Today's business and finance round up 15th September 2021
📊Payroll numbers return to pre-Covid levels
15th September 2021
Good morning A bombshell report revealed Facebook gives special treatment to high-profile users, like celebs, athletes and politicians. Through a program called “XCheck” these 5.8m users, including Donald Trump and footballer Neymar, are exempt from certain rules which means that they can post content that the other 3bn Facebook users cannot.
- Payroll numbers return to pre-Covid levels
- UK and Canadian cinemas go to court
Payroll numbers return to pre-Covid levels
What’s going on?
The number of people on payroll has jumped back to levels last seen before the coronavirus pandemic hit. The figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) were the latest signal that the lifting of lockdown restrictions has driven UK businesses to ramp up hiring.
Why is this important?
There were 29.1m people on payroll in August, a rise of 241,000 from July - around the same as in February 2020.
The ONS also said the number of job vacancies between June and August reached a new record high of 1.03m, with the biggest demand for hiring seen in the hotel and restaurant sector.
But with more than 1m people still on furlough the post-Covid recovery is unevenly spread across sectors and regions.
London and the hospitality and arts sectors have been hit hardest with the numbers of workers still well below pre-pandemic levels.
The ONS also found that the overall rate of unemployment dropped by 0.3% in July to 4.6%. But there are warnings that this could change once furlough ends later this month.
The furlough scheme saw the government pay 80% of the salaries of those workers unable to work because of lockdown measures. The program helped support around 12m people at its peak.
With the end of furlough fast approaching unions are urging the government to come up with new support, particularly for sectors like aviation which are still struggling in the face of restrictions.
UK and Canadian cinemas go to court
Canadian cinema chain Cineplex and UK based Cineworld went to court this week over a failed takeover.
Cineworld had planned to buy Cineplex in December 2019 for £1.3bn. However, Cineworld called off the deal last June just as the pandemic forced cinemas to close.
Cineworld argues that it didn't drop the deal because of the pandemic, but because Cineplex breached terms of their contract which stipulated that Cineplex could not do anything that would damage the business before the deal closed.
In this case, what Cineplex allegedly did that “damaged the business” was shutting down cinemas because of a global pandemic.
Cineplex argues that Cineworld had “buyer’s remorse” because Covid-19 suddenly made cinema-going less lucrative.
The prospect of hefty damages payout to Cineplex will not sit well with Cineworld’s investors or its banks. The chain is currently facing a massive debt pile of £6bn.
An ongoing legal battle may also make the business a harder sell to US investors, with Cineworld saying last week that it is considering a listing across the pond to access fresh funds.
Stat of the day
A ticket to the Met Gala costs $35,000
Other stories to keep you in the loop
- Investment banks accelerate efforts to automate junior ‘grunt work’
- JD Sports owner’s profits soar thanks to US shoppers spending stimulus cheques
- Half a million homes to be given new energy supplier after two more go bust
- Take-up of London office space at highest level since start of Covid-19
- Intuit is buying Mailchimp for $12 billion to focus on small businesses
- Restaurant-tech company that helped eateries survive pandemics $16 billion IPO
Interesting links from around the web