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Tuesday's Business and Politics round-up

24 Apr 2018

Person reading a daily news round up on their tablet

Good morning!

Fetch the bunting, pop the champagne: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, has given birth to a healthy baby boy.

We were treated, yesterday, to a swaddling blanket of coverage, with a mass of royal enthusiasts huddled outside the hospital, to catch a glimpse of the new fifth-in-line-to-the-throne. Prince William joked that the birth signalled "thrice the worry".

Many papers' front pages this morning include pictures of the new-born, however the Sun wins the prize for its caption: "Cry, for Mummy, England, and St George".

For those less than persuaded that this event constitutes news, you may prefer the Indy's reporting - sardonically entitled "Woman gives birth to boy".

Bets are still on for the name, with classic appellations currently on the shortest odds. Arthur currently leads, with Albert, Thomas, James, and Philip also possibilities.

All bets are off, meanwhile, over the Government's stance on customs: will it named something traditional, like partnership or union?  Or will we hear something  new-fangled, like "max-fac"?

William Hague's column this morning in the Daily Telegraph urges his former colleagues in the Commons to step back from brinkmanship on the customs issue. Which potential solution does he point to in particular? The IoD's partial customs union proposal, as outlined by Head of Europe and Trade Policy Allie Renison.


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Unhappy customers 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is to meet with leaders of the Jewish community this evening in Westminster, to address concerns around anti-Semitism in his party.

Corbyn will meet with the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council. The two groups believe the party has done little to tackle the issue, which became inflamed when it emerged that Corbyn had commented supportively on a Facebook post depicting a mural with anti-Semitic tropes.

The Labour leader has apologised for the pain caused by "pockets" of anti-Semitism, and said the wished to "rebuild" confidence among Jewish groups.

He has received calls to expel former London mayor Ken Livingstone from the party, who has been suspended since 2016 for claiming Adolf Hitler supported a Jewish homeland in the 1930s.

Easy as A, B, C

Tech giant Alphabet has posted bumper quarterly profits, allaying fears that recent scandals over data security would affect the bottom line at companies reliant on digital information.

Alphabet, which owns internet services company Google, reported almost $10bn worth of earnings over the first three months of the of the year. This was up from $5.4bn in the first quarter of last year. Revenue was also up, to over $30bn.

Shares in Alphabet rose by 3.4% following the news, and the company's value now touches $750bn, making it the second most-valuable company in the world, after Apple.

While reports suggest the giant's effective tax rate has fallen with Trump's cuts to corporation tax, Alphabet's particular success over the period has largely been ascribed to sunny figures from digital advertising sales. Significantly, this relies on the processing of customer data on vast scales.

Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Baird, said there were "obvious concerns around data privacy and regulatory risks, but that "our checks report little, if any, pullback in social media ad budgets."

Capita assets

Outsourcing giant Capita has sought to raise £700m, as it implements a restructuring programme aimed to return it to the black. This follows its report yesterday of an annual loss of over £500m.

The firm will raise funds through a rights issue, which will see existing shareholders offered the opportunity to buy further securities in the company.

Revenues also fell for the company over the year - by 4% to £2.4bn - however share srose yesterday, as the firm seeks to recast its modus operandi. Over the past year, share prices have dropped by 70%.

Capita is responsible for various high profile operations, such as collecting the BBC license fee, and London's congestion charge. However, chief executive Jon Lewis has been at pains to dismiss comparisons to defunct contracting company Carillion.

"We are a completely different business. We have £1bn in liquidity, strong cashflow, and a new strategy with investor support. We are not on PFI contracts and have nothing like the risk profile," said Lewis.

He added: "We need to simplify Capita by focusing on growth markets and to improve our cost competitiveness."

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Donjeta Miftari, Media Relations Manager

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Euan Holmes, Press Officer

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