Daily business and finance update 8th August 2023
Doubt over battery deal
Good morning. Today we're talking about the UK battery plant deal hanging in the balance, Zoom orders workers back to the office and London stays top of UK competitiveness rankings.
Doubt over battery deal
The Australian firm which was meant to buy failed battery start-up Britishvolt has missed the deadline to pay for the business. Recharge Industries has yet to make the final payment of £8.6m according to administrators EY meaning it is in default of the sale agreement. Britishvolt collapsed in March after failing to secure enough funding. The firm had been planning to produce large-scale batteries for electric vehicles in Northumberland and was a crucial part of the UK’s plan to transition away from petrol and diesel cars. It is not yet clear what will happen next. Recharge could still make the final payment and complete the deal, but it is also possible that the administrators will sell Britishvolt to another buyer.
Zooming back to the office
Zoom, the video conferencing company that helped to usher in the remote work revolution during the pandemic, is now asking its employees to return to the office. The company is requiring employees who live within 50 miles of an office to work in-person at least two days a week affecting its 8,000 employees at 12 offices worldwide, including in the UK where it has about 200 staff and offices in London. Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said that the company believes a "structured hybrid approach" is the best way to ensure that Zoom can continue to innovate and support its global customers. The company is not alone in its decision to bring employees back to the office. In recent months, a number of other tech companies, including Google, Twitter and Meta, have also announced plans to require employees to return to the office.
London leads UK competitiveness
The London economy and parts of the south-east have become more attractive to investors than the rest of Britain over the past year, according to an academic study. The research, conducted by the University of Cardiff and Nottingham Business School, analysed 362 regions across England, Wales and Scotland, found that nine out of the ten most competitive regions in the UK are in London. Only East Anglia and Cambridgeshire managed to keep pace with the capital, which the report’s authors said was due to their proximity to London. Camden received recognition for its cultural vibrancy, appealing to entrepreneurs and high-skilled professionals, while Hackney surged 10 places in the rankings due to a rise in start-up activity. In contrast lower ranked regions like East Lindsey, were often characterised by reliance on agriculture, Brexit-related labour challenges, and the decline of certain economic sectors over the past two decades.
Housing slide: The value of a home in south-east England has dropped by £15,500 over a year after the region recorded the sharpest fall in house prices in July.
Billionaire battle: Mark Zuckerberg has said he is “not holding his breath” over a proposed cage fight with Elon Musk, as he revealed that he had suggested a date of 26 August for the contest.
Pints in situ: Pubs will not be allowed to sell takeaway pints from the end of next month as rules which were introduced during the pandemic will be allowed to expire by the government.
The total bonuses Taylor Swift gave to workers for the US leg of her Eras tour. Staff including dancers, sound technicians and catering were given six figure sums.
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