Top 10 Stories of Last Week! 06/08/2018

This week’s news includes; Turkish currency collapse, House of Fraser gets rescue deal, EY steps further into legal sector, Tesla in hot water over Musk tweet

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:

  • City A.M looks at How Premier League clubs are using social media in global football supporter arms race.
  • BBC News asks whether the first Ikea in India will succeed.
  • Legal Cheek “A lawyer’s guide to Blockchain”
  • City A.M explains 3 reasons why the world economy is slowing.

1. TURKISH CURRENCY COLLAPSE

The Turkish Lira has suffering the steepest drop in its history after new US tariffs. Donald Trump doubled tariffs on Turkey in a tweet, imposed 50% tariffs on steel and 20% on aluminium. This measure was introduced in response to Turkey’s defence policy. Turkey, a member of NATO, has refused to join the US in imposing sanctions on Iran and Turkey also plans to acquire Russian missile defence system. The measures are also in protest to Turkey’s imprisonment of US pastor with alleged links to the Turkish coup in 2016. The Turkish Lira plummeted by as much as 20% against the dollar on Friday. President Erdogan called this an economic war against Turkey. He has now committed to retaliating against the tariffs.

There are concerns that this could send the Turkish economy into freefall. In 2018 alone, it has fallen by 40% against the dollar.  This could also have an impact on European banks who lend to Turkey. BBVA, BNP Paribas and UniCredit all have exposure to Turkey and the lira.

BBC News looks closer at the new tariffs.

2. IRAN SANCTIONS

US sanctions on Iran are having far reaching effects. Oil prices have spiked and now banks are facing a serious legal quagmire. Donald Trump introduced some of the toughest sanctions on Iran.  The US sanctions prohibit any company that does business in the US from doing business with any company that does business with Iran. The EU has imposed new “blocking” laws, essentially nullifying US sanctions for EU entities. These laws make it illegal for banks to deny services to companies doing business with Iran.

In practice, European banks that refuse their clients access to dollar-based accounts due to the US sanctions may be sued by their clients under EU law. On the other hand, the banks may face significant fines for breaching sanctions. This has created a significant legal difficulty for these banks. In response to the sanctions, oil prices have spiked above $74 a barrel amid fears of reduced global supply. (BBC News)

3. HOUSE OF FRASER RESCUE

Sports Direct has agreed to acquire House of Fraser for £90 million. This came as welcome relief to the failing department store as it fell into administration less than 24 hours earlier. The crisis arose when C.Banner pulled out of rescue deal which required a restructuring plan. House of Fraser only had until 20th August to secure financing or it would face collapse. With the Sports Direct acquisition, all House of Fraser stores will be bought and the jobs of the company’s 16,000 employees could be saved. The restructuring plan which would have seen 31 shops close and 6,000 jobs, lost has been abandoned.

Sports Direct already owned 11% of House of Fraser. Mike Ashley hopes to turn House of Fraser into the “Harrods of the High Street”. There is concern that poor employment practices under Ashley’s current businesses like Sports Direct could be transferred to House of Fraser. (The Independent)

4. EY EXPANDS FURTHER INTO LEGAL SECTOR

EY has acquired the disruptive legal services firm Riverview Law. Riverview is the trading name for LawVest Limited. Founded in 2008, it was one of the first alternative business structures in the market. It offers fixed fees for services and yearly contracts for unlimited legal advice. It is also investing heavily in artificial intelligence.

The business has not taken off financially, posting a £17,000 net loss in 2017. With EY behind it, it may become a major disruptive force in mid market legal services.

EY’s ABS license was approved in 2014 and it now boasts over 2000 legal practitioners worldwide. This acquisition marks another huge step into the legal sector. All 4 of the big 4 accountancy firms have obtained ABS licenses.

5. TESLA

It was a big week for Tesla. CEO Elon Musk tweeted that he was looking to take the company private. A few days later he was sued over these proposals.

Elon Musk revealed on Tuesday that he had secured a deal for funding to the take the automaker private once shares hit $420. This would involve a $72 billion buyout, the largest corporate buyout in history. Tesla’s shares initially rose 13% in response to the announcement.

Investors then however, launched legal action against Tesla and Musk, alleging that the tweets were false and misleading . They claim the hype would dissuade investors from short-selling the stock and artificially inflate the company’s share price. Moreover, there is no evidence that funding had been secured or that Tesla has the money to carry out the buyout. Tesla has roughly 30 days to file an 8K with the SEC to explain the news before this breaches regulation.

Earlier in the week however, a Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund invested $2 billion in Tesla. This marks a huge vote of confidence considering this the only investment the fund has made since 2016. Share prices soared by 5% in response to the news.

Check out our company watch page to learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing Tesla.

6. HSBC SETTLEMENT

HSBC has agreed a $765 million settlement for their mis-selling sale of mortgage backed securities prior to the 2008 financial crisis. The US Department of Justice has agreed the settlement in principle with the bank. The DoJ still needs to finally agree to the deal.

HSBC were well prepared for this fine. They had already set aside an additional $897 Million to deal with this case. Their agreed sum is over $100m less than expected and significantly less than their competitors’ fines. RBS was fined $4.5 billion while Barclays was fined $2 billion for their selling of toxic debt.

HSBC is doing well financially and is, “cautiously” optimistic about growth. Despite the hit, HSBC posted a 4.6% rise in pre tax profits. (Sky News)

7. SNAP’S SECOND QUARTER

Snap has posted a surprising growth in revenue, despite a decline in daily users. Snap posted Revenue for the second quarter was $262 million, beating expectations by $12 million.

This growth in revenue has been attributed to its new self-service advertising sales systems rather than direct sales.
Daily active user however, fell from 191 million, down to 188 million. This decline has been attributed to the redesign of its app in March. Kylie Jenner wiped $1 billion off Snaps share price in March after criticising the update. Losses were down but still amounted to $353 million.

Despite this, investors were pleased that snap is beginning to turn its enormous user base into revenue. Shares rose by as much as 12% in response to the news.  A Saudi Billionaire also bought a $250 million stake in Snap earlier in the year. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, bought a 2.3% stake in the tech giant. (CNBC)

8. HOMEBASE JOB CUTS

Homebase has announced it will be closing 60 stores, shedding up to 1000 jobs. This forms part of a major restructuring to save the business.

DIY chain Hilco bought Homebase in May for just £1. Former owners Wesfarmers, attempted to bring in major changes after its £350 million purchase in 2016, but these brought no success. Wesfarmers is a successful DIY store in Australia and hoped to transform Homebase’s brand to replicate its domestic success. Homebase currently employs 11,000 people across 250 stores.

9. ONLINE STREAMING ON THE RISE

Online streaming services are rapidly becoming more popular amongst UK adults. In 2016, 29% of adults used paid entertainment streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Now TV. This year, according to an ONS survey, 46% of adults use these services. Companies such as Netflix are driving this changing trend. Earlier this year, Netflix briefly overtook Disney to become the world’s largest media company. Netflix’s value reached a staggering $151.8 billion but share prices have since fallen.

This formed part of the ONS’s report on internet usage. Daily internet usage for UK adults has risen from 35% in 2006 to 86% today. (Sky News)

10. DOMINOS DECLINE

Domino’s Pizza has revealed a 9.7% fall in profits for the first 6 months of 2018. The world’s largest pizza chain posted profits of £46.2 million, down nearly £5 million less compared the same period in 2017. The company has attributed the fall in profits to increased investments in newer markets. Domino’s has been looking to expand its operations in countries such as Norway and Sweden and has taken a hit.

It also attributed the reduced profits to larger debt interest payments. Domino’s net debt has increased to £182.1 million. The markets reacted severely to the news. Shares in Domino’s fell by 11% in response to the news. (Sky News)

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