Sunday newspaper round-up: Hard Brexit, exports, cost of living, GSK, BT

Market Buzz

Sunday newspaper round-up: Hard Brexit, exports, cost of living, GSK, BT

Sun, 14 May 2017
Article viewed 913 times
Sunday newspaper round-up: Hard Brexit, exports, cost of living, GSK, BT

(ShareCast News) - The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is set to pave the way for a hard Brexit by handing 38 national and regional parliaments the power to veto trade deals. In a move that further clouds the prospects of a swift and comprehensive UK-EU deal, the European Union's highest court is expected to extend the veto rights to regional parliaments through a ruling on the EU's 2014 trade agreement with Singapore. - Sunday Times
Nearly half of European businesses expect to cut their use of UK suppliers following the Brexit vote, research reveals. Companies on both sides of the Channel are preparing plans to break supply chains between the UK and EU and are busy seeking alternative suppliers in the event that talks fail to hammer out a post-Brexit trade deal, according to a survey of conducted by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply. - Mail on Sunday

The UK cost of living is climbing at the fastest pace in three-and-a-half years amid a jump in air fares and the start of a series of energy bill hikes, official figures will show this week. Inflation, as measured by the consumer prices index, is expected to have climbed to 2.6pc in the year to April, up from 2.3pc in March. - Sunday Telegraph

NHS chiefs and Europol have warned of possible fresh disruption from the global cyber-attack when workers switch on their computers for the first time at the start of the working week. The pan-EU crime-fighting agency said the threat from the attack was escalating and predicted the number of "ransomware" victims was likely to grow across the private and public sectors. - Observer

GlaxoSmithKline is preparing investors for an expansion of its consumer healthcare business through an £8bn deal with Swiss rival Novartis. Top shareholders in the British drugs giant claim they have been braced to expect the company to buy out Novartis's 36.5% stake in GSK Consumer Healthcare, the division that houses over-the-counter brands such as Beechams and Panadol. - Sunday Times

Eurozone economies could be on the brink of an important breakthrough if, as analysts suspect, all the major economies pick pro-EU, reform-minded leaders in the upcoming elections in Germany, Spain and Italy, following the victory of France's Emmanuel Macron. "It is easy to be very negative when you look at Europe [but]... it is possible that these leaders recognise the challenges Europe faces and their own countries face, so they get on with reforms at the national and European level. That is the dream," said Themis Themistocleous at UBS. - Sunday Telegraph

BT Group is braced for a further pensions blow, with the guardians of the telecom giant's retirement scheme set to warn that the deficit has ballooned in the past year. The trustees of the plan are expected to publish their annual funding update within weeks, and analysts say the shortfall may have increased to as much as £14bn by the end of June last year, up from £10bn the year before. - Sunday Times

Complex and generous share awards for senior executives should be scrapped and replaced with simpler, less lucrative incentives, according to one of the City's top fund managers. Richard Buxton, of Old Mutual Global Investors said "enough is enough" on the "annual pay panto" and the Long-Term Incentive Plans (LTIPs) provided by most big listed companies should be phased out as soon as possible. - Sunday Telegraph

The row between gig economy workers companies took a turn today when a firm admitted for the first time that it had wrongly classified staff and deprived them of holiday pay. Royal Mail subsidiary ECourier launched a review into its hiring policies after admitting that it has unlawfully denied one of its bicycle couriers basic employment rights by classifying them as an independent contractor. - Sunday Telegraph

Swiss banking giant UBS is embroiled in a £100 million dispute with Revenue & Customs over an attempt to book losses from its Swiss parent in the UK. The row shines a spotlight yet again on the battle between international groups and the Government over the question of where companies can book profits and losses to minimise their taxes. - Mail on Sunday

The owner of Café Rouge and Bella Italia has abandoned a £160m refinancing plan as City investors pull back from the restaurant sector. Casual Dining Group, which also owns Las Iguanas and La Tasca, recently withdrew plans to raise a £160m bond from investors, City sources said. - Sunday Times

The company behind the Grangemouth petrochemical plant refused to pay for anti-terrorism security measures after claiming the costs were too high, according to Government files. Ineos, owned by billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, snubbed the UK Government after a wing of the Security Service, MI5, recommended up to £6 million of improvements. - Sunday Herald

The chairman of Chelsea Football Club has emerged as a central figure in a bitter boardroom battle at Petropavlovsk, the gold miner chaired by veteran financier Peter Hambro. Bruce Buck is among a clutch of directors whom rebel shareholders, including Ukrainian-born resources tycoon Viktor Vekselberg, want to install on the miner's board. - Sunday Times

The mining giant BHP Billiton will tomorrow launch a corporate makeover - in an apparent attempt to rewrite its chequered past. The Anglo-Australian company is to drop the "Billiton" in its name from marketing materials, business cards and letterheads. - Sunday Times

The former chief executive of Sports Direct has brought a judicial review of the government's attempt to prosecute him over the way he handled the failure of its USC fashion subsidiary. Dave Forsey, who resigned from the FTSE 250 discount retailer last September after 32 years, has tried to challenge the department for business's decision to launch criminal proceedings against him over USC's collapse. - Sunday Times

Britain's steel makers are calling on the Government to lobby the US not to shut them out of American markets as Donald Trump increases protectionism. The UK body representing Britain's steel industry has written to Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, asking him to contact his opposite number in the US to plead the case. - Sunday Telegraph

Cold weather in April could lead to a shortage of British fruit including apples, pears and plums, farmers have warned. Alison Capper, chairman of the National Farmers' Union horticulture board, said she feared her own apple harvest, which includes varieties such as Gala, Braeburn and Red Windsor apples, could drop by 70-80% as a result of the cold snap. - Observer

Hotel operator Travelodge is spending £5 million on 'SuperRooms' aimed at attracting budget-conscious business travellers. It is converting 1,000 rooms into the new class, which it has compared to premium economy airline seats. It hopes they will also attract longer-stay guests. - Mail on Suday

Tory housing pledge

Theresa May will vow to "fix the broken housing market" and arrest a decline in social housing by announcing a scheme designed to boost the number of new council homes for rent. In an attempt by the prime minister to reach out to low-paid workers, she will announce a plan to offer funds, loans and new powers to councils and housing associations to help them build a new generation of social housing for renters. - Observer

The Conservative Party's pledge to knock £100 off energy bills could be left in tatters by a two-year delay to the promised cap on tariffs and no guarantee of lower prices. Senior energy industry sources have said they are bracing for a complex regulatory gauntlet which would likely take the industry regulator until early 2019 to conclude. - Sunday Telegraph

Nursing unions are threatening a "summer of protest" against pay, and could ballot on strike action later this year. The Royal College of Nursing's members have voted in favour of a ballot for strikes over pay. - Sunday Telegraph

A Tory landslide victory at the General Election will spark the birth of a new "centre-left" party, Sir Vince Cable has suggested as he opened the door to an alliance between Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party. The Lib Dem heavyweight who is seeking a return to Parliament on June 8 said that Labour would face a "bloodletting" in the wake of defeat with the party's future "in great doubt". - Sunday Telegraph

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, has called for closer economic ties with China as Britain enters a new, post-Brexit era. Speaking at the start of a summit in Beijing celebrating President Xi Jinping's "Belt and Road initiative", Hammond heaped praise on his hosts and said Britain was a "natural partner" for Beijing as it pushed ahead with a massive infrastructure campaign some call the most ambitious in history. - Observer