Daily business and finance update 2nd February 2023
Property slide continues
Good morning. This week the same biotech startup that plans to “resurrect” the woolly mammoth announced a fresh round of funding that’s aimed at de-extincting the famously extinct dodo. The last sighting of the flightless bird, native to the island of Mauritius, was recorded in the late 17th century, less than one hundred years after Europeans arrived.
Property slide continues
UK house prices fell for a fifth month in January, by 0.6%, according to Nationwide Building Society. It marks the longest streak of declines since the global financial crisis in 2008 and follows a jump in mortgage rates and the biggest cost-of-living crisis in 40 years. Those factors are squeezing the spending power of home buyers, putting the cost of property out of reach for more people. Economists expect property prices to fall further driven by the rising cost of borrowing. Later today the Bank of England is likely to increase base interest rates to 4%, which would be the highest level in 15 years.
Transfer window record
English Premier League clubs spent £800m in the January transfer window, almost double the previous record of £430m set in 2018. It’s more than the combined spend of counterparts in Italy, France, Spain and Germany and further evidence of the financial dominance of English top-tier football. Analysts say the increase is driven by clubs investing heavily in their squads supported by wealthy new owners. Global broadcast deals have strengthened the Premier League’s hand in the transfer market — the US rights alone are worth roughly $450m a year. Its total income from broadcast rights is expected to exceed £10bn in the three seasons ending 2025.
Tech cuts spread
Yesterday Paypal and Intel became the latest tech giants to announced cost cutting plans as the industry prepares for an economic downturn following the pandemic expansion. Paypal said it would slash 2,000 roles or 7% of its workforce to adapt to the ‘challenging macro-economic environment’. Intel revealed it had made cuts to staff base pay, a week after the company issued a lower-than-expected sales forecast driven by a loss of market share to rivals and a PC market downturn. The chipmaker said cuts to pay would start at 5% for mid-level employees and rise to 25% for the CEO.
British cyber firm attack
Yesterday Darktrace, the UK artificial-intelligence cyber-security firm, launched a staunch defence of itself after an American investor accused it of overinflating its client numbers. CEO Poppy Gustafsson called the allegations ‘unfounded’ in a 120-page rebuttal as Darktrace’s shares sunk to an all-time low. Yesterday the company announced a £75m share buyback programme to boost investor confidence and the share price. It's not the first time the company has faced stiff criticism. Last year, the short seller Shadowfall launched a similarly scathing attack on Darktrace, while analysts at the investment bank Peel Hunt published a report citing anonymous Darktrace clients calling its products “snake oil”.
Steely times: Britain's second-biggest steel producer is reportedly planning to axe 800 jobs even as it continues talks with ministers about £300m of taxpayer funding.
Raising rates: The US central bank has raised interest rates again as it tries to stamp out the forces helping to cause soaring prices in the world's largest economy.
Striking a deal: Network Rail has made a “newly revised” offer to Britain’s biggest rail workers’ union in an attempt to break the deadlock over a long-running dispute about pay, jobs and conditions.
Women on top: Severn Trent made boardroom history by becoming the first FTSE 100 firm to appoint women to the company’s three top positions of chair, chief executive and chief financial officer.
Dressing down: HSBC has announced a shift to more casual uniforms for 4,000 branch staff.
Number Of The Day
The percentage that Lebanon has devalued its official exchange rate by amid a deep economic crisis.