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Chinese-owned company has taken over a semiconductor plant in Wales

   News / 04 Apr 2022

Published: 04 April 2022
Location: London, UK

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight

Ministers have quietly allowed a Chinese-owned company to take over a semiconductor plant in Wales, it was revealed on Friday. According to Politico, the government decided not to intervene in the sale of the Newport Wafer Fab by Wingtech after its national security advisor Stephen Lovegrovespent six months looking into the deal. Last July, China economic intelligence specialist Datenna said Wingtech had close ties to the Chinese Communist Party, with almost a third of its shares traced back to the government in Beijing. The House of Commons foreign affairs committee chairman Tom Tugendhat hit out at the decision, saying it wasn't clear why the government didn't "fully review" the takeover. "This is an area where China is sinking billions to compete…The government has no clear strategy to protect what's left of our semiconductor industry," he told Politico.
The UK government has confirmed that the National Cyber Security Centre is investigating claims that China launched cyber-attacks on Ukrainian military and nuclear targets shortly before the Russian invasion. More than 600 websites, including Ukraine’s defence ministry, were subjected to thousands of hacking attempts coordinated by the Chinese government, it is claimed.
Russian energy giant Gazprom issued a statement on Friday afternoon saying it no longer owned its German and British subsidiaries. Prior to the pandemic Gazprom served 22% of the UK business market, including local councils and the NHS. The name of the new owner was not disclosed.
A tech company backed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s wife is reported to be closing its Russian office following widespread criticism. Infosys, in which Akshata Murty owns a 0.93% holding valued at £727m, is looking to move its Moscow workers to other countries, according to the BBC. The Indian group has been criticised for continuing its operations in Russia despite Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said Sunak needs to “come clean” on whether his family is benefitting from investments linked to Russia.
Criminal and civil investigations have been launched into the decision by P&O Ferries to sack nearly 800 workers without notice, the Insolvency Service said on Friday. P&O Ferries CEO Peter Hebblethwaite last week admitted before parliament's business and transport committees that his company broke the law by not consulting with trade unions before sacking workers.
Around twenty people are believed to have been fined £50 each for breaking lockdown rules by attending a farewell event for a Downing Street private secretary on June 18 2020 in the Cabinet Office. The identities of those fined because of the ‘Partygate’ scandal are not known: the Metropolitan Police will not confirm names and the government officials punished do not have to notify their employer.
Current operator Camelot is launching a High Court challenge to the Gambling Commission’s choice of Allwyn Entertainment as the new operator of the National Lottery when Camelot’s licence ends in 2024. Camelot will claim the Commission broke the law by changing the rules after it came out in pole position in a scoring system designed to measure the bids. “We firmly believe that the Gambling Commission has got this decision badly wrong,” Camelot CEO Nigel Railton said. “Irrespective of Camelot's dual roles as current operator and applicant for the next National Lottery licence, the competition is one of the largest UK government-sponsored procurements and the process deserves independent scrutiny.” Camelot has run the national lottery since it launched in 1994. The company is owned by Canadian pension fund The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Allwyn is a UK-based subsidiary of Europe’s largest lottery operator Sazka, owned by Czech oil and gas billionaire Karel Komarek, who has an estimated net worth of around $8bn (£6bn).
Channel 5 has paid “substantial damages” and legal costs to an 88-year-old optometrist left distraught after featuring in an episode of the TV show Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away! which was broadcast to almost 12 million people. Brian Hitchin launched legal action, claiming there was “misuse” of his private information through the “filming, making and multiple broadcasts” which caused him immense upset and distress. The High Court Judge heard that Stafford County Court had earlier ruled that the equipment supplier who had pursued Hitchin for ‘debts,’ leading to the TV programme, had “acted unreasonably” by issuing a claim “for money which was not owing”. Channel 5 has also agreed not to rebroadcast the programme or make it available on the internet.
Prince Andrew and his former wife Sarah Ferguson have been named in a High Court legal case brought by Nebahat Isbilen, who claims she lost almost £40 million after being conned by former Goldmann Sachs banker Selman Turk. Mrs Isbilen says she needed help to get her assets out of Turkey, where she says her husband is a political prisoner, and paid a £750,000 “gift” to the Duke via Turk, believing she was paying for assistance in getting a passport. A further payment of £350,000 was allegedly made to Prince Andrew, and £225,000 is said to have been transferred to his ex-wife. Mr Turk was given a People’s Choice Award in 2019 through Prince Andrew’s Pitch@Palaceentrepreneurship programme, at a lavish ceremony at St James’s Palace.
British Airways and EasyJet have been forced to cancel dozens of flights this morning after a fresh surge in Covid cases sparked staff absences. Easyjet has cancelled around 60 flights to and from the UK today, out of around 1,645 that were scheduled. British Airways has so far scrapped 90 flights.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Bank of England (BoE) have launched a review into the suspension of nickel trading by the London Metal Exchange (LME) last month. The exchange suspended nickel trades from Tuesday March 8 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine resulted in significant volatility, with prices doubling to more than 100,000 US dollars per tonne within hour. Traders also expressed frustration over a spate of technical glitches after trading resumed on Wednesday March 16, PA Media reports. The FCA plans to “review the LME’s approach to managing the suspension and resumption” of the nickel market, while the BoE will undertake a review into the LME’s clearing house during the period “to determine whether any lessons might be learned in relation to its governance and risk management”.
The boss of British Gas owner Centrica has said that fracking could boost UK energy supplies and reduce bills. CEO Chris O'Shea said there needed to be an "informed debate" about it.
The Labour Party is claiming the average annual cost of a nursery place for children under two has risen by nearly £1,500 in five years, and that for primary school children, the average cost of an after-school club has risen 17% over the same period.
Kite Consulting, the UK’s leading adviser to dairy farmers, is warning the price of milk will jump by 50% because of the increased costs of feed, fertiliser and fuel.
The price of a first class stamp has now gone up by 10p to 95p. Second class stamps have also increased by 2p to 68p.
According to the S&P Global/CIPS UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), UK manufacturing sector output growth hit a 13-month low in March, falling to 55.2 from 58.0 in February. However, this is still the 22nd consecutive increase in growth month-on-month.
South Korea's SeAH Wind has submitted plans for a new £300 million monopile manufacturing plant on Teesside – the largest facility of its type in the world. The huge investment is set to create 750 direct jobs and a further 1,500 across the supply chain.
Italian-owned paper manufacturer Industrie Cartarie Tronchetti (ICT) has secured planning permission for a new 700,000 sq ft production facility in Deeside, North Wales. The nvestment is expected to create more than 400 jobs.
Drinks giant Diageo is doubling production at its Belfast canning facility with a £24.5 million investment and investing £16 million in its bottling plant in Runcorn in England to meet growing demand for Guinness products in the domestic and export markets.
Sky News says that NatWest Group is contemplating an “audacious” takeover bid for Tilney Smith & Williamson, one of Britain's biggest wealth managers, in a move that would represent “its biggest corporate acquisition since it was rescued by taxpayers nearly 15 years ago”. The firm is being put up for sale by its private equity backers.
The governor of Sri Lanka's central bank has followed all the country's cabinet ministers in submitting his resignation. The country of some 22 million people is facing its worst economic crisis since independence from the UK in 1948, and a severe shortage of foreign currency has left the government unable to pay for essential imports, including fuel. The Sri Lankan rupee has lost more than 30% of its value against the US dollar since it was devalued last month ahead of talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a bailout. Demonstrators have been taking to the streets of the capital Colombo demanding the resignation of the President as homes and businesses have had their electricity cut for up to 13 hours at a time, the BBC says. Part of Sri Lankan’s economic problems have been driven by the loss of tourist income during the Covid pandemic.

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