Published: 11 August 2022
Location: London, UK
Sky News says it has heard from a source close to the process that Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has signed off the appointments of four new members of the Court of the Bank of England, the bank’s governing body. Sky names former investment banker Lord Jitesh Gadhia; Soumen Das, the finance chief of industrial property group Segro and a non-executive director of Next; Sabine Chalmers, BT Group's general counsel; and Tom Shropshire, Diageo's general counsel and company secretary. The shake-up comes just weeks after the former Nationwide chairman David Roberts was named as the Court's next chair.
Ofgem and industry body Energy UK are warning that energy bills could go up even before the new cap on energy prices kicks in in October. The energy regulator said it was "possible" for suppliers to raise customers' direct debits before then, during the warmer summer months when usage is lower, so the bill-payer builds up “credit” which helps to spread the cost of higher energy use in the winter months. Households have been warned of sharp rises in energy prices, with some forecasts suggesting average annual bills will reach £4,200 in 2023. Ofgem said customers can ask for their excess credit to be "returned at any time and can contact their suppliers to change how their direct debit is spread".
Supermarkets are still not cutting fuel prices by as much as they should do given the “significant" drop in the cost of wholesale fuel, the RAC says. The motoring group said the gap between pump prices and wholesale prices was the widest in almost a decade. The average price of petrol at the big four supermarkets, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons was £1.76 per litre on Tuesday, but RAC analysts say unleaded should be sold “for no more than £1.62.
Rising interest rates, higher house prices and rocketing inflation saw the average mortgage loan taken out by a first-time buyer hit a record high of 30 years in June, according to UK Finance. In 2005, when the trade association for the banking and financial service sector first began compiling such data, the average mortgage loan term for a first-time buyer was 25.5 years.
An investigation by Which? has found illegal weapons are being sold “at extraordinarily cheap prices” by third-party sellers on several online marketplaces including AliExpress, Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Wish. Which? said simple searches for banned offensive weapons such as zombie and flick knives, swords and batons, turned up results and, “worryingly,” on all four platforms, additional banned weapons were recommended by the platforms’ algorithms after the initial search, suggesting that “the marketplaces are not only facilitating the sale of illegal products but perpetuating the problem by recommending other illegal or dangerous products to users". Sue Davies, head of consumer protection policy at Which? said. "This raises big question marks over the checks and monitoring being done by these platforms. It’s clear that online marketplaces need to take more responsibility and prevent illegal weapons appearing on their sites." The Offensive Weapons Act 2019 prohibits such weapon sales in Britain, and does not allow them to be owned in a private home.
Although the UK and the BBC has accepted the invitation to host Eurovision in May 2023 after organisers ruled it couldn't take place in Ukraine for safety reasons, following Kalush Orchestra's triumph in May, no large arena in the UK has enough of a gap in its event listings to host the event. Several council officials have told BBC News that organisers told them a venue would be needed by producers six to eight weeks ahead of the song contest, making it almost certain that other tour dates will need to be postponed or cancelled to make room for it. Typically the country that wins the contest hosts Eurovision the following year, but because of the ongoing war in Ukraine, and because Britain’s Sam Ryder was the 2022 runner up, the UK has taken on the role. Cities hoping to host the event will find out on Friday if they will be shortlisted.
Bin workers at 15 Scottish councils are to strike later this month, after a first wave of strikes in Edinburgh next week during the city's International and Fringe festivals. The Unite union says some 1,500 members are planning to walk out from 24 August to 31 August in response to a "pitiful" 2% local government pay offer. The councils affected are Aberdeen, Angus, Clackmannanshire, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian.
London-listed holiday group TUI has taken a €75m (£63m) hit from the recent travel chaos that's led to lengthy delays and cancellations at airports, Yahoo Finance reports. The German company, which runs tour operators, travel agencies, airlines, hotels and cruise liners in holiday destinations across the world, said its customers were affected by about 200 cancelled flights in May and June, in particular due to woes at Manchester Airport amid staff shortages. TUI remained loss-making in the three months to the end of June due to the costs of the airport disruption, reporting underlying pre-tax losses of €27m (£23m). Tui's chief financial officer Sebastian Ebel will take over as chief executive at the end of the month when Fritz Joussen steps down.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary says the era of very cheap flights is over because of the soaring cost of fuel. "There's no doubt that at the lower end of the marketplace, our really cheap promotional fares - the one euro fares, the €0.99 fares, even the €9.99 fares - I think you will not see those fares for the next number of years," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. O’Leary estimated that the airline's average fare would rise from around €40 (£33.75) last year to roughly €50 (£42.19) over the next five years, but said he believes people will still continue to fly frequently, despite the rising cost of living.
Industrial and electronics product and service solutions provider RS Group has acquired leading Mexican household appliances distributor and electrical wholesaler Risoul y Cia for $275m in cash. The FTSE 100-listed RS Group was formerly known as Electrocomponents.
Industrial thread maker Coats Group announced its intention to raise £100m after the stock markets closed yesterday, to fund the acquisition of German footwear materials producer Rhenoflex. The FTSE 250 company confirmed it had signed a "definitive agreement" to acquire Rhenoflex for an enterprise value of €115m (£97.05m).
Military engineers WFEL and Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) have chosen Rolls Royce to supply the engines for 623 new Boxer armoured tank vehicles that are currently on order from the British Army. They will be the first versions of the vehicle fitted with the MTU 8v 199 TS21 engine, which, with 600kw power output, has a 70kw higher electrical load than earlier versions of the boxer. The engines will be produced in Rolls Royce’s facility in East Grinstead, West Sussex, and then integrated into the vehicles as part of RBSL and WFEL’s vehicle production plans at their respective facilities in Telford and Stockport.
Sharecast News reports that the London-headquartered Russian steelmaker Evraz said yesterday that it is looking to sell its North American subsidiaries, which produce steel and related products in the US and Canada such as infrastructure steel, rails, large-diameter pipes, and oil country tubular goods. Any transaction will be subject to various regulatory and corporate approvals and applicable sanctions laws, and will require approval from relevant sanctions authorities, including the UK’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation.
US inflation grew at a slower pace than expected in July, according to the latest government figures. Although consumer prices jumped by 8.5% in July compared with a year earlier, they were down from the 9.1% year-on-year jump in June. Food inflation remained elevated in July - up 1.1% after climbing 1% in June - and rents surged, but there were encouraging falls elsewhere, notably in fuel and commodities such as corn, wheat, and copper. The supply chain problems seen after the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic are also easing, Sky News says. Following the inflation news, traders slashed bets that the Federal Reserve would deliver a third consecutive 75-basis-point hike. A 50-basis-point rise is now widely expected when the central bank meets in September. Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital Economics told the BBC: “This is not yet the meaningful decline in inflation [the US central bank] is looking for, but it's a start and we expect to see broader signs of easing price pressures over the next few months".
Disney is launching a fresh challenge to rival streaming services such as Netflix by launching a new ad-supported service in the US in December. Disney has already overtaken Netflix in the race for paid subscribers; it had 221.1 million subscribers across its three streaming platforms at the start of July, putting it just ahead of Netflix, which has been losing customers. However, Disney warned that its loss of streaming rights for cricket in India would reduce its subscriber growth compared to previous forecasts, the BBC said. Disney’s new ad-funded service will be charged at the current subscription rate of $7.99 (£6.53), while the cost of the ad-free service will rise to $10.99 (£8.98) per month. The ad-funded service will be launched outside the US next year.
The BBC has been talking to Meta's new prototype chatbot, BlenderBot 3, and found it has been anything but complimentary about Meta’s CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg. Meta says the chatbot uses artificial intelligence and can chat on "nearly any topic," as it "learns" from large amounts of publicly available language data. So, the Beeb asked it what it thought about Zuckerberg, to be told: "He did a terrible job at testifying before congress. It makes me concerned about our country." When prompted further, it replied: "Our country is divided and he didn't help that at all,” before adding: "His company exploits people for money and he doesn't care. It needs to stop!" When BBC reporter James Clayton asked BlenderBot 3 what it thought about him, it replied it had never heard of him, so “He must not be that popular".
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