The week’s news included; BAE to buy Ball Aerospace for $5.6bn, UBS settles financial crisis fraud case for $1.4bn, Messi’s MLS move causes 1700% ticket price spike.
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:
- City A.M. – Biden’s $370bn green subsides are only a threat if we continue ignoring them
- BBC News – Why US tech giants are threatening to quit the UK
- CNBC – Aldi is getting bigger. Here’s why the no-frills German grocer is looking to the Southern U.S. for growth
- City A.M. – A-level results do matter, but City firms shouldn’t put all their stock in top students
1. BAE TO BUY BALL AEROSPACE FOR $5.6BN
Weapons manufacturer BAE is set to buy US-based Ball Aerospace in a $5.6 billion deal. Ball Aerospace specialises in defence and space technology. The company produces satellite technology, sensors, spacecraft and military technology. All of its 5200 staff have US security clearance, allowing them to work on sensitive US defence projects. The deal will help BAE expand its US presence and target lucrative US defence contracts. Spending on military and defence has soared since the outset of the war in Ukraine as Western powers scramble to send arms. Amid the suffering in the war, arms producers and dealers have been seeing increased revenues. The US has spent over $50 billion on military aid to Ukraine, with most arms produced by US manufacturers. BAE is the UK’s largest arms maker and is worth £29 billion. This takeover would be one of the largest deals by a UK firm in 2023.
2. UBS SETTLES FINANCIAL CRISIS FRAUD CASE FOR $1.4BN
Swiss banking giant UBS has settled a US fraud case dating back to the 2008 crisis for $1.4 billion. The bank was accused of lying about the quality of mortgages within the mortgage backed securities (MBSs) sold to investors in the run up to the 2008 financial crisis. UBS among other banks packaged and sold these MBSs backed by subprime mortgages which ultimately foreclosed. This was the root cause of the 2008 financial crisis. Overall, banks and rating agencies have paid out $36 billion to US regulators to settle claims relating to their conduct in the run up to the crisis. As part of the settlement, UBS did not admit or deny the findings. The bank had already set aside cash to deal with the legacy claim. UBS recently acquired failed bank Credit Suisse for $3.2 billion.
3. CHINA SLOWDOWN
China has posted record high youth unemployment and it will now stop publishing the figures. Unemployment of 16 to 24 year olds in urban areas hit 21.3% in June. Unemployment figures of youth in rural areas are not published. The Chinese government will now no longer publish any youth unemployment figures. While the government says this is temporary, no timeline has been given as to when they will resume the release of the figures. Overall, China’s unemployment rate rose by 5.4%. China is experiencing an economic slowdown as its economy is growing at its slowest rate since 1976. Exports from the world’s second largest economy shrank by 14.5% in July while imports fell by 12.4%. This has led the country into a state of deflation where average prices of goods and services are falling. This is problematic as it’s a sign of weak demand and economic growth. The Central Bank of China has slashed interest rates to help kickstart growth. Years of rapid growth are coming to an end in China and whether their economic policy can reverse this remains to be seen.
4. EVERGRANDE FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY
Chinese property giant Evergrande has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US. The company has over $300 billion in debt and will now look to strike a deal with creditors. Evergrande filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy which protects foreign companies from legal action by creditors while it restructures its debt. This is similar to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the difference being Chapter 11 applies to US companies.
Evergrande has been plagued by unfinished and underperforming projects while it struggles under the weight of its debt pile. When Evergrande defaulted on its debt in 2021, there were fears of a catastrophic domino effect of defaults. While we didn’t see a crisis, things have not improved much since then. In July, Evergrande posted an $80 billion loss for the previous two years. See our previous top 10 about its default.
5. MUSK TO REMOVE BLOCK FEATURE ON X
Elon Musk has announced plans to remove the “block” feature on X, formerly Twitter. Blocking someone disallows them from viewing your posts and vice versa. Musk said the feature “makes no sense”. Under Musk’s plans, users could still block direct messages and mute people so their tweets are not visible. Furthermore, people can still have private accounts where they select who has access to their posts. Understandably, the plans have been criticised for reducing safeguards against harassment and stalking.
This plan could, however, fall at the first hurdle. Both Apple App Store and Google Play require social media apps to have a block feature to prevent bullying and harassment. Failing to meet these conditions could see X removed from the respective app stores. How Musk will circumvent these conditions remains to be seen.
6. MESSI’S MLS MOVE SEES TICKET PRICES SOAR 1700%
Lionel Messi’s recent move to US football team Inter Miami has seen ticket prices soar. The price of some Major League Soccer (MLS) games have risen by over 1700% on the secondary market. Messi joined Inter Miami in July on a $60 million package including an equity stake. The deal also includes revenue sharing agreements with Adidas and Apple TV.
For all parties involved, the deal is paying dividends. Viewership of the MLS has surged, with subscriptions to season passes doubling. Furthermore, Messi-branded Inter Miami jerseys have sold out and some deliveries are being pushed back to October due to demand. Inter Miami home game ticket prices on the secondary market have risen to an average of $864 since Messi joined, up from $152 last year. Away tickets for Inter Miami games saw an average rise of 1002%. The steepest increase was an away game in New York, which saw a 1760% spike in secondary market ticket prices compared to last year.
7. IRISH ATM “FREE MONEY” GLITCH
A technical fault at the Bank of Ireland’s ATMs allowed customers with little or no money in their account to withdraw thousands of euros without debiting their account. This “free money” glitch led to long queues at ATMs in the Republic of Ireland as people sought to take advantage. Ireland’s police even had to be deployed to monitor cashpoints. There is however, no such thing as free money. The Bank of Ireland quickly confirmed that customers who withdrew funds above their limits will have their accounts debited. Those who withdrew thousands in the hope of free cash will now see themselves severely overdrawn. The bank did apologise for the glitch and the disruption to services.
8. UK INFLATION SLOWS
Inflation in the UK is slowing as July’s rate fell to 6.8%. This compares to 7.9% in June. Energy costs have decreased significantly as the pressure on supply caused by the war in Ukraine has been reduced. Despite this, food, hospitality and travel prices remain stubbornly high. Staple food prices like bread, eggs and milk still see a 15% inflation rate. Services inflation which includes bars, hairdressers and restaurant businesses rose to 7.4%, the joint highest level since 1992. The cost of flights rose by 30% on average compared to July 2022. Overall, inflation still sits well above the Bank of England’s target rate of 2%. Many analysts still expect interest rates to rise further to help bring inflation closer to its target.
9. JLR CREATES NEW JOBS
Jaguar Land Rover is set to create 300 new UK jobs. Across three of its plants in the West Midlands, the automotive giant will hire technicians and test engineers to help with the production of electric vehicles. This forms part of JLR’s plans to invest £15 billion globally over the next five years. Much of this will be investment in electric vehicles and new technologies such as AI. Production at JLR has now reached the highest level since the pandemic and is evidently on the rise.
10. FRESH TRAIN STRIKES
Train drivers under the Aslef trade union are going on strike in September. On Friday 1 September and Saturday 2 September drivers at over 12 rail companies will take action. The RMT also has a strike scheduled for Saturday 26 August. Pay deals offered so far have been inadequate according to Aslef. The latest offer required changes to working conditions in return for an immediate 4% pay rise and a further 4% pay rise for the next year. Disputes between the railway companies and unions have been raging on for well over a year. The government is largely responsible for setting the negotiation parameters for the railway companies. Both sides are digging their heels in and negotiations seem to have stalled. With rail fares set to rise again next year, passengers are growing increasingly frustrated.