2nd September 2022
Bite-sized business news from the UK and beyond
The weather may still be mild but the Met Office has revealed the storm names for the 2022-23 season. The annual list, first launched in 2015, generally runs from early September until late August, coinciding with the beginning of autumn. Storms are named when they have the potential to cause an amber or red warning.
This year, Daisy, Glen, Khalid and Owain were chosen from suggestions by members of the public, while Betty won a public vote on Twitter.
- Boris’ nuclear farewell
- UK regulator probes Microsoft mega-deal
Boris’ nuclear farewell
In one of his last days as prime minister Boris Johnson had one more rabbit in his hat. Yesterday the outgoing Tory leader announced a £700m investment in the nuclear plant Sizewell C in Suffolk.
How did we get here?
Soaring oil and gas prices and the war in Ukraine have brought energy security to the forefront for Western governments.
Since February the UK, US and EU have announced plans to reduce the level of Russian oil and gas they import in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Unlike the EU, the UK is much less reliant on Russian energy but the knock on effects of reducing global supply have sent energy prices higher with the energy price cap set to jump by 80% for households next month.
Nuclear power, which currently generates 16% of UK electricity, is at the heart of the government’s energy strategy. The plan is to increase capacity by speeding up the construction of nuclear power plants from one per decade to one per year.
The investment in Sizewell C won’t bring energy prices down now – it won’t be up and running until the 2030s - but is a step towards tripling the UK’s homegrown, low carbon, energy production by 2050.
But not everyone agrees with the nuclear option: Critics argue that nuclear projects are too slow to build and expensive. There are also concerns over safety and nuclear waste.
Next steps: The total cost of the Sizewell C project could be around £20bn and will be developed by French energy company EDF. The negotiations for the funding to add to the government’s £700m investment is ongoing. But the final decision on the project will be up to the new PM which is expected next year.
Other stories to keep you in the loop
- Soaring US dollar pushes pound to biggest monthly fall since 2016
- Real household disposable incomes to fall by 10% this year and next
- Manufacturing output sinks at fastest rate since early months of Covid
- Twitter trials letting users edit tweets after posting
- Cash-strapped consumers opting for package holidays in tough times, says Jet2
- OnlyFans pays owner $500m after spike in users
- Premier League clubs spent record levels during transfer window
UK regulator probes Microsoft mega-deal
Yesterday the CMA, the UK’s competition regulator, announced it would launch an in-depth investigation into Microsoft’s takeover of Activision Blizzard the video game giant behind ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘World of Warcraft’.
How did we get here?
Microsoft started 2022 by announcing it had offered $70bn in an all cash deal to buy Activision, the biggest deal in not only the tech juggernaut’s history but also the gaming industry.
The rationale was to add to the company’s gaming credentials, which already includes the Xbox games console, and compete against Meta in the race to build virtual worlds aka the metaverse.
But regulators are concerned over what the deal could do to competition
A tie up of Microsoft and Activision would create the third-largest gaming firm in the world by revenue. The CMA said it’s working with its counterparts across the globe to decide if the deal would reduce competition and therefore be bad for consumers through higher prices, lower quality or less choice.
Microsoft said it was ready to work with the CMA on the "next steps".
Zooming out: Microsoft’s Big Tech peers have increasingly found themselves in the regulator hot seat. Regulators across the world are who have scrutinised Alphabet, Meta, Apple and Amazon could give Microsoft trouble as they look to rein in anti-competitive consolidation in the tech industry.
Stat of the day
US life expectancy fell nearly a year in 2021 to 76 years and one month - its lowest level since 1996
Interesting links from around the web