Your Weekly Commercial Awareness Update – w/c 6th November 2017

Your Weekly Commercial Awareness Update – w/c 6th November 2017

Here are this week’s headlines:

Yemen could be facing the largest famine in decades

Reported by Anna Flaherty

The United Nations has warned that Yemen could face “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades with millions of victims”. Part of the issue is down to the fact that Saudi military coalition, fighting the Houthi movement in Yemen, has closed all ports to the Arabian Peninsula country. Airports, seaports and land crossings into Yemen are all shut. Whilst this may have prevented arms being given to the Houthis from Iran, following the firing of a ballistic missile at the Saudi capital, it has also meant that the people of Yemen are suffering as a result.

Over two thirds of the Yemen population are in need of aid, the World Food Programme has estimated, with over 2 million children being malnourished. Food supplies are expected to run out in six weeks, and vaccines are expected to have all been used within another month. Cholera has also affected a large proportion of the population, and it is estimated that it will affect 1 million people there by the end of 2017.

Aid agencies have called for food, fuel and medicine to be sent there without delay, hopefully preventing the the crisis from worsening.

Read more here and here. 

SSE and Npower in merger talks

Reported by Radhika Morally

Two of Britain’s “big six” energy suppliers to homes are in talks about a merger which would change the energy provider landscape.

If cleared, the “big six”, who currently own 80% of the energy market, would shrink to the “big five.”

As the government threatens to tighten controls on large energy and gas groups, this is arguably a timely response to an industry currently under fire. The UK government has recently published a draft bill with the intention of capping prices for the 60% of British households that are on the most common rate in the market known as the standard variable rate tariff. The potential changes would be a challenge for SSE, who have the highest proportion of customers on this tariff. Consequently, both companies have opposed Teresa May’s plans for this price cap.

The new independent energy supply firm would combine the nearly 13 million customers they currently supply with electricity and gas. According to energy consultancy Cornwall Insight, SSE’s current position as the UK’s second-largest supplier could be raised by the merger, challenging the market leader British Gas which currently possesses 27% of the gas and electricity supply market.

The competition approval that would be required has been suggested to be somewhat problematic considering the current political focus on the UK retail energy market.

However, the fact that the SSE’s share price jumped by more than 3% as the possible deal was announced indicates a positive market reaction to the possible merger.

Still, although talks have been described by SSE as being ‘well advanced’, no ‘binding agreements’ or final decisions have been made as yet, and so one awaits further updates.

For more information, see The Financial Times and Sky News.

Saudi princes arrested for corruption

Reported by Spencer Yap

In a shocking move by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 11 Saudi princes, 4 ministers and multiple former ministers were arrested under the allegations of corruption. Amongst which Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, both prominent figures in the kingdom. The earlier, a famous businessman worth billions, with interest in multinational companies such as Citigroup and Twitter. The latter, the former minister of the National Guard, who is now replaced by Prince Khaleed bin Ayyaf as a result of the ousting.

The move comes as a result of, as King Salman announced over the weekend, the birth of an anti-corruption committee which has been headed by the future king. This comes after the palace coup earlier in the year, “which he ousted his elder cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef, as heir to the throne and interior minister”. Official documents showed that the recent arrest was a reaction to “exploitation by some of the weak souls who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to, illicitly, accrue money”. But the middle eastern monarch does not have a systematic codification of laws, causing a distortion between sovereign money and private royal funds.

However, some commented that the move is a consolidation of power by the crown prince and a pre-emptive measure to remove his competitors. “Analysts said the purge aimed to go beyond corruption and aimed to remove potential opposition to Prince Mohammed’s ambitious reform agenda, which is widely popular with Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning youth population but faces resistance from some of the old guard more comfortable with the kingdom’s traditions of incremental change and rule by consensus.”  This reminds us of the royal decree in September, which allowed females to drive.

It is difficult to comment whether the actions of the future king are beneficial or legal in the context of the Saudi Arabia legal system. However, markets reacted by a dip briefly after the arrests and recovered as certain investors believe that the move signifies positive changes in the long run. Publically in Saudi Arabia, “Many ordinary Saudis praised the crackdown as long-awaited.”

Read more here and here.

Body found in burnt out car

Reported by Paige Waters 

The police of Greater Manchester have found a body at Cross Lane in Partington. The body was discovered in a burnt out car after the police were originally called to an explosion.

Since the body has been found, Inspector Peter Coates has released a statement as follows:

“Earlier this evening we were called to reports of a car explosion and on attendance emergency services found a body in the car. We are still unclear on exactly what has happened. However, we will be carrying out inquiries this evening and through the night to establish the circumstances surrounding this person’s death. I would ask that anybody who thinks they may have information that can assist our inquires contacts the police.”

An investigation into this traumatic incident has been launched.

Read more here.


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