Sunday newspaper round-up: Tiering, Virgin Orbit, Octopus Energy

by | Oct 9, 2022

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The UK’s biggest lenders may be facing a huge windfall tax as the Chancellor casts about for ways to calm financial markets, City sources said. The target may be some of the interest payments due to be paid on the hundreds of billions of pounds in deposits placed with the Bank of England, through what is known as ‘tiering’, mainly to the likes of Lloyds, NatWest and HSBC. That might net the Treasury approximately £10bn, at a cost of a fifth of major UK lenders’ annual profits, according to estimates from Numis. Nonetheless, the Treasury itself has played down the possibility of a shift towards tiering as it “risks damaging the UK’s fiscal credibility”. – The Financial Mail on Sunday
Virgin Orbit, the satellite launch outfit, is looking for fresh financing, according to its boss. Last year, the outfit raised less than half the $483m expected from through the listing of a so-called Spac in the US. The process is set to begin after its first ever launch from UK soil that is scheduled for November, although it first needs to clinch final clearance from the Civil Aviation Authority. A successful launch would mark a breakthrough for the UK, which gave up its own space launch capability in the 1970s. – The Sunday Times

A team of scientists from Octopus Energy are working at a £10m research and development centre in Slough to design heat pumps. Working like a refrigerator in reverse, they harness the energy in outside air to compress it and funnel it into peoples’ homes. They are four times more efficient than gas boilers, six times more so than burning hydrogen for heat and potentially may lead to cheaper bills. Their objective? To become the Tesla of heat pumps. – The Sunday Telegraph

Mike Ashley may have to battle former Matalan chairman and founder John Hargreaves for control of the chain. Hargreaves has already signalled his interest and one source said Ashley “will not be able to resist a pop at Matalan” for a discount price. Another source indicated that Ashley had “unfinished business” with Matalan after he was unable to strike a deal with Hargreaves back in 2006 to sell Sports Direct goods in his stores. – The Financial Mail on Sunday

The Liberal Democrats are demanding that the cabinet secretary look into whether the Chancellor’s champagne reception with hedge fund managers following the announcement of his mini-budget broke the ministerial code. Nevertheless, the Chancellor’s team have labelled as “total nonsense” any suggestion that those at the gathering might have received privileged information. According to ministerial code, ministers who discuss official business at a “social occasion”, when civil servants are not present, must inform their department as to the content of discussions as soon as practicable. – Guardian

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