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The legal case against Transport Minister, opened at the High Court on Friday

   News / 12 Jul 2021

Published: 12 July 2021
Location: London UK

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight

The legal case against Transport Minister Grant Shapps, which has been launched by a group of travel businesses including Ryanair, BA, Tui and Manchester Airports Group opened at the High Court on Friday. The firms want more transparency over how the government takes decisions on Covid travel rules and, in particular, how it assesses the Covid threat in destination countries. The chief executives of the groups involved said in a statement: "British consumers need to understand how decisions are made so they can confidently plan their travel, which is why we are asking the government to provide the data and advice that is underpinning its decision making." Fewer than 30 destinations are on the green list, while more than 50 countries are on the red list. Travel companies have long complained they have little idea how the government makes decisions on travel rules, decisions which have had a devastating impact on the industry.

Brits saw the first increase in wealth levels during a recession in 70 years despite the biggest economic contraction in over 300 years, think tank the Resolution Foundation said. Household debts excluding credit cards have fallen by around £10bn since February 2020, while average house prices rose 8% thanks to a stamp duty holiday. Total savings rose by £200bn as Brits reduced spending but saw incomes protected by furlough. The report, published in partnership with the Standard Life Foundation, found total UK wealth rose by £900bn during the pandemic to around £16.5trn. It was the first mid-recession wealth boom since the post-war mid-1940s. Jack Leslie, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, said it was an "unlikely wealth boom". Property prices — a key source of wealth in the UK — have declined by an average of 22% during the previous four recessions.

Pension watchdogs are scrutinising the collapse of the fashion house which designed the Duchess of Sussex's £56,000 engagement dress. Ralph & Russo was sold last week by its joint administrators to Retail Ecommerce Ventures, a US-based investment vehicle. It collapsed after running out of cash, with the business failing to make a number of salary payments and staff pension contributions in the months prior to its insolvency. Sky Newsunderstands that The Pensions Regulator is examining the treatment of the company's retirement scheme in the period before administrators were called in in March.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) says it will scrutinise marketing related to cryptocurrencies, especially on social media, and clamp down on anything it deems misleading or irresponsible. This comes amid crackdowns from the Financial Conduct Authority as well as some commercial banks in the country. A report in the Financial Times said the watchdog has identified cryptos as a “red alert” priority.

Richard Branson has successfully visited the edge of space on board the first fully crewed Virgin Galactic test flight. “Seventeen years of hard work to get us this far,” a jubilant Mr Branson said as he congratulated his team on the trip back. The trip made Branson the first person to blast off in his own spaceship, and only the second septuagenarian to be launched into space; John Glenn flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery at age 77 in 1998. As well as a success and publicity coup for the company, Branson has also beat fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos to space. The Amazon founder will make a similar journey on 20 July, on board one of his own Blue Origin spacecraft.

Philip Morris International, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, has launched a £1bn bid for London-listed drug specialist Vectura, the companies said on Friday. The tobacco giant has agreed a 150p per share deal to buy the COVID treatment maker, which focuses on inhaled medicines to treat lung conditions. Philip Morris said the deal was part of an attempt to transform itself into a “wellness company” and shift from its current core business.

The Rothermere family is weighing an offer to take Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), the owner of the Daily Mail and MailOnline, private. The step follows a takeover approach for Insurance Risk, one of the company's business-to-business divisions. The possible offer implies a value of £810m, including debt, with investors receiving 251p per share, the company said. However the deal will only take place if DMGT completes the sale of Insurance Risk, after the business received "a number of enquiries from third parties". The DMGT added that discussions around the sale of Insurance Risk were ongoing and "there can be no certainty that a transaction will result".

A man named after the Toddington service station on the M1 is promising to make major improvements at motorway service stations, allowing more drivers to charge the batteries of their electric vehicles quickly and efficiently, the BBCreports. Toddington Harper’s company, Gridserve, recently bought the existing network of almost 300 charge points at 150 locations, known as the Electric Highway, from the green energy company Ecotricity. The plan is to replace all of those ageing devices with newer versions by September. For the first time, it will be possible to use them with just a contactless debit or credit card instead of a smartphone app and two vehicles will be able to charge at once instead of one.

Tony Hayward, the former BP chief executive, is plotting the flotation of a new 'blank cheque' company that will seek to capitalise on booming investor appetite for companies exposed to the world's multi-trillion-dollar shift to cleaner energy. Sky News has learnt that Hayward is in advanced talks to list Energy Transition Partners, a new special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange. Sources said this weekend that an announcement could come as soon as next week, although the timing has yet to be finalised. Hayward, who left BP in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, hopes to raise €175m (£150m) from investors to provide Energy Transition Partners with its initial funding, the sources added. His SPAC would then seek to identify a company with significant growth potential in sectors such as battery storage or electric vehicle charging.

TikTok has added financial services and products including cryptocurrencies and pyramid schemes to the list of promotional content banned on its platform. A report in the Financial Times said the move comes after users were warned against taking financial advice from TikTok videos over concerns it could be misleading, particularly for younger savers. On its 'branded content policy' page, TikTok has added financial services and products to its list of 'globally prohibited industries'.  The section includes lending and management of money assets, loans and credit cards, buy now pay later services, trading platforms, cryptocurrency, foreign exchange, debit and pre-payment cards, forex trading and pyramid schemes.

President Joe Biden has signed an executive order aimed at cracking down on big tech firms and promoting competition. The BBC says the move points to Biden's desire for tougher scrutiny of Big Tech, which the administration has accused of "undermining competition". "Capitalism without competition isn't capitalism. It's exploitation," Mr Biden said at Friday's signing event. The order includes 72 actions and recommendations involving ten agencies. It suggests that problems have arisen because of large tech firms collecting too much personal information, buying up potential competitors and competing unfairly with small businesses. Among several recommendations are greater scrutiny of mergers in the tech sector, new rules to be set out by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on data collection, and a bar on unfair methods of competition on internet marketplaces.

Levi Strauss says it is seeing strong sales as US consumers come out of the other side of the pandemic, especially in looser fitting Levi's jeans. Levi's CFO Harmit Singh told Yahoo Finance Live this is despite the fit being more expensive, but that it is clear the pandemic has caused most consumers to gain weight, making the trousers in their closet unusable for their return to post-COVID life. About 42% of people polled in a recent survey from the American Psychological Association said they gained more weight than they intended during the pandemic. Of those surveyed, the average weight gain has tallied 29 pounds. Roughly 10% of those surveyed said they gained more than 50 pounds.

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