Sunday newspaper round-up: ‘Right to buy’, HSBC, IAG

by | May 2, 2022

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The Prime Minister is planning to give approximately 2.5 million Britons the right to buy the homes that they currently rent from housing associations. Boris Johnson ordered that planning start during the past fortnight, convinced that it would help “generation rent”. Connected to the above, officials are also pursuing an idea by which tens of billions of pounds used by government to finance housing benefits would be funneled into helping recipients get mortgages. Details of the policy have surfaced ahead of what may be bruising local election results for Conservatives on Thursday. – Sunday Telegraph
Chinese insurer Ping An is calling for an investor debate on the future of HSBC, Britain’s largest lender. The Chinese insurer is the largest shareholder in HSBC, holding a 9.2% stake, and has been privately calling on the FTSE 100 lender to splits its Asian operations from the rest. Ping An believes that the geopolitical tensions between the US and UK, on one side, and China on the other are weighing on HSBC’s share price. HSBC however disagrees with a spokesman having stated that “”We believe we’ve got the right strategy and are focused on executing it.” – The Times

Directors at IAG are said to have discussed asking British Airways boss Sean Doyle to leave following a string of failures, including the cancellation of hundreds of flights recently. Rocketing prices for jet fuel and disruptions to flights recently led analysts at Peel Hunt to halve their annual profit forecast from £839m to £416m. According to analyst Chris Tarry, the pressure on Doyle is “huge”. “We’re moving to a stage where BA’s reputation is continuing to decline,” he said. “You look at the short notice of cancellations and it is very disruptive. It is easier and costs less to retain a passenger than to win them back.” – The Financial Mail on Sunday

Business leaders’ optimism in the economy has dropped sharply since February, the results of a survey by the Institute of Directors shows. The IoD’s index of business leaders’ optimism fell from a reading of -4 in February to -36 in April. Their concern is that the cost-of-living crisis and precipitous decline in consumer confidence will inflict greater harm than previously forecast, hence raising the odds of a recession. Analysts in the City and economists are both increasingly worried that the country’s rebound from the pandemic is petering out due to the drag from higher prices for gas, electricity, petrol and food, together with staff shortages in many industries. In turn, the Bank of England is having to raise rates in response. – Guardian

Veteran stockpicker Warren Buffett has taken out a $5.6bn or 9.5% stake in videogame maker Activision Blizzard, although the company’s takeover by Microsoft faces tough regulatory scrutiny. That was up from the 1.9% held at the end of 2021. The company that Buffett leads, Berkshire Hathaway, spent $51bn on acquisitions during the first quarter and sold stock worth $9.7bn, as per a filing published at the weekend. The volume of net purchases by Berkshire haven’t been as high since 2008, according to Bloomberg. Berkshire had been a net seller during the pandemic due to Buffett’s concerns about stock market valuations. – The Times

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