Top 10 Stories of Last Week! 13/08/18

This week’s news includes; Turkey retaliates against tariffs, Tesla in hot water over Musk tweet, Ticketmaster shuts down resale sites, Sainsbury’s trials checkout free

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:

  • Chambers Student “Americans and Brits go their own way on so many topics. But on the London legal scene, are US firms really so different?”
  • Business Insider “The ‘conundrum’ at the heart of the British economy is getting worse — and economists are baffled”
  • Bloomberg “To Get Ready for Robot Driving, Some Want to Reprogram Pedestrians”

1. TURKEY RETALIATES AGAINST TARIFFS

Turkey has announced new retaliatory boycotts on a variety of US electronic products, such as US made iPhones. Plans for the implementation of these boycotts have not however, been announced. Turkish Airlines will also end advertisement in American media.

The measure was in direct response to President Trump’s doubling of tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium. US tariffs on these metals now stand at 25% and 50% respectively. Trump claims the measures were in response to Turkey’s purchase of Russian missile defence systems, as well as their detainment of an American pastor. The Turkish Lira plummeted by as much as 20% in response to the announcement. It has since recovered slightly.

Outside Turkey, there is still concern for European banks with exposure to the Lira. Turkey also however, have support from their neighbours. Qatar announced a $12 billion support package for Turkey to help it weather the storm of tariffs. (BBC News)

2. TESLA’S TWITTER TROUBLE

Elon Musk and Tesla are in very hot water. Two weeks ago, Elon Musk tweeted that he was thinking of taking Tesla into private ownership. Crucially, he also added that funding had been secured for this venture. It has now transpired that no such funding had been fully secured. Elon Musk explained however, that he had discussions with the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund who express strong interest in taking Tesla private. The wealth fund already owns nearly 5% of Tesla’s stock. The reason Musk claimed funding had been secured was because after the recent conversations, he was confident that the “deal…could be closed”. The Saudi fund has not commented on the matter.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has now issued a subpoena to Tesla regarding this matter. SEC regulations denote that any public statements made by company executives must be true. This subpoena is the first stage before a formal investigation. (CNBC)

Tesla’s share price also took a hammering last Friday. Elon Musk gave an emotional interview, detailing his personal struggles. He explained how he needs sedatives to sleep and works 120 hour weeks. Share prices tumbled 8.8% in response to the interview over concerns about Musk’s health and mental stability at the helm of Tesla. This fall was also fuelled by a UBS note calculating that rising costs will see Tesla lose $6,000 a car. (BBC News)

Check out our Company watch page to learn more about Tesla.

3. ROYAL MAIL FINE

Royal Mail has been fined a record £50 million for breaching competition law. The fine relates to its wholesale price increaseS in 2014 which acted as a barrier to competition. A complaint was lodged by Whistl, a competitor delivery service. When the price increases were proposed, Whistl was expanding to compete with Royal Mail but was also a customer. Whistl delivers bulk mail and business letters but only for certain parts of the country. Whistl would still use Royal Mail to deliver to other parts.

Ofcom deemed the price hike anti-competitive as competitors would have to pay higher prices for delivering to areas where it used Royal Mail’s service for delivery. This was an abuse of its dominant market position. This is the largest fined ever issued by Ofcom. (The Independent)

4. TICKETMASTER SHUTS DOWN RESALE SITES

Ticket master has announced that it will be closing its resale sites, Seatwave and GetMeIn. Ticket resale sites have faced intense criticism for allowing ticket touts to massively overcharge fans. Offices of resale sites, StubHub and Viagogo were raided by the Competition and Markets Authority in 2017 as part of a touting investigation. The CMA alleges that these resale sites employ schemes that benefit large scale ticket touts. Both sites are still active and many believe these sites need regulation to create a fairer environment for fans.

While Ticketmaster was not raided, it is a pre-emptive step to an inevitable regulatory clamp down. GetMeIn and Seatwave will both be shut down in October. These sites will now be replaced with fan-to-fan exchanges rather than an open platform for resale. These exchanges will allow a maximum markup of face value plus 15%. (The Guardian)

5. SAINSBURY’S TRIALS CHECKOUT FREE SHOPPING

The supermarkets are biting back at Amazon. Sainsbury’s has trialled its first checkout-free system in one of its London supermarkets. The supermarket has linked up with Apple Pay to allow customers to pay as they go with their shopping. Customers simply scan the items and pay instantly a without the need for a checkout.
Amazon rolled out it’s own checkout free supermarkets, Amazon go, earlier this year. At Amazon Go customers take what they want from shelves then sensors and cameras register what customers have put in their baskets. Customers are then billed as they leave the store. While in Sainsbury’s, customers still scan the items they want, the technology is fast moving to checkout free supermarkets.

Sainsbury’s has begun the trial in Clapham North store and hopes to roll this out to more stores within the coming months. This is a timely response by Sainsbury’s to changing consumer payment trends. Contactless payments are rising rapidly. Contactless already overtook cheque payments in 2017 and it’s expected to account for 1/3 of all UK payments within 2 years.

6. ESURE BOUGHT FOR £1.2 BILLION

Insurance company Esure has been bought by private equity firm Bain Capital for £1.2 billion. Esure’s board have given their approval to Bain Capital’s takeover offer and all that remains is a shareholder vote. 75% of Esure shareholders must vote to accept the offer but the firm’s largest shareholders have already expressed support for the deal. If confirmed, Esure will be delisted and become a private company.

Esure has over 2.5 million UK policies and has made profit of over £36 million in 2018 so far. This is in spite of a £14 million hit from increased claims resulting from bad weather. Like many other insurers it saw a huge spike in claims caused by the beast from the East.

7. HOMEBASE CLOSURES

Homebase has confirmed that it will close 42 of its 241 stores. Hilco has revealed plans to undertake a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) which will see the restructuring of the company. CVA’s generally involve the closure of stores and companies request reduced rents from landlords to shore up their financials. This plan will put 1,500 jobs at risk.

In May 2018, Homebase was bought by Hilco from Australian retailer Wesfarmers for just £1. Wesfarmers hoped to repeat its success in Australia at Homebase, bringing in wholesale changes to stores. This plan was unsuccessful and Homebase posted a £97 million loss in the final half of 2017. (BBC News)

8. UK EMPLOYMENT FIGURES

UK unemployment has fallen by 4% in the 3 months to June 2018. The number of unemployed people currently stands at 1.36 million, down 65,000 from the last quarter. This is the lowest rate since 1975. There was also a rise in real wages over the period, with wages increasing by 2.7%, 0.3% faster than inflation.

There has also been the steepest drop since records began in EU worker numbers within the UK. Employed EU workers fell by 86,000 over the quarter to 2.28 million. This is largely due to uncertainty regarding rights of EU nationals post-Brexit. BBC News looks at the figures in more detail.

9. FACEBOOK FOOTBALL FRENZY

Facebook has further invested in broadcasting rights for top flight football matches. It has bought the rights to broadcast all 380 La Liga matches in the Indian subcontinent. The deal lasts for 3 years and Facebook will broadcast the games for free. The rights cover; India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Facebook has been slowly edging its way into sports broadcasting. It recently bought rights to show Premier League matches in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos for £200 million. While it is far from competing with the likes of BT and Sky it is still making moves. It also bought rights to broadcast Indian premier league (IPL) matches for $600 million. (Sport Biz)

10. RAIL FARES RISE

Regulated rail fares are set to rise up to 3.2% next year, despite consistently poor services on many lines. Roughly 40%of routes will be affected, including most common commuter routes. Annual season ticket prices for London to Brighton and Liverpool to Manchester will rise by £150 and £101 respectively.

RPI is used to calculate the maximum amount Rail fares will increase by. The Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, has proposed to use CPI as a basis for train fares instead of RPI. The Retail Price Index (RPI) takes into account house price increases so is invariably higher than CPI. CPI on the other hand only takes into account consumer goods. CPI in July 2018 was 2.5%.  Unions however, have deemed the proposals as an attempt to introduce wage caps for rail staff.

Overall, the price hikes have been hugely criticized in light of the poor service commuters receive. Over the year ending 28 April 2018, Govia Thamselink saw nearly 25% of its trains either; delayed, severely delayed or cancelled.  Govia Thameslink operates Southern Rail, Thameslink and Great Northern franchises.

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