Sunday newspaper round-up: UK High Street, WeWork, China

by | Aug 20, 2023

(Sharecast News) – Richard Harpin, the home repairs tycoon, will invest £110m of his personal fortune in medium-sized businesses in a bid to save the UK High Street. Last year, Harpin sold HomeServe, the company that he founded in 1993 to Brookfield for over £4bn, netting him and his wife roughly £500m. Harpin says his main goal is not the return on investment, but rather to help get the country and economy going by helping businesses to scale up. He will also bring to the table his 45 years of experience as an entrepreneur. “If you are running a business, you need to focus on things that matter and will make a difference,” he argued. “We need to do much more to save our High Streets.” – Mail on Sunday
Office sharing behemoth WeWork’s warning that there was “substantial doubt” that it could remain afloat suggests that the impact for the broader sector could be dire, according to experts. In 2019 the company was the biggest commercial leaseholder in New York and London and still contracts on about 6.4m square feet spread across 70 buildings in that city alone. That was despite attempts since to shed those leases. Now, if it goes bankrupt, it may dump them on a market that is still fighting to overcome record low occupancy and to refinance debt on properties in the face of rising interest rates. – Guardian

Engineering giant Arup has joined the list of UK outfits cutting back on their exposure to China’s economy as the Asian giant falls into a deeper property-led slowdown. Deputy chairwoman, Dervilla Mitchell, said Arup would further reduce its footprint in China, although she declined to provide an exact number for the members of staff who would be let go. According to China expert, George Magnus, the property downturn was exactly like what happened to the UK in the 2000s with Lehman and Northern Rock. He put the size of the property sector at twice what it was in the UK, as a proportion of the overall economy, at the onset of the financial crisis. – The Sunday Times

KBR has tabled a potential takeover offer worth $5bn (£4bn) for Critical Mission Solutions, the business that decommissions nuclear waste at Sellafield and is taking part in construction of the Point C nuclear reactor. CMS now belongs to engineering group Jacobs and has thousands of staff across the UK who work on nuclear infrastructure as well as military procurement. A spokesperson for Jacobs said that the firm did not comment on speculation. – The Sunday Times

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