The week’s news included; Natwest buys Sainsbury’s Bank for £125m, Nvidia becomes world’s most valuable company, JP Morgan removes bonus cap allowing for bonuses up to x10 salary.

Below are our top 10 stories that you need to know about. Be sure to check our X page, Facebook page, TikTok 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 – Too much of a good thing? Spain’s green energy can exceed demand
  • City A.M. – Forget Rightmove, we need an Amazon for home buyers
  • CNBC – Experts say Shein’s U.S. IPO is all but dead
  • BBC News – Could brain-like computers be a ‘competition killer’?

1. NATWEST BUYS SAINSBURY’S BANK

Natwest has agreed to buy Sainsbury’s banking business for £125 million. This could see Natwest take in 1 million customers and £2.6 billion in customer deposits. Sainsbury’s had announced in January that it was winding down Its banking division to focus on its core retail business. The supermarket launched its “food first” strategy in 2020. Sainsbury’s banking infrastructure and commission businesses including ATMs and insurance will not be included as part of the deal.

This deal comes after Tesco agreed to offload its own banking business to Barclays for £600 million. After setting up their banks in the late 1990’s, supermarkets are looking to shift their focus away from ancillary services. 

2. NVIDIA BECOMES WORLD’S MOST VALUABLE COMPANY 

Just days after passing the $3 trillion mark, Nvidia became the world’s most valuable company for a couple of days. Nvidia overtook Microsoft to take the crown as its share price hit $136 last week. This was short lived as Microsoft reclaimed its crown by the end of the week. Despite this, Nvidia’s growth has been exponential in recent years. Investors are pouring into the company as it produces microchips used in AI software. With AI becoming increasingly prevalent, Nvidia will be an important player. Investors believe Nvidia’s revenue will skyrocket in the coming years. Nvidia is now worth $3.34 trillion, more than double its valuation at the start of 2024. The company turned over nearly $27 billion last year. 

3. HARGREAVES LANSDOWN TO ACCEPT £5.4BN

The UK’s largest investment platform, Hargreaves Lansdown (HL), is set to accept a £5.4 billion takeover offer. A consortium of private equity investors led by CVC Capital increased their bid to take the company private. The revised bid sits at £11.40 per share, up from the initial offer of £9.85. If successful, HL will go private and leave the FTSE 100. HL has seen its share price sink in recent years as customer inflows shrank. Hargreaves Lansdown has 1.8 million customers and £150 billion worth of customers assets on its books. 

4. OCTOPUS ENERGY PAYS BACK £3BN TO TAXPAYERS

Octopus Energy will pay roughly £3 billion to the government to return money received to rescue collapsed competitor Bulb. Bulb fell into administration in 2021 due to increasing wholesale prices. It was ultimately taken into government ownership so its 1.5 million customers would not face disruption. Octopus Energy swooped in to buy Bulb but £1.63 billion in taxpayer money was used to help cover the cost of supplying energy to affected customers. Octopus pledged to return this money based on wholesale prices and in line with the energy price cap. Due to an increase in the cap, Octopus will pay an additional £1.28 billion which will be kept as profit for the taxpayer.

5. UK INTEREST RATES AND INFLATION

The Bank of England has kept interest rates steady at 5.25% despite falling inflation. The Bank recognized the positive figures which saw inflation fall in line with its target but still believed these rates needed to stabilise before rates are cut. There was an indication however, that rates could be cut at the next meeting in August. UK inflation fell to 2% in May, the lowest rate since July 2021. Food and drink prices fell slightly in May and helped bring inflation down.  Price rises in the service sector however, remain high at 5.7%. Services make up the largest portion of the economy. This is still positive news as the inflation rate has retreated from the peak of 11.1% we saw in October 2022. 

6. MCDONALDS SCRAPS AI DRIVE THRUS 

McDonald’s has scrapped its trial of AI powered drive-thru restaurants in the US. The trial proved unsuccessful as the system was too unreliable. Customers reported that the system regularly misinterpreted orders. Some of these mistakes were comical, for example a customer ordered ice cream but the system randomly topped her ice cream with bacon. The technology was developed by IBM and is now set to be removed from restaurants by the end of July. There have long been concerns about AI replacing jobs. While this is a legitimate concern, evidently, we are some way off from this. 

7. JP MORGAN REMOVES BONUS CAP 

JP Morgan has become the latest bank to scrap existing caps on its London-based bankers’ bonuses. London bankers were limited by EU rules that restricted bonuses to a maximum of double their salary. This cap applied to “material risk takers” whose roles could harm the firm’s financial stability if they took on too much risk. The cap was carried over after Brexit but was scrapped by the government in 2023. Now, their bankers can earn up to 10 times their salary. Earlier this year, Goldman Sachs Banks also scrapped their bonus caps. The new limit allows for bonuses of up to 25 times their salary. Therefore, a banker earning £200,000 could receive a bonus of £5 million. 

8. LONDON BECOMES EUROPE’S LARGEST STOCK MARKET 

London has overtaken Paris to reclaim its title of Europe’s largest stock market. The value of London’s stock market is now worth £2.51 trillion while Paris’ is £2.47 trillion. London lost its crown soon after Brexit and has largely been in second place since 2022. 

The announcement of a snap election by incumbent Emmanuel Macron sent Paris’ stock markets tumbling. £204 billion of value was wiped off its exchange as it recorded its worst week since 2002. The London Stock market is the 6th largest stock exchange in the world. The US’s New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ hold the title of the largest and second largest respectively. 

9. APPLE ENDS BNPL SCHEME 

Apple has ended its Buy Now Pay Later scheme after running it for less than a year. The scheme allowed US users to split payments of up to $1000 into 4 interest free instalments over six weeks. Apple ran this plan independently through its subsidiary, Apple Financing. Rising interest rates have meant borrowing is less attractive for Apple and customers alike. Now, Apple will look to partner with banks to provide split payment options for its customers. 

10. PLT RETURNS BACKLASH

Fashion retailer PrettyLittleThing (PLT) has come under fire for banning customers who returned too many items. PLT recently scrapped its free returns policy and now charges customers £1.99 to return clothes. The charge will be deducted from refunds. The company has also reviewed and closed down customer accounts that it believed had returned too many orders, sparking further backlash. The company has been criticised for its changes to its returns policy as the quality of products can be poor and with no physical store to try clothes on, returns are almost a neccesity. This has led many customers to say they will never shop at PLT again.