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Sunday newspaper round-up: Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Rolls-Royce

By Alexander Bueso

Date: Sunday 16 May 2021

Sunday newspaper round-up: Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Rolls-Royce

(Sharecast News) - Pfizer's most senior UK executive has criticised the call to forgo patents on Covid vaccines, warning that it would lead to a global shortage of raw materials. Ben Osborn, who leads the American drugs giant in the UK, said an intellectual-property waiver was "not the answer". "We would see a very rapid short-term impact," he said. "It could allow any organisation to start procuring some of these basic raw materials across multiple countries." Osborn, 44, said it could even mean that existing vaccine manufacturers - which include Astra Zeneca and US biotech venture Moderna - would be unable to fulfil their obligations to deliver doses. - Sunday Times
American hedge fund Elliott Management has told GlaxoSmithKline's investors that "change is coming" as the activist prepares to demand a shake-up at the top of the drug maker. Sources said that executives from the New York-based firm have told major GSK shareholders that their campaign against the British pharmaceuticals giant "will not be passive" in a sign of a major clash ahead. It is thought that Elliott could take aim at the drug maker's chief executive Emma Walmsley over concerns about her leadership and lack of a scientific background. - Sunday Telegraph

A consortium led by Rolls-Royce is on the hunt for orders for its £2billion nuclear reactors after a redesign that means each will power 100,000 more homes. The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the UK Small Modular Reactor (SMR) project has revamped the proposed mini reactors to increase their output. The factory-built reactors will now generate 470 megawatts, enough to provide electricity to a million homes. The project, launched in 2015, aims to bring ten mini nuclear reactors into use by 2035, with the first due to enter service around 2030. - Financial Mail on Sunday

The owner of a historic tungsten mine in Devon backed by the City's former "king of mining" has laid the groundwork for a £100 million AIM float, writes Jamie Nimmo. Tungsten West, which counts former JP Morgan rainmaker Ian Hannam and Moneysupermarket co-founder Simon Nixon as investors, is hoping to raise up to £20 million in equity, with a further £40 million in debt financing, to enable it to resume production next year at the Hemerdon mine on the edge of Dartmoor - one of the biggest tungsten deposits outside China. It comes as Britain seeks home-grown sources of critical raw materials for key industries, such as defence, which uses tungsten in bullets and missiles. - Sunday Times

Foreign holidays are "not a good idea" this year, a leading University of Oxford professor and government vaccine adviser has warned - instead, he suggested people should get used to Cornwall and Bournemouth. The warning by Sir John Bell, regius chair of medicine at the University of Oxford, was echoed by Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, who said people should not go to "amber" countries like Italy, Spain and Greece unless "absolutely necessary" despite the UK's foreign travel ban ending on Monday. - Sunday Telegraph

Sweeping reforms to bring the railway's track and trains together under a new Great British Railways will be set out this week - but reforms of fares will be limited, with the industry braced to have its budget slashed. The Treasury is understood to be demanding cost cuts of between 10% and 20% after expanding its subsidy to the rail industry by £10bn during the Covid-19 pandemic as fare revenue dropped away. Unions have warned they will fight cuts to maintenance budgets and workforce terms and conditions. - Guardian

The former boss of Greene King is said to be running the rule over a group of 700 pubs worth £200 million, as the leisure veteran makes his return to the sector. Rooney Anand, who led Greene King for 14 years until he stepped down in 2019, is understood to be among parties looking at Hawthorn Leisure, which is being offloaded by NewRiver, the FTSE 250 property group. NewRiver, led by Allan Lockhart, said last month that it was planning to spin off Hawthorn Leisure as a separate business via a listing on AIM, with Jefferies and Liberum advising. However, the group is also understood to be considering options including a sale through its adviser, Kinmont. - Sunday Times

Santander has apologised for a "technical problem" which left some customers unable to make payments online or buy food at the supermarket on Saturday, although the bank said its services had returned to normal by the late evening. Customers have reported problems with the bank's telephone, branch, online and card services. Consumer organisation Which? said some people had reported not being able to make payments for several hours. The bank has advised customers they can access cash from other banks' ATMs. - Guardian

The commodities boom ignited by China's post-Covid recovery, and stoked by the global move to green energy, broke price records last week even as fears about inflation stalked the markets. But it also risks triggering a rush on metals and minerals that could derail climate action. Iron ore reached the apex of a super-rally that drove prices to $237.57 a tonne in New York on Wednesday. The record followed a surge in demand from China's steel-making regions, now recovering after the pandemic, which has pushed prices up from less than $94 this time last year. - Guardian

Nicola Sturgeon is on a collision course with union bosses over plans to seize control of Scotland's railways. The SNP will nationalise Scotland's train lines from 2022 following criticism over cancellations and performance levels under Dutch firm Abellio. Scottish ministers will appoint an "operator of last resort" to run services in a move that allows Holyrood to avoid putting the network out to tender. - Sunday Telegraph

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