Published: 16 December 2021
Location: London, UK
The last Daily Busines News of 2021 from us will be tomorrow. We will resume bulletins on Monday 7th January 2022.
Yesterday, the government took all 11 countries off its travel red list and told people in quarantine hotels in England that they can leave confinement if they have tested negative for Covid. Health Secretary Sajid Javid also confirmed guests will be refunded for the days they have not used. He added that the Omicron Covid variant had spread so widely that the rules were no longer effective.
The government is slashing its plug-in grants for electric cars. Starting on 15 December, the government will provide grants of up to £1,500 for electric cars priced under £32,000 instead of £2,5000, “focussing on the more affordable vehicles and making best use of taxpayers’ money”. Vehicles priced under £35,000 will get £2,500, but this is £3,000 less than previously announced. Large vans will get £5,000, with a per financial year limit of 1,000 grants per business. There will be no changes for trucks, which will get between £16,000 and £25,000, depending on size. Motorcycles priced up to £10,000 will receive £500 and mopeds will get £150. The statement also said the total cost of EV ownership is expected to reach parity during the 2020s compared to petrol and diesel cars. Mike Hawes, CEO of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) criticised the changes, saying: “Slashing the grants for electric vehicles once again is a blow to customers looking to make the switch and couldn’t come at a worse time, with inflation at a ten-year high and pandemic-related economic uncertainty looming large.” He said the government should be doubling down on incentives for consumers to buy EVs, rather than reduce them.
National Grid has announced that the system average price of gas increased by 7% in the week to 12 December 2021. It is now 46% higher than a month ago and the highest recorded average price in the series so far.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said yesterday that cryptocurrency adverts are a ‘red alert priority’ as it banned seven cryptocurrency ads for breaking its rules, including ones by Coinbase and Papa Johns. The ASA is proactively monitoring cryptoasset ads as part of a wider project that will eventually shape specific guidance around advertising these products in 2022, Yahoo Finance UK says. The ASA added that consumers need to know about the risks of investing in cryptoassets such as Bitcoin and Ethereum and that companies should make sure that their ads aren’t misleading or socially irresponsible, and don't take advantage of consumers’ lack of awareness around these "complex and volatile products".
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has launched a blistering attack on the UK government’s response to the Omicron Covid variant, saying it has been shaped by “panic” and “idiots” and demonstrated “piss-poor political leadership”. O’Leary blames travel restrictions rather than pricing for the fact a million fewer passengers than forecast flying on his airline this month, as Ryanair is offering fares from as little as £5 one way. Contrasting recent policies implemented in the UK, which demand PCR tests for all arrivals, with EU states where most fully vaccinated people can travel more freely, he said: “What deters booking is the whole uncertainty – this idea that if I travel abroad if the government changes the rules in 24 hours I could be stranded, even if Covid-free and vaccinated … Travel only exists on a degree of confidence”. He added: “People in the UK recognise that the government there are idiots. You wouldn’t rely on [Boris] Johnson or Grant Shapps, or Dominic Raab who can’t add or subtract – would you want your journey dependent on the intervention of those idiots? The answer is no.”
The £420 million takeover of Spanish airline Air Europa by British Airways owner IAG has been scrapped, both sides have announced. The news comes just weeks after the Competition and Marketing Authority (CMA) said it would investigate whether the deal breached competition rules. A European Commission investigation had already launched in June over concerns the plans would reduce competition on Spanish domestic routes and international routes to and from the country, as IAG already owns Spanish carrier Iberia. Trade unions and rival carriers had also raised concerns. IAG first announced plans to buy Air Europa in 2019 for one billion euros (£840 million) although the price was slashed after the Covid-19 pandemic knocked the entire sector by grounding planes.
Australian airline Qantas has announced that it will switch its domestic fleet of planes to Airbus from Boeing, a major win for the European plane maker and a blow to its US-based arch-rival.
Domino's Pizza has settled a long-running dispute with its franchisees, who have for several years been refusing to open more stores. The FTSE 250 group said it would spend £20m over three years on digital technology, app development and other improvements to upgrade customer service and increase revenue. It will also spend more on marketing, improve its food rebate scheme and increase incentives to encourage new stores. In return, Domino's franchise operators have agreed to open at least 45 new stores a year over the next three years, take part in new national promotional deals and adopt new technology such as GPS tracking and store formats.
FTSE 250 firm Ascential has sold its MediaLink division to United Talent Agency (UTA), a US entertainment and sports group, in a $125m (£94.63m) cash deal. MediaLink is a US-based consultancy to the media and marketing sectors which last year generated revenues of $44.2m (£33.46m) and adjusted earnings of $10.1m (£7.65). Its gross assets as at 30 June 2021 were $80.6m (£61.02m). MediaLink founder Michael Kassan will join UTA - one of the world's biggest talent agencies - as partner. He will also continue in his role as chief executive.
Shopping centre owner Hammerson has sold Silverburn, a shopping centre near Glasgow jointly owned by Hammerson and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, to affiliates of Henderson Park and Eurofund, for £140m. Hammerson has now sold six non-core assets for £92m since the half year, Sharecast News says. "The proceeds of these disposals will further strengthen the balance sheet by reducing net debt, ahead of reinvestment in flagship assets for growth," Hammerson said in a statement.
UK fund manager Schroders has confirmed it is in talks with renewable energy investor Greencoat Capital about taking a "significant" stake in the company, following a report by Sky News. The broadcaster claimed Schroders was set to splash out £360m to buy a 75% stake in Greencoat, which runs funds including London-listed Greencoat UK Wind and Greencoat Renewables. It also manages funds specialising in solar assets and bioenergy and heat. The company was put up for sale earlier this year when it hired Fenchurch Advisory Partners to sound out prospective buyers. "There is no certainty these talks will lead to any final agreement," Schroders said in a statement.
Billionaire businessman Patrick Drahi is mulling a possible initial public offering of Sotheby's, it was reported yesterday, just two years after the French telecoms entrepreneur bought the auction house. According to Bloomberg, Drahi has held preliminary discussions with potential advisors about a US listing. Neither Sotheby's nor Drahi have yet commented on the report. Drahi took Sotheby's private in 2019 in a deal worth $3.7bn (£2.84bn).
Educational publisher Pearson has named Twitter director Omid Kordestani as its new chair. Kordestani will join as non-executive director and chair designate on 1 March 2022, and replace current incumbent Sidney Taurel following the annual general meeting in April 2022.
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