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Thursday newspaper round-up: Auditors, Brexit, EU tariffs, Uber

By Digital Look

Date: Thursday 18 Apr 2019

Thursday newspaper round-up: Auditors, Brexit, EU tariffs, Uber

(Sharecast News) - The competition watchdog has called for the Big Four auditors to split their auditing and consulting operations to address "serious" issues in the disgraced accounting sector, but stopped short of calling for a full break-up. Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG, which audit 97pc of all FTSE 350 companies, have faced extensive criticism for failing to flag problems in the accounts of clients including Carillion, BHS and Patisserie Valerie before their collapse. - Telegraph
A technological solution that would remove the need for a hard border in Ireland could take more than ten years to build, a leaked Home Office document published yesterday suggests. Sajid Javid, the home secretary, said in February that the only obstacle to using existing technology to avoid checks at the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland was "goodwill". - The Times

House prices grew at their slowest pace in more than six years in February as the southeast of England dragged down the rest of the market with its first fall in prices since 2011, according to official figures. Average house prices in Britain rose by 0.6 per cent to £226,000 in the year to February, according to the Office for National Statistics. - The Times

Mastercard faces mounting commercial pressure to settle a landmark £14 billion consumer rights claim, lawyers have said. Judges revived the claim, which is being made on behalf of 46 million British consumers, this week, but the financial services group plans to launch an appeal. However, lawyers said that settling the claim out of court would be a more astute strategy because Mastercard might be able to claw back some of the payout. - The Times

Tomato ketchup, handbags and video game consoles are among the US imports facing EU tariffs, as the European bloc hit back in the latest twist in the transatlantic dispute over aircraft subsidies. The European commission threatened to impose tariffs on US imports worth $20bn (£15.3bn) on Wednesday, publishing an 11-page catalogue of items at risk, which also included aircraft and tractors, following a World Trade Organization ruling against Washington last month. - Guardian

The Bank of England's powers to tackle climate change risks in the financial system could be given an overhaul to reflect the scale of the "emergency" facing the planet, John McDonnell has said. Speaking after Mark Carney, the Bank's governor, used an article in the Guardian to warn financial firms that they faced an existential risk from global warming, the shadow chancellor said Labour was exploring ways to retool Threadneedle Street. - Guardian

European lorry makers face having to cut the carbon dioxide emissions for new trucks by almost a third by 2035, while a UK government body has called for a total ban on new petrol and diesel heavy goods vehicles by 2040. Lorries are the latest target of attempts to radically reduce vehicle emissions and force the automotive industry to move away from fossil fuels amid increased concern over global warming and air pollution. - Guardian

Nigel Farage's Brexit Party has surged into the lead for the European elections, according to two opinion polls. Having formed only in January, the party has leapfrogged Labour and the Tories and eaten into Ukip's support. - The Times

Homebase expects to break even this year after closing 47 stores last year as part of a restructuring by Hilco, but management warned there could be further closures. The DIY chain said its turnaround plan was "on track" after a disastrous two years under Australian ownership. - Telegraph

Half of England is owned by less than 1% of its population, according to new data shared with the Guardian that seeks to penetrate the secrecy that has traditionally surrounded land ownership. The findings, described as "astonishingly unequal", suggest that about 25,000 landowners - typically members of the aristocracy and corporations - have control of half of the country. - Guardian

Pinterest Inc's initial public offering set the online scrapbook company's valuation at $12.7bn on Wednesday, above its expectations and a sign of strength for the tech IPO market after Lyft Inc's struggles. Pinterest, where users save ideas for clothes, décor and recipes, is due to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. Its performance will be a key test of the tech IPO market after the Nasdaq debut of ride-hailing start-up Lyft at the end of last month. - Guardian

Among the investors, Wall Street bankers and even the New York Stock Exchange itself hoping for Uber to reach a valuation of $120 billion in its highly anticipated flotation next month, one man will be pushing for it more than most. Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive of Uber, has been promised a share-based bonus that is expected to reach about $60 million if he can keep his company's valuation at the extraordinarily high figure of $120 billion for the first 90 days of trading. - The Times

Goldman Sachs has backed its first build-to-rent project in the UK, bankrolling a £184m skyscraper that is expected to be the largest residential tower in Birmingham. The investment banking giant has agreed to extend a 4.5 year, £118m debt facility to fund construction of Moda Living and Apache Capital's 42-storey Broad Street Tower. - Telegraph

Tesla is one of the most popular foreign stocks among British retail investors, according to a study of sharebuying habits. Interactive Investor, a share and fund-buying platform used by 300,000 private investors, said that only Amazon and Apple had been more popular with its clients than the electric carmaker over the past year. The finding chimes with that of Hargreaves Lansdown, which said that Tesla was the single most popular overseas stock bought by its clients last month. - The Times

Drax shareholders have rebelled against the energy giant's splurge on political lobbying last year after it sharply increased spending on networking with politicians. At the company's annual meeting in London on Wednesday, more than four in ten shareholders voted against the proposal to increase "political spending" by £100,000 to £300,000 a year. - Telegraph

Energy switching levels have risen by 12 per cent this year, allaying concerns that the government's price cap would stifle competition. More than 615,000 customers switched electricity supplier last month, up 29 per cent on the same period a year earlier, according to Energy UK. - The Times

Poor coffee farmers in central America are being hammered by a plunge in prices for the beans, which have sunk to 13-year lows. Coffee prices have been falling steadily since about 2008, driven down by a massive expansion in production, primarily from Brazil and Vietnam. - Telegraph

London's mayor has been accused of moving at a "snail's pace" in cleaning up the city's dirty diesel buses despite health warnings over pollution. Sadiq Khan's critics say he will fall far short of his target to eradicate tailpipe emissions from all buses within 18 years. Less than 2 per cent of London's buses are zero-emission vehicles. - The Times


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