Published: 17 August 2021
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released labour market data for April to June 2021 this morning. The stats show:
- Employment up at 75.1%
- Unemployment down at 4.7%
- Economic inactivity at 21.1%
- The number of employees on payroll rose by 182,000 in July 2021
- The number of job vacancies passed 1 million for the first time in July
- The number of hours worked exceeded 1 billion a week for the first time since the onset of the pandemic
- After inflation, average pay saw annual growth of 6.6% including bonuses in April to June 2021; excluding bonuses it was up 5.2%.
Responding to the figures, Jonathan Athow, the ONS Deputy National Statistician said in an official statement: “The world of work continues to rebound robustly from the effects of the pandemic”. He added: “There was no sign of redundancies starting to pick up in our survey data ahead of the furlough scheme beginning to wind down, and Insolvency Services figures for July suggest the same.” On his Twitter feed however, he cautioned that “there is still some way to go.” Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the figures showed the government's plan for jobs was working.
Ticket re-sale sites such as viagogo and Stubhub should face a tough new licensing regime which could see companies that break the rules shut down, The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says. CMA said it had taken strong action in recent years to protect customers but there was a limit to what regulators could do under present powers. "Swift and effective" action to tackle resellers who rip off or mislead sports and music fans was "not possible under the current law," it said, as it outlined proposals to ban resellers from selling more tickets than they can legally obtain from the original seller, and ensuring platforms are fully responsible for incorrect information about tickets listed for sale on their websites.
FTSE-100 education publisher Pearson will pay $1m to settle charges that it misled investors about a data breach in 2018 involving the theft of millions of student records, including dates of birth and email addresses. Pearson said in a brief statement that it has reached a settlement of an enforcement action with the US Securities and Exchange Commission concerning its public disclosures in July 2019. "Under the settlement, Pearson has neither admitted nor denied the findings set out in the SEC's order, including the violations," it said.
British defence companies Ultra Electronics and Meggitt came a step closer to being taken over by foreign-backed firms yesterday, The Independent newspaper said. Cobham Group, which is owned by US private equity house Advent, confirmed it has agreed a £2.57bn deal for London-listed Ultra and rival defence group Meggitt reaffirmed its plans to accept a £6.3billion bid from US business Parker-Hannifin and said the stock market’s Takeover Panel has set a deadline of 5pm on 14th September on another rival, TransDigm, to make its own £7bn bid binding or walk away. The Government is monitoring the Ultra takeover.
The Guardian newspaper says: “an army of City bankers, lawyers and public relations advisers are expected to be paid more than £200m for the sale of the UK aerospace firm Meggitt to its US rival Parker Hannifin.” Parker is set to spend some £156m, with the largest slice of that – almost £60m – accounted for by fees and interest on a $2bn (£1.4bn) loan from Citibank to finance the deal. Citi’s investment bankers are also acting as financial advisers to Parker, an arrangement worth a further £24m. Meggitt’s banking advisers, NM Rothschild, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, will carve up £43m between them for advising the company’s board on the takeover offer. Lawyers on both sides – the magic circle firms Freshfields for Parker and Slaughter & May for Meggitt – stand to earn £39m between them for their advice. There will also be £8m for “professional services”, which includes fees for management consultants, and about £3.8m for public relations firms working on both sides.
US buyout firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CDR) will promise not to sell off large chunks of Morrisons' property empire when it tables an improved cash offer for the supermarket later this week, the BBC reports. Morrisons' board is currently recommending shareholders accept a bid from another consortium led by US-based but Japanese-owned Fortress Group. The Fortress consortium includes the property arm of the biggest private company in the US, Koch Industries, which led many to suspect that large-scale property sales would be part of the plan. However, in its offer document, Fortress said it "does not anticipate engaging in any material store sale and leaseback transactions" and CDR is expected to match that commitment. Morrisons owns 86% of its store freeholds
Retirement specialist Just Group has sold a portfolio of lifetime mortgages to Rothesay Life for £334m.
Britain's biggest private sector retirement scheme has won a tussle over the value of its remaining stake in Hermes, the prominent City asset manager, Sky News reports. Federated Hermes, the Pittsburgh-based group which bought 60% of Hermes in 2018, has agreed to pay the BT Pensions Scheme about £115m for a further 29.5% shareholding.
LondonMetric Property has exchanged contracts on the sale of its distribution warehouse in Thrapston, Northamptonshire, to EQT Exeter for £102m. The FTSE 250 firm said the warehouse is currently leased to Primark for another 11 years at a rent of £4.4m per annum. Completion of the sale will take place in February.
The German government plans to sell up to a quarter of its 20% stake in Lufthansa over the coming weeks, the state finance agency said on Monday. The state’s 20% stake was acquired for €300m as part of a bailout for the German carrier as passenger traffic came to virtual standstill because of covid lockdowns.
Authorities in the US have opened a formal investigation into Tesla's Autopilot following multiple accidents involving parked emergency vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that the carmaker's partially-automated driving system had difficulty identifying such vehicles. It tied that fault to 11 crashes since 2018.
Jeff Bezos's space firm Blue Origin is suing Nasa over a decision to award a $2.9bn (£2.1bn) lunar lander contract to Elon Musk's SpaceX. The former Amazon boss's firm said there were "fundamental issues" with the deal, calling it unfair. The row stems from a decision in April to hand the deal to one company, not two as expected, because of a funding shortfall.
Facebook says it has banned the Taliban and all content supporting it from its platforms as it considers the group to be a terrorist organisation. The company says it has a dedicated team of Afghan experts to monitor and remove content linked to the group and that the policy applies to all its platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp.
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