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  • Daily business and finance update 29th January 2024

Daily business and finance update 29th January 2024

UK trade deal derailed

Good morning. Today we're talking about a stall in the UK’s latest trade deal, Scottish investment manager cutbacks and Netflix’s strong quarter.

Big Stories

UK trade deal derailed

The UK government has paused talks on a new comprehensive free-trade agreement with Canada to replace the legacy EU trade deal. The sticking point: Canada’s protectionist dairy policies, which limit how much foreign cheese comes into the country. The UK wants to gain more access, but the Dairy Farmers of Canada have lobbied to keep this off the table. It could mean tougher trading terms for the UK with a partner that accounted for 1.4% of its total trade in the 12 months to June 2023. The stalled talks represent a blow to the UK’s ambitions to strike better trade deals since the Brexit vote almost eight years ago.

Scottish investment giants cut back

Two of Scotland’s biggest investment managers, Abrdn and Baillie Gifford, announced job cuts. Abrdn, formed from the 2018 merger of Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life, is aiming to save at least £150m by eliminating 500 jobs, roughly 10% of its workforce. Baillie Gifford, renowned for its focus on long-term growth investing, is cutting an unspecified number of jobs, focused in its fixed-income division. The job cuts highlight the ongoing challenges facing the asset management industry. The rise of passive investing, which tracks market indices rather than actively selecting stocks, has put pressure on traditional active managers like Abrdn and Baillie Gifford to justify their higher fees. Additionally, market volatility and geopolitical uncertainty have dampened investor appetite for riskier assets, further impacting revenue streams.

Netflix’s blowout quarter

Netflix ended 2023 on a high note, exceeding subscriber expectations and showcasing continued resilience in the competitive streaming landscape. The company added 13.1m subscribers between September and December last year, bringing its global total to 260.8m, far surpassing analyst predictions of 8.8m new signups. The company also announced a blockbuster 10-year deal for WWE’s flagship show “Monday Night Raw”. The $5bn deal is the streamer's biggest bet to date in live sports. 


Retail rollback: John Lewis has confirmed it is planning to further cut its workforce over the next five years.

Travel trial: Transport for London will trial Friday off-peak fares on the tube and rail services to try to tempt back passengers who have stayed at home since the pandemic lockdowns.

Gaming cuts: Microsoft is to lay off 1,900 gaming employees this week, mostly at the recently acquired business Activision Blizzard.

Changing chairs: The chairman of the Post Office has stepped down amid ongoing tensions in the wake of the Horizon IT scandal.

Ad downturn: Channel 4 will announce plans this week for deeper-than-expected job cuts amid a steep downturn in the broadcast advertising market.

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Number of the Day

£650 million

How much tax former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone paid last year as a result of his fraud case. It made him the UK’s second biggest taxpayer in 2023.

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