Daily business and finance update 6th March 2023
Good morning. How Swiss is Toblerone? Well not Swiss enough according to the authorities who have ruled that the chocolate brand must remove Alpine peak the Matterhorn from its packaging after the owners moved production out of Switzerland.
After months of deliberation British chip designer Arm has shunned London in favour of listing in New York. The Cambridge-based company, whose tech is inside almost every smartphone, used to be listed in London before being taken over by Japanese conglomerate Softbank in 2016. On Friday it confirmed it’s planning a listing across the pond with a valuation in the wide range of $30-70bn. The UK government, including the PM and former Goldman Sachs banker Rishi Sunak, has been trying to persuade the company to relist in London. But insiders said the persistent political instability and too shallow an investor base in London made New York more attractive. It’s a big loss for London and it heightens concerns that the UK market is not competitive internationally.
‘Weird’ culture causes shortages
The government’s food strategy advisor has blamed the UK’s ‘weird supermarket culture’ for recent fruit and veg shortages. The founder of the restaurant chain Leon, Henry Dimbleby, said Europe was not facing such issues because there, unlike the UK, grocers don’t pay a fixed price for some produce, whether there is a glut or shortage. These fixed-price contracts between supermarkets and suppliers means that when food is scarce, some producers sell less to the UK and more elsewhere in Europe. It also means that farmers are not motivated to grow more produce when demand is high or lower prices when there is oversupply.
Amazon pauses HQ2
The tech giant said it would suspend construction of its second headquarters in the US state of Virginia, originally intended to accommodate 25,000 workers. The project, known as PenPlace, includes three 22-story buildings, a 350-foot helix tower, and over 100,000 square feet of retail space. The company promised to boost the local economy in exchange for $800m in tax benefits and infrastructure improvements. The decision to pause follows Amazon’s announcement of 18,000 layoffs in January amid a broader slowdown in tech, and raises questions about the future of the mega-campuses that many tech companies invested heavily in prior to the pandemic.
World getting bigger
More than half of the global population will be obese or overweight by 2035 barring significant action, the World Obesity Federation warned. That’s due to people eating more unhealthy, highly-processed foods and doing less physical activity. That’s been true of wealthy countries for years, now the same trends are emerging in low-and-middle-income countries, with obesity rates expected to climb particularly quickly among children and teenagers in Asia and Africa. An increase in obesity rates would cost the global economy more than $4tr (or nearly 3% of the world’s total GDP), largely from added healthcare costs and reduced productivity.
On the rise: Rightmove, the UK’s largest property portal, saw its operating profits rise to £241m as the group revealed it was “not materially affected” by the difficult property market.
Call ended: Zoom has unceremoniously axed the president it hired less than a year ago "without cause".
Goal setting: China has set an official economic growth target of “around 5%” for 2023, as it seeks to revive the world’s second-largest economy after a year of tepid growth because of pandemic measures.
Rising fares: Train fares in England and Wales rose by 5.9% yesterday, the biggest increase since 2012.
Number Of The Day
The price of a first class stamp from next month, rising to above £1 for the first time.