Press Round-Up Short (Premium)
Amazon’s massive investment in faster shipping paid off for the tech company over the Christmas holidays with record sales and four times as many customers taking advantage of its free one-day shipping offer over the shopping season compared with last year. Amazon is spending billions making one-day shipping the default for its Prime members and the gamble helped drive its revenues up over $87bn for the final quarter of 2019, or $29bn a month, compared with $72.
Sajid Javid is expected to throw his weight behind the controversial HS2 rail project at a key meeting on Thursday, after the Treasury concluded it will still deliver economic benefits despite spiralling costs. The chancellor is poised to tell Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, that he believes the sums still add up despite the price tag having risen to an estimated £88bn. - Guardian.
The BBC is expected to announce hundreds of redundancies today, as staff brace themselves for heavy cuts to high-profile news programmes and an increasingly centralised system for producing the corporation’s journalism. In an email to staff, Fran Unsworth, head of news, said she will use an all-staff meeting to explain how the corporation will put the BBC News mission statement of being “distinctive, trusted, engaging everyone, every day” into action. – Guardian.
The coronavirus outbreak will have a “significant” impact on Chinese growth, economists have warned, with the “wildcard” of still unknown infections posing potentially serious risks for the global economy. Shares in Asia Pacific continued to fall on Tuesday in the wake of heavy losses at the start of the week which has seen the death toll from the outbreak in China almost double in two days to 105. - Guardian.
Ministers will pledge to reopen closed rail lines in the north this week as the government prepares to renationalise the failed Northern franchise. The promise of hundreds of millions in investment to restore some lines axed in the Beeching closures in the early 1960s will come at about the same time as the expected announcement of the termination of the Northern franchise, operated by Arriva. – Guardian.
Boris Johnson has been warned that he is on course for a diplomatic war with Donald Trump and a furious cabinet row over plans to hand Huawei, the Chinese telecoms firm, access to Britain’s 5G phone network. The US president told Johnson on Friday night that giving a green light to the deal would be a grave threat to national security - risking a split in transatlantic relations that threatens to overshadow Friday’s Brexit celebrations, which Johnson has been working towards for three years.
The planned construction of HS2 is billions of pounds over budget and years behind schedule because of the failure across government to understand the risks involved, according to a damning independent report. In the first official indication that spending on the controversial rail project could escalate beyond £100bn, the National Audit Office has raised the possibility of a further increase by admitting that it is “impossible to estimate with certainty” how much it will eventually cost.
Millions of Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland customers will be charged overdraft interest rates of up to 49. 9% from April and those with a poor credit history are likely to pay the most. Lloyds Banking Group – which owns all three brands and has 22 million current account customers – is the biggest bank so far to overhaul its overdraft costs in response to a ban on excessive fees demanded last year by the City regulator. – Guardian.
The government is holding talks with the Turkish conglomerate Cengiz Holdings about stepping in to buy British Steel in the event that a planned sale to the Chinese industrial firm Jingye falls through. Officials remain confident that Jingye’s £50m purchase of British Steel, including the Scunthorpe steelworks, will go ahead in the next few weeks, saving about 4,000 jobs in the ailing industry. – Guardian.
The government is promising to turn Britain into a nation of savers by 2030 and cut the number of households relying on credit cards for day-to-day spending by launching an ambitious financial wellbeing programme. In an alarming summary of the state of Britain’s household finances, the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), a government agency, said 11. 5 million people have less than £100 in savings to fall back on, while nine million said they often use credit cards and payday loans to meet essential weekly food and energy bills.
The world’s energy watchdog has warned the oil and gas industry that it risks a public backlash by failing to act on the climate crisis in favour of making short-term profits. The International Energy Agency (IEA) said oil companies must balance their desire for near-term returns and a long-term future by playing a much more significant role in combating the climate crisis. – Guardian.
The embattled shopping centre giant that owns Lakeside in Essex and the Trafford Centre near Manchester is planning to tap the City for £1bn of emergency cash as soon as next month, in a significant test of the market’s appetite for retail property. Intu Properties, whose share price has collapsed after the slew of insolvencies among tenants such as Debenhams and Arcadia, wants to launch a huge rights issue either alongside its full-year results at the end of February, or shortly afterwards.
The brothers who own the high street bookmaker Betfred are making millions from a business that treats public sector staff for health problems including gambling addiction, the Guardian can disclose. Betfred’s owners, the billionaire Tory party donors Fred and Peter Done, also own Health Assured, which holds dozens of government contracts to provide health and wellbeing programmes to staff. – Guardian.
There’s been a department store in the market town of Stockton-on-Tees for over a century. But the last one closed its doors for the final time on Wednesday when Debenhams pulled down the shutters. The store is one of 19 being closed across the country by the beleaguered chain this month, and it’s a big blow to Stockton, where New Look is also due to shut down on Saturday and many shoppers still mourn the loss of the Marks & Spencer in 2018. – Guardian.
The immediate future of Flybe was secured on Tuesday night after ministers agreed a rescue deal with shareholders to keep Europe’s largest regional carrier flying. The package of measures includes a potential loan in the region of £100m and/or a possible short-term deferral of a £106m air passenger duty (APD) bill, plus a pledge to review taxes on domestic flights before the March budget. – Guardian.
The government has been urged to rethink its tax and benefit rules for low-paid workers after it emerged that some staff at the bakery chain Greggs could get to keep just a quarter of their £300 annual bonus as a result of universal credit deductions. Greggs announced last week that its 25,000 workers would receive a windfall of up to £300 under a £7m reward scheme linked in part to the success of the company’s vegan sausage rolls. – Guardian.
The gambling industry watchdog is preparing to ban bookmakers from taking credit card deposits for betting online, in the latest move to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable customers. The Gambling Commission is expected to announce the long-awaited ban on credit card wagers, with the rules due to be unveiled as soon as Tuesday. Well-placed sources said an announcement by the regulator was imminent. It comes two years after charity groups such as GambleAware and Citizens Advice urged the government to implement the policy to protect people from sliding into gambling addiction.
Boeing on Thursday released hundreds of internal messages that raise serious questions about its development of simulators and the 737 Max that was grounded in March after two fatal crashes, prompting outrage from US lawmakers. In an April 2017 exchange of instant messages, two employees expressed complaints about the Max following references to issues with the plane’s flight management computer. “This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys,” one unnamed employee wrote.
Investors trapped in Neil Woodford’s main fund, which collapsed last year, have expressed their dismay that the former star stock-picker and his business partner, Craig Newman, took home £13. 8m in dividends from their investment management company last year. “It’s absolutely despicable but not a surprise,” said IT Consultant Ian Flaherty, awaiting the outcome of the administration process to see how much of his £10,000 savings held in the fund has been lost.
Barclays is being urged to stop offering loans to fossil fuel companies as part of the first ever shareholder climate resolution aimed at a UK bank. A group of 11 pension and investment funds managing more than £130bn worth of assets have filed a resolution calling for Barclays to set clear targets to phase out services to energy companies that fail to align with Paris climate goals. – Guardian.