WPP is withholding hundreds of thousands of pounds in share awards from Sir Martin Sorrell after alleging that its former boss leaked “confidential information” to the media. In its annual report, the advertising group accused Sorrell of disclosing sensitive information about the company and clients in an apparent breach of his employment contract. WPP has exercised “malus” powers to withhold share-based bonuses that he would have received this year and next.
Surging iPhone sales have given Apple its best-ever start to the year as the technology group continued to ride the latest wave in demand for its devices. Total revenues rose by 53 per cent, beating forecasts on Wall Street to hit $89. 6 billion - a record for its second quarter - amid unexpectedly strong smartphone and computer sales. - The Times.
A scheme set up to provide compensation to victims of banking scandals has cost more than £23 million to establish, but is yet to issue a penny in redress to small business owners. The Business Banking Resolution Service, formed in 2019 after calls for small business lending to be regulated were rejected, has run up an “eye watering” bill for staff and third-party advisers, adding to pressure on it to start delivering compensation. - The Times.
Two former senior executives at Serco have been cleared of hiding millions in profits from electronic tagging contracts with the government after their trial collapsed following three weeks of evidence. The prosecution’s move yesterday to ditch charges against Nicholas Woods and Simon Marshall is the latest blow to the Serious Fraud Office, after eight years investigating the allegations. - The Times.
The European Union will climb down and agree a post-Brexit deal on financial services because the bloc “needs London”, PwC has predicted. John Garvey, global head of financial services at the consulting firm, said that although any agreement is unlikely to happen in the short term, there will come a point when the EU realises a deal is in its own interests. - Sunday Telegraph.
Tate & Lyle is in talks over the sale of its industrial ingredients business as the 160-year-old British food manufacturing group mulls a sweeping overhaul. The FTSE 250 company has confirmed that it has begun discussions with “potential new partners” interested in acquiring a controlling stake in its American-focused primary products division, paving the way for a separation of its sprawling empire. - The Times.
Jaguar Land Rover has suspended production at two of its three car manufacturing sites as a worldwide shortage of computer chips forces the global automotive industry to slam on the brakes. Thousands of workers at the Halewood plant on Merseyside and the main Jaguar factory at Castle Bromwich in the West Midlands are to be stood down from Monday for an unknown amount of time. - The Times.
Britain is set for its sharpest economic growth since 1988 this year as the easing of Covid-19 restrictions encourages consumers to start spending, according to a monthly survey of independent economists by the Treasury. City analysts have upgraded their GDP projections for 2021 amid signs that households are itching to get out and spend the “accidental” savings they have built up during lockdown. - The Times.
The FTSE 100 endured its worst day for two months yesterday as concerns about rising Covid-19 infections hit travel companies and the threat of new nicotine rules in the United States led to sharp falls for tobacco stocks. London’s main index was part of a global stock market sell-off, ending the day down 140. 21 points, or 2 per cent, to 6,859. 87. The fall pushed it back below the 7,000 point mark that it had broken through last week for the first time since February last year.
Ministers have ordered a formal investigation into the proposed $40 billion takeover of Arm by America’s Nvidia, citing concerns the deal could diminish Britain’s national security. Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, has told the competition watchdog to begin a “phase one” investigation of the acquisition of the microchip designer, which is considered the most successful technology to have emerged from the UK in recent decades. - The Times.
Leon has been sold for an estimated £100 million to the billionaire brothers who are buying Asda. EG Group, Mohsin and Zuber Issa’s petrol forecourt and convenience retail business, said that it planned to step up the pace of expansion of the self-styled “naturally fast food” chain by opening about 20 Leon outlets a year, including several drive-throughs. - The Times.
The billionaire brothers who own supermarket giant Asda have struck a secret deal to snap up fast food chain Leon for up to £100million. Mohsin and Zuber Issa are understood to have agreed to buy the business, co-founded by Boris Johnson’s food tsar Henry Dimbleby, in the early hours yesterday. - Financial Mail on Sunday.
Gambling firms behind more than £30m in football shirt sponsorship deals have been accused of making “insulting” contributions to the industry-funded addiction charity, with one giving just £250. An annual list of donors to GambleAware, which is funded by online casinos and bookmakers, details how much individual firms have given. - Guardian.
Tory MPs have voted en masse to block a broader inquiry into the Greensill scandal as Labour claimed there was now evidence of sleaze at the heart of government. The opposition day motion in the Commons, which would have created a cross-party committee of MPs to look into Greensill and wider issues of lobbying, was defeated by 357 votes to 262, after the government opposed the plan. - Guardian.
Hundreds of British Gas engineers will lose their jobs by midday on Wednesday after refusing to sign up to tougher employment terms imposed by the company’s controversial “fire and rehire” scheme. On 1 April Britain’s biggest energy supplier handed dismissal notices to close to 1,000 of its engineers, who install and repair boilers and heating systems for the company’snine million service customers. - Guardian.
The cybersecurity provider Darktrace has warned that the fraud allegations against its founding shareholder, the former Autonomy chief executive Mike Lynch, threaten its prospects as it gears up for a £3bn stock market debut. In documents published as part of the formal process that must be followed before a London float, Darktrace admitted that the criminal and civil charges against Dr Lynch "could result in a material adverse effect" on its business and prospects.
Optimism among business leaders is at a record high based on hopes that Britons will commence a multibillion-pound summer spending frenzy after being freed from lockdown. On the day that non-essential shops and other businesses in England reopened for the first time since January, three separate studies suggest that the bounceback in the economy could be broader and faster than previously expected. Small, medium and larger FTSE companies all reported improved sentiment, with only exporters – affected by Brexit as well as coronavirus – suffering a downturn in fortunes.
The Prince of Wales bade an emotional farewell to his “dear papa” yesterday as Buckingham Palace announced a period of national mourning until the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral on Saturday. In a sign that Charles and his father had become reconciled after years of distance, he described the duke as a “very special person” and “the most remarkable, devoted” companion to the Queen. - Sunday Times.
Rishi Sunak has been accused of trying to smooth the way for Greensill Capital to gain special access to emergency Covid loans after the release of text messages showing the chancellor told David Cameron he had “pushed the team” to see if it could happen. The Treasury also revealed that the former prime minister “informally” phoned two other ministers from the department, and sources said he sent “multiple” texts to Sunak’s personal phone. The Treasury refused to release those texts, saying they were sent “with an expectation of confidence”.
Prof Sarah Gilbert, the scientist who lead the team that created the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, is set for a payday of more than £20m as the biotech firm she co-founded prepares to float on the stock market in the US. Gilbert, who became a household name as a result of her work creating Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine, owns 5. 2% of Vaccitech, a Oxford University spin-out company that owns the biotechnology behind the AstraZeneca vaccine and others for Mers, hepatitis B, the virus that causes shingles, and a range of cancers.