Friday newspaper round-up: WPP, NatWest, Amazon, UK economy

WPP is withholding hundreds of thousands of pounds in share awards from Sir Martin Sorrell after alleging that its former boss leaked “confidential information” to the media. In its annual report, the advertising group accused Sorrell of disclosing sensitive information about the company and clients in an apparent breach of his employment contract. WPP has exercised “malus” powers to withhold share-based bonuses that he would have received this year and next. – The Times
Britain’s economy is building momentum and the Bank of England is expected to sharply upgrade its annual growth forecasts next week, as a Guardian analysis shows rapid progress rolling out the Covid vaccine is fuelling a boom in consumer spending. Activity has held up better than expected after businesses adapted to life under the third national lockdown, while the reopening of non-essential retail and hospitality venues outdoors in England and Wales has benefited from pent-up demand. – Guardian

NatWest will move its headquarters out of Scotland after 294 years if the country becomes independent, chief executive Alison Rose has said. Ms Rose said the bailed-out bank would be forced to act because it is simply too big for the Scottish economy to support. The lender – which last year changed its name from Royal Bank of Scotland – holds around £770bn of assets, almost five times Scotland’s GDP. – Telegraph

Amazon’s profits have more than tripled as homebound consumers continue to shop online, companies spend heavily on digital advertising and its powerhouse cloud computing division keeps growing. The ecommerce group beat expectations on Wall Street for its latest quarter after the pandemic bolstered the dominance of its technology. – The Times

The Co-operative Group is to stop selling plastic “bags for life” because, with many shoppers using them only once, they have become as big a problem as the single-use carriers they replaced. With more than 1.5 billion “bags for life” sold each year Jo Whitfield, the chief executive of Co-op Food, said plastic pollution was a “massive issue” for retailers. “Many shoppers are regularly buying so-called “bags for life” to use just once and it’s leading to a major hike in the amount of plastic being produced,” she explained. – Guardian

ITV is in talks to bring top-flight football back to free-to-air television as it explores taking a stake in BT Sport. The broadcaster has emerged as a contender to seal a television partnership with BT, alongside Amazon, Disney and Dazn, a sports streaming challenger bankrolled by the billionaire Sir Leonard Blavatnik. – Telegraph

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