A coalition of organisations including City of London police and the consumer body Which? is demanding the government make tech giants such as Google and Facebook legally responsible for fake and fraudulent adverts. In a joint letter to the home secretary, Priti Patel, the 17 organisations have urged ministers to force search engines and social media sites to vet all adverts they publish to protect the public from an “avalanche” of scams involving investments and other financial offers.
The government has been urged to publish details of up to £2bn in Covid-19 contracts awarded to private healthcare companies, including some that have helped fund the Conservative party. Contracts to provide extra capacity during the pandemic have been handed to 17 firms since March 2020. - Guardian.
AstraZeneca is facing mounting opposition over its plans to award its chief executive, Pascal Soriot, a big increase in bonuses, with three investor advisory groups calling on shareholders to vote against the policy. Pirc, Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) have all flagged concerns over moves to raise the maximum share bonus Soriot can receive under a long-term plan from 550% of his £1. 3m base salary to 650%. AZ also plans to hoist Soriot’s maximum annual bonus to 250% of salary from 200%, depending on performance targets being hit.
Fresh questions have been raised over Amazon’s tax planning after its latest corporate filings in Luxembourg revealed that the company collected record sales income of €44bn (£38bn) in Europe last year but did not have to pay any corporation tax to the Grand Duchy. Accounts for Amazon EU Sarl, through which it sells products to hundreds of millions of households in the UK and across Europe, show that despite collecting record income, the Luxembourg unit made a €1.
Top investors in Glaxo Smith Kline are piling pressure on Dame Emma Walmsley after the activist New York hedge fund Elliott Management was revealed to have built a significant stake. Two top-20 investors in the drugs and consumer goods giant said that the chief executive’s future was in doubt after four years of disappointing performance. One top-20 investor said there was “no desire to protect her” among institutional shareholders. Another said that Walmsley, 51, should step aside after her plan to break the business in two is carried out and hand over to her lieutenant, Luke Miels.
WPP is withholding hundreds of thousands of pounds in share awards from Sir Martin Sorrell after alleging that its former boss leaked “confidential information” to the media. In its annual report, the advertising group accused Sorrell of disclosing sensitive information about the company and clients in an apparent breach of his employment contract. WPP has exercised “malus” powers to withhold share-based bonuses that he would have received this year and next.
Surging iPhone sales have given Apple its best-ever start to the year as the technology group continued to ride the latest wave in demand for its devices. Total revenues rose by 53 per cent, beating forecasts on Wall Street to hit $89. 6 billion - a record for its second quarter - amid unexpectedly strong smartphone and computer sales. - The Times.
A scheme set up to provide compensation to victims of banking scandals has cost more than £23 million to establish, but is yet to issue a penny in redress to small business owners. The Business Banking Resolution Service, formed in 2019 after calls for small business lending to be regulated were rejected, has run up an “eye watering” bill for staff and third-party advisers, adding to pressure on it to start delivering compensation. - The Times.
Two former senior executives at Serco have been cleared of hiding millions in profits from electronic tagging contracts with the government after their trial collapsed following three weeks of evidence. The prosecution’s move yesterday to ditch charges against Nicholas Woods and Simon Marshall is the latest blow to the Serious Fraud Office, after eight years investigating the allegations. - The Times.
The European Union will climb down and agree a post-Brexit deal on financial services because the bloc “needs London”, PwC has predicted. John Garvey, global head of financial services at the consulting firm, said that although any agreement is unlikely to happen in the short term, there will come a point when the EU realises a deal is in its own interests. - Sunday Telegraph.
Tate & Lyle is in talks over the sale of its industrial ingredients business as the 160-year-old British food manufacturing group mulls a sweeping overhaul. The FTSE 250 company has confirmed that it has begun discussions with “potential new partners” interested in acquiring a controlling stake in its American-focused primary products division, paving the way for a separation of its sprawling empire. - The Times.
Jaguar Land Rover has suspended production at two of its three car manufacturing sites as a worldwide shortage of computer chips forces the global automotive industry to slam on the brakes. Thousands of workers at the Halewood plant on Merseyside and the main Jaguar factory at Castle Bromwich in the West Midlands are to be stood down from Monday for an unknown amount of time. - The Times.
Britain is set for its sharpest economic growth since 1988 this year as the easing of Covid-19 restrictions encourages consumers to start spending, according to a monthly survey of independent economists by the Treasury. City analysts have upgraded their GDP projections for 2021 amid signs that households are itching to get out and spend the “accidental” savings they have built up during lockdown. - The Times.
The FTSE 100 endured its worst day for two months yesterday as concerns about rising Covid-19 infections hit travel companies and the threat of new nicotine rules in the United States led to sharp falls for tobacco stocks. London’s main index was part of a global stock market sell-off, ending the day down 140. 21 points, or 2 per cent, to 6,859. 87. The fall pushed it back below the 7,000 point mark that it had broken through last week for the first time since February last year.
Ministers have ordered a formal investigation into the proposed $40 billion takeover of Arm by America’s Nvidia, citing concerns the deal could diminish Britain’s national security. Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, has told the competition watchdog to begin a “phase one” investigation of the acquisition of the microchip designer, which is considered the most successful technology to have emerged from the UK in recent decades. - The Times.
Leon has been sold for an estimated £100 million to the billionaire brothers who are buying Asda. EG Group, Mohsin and Zuber Issa’s petrol forecourt and convenience retail business, said that it planned to step up the pace of expansion of the self-styled “naturally fast food” chain by opening about 20 Leon outlets a year, including several drive-throughs. - The Times.
The billionaire brothers who own supermarket giant Asda have struck a secret deal to snap up fast food chain Leon for up to £100million. Mohsin and Zuber Issa are understood to have agreed to buy the business, co-founded by Boris Johnson’s food tsar Henry Dimbleby, in the early hours yesterday. - Financial Mail on Sunday.
Gambling firms behind more than £30m in football shirt sponsorship deals have been accused of making “insulting” contributions to the industry-funded addiction charity, with one giving just £250. An annual list of donors to GambleAware, which is funded by online casinos and bookmakers, details how much individual firms have given. - Guardian.
Tory MPs have voted en masse to block a broader inquiry into the Greensill scandal as Labour claimed there was now evidence of sleaze at the heart of government. The opposition day motion in the Commons, which would have created a cross-party committee of MPs to look into Greensill and wider issues of lobbying, was defeated by 357 votes to 262, after the government opposed the plan. - Guardian.
Hundreds of British Gas engineers will lose their jobs by midday on Wednesday after refusing to sign up to tougher employment terms imposed by the company’s controversial “fire and rehire” scheme. On 1 April Britain’s biggest energy supplier handed dismissal notices to close to 1,000 of its engineers, who install and repair boilers and heating systems for the company’snine million service customers. - Guardian.
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