Press Round-Up Short (Premium)
Britain risks mirroring Italy’s economic woes unless it develops a strategy for tackling the five seismic changes that will shape a decisive decade for the country, a report has warned. A joint project by the Resolution Foundation thinktank and the London School of Economics said the UK was neither used to nor prepared for the challenges posed by the aftermath of Covid-19, Brexit, the net zero transition, automation and a changing population. - Guardian.
Britain’s employers are struggling to hire staff as lockdown lifts amid an exodus of overseas workers caused by the Covid pandemic and Brexit, industry figures reveal. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the recruitment firm Adecco, employers plan to hire at the fastest rate in eight years, led by the reopening of the hospitality and retail sectors as pandemic restrictions are relaxed in England and Wales on Monday. - Guardian.
Pfizer’s most senior UK executive has criticised the call to forgo patents on Covid vaccines, warning that it would lead to a global shortage of raw materials. Ben Osborn, who leads the American drugs giant in the UK, said an intellectual-property waiver was “not the answer”. “We would see a very rapid short-term impact,” he said. “It could allow any organisation to start procuring some of these basic raw materials across multiple countries. ” Osborn, 44, said it could even mean that existing vaccine manufacturers — which include Astra Zeneca and US biotech venture Moderna — would be unable to fulfil their obligations to deliver doses.
The star technology investor James Anderson has taken a parting shot at fellow fund managers addicted to the “near pornographic allure” of earnings reports and macroeconomic headlines, as he claimed the industry was “irretrievably broken”. The outgoing co-manager of the FTSE 100-listed Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust said his own “greatest failing has been to be insufficiently radical” over the past two decades. - Guardian .
The head of the UK financial regulator has promised to consider imposing restrictions on a system that allowed the now collapsed bank Greensill Capital to operate in the UK without a licence. Nikhil Rathi, the chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), told MPs that Greensill’s failure had led the regulator to look “much more closely at the systems of control that the principle has in place and potentially also plac[e] some restrictions on the scale of business that can be undertaken through this mechanism”.
David Cameron lobbied ministers and senior officials 56 times at the height of the pandemic in an increasingly desperate attempt to beg the government to support a controversial bank he worked for and owned a stake in. The scale of the former prime minister’s chummy lobbying – by text, WhatsApp, email and phone calls – on behalf of Greensill Capital was revealed by Parliament’s Treasury select committee on Tuesday. - Guardian.
Many workers employed across the £37bn NHS test-and-trace service are being paid through networks of opaque small companies that experts fear could be defrauding the Treasury via a notorious tax scheme. The Guardian investigated after sources working at Covid-19 call centres, testing sites, mobile testing units and laboratories raised concerns about their payslips and employment terms. - Guardian.
Electric cars and vans will be cheaper to produce than conventional, fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2027, and tighter emissions regulations could put them in pole position to dominate all new car sales by the middle of the next decade, research has found. By 2026, larger vehicles such as electric sedans and SUVs will be as cheap to produce as petrol and diesel models, according to forecasts from BloombergNEF, with small cars reaching the threshold the following year.
AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot was last night at the centre of an extraordinary row among City investors over his multi-million-pound bonus. The French chief executive has been lauded for rolling out Astra's life-saving Covid vaccine at no profit, as well as fighting off predatory buyers and boosting the company's share price since he took charge in 2012. But Astra's major shareholders are understood to have been locked in heated talks for days after the drugs giant proposed to boost his bonus and performance-related share award by £2.
A coalition of organisations including City of London police and the consumer body Which? is demanding the government make tech giants such as Google and Facebook legally responsible for fake and fraudulent adverts. In a joint letter to the home secretary, Priti Patel, the 17 organisations have urged ministers to force search engines and social media sites to vet all adverts they publish to protect the public from an “avalanche” of scams involving investments and other financial offers.
The government has been urged to publish details of up to £2bn in Covid-19 contracts awarded to private healthcare companies, including some that have helped fund the Conservative party. Contracts to provide extra capacity during the pandemic have been handed to 17 firms since March 2020. - Guardian.
AstraZeneca is facing mounting opposition over its plans to award its chief executive, Pascal Soriot, a big increase in bonuses, with three investor advisory groups calling on shareholders to vote against the policy. Pirc, Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) have all flagged concerns over moves to raise the maximum share bonus Soriot can receive under a long-term plan from 550% of his £1. 3m base salary to 650%. AZ also plans to hoist Soriot’s maximum annual bonus to 250% of salary from 200%, depending on performance targets being hit.
Fresh questions have been raised over Amazon’s tax planning after its latest corporate filings in Luxembourg revealed that the company collected record sales income of €44bn (£38bn) in Europe last year but did not have to pay any corporation tax to the Grand Duchy. Accounts for Amazon EU Sarl, through which it sells products to hundreds of millions of households in the UK and across Europe, show that despite collecting record income, the Luxembourg unit made a €1.
Top investors in Glaxo Smith Kline are piling pressure on Dame Emma Walmsley after the activist New York hedge fund Elliott Management was revealed to have built a significant stake. Two top-20 investors in the drugs and consumer goods giant said that the chief executive’s future was in doubt after four years of disappointing performance. One top-20 investor said there was “no desire to protect her” among institutional shareholders. Another said that Walmsley, 51, should step aside after her plan to break the business in two is carried out and hand over to her lieutenant, Luke Miels.
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.