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Labour has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to explain whether a company in which his wife has a reported…

   News / 03 May 2022

Published: 03 May 2022
Location: London, UK

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight


Labour has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to explain whether a company in which his wife has a reported £400 million stake is continuing to operate in Russia. Indian IT giant Infosys is still operating in Moscow, according to the Mirror, despite have having announced last month that it was shutting its office in the Russian capital. Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, has a 0.93% stake in the business, which was founded by her father, although he retired in 2014 and she has no involvement in the operational decisions of the company. Shadow treasury minister Tulip Siddiq said: “It is really important that the Chancellor clarifies what is happening here and whether his immediate family is benefitting from Infosys’ continued presence in Russia. “We can’t have a situation where a UK Chancellor and his family maintain economic interests in the Putin regime.”
 
A poll of affected women for a Channel 4 documentary called Sex, Mind And The Menopause, suggest that one in 10 women have quit their job because of menopausal symptoms. The survey also found 14% had cut work hours and 8% had not applied for promotion. As many as 333,000 women across a working population of five million women aged between 45-55, may have given up work due to the menopause, the poll of 4,014 women found. The documentary is presented by Davina McCall and will be shown tonight.
 
The number of landlords chasing unpaid rent has nearly tripled since the pandemic began, as even wealthy tenants have begun to default on payments. The Telegraph reported last week that instructions for rent debt recovery services have surged by 180% in the last year, compared to the previous 12 months, according to Landlord Action, an eviction firm. Paul Shamplina, of the repossession service, said a large share of claims had been made against tenants who had enough money to cover their bills, but withheld rent because their landlords could not remove them during the pandemic eviction ban. He cited a landlord who recently reclaimed £14,950 in arrears, who had said his rogue tenant had refused to pay despite having £250,000 in the bank. The tenants “abused the restrictions put in place by the Government which were designed to help those in need,” the landlord said, adding that they “purchased a property, renovated it and managed to pay the mortgage, all whilst living in my property for free.” The lack of protection from rogue tenants during the pandemic has spooked landlords who are also wary of incoming Energy Performance Certificate targets that mean they will have to pay up to £10,000 per property on eco upgrades, the newspaper said. Some are selling up as a result and this could be part of the reason why there has also been since 2019 a 37% rise in the ‘no fault evictions’ the government has promised to clamp down on.
 
A poll for think-tank the High Pay Centre, which campaigns for fairer pay for workers, found that 63% of Britons said CEOs should be paid no more than 10 times the earnings of lower- or mid-ranking employees. The survey of 1,104 UK adults, reported by The Guardian, found only 3% of people thought it was appropriate for chief executives to get paid more than 50 times the company’s average pay.
 
A report in The Telegraph suggests that disgruntled employees are making hundreds of thousands of dollars by leaking confidential information over a new platform on the so-called dark web. Hidden in a part of the internet that is only accessible using special software, the Industrial Spy (IS) platform promises huge payouts to staff willing to hand over "dirty secrets" to competitors, according to experts at intelligence business Cyberint. The IS platform recently managed to sell two tranches of company data for $400,000 (£318,236) and $750,000 each, Cyberint said. Cybercriminals have long approached employees individually and offered a bribe to release sensitive information such as internal data and passwords to access computer systems, but this new platform is said to allow employees to act on their own initiative to steal data and sell it online.
 
Post Office workers are on strike today. Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in April over a pay freeze for 2021 and the offer of a 2% increase from April this year, alongside a £250 one-off lump sum.
 
The Guardian reports that Sainsbury’s and Tesco removed the away the right to additional sick pay for those with covid at the weekend, and that Nextreverted to its standard sick pay policy a few weeks ago, in line with the government’s new “living with Covid” policy for England that came in on 24 February. Those who test positive for Covid are no longer legally required to self-isolate. Bev Clarkson, the national officer for the union Unite, said: “By scrapping their Covid absence policies, Sainsbury’s and Tesco are encouraging infected staff who are worried about being off to go into work, putting other workers and customers at risk.”
 
The billionaire owners of Asda are in talks to sell their Blackburn-based forecourt empire EG Group to Canadian convenience store giant Couche-Tardin a deal that could value it at around £13bn. EG Group operates hundreds of petrol station sites in the UK as well as the Leon restaurant chain and Cooplands bakeries. Asda is not part of the talks.
 
High street stationery chain Paperchase is up for sale again, just 15 months after it became one of the pandemic’s retail casualties. Sky News has learnt that Permira Credit, which has controlled Paperchase since it went into administration in January 2021, has appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers to oversee a sale following several unsolicited enquiries from potential buyers. Paperchase’s current physical retail estate comprises 96 standalone shops and 32 concessions.
 
London-based agency Goat, a successful marketing industry start-up, has put itself up for sale, Sky News says. The agency has worked with Formula E motor racing, UberEats and Tinder, and is understood to have appointed GP Bullhound, a corporate finance adviser specialising in the technology sector, to help it field interest from potential buyers.
 
Convenience store McColls is set to have its shares suspended from the London Stock Exchange because it has confirmed it will be unable to get its accounts signed off by auditors by the end of May 2022, as originally intended. The chain has struggled badly during the pandemic due to supply chain issues, inflation and a heavy debt burden and shares in the company have already plunged since it reported last month that talks with its lenders and banks would likely leave shareholders empty-handed under rescue efforts. The group runs more than 1,100 convenience shops.
 
Shares in FTSE 250 UK chemicals firm Johnson Matthey surged by more than 30% on Friday after the investment arm of New York-based Standard Industries took a 5.23% stake.
 
 BP more than doubled profits in the first three months of the year, to $6.2bn (£5bn), boosted by soaring oil and gas prices. The UK oil group made $2.6bn in the same quarter last year. However, because of a $24bn pretax charge related to its exit from its investment in the Russian state-owned oil and gas group Rosneft, BP reported a headline loss of $20.4bn.
 
Dutch brewing giant Heineken has announced plans to invest £42 million to upgrade hundreds of pubs across the UK. The investment is expected to create 700 jobs.
 
Staff at law firm Stephenson Harwood have been told they will be allowed to work from home full time, but only if they agree to take a 20% pay cut. The City-based firm confirmed the policy would kick in next month and apply to its central London headquarters and most of its international offices. Workers who choose to stay fully remote will still be required to commute into the office at least one day a month, but their salaries will drop by 20 per cent. For junior lawyers at the firm, who have starting salaries of £90,000, this would mean a loss of around £18,000. On the requisite one day a month spent in the office, the homeworkers’ travel and hotel expenses would be reimbursed, a spokesperson said.
 
Lloyd’s of London is understood to have hired law firm Clyde & Co to advise on whether it can refuse claims from the owners of hundreds of aircraft worth up to $10bn (£8bn) seized by Vladimir Putin’s regime. The Kremlin is transferring around 500 foreign-owned commercial aircraft to the Russian register to put them out of reach of the leasing companies that own them. John Neal, Lloyd’s CEO, conceded in March that the City institution was facing some of its biggest losses since the world-famous insurance market was founded in a London coffee shop in 1688, The Telegraph says.
 
BMW and Mercedes-Benz are selling their car-sharing joint venture Share Now to Stellantis for an undisclosed sum. The sale follows Share Now's retreat from the North American car-sharing market in 2019 in response to high maintenance costs and what the companies then described as the "volatile state of the global mobility landscape," Reuters says. However, Italian-French peer Stellantis will beef up its mobility division Free2move via the deal, hoping a global push to cut emissions will also drive demand for car-sharing and open up new profit streams. With around 11,000 cars, Share Now is active in 16 major European cities and has around 3.4 million customers. BMW and Mercedes-Benz say the sale will allow them to focus on Free Now, an app that enables booking cars, taxis, e-scooters and e-bikes, and the charging infrastructure booking app Charge Now.
 
The Reserve Bank of Australia raised the main lending rate by 25 basis points to 0.35%, the first increase since November 2010., thrusting the bank to the centre of political debate about the health of Australia's economy just weeks before the country’s May 21 elections. Australia’s annual inflation rate is currently running at 5.1%.
 
Apple users in Russia have launched a legal claim seeking 90m roubles (£1m) in damages from the US tech company because it limited its payment service - Apple Pay - in Russia last month in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Owners of Apple products in Russia allege this reduced the functionality of their devices, lowered their value, and was unfair and discriminatory under Russian law. The claimants are also asking for compensation for "moral damage" and are calling for Apple Pay to be restored in Russia.
 
Meanwhile, the European Commission has accused Apple of abusing its market position for contactless smartphone payments. In a preliminary finding, it said Apple may have broken competition law by preventing rivals from accessing its "tap and go" technology. Apple denies the charge – which if proven could see it fined up to 10% of its global $36.6bn (£29.2bn) turnover - and has promised to engage with the Commission.
 
Apple is also facing a backlash from a minority of its employees after CEO Tim Cook proposed a “hybrid working pilot” for US, Europe and UK employees which means staff should come back into the office to work for at least three days a week. An open letter believed to have garnered around 200 signatures, roughly 0.1 per cent of the organisation’s 165,000 employees, says the move will “change the make-up of our workforce,” and make Apple “younger, whiter, more male-dominated, more neuro-normative, more able-bodied. In short, it will lead to privileges deciding who can work for Apple, not who’d be the best fit.”
 
Airbnb has said it will let its employees work from anywhere for as long as they like.
 
Netflix has ditched an animated series created by Meghan Markle to cut costs. Pearl us is one of several projects being dropped by the streaming giant after it revealed a sharp fall in subscribers and warned millions more are set to quit the service. Archewell Productions, the company formed by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced last year that Meghan would be an executive producer of Pearl, a series featuring the adventures of a 12-year-old girl inspired by influential women from history. Other collaborations with Archewell, including a documentary series called Heart of Invictus, exploring the athletic event for injured veterans founded by Prince Harry, will be going ahead, Netflix said.


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