Facebook, mortgages, aerospace sector at risk, Fiat Chrysler and PCA merger: your commercial news round-up

updated on 29 October 2020

International footballer Marcus Rashford’s petition to end child food poverty has reached more than 1,060,000 signatures so far, as his mission to get the UK government to provide free lunches to poor families in England during the school holidays continues. Meanwhile, global stock markets slumped for the second time this week, as concerns about the pandemic’s impact on economic recoveries heighten.

Below are some additional updates from the business and legal worlds.

  • Facebook is facing legal action, following its failure to protect almost one million users’ personal data in England and Wales in the Cambridge Analytica breach. By taking data without consent, it will be argued that Facebook failed to meet its legal obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998. A spokesperson for the firm said: “We have not received any documents regarding this claim. The Information Commissioner's Office investigation into these issues, which included seizing and interrogating Cambridge Analytica's servers, found no evidence that any UK or EU users' data was transferred by Dr Kogan to Cambridge Analytica.” Google is facing a similar mass action law suit.
  • According to the Bank of England, mortgage approvals rose from 85,500 in August to 91,500 in September, hitting a 13-year high. Pent-up demand and the government’s stamp duty holiday drove the upsurge in approvals, making it the highest number since September 2007 and 24% higher than mortgage approvals in February 2020.
  • The UK’s £34 billion aerospace sector is at risk if a deal with the European Union is not reached, according to the aviation trade body ADS. The sector, which has already been hit hard by the pandemic as aircraft orders diminished to nearly zero in September, will face uncertainty if ministers do not agree a mutual recognition deal on aircraft parts with the European Union. With trade negotiation priorities lying elsewhere, manufacturers could face additional costs and complexities going forward. Speaking to the BBC, ADS chief executive Paul Everitt said: "Even with a deal we are facing significant additional costs”, adding, “it gets worse if there's no deal." In addition, Britain’s car industry experienced its worst September in 25 years. Chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Ltd (SMMT) Mike Hawes has urged negotiators to agree a deal “urgently” to ensure that Britain can continue to export cars tariff-free to the bloc’s countries. Hawes said a no deal would have a “devastating” impact on the already strained industry, “its workers and their families”.
  • Meanwhile, a £29 billion merger between Fiat Chrysler and PSA, which will make it the world’s fourth largest carmaker, is set to receive the green light from the European Commission, Reuters has heard. If approved the two companies would merge to create Stellantis, having argued that merging will enable investment in greener models and cut annual costs by €5 billion.

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