Here’s the key business news from London-listed companies this morning.
(Bloomberg) — Here’s the key business news from London-listed companies this morning.
Retail Sales: The volume of goods sold in stores and online fell 0.5% from April, as soaring food prices and the wider cost-of-living crisis forced consumer to cut back on spending.
- The drop, the third in the last four months, was driven by a 1.6% fall in food sales, particularly at large supermarkets
AIB Group Plc : The Irish government will extend its trading plan to sell down its stake in the bank to late January 2023 instead of July 10 this year.
- It comes after the UK yesterday extended a similar program for NatWest Group Plc, as governments attempt to cut their holdings in financial crisis-era bailouts
Barclays Plc: The bank agreed a deal to buy Kensington Mortgage Company Limited and a related mortgage portfolio, for an expected consideration of about £2.3 billion.
- The company is currently owned by funds managed by Blackstone Tactical Opportunities Advisors LLC and funds affiliated with Sixth Street Partners LLC
Essentra Plc: The supplier of specialty plastic and fiber products will sell its packaging business to Austria’s Mayr-Melnhof Group for £312 million in cash.
- The sale is part of the company’s attempt to become a pure components business, and it is also undertaking a strategic review of its filters division
Outside The City
Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden resigned after the party lost two key parliamentary seats in one night, raising fresh concerns about Boris Johnson’s leadership and his faltering appeal to voters.
Meanwhile, UK consumer confidence dropped to a record low as surging prices, a squeeze on incomes and disruption from strikes took a toll on the national mood.
In Case You Missed It
SoftBank Group Corp. hasn’t made a final decision on where to debut chip subsidiary Arm Ltd. though the Nasdaq remained the most likely venue for an initial public offering, Chairman Masayoshi Son said. The Japanese investment giant is weighing the listing of some of its stake in the British chip designer on the London Stock Exchange, Bloomberg has reported.
And the UK’s regional towns and cities will be flooded with unwanted offices as businesses cut down on unused space after the coronavirus pandemic triggered a shift in working patterns.
Fintech firm Wise Plc is scheduled to report results next week, as is Biffa Plc. The waste-management company was approached by US investment firm Energy Capital Partners LLC about a possible takeover earlier this month, making it one in a growing slew of UK firms currently finding themselves in M&A situations.
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Non-work related loss of life
NEW YORK, June 25, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Mercer International Inc. (“Mercer” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: MERC) is deeply saddened to announce that an employee has passed away at its Rosenthal mill in Germany on June 25, 2022. Mercer and local authorities conducted an investigation and so far determined that the tragic loss was not work related. Mercer’s emergency procedures were immediately activated, local authorities were notified and industrial safety and occupational health personnel were involved for support.
“We are saddened about the loss of life of one of our employees and our thoughts are with the individual’s family and colleagues,” stated Christian Soergel, Managing Director of Mercer Rosenthal. “Given the nature of the incident, we will be respecting the privacy of our employee’s family and will continue providing support to them and to all our affected employees.”
Mercer International Inc. is a global forest products company with operations in Germany, USA and Canada with a consolidated annual production capacity of 2.3 million tonnes of pulp, 550 million board feet of lumber, and 140 thousand cubic meters of CLT. To obtain further information on the company, please visit its website at www.mercerint.com.
The preceding includes forward looking statements which involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties which may cause our actual results in future periods to differ materially from forecasted results. Words such as “expects”, “anticipates”, “are optimistic that”, “projects”, “intends”, “designed”, “will”, “believes”, “estimates”, “may”, “could” and variations of such words and similar expressions are intended to identify such forward‐looking statements. Among those factors which could cause actual results to differ materially are the following: the highly cyclical nature of our business, raw material costs, our level of indebtedness, competition, foreign exchange and interest rate fluctuations, our use of derivatives, expenditures for capital projects, environmental regulation and compliance, disruptions to our production, market conditions and other risk factors listed from time to time in our SEC reports.
Jimmy S.H. Lee
Executive Chairman of the Board
Juan Carlos Bueno
President & Chief Executive Officer
Burned and banned: Can the ritual of destroying books kill thoughts or ideas?
“Powerful words cannot be distinguished,” says a remark in the video of veteran author Margaret Atwood, who, in collaboration with Penguin Random House, announced an ‘unburnable’ edition of her most famous work, The Handmaid’s Tale. This edition was not just meant for a burning act to signify censorship against dystopian literature conveyed in Atwood’s book, but was specially auctioned for $130,000 in New York this month. The amount raised will support PEN America’s crucial work to counter the national crisis of censorship.
However, in reality, the author hopes to raise awareness about the proliferating book banning and educational gag orders in American schools nationwide with the video that has already garnered over 5 billion potential views. “Free speech issues are being hotly debated… We hope it raises awareness and leads to reasoned discussion,” Atwood said in a statement.
PEN America has been at the forefront of the fight against this wave of censorship in American schools. Its recent report “Banned in the USA,” documented 1,586 instances of individual books being banned in 86 school districts in 26 states.
Even at the annual PEN Gala in New York, writer and actress Faith Salie said the unburnable book “was made to withstand not only the fire-breathing censors and blazing bigots, but actual flames, the ones they would like to use to burn down our democracy.”
The unburnable printed edition was made in black-and-white-coated aluminum Cinefoils, used in film production to wrap hot lights, which are stable to 660°C/1220°F, textblock hand-sewn with nickel wire, often used in electrical components, which is stable at 1400°C/2,600°F, head and tail bands are woven stainless steel, used in aerospace manufacturing, which are stable up to 1530°C/2790°F.
But book burning and banning has been sort of a ritual in the past. Right from the works of authors like Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud to American authors such as Ernest Hemingway and Helen Keller, powerful leaders and despots have tried hard to kill, dissuade or ban and destroy many thought-provoking writings.
While the right to dissent does not seem to have lost its credibility, especially with the rise of social media, with desperate crackdown measures, photos and videos going viral, a pertinent question to ask here is, can this sort of activism kill ideas?
Book bans, burnings or educational gag orders are increasingly alarming in this era of free speech, especially when the censors’ primary targets have been literary works about racism, gender, and sexual orientation, often written by authors of colour and LGBTQ+ writers, as well as classroom lessons about social inequality, history, and sexuality.
On the other hand, books do have an emotive power and sometimes it can be dangerous, intolerant, oppressive or ugly. There is no doubt that in the past years book burning or banning have followed a pattern. Either they are offensive or violent or inappropriate for the reading public. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series was removed from a school library in Tennessee due to the spells in the books being actual curses and risking humans with evil spirits. Not just Harry Potter books, but there are authors who have drawn flak for unattractive writings or hurting sentiments of the public.
A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway was a semi-autobiographical novel set during World War I, was banned from Boston newsstands for its sexual, ‘vulgar’ content and in Italy for its depiction of the army’s retreat in the battle of Caporetto. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis was censored in Queensland for its extreme scenes of graphic violence. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank was deeply influential and taken off shelves or reading lists for her maturing anatomy. Animal Farm by George Orwell was banned in the USSR until the 1980s and also banned from schools in the United Arab Emirates in 2002 for its depiction of a talking pig, which was felt to oppose Islamic values. Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James faced censure for its pornographic depiction. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain reinforced racial stereotypes. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee saw temporary bans in the US for racism. Recently, the Russian war on Ukraine scorched remains of paintings, sculptures and books burned as part of the destruction of Ukrainian cultural identity.
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