Good morning. Not content with being a Hollywood star (and co-owner of Wrexham FC), Ryan Reynolds has sold his mobile phone company for $1.35bn. The actor is a minority owner in Mint Mobile, a US low-cost mobile carrier, which has been acquired by telecoms giant T-Mobile. This isn’t the only successful sale of a Reynolds-backed business: In 2018, he became a co-owner of Aviation Gin, which he sold to Diageo in 2020 for a reported $610m.
The chancellor’s budget on Wednesday has provoked criticism from think tanks and opposition politicians. The Resolution Foundation said that the UK’s weak growth and rising debt interest costs mean that Britons are “paying more tax but seeing public services cut”. Analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests that government plans to encourage people back to work will only bring back "a fraction" of the those who left work over the past two years and cost £70,000 a job. Critics are also pointing out that scrapping of the lifetime allowance on pensions will cost the Treasury £75,000 per person in tax breaks for some of the country’s wealthiest savers and is likely to add only 15,000 more workers to the workforce by 2027/28. Labour party leader Keir Starmer called the policy a “a huge giveaway to some of the very wealthiest” and promptly pledged to reverse it.
Another bank on the brink
After the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature bank along with Credit Suisse concerns, turmoil in the banking sector continued with reports that First Republic Bank could also be in trouble. Shares in the San Francisco-based lender, which specialises in private banking and wealth management, dropped as much as 36% before being suspended amid speculation it could be next to fail. The Wall Street Journal reported that JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and other big banks were discussing a potential deal with First Republic Bank that could include a big capital injection.
John Lewis struggles
The owner of department store John Lewis and supermarket Waitrose cancelled staff bonuses for the second time in three years and warned of fresh job cuts. The news came as the John Lewis Partnership posted a loss of £234m in the 12 months to January in what it described as “a very tough year” where “inflation hit us like a hurricane”. The cost of living crisis meant consumers tightened their belts and turned to discount retailers. John Lewis has already cut costs by £300m as part of its existing transformation plan but wants to cut another £600m by 2026.
This week payments giant Stripe announced it raised $6.5bn to help cover employee tax obligations related to their stock options. The funding round values the private San Francisco-based company at $50bn — a steep fall from its peak of $95bn in 2021. It comes amid a downturn in the tech sector with plunging valuations in private and public firms. Last November Stripe laid off 14% of its 8,000 employees. CEO Patrick Collison said the company over hired during the pandemic to cope with the surge in online shopping and were optimistic that this trend would continue into 2023. But now the company has to rightsize to deal with the current economic challenges of rising inflation and interest rates.
Doing a deal: NHS unions have reached a pay deal with the government in a major breakthrough that could herald the end of strikes by frontline staff in England.
Delivering losses: Deliveroo posted a £245.6m loss for the past year as order growth slowed.
Crypto fallout: Sam Bankman-Fried, a co-founder of FTX, received more than $2bn from entities linked to the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange into his personal accounts, according to court filings.
Unsocial: British government ministers have been banned from using Chinese-owned social media app TikTok on their work phones and devices on security grounds.
Flying high: Gatwick Airport has returned to profitability following a bounce-back in air travel.
Raising rates: The European Central Bank has raised interest rates across the eurozone by 0.5 percentage points, despite fears that higher borrowing costs could lead to more banking sector turmoil.
Tourist downturn: UK visitor attractions are suffering from "long Covid" due to fewer tourists travelling from abroad, an industry body has warned.
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Number Of The Day
The life expectancy of Monaco residents, the highest in the world.