The week’s news included; Microsoft Activision Blizzard deal approved, Wagamama owner bought for £506m, Sir Jim Ratcliffe buys 25% stake in Man U after Sheikh Jassim pulls out.
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. – The new Economic Crime Bill will change how UK prosecutors tackle fraud
- BBC News – What does TikTok’s EGX sponsorship mean for the games industry?
- CNBC – What to make of the UAW’s shifting strike tactics after the latest escalation
- City A.M. – Is this the worst time ever to rent in the UK? That’s what the numbers say
- BBC News – Microsoft Activision: What does deal mean for gamers?
1. MICROSOFT ACTIVISION BLIZZARD DEAL APPROVED
Microsoft’s $69 billion takeover of Activision Blizzard has been approved by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). This marks the largest takeover deal in gaming history. The CMA was satisfied by Microsoft’s revised offer that will see cloud gaming rights of Activision games transferred to rival Ubisoft for 15 years. This limits Microsoft’s potential dominance over the sector. Microsoft’s initial proposal was blocked by the CMA due to concerns about the cloud gaming sector. The parties can now finalise the deal after 18 months of regulatory battles. US regulators have not, however, completely given up their fight against the deal.
2. KPMG FINED £21M FOR CARILLION
Big Four accountant KPMG has been fined a record £21 million over its failures regarding its audits of collapsed contractor Carillion. Carillion went bust in 2018 with the loss of 3000 jobs and affected 75,000 people working in its supply chain. The company was suffocated by a £7 billion debt pile. Crucially, KPMG had failed to identify serious financial problems in its audits between 2014 and 2017. The Financial Reporting Council found numerous “exceptional” breaches of auditing requirements by KPMG. The regulator highlighted that KPMG did not work with enough “professional scepticism” and simply “did not do their job properly”.
Along with the company fine, the two partners responsible for Carillion’s audit at the time were also fined. The pair were personally fined £350,000 and £70,000 respectively for their failures. Last year, KPMG also paid out £14 million for misleading the FRC over this issue.
3. NEW RULES FOR CRYPTO FIRMS
New rules for crypto firms came into force last week and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been rolling out warnings. Under the new rules, any firm that promotes crypto assets must be either authorised or registered with the FCA. The FCA has already dished out warnings to firms it believes should have taken action. “Refer a friend” bonuses are also now banned for crypto firms. Like all regulated firms, all marketing done by crypto firms must be “clear, fair and not misleading” and have the appropriate disclaimers and risk warnings. Furthermore, first time traders must be granted a cooling off period of 24 hours before finalising their transactions.
4. WAGAMAMA OWNER SOLD TO APOLLO
The owner of Wagamama, the Restaurant Group (TRG), has been bought by Apollo Global Management. The private equity firm will pay £506 million for the company. Like most of the hospitality sector, TRG was hit hard by the pandemic but TRG hasn’t fully recovered. Just a few weeks ago, it sold off two chains in its portfolio. Chiquito and Frankie & Benny’s were sold to rival Big Table Group, which owns Cafe Rouge, Bella Italia, Las Iguanas and Banana Tree.
5. NEXT TO BUY FAT FACE
Fashion giant Next is to buy rival retailer Fat Face for £115 million. Fat Face had to be bought out during the pandemic due to financial struggles but has since been on a road to recovery. It recently returned to profitability, posting pre-tax profits of £19.5 million last year. Now, Fat Face’s 200 stores will be brought into Next’s ownership. Next will pay with cash and shares. The deal is expected to be completed before the end of 2023.
Next has been on a spending spree over the past year. The chain increased its stake in Reiss earlier this year. Last year, the company bought Made.com and a stake in JoJo Maman Bebe.
6. SIR JIM RATCLIFFE BUYS STAKE IN MANCHESTER UNITED
Sir Jim Ratcliffe has bought a 25% stake in Manchester United Football Club for £1.3 billion. The British businessman and his company INEOS will now run Manchester United’s football operations. Analysts believe this could form as part of phased takeover.
This follows Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al Thani’s withdrawal from the process. The Qatari business mogul submitted a £5 billion all cash offer to buy 100% of the club. Under the deal, there would be new investment into facilities and clearing of its previous debt. Current owners, the Glazer Family, were seeking over £6 billion for the club. This is despite the club’s current $3.3 billion (£2.6 billion) valuation on the New York Stock Exchange. Due to this disagreement and after five bids by Sheikh Jassim, he is now withdrawing from the process. Sir Jim Radcliffe also bid for 25% of the club and is still in the running. The Glazers bought Manchester United for £800 million in 2005.
7. US AUTO WORKER STRIKE EXPANDS
The ongoing strike action amongst car factory workers in the US is expanding. Ford’s largest plant shut down as 8700 workers walked out amid the dispute. Workers are seeking better pay and benefits. This followed Ford’s refusal to enter into further contract bargaining. The United of Auto Workers (UAW) is the union representing the workers and has 140,000 members. This is the first strike action taken in its history. Workers from other carmakers such as General Motors and Stellantis are also involved. Furthermore, strikers have gained support from President Joe Biden who recently visited their picket line in Michigan.
8. METRO BANK SECURES NEW FUNDING
Metro Bank has secured a £900 million funding package to stay afloat. This comes after the bank warned of its need to raise cash due to its weak financial situation. Its share price plunged and the London Stock Exchange suspended its shares from trading. Metro Bank refinanced £600 million of debt and secured £325 million in funding. The deal will see Colombian billionaire Jaime Gilinski, via his company Spaldy Investments, invest £102 million in the bank. This will grant him a 53% stake, making him the bank’s largest shareholder.
Metro Bank is a challenger bank but its focus has been on its high street presence. This contrasts the majority of the banking sector which has closed branches and invested heavily in online banking services. Consequently, Metro Bank has comparatively large overheads which analysts believe is unsustainable.
9. JES STALEY BANNED FROM FINANCIAL SERVICES
The former CEO of Barclays Jes Staley has been banned for life from financial services over his relationship with disgraced sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said that Staley had falsely claimed that he was not close to Epstein but released emails showing that he was a “cherished” friend. Staley was also fined £1.8 million. His former employer, Barclays, also said Staley should not receive £17.8 million due to him in bonuses and incentives.
10. AMAZON WORKERS TO STRIKE ON BLACK FRIDAY
Amazon workers are striking on Black Friday next month amid a dispute over pay. The tech giant workers of the GMB Union are calling for a £4.50 per hour pay increase to £15 per hour. Amazon initially offered just 50p per hour more and recently increased the offer to £1 per hour more. Up to 1000 workers in Coventry could take part in the strike action. Strikes are set to take place on 7, 8 and 9 and 24 of November. 24 November is Black Friday and the sales make it one of the busiest shopping days of the year.