The week’s news included; EU loses lawsuit to speed up AstraZeneca vaccine rollout, Shein faces swathes of trademark infringement lawsuits, Goldman Sachs doubles down on Bitcoin, Ikea fined for spying on staff.
Below are our top 10 stories that you need to know about. Be sure to check our twitter page, Facebook page and Instagram 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– UK could be left behind in the electric car race, warns report.
- LawCareers.net – Ordering online: when do you own what you have paid for?
- City A.M – Boris Johnson stands at a crossroads of another Huawei sage if he fails to prevent the Amazon Web Services empire crushing UK cloud products, writes Simon Hansford.
1. EU LOSES ASTRAZENECA LAWSUIT
The EU has lost a lawsuit attempting to force pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to speed up COVID-19 vaccine rollout. AstraZeneca is accused of a serious breach of contract with the EU after failing to deliver nearly half of the 120 million doses agreed upon.
Furthermore, the court rejected the EU’s bid to fine AstraZeneca €10 per missing dose per day. Instead, the court held that AstraZeneca must provide 80 million doses by the end September, a target which the company is already likely to reach by the end of June.
Despite this, the EU said it will continue to pressure AstraZeneca to meet its contractual obligations. AstraZeneca was originally supposed to supply 300 million doses to the EU by the end June. The EU then lowered expectations once the pharmaceutical company made clear this target was unattainable.
2. GOOGLE FACES INVESTIGATION (AGAIN)
The European Commission has announced that it has launched an investigation into Google’s digital advertising practices. There are concerns that Google’s Ad business is breaching competition law. Google is already facing an investigation in France over its practices.
Around 80% of Google’s revenue comes from ads. Last year, Google raked in $147 billion in ad revenue. These tremendous sums could be threatened by the EU investigation if the tech giant is forced to adapt its practices.
3. UK – AUSTRALIA TRADE DEAL
The UK and Australia have successfully agreed a free trade deal. Tariffs will be removed from products such as British cars, whisky and biscuits. There will also be no tariffs on Australian wines, swimwear and confectionery. Furthermore, Australia will provide greater freedom for young Britons to work and travel in the country. This was the first post-Brexit trade deal agreed from scratch.
While the deal has been hailed as an important step, there are concerns over a decline in food standards if Australian goods flood the UK markets. Australia was the UK’S fifth largest trading partner, with £13.9 billion of trading last year. The trade deal is expected to boost exports by £900 million or 0.02% of GDP.
4. SHEIN FACING TRADEMARK LAWSUITS
Chinese fashion brand Shein is facing trademark and copyright lawsuits from numerous fashion brands. AirWair International, the owner of Dr Martens is claiming Shein has intentionally infringed upon their trademark. AirWair claims Shein’s “Marin Boots” are a clear copy of their own Dr Martens boots. Furthermore, Shein allegedly used pictures of real Dr Martens to market their Marin Boots.
Shein is also facing legal action from fashion brand Kikay, again, over accusations that Shein has stolen their designs. Hundreds of other smaller fashion brands have also complained of Shein’s practices. Shein is thought to be the world’s most visited fashion website. It will soon however, find itself in serious hot water if these IP lawsuits stick.
5. GOLDMAN SACHS DOUBLES DOWN ON BITCOIN
Goldman Sachs has boosted its bitcoin trading by setting up Galaxy Digital as a counterparty. Galaxy Digital is a blockchain and digital asset firm that trades Bitcoin futures. This is the first digital asset company that Goldman Sachs has put on its counterparty book. It is a clear sign of intent that Goldman wants to cement itself in the cryptocurrency derivative space.
Goldman Sachs is undoubtedly the forerunner in Bitcoin trading amongst major banks. After mounting pressure from clients, Goldman Sachs became the first to trade bitcoin futures and give clients access to these markets. This step has and will spur other competitors to enter the space, legitimising bitcoin in traditional financial markets.
Futures and forwards are regulated derivatives that allow investors to bet on whether an asset will appreciate or depreciate over a given time frame. Crucially, investments in derivatives are financial contracts that operate outside of the market of the underlying asset. So, no money is actually being invested in Bitcoin itself by Goldman Sachs.
6. IKEA FRANCE FINED FOR SPYING ON STAFF
A French court has ordered Ikea to pay €1.1 million in fines and damages for spying on its staff. The homeware company was found to have collected data on hundreds of employees, applicants and customers using private detectives and police. Between 2009 and 2012, Ikea France spied on people to identify problematic staff or union members as well as customers in dispute with the company.
Ikea France received a reduced penalty due to its cooperation in the investigation. Former Ikea France executives Mr Baillot and Mr Paris were both found guilty. Both received suspended prison sentences and fines of €50,000 and €10,000 respectively. Mr Baillot denied any wrongdoing and is considering appealing.
7. JP MORGAN BUYS NUTMEG
JP Morgan is buying digital wealth manager Nutmeg for £700 million. The market for low-cost accessible investment management has boomed in recent years. This trend has been spurred by the pandemic, which has caused customers to explore new wealth generation options.
Nutmeg boasts 140,000 customers and holds over £3.5 billion in assets. These customers will be subsumed into JP Morgan’s new digital bank, Chase. The deal will provide welcome financial support for Nutmeg, after they posted a £21 million loss in their most recent financial results.
8. ADDISON LEE BUYS COMCAB
Private car hire firm Addison Lee has acquired black cab operator ComCab for an undisclosed sum. This acquisition adds an extra 2500 vehicles to Addison Lee’s fleet, bringing the total to 7000. Addison Lee will be keen to boost its market share as the economy reopens. Competitors like Uber and Bolt have been issuing discounts to entice passengers back into their vehicles. Addison Lee is the largest premium private car hire firm and hires out cars to 80% of the FTSE 100 companies.
9. COMMERCIAL EVICTION BAN EXTENDED
The UK government has announced that the commercial eviction ban will be extended until March 2022. The UK’s “Freedom Day” has been pushed back to 19 July due to concerns over the rapidly spreading Indian Delta Covid variant.
Initially, the commercial eviction plan was due to be removed in September 2020 and was then extended to June 2021. It was designed to provide security for businesses like restaurants and theatres, who are currently unable to operate at full capacity. With the delay of the removal of Covid restrictions, this will no doubt be welcome news for businesses across the country.
10. RONALDO’S COCA-COLA REMOVAL
Last week, Cristiano Ronaldo supposedly wiped $4 billion off Coca-Cola’s value. At a Euro 2020 press conference, the football superstar removed a bottle of Coca-Cola and instead recommended a bottle of water instead. This supposedly coincided with Coca-Cola’s share price falling 1.6% to $55.22.
Upon closer analysis however, Coca-Cola shares had already fallen 0.9% in the 15 minutes before the press conference and were continuing to fall. Ronaldo’s conference did not have any discernible impact on Coca-Cola’s share price. What spurred the rumour however, was the 20-minute delay to the publishing of market data to news sites. When media sites finally received Coca-Cola’s share price movement, it coincided with Ronaldo’s endorsement of water over coke but this movement had actually happened 20 minutes earlier. This didn’t stop the news spreading like wildfire. Ultimately, analysts across the financial world came out to clarify that Ronaldo did not have anything to do with Coca-Cola’s share price on the day.