The week’s news included; CMA wins appeal over Apple investigation, Montana TikTok ban blocked by US court, Ronaldo sued over Binance promotion, Wilko returns to the high street.
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. – How to fix the Bank of England: Economists have their say
- BBC News – Will Tesla’s cybertruck recover from its shattering start
- Legal Cheek – Solicitors make government list of jobs ‘most exposed’ to AI
- City A.M. – Whether it’s Shein or Vinted, we’re addicted to buying clothes for pennies
1. CMA WINS APPLE APPEAL
The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has successfully appealed against a ruling that said it does not have the power to investigate Apple. Apple was initially investigated by the CMA over its dominance in the mobile ecosystem. A later investigation was opened by the CMA in November 2022 into Apple and Alphabet over its dominance in the cloud gaming sector. Apple argued that this investigation should have been initiated after the initial investigation in 2021 and started too late. The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) agreed and found that the CMA’s investigation was ultra vires or beyond its powers. This decision was appealed by the CMA.
Last week, the Court of Appeal reversed the decision. The court ruled that the CMA did in fact have the power to investigate Apple. It was noted that the CAT had “lost sight” of the CMA’s role to “promote competition and protect consumers”. The court also warned of “serious consequences” for the CMA’s ability to carry out its functions if its powers were in line with the CAT’s interpretation.
2. ABU DHABI TELEGRAPH TAKEOVER FACES SCRUTINY
A potential takeover of the Telegraph Media Group by Abu Dhabi’s ruling family has been halted by the government to allow for scrutiny. The Telegraph was taken into receivership (see previous top 10) and the receiver, Lloyds Bank was seeking a buyer for the media outlet. RedBird IMI agreed to buy the Telegraph Group. The deal will see all of the Telegraph’s £1.1 billion debt paid for and its titles come into RedBird ownership. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who also owns Manchester City Football Club, financially backs RedBird IMI.
There is concern over the potential political impact of foreign ownership of UK media outlets. The head of RedBird IMI, CNN news veteran Jeff Zucker, rejects claims that the papers’ independence would be compromised. Politicians however, have raised significant concerns. Now, the culture and media secretary has issued a Public Interest Intervention Notice. This will bring the deal forward for scrutiny before it can be approved. The Telegraph Media Group owns The Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator Magazine.
3. MONTANA’S TIKTOK BAN BLOCKED
Montana’s TikTok ban has been blocked by a US court. The US state of Montana had planned to ban app stores from offering TikTok and to fine app stores up to $10,000 for violations (see previous top 10). Montana had already banned government workers from downloading the app on work devices. TikTok sued the state, arguing that the blanket ban violated users’ constitutional rights. Last week, a US judge agreed and deemed that the ban breached users’ right to free speech. TikTok has 150 million US users.
4. RMT AGREE PAY DEAL
Members of the RMT union have agreed to a pay deal, bringing an end to over 18 months of strike action. The deal will see a backdated pay increase of 5% covering 2022-2023. It will also see new guarantees for job security. The deal was struck with 14 train companies. Due to this deal, there will be no RMT strikes until at least Spring 2024. Talks will continue into the new year as a long term deal covering pay and job security going forward is being hashed out.
Aslef, which represents train drivers, is still deadlocked in a dispute with train companies. Aslef strikes are still set to go ahead. There will be a rolling programme of strikes across different train companies between Saturday 2 December and Friday 8 December.
5. SAUDI ARABIA BUYS HEATHROW AIRPORT STAKE
Saudi Arabia is buying a 10% stake in Heathrow Airport as part of a wider £2.4 billion deal. Saudi’s Public Investment Fund is buying the stake from Spanish infrastructure company Ferrovial. Ferrovial has gradually been reducing its ownership in Heathrow since it acquired a 56% stake in 2006 for £2.37 billion. Along with the sale to Saudi’s PIF, it will also sell its remaining 15% stake to private equity firm Ardian. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval. Saudi’s PIF has over £700 billion in assets. It owns stakes in organisations such as Electronic Arts, Uber, Take-Two and Live Nation.
6. RONALDO SUED OVER BINANCE PROMOTION
Cristiano Ronaldo has been sued for promoting cryptocurrency exchange Binance. In 2022, Ronaldo entered into a partnership with Binance as a paid spokesman for their global advertising campaign. Binance is unregulated in the US and recently pleaded guilty to violating US sanctions and anti-money laundering laws (see previous top 10). Now, Mike Vongdara has filed a class action lawsuit suing Ronaldo in the US after investing over $1 billion in Binance. Vongdara is suing Ronaldo over his promotion of Binance. Binance is the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange and has around 100 million users.
7. UBER AGREES DEAL WITH BLACK-CAB DRIVERS
Uber has struck a deal with black-cab drivers and will allow them to offer ride hailing services on the app. To lure them in, black-cab drivers will receive six months free commission on bookings. There is some confusion over the arrangement as the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) says it was not consulted. The LTDA represents 10,000 cab drivers and claims there is no demand for this “partnership” with Uber. They believe Uber’s poor record on workers rights among other issues will mean LTDA members would not contemplate joining the platform. On the contrary, Uber says a small number of cab drivers have already signed up. If this “partnership” is successful, it could signal a warming of the frosty relationship between Uber and black cab drivers.
8. SELFRIDGES OWNER FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY
The owner of Selfridges, Signa, has filed for bankruptcy. Last minute cash raising talks collapsed last week and the company was forced to enter bankruptcy protection. The company will now restructure. This comes barely a year after Signa bought Selfridges for £4 billion in a joint acquisition with Thai giant Central Group. The deal added £1.7 billion of debt to the acquiring pair. Now, Signa has run out of cash to service its hefty debt pile. The company had previously, however, assured markets that Selfridges operates independently and is not affected by problems at Signa. Signa is owned by Austrian billionaire Rene Benko. The company also owns the Chrysler building in New York.
9. WILKO RETURNS TO THE HIGH STREET
Wilko is making a return to the high street. Two Wilko stores have been resurrected after the chain’s collapse in August. The Range bought the Wilko brand for £5 million in September. It has now reopened two branches, in Plymouth and Exeter. Staff previously employed at the site were given priority in applying for positions. At both stores a significant portion of the staff were previous staff members. In December, a store in Luton will open. More stores will open before the end of 2023 and in 2024.
10. BARCLAYS CUTS JOBS
Barclays is set to slash 900 UK jobs as part of its cost cutting plans. The investment bank had already announced 450 cuts earlier this year and will now cut an additional 900 by the end of 2023 to make £1 billion in savings. Some analysts predict that another 500 jobs will be cut in the near future. Barclays aims to further its use of technology and automation to boost efficiency. Management layers will be cut. The Unite union which represents Barclays workers says the cuts are “unnecessary and unjustified.” While the bank and markets consider its Q3 performance to be weak, Barclays posted pre-tax profit of £1.9 billion in Q3 alone.