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The Bank of England has flagged concerns about the growing power of cloud computing

   NEWS / 14 Jul 2021

Published: 14 July 2021

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight


The Bank of England has flagged concerns about the growing power of cloud computing in fields like finance and insurance, with Governor Andrew Bailey telling a press conference that UK regulators need to act to avoid banks' reliance on outside cloud computing providers becoming a threat to financial stability. Banks are increasingly outsourcing key services to cloud computing companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google to improve efficiency and cut costs. Bailey said that while cloud computing could sometimes be more reliable than banks hosting all their servers themselves, larger market players could be "secretive" and dictate terms and conditions, as well as prices. "Cloud service providers are an increasingly integral part of the infrastructure of the financial system," Bailey said. "There's many good reasons for that — it is a model that works. But as they become more integral, obviously the risks to the system increase, the systemic risks increase". "The model has been developed in quite an opaque and closed fashion," he added. "I understand part of the reason for that…but we have to get more assurance that they are meeting the levels of resilience that we need." 

Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of trade body UK Hospitality, has told the Business Select Committee that one in five staff in the industry are self-isolating and that the absence problem created by Covid alerts was getting worse. She said in some cases, up to a third of staff could be off at any one time, putting intense pressure on a sector already facing a shortage of 200,000 workers, with roles unfilled after some switched to other careers when restaurants, pubs and hotels were closed during lockdowns. "We believe we need to have a test-to-release policy to help them work,” she said. "For many of our small businesses, if you lose one or two of your workers you don't have enough people to open at all, and obviously that has huge ramifications." Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, told the Committee shops were facing absences on a similar scale. "We are seeing some vacancy rates of around 20%,” she said, “and only some of that is directly people with COVID - a lot is the indirect consequence of having to isolate, irrespective of tests or whether one has had two vaccines”. 

The number of COVID-related pupil absences in England has hit a record high: more than 830,000 children were out of school last week, according to government figures 

Gender parity in top jobs across the FTSE 350 has been pushed back to 2036 by the pandemic despite firms with female executives far outperforming their rivals, according to the annual Women Count study by The Pipeline. The report found progress in boosting gender diversity slowed over the past year, delaying the predicted moment when there will be an equal split of women and men on executive teams by four years, as the increase in roles held by women slowed to 2.5% in 2021, down from 2.7% the previous year. Men currently hold 78% of all executive committee roles in the FTSE 350 and women 22%. The report also calculated that firms with women in senior roles outperformed male-run companies by nearly 40%, estimating that those without women in at least a third of top jobs are missing out on £123bn collectively in pre-tax profits. 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said yesterday it is considering whether National Grid's acquisition of PPL WPD Investments has led to “a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services". National Grid completed the acquisition of PPL Investments, the holding company of Western Power Distribution - the UK's largest electricity distribution business - for £7.8bn in July. CMA has invited comments from any interested parties by 26 July. 

British Airways, Ryanair, Wizz Air, and Easyjet have all told Yahoo Finance UK they will continue enforcing wearing masks as a requirement for travel after 19th July. 

Hotel Chocolat has told PA Media that it plans to create 250 new jobs this year to support expansion plans as online sales are set to overtake store sales for the first time in the British firm’s history. Founder and chief executive Angus Thirlwell said the shake-up for the business comes as customers surged to its website in record numbers during the pandemic. Online sales were just 15% of the total business in 2019 but will hit more than 50% this year.  

Private equity baron Guy Hands is eyeing the creation of one of Britain's biggest private housebuilding empires with a £700m takeover bid for Keepmoat Homes, the UK’s 7th largest housebuilder. Sky News has learnt that Mr Hands' Terra Firma Capital Partners is behind one of several offers that Keepmoat's owners have received for the business in recent days. City sources said yesterday that Terra Firma would be expected to combine Keepmoat with the operations of Kier Living, which it bought for £110m in April. Doncaster-based Keepmoat's private equity owners - TDR Capital (which has just engineered the £6.8bn takeover of Asda, and Sun Capital), is led by Hugh Osmond, one of the UK's best-known entrepreneurs, and the company has been put up for sale to take advantage of growing investor appetite for the sector. 

Cryptocurrency platform Binance has suspended the withdrawal of British pounds and euros, as payments provider Clear Junction stopped facilitating them. There were reports circulating on Twitter that the platform had emailed customers following a suspension for maintenance on GBP withdrawals on Monday. A statement on Clear Junction's website confirmed the move, citing a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) ruling on the exchange.  In June, the FCA issued a warning to consumers that one of the world’s largest bitcoinexchanges is not permitted to undertake regulated activities in the UK. Binance Markets was ordered to remove all advertising and financial promotions by 30 June. The company has been required to make clear on its website, social media platforms, and all other communications that it is no longer permitted to operate in the UK and must not carry out any regulated activities in Britain without prior consent. 

Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who was arrested in November 2018 following allegations by the Japanese car giant that he had understated his annual salary and misused company funds, has given an exclusive interview to the BBC explaining how he disguised himself to slip unnoticed through the streets of Tokyo to smuggle himself to his native Lebanon hidden in a large music equipment box. Following his arrest, Ghosn spent long periods in custody or was held under house arrest in Tokyo. He said he had no idea when his trial would take place – his fear was it could take years - and he faced a further 15 years in prison if convicted, in a country with a 99.4% conviction rate. He told the BBC that it was during a period of house arrest, when he was not allowed any contact with his wife, Carole, that he decided to find a way out. Documentary series Storyville details his extraordinary rise and sudden fall in Carlos Ghosn: The Last Flight, which will be shown on BBC 4 at 10pm tonight.

BP Plc said yesterday it will buy the majority share it does not already own in its Thorntons joint venture from ArcLight Capital Partners LLC to expand its presence in the US fuels and convenience retail business. Reuters reports the acquisition will bring BP more than 200 retail stores in Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Florida and will mark the company's re-entry into fully owned and operated stores in the U.S. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. Thorntons LLC was acquired by a joint venture between affiliates of ArcLight and BP in 2018. BP has said it aims to nearly double its convenience and mobility business earnings by 2030. It also plans to increase the number of convenience sites in its global network from around 2,000 to more than 3,000 by 2030. 

France's antitrust watchdog has fined Google €500m for failing to comply fully with temporary orders it had given to the company over a case involving national news publishers. The US tech giant must come up with proposals within the next two months on how to compensate news agencies for using their content or risk additional fines of up to €900,000 euros per day. News publishers APIG, SEPM and AFP accused the tech giant of having failed to open talks in good faith with them to find common ground for the remuneration of news content online. A Google spokesperson said in a statement to AFP that the company was "very disappointed" by the decision. 

Amazon is to offer end-to-end encryption for videos captured by the Ringdoorbell worldwide, following a successful trial in the US. It means that only the smartphone on which the video is received will be able to view the files. Ring video footage is stored on Amazon web servers but end-to-end encryption means the tech giant will not be able to view it, or hand it over. The Electronic Frontier Foundation asked Ring to consider making the change last year. "Consumers' choice to buy a camera cannot and should not be a way to launder mass surveillance and streamline digital racial profiling," it said.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk being questioned in a trial looking into the financial health of SolarCity in 2016 before his electric vehicle company purchased it for $2.6bn. Shareholders of SolarCity are suing Musk, alleging that Tesla'sacquisition of the solar installer amounted to a bailout and a deal that was pushed by the billionaire as he appeared to control the board, both of which Musk denies. When the plaintiffs' attorney Randy Baron showed clips of the CEO's 2019 deposition in which he calls the lawsuit a waste of time and said the attorney was a 'shameful person', Musk retorted: "I think you are a bad human being". He said Baron was "mentored by criminals, then continued to be mentored by criminals." "That is why I do not respect you," Musk said. "I have great respect for the court, but not for you, sir." If Tesla loses the lawsuit, Elon Musk could have to pay over $2bn.

US inflation revved up further last month due to the highest monthly bounce in used vehicle prices for more than 60 years. Sky News reports that America's consumer price index (CPI) rose by 5.4% in June compared to a year ago, matching a level last seen in 2008, as the economy continued to rebound from the coronavirus crisis and some supply chains struggled to keep up. Inflation in the world's biggest economy had already climbed to 5% in May and the unexpectedly strong latest reading adds to the potential headache facing the US Federal Reserve, which targets a 2% rate.


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