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Friday newspaper round-up: UK economy, Wework, Softbank

Britain’s economy is suffering the most damage since the first wave of Covid-19 as persistently high infection rates and renewed lockdown measures delay the economic recovery from the pandemic, according to a Guardian analysis. Almost a year on since the pandemic spread to Europe, focus is shifting towards how quickly coronavirus vaccines can be deployed, with the UK, for now, among countries leading the pack. Economists said this could increase the likelihood of the British economy outperforming other countries’ later this spring, depending on when lockdown restrictions are lifted. – Guardian
The leaders of Britain’s five largest business groups have warned the government that firms face “substantial difficulties” at UK ports since Brexit, with the prospect of a “significant loss of business” if the situation is allowed to continue. Following a round table meeting on Thursday evening with Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, a letter was issued by the CBI, the British Chambers of Commerce, the manufacturers’ group Make UK, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Directors. – Guardian

Peter Cruddas, the boss of CMC Markets who was once dubbed the City’s richest person, has warned that the Reddit-driven trading frenzy against shorted stocks is the new normal as traders fear the chaos could be “career threatening”. Mr Cruddas, the former Conservative Party co-treasurer, said that the Redditors’ war with Wall Street “is just the beginning of retail investor power in the financial markets”, adding: “I expect it to be the norm in the future.” – Telegraph

Wework is in talks to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company and is also exploring raising funds from private investors a little over a year after its failed stock market flotation. The office-sharing start-up is in talks with a company affiliated with Bow Capital Management and a deal could value Wework at nearly $10 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. – The Times

Four senior executives at Softbank have accumulated paper profits worth hundreds of millions of dollars through an unusual incentive scheme that gave them loans to buy large amounts of the Japanese conglomerate’s shares. By the end of March last year Marcelo Claure, chief operating officer, and Rajeev Misra, head of the Softbank Vision Fund, had each used about $250 million of loans from Softbank to buy the company’s stock, according to details of the scheme in Softbank’s annual report. – The Times

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