Good morning. Fancy a free flight to Hong Kong? The city is giving away 500,000 airline tickets this spring in an effort to woo tourists back to the region after almost three years of pandemic restrictions. The tickets will be released in stages from this month and will be available to Europeans from May onwards.
Revolut’s profitable year
Yesterday it was revealed, in delayed accounts, that the London-based banking app posted its first ever profit in 2021 of £39m. Revenues also nearly tripled, from £220m the year before to £636m driven by increases in crypto trading and paid account subscriptions. The company said that it expects 2022 revenue to have grown more than 30% to £850m. But Revolut’s auditors included a warning when signing of the accounts, saying that some revenue “may be materially misstated” owing to the company’s internal IT systems. Founded in 2015 Revolut has quickly grown to become one of Europe’s largest fintechs and was last valued at $33bn in 2021.
Persimmon, one of the UK’s largest housebuilders, warned that it’s on track to sell between 8,000 and 9,000 homes this year compared to almost 15,000 in 2022. But the FTSE 100 firm said that the uncertain economic environment meant it was too soon to say for sure if current trends will persist. Even though the cost of mortgages had eased slightly from the sharp levels seen immediately after September’s mini-budget, home buying affordability is still unlikely to return to historic levels soon according to CEO Dean Finch.
Gambling shake up
The government is preparing to reform the £10bn gambling industry to address public health concerns over addiction. A YouGov poll found that 1.4m Brits, or roughly 3%, were “problem gamblers.” About 60% of industry profits stem from just 5% of users, according to a 2021 parliamentary report. One likely reform is the elimination of “VIP” promotional incentives for power users. Another proposal being floated would be automatic “affordability” and credit checks for users who lose up to £125 a month or £500 annually.
Covid origin story
This week US government agencies have given their views on how Covid-19 started. The FBI believes, with ‘moderate’ confidence, the most likely cause of the infection was an accidental lab leak in China. The US Energy Department agreed but with ‘low confidence’. However four intelligence agencies and a national intelligence panel disagree, casting ‘low confidence’ votes for the theory that the virus jumped from animals to humans. Two agencies, including the CIA, are undecided. China has placed limits on any further investigation but, unsurprisingly, denies lab leaks – calling recent reports smear pieces. President Biden's administration is facing calls to declassify findings and make more information available to the public.
Paying up: Buy now, pay later provider Klarna will start charging borrowers who miss repayments fees of up to £5 from next month.
Property slump: Annual house price growth in the UK turned negative in February for the first time in almost three years, Nationwide data shows, falling to its lowest level since November 2012.
Hiking done?: Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said it was possible the central bank had already come to the end of its rate-rising cycle.
Setting limits: TikTok is to set a default 60-minute daily time limit for all accounts held by under-18s.
Saying no to London: Chip designer Arm has decided against selling shares in London in favour of New York in a blow to the UK government.
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Number Of The Day
The value of travel vouchers customers of BA-owner IAG and EasyJet have yet to reclaim from Covid postponed trips.