Trade talks, Thomas Cook, Uber, Job Retention Scheme, Vitality, e-sports: your commercial news round-up

updated on 10 September 2020

As the autumn term is fast approaching and social gathering rules are updated, this commercial news round-up outlines some of the week’s interesting news to help you develop your commercial awareness.

  • Emergency talks between the UK and EU will take place later following the government’s plans to override key elements of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. The EU has requested “clarifications” on the agreement’s implementation, focusing its main concern on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s proposed Internal Market Bill, which was published on Wednesday. Meanwhile, speaking at an event earlier in the week former president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said that the UK and EU are unlikely to reach a trade agreement in the next few months as trade talks continue.
  • Following Thomas Cook’s collapse last year, the travel agent could be relaunched as early as this month. Fosun – the Chinese conglomerate that bought the firm’s name and IP assets for £11 million – plans to relaunch the company as an online travel agent. The launch could come as the travel industry attempts to weather the worst crisis it has faced in its history as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt the industry on a global sale.
  • In a bid to address climate change, ride-hailing firm Uber has pledged to make all taxis that are available via its app electric by 2040, with Uber in the US, Canada and European cities aiming to do so by 2030. The firm will spend £614 million to implement the plan. Uber’s Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said: “While we're not the first to set ambitious goals in transitioning to [electric vehicles], we intend to be the first to make it happen.”
  • Of the £35.4 billion that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has so far cost the government up to £3.5 billion worth of payments may have been fraudulent claims or errors, the government has revealed. According to HM Revenue and customs an estimated 5-10% of furlough cash should not have been awarded: “That will range from deliberate fraud through to error”, according to HMRC’s permanent secretary Jim Harra.
  • Health and insurance company Vitality has recently announced new deals with six football clubs, including both the men’s and women’s teams as part of its commitment to improving the representation and visibility of women in sport. Vitality CEO Neville Koopowitz said: “Today’s announcement affirms our commitment to the women’s game and our aspiration to inspire many more women and girls to get and stay physically active. There has never been a more important time to get involved in women’s football, and including both the women’s and men’s teams in our football partnerships acknowledges the stark difference between how active men and women are, and the negative impact that covid-19 has had on women’s activity levels.

“By working with the clubs we hope to drive visibility of both the women and men’s team, showcasing this great sport and encouraging millions more people to get active and play football, which is all in line with our core purpose to make people healthier and enhance and protect their lives.”

  • Guild Esports, which will be the first UK e-sport company to enable fans to put money into backing its teams of gamers, wants to raise £20 million by listing its shares on the London Stock Exchange. The firm, which David Beckham has a large stake in, plans to field teams in global online games, including Fortnite, Rocket League and Fifa. Following a month of the shares being offered only to large investors, they will then trade freely on the stock market with plans to use the funds generated from the initial share placing to expand the business.

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