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Workspace firm IWG considering multibillion pound break-up

Serviced offices firm IWG is considering splitting into several different companies.

Mark Dixon, founder of the Regus and Spaces operator, is examining different options to bring value to shareholders, Sky News has reported.

The founder is reportedly looking at options including a US listing for Worka, an app that helps users compare and book workspaces across the world.

That listing could be achieved through a flotation or merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), insiders told Sky News.

Plans could also include separating IWG’s owned-property arm from its global franchising operation.

It was reported that it was not the case that Dixon would take the property company private himself.

He is reported to believe the true value of the company’s assets is double its £2.9bn market capitalisation sum.

IWG’s corporate brokers, Barclays and HSBC, IWG’s corporate brokers, are reportedly involved. 

What’s more, Rothschild is thought to be discussing the US listing with Dixon.

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Categories: City of London

Panic buying: Almost a third of BP petrol stations running on empty

Nearly a third of BP’s British petrol stations have run out of the two main grades of fuel, the oil company said.

Motorists queued up at petrol stations over the weekend as Brits panic-bought fuel despite ministers’ insistence that there was no shortage. 

Oil firms had reported that a lack of delivery drivers was causing transport problems from refineries to forecourts.

Some operators have had to ration supplies and others to close gas stations.

“With the intense demand seen over the past two days, we estimate that around 30 per cent of sites in this network do not currently have either of the main grades of fuel,” BP, which operates 1,200 sites in the UK, said on Sunday.

The company said it was working to resupply “as rapidly as possible.”

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said shortages were simply caused by panic buying and would resolve itself shortly.

“There’s plenty of fuel, there’s no shortage of the fuel within the country,” Shapps told Sky News.

“So the most important thing is actually that people carry on as they normally would and fill up their cars when they normally would, then you won’t have queues and you won’t have shortages at the pump either.”

The Department for Transport announced it would make 5,000 visas available to HGV drivers and 5,500 available to poultry workers until Christmas.

The government also said on Saturday that it would train up to 4,000 people as new HGV drivers over the next 12 weeks.

Other measures include writing to almost 1m drivers who currently hold a HGV driving licence, to urge them back into the sector.

Industry bosses said the measures were not enough to solve a shortfall of around 100,000 drivers and urged for further action.

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Categories: City of London

Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham: Gunners defeat north London rivals at Emirates Stadium

BBC London News Feed - 3 hours 24 min ago
Arsenal score three times in the opening 35 minutes as they beat north London rivals Tottenham at a jubilant Emirates Stadium.

German elections: Conservatives and social democrats tied

Germany’s CDU/CSU conservatives and their Social Democrat rivals were tied in Sunday’s national election, according to an exit poll.

Polls closed at 6pm in local time (4pm BST) as Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to stand down after 16 years in power.

The centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) were on track for 25.5 per cent of the vote, ahead of 24.5 per cent for Merkel’s CDU/CSU conservative bloc, projections for broadcaster ARD showed.

“The SPD is back. We are where we belong,” SPD secretary geeneral Lars Klingbeil said shortly after first exit polls. He said the polls showed the SPD and its chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz had the mandate to govern.

However, both parties believed they could win.

Political leaders will be looking to have informal discussions with the smaller parties, the Greens and liberal Free Democrats (FDP), who took 15 per cent and 11 per cent of the vote respectively.

But coalition negotiations could take months to formalise, leaving Merkel in a caretaker role.

“This will be all about striking deals among multiple players, and several options seem possible,” said Carsten Nickel at Teneo, a political risk consultancy. “The talks could take some time.”

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Categories: City of London

West Ham 4-0 Leicester: Claudia Walker & Tameka Yallop score for Hammers

BBC London News Feed - 4 hours 55 min ago
West Ham comfortably beat Leicester to record their first Women's Super League win of the season.

Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Reading: Rehanne Skinner's side make it three wins from three

BBC London News Feed - 5 hours 49 min ago
Tottenham extend their unbeaten run to three matches as they beat Reading in the Women's Super League.

Iceland elects Europe's first parliament with more women than men

In a historic election result, Iceland is set to become the first European nation to elect more women than men to parliament. 

Women have won 33 of the 63 seats in the Althingi, meaning they will make up 52 per cent of the parliament, according to projections based on the final election results.

This marks an increase from the 24 female representatives elected in the last election in 2017.

Sweden and Iceland are the European countries to come the closest to the 50 per cent gender threshold, at 47 per cent and 46 per cent, respectively.

The election saw Iceland’s ruling left-right coalition strengthen its majority, led by Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir.

The coalition bolstered its total count of seats 37 in the 63-seat parliament Althingi, according to state broadcaster RUV.

This was down to a drive in support for the centre-right Progressive Party, while it appeared Jakobsdottir’s party, the Left Green Movement, would lose some seats.

Iceland does not have legal quotas on female representation in parliament but some parties have minimum gender thresholds for candidates.

Just three other countries – Rwanda, Cuba and United Arab Emirates – had more women than men in parliament, according to data organised by the World Bank last year.

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Categories: City of London

Manchester United 1-6 Chelsea: Kirby scores 50th WSL goal in emphatic win

BBC London News Feed - 7 hours 29 min ago
Chelsea issue a statement of intent to their Women's Super League title rivals as the champions ruthlessly end Manchester United's unbeaten start to the season.

Government to scale up nuclear power production after ‘years of dithering’

The government will back a rapid expansion of the UK’s nuclear energy production after “years of dithering” as the energy crisis prompts it to strengthen the country’s electricity supply.

Ministers are understood to have zeroed in on nuclear energy as a means to helping the government achieve its net zero target by 2050, according to The Sunday Times.

More to follow.

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Categories: City of London

Status Quo bassist Alan Lancaster dies aged 72

BBC London News Feed - 8 hours 24 min ago
Lead singer Francis Rossi calls Lancaster an integral part of the band's sound and success.

Food shortages: Temporary visas 'too little, too late' to save Christmas

Retail bosses have warned the government’s temporary visas for HGV drivers falls dramatically short of what supermarkets need for Christmas, warning of shortages and disruption.

The Department for Transport announced it would make 5,000 visas available to HGV drivers and 5,500 available to poultry workers until Christmas.

For months, supermarket bosses have warned empty shelves could become the norm in the lead up to the festive period, as they struggle with a shortfall of some 100,000 HGV drivers.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said the limit of 5,000 would “do little to alleviate the current shortfall.”

Supermarkets alone would need at least 15,000 drivers to operate at full capacity this autumn and to “avoid disruption or availability issues,” Opie said.

The BRC called on the government to extend the “size and scope” of the policy to drivers in all sectors of the retail sector. “Christmas is about more than just food,” Opie added.

Under the existing visa scheme, workers will now be able to come to the UK for three months in the run-up to the festive period, to provide short-term relief.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said it was “not true” that there would be no turkeys this Christmas because of the driver shortage, speaking on Sky News on Sunday.  

However, retail bosses have warned there may be food shortages and supply issues to come.

Scotland Food & Drink chief executive, James Withers, said the move felt “more like an attempt to fix bad headlines than fix the actual problem.”

“While recognition of pressures in the haulage and poultry sector is welcome, this is a problem throughout the food supply chain and I seriously doubt that 10,000 three-month visas are going to cut it. It may help the driver situation a little but it won’t address the chronic staff shortage in food production.”

Withers said it was frustrating that there had been a lack of action on the issue “until even more gaps appeared on supermarket shelves and cars started queuing for fuel,” despite months of pleading for help.

“At this stage, my instinct is that this is too little, too late to make a real difference to the Christmas trade,” he warned.

However, the Food and Drink Federation’s chief executive, Ian Wright CBE, welcomed the move and said it would “alleviate some of the pressure” on the supply chain.

“This is a start but we need the government to continue to collaborate with industry and seek additional long term solutions,” he added.

The government said on Saturday that it would train up to 4,000 people as new HGV drivers over the next 12 weeks.

Other measures include writing to almost 1m drivers who currently hold a HGV driving licence, to urge them back into the sector.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said the changes would “barely scratch the surface of the desperate labour shortages facing our economy.”

Matthew Fell, chief policy director for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said the “limited scope” of the announcement came as a shock.

Fell added: “Businesses are playing their part. Many are stepping up investment in training, widening talent pools and doubling down on investment in digital and automation.

“Yet the scale of the challenges facing businesses on multiple fronts underlines the need for a COBRA-like Cabinet committee for recovery, enabling much faster action to alleviate short-term pressures.”

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Categories: City of London

MPs speak out as Morrisons bidder plans to run grocer from Cayman Islands

The private equity eyeing supermarket Morrisons has lined up an entity in the tax haven Grand Cayman to run the supermarket giant, bid documents have revealed.

Cross-party MPs have urged Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) to assure it will pay UK corporate tax rates on Morrisons’ turnover, the Sunday Times reported.

CD&R revealed full details of its recommended £10bn bid before a vote by Morrisons shareholders, outlining that an entity called Market21 GP Holdings had been lined up in the Cayman Islands.

Conservative back-bencher Kevin Hollinrake said he would write to former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy, who is leading CD&R’s bid, for assurance the firm will not dodge UK taxes. 

“We should expect CD&R to set out very clearly that they’re going to pay UK rates of corporation tax,” Hollinrake said.

Darren Jones, a Labour MP who chairs the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, told the newspaper: “The idea that private equity can just sweep in, buy up British businesses and then move them off-shore to reduce the amount of tax they pay, without any rules or regulatory interventions, is just madness and an insult to British taxpayers.”

It comes after Asda was owned offshore through an entity based in Jersey, following its acquisition by billionaires the Issa Brothers.

A CD&R spokesperson said the supermarket would “remain registered in the UK, headquartered in the UK and continue to pay taxes in the UK,” if the firm’s bid was successful.

Morrisons paid £47m in UK corporation tax in its latest financial year, down from £60m in 2020.

The offer has been recommended by board members but still faces the threat of a challenge by rival buyout firm Fortress, with potential for blind bids next month.

The documents set out that bankers, lawyers and public relations advisers were set to receive fees of more than £400m if the bid succeeds. CD&R’s bid values Morrisons at £9.7bn including debt.

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Categories: City of London

TV channels go off air after fire alarm

BBC London News Feed - 9 hours 40 min ago
Channel 4 and Channel 5 were among those affected following a fire alarm at a London broadcast centre.

Unilever remote staff must have 24-hour commute to the office

City of London News Stream by Cityam - 10 hours 29 min ago

Unilever has told its remote workers they must not stray too far from the office and should live within a 24-hour commute.

The Dove owner has told employees they must be able to come into the office at a day’s notice if required for an emergency meeting. 

The company has defined a 24-hour trip as a “reasonable commute” for workers, according to The Sunday Times.

Since early Covid lockdowns, many remote workers have moved homes and some even continents. Now, companies are keen to see office workers return on a hybrid basis. 

Unilever – which oversees more than 400 brands including Lynx and Ben & Jerry’s – employs some 150,000 workers, with 6,000 based in the UK.

Online streaming service Spotify has told employees they can work remotely from another country if they want to.

Other bosses have been stricter with employees and instructed them to come into an office at least a few days a week.

Unilever’s chief human resources officer, Leena Nair, told The Sunday Times: “People are constantly asking: ‘can I work from another country?’ Well, that depends on various factors like tax and other things, but also, you have to be willing to come to your place of work within 24 hours.”

Unilever staff have been told to work with other staff members on when to come into the office, rather than making individual decisions based on personal preference for childcare or other factors.

“Scheduling our presence in the office is a team sport,” Nair added.

Among Unilever’s staff across the world, employees under 30 and over 50 were most raring to return to the office. Staff members with children to look after were more likely to ask for flexibility with working.

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Categories: City of London

Alex Yee and Georgia Taylor-Brown win Super League Triathlon titles

BBC London News Feed - 11 hours 3 min ago
Great Britain's Alex Yee and Georgie Taylor-Brown claim the Super League Triathlon Championship titles in gripping fashion.

Fulham celebrate goal with fan Rhys Porter, 13, after he was abused online

BBC London News Feed - 12 hours 8 min ago
Fulham's players celebrate their goal in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Bristol City with Rhys Porter, a 13-year-old fan who was abused online.

Hauliers and poultry workers to get temporary visas

BBC London News Feed - 12 hours 32 min ago
Some 10,500 foreign lorry drivers and poultry workers will be able to work in the UK until Christmas Eve.

Sabina Nessa: Man arrested on suspicion of murder

BBC London News Feed - 12 hours 52 min ago
A 36-year-old was arrested on Sunday in what police describe as a "significant development".