Sunday newspaper round-up: HS2, Babcock, Airbus

by | Sep 24, 2023

(Sharecast News) – The Prime Minister is facing enormous push back from senior Tories and captains of industry due to signs that he may walk back on plans for the northern section of the HS2 high speed rail service before the party conference next weekend. Rishi Sunak was expected to meet with the Chancellor on Monday or Tuesday and an announcement was expected to follow by the middle of the week, several sources told the Observer. One source however said that it was not inconceivable that Sunak might yet decide otherwise. – Guardian

Babcock International’s chief executive officer, David Lockwood, is not looking to sell out to a foreign investor again. Lockwood was previously the boss at Cobham, which was taken over by US private equity outfit Advent. Lockwood also said that he had not kept track of events at Cobham after the defence engineer was purchased. Advent had promised it would be a long-term investor, but the outfit was duly broken up and much of it sold off in less than 18 months. Babcock maintains the UK’s nuclear submarine fleet and there aren’t too many firms in that space, Lockwood said. As well, any suitor would require clearance from the government, which he thinks would be a “very, very, very, very high hurdle”. – The Sunday Times

Engineering giant Airbus unveiled plans to boost its workforce in Britain by 10%, in what marked a huge vote of confidence in the country. The new 1,100 positions will span high-tech fields including cybersecurity, software engineering, cryogenics and robotics. According to Oxford Economics, the company contributed £7bn to the UK economy in 2022 and supported 79,000 jobs in aerospace and defence, spending £3.9bn on UK suppliers in the process. Airbus’s UK workforce would nonetheless remain smaller than before the pandemic even after the new hires. – Financial Mail on Sunday

Chinese fast-fashion outfit Shein turned a profit of g£12.2m on sales of £1.1bn in the UK over the 16 months ending in December 2022. That translated into a tax bill of only £2.3bn. Nonetheless, the topline figure equates to £80m of sales for each of the company’s 14 staff in the UK. That number was set to increase to 50 by the end of 2023. Shein had also taken some warehouse space in the UK, whereas up until now it had shipped all goods directly from China, helping to keep costs down. It recently also moved its domicile to Singapore in anticipation of a stock market float in the US. – The Sunday Times

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