fibre broadband to five million more households than previously planned in a move it says could create up to 7,000 jobs. Boss Philip Jansen told the BBC that it plans to connect 25 million homes by 2026. "It's a massive programme - a £15bn investment," he said. The telecoms giant has been criticised for the pace of full-fibre rollout but BT said tax changes introduced on fibre broadband investment to homes and businesses allowed it to accelerate its strategy.
Shareholder Revolts: Shareholders in estate agency Savills and Cineworld have become the latest to revolt against bosses’ pay awards. The Guardian reports that nearly 30% of investors in Britain’s largest cinema chain refused to back an award scheme that would see bosses Mooky and Israel Greidinger reap more than £200m in shares if the share price bounces back to pre-pandemic levels. A similar number also refused to approve the company’s remuneration report at its AGM yesterday and 15.7% abstained or voted against the reappointment of Dean Moore, chair of Cineworld’s remuneration committee. Cineworld reported its first ever loss in the sum of $3bn (£2.1bn) last year. Meanwhile at Savills, more than a quarter of investors failed to approve the company’s remuneration report. The company paid CEO Mark Ridley a £350,000 bonus despite failing to hit the minimum profit target required to trigger an award last year, in addition to £500,000 for meeting 90% of his separate “key objectives” during the pandemic.
BP shareholders have voted against a plan that would have forced the company to strengthen its climate change commitments. More than 79% of investors voted against a resolution proposed by shareholder group Follow This, which pushes oil companies to reduce their emissions.
Drinks’ giant Diageo is to recommence a £4.5bn share buyback programme put on hold because of the covid pandemic, as it now expects full-year earnings growth of at least 14%. It will launch the second phase of the programme with £1 billion of payments by the end of 2021-22, starting with £500 million in share buybacks due by mid-November.
John Menzies has raised £22m to strengthen its finances and support acquisitions. The aviation services group placed 5.4 million new shares with institutional investors at 290p a share yesterday, raising gross funds of £15.7m. Directors bought 1.8 million shares and retail investors subscribed for 344,827 shares at the placing price, which was 6.6% less than the shares' closing value on Tuesday.
Flutter Entertainment said Matt King, the boss of its US FanDuel operation has resigned and that his departure would affect the timing of a potential listing for the business in the US. The FTSE 100 gambling group said King would stay on while it looked for a replacement. His four-year stint saw FanDuel became the US market leader for online sports betting and gaming. Flutter did not say why he had resigned or what his plans were.
The current head of finance at Marstons, Andrew Andrea, will take the reins as the company’s boss on October 3rd, the firm said in a stock market update yesterday. Current CEO Ralph Findlay said in March he would step down from the Wolverhampton-based brewery and pub chain after 20 years in the role.
Chesnara has hired Royal London’s chief commercial officer Steve Murray to replace John Deane who is retiring after six years in charge of the life and pensions company. Murray has more than 20 years' experience in the life assurance industry. He will take over from Deane later in 2021.
Housebuilder Redrow said yesterday that Richard Akers would be the group's next chairman, taking over from John Tutte following the publication of the firm's full-year results on 15 September.
The largest gasoline pipeline in the US returned to service yesterday following a cyberattack late on Friday that sent pump prices surging to a seven-year high and triggered shortages: three out of four petrol stations had run dry in parts of the country by yesterday. The Biden administration has temporarily waived century-old shipping restrictions to allow foreign tankers to transport fuel to areas with shortages, although it could take up to a week for foreign-flagged tankers to fill the supply gap.
MoneyGram is teaming up with cryptocurrency exchange Coinme to allow crypto holders to cash in their investments at locations across the US, Sharecast News reports. In the coming weeks their services will be available at thousands of MoneyGram's brick-and-mortar locations in the US. The two companies plan to expand the offering internationally in the second half of 2021.
Elon Musk has backtracked on an earlier pledge to allow customers to purchase Tesla vehicles using Bitcoin because of climate change concerns. Bitcoin fell by more than 10% after his announcement on Twitter, and Tesla shares also dipped. Tesla's announcement in March that it would accept the cryptocurrency was met with an outcry from some environmentalists and investors. Tesla revealed in February that it had bought $1.5bn (£1bn) of the world's biggest digital currency.
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