Your Weekly Commercial Awareness Update – w/c 26th February 2018

Your Weekly Commercial Awareness Update – w/c 26th February 2018

Here are this week’s headlines:

Reported by Spencer Yap 

Despite FSTE 100 chiefs remuneration having dropped by 17percent in the 2016/17 financial year, current reports show that it is still at unsatisfactory high levels. New research shows that last year, an upwards of £1 billon was paid out to directors of FSTE 100 companies.

Companies are now required to publish their yearly reports for their preceding financial year. An analysis of the reports showed that the average pay of the 1277 directors on the London Stock Exchange was £837 571. Sparking possibility of yet another wave of shareholders protests. Similar to the last financial year where it was reported that the FSTE 250 companies faced higher levels of dissent”, urging more links between pay and performance.

The study was carried out by Look After My Bills, a management and switching service. It commented that “the eye-watering pay packages of many of the top 100 CEOs may come as little surprise, however this research shows that fat-cat pay is now not just limited to the people at the very top of the corporate tree. Excessive pay is becoming endemic across senior teams in business.”

Despite having faced opposition from shareholders at the last Annual General Meeting, the study that the Berkeley Group, amongst the FSTE 100 companies, they paid the most to their board of directors. With a total of £92.5 million. While “WPP, the advertising group, paid £58.9 million, including £48 million to Sir Martin Sorrell, its chief executive.”

Non-executive directors at FTSE 100 companies were paid a total of £80.6 million, the research said. The highest paid non-executives were Ramon Jara at Antofagasta who was paid £652,630, Heidi Miller, at HSBC and also chairwoman of HSBC North America Holdings, who was paid £571,000, and Jonathan Symonds, the senior independent director at HSBC and chairman of HSBC Bank, who was paid £527,000.

Read the whole story on this year’s remuneration here and the preceding years here

Reported by Jutha Cheewat 

The new sentencing guidelines categorise possession of acid and dangerous knife as offensive weapons. Adults in possession of these objects are to face longer jail time. The Sentencing Council announced earlier on Thursday that anyone over 18 caught with a “bladed article” in a public place should be six months in jail and four months for those who are younger.

The only mitigating circumstance for judges to consider is whether they are first time offenders carrying such objects. Those who are second-time offenders will be subject to minimum terms and most will go to prison. Furthermore, those who use such weapons to threaten others will be more likely to receive longer than a six months sentencing.

Depending on circumstances, it is likely that the sentencing will be longer for those who are in possession of knives in public places especially in schools. For example, the sentencing could potentially be as long as 18 months.

The Sentencing Council accepts that the guidelines, which come into effect in June, “may … lead to some increases in sentence levels, predominantly in relation to adults convicted of possession offenses”

Rosina Cottage QC, a member of the council, also said: “Too many people in our society are carrying knives. If someone has a knife on them, it only takes a moment of anger or drunkenness for it to be taken out and for others to be injured or killed. These new guidelines give courts comprehensive guidance to ensure that sentences reflect the seriousness of offending.”

According to the Guardian, knife crime in England and Wales rose by 21% to 37,443 offenses in the year to last September – the highest level for seven years.

Visit the Guardian to find out more.

Jeremy Corbyn shifts Labour's position on the customs union

Reported by Sarah Kinley

This week, Sir Keir Starmer has indicated that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is to confirm a shift in his party’s position on remaining in the customs union after Brexit.

Having arrived at a position from which they are firmly supportive of a ‘soft’ Brexit, seemingly seeking a deal in which the UK can work as closely and cooperatively with the EU as would be possible under terms set by the Prime Minister Theresa May, the Labour party are ready to set out the finer details of the ways in which they believe the UK can retain the “benefits” of remaining in the customs union and the single market. On Monday, Mr Corbyn is due to clarify his party’s position in a speech.

On BBC News this week, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir claimed that his party’s front bench was “unanimous” in its aims for negotiating a new deal with the EU post-Brexit; despite ultimately leaving the customs union, the UK would seek to negotiate an agreement that would, in essence, “do the work of the customs union.”

With the indication that Labour’s efforts to persuade Conservative insurgents to side with them are set to intensify as discussion of a customs union agreement continue, Sir Keir added that it was “crunch time” for the Prime Minister.

As MPs begin to prepare to vote on her proposed policy of steering clear of the customs union come next March, when the UK is scheduled to officially leave the EU, in favour of seeking its own trade deals, the shadow Brexit secretary intimated that a vote in favour would be misguided. Instead, he argued, remaining part of a customs union indefinitely would be  “the only way realistically to get tariff free access,” which was “really important for our manufacturing base” and the only way to avoid the return of a “hard border” in Northern Ireland.

Perhaps appealing to the Conservative rebels whose belief in the benefits of remaining in a customs union align with the new Labour position, Sir Keir ended by reiterating that working “jointly with the EU” was the most viable way for the UK to strike prosperous new deals. He added that “we all want to do bold new trade agreements but we would be better off doing that with the EU.”

However, Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, had much scorn reserved for Sir Keir’s public delineation of the Labour party’s views on the matter. Claiming that they lacked practicality and common sense, he told BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that “Labour say they want to join a customs union. What does that mean?

“Is it like Turkey, which has a customs union but only in goods, not in agriculture, not in services, not in finance? Is that what we want for Britain? Will we take rules in certain sectors but not in others?”

Such questions, though undercut with political bias, are undoubtedly pertinent and relevant to the widespread discussion around this recent Brexit milestone, and the upcoming vote. Despite Labour’s new, more assured position on remaining in the customs union, there is surely much to refine and clarify after MPs have voted.

Read more here and here.

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