The JD Sports-Footasylum saga took a surreal turn this week with revelations of an attempted incognito meeting between chairmen. The story was revealed after the Competitions and Market Authority (CMA) ordered JD Sports to sell Footasylum over competition policy. Like regulators around the world, the CMA is taking a more pro-active, hands-on approach to competition issues and monopolistic practices. The fear of a single company dominating the sports footwear market was enough to convince the regulator to take action. Following the purchase of Footasylum in April 2019, the CMA decided to force the sale to address competition concerns and protect consumers. Kip Meek, Chair ofRead More →

Does the UK want to maintain the current level of publicly listed companies or not? It really isn’t obvious when you consider the way that policy appears to face in two directions at once. On the one hand the recent listing rules review sought to tilt the playing field in favour of the management of listing companies by, for example, supporting the use of dual class share structures. This reduction in shareholder protections was taken forward on the grounds that founders should be able to shield their creations from the short-termism of investors and potential takeovers. It’s an interesting approach to amend listings rules toRead More →

Facebook has been hit with a £50.5 million fine by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) after failing to update the regulator over its dealings following the June 2020 acquisition of Giphy. It is yet another intervention in relation to competition concerns about the social media giant, highlighting growing regulatory interest in their actions. Initial enforcement orders (IEO) are commonly issued at the start of CMA investigation into completed takeovers – they do not signify guilt in and of themselves. But it does put the onus on companies to regularly report over its compliance with competition law. IEOs are in place to ensure that monopolisticRead More →

You wait a couple of decades for movement on enfranchisement of asset owners, and then two things happen in quick succession. Barely was the ink dry on the Taskforce on Pension Scheme Voting Implementation (TPSVI) report, which castigated asset managers for not facilitating client voting, when the world’s largest asset manager opened the floodgates. Last week BlackRock announced that from 2022 it will ‘expand the opportunity for clients to participate in proxy voting decisions where legally and operationally viable’, starting with its largest investors’ allocations to index strategies.At long last asset owners will be given a greater say in how some of the biggest companiesRead More →

The bidding war for the UK’s fourth largest supermarket is over with Clayton, Dubilier and Rice (CD&R) snapping up WM Morrison for GBP 9.75bn. The deal ends a battle that stretched through the summer with two rival US private equity houses in the running for the retailer. The winning bid of 287p a share was 2p a share above CD&R’s existing offer and just a penny above the 286p offered by rival consortium led by SoftBank-owned Fortress Investment. While the deal is positive for shareholders, it also represents a win for Morrison’s pension fund trustees who had insisted on additional funding for the scheme. TheRead More →

Just 18 Covid-19 workforce deaths have been disclosed by the UK’s largest public companies in their annual reports, according to research by PIRC. Covid-19 has been one of the most challenging occupational health risks in a generation. But despite the large and well-publicised figures on occupational cases and deaths in a number of sectors, only a small minority of PLCs have disclosed data. PIRC’s report, Covid-19 Deaths at Work – Where is the Data? – reviews the disclosure of Covid-19 data by FTSE100 companies in their annual reports. Some of the key findings include: 8 of the 10 largest employers in the FTSE100 did notRead More →

As any responsible investor already knows, trying to find out how companies account for climate-related risks is far from straightforward. Research from Carbon Tracker reveals 70% of the world’s biggest corporate emitters failed to disclose the effects of climate risk in 2020 financial statements. These included Chevron, Exxon Mobil, BMW, and Air France-KLM. Meanwhile 80% of their auditors showed ‘no evidence of assessing climate risk when reporting’. The report – Flying Blind: The glaring absence of climate risk in financial reporting – also found that none of the companies surveyed incorporated Paris-aligned assumptions into their financial statements. Barbara Davidson, senior analyst at Carbon Tracker andRead More →

The four largest meat processors in the US are enjoying record profits this year leading President Joe Biden to call out a lack of competition in the sector. The Biden-Harris administration points to alarming rises in the cost of meat for American consumers with the price of beef rising by 14.0%; pork by 12.1%; and poultry by 6.6% since December last year. Meanwhile gross profits for some of the leading beef, poultry, and pork processors are at their highest levels in history. A report from the US government states that Q1 2021 and Q2 2021 were the most profitable quarters in history for some ofRead More →

Keen to repeat their success in deciding the legal employment status of their workers in California via a generously-funded ballot initiative, the platform employers are at it again. The Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work, whose members include Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart Inc, is out to convince voters in the State that workers should be deemed as contractors and not full-time employees, potentially excluding them from benefits such as pensions and healthcare. If the companies are successful in getting the proposal to ballot, Massachusetts voters would follow their Californian counterparts in deciding the fate of thousands of gig workers. The Californian Proposal (Prop 22) passedRead More →

Opencast coal mining will be an industry of the past as the Northeast rejects the last of applications to continue extracting fossil fuel in this way. Neither England nor Scotland will continue opencast mining, while just two plants remain open in Wales. This represents a fall from nine mines ten years ago responsible for producing 3 million tonnes of coal. The Guardian reports that campaigners are hailing the end of opencast coal mining after The Banks Group chose not to appeal Newcastle City’s rejection of its application this week. However, while there are significant environmental benefits, workers who will find themselves unemployed as the pitsRead More →