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Friday newspaper round-up: Price hikes, P&O Ferries, S4 Capital

More UK businesses are preparing to raise prices than at any time since the 1980s, heaping further pressure on hard-pressed consumers amid recent increases in gas, electricity and petrol prices. The British Chambers of Commerce said its latest quarterly survey found almost two-thirds of firms expected to raise prices over the next three months, the highest since the survey began in 1989.m – Guardian
A two-week battle to hold P&O Ferries to account for the summary sacking of 786 crew members appears to have ended with a whimper, as unions said the Dubai-owned company had “got away with it” after ministers backtracked on legal action and all but one employee accepted the firm’s controversial payoff ahead of Thursday’s deadline. All of P&O Ferries’ crew working on British contracts issued out of Jersey were fired on 17 March, to be replaced by cheap agency workers. The firm gave the sacked workers a deadline of 5pm on Thursday to accept or forfeit a payoff which they said compensated for the breach of their employment rights. – Guardian

Britain’s GDP was celebrated for rising to within a hair’s breadth of its pre-Covid size as the economy grew faster than expected at the end of last year. A spending spree by Rishi Sunak, however, has masked a two-year depression in the private sector. Britain’s output grew by 1.3pc in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), better than the estimated 1pc. It left the economy just 0.1pc short of its size in the same period of 2019 – the last full quarter before the pandemic. – Telegraph

When Sir Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital digital advertising business posted bumper full-year results a year ago, the veteran industry tycoon was talking up the company’s “sweet spot”. The pandemic was driving demand for digital marketing expertise and bolstering its strong performance against traditional rivals, while S4 was bringing in “whopper” clients and launching its latest acquisition. S4, Sorrell said, was “in the right place at the right time”. – The Times

The two most senior directors who were in charge of Vectura, the respiratory drugs firm, at the time of its £1 billion takeover by Philip Morris International have stepped down. Will Downie and Paul Fry quit their respective roles as chief executive and chief financial officer following the completion of the deal with the maker of Marlboro cigarettes last year. The bid provoked a fierce backlash from public health experts.- The Times

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