Sunday newspaper round-up: Lower growth, French election, PPI extension, Sky

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Sunday newspaper round-up: Lower growth, French election, PPI extension, Sky

Sun, 07 May 2017
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Sunday newspaper round-up: Lower growth, French election, PPI extension, Sky

(ShareCast News) - The Bank of England is set to lower its growth forecasts this week after the economy faltered in the first quarter. The slowdown leaves a pre-Brexit interest rate rise looking increasingly unlikely, although inflation is already above the Bank's 2% target and expected to rise further, the Sunday Times reported.
Hundreds of City workers are to return to their desks on Sunday as banks and hedge funds prepare for the fallout from France's presidential election and help clients navigate through any ensuing market volatility. Markets jumped when frontrunner centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron won the first round of the vote a fortnight ago, and although he was firmly ahead in the polls, right-winger Marine Le Pen has campaigned hard so investors remained nervous. - Sunday Telegraph

With Belgian media having published polling data which predicts 60% of the vote has gone to centrist Emmanuel Macron, the first exit poll from the French election is expected at 7pm UK time. Voter turnout, which if low was supposed to offer hope to far-right Front National candidate Marine Le Pen, has dropped to just 60%, compared to 2012's turnout of 70%.

The fortunes of Britain's super-rich have been supercharged by a "Brexit boom", with record wealth and more billionaires than ever before in this year's Sunday Times Rich List. Our 29th edition also reveals that this year's 500 richest individuals and families are now wealthier than the entire top 1,000 were in 2016.

The City watchdog is to be challenged in the High Court over its decision to place a time limit on payment protection insurance claims. The Sunday Times said a leading claims firm will, in the coming weeks, bring a judicial review against the Financial Conduct Authority, whose cut-off date for new actions is August 29, 2019.

City investors believe that Ofcom is unlikely to block Rupert Murdoch's bid to take full control of Sky, even after millions were paid to people who claimed sexual harassment at his firm, 21st Century Fox. Lawyers acting for the victims of alleged harassment have been lobbying the UK media regulator and one, Lisa Bloom, will visit Ofcom tomorrow with one of her clients, Wendy Walsh, the Mail on Sunday said.

The owner of British Gas is braced for a political blow which could knock between £150m to £200m from its profits by cracking down on energy prices. Centrica will face shareholders at its annual general meeting on Monday, the same day that the Conservative party is expected to confirm plans to cap the price of standard rate energy bills. - Sunday Telegraph

Leading Swiss bank Credit Suisse is reining in its risky property lending to Britain and is keeping a closer scrutiny on UK share and bond trading following last year's Brexit vote. Filings for Credit Suisse show its internal risk analysts have downgraded its rating for Britain. - Mail on Sunday

Most retail companies that took out currency hedges that protected them from the forex fallout from the Brexit referendum have begun to expire, meaning they have to source overseas goods at $1.30 compared to almost $1.50 before the poll. Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG said in the Sunday Times that it was "a ticking timebomb" and that "the real impact will only start to hit in the next couple of months". - Sunday Times

The chairman of TalkTalk Sir Charles Dunstone will this week announce his return to the frontline at the broadband operator by slashing its dividend. The Sunday Telegraph has established that TalkTalk will announce a cut in its payout to shareholders as part of its annual results on Wednesday.

Brexit business

The biggest donor to the Brexit campaign has called on Theresa May to unilaterally guarantee the rights of millions of EU nationals already in Britain. Peter Hargreaves, the billionaire who donated £3.2m to the Leave.EU campaign, said that the prime minister should reassure the three million EU nationals already in the UK that their current rights would be maintained. - The Observer

The boss of the world's biggest insurance market has warned of the "hidden impact" of Brexit, predicting a downturn in four years caused by a prolonged pause in investment activity. Inga Beale, chief executive of Lloyd's of London, said time and resources that could be spent on innovation were instead being absorbed by preparations for Brexit. - Sunday Times

A massive €100bn Brexit bill is "legally impossible" to enforce, the European Commission's own lawyers have admitted. Minutes of internal deliberations circulated by Brussels's own Brexit negotiating team, which had warned against pursuing the UK for extra payments, but member states appear to have ignored the Commission's own advice by demanding €100bn (£85bn) from the Government. - Sunday Telegraph

Britain has called in an international war negotiator to counter growing hostility between Brussels and London over Brexit. Ministers asked leading US negotiator William Ury for help after he played a key role in ending the seemingly intractable 52 year-long war in Colombia, South America. - Sunday Telegraph

Troubles at Barclays and Toshiba

Barclays' leading investors have turned up the heat on Jes Staley, warning they will seek to remove the embattled chief executive if he makes another mis-step. A pair of the bank's top 10 shareholders have lambasted Staley over a second incident of "poor judgment" following his role in a whistleblower scandal investigated by the FCA, when last week he was revealed to have intervened in a row between his brother-in-law and one of Barclays' biggest customers. - Sunday Times

Lurching from one financial issue to another, troubles at Toshiba's bankrupt nuclear reactor arm, Westinghouse, could throw a major spanner in the works of the UK's energy policy. Toshiba is unable to proceed with a £15bn-plus NuGen power station joint venture at Moorside in Cumbria, which the UK government is relying on to power 6m homes, and new US backers are blocking it from funnelling funds into this another similar joint ventures. -Telegraph/Times

The £10bn float of Britain's second-biggest mobile phone operator could be delayed until next year amid concerns over a looming battle for airwaves. Telefonica, the Spanish owner of O2, is considering delaying the stock offering until the conclusion of pivotal talks on how the spectrum auction this year will be run. - Sunday Times

Dutch financial services out-sourcer TMF Group has picked London for a planned £1bn float, in a vote of confidence in the UK stock market. Advisers to the company's owner, European private equity firm Doughty Hanson, are doing the groundwork to bring TMF to market after the summer. - Sunday Telegraph.

The boss of BT's multibillion-pound television and sport business has resigned, in the latest in a wave of senior media departures. Delia Bushell joined BT three years ago to head up its attack on Sky as managing director of TV and sport. - Sunday Telegraph

Regional cities are seeing bigger increases in the number of new start-ups than London, a study has found. Salford saw the biggest boost in the first quarter of the year, at a time when start-up growth overall is decreasing. - Mail on Sunday

Snapchat is expected to post a huge loss this week as the costs of the photo app's flotation weigh on its first set of results as a public company. Snap Inc, the app's parent company, is expected to reveal soaring revenues when it unveils first-quarter results on Wednesday, but it will give further signs that user growth is slowing amid fierce competition from Facebook and Instagram. - Sunday Telegraph

Taxpayers are in line for an £180m payout from the sale of Britain's only pay-as-you-go motorway. An Australian pension fund, IFM Investors, has gained control of the M6 toll road after buying its debt from a group of lenders, which will result in a payout to state-owned Highways England thanks to a clause dating back to when the toll was opened in 2003. - Sunday Times

The UK's largest legal merger has had an unusual impact on staff wardrobes - lawyers used to ill-fitted suits and bad ties can now wear whatever they want. Open-neck shirts and smart shoes emerged as an unusual problem during the tie-up talks between the financial services focused company CMS Cameron McKenna, the technology and media specialists Olswang and property experts Nabarro as they worked out plans for the sixth largest law firm in the UK, a deal they completed last week. - Sunday Telegraph

What happens when one of the creators of Apple's voice assistant Siri collaborates with a flavour scientist from Copenhagen's renowned Noma restaurant? Bionic basil. The Open Agriculture Initiative, an MIT Media Lab project to apply technology to food production, revealed results last week from a series of experiments that yielded dramatically more flavoursome basil that can be achieved in normal growing conditions. - Sunday Times

Political business

The Conservatives hold a 16-point lead over Labour with less than five weeks to go before the 8 June general election, according to the latest Opinium/Observer poll. The Tories have dropped one point to 46% since last week, while Labour is unchanged on 30%. The Liberal Democrats are up one point on 9% and Ukip is unchanged on 7%. - Observer

Labour could create a new tax bracket for those earning above £80,000, with further rises for those on the top rate of tax, John McDonnell has hinted. The shadow chancellor pledged the highest increases in taxation would be reserved for "the 1% at the top" in a speech in which he launched Labour's flagship tax pledge, where only those earning more than £80,000 - the top 5% of earners in the UK - would face an increase. - Observer