Published: 04 August 2021
Universities Minister Michelle Donelan told Sky News this morning that the government will not mandate covid vaccinations before you are allowed to go to work. "What we've said very clearly as a government is that if a business believes that that's necessary for their own business model ... then that is a decision for them, but certainly as a government we're not mandating that to be able to go back into the office you must have a jab,” she said. "What we're saying is that having a jab is the best way out of this virus."
MPs on the Defence Select Committee have raised concerns about the £6.5bn takeover of FTSE 250 company Meggitt by US rival Parker Hannifin, saying the Government should take "golden shares" in defence companies critical to UK national security to stop them being sold to overseas buyers. The Government only has golden shares in BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce, says the Telegraph, although there are similar controls relating to Babcock’s Devonport and Rosyth shipyards that maintain much of the Royal Navy, including Trident submarines. Committee chairman Tobais Ellwood called for an expansion of the system in which the Government holds a controlling share that can be used to block takeovers. “Look at the list of competencies that Meggitt has - advanced composites, avionics, sensors … you can easily argue Meggitt has every qualification to be treated the same as golden share companies BAE Systems and Rolls,” he said. On Monday US-based Parker revealed an 800p a share offer for Meggitt, which supplies parts for both military and civil aircraft.
Rolls-Royce has signed an agreement to sell its Bergen Engines business to global engineering group Langley Holdings for an enterprise value of €63m (£53.73m). The deal is part of the aircraft engine-maker's plan to generate at least £2bn from disposals to rebuild the company's balance sheet after an extremely tough year. Langley is funding the deal from existing cash reserves.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced it has opened an investigation into Facebook's planned acquisition of customer interaction platform Kustomer after privacy advocates raised concerns about the deal in February. "We fear that Kustomer has intimate data about people, and we want to know what Facebook will do with it," the Irish Council for Civil Liberties wrote in a statement. The CMA will investigate whether the deal can lead to a "substantial lessening of competition" in UK markets and has until September 27 to decide whether to open an in-depth investigation.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has produced a report saying the economy must be allowed to "live with COVID" and warning that continuing restrictions mean the travel industry is in the "last chance saloon". Sky News reports the CBI wants a "new settlement" to help the travel industry and the broader UK economy to function better - made possible by the country's COVID-19 vaccine programme. Policy director John Foster said: "The UK urgently needs to widen the list of those able to avoid self-isolation on their return to include individuals who have received UK-approved vaccines, rather than just those who received NHS vaccines,” and he urged "mass-testing to stop mass self-isolation". A Department for Transport spokesperson responded saying: "We recognise this is a challenging period for the sector, as we seek to balance the timely reopening of international travel while safeguarding public health and protecting the vaccine rollout. "We are regularly reviewing our international travel policy, based on a range of factors and the latest scientific data available and we have provided £7bn to help support the industry during the pandemic".
Consumer watchdog Which? has released a "red list" of 20 package holiday providers that people are advised against booking a trip with as they could leave holidaymakers out of pocket if they are unable to travel as planned. Operators include Lasminute.com, Love Holidays, On The Beach and Teletext, said Sky News.
TUI is restarting holidays to destinations including Spain, Greece and Croatia this week, but has also announced it has had to cancel trips to some thirty or so other holiday destinations. Croatia is currently on England's green watchlist, meaning Brits returning to the UK won't need to self-isolate, although they will need to take a PCR test on day two. Spain Greece and Jamaica are all currently on the amber list, meaning Brits will need to self-isolate for 10 days and take PCR tests on days two and eight. However, those who are fully vaccinated against Covid can swerve the self-isolation. The next review of the UK's green, amber and red destinations is expected to be announced later this week.
Ryanair and Wizz Air have both seen significant increases in July passenger numbers when compared to last year’s dire covid-restricted travel. The number of people flying with Ryanair more than doubled to 9.3m from 4.4m a year ago, as it operated more than 61,000 flights with an 80% load factor. Wizz Air said passenger numbers shot up 62% to 2.95m in the same month, while the airline's capacity increased 24.9% to 2.76m and load factor grew 18 percentage points to 78.5%.
Petrol prices have reached an eight-year high after nine straight months of rises, according to the RAC. The average price of a litre of petrol is now 135.13p, a level not seen since September 2013, as rising oil prices push up fuel costs. Diesel now costs an average of 137.06p a litre, its highest price since 2014. The latest RAC Fuel Watch figures show that another 3.4p was added to a litre of petrol in July, the largest rise in the price of unleaded since January, while diesel climbed 2.7p a litre. A driver filling up a petrol car with a 55-litre tank now pays on average £3.08 more than at the start of June, and £11.47 more than a year ago.
Upmarket sportswear brand Sweaty Betty has been bought by US-based Wolverine Worldwide for £294.4m, the BBC reports. Founded in London's Notting Hill in 1998, the company expanded rapidly on the back of the popularity of so-called athleisure fashion. Known for its figure-hugging leggings, Sweaty Betty clothing has been a favourite of celebrities, including Jennifer Anniston and Halle Berry. Chief executive Julia Straus will stay at the firm after the deal.
Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey (TW) has rejected suggestions that the UK housing market is in a bubble after it announced half-year profits of £424m, as against a £16m loss a year earlier. Chief executive Pete Redfern told the BBC that market conditions were completely different from the time of the last house price crash in 2007. Redfern told the Today programme that in 2007, mortgage lending had been "significantly laxer" than now, while house price growth had been "well above" inflation levels and at the same time, there had been a high number of investors buying homes. "None of those things is true today," he said, adding that the UK currently had an "entirely healthy and stable housing market". TW completed more than 7,300 houses in the first six months of 2021, a record performance. The firm said it had raised its full-year profit expectations to £820m and expected to complete up to 14,000 new homes over the full 12 months.
Building merchant Travis Perkins warned on Tuesday that inflationary pressures have accelerated through the first half of the year, with prices increasing by around 4% overall. Increases seen in the first quarter were about 2% compared with the second quarter, which saw prices rise by around 7%.
"Inflationary pressure is expected to persist in the near term with shortages on some key product lines, most notably in raw materials such as timber and plasterboard related products, which has posed a particular challenge," the company said.
Pub chain JD Wetherspoon is to open a new hotel in Dublin, Ireland, that has cost €33m to develop. Keavan’s Port, an 89-bedroom hotel and pub, will open on Camden Street Upper and Lower on 16 August. JD Wetherspoon purchased the site for €6m (£5m) four years ago and has spent €27.4m developing it — the company's biggest ever investment in a single site.
New York City is to require customers and staff of restaurants, gyms and other indoor businesses to have had Covid-19 vaccinations. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the policy would "turn the tide" on Covid.
Nearly 60% of New Yorkers have received at least one jab but some areas, which are largely poor communities, and communities of colour, have lower vaccination rates. The policy, which is similar to measures taken in France, will be enforced from 13 September.
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