Uncertainty over Brexit continues as MPs work furiously to find a way forward in Parliament. But as Brexit seems to exclude almost all other matters from the national debate, the world of business keeps on moving. Here is your round-up of commercial developments from the last week.
- Multinational firm EY has continued its expansion into the legal sector with the acquisition of a legal services business from Thomson Reuters. The latest takeover follows EY’s acquisition of tech specialist Riverview Law in 2018. Mark Weinberger, EY global chairman and chief executive, said: “This new enhanced offering will make EY one of the leading professional services organisations for global legal advisory services and legal operations services, including legal function advisory, managed services and technology. The acquisition is an example of how EY is working to provide clients with holistic solutions, which are enabled by technology.”
- Electric car maker Tesla is struggling to meet the target set by its founder, Elon Musk, to manufacture 500,000 cars annually and grow the pioneering tech business into a mass-market giant. The company made 77,100 cars from January to March, leaving a lot of catching up to do if the firm is to meet its production target. Musk has said that his company’s hopes of becoming consistently profitable hinge on its Model 3, the first Tesla car designed for the mass market. But Tesla has faced challenges, not least the cost of producing the Model 3 and logistical problems with transporting cars to markets around the world from its factories in California and China.
- The market power of tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple threaten to stifle business innovation, as well as the ability of central banks to combat recessions, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “Over the past two decades, a generally moderate but broad-based rise in corporate market power has been observed across advanced economies, driven primarily by a small fraction of firms,” it said. The IMF has called for stronger competition rules to ensure that established players do not unfairly block the entry of potential rivals.
- Fears of an economic downturn have increased after the UK services sector declined from March to February, according to the purchasing managers’ index from IHS Markit/CIPS, an influential survey of UK business. The services sector accounts for 80% of the UK economy, so any contraction in this area is worrying. Markit said the current political uncertainty over Brexit meant both businesses and consumers had reined in spending.
- Thousands of UK companies have left it to the deadline to publish their gender pay gap figures. All firms with over 250 employees are required to publish data on pay discrepancies between women and men. By the morning of 4 April, the day of the deadline, 78% of those that had already reported had a pay gap which favours men. In the legal profession, three of the magic circle reported their pay gaps ahead of the deadline – although they make grim reading.