• Rules on GM farming and cars to be top of UK bonfire of EU laws Link
    Guardian Business Thu 16 Sep 2021 15:41

    Rules on genetically modified farming, medical devices and vehicle standards will be top of a bonfire of laws inherited from the EU as the government seeks to change legislation automatically transferred to the UK after Brexit.

    Thousands of laws and regulations are to be reviewed, modified or repealed under a new programme aimed at cementing the UK’s independence and “Brexit opportunities”, David Frost has announced.

    The Brexit minister told peers the government had a “mammoth task” ahead to improve or remove laws inherited through 50 years of the “legislative sausage machine” in Brussels.

  • Labour condemns new trade secretary for tweets rejecting climate science Link
    Guardian Business Thu 16 Sep 2021 13:46

    Labour has condemned the new international trade secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, for rejecting the science of the climate emergency after a series of tweets emerged showing her dismissing those who believed in human-caused global heating as “fanatics”.

    Trevelyan, whose previous junior business minister position took in the brief of promoting clean growth, was promoted to replace Liz Truss, the new foreign secretary, as part of Boris Johnson’s reshuffle on Wednesday.

    Labour has unearthed a series of tweets sent by Trevelyan between 2010 and 2012 that explicitly reject the science of global heating. “Clear evidence that the ice caps aren’t melting after all, to counter those doom-mongers and global warming fanatics,” read one.

    Another, sent in support of a campaign against windfarms, said: “We aren’t getting hotter, global warming isn’t actually happening.” A third approvingly shared an article by an explicitly climate emergency-rejecting Twitter...

  • Ryanair plans to carry 225m passengers by 2026 in Covid rebound Link
    Guardian Business Thu 16 Sep 2021 09:35

    Ryanair has said itplans to fly an extra 25 million passengers a year by 2026, as the no-frills airline tries to take advantage of the industry’s slow recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Irish airline said it hopes to carry 225 million passengers annually by March 2026, 25 million higher than its previous target of 200 million, as it prepared for its annual meeting in Dublin on Thursday.

    Airlines have been among the hardest hit sectors during the coronavirus pandemic amid extended restrictions on international travel, even as domestic economies including the UK have opened up. However, airlines are also jostling for position for the recovery.

  • John Lewis cuts losses to £29m despite costs of store closures Link
    Guardian Business Thu 16 Sep 2021 07:40

    John Lewis Partnership reduced its losses to £29m in the first half of its financial year, as it benefited from business rates relief, but paid out millions of pounds in redundancy payments and property closure costs.

    The group behind John Lewis and Waitrose said it had benefited from £58m of business rates relief and would decide if it would return that to the government by March next year as it faced “significant uncertainty” about trading over the important Christmas period.

    Sales for the group rose 6% to almost £5.9bn in the first half to 31 July, despite high street lockdowns and the permanent closure of 16 department stores and several supermarkets. About 300 people left the business in the half year, but the group has previously announced that it is consulting staff on more than 2,500 job cuts.

    The group has benefited from its significant investment in online shopping.

    Sales at Waitrose rose 2% year on year and were 10% higher than...

  • Evergrande crisis and record energy prices weigh on markets – business live Link
    Guardian Business Thu 16 Sep 2021 07:15

    The tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI) has sealed its controversial £1.1bn takeover of the asthma inhaler maker Vectura, after more than half of the target company’s shareholders agreed to sell their stock.

    PMI said it had either bought shares, or received acceptances of its offer, reaching just under 75% of the company, well ahead of the 50% it needed.

    The offer has become “unconditional”, meaning the remaining shareholders cannot prevent it and can in effect be compelled to sell.

    The takeover of a respiratory disease specialist by a cigarette company has sparked outrage among health charities and public health experts around the world.

    But the Marlboro maker has argued that its transition away from cigarettes requires it to move into fields such as respiratory medicine, where it already has some expertise.

    Jacek Olczak, the chief executive of PMI, said on Thursday:

  • Tobacco firm Philip Morris seals £1.1bn takeover of UK inhaler maker Vectura Link
    Guardian Business Thu 16 Sep 2021 06:45

    Tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI) has sealed its controversial £1.1bn takeover of asthma inhaler maker Vectura, after more than half of the target company’s shareholders agreed to sell their stock.

    PMI said it had either bought shares, or received acceptances of its offer, reaching just under 75% of the company, well ahead of the 50% it needed.

    The offer has become “unconditional”, meaning the remaining shareholders cannot prevent it and can in effect be compelled to sell.

    The takeover of a respiratory disease specialist by a cigarette company has sparked outrage among health charities and public health experts around the world.

    But the Marlboro maker has argued that its transition away from cigarettes requires it to move into fields such as respiratory medicine, where it already has some expertise.

    Jacek Olczak, the chief executive of PMI, said on Thursday: “We are very excited about the critical role Vectura will play in...

  • Co-op faces criticism as it begins selling groceries via Amazon Link
    Guardian Business Thu 16 Sep 2021 06:15

    The Co-op has faced criticism as it begins selling groceries via Amazon and revs up 300 more delivery robots with the aim of almost tripling online sales to £200m.

    The convenience store mutual said shoppers would be able to order from its full range of 3,000 grocery items via Amazon, if they are signed up to the US online specialist’s Prime subscription service.

    The tie-up will initially launch in Glasgow and surrounding areas but there are plans to expand to other towns and cities later this year and eventually to go nationwide. Orders over £40 will be delivered free by Amazon’s Flex service, all of whose couriers are self-employed, and assembled at Co-op stores by the shop staff.

    The Co-op now sells £70m a year of groceries online both directly, via food courier group Deliveroo and robot delivery specialist Starship Technologies.

    About 200 of Starship’s autonomous robots, which resemble wheeled cool boxes and have been compared to squat versions...

  • The problem with OnlyFans’ mainstream dream Link
    Guardian Business Thu 16 Sep 2021 02:05
  • Monzo unveils buy now, pay later product with £3,000 limit Link
    Guardian Business Wed 15 Sep 2021 23:15

    The digital bank Monzo is muscling in on the UK’s booming “buy now, pay later” market and will be offering its customers credit limits of up to £3,000.

    Monzo is one of the first UK banks to launch into the fast-growing but controversial BNPL sector, which is dominated by financial technology companies such as the industry leader Klarna and PayPal.

    Monzo, which has more than 5 million customers, said it had taken the “best bits” of BNPL, credit cards, loans and overdrafts to create its Monzo Flex product, which it is introducing from Thursday.

    BNPL credit allows customers to stagger payments for goods such as clothes, beauty items and furniture with no interest or fees – unless they fail to pay back on time, in which case some firms will impose late fees.

  • Darktrace’s astonishing rise makes City forecasters look sillier than usual | Nils Pratley Link
    Guardian Business Wed 15 Sep 2021 18:35

    The prize for most undervalued flotation of the year goes to Darktrace. The Cambridge-based cyber security firm floated in April at 250p. Price now: an astonishing 731p. How does that happen? How does a £1.7bn valuation become £5bn in five months?

    Well, the company has done its bit in by delivering the trading numbers it said it would, plus a bit more, which clearly helps the mood. The fresh news in Wednesday’s first set of full-year figures wasn’t the thumping headline loss of $149m (£108m). It was the second post-float upgrade in revenue forecasts for the year ahead.

    But the the upwards tickle in revenue forecasts is only a small part of the answer to the undervaluation. The heart of it seems to have been Darktrace’s desperation to get a listing as a way to demonstrate independence from Mike Lynch, the Autonomy founder (and still 16% shareholder in Darktrace with his wife) fighting extradition to the US on fraud charges. For public company status, it was...

  • MP proposes law to stop employers hiding behind gagging orders Link
    Guardian Business Wed 15 Sep 2021 17:40

    A senior Tory MP has proposed a law that would stop “scurrilous” employers using gagging orders to silence victims of sexual harassment.

    Maria Miller, who chairs the select committee on women and equalities, said employers were being allowed to “conceal unlawful wrongdoing” through the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

    Such contracts are intended to prevent ex-employees leaking confidential or sensitive information but Miller warned they were also being used to “silence the disclosure of wrongdoing experienced at work”.

    NDAs were “driving the wrong culture in the British workplace – a culture where poor management can be covered up and where the silence of employees who have experienced significant wrongdoing can effectively be purchased, even motivating a small number of employees to vexatiously seek payouts from employers by making spurious allegations”, she said.

    “We simply have to break this damaging cycle.”

    The pressure to crack...

  • British Airways operates first passenger flight run on sustainable fuel Link
    Guardian Business Wed 15 Sep 2021 17:10

    British Airways has operated its first passenger service directly powered by sustainable aviation fuel, a London to Glasgow flight that the airline said produced 62% less CO2 emissions than a similar journey a decade ago.

    The airline said the combination of the fuel – partly made from recycled cooking oil – with optimal flight paths, electrified airport vehicles and its newest plane slashed emissions. BA said it had offset the CO2 produced, making the flight carbon-neutral.

    While about 6.4 tons of CO2 were still produced by flight BA1476 on Tuesday, the airline said the flight was intended to demonstrate the progress made by the aviation industry in its attempts to decarbonise ahead of the Cop26 summit.

    The service was operated by BA’s special liveried “sustainability” plane, an Airbus A320neo, its quietest and most fuel-efficient short-haul model. The fuel was a 35% mix of sustainable fuels (SAFs) from BP – close to the maximum proportion currently...

  • Inflation is back, but Sunak is determined to take money out of our pockets Link
    Guardian Business Wed 15 Sep 2021 15:50

    Prices are climbing in the shops and consumers face an autumn crunch. Official figures show inflation rose at the fastest rate in a decade in August, as the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit drives up the cost of living.

    Surpassing the forecasts of City economists, the 1.2 percentage point increase in the consumer price index was the largest since Gordon Brown handed the Bank of England independence to manage inflation in 1997. At 3.2%, the CPI is now the highest since March 2012.

    Questions will be asked about how Threadneedle Street will respond. But there is a tougher challenge for the Treasury: is this really the right time to take more money out of people’s pockets?

  • Poorest countries will be $12tn worse off by 2025 due to Covid – UN Link
    Guardian Business Wed 15 Sep 2021 14:25
    ‘Over the past 40 years, we’ve witnessed the emergence of a full-blown rentier economy with global reach and an addiction to debt,’ says Richard Kozul-Wright, a director at Unctad. Photograph: Salvatore Di Nolfi/AP
  • Average UK house price fell by £10,000 in July Link
    Guardian Business Wed 15 Sep 2021 13:30

    The average UK house price fell by £10,000 in July compared with a month earlier, official figures show, as the housing market appeared to cool after the phasing out of the stamp duty holiday.

    The average UK house price was £256,000 in July, which was £19,000 higher than a year earlier, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

    Average house prices in the year to July rose by 8%. However, the increase was down on the 13% recorded in the 12 months to June. The housing market fell slightly in July, as many homebuyers had rushed to complete their purchases before the stamp duty holiday deadline of 30 June.

    From 1 July 2020 until June 2021, buyers did not have to pay stamp duty on the first £500,000 of a purchase price of a property in England and Northern Ireland, provided the purchase was completed in time. The threshold at which stamp duty begins in the two nations fell to £250,000 on 1 July this year, and will return to the...

  • Fire shuts one of UK’s most important power cables in midst of supply crunch Link
    Guardian Business Wed 15 Sep 2021 12:04
    National Grid says the West Burton coal plant in Nottinghamshire, above, and a coal unit at the Drax site in North Yorkshire are warming up in anticipation of generating electricity on Wednesday evening. Photograph: Paul White/Alamy
  • Anti-masker abuse, subpar healthcare, and a 5 cent raise: CVS workers say enough is enough Link
    Guardian Business Wed 15 Sep 2021 11:34

    Thousands of workers at CVS stores across California are demanding better pay, increased safety standards, healthcare improvements and more security for workers in new union contract negotiations.

    The demands followed the drug chain’s report of record profits over the past 18 months, in part due to keeping stores open throughout the pandemic and offering Covid-19 testing and vaccines in stores. CVS reported a profit of more than $7bn in 2020 and posted a $2.8bn profit in the second quarter of 2021. CVS is ranked the eighth largest retailer in the US based on 2020 sales and its parent company, CVS Health, is the fourth largest corporation in the US by revenue.

    CVS has offered a wage increase of just 5 cents an hour for most workers in the contract negotiations.

    “We made over a $7bn profit for this company in 2020. They made that off our backs. We were the ones who took the risks, but they only want to offer us nickels and dimes for a raise, to give us...

  • Thousands of leaseholders freed from doubling of ground rents Link
    Guardian Business Wed 15 Sep 2021 09:19

    Thousands of people who bought leasehold homes from housing developer Countryside Properties will be freed from costly contract terms, following an investigation by consumer watchdog the Competition and Markets Authority.

    The CMA has been looking into the practice by Countryside and other property developers of doubling ground rent every 10 to 15 years.

    These increases, which are written into property contracts, leave some house owners struggling to sell or mortgage their homes, while their rights to their property can also be at risk if they fall behind on ground rent payments.

    Countryside Properties has now voluntarily given formal commitments to the CMA to remove terms from its leasehold contracts that cause ground rents to double.

    The company will also remove terms from updated contracts that meant the ground rent increased in line with the higher retail prices index measure of inflation. Affected leaseholders’ ground rent will now remain at...

  • UK inflation jumps to 3.2%, boosted by higher food and restaurant prices – business live Link
    Guardian Business Wed 15 Sep 2021 06:49

    The leap in CPI inflation from 2.0% in July to a nine-year high of 3.2% in August is the first step in a rise that may take inflation to 4.5% by November. But as inflation will fall back almost as sharply next year, we don’t think the MPC will raise interest rates until 2023.

    About 0.9ppts of the rise in CPI inflation in August was due to base effects linked to the sharp fall in consumer prices in August 2020, most of which was driven by the Eat Out to Help Out restaurant discount scheme.

    But 0.3ppts of the rise was due to a strengthening in underlying price pressures. The 5.9% m/m rise in hotel prices in August was much stronger than the 0.6% m/m decline you usually get at this time of year, which pushed up its inflation rate from 5.7% to 11.6%. And the rise in food inflation from -0.6% to +0.3% is probably due to the pass-through of higher shipping and commodity costs as well as some product shortages.

    What’s more, a further rise in inflation to at...

  • Who’s paying for the government’s plan to fix social care? Link
    Guardian Business Wed 15 Sep 2021 02:14
  • Predicted profit of £750m makes it harder for JD Sports to keep £61m furlough cash Link
    Guardian Business Tue 14 Sep 2021 18:44

    Call it an embarrassment of riches at JD Sports. Profits, like the share price, are flying, to the point where the company predicts £750m for the full-year, or £150m more than the City had expected, which must be the largest profit upgrade ever announced by a UK retailer.

    The embarrassment, or difficulty, lies in the fact that JD accepted a large helping hand from the public purse – notably £61m in UK furlough cash – and is keeping its Covid support, a stance that looks increasingly hard to sustain.

    Many other UK retailers, from Primark downwards, long ago accepted that, when post-lockdown trading turned out better than feared, they ought to pick up the tab for protecting jobs. There’s no obligation to do so, but a pattern has been established and JD, a company now worth an astonishing £11bn, is an outlier.

    JD said in July it will consider repaying payroll support when its full-year results are in, and it’s sticking to that script now. And it’s being...

  • SSE could face pressure from activist hedge fund to break up energy business Link
    Guardian Business Tue 14 Sep 2021 17:49

    SSE could face pressure to break up its energy business as the activist hedge fund Elliott Advisors pushes for a spin-off of its renewable energy division after building a stake in the company.

    The hedge fund has reportedly begun talks with senior SSE executives after investing in the company over the summer, and has joined industry analysts in calling for the company to separate or sell its renewables business.

    Elliott has not publicly confirmed its position in SSE’s shares, which was first reported in the Betaville financial blog in August, and has declined to comment on media reports this week. SSE has also declined to comment.

    The campaign would mark Elliott’s second UK-based target this year after the $48bn fund took aim at pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline earlier this year, calling for its boss Dame Emma Walmsley to reapply for her job.

    SSE’s chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies and chairman Sir John Manzoni completed a big overhaul...

  • Half a million homes to be given new energy supplier after two more go bust Link
    Guardian Business Tue 14 Sep 2021 16:49

    About half a million households will be moved to a new energy supplier after Utility Point and People’s Energy became the latest energy companies to go bust amid record energy market prices.

    The latest casualties bring the total number of failed energy suppliers to seven in the past year, including five within the past five weeks, as the market price for gas and electricity has reached new all-time highs.

    Bournemouth-based Utility Point supplied gas and electricity to about 220,000 homes, while People’s Energy, based in London, supplied gas and electricity to about 350,000 homes and about 1,000 non-domestic customers. In total, about 2 million people have been affected by the seven supplier failures.

    The regulator, Ofgem, will appoint new suppliers to take on the households and companies left stranded by the latest market failures through a “safety-net” process which protects customers outstanding credit balances.

    Neil Lawrence, Ofgem’s retail...

  • Amazon offers $3,000 sign-on bonuses to US delivery and warehouse workers Link
    Guardian Business Tue 14 Sep 2021 16:24

    Amazon is offering sign-on bonuses of up to $3,000 in some locations as it aims to hire 125,000 delivery and warehouse workers across the US amid a recruitment frenzy.

    The online retailer and tech company said it was also raising its average starting wage to $18 an hour, up from $17 an hour announced in May, amid fierce competition for hourly paid workers in the US.

    Dave Clark, chief executive of Amazon’s global retail business, said: “We take our responsibility as an employer seriously and want our employees to succeed and thrive.”

    Amazon’s minimum pay is still $15 an hour in the US but the company is being forced to offer increased incentives to support the expansion of its operations to cope with the shift to online shopping ahead of the peak Christmas season.

    In 2021, Amazon has opened more than 250 new logistics facilities and in the US, and will launch over 100 more in September alone.

    Last week, the company said it would put $1.2bn...

  • Why is the UK still in thrall to dirty energy? | Letter Link
    Guardian Business Tue 14 Sep 2021 15:54

    I was pleased to read your article exposing government bias against genuine renewables (UK ministers ‘met fossil fuel firms nine times as often as clean energy ones’, 10 September). The dirty energy industry still has Boris Johnson’s government completely under its thumb, despite the climate and biodiversity crises we are facing.

    Over the past year, Johnson has repeatedly promised to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss. Yet the UK remains Europe’s top subsidiser of biomass electricity, which is made by logging our planet’s forests and burning the trees in power stations. Enormous sums of money flow to Drax and others because the UK has wrongly defined biomass energy as “green” despite the objection of scientists, communities and public interest organisations. The reality is that just like burning fossil fuels, burning trees for electricity pumps enormous amounts of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and exacerbates climate change. It also results in...

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