This week’s news includes; No-deal Brexit drama, Greece finishes bailout programme, P&G tries to trade mark WTF, LOL, KPMG fined over Ted Baker audit, UEFA launches blockchain tickets
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:
- CNBC Big banks are getting ready for an uncertain future.
- BBC News asks “Is it the end of the 9-5 working day?”
- CNBC claims that Trump is the unsung hero of the world economy.
- The Guardian asks why American CEOs get paid so much?
- BBC News looks at whether Venezuela can halt hyperinflation?
1. BREXIT: NO-DEAL DRAMA
Last week, the government produced a report providing advice on how to deal with a no-deal scenario. The no-deal refers to the terms on which we leave the European Union, covering factors like a transition period and the Irish border. In his speech, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab recognised there were many challenges of no-deal Brexit but also significant opportunities in light of the state of negotiations. The government has outlined its preparations and provided advice to business in its publication.
Here is are some of the key issues;
- Given the government’s current negotiating position, a no-deal Brexit may be the only way to achieve any benefits of Brexit
- The UK would no longer be subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ)
- The UK would no longer pay into the EU and this money could be used for other purposes. We may also not be liable to pay the £39 billion divorce bill
- The UK will be completely free to strike trade deals with whomever they want
- EU medicinal product standards will still be accepted by the UK
- A no-deal could leave the UK in deep economic and political uncertainty
- Customs declaration and checks at borders would have to be introduced. Transport would also be heavily disrupted. In this event, businesses have been advised to account for these and invest in new goods tracking software.
- No-deal would leave a hard-border in Ireland
- There would be no arrangement securing the rights for EU nationals living in the UK and vice versa.
- Access to pensions and banking for UK nationals living in the EU could face disruption
We explain and analyse these key issues check out our article “Breaking Down A No-Deal Brexit”
2. GREECE FINISHES BAILOUT PROGRAMME
Eight years on, Greece has finally finished its bailout programme. Greece received €288.75 billion economic from the EU bailout package. This was the largest bailout package ever received. The bailout conditions required significant reform within country to cut it’s deficit and kick start growth. There were significant tax increases and unemployment rose by over a quarter over the past 8 years. Its financial situation was in a dire condition. The government had fiddled with its books and the deficit was 10% of national income higher than was stated. Lending seized to the nation up not only in response to the scandal but this coincided with the global economic crisis in 2008.
Now, there is a trade and budget surplus and unemployment is decreasing.This is a key moment for a country where obligated austerity has left the nation and it’s citizens reeling. Greece is now a “normal” Country able to service its debts. The restraints however, will not end here. There is still much work to be done and most ordinary Greeks have seen no real changes. Tax rises and more pension cuts will still be introduced as it tries to pay off its enormous debt. (The Guardian)
3. PROCTOR & GAMBLE TRIES TO TRADEMARK WTF, LOL
Proctor and Gamble has launched an application to trademark the phrases LOL, WTF and NBD. If the application is successful then these phrases could be exclusively used to market its products. It would label new brands soaps and detergents under these names alongside its existing brands like Fairy and Mr Clean. For those unfamiliar with the terms; LOL means laugh out, NBD means no big deal and WTF means what the ****.
The application was lodged with the US Trademark and Patent Office in April 2018. No decision has yet been made. This forms part of an industry wide drive to attract more millennials to its products. The amount of millennial consumer spending is rising rapidly so goods manufacturers are seeking new initiatives to keep their brands popular.
Consumer is that companies want their brands to be the first thing people think of when looking for particular products. P&G believe using contemporary acronyms will help brand names stick with younger consumers. Whether this approach of trade-marking the phrases as marketing material will be effective remains to be seen. (BBC News)
4. SAUDI ARAMCO FLOATATION PLANS
Saudi Aramco has denied reports that it has cancelled its IPO plans. The state owned oil company is worth an estimated $2 trillion. The company announced in 2016 to list in Riyadh and one more leading financial centre. It initially planned to sell 5% of the company. A report from Reuters last week however, claimed that plans had been scrapped some time ago. Saudi Arabia’s energy minister subsequently expressed their commitment to IPO and that they would proceed at the optimum time.
If the IPO goes ahead, it will be the largest in history. Stock exchanges have been fighting to get the behemoth to list on their platforms. The FCA recently altered its rules to make listing easier for Saudi Aramco. No decision on where to list the shares has yet been taken. (BBC News)
5. US STOCK MARKET
US stock markets have seen their most significant growth on record. The S&P 500 is a stock index based on the market capitalisation of 500 US listed companies. After the recession in 2009, the market has been on a “bull” run, up 323%. Nasdaq which hosts a number of tech stocks has risen by 600%. GGP Inc. is the best performing stock on the S&P, rising by a staggered 7,000 over the week. Usually, markets see a decline (bear market) after long periods of growth. There has been concern for some time that US stocks may decline, although many believe there’s still room for growth. Companies have benefited from Donald Trump’s tax reforms and confidence in US stocks is high. (Fox)
6. KPMG FINED OVER TED BAKER AUDIT
KPMG has been fined £3 million by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) over misconduct in its auditing of Ted Baker. In 2013, KPMG breached ethical standards by undermining its independence as an auditor. In 2013, it provided Ted Baker with professional witness services in a commercial court, in breach of audit regulation.
The FRC singled out KPMG for poor auditing after the collapse of Carrilion earlier this year. KPMG was also inedible £4.5 million in June for its poor quality auditing of struggling commodity giant Quindell. KPMG’s fine was reduced to £2.1m as they chose to settle. The partner in charge, Michael Barradell was also fined £80,000 but this too was reduced due to mitigating factors. (The Independent)
7. UEFA’s BLOCKCHAIN TICKETS
UEFA has successfully trialled a Blockchain solution allowing football match tickets to be delivered directly to phones. All tickets for the Europa Super Cup match were available for purchase on UEFA’s blockchain based Android app. Users who purchase through the app receive the tickets instantly, without The need for processing. The use of Blockchain prevents replication and duplication. Fans then have their tickets scanned as normal by staff with special Bluetooth devices. The technology
UEFA is committed to rolling out this technology to more events over the coming years. The success trials of these trials I’d likely to encourage other sectors to adopt the technology with regards to ticketing. Blockchain could be the future of bookings. (Sports Industry)
To find out more about what Blockchain is and how it works check out our insight article.
8. GOLDMAN TO LAUNCH UK RETAIL BANK
Goldman Sachs has announced that its will soon open a retail bank in the UK. It had already opened a retail arm in the US in 2016 and now it’s coming across the Atlantic. The bank is called Marcus, after the Goldman Sachs founder. The bank has been successful in the US so far, already boasting $20 billion in deposits. The bank will offer easy access online savings accounts. Initially, the accounts will only be available to Goldman Sachs UK employees but will soon roll out to the general public. The bank has 150 employees.
Goldman has traditionally been focused on high net worth individuals but the need to diversify income streams has become increasingly important. Goldman has expressed its confidence in the UK by re-leasing it’s London HQ offices in a £1.16 billion deal. (The Independent)
Tesla is staying private after all. After a tumultuous month Elon Musk has heeded to investors and committed to staying public. Tesla released a statement on Friday night confirming the decision. A number of key institutional investors had explained to Musk that they had could only hold a limited stake in private companies. Collectively, they dissuaded Musk from taking the proposals forward.
The saga arose earlier this month when Musk tweeted he had secured funding to take Tesla private at $420. He had held discussions with a Saudi sovereign wealth fund who expressed interest in the transaction. The funding had not however, been officially secured. This landed Musk and Tesla in hot water, as statements made by officials of public companies must be true. The SEC is still conducting its inquiry into this matter. (The Guardian)
Check out our Company Watch page on Tesla.
10. LAURA ASHLEY PROFITS COLLAPSE
Retailer Laura Ashley has suffered a staggering 98% fall in profits. The retailer suffered a significant financial loss on the sale of one of its properties in Singapore. Pre-tax profits crashed from £6.3 million in the first half of last year, down to £100,000 this year. Fortunately for the retailer, sales have remained positive. Clothing sales rose by 9.7% although total like-for-like retail sales fell 0.4%. In addition, the company plans to expand its hotel venture, add a new digital platform and open stores in Thailand. In spite of the heavy profit fall, these plans soothed investor concerns with shares actually rising 9%.