Good morning. Good news for Harry Potter fans - a new TV series based on the original seven books could be on the way with Warner Bros reportedly in talks with HBO. The original best-selling book series sold over 600m copies and the subsequent eight films generated nearly $8bn at the box office.
Pound’s sterling performance
The pound reached a 10-month high yesterday, breaking the $1.25 mark for the first time since June 2021. Back then the Bank of England’s base rate was just 1%, compared with 4.25% now, while the intervening period has seen Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak all serve as prime minister and four chancellors deliver numerous fiscal events. The pound’s strong performance has been driven by an improving outlook on the UK economy plus weakness in the US dollar. Investors are betting that the Federal Reserve may be nearing the end of its rate-hiking cycle amid signs of a cooling US economy.
Angry Swiss meeting
Failed Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse hosted its final shareholder meeting yesterday, and it got ugly. Last month the 167-year old bank was taken over by rival UBS in a dramatic deal that’s unpopular with investors (who lost billions), prosecutors (who are questioning the legality) and the general public (who say Switzerland’s global reputation has been damaged). At the meeting, held in a 15,000-seater Zurich ice hockey stadium, Credit Suisse’s chairman Axel Lehmann told angry shareholders he was “truly sorry” for the collapse. Among the odd incidents during the meeting was a speaker who suggested the Credit Suisse board would have been crucified in medieval times, while another offered the board a bag of empty walnut shells, which he said cost the same as a single Credit Suisse share.
Growing the wealth
Two of the UK’s largest wealth managers have agreed to merge creating a group with over £100bn of assets under management and 40,000 clients. Rathbones will buy rival Investec Wealth for £839m. The deal is the latest consolidation in the sector as wealth managers look to scale up in the face of rising costs, higher regulation and increased competition from fintechs. Rathbones did not rule out job cuts as part of the deal and said it would aim for annual savings of at least £60m.
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit has filed for bankruptcy in the US after failing to secure long-term funding. Last month the satellite-launching startup paused operations and furloughed 85% of its staff. It comes after the failed launch of a historic mission on UK soil in January. Since then the company’s share price has plunged nearly 75% and it lost $140m from January to September of last year. Founded in 2017 Virgin Orbit was a spin-off from Sir Richard's space tourism company Virgin Galactic. The California-based firm will now look for a buyer for its assets.
Clearing the diary: The UK’s most prominent business lobbying organisation has cancelled upcoming events after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct by its staff were revealed.
Paying up: TikTok has been fined £12.7m by the UK's data watchdog for failing to protect the privacy of children.
Not out of the woods: JPMorgan's CEO said the current banking crisis is “not yet over” and its effects will be felt for years.
Shutting down: UK-based online store Book Depository is being closed down by its parent company, the US technology giant Amazon.
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Number Of The Day
The proportion of the UK’s largest public companies that have published “credible” climate transition plans, according to EY.