Happy New Year! 2015 was an eventful year to say the least, have a look at The Guardian’s top 10 stories from 2015.
Below are our top 10 stories from last week that you need to know about. Be sure to check our twitter page for regular posts of important headlines. Click on the links for full stories.
Opinion articles of the week:
- Oil prices reached record lows in 2015 yet Saudi Arabia remain reluctant to reduce production despite low prices crippling its economy. Click here for why Saudi Arabia maintain its production rate.
- The debate about the UK’s membership in the EU is heating up. Click here for the main arguments.
- The global economy performed worse than expected in 2015, largely due to troubles in emerging markets. Click here for the Economist’s analysis on investment trends in 2015 that led to these troubles.
1. UK FLOOD COSTS
Analysts estimate the cost of heavy flooding across northern England could exceed £1.5bn, with small business and insurance firms hit hard. Initial estimates suggest losses of £900m to £1.3bn so far, according to accountancy firm PwC. That “could breach £1.5bn” if further rainfall causes more floods, PwC said. Consultancy group IHS said the flooding caused by Storms Eva and Desmond could wipe up to 0.2% off the UK’s economic output this year. (BBC News)
David Cameron said last week that flood defences “overwhelmed” by recent record rainfall will be fixed and bolstered in a £40m package of spending. (BBC News)
2. FCA DROPS REVIEW OF BANKING CULTURE
The Financial Conduct Authority said on Thursday that it will not deliver its report on the culture within the banking industry and will instead work with banks on an individual basis. This is part of a larger trend within the FCA where it has been shelving projects initiated by former Chief Executive Officer Mark Wheatley who was deemed by many to be too draconian towards banks. The FCA decision was criticized by opposition Labour Party lawmakers, who pointed the blame at the chancellor. (Bloomberg)
3. SHIRE IN TALKS TO ACQUIRE BAXALTA
Drugmaker Shire Plc is in advanced talks to acquire Baxalta Inc. for about $32 billion in cash and stock, excluding debt, according to people familiar with the matter. The two drugmakers are expected to announce a deal soon. If a deal succeeds, the enlarged company would generate $20 billion in sales by 2020, with as many as 30 new drugs to launch over five years. For more on the deal and Shire’s general strategy click here . (Bloomberg)
For more on the trends within the pharmaceutical industry click here. (Lawyer2b)
4. LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE AIM TROUBLES
A new report out last r reveals that more than 50 companies de-listed from the Alternative Investment Market last year, the largest net decrease for the London Stock Exchange’s growth market since 2012.
Accountancy group, UHY Hacker Young said that lower commodity and oil prices, along with corporate governance concerns over Chinese companies were largely to blame for the contraction, with falling commodity prices pushing 12 mining companies to de-list from AIM, while the sharp decline in oil prices pushed 11 oil and gas companies off the AIM market in 2015. (City A.M)
Click here for a summary of what AIM is and how it works.
5. DEUTSCHE BANK SHARE SALE
Deutsche Bank has agreed a deal to sell its 20% stake in China’s Hua Xia Bank for up to 25.7bn yuan ($4bn). State-owned Chinese insurer PICC Property and Casualty Company is buying the shares. Deutsche announced earlier this year it would sell the stake as part of a plan to bolster its finances. In October, the bank said it would be cutting 15,000 jobs and selling various businesses as posted a €6bn (£4.4bn) loss for the third quarter. (BBC News)
6. ETHICAL CONSUMPTION
The UK’s ethical market is now worth £38bn, with a new report showing it soaring by £3bn in the last year alone. Inflation has barely risen above 0.5 per cent, but that hasn’t stopped the value of ethical sales growing eight per cent in the same period, according to the annual Ethical Consumer Markets Report, released today by Ethical Consumer magazine and Triodos Bank. Electric and hybrid car sales up 40 per cent over the year to come close to £7bn, and solar panel spend up nearly 25 per cent to £716m. (City A.M)
This news comes in the same week as Tesla Motors Inc, the pioneering electric car maker, said it delivered 17,400 vehicles during the fourth quarter of 2015, in line with its forecasts. (Reuters)
7. AMAZON SEEKS BIGGER SHARE IN GROCERY MARKET
Amazon is preparing to crank up the pressure on Britain’s struggling supermarkets by dramatically expanding the range of grocery products it sells. Christopher North, the UK boss of the online retailer, said it plans to grow its Pantry service rapidly in the New Year. Amazon Pantry, which launched in November, allows customers to buy from a range of 4,000 grocery and household products
The news that Amazon is to ramp up its grocery delivery business will come as a blow to the “big four” supermarket chains – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – which are already under pressure as a result of changing shopping habits. Large grocers have been battling falling sales as households abandon the weekly shop in favour of discount supermarkets, regular local top-up shopping and online ordering. (The Guardian)
8. FACEBOOK SUED OVER IPO
A US judge has given the go-ahead to two lawsuits accusing Facebook of hiding concerns over growth forecasts ahead of its initial public offering (IPO) in 2012. Facebook floated around three-and-a-half years ago at $38 per share. But initial investors would’ve lost out after its share price fell as low as $17.55 a few months later, and stayed below the IPO price for more than a year. US district judge Robert Sweet said investors who claimed to have unfairly lost money after buying shares in the $16bn flotation can launch a class action suit. (City A.M)
9. STAR WARS
The latest “Star Wars” movie broke the $1 billion mark before fans in China could see it, but producers anticipate “The Force Awakens” will play “very very well” in the world’s second-biggest film market. The film opens in China on January 9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens” took 12 days to earn $1 billion worldwide, becoming the fastest movie to achieve such a feat. (Business Insider)
Forbes considers how various investors are likely profit from Star Wars.
10. SPORTS DIRECT TO PAY ABOVE MINIMUM WAGE
Sports Direct, Britain’s biggest sportswear retailer, said its employees would be paid above the national minimum wage from the start of the New Year, after a review of its conditions for thousands of its workers. Sports Direct had come under fire from media, investors and politicians for paying some of its workers less than the legal minimum, an allegation denied by the company (Reuters)