This week’s news includes; Trump blocks $117 billion acquisition, Toys R Us goes bust, Unilever HQ leaves London, Rihanna sends Snap share price falling.
Below are our top 10 stories that you need to know about. Be sure to check our twitter page and Facebook page for regular posts of important headlines. Get all the important stories and insights straight into your inbox by subscribing to our mailing list here.
Opinion articles of the week:
- The Financial Times explains how the financial crash made our cities unaffordable
- BBC News looks at the CBI’s claim that renationalisation of large parts of the economy would “seriously harm” the UK’s reputation as a place to invest.
- E Financial Careers asks whether Brexit is really cutting banking jobs In London.
1. UK RUSSIA RELATIONS
After the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury, diplomatic tensions between the UK and Russia are rising. The UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats last week and Russian expelled the same number of diplomats. The British Council in Russia will also be closed. The UK is now also working with NATO and other allies to implement further measures. BBC News also explains what happens and the implications when countries expel diplomats.
The UK has unequivocally blamed Russia for the attack. Theresa May claimed that Russia was either directly responsible for the attack or lost control of its military grade nerve agent. She issued an ultimatum and gave Russia until Wednesday to respond. Russia failed to respond and requested that the UK provides evidence of the agent used. The substance used was Novichok, one of the deadliest chemical weapons ever created. It’s exceptionally rare and very few scientists outside of Russia have any experience with it. The sophisticated nature of Novichok is what the UK claims strongly implicates the Russian state.
To learn more about the poisoning and what this means for UK-Russia relations, read BBC News’ report.
2. TRUMP BLOCKS QUALCOMM TAKEOVER
Donald Trump has blocked Broadcom’s planned $117 billion takeover of Qualcomm. He issued an executive order preventing the deal on the grounds of national security. Trump argued that this acquisition could see a shift to China’s dominance in developing 5G technology. Despite, Broadcom being based in Singapore, he argues that the acquisition may leave a vacuum as Qualcomm is a market leader in the UK.
This would have marked the largest tech acquisition ever. Broadcom had even agreed to move its headquarter functions to the US had the deal gone ahead. Sky News looks at the decision in more detail.
3. TOYS R BUST
90’s babies look away now; this is the end of Toy R Us. Toys R Us has announced that will be closing all of its US stores after failing to find a buyer. All of its 100 UK stores will close and over 3,000 jobs will lost. 25 have already closed and the rest will shut within the coming weeks. The case is even direr in the US. 800 stores will shut with 33,000 jobs lost.
The toy retailer was fundamentally a victim of the internet age. It had far too many large outlets and costly overheads with declining customer footfall. Combine that with mountains of debt and you have a recipe for demise. Toys R Us was founded in 1948. Stores in Canada and Asia will however remain open. The retailer is still profitable in Asia and is largely unaffected by the turmoil in Western markets. (Sky News)
4. GKN HOSTILE TAKEOVER
GKN has rejected an improved £8 billion hostile takeover bid from Melrose. GKN issued profit warnings in late 2017 due to issues in its aerospace division. It received a £7.4 billion hostile takeover bid from Melrose in January but also rejected this. Melrose has however, stated that their improved £8.1 billion offer will be their final one.
Melrose specialises in acquiring struggling businesses and restructuring them. This usually involves in selling assets in order to turn a profit. The industry is hostile towards Melrose, as it generally fails to foster innovation in the companies it “rescues”. Airbus, GKN’s largest customer, has issued a subtle warning to GKN. They have stated they are only interested in working with companies with a “commitment to long-term investment and strategic vision”. In plain terms, a Melrose takeover could see the end of the GKN-Airbus. Fortunately, this deal appears to be dead in the water. (BBC News)
5. UNILEVER MOVES TO ROTTERDAM
Unilever has announced that it will move its headquarters out of London to Rotterdam. The company cited streamlining its corporate structure as the reason for this move. While they denied that Brexit was a motive, this will certainly be a blow for the UK economy.
Another purported reason is that slightly more protective takeover laws in the Netherlands. The UK’s hostile takeover law is slightly more relaxed, somewhat illustrated by the recent flurry of foreign takeovers.
Unilever could also pull out of the FTSE 100 index after this move. The FTSE 100 is the benchmark index of UK’s largest publicly listed companies. The FTSE should not be confused with the London Stock Exchange, which is the UK’s largest securities exchange. would certainly impact the market as Unilever is the third largest company in the UK. Unilever’s share price may suffer as some investors, due to investment policies and/or regulations would be obliged to sell their holdings if the company dropped out.
Unilever was created in 1930. It produces some of the UK’s most common household consumer brands including; Lynx, Flora and Ben & Jerry’s . The Independent looks closer at the move.
6. EU TAX AVOIDANCE LAWS
The European Union has announced new obligations to report aggressive tax avoidance schemes. Lawyers, bankers and accountants will face penalties for failure to report. They will be required to inform tax authorities of corporate or personal income transfers to low-tax and grey/black listed jurisdictions
The Bahamas has been added to the blacklist while BVI and Anguilla are now on the grey-list. The grey listed countries have agreed plans to improve tax policies to match with EU standards
The requirements will be implemented in July 2020. The UK is still likely to be in the Brexit transition phase so would still be subject to this regulation. This marks a significant move to improve tax transparency and clamp down on aggressive tax avoidance. Last year, the paradise papers were released, exposing tax avoidance schemes used by the rich and famous. (The Guardian)
7. ILLEGAL STREAMING COURT CASES FLOOD IN
The High Court has been inundated with law suit against illegal streamers. These have been commonly brought forward by parties in the football and music industry. With football broadcasting rights more costly than ever, broadcasters are desperately seeking to recoup from those failing to pay for copyrighted content. In 2017, the FA brought 36 cases to the High Court while Sky and BT filed 12 and 11 respectively. Music licensing company PPL filed the most cases with 88. The majority of cases were brought against pubs and restaurants illegally streaming sports and music. (The Independent)
8.CROCS COURT CASE COLLAPSES
Crocs has lost a crucial patent design case. Its distinguished designs were not eligible for legal protection under EU law according to the ECJ. Crocs were released in 2002 but its patent application was received in 2004. EU law stipulates that designs cannot be legally protected if applications are submitted 12 months after public release.
The case was initially brought forward to the EUIPO in 2013. A French retailer argued the Crocs design was not eligible for protection. EUIPO ruled in 2016 that the design should not be legally protected. The ECJ has now agreed with this ruling. Crocs now has 2 months to appeal the case. Despite Crocs having strong critics amongst some in the fashion industry it has sold over 300 million units globally. (The Guardian)
9. RIHANNA SENDS SNAPS SHARE PRICE CRASHING
Rihanna criticised an ad released on Snapchat and sent the company’s share price sliding. The advert asked users “would you rather slap Rihanna or punch Chris Brown”. Rihanna took to Instagram to lambaste Snapchat , claiming they were making light of domestic violence. The share price of Snap fell by 4%.
In 2009, Chris Brown was charged with assault after attacking Rihanna leaving her with serious injuries. The advertiser has now been blocked on Snapchat but serious questions over its review process have been raised.
This comes only weeks after Kylie Jenner wiped 7% after complaining about the update. Snap has not made a profit in its history. CEO Evan Spiegel however, was the highest paid chief in the US in 2017 with $638 million in stock and compensation. (NY Times)
It has been yet another wild week in the world of crypto. For advertisers, some bad news coming from Google. There was some good news however, for Coinbase exchange users.
Google has announced that it will restrict a number of financial related adverts including Cryptocurrency. The tech giant claims that it has a duty to protect users from potential scams. All advertisers must now be certified by Google prior to advertising on the company’s AdWords. Scams are prevalent in the Cryptocurrency world. Over half of all initial coin offerings launched in 2017 have already collapsed. (Sky News)
On a more positive note, a leading exchange struck a deal with Barclays. Coinbase now has an agreement with Barclays which will allow users to withdraw funds much more easily. Users previously faced significant difficulty in withdrawing funds in sterling due to the lack of partner banks. This may mark a shift in attitudes towards crypto amongst traditional banks. (FT)
Despite this, the cryptocurrency market has been taking a hammering. Bitcoin is currently at $7600.