The week’s news included; EY scraps plans to split audit & consultancy businesses, Premier League to ban front of shirt gambling sponsors, LSEG to launch crypto derivatives platform.

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 – Tupperware: Why the household name could soon be history
  • Legal Cheek – Navigating the SQE prep market — what to consider?
  • Sports Pro Media – Endeavor and WWE: Why has the deal happened and what will the UFC merger look like?
  • City A.M. – More tick-box regulations won’t save us from a financial crisis

1. CHATGPT CHALLENGERS RISE UP

Tech companies are scrambling to roll out their own AI chatbot systems to compete with ChatGPT. Last week, Elon Musk revealed his ambitions to launch a new AI company to compete with ChatGPT. Further details have not been disclosed but it is possible that this could be integrated into Twitter. Musk had made it clear that he wanted Twitter to become an “everything app”, offering a range of functions in one place. 

In China, Alibaba has announced its own AI chatbot, Tongyi Qianwen. The chatbot will be integrated into existing businesses but finer details have not been revealed. Tongyi Qianwen will be integrated into products such as Tmall Genie, Alibaba’s smart speaker and DingTalk, Alibaba’s workplace messaging app. Tongyi Qianwen roughly translates as “seeking an answer by asking a thousand questions”. The system will be able to complete various tasks such as converting conversations in meetings into written notes, writing emails and drafting business proposals. The Chinese government is currently laying out rules for managing AI data. 

2. EY SCRAPS PLANS TO SPLIT

Big Four accountant EY has announced that it will scrap plans to separate its global audit and consulting business. The plan was designed to reduce potential conflicts of interest between the two businesses. This conflict of interest has been blamed for persistently poor audits which oversaw high profile business failures such as Carillion and BHS. EY itself is under fire in Germany and is banned from taking on new audit clients. This is due to its poor audit that did not pick up a $2.1 billion blackhole in the books of collapsed payments firm Wirecard. 

EY announced the plans to split its businesses in 2022 and put the plans to a partner vote. Management in the US however, have been staunchly opposed to the plans and have been the main stumbling block for the plans. EY’s chairman in the US had already called for the plans to be halted. Now, the company has shelved the plans and is exploring a new strategy to improve standards. 

3. M&S TRADEMARK TROUBLES

Marks and Spencer (M&S) has halted sales of a t-shirt after being accused of infringing upon the trademark of a London pub chain. The t-shirt had a graphic on the front and back reading “Craft Beer Co.” Craft Beer Co is also the name of a London pub chain. The chain then tweeted complaining that M&S had ripped off their trademark. M&S then quickly removed the product from sale and said that the design was in good faith. Craft Beer Co is not planning to take any legal action over the matter.

M&S sued Aldi in 2021 for trademark infringement over the budget supermarket’s Cuthbert the Caterpillar cake. A settlement was reached in 2022. Aldi’s social media team could not miss the opportunity to take a jab at M&S over this recent case. In response to the news of M&S’s infringement, Aldi tweeted “OH HOW THE TABLES HAVE TURNED.”

4. PREMIER LEAGUE BANS GAMBLING SPONSORS 

The Premier League has banned clubs from having gambling companies as front of shirt sponsors. By the end of the 2025-2026 season, the clubs must have removed gambling sponsors from the front of their shirts and secure new deals. Gambling companies can still appear on shirt sleeves and around the stadium. Eight Premier League clubs have gambling companies on the front of their shirts.

There is concern that such prominent advertising is fuelling gambling addiction, particularly amongst young people. Many argue this is partly due to the influence footballers have on young people. A new code for responsible gambling sponsorship will be developed and the government is reviewing gambling legislation to help combat addiction. Gambling companies bring in roughly £60 million to Premier League clubs through their front of shirt sponsorship.   

5.  SAINSBURY’S EQUAL PAY CHALLENGE THROWN OUT

The Court of Appeal has rejected a legal challenge launched by Sainsbury’s against equal claims. The equal pay cases sought to ensure shopfloor female workers received the same pay as predominantly male warehouse workers and also to ensure mens’ pay does not drop below womens’. Sainsbury’s tried to reject nearly 700 of 865 claims on a technicality as they argued the individuals were not originally listed in paperwork. The Court of Appeal held that this argument lacked merit and constituted an artificial barrier to genuine claims. This will allow the claimants’ case to proceed through the courts. Personnel Today looks closer at the case. 

6. LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE LAUNCH CRYPTO DERIVATIVES PLATFROM

The London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) has revealed plans to offer a cryptocurrency derivatives platform. The platform will be run by LSEG’s French clearing branch LCH and GFO-X, a digital asset marketplace. Cryptocurrency derivatives shield investors from the largely unregulated markets and allow them to speculate on cryptocurrency prices on regulated familiar exchanges. This shows a significant mark of confidence in cryptocurrency markets. The LSEG is looking to have the exchange active by the end of 2023. Bitcoin is on the rise again, recently passing the $30,000 mark. 

7. MANCHESTER UNITED TAKE OVER PROGRESSES

The bidding war for Manchester United is entering a third round. Bidders are now required to submit their final offers by the end of April. Two heavyweights are leading the race at the moment, namely, Sheikh Jassim of Qatar and Sir Jim Ratcliffe. Manchester United’s current owners, the Glazer family, are seeking at least £6 billion but this may not be acheived. Seven bidders are currently in the race to buy the club.

Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus seemingly pulled out of the race and criticised the plans to go to a third round of bidding. Zilliacus called the move a “farce” and said the Glazer’s gave “no respect to the club”. He continued “I will not participate in a farce set up to maximise the profit for the sellers at the expense of Manchester United.” Although he later clarified that his bid for Manchester United is still on the table, he would not start a new bidding process. 

8.  UK MOTORWAYS 

The government has approved the first driverless car system on British motorways. Ford’s Mustang Mach-E model has a new “BlueCruise” system that allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel and sets the car to drive autonomously. Crucially however, the car will monitor the attentiveness of the driver to ensure they are watching the road. The car will slow down and release a warning sound if drivers are not alert. This BlueCruise feature has been approved for use on 95% of the UK’s motorway network, the first approval received in Europe.

Last week, plans for new smart motorways were also dropped by the government. This is due to the cost and safety concerns. The smart motorways regulate traffic flow using technology and open up hard shoulders as an extra lane of traffic. 10% of the UK’s motorways are currently smart motorways. The 14 planned upgrade schemes would cost £1 billion. BBC News looks closer at the cancellation.  

9. AMAZON STRIKE ACTION

Amazon workers are striking in Coventry in a dispute over pay. Members of the GMB union at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse are calling for a £4.50 per hour pay rise to £15 per hour. Amazon has said it had already given a 10% pay increase recently. Although Amazon does not recognise the union, it acknowledged the dispute and said only a tiny proportion of its Coventry workforce was involved in the dispute. 

10. MUSK LAUNCHES NEW TWITTER FEATURE

Elon Musk has unveiled Twitter Write which provides a more advanced micro-blogging experience. Users can now write posts of up to 10,000 characters, far more than the 280 characters previously permitted. Users will need to pay $8 per month or £9.60 per month in the UK for Twitter Blue to access the service. Musk is also cracking down to remove legacy blue ticks of those celebrities and prominent figures who were previously verified but have not yet subscribed to Twitter Blue.