The week’s news included; Bumble IPO, Bitcoin begins to get Wall Street acceptance, Busy week for Boohoo as new supplier rule to be enforced, Rihanna’s Fenty brand to shut down.
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:
- BBC News – Dorothy Perkins? Why would Boohoo want that?
- LawCareers.net – Restructuring and insolvency: 2021 predictions.
- BBC News – GameStop: Share buying mistakes ‘on the rise’.
- City A.M – Back to basics: Three ‘Rs’ can revive the High Street.
- Market Watch – Why did Tesla buy Bitcoin?
1. BUMBLE IPO
Dating site Bumble got a positive reaction from investors in its $2 billion IPO last week. The company achieved a market value of £13 billion as its shares sold 77% higher than the initial sale price to public investors. $2.2 billion was raised and this will be used to pay down debt and repurchase shares from pre-IPO investors.
This could trigger a closer battle between Bumble and Match Group in the online dating industry. Match Group owns Tinder, Match.com and OkCupid. The online dating market is highly saturated, but most users will try more than one site, creating growing space for newer platforms. On Bumble, women must initiate contact with men first. This unique approach has allowed it to carve out a niche for itself. Despite posting profits of $85 million in 2019, Bumble posted a $117 million loss in the first nine months of 2020.
2. NVIDIA ARM BACKLASH
Google and Microsoft have objected to Nvidia’s $40 billion takeover of Arm due to competition concerns. The mega acquisition is currently being investigated by US and UK competition authorities. Alongside, Google and Microsoft, semiconductor maker Qualcomm has also objected.
Arm produces chips for mobiles and issues licenses to a variety of tech firms, Nvidia already being one of them. There is concern Nvidia could limit rival access to Arm’s intellectual property. Nvidia has said it will retain the current neutral licensing model to alleviate concerns. Nvidia is a leading GPU designer and mobile computing tech firm. The US tech giant turned over $10.2 billion in 2020. This deal with Arm undoubtedly has huge regulatory hurdles to jump in order to receive approval.
3. UK FINANCIAL SERVICES FACE BREXIT TROUBLE
The UK’s financial service sector is facing a significant challenge as EU officials warn that the UK is still far from obtaining EU regulatory equivalence. Regulatory equivalence is granted where the EU considers a country’s regulatory framework equivalent to its own. This gives financial players in non-EU countries access to EU markets. Without equivalence, UK firms may have to obtain approvals and exemptions from each member state.
The EU has said it needs to know the UK’s future regulatory plans in order to grant equivalence, but this is not acceptable for the UK. This dispute has dampened hopes that the UK could quickly achieve regulatory equivalence. Understandably, the lack of equivalence has already hit some markets. London’s Euro-denominated derivatives market sank in January. London held 40% of all Euro-denominated swaps in July and in January this fell to just 10%. Traders have had to opt to trade for other destinations such as New York, Amsterdam and Paris. As of 2017, the London Clearing House, part of the London Stock Exchange, cleared €927 billion of Euro-denominated financial contracts every single day.
Last month, Amsterdam swiftly usurped London as Europe’s largest trading centre. Trading on Amsterdam’s stock exchanges quadrupled to €9.2 billion shares a day in January, compared to December. Meanwhile, London’s trading sank to €8.6 billion.
Some industry professionals, including Barclay’s CEO, Jes Staley however, claim that a lack of equivalence could create more global opportunities. This is because UK markets will not need to be tied to EU standards.
4. BITCOIN GETS WALL STREET ACCEPTANCE
Cryptocurrencies are beginning to gain a seal of approval from traditional financial players like Mastercard and Bank of New York Mellon. Bank of New York Mellon has said its asset management clients will be able to hold, transfer and issue cryptocurrency using their accounts. This is the first major Wall Street bank to provide clients services for cryptocurrencies. Similarly, Mastercard has said it will provide support for cryptocurrencies. Mastercard customers will soon be able to spend digital currencies at all its 30 million accepting merchants. The support will initially, however, be exclusively for “stablecoins”. These are digital currencies that are tied to underlying assets like the US dollar and therefore do not fluctuate in price. Stablecoins can also be more readily be traded for other cryptocurrencies.
The moves by traditional giants are all due to increased demand from clients for access to crypto markets. Last week, Tesla also invested $1.5 billion in Bitcoin and announced it will begin accepting payments in the cryptocurrency. All the news this week saw Bitcoin rise to fresh highs by the weekend, flirting with the $50,000 mark.
Boohoo’s spending spree continues as it bought the brands of Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton for £25.2 million. These sales mark the final batch of sales of the Arcadia Group family. Boohoo will buy only the online business and brands of the companies, leaving thousands of jobs in jeopardy. This has become the standard practice of online retailers when acquiring traditional high street stores. Boohoo recently bought the brands of Debenhams and Oasis and Warehouse without buying any physical stores. Competitor Asos has also swooped in to buy the brands of Arcadia Group’s Topman, Topshop, Miss Selfridge and HIIT. In all of these acquisitions, only a fraction of jobs will be saved, and these jobs will primarily be in the design, operations and digital divisions of the business.
Boohoo is also working to improve its damaged image by introducing new requirements for suppliers. Last year, a warehouse supplying Boohoo was found to be paying workers far less than the minimum wage. The warehouse was operated by a subcontractor of Boohoo’s contracted supplier. Following a damning report by Alison Levitt QC, the online retailer has now taken action. Boohoo has said its suppliers cannot use any third-party subcontractors for clothes production from 5 March.
6. O2 FINED BY OFCOM
O2 has been fined £10.5m by telecoms regulator Ofcom for overcharging its customers. The network service provider double-charged over 140,000 customers on certain fees between 2011 and 2019. Customers collectively paid over £2.4 million more than they should have. In addition to refunding customers, Ofcom found that the breach of rules was serious enough to warrant a fine. O2 knew about the issues in 2011 but failed to deal with it until 2019.
O2 recognised this as a technical error and has adjusted its billing process to prevent future issues. It has already refunded most customers but has been unable to reach some. The refunds due to such unreachable people will be donated to charity.
7. FENTY SHUTS DOWN
Rihanna’s Fenty fashion brand will be shut down after less than two years. The clothing line will be placed on hold until market conditions improve. The Fenty brand is unable to pull in as many customers due to the pandemic so is strategically halting operations. Rihanna’s, Savage X Fenty, Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin brands will all continue as normal. In 2019, Rihanna’s Fenty range became the first Black-led fashion house to join the illustrious LVMH group.
8. AMAZON TO CREATE DIGITAL CURRENCY
Amazon has revealed that it is creating its own digital currency. Details on the project are scant but the tech giant posted a new job listing for its Digital and Emerging Payments (DEP) division. It explained that the division is creating a currency to be used on Amazon services like its marketplace or Prime Video. Unlike Bitcoin and similar currencies, this digital currency will be used exclusively within the Amazon system. Amazon will trial the currency in Mexico and will rollout globally if successful.
9. SHELL TARGETS NET ZERO
Oil and gas giant Shell has said it is targeting net zero emissions for itself and its products by 2050. Shell is beginning to reduce its oil production and is increasing investment into renewable and hydrogen energy. This comes despite oil prices returning to pre-pandemic levels as demand begins to increase. Shell posted a huge €19.9 billion loss in 2020, largely driven by accounting charges along with the collapse in oil prices. Existing Shell refineries will be repurposed to produce biofuels and hydrogen. Furthermore, it will seek to offset the carbon emissions it produces from its polluting products through reforestation, carbon capture and other solutions.
10. DISNEY+ USERS SOAR
Disney+ has secured 95 million subscribers since its release in November 2019. The online streaming giant has enjoyed rapid growth since launch and shows no signs of slowing down. It now boasts 94.9 million paid subscribers, according to its most recent quarterly report. Disney also saw a rise in revenues from other services including ESPN+ and Hulu. Unlike most sectors, online entertainment has benefited from the pandemic. With lockdowns and restrictions still being implemented globally, people are spending more time behind their screens. Disney+ has certainly been a primary beneficiary. As of February 2020, Disney was targeting between 60 and 90 million subscribers within the next 4 years. It has now surpassed this target within the first 18 months.
Despite Disney+‘s huge success, it is still far behind Netflix who obtained 200 million subscribers by the end of last year.