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Friday newspaper round-up: Backstop, Plus500, Interserve, Amazon UK

By Digital Look

Date: Friday 15 Feb 2019

Friday newspaper round-up: Backstop, Plus500, Interserve, Amazon UK

(Sharecast News) - Britain will soften its demand that the EU reopen the Brexit withdrawal agreement to solve the Irish backstop issue. The Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay suggested to the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier during talks this week that the government could accept legal guarantees that fell short of renegotiating the draft withdrawal treaty. - The Times

Brexit has cost Britain £800 million a week since the referendum and a disorderly no-deal on March 29 could force an emergency interest rate cut to cushion the economy from further pain, a Bank of England policymaker has said. Gertjan Vlieghe, one of four external members of the nine-strong monetary policy committee, said that no-deal was likely to "lead to some economic disruption, which could possibly be severe" and that "an easing or an extended pause in monetary policy is more likely to be the appropriate policy response than a tightening". - The Times

The financial betting company Plus500 told investors it had not suffered losses from client trading activity in 2017 when it had taken a $103 million hit, raising questions about whether it may have misled shareholders. Disclosures from the FTSE 250 company this week about its finances contradict what it said in its last annual report, signed off by its chairwoman, Penny Judd, in March 2018. - The Times

Interserve will be forced to immediately hand over £66m to its lenders if its largest shareholder thwarts a controversial debt-for-equity rescue deal announced last week. The ailing government contractor could also be on the hook for payments worth tens of millions of pounds if New York hedge fund Coltrane manages to oust its finance chief, Mark Whiteling. - Telegraph

Renewable energy sources will be the world's main source of power within two decades and are establishing a foothold in the global energy system faster than any fuel in history, according to BP. The UK-based oil company said wind, solar and other renewables will account for about 30% of the world's electricity supplies by 2040, up from 25% in BP's 2040 estimates last year, and about 10% today. - Guardian

...The oil major predicted a peak in global oil demand for the first time last year, and in its latest outlook report warned that a crackdown on plastic waste, which is made from fossil fuels, could play a role in slowing oil demand. BP expects demand for oil to rise 0.3pc a year before plateauing in the 2030s. - Telegraph

The chief executive of Astrazeneca says he plans to remain in charge of the pharmaceutical company, dispelling speculation over his future. Pascal Soriot said yesterday: "I'm committed to this company for the next number of years." Spencer Stuart, the recruitment agency, has been assisting with "continued routine" succession planning, its annual report shows. - The Times

One of the City's most media-shy plutocrats has announced plans to extract as much as £111 million a year from his fund management business to pacify outside shareholders accusing him of trying to take creeping control of it. Mark Coombs, founder and chief executive of Ashmore Group, said he planned to reduce his 39 per cent stake to less than 30 per cent by selling up to four percentage points of his holding per year over the medium term. - The Times

Amazon has cancelled its plans to open a new headquarters in New York after fierce local opposition. The Seattle-based tech giant said it would back out of its proposal to open a second headquarters in New York, known as HQ2. - Telegraph

Amazon could be close to trialling its first checkout-free food stores in London in a new challenge to Britain's highly competitive grocery market. The American group is believed to have secured its first sites for Amazon Go stores in the city. They would be its first fully automated convenience stores outside of the United States. - The Times

The US government and Facebook are negotiating a settlement over the company's privacy lapses that could require the online social network to pay a multibillion-dollar fine, the Washington Post reported on Thursday. The newspaper said that the US Federal Trade Commission and Facebook had not agreed on an amount, citing two people it said were familiar with the matter. - Guardian

A Chinese financial services company that was blocked from buying a US money transfer business last year is acquiring World First, a British payments group, in a deal that tests the government's stance towards foreign takeovers. The purchase of the London-based business marks the first big acquisition in the UK by Ant Financial, the Chinese digital payments company founded by Jack Ma, 54, the billionaire internet entrepreneur. - The Times

JP Morgan Chase has become the first leading American bank to launch a digital coin, providing a vote of confidence in the technology that underpins bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. JPM coins, which have been assigned a fixed value of $1 each, will be used to send and receive money within the bank's wholesale payments business, which moves about $6 trillion every day on behalf of banks, broker-dealers and other corporate clients. - The Times

A broad new scientific analysis of the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate herbicides, the most widely used weedkilling products in the world, has found that people with high exposures to the popular pesticides have a 41% increased risk of developing a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma. - Guardian


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