Sunday newspaper round-up: Omicron, Cineworld, Imagination Technologies

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Omicron may yet force the health secretary to impose tougher Covid restrictions in England before Christmas. In remarks to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Sajid Javid said: “there’s a lot of uncertainty, there are gaps in the data, but we must work with the data we’ve got, we mustn’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.” The government’s Sage committee has warned that hospitalisations might peak at between 3,000 and 10,000 per day unless action is taken. – Guardian
Short sales are stacked against Cineworld with nearly 16% of the heavily-indebted cinema chain’s shares on loan to short sellers, according to data from IHS Markit. The company was ordered by a Canadian court last Wednesday to pay £722m in damages to rival Cineplex for aborting a takeover last year, sending its shares plummeting. If an appeal of the ruling is unsuccessful, which legal sources believe will be difficult to do, then the company may be forced to sell or list its US unit. – The Sunday Times

The decision by Imagination Technologies to bring Carol Chesney on board as an independent director may tip the scales in favour of a London listing for the microchip maker. Chesney sits on the board of four other London-listed outfits. Her appointment means that Imagination now meets the requirement, under UK corporate governance code, requiring that at least half of a company’s directors, aside from the chairman, be independent. Canyon Bridge, the Beijing-based investment firm that owns Imagination Technologies, is also considering giving up one of its three board seats. – The Sunday Telegraph

Drax is planning its first overseas biomass plants as part of its £3bn drive to expand overseas. The outfit is looking at locations across North American. The new plants would burn wood pellets as feedstock, combined with carbon capture and storage technology which would then remove and dispose of the C02 thus generated. – The Sunday Times

A top Lloyds banker warned that some of its technology was “not fit for purpose” when looking to the future and “a real concern”, a leaked video obtained by the Mail on Sunday revealed. On the recording, Nick Williams, one of the lender’s directors, estimated that “99 per cent” of Lloyds’s data and services was hosted on the bank’s own servers. However, there was no suggestion that Lloyd’s technology was not robust. A source close to the bank said that it had one of the lowest outage levels. – The Financial Mail on Sunday

Atom Bank is carrying out a final round of financing before its planned flotation on the London Stock Exchange, possibly as soon as 2022. The lender, whose shareholders include Schroders, Toscafund, and Spain’s BBVA, is hoping to raise at least £40m. The app-based lender raised £50m earlier in 2021 at 60.0p a share, halving its £555m valuation. Nevertheless, it reported its first monthly operating profit earlier in the year and was thought to be targeting its first full-year operating profits in 2023. – Financial Mail on Sunday

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