Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

City vacant

Written by Li-Ann Chin, associate 
Edited by Kevin Pringle, partner
30 April 2021

Good morning,

Before the pandemic happened, some of the priciest developments in London were located in Canary Wharf, the capital’s central business district, second only to the City of London.
 
Now, rumour has it that hundreds of new-build office spaces and flats in the Isle of Dogs stand empty, as people forgo returning to the office in favour of flexible working.
 
The week of 12 April, when many across London rushed to visit their local pub or favourite shop, Canada Square remained quiet without its customary footfall from office workers. Only a fraction of the 120,000 workers are back at their desks. Some might never go back at all.
 
The City of London similarly faces a new battle to stay relevant. On Tuesday, the City of London Corporation unveiled a five-year recovery strategy, which will see empty offices converted into hundreds of homes. The target is to add at least 1,500 residential units by 2030. The Corporation is also reportedly considering traffic-free weekends during summer and all-night “cultural celebrations”.
 
It’s an obvious way to inject life back into city centres, but it doesn’t quite cut the mustard. When society reopens post-pandemic, I suspect there will be a real demand for places with vibrancy and soul. Any millennial worth their salt will tell you – quirky brunch spots and independent retailers are the latest rage. People are now increasingly looking to shop local.
 
Therein lies the Square Mile’s challenge, an area that has always been a ghost town at weekends, even pre-Covid. As it stands, there is nothing appealing about moving into a quasi-neighbourhood that somehow feels a little too up-tight, a bit too sterile; a place where your dining options are limited to the likes of Pret, Wasabi and Leon, chain eateries that exist to cater for the convenience of time-poor office workers.
 
In simpler words: more homes alone won’t be the answer, you need to give people a reason to live in the area.

News

Conservative MPs have criticised Labour party leader Keir Starmer for visiting a John Lewis store and posing with rolls of wallpaper, on the back of Boris Johnson’s redecoration controversy. Starmer has been accused of “playing politics” by co- chairman of the Conservative party, Amanda Milling.
 
NHS officials have confirmed that people aged 40 and over in England are now able to book their Covid vaccinations. Since the programme began in December, about 34 million people have had at least one jab of the vaccine, while 14 million adults have received both doses.
 
Social distancing at events in England is set to be scrapped by 21 June onwards, as initial results from a pilot scheme reveals that there has been no spike in Covid cases among attendees. This is provided that other measures, such as staggering entries and good ventilation, are put in place.

Business and economy

According to official figures published yesterday, the proportion of the workforce on furlough has dropped from 17% to 13% as of 18 April, one week after the easing of lockdown measures. UK household wealth has similarly risen by 8.5% since December 2020, as a result of rising house prices, increased value of defined benefit pensions and government support.
 
Amazon reported a record profit as demand remained robust for its deliveries, cloud-computing and advertising business. The tech giant’s first-quarter sales of 2021 hit $108 billion, up 44% from the same time period last year. The likes of Apple, Facebook Inc, Google and Microsoft Corp have similarly reported significant gains in profit and revenue.

Columns of note

In the first 100 days of his presidency, extravagant supporters have already likened Joe Biden to Franklin Roosevelt, who was credited for lifting America out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Indeed, Biden has promised radical change multiple times now. The bigger, and far more interesting question, however, is just how radical have his actions been? Writing in the Financial Times, Edward Luce questions whether Dwight Eisenhower – the “do-nothing” president – might make a better historical parallel instead.
 
Rejoice, gossipmongers! According to recent research by neuroscientists at Dartmouth College, gossip has been proven to create a “shared reality’ and can be “a means of social and substantive connection”. When Covid is over and friends are allowed to meet again, Laura Freeman writes in The Times that gossip will be what we crave the most.  

Cartoon source: The New Yorker

Markets

What happened yesterday? 

Equities in London reversed their previous gains as the US’s annualised GDP reading of 6.4% fell short of estimates.
 
The FTSE 100 ended the session weaker by 0.03% at 6,961.48 and the FTSE 250 was down by 0.21% at 22,392.94. Across the Atlantic, stocks on Wall Street ended in the positive on Thursday, with market participants snapping up profits after better-than-predicted big tech earnings were revealed overnight. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was ahead 0.71% at 34,060.36, while S&P500 was up 0,68% to 4,211.47. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.22% at 14,082.66.
 
Elsewhere, sterling was stronger, rising 0.09% on the dollar to trade at $1.3948 and gaining 0.18% against the euro.
 
In company news:
 
Ahead of its Annual General Meeting next week, Barclays is reportedly facing a second consecutive shareholder revolt concerning its position as Europe’s largest fossil fuel financier. On the other hand, the bank has enjoyed a record first quarter of 2021, hitting a record £2.4 billion ore-tax profit not seen in 13 years.
 
WPP is rescinding hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of share awards made to its former chief executive, Sir Martin Sorrell, over allegations of leaked confidential information.

What’s happening today?

Finals
Uk Oil & Gas

Interims
Up Global

Q1 Results
Astrazeneca
Barclays

AGMs
Admiral
BBGI
Grupo Cl.s
Kingspan
Minoan
Pearson
Rotork
Smurfit Kappa
Supply@me Cap
Symphony

Int. economic announcements
(07:00) GDP (Preliminary) (GER)
(08:00) Import Price Index (GER)
(10:00) Unemployment Rate (EU)
(10:00) GDP (Preliminary) (EU)
(13:30) Personal Income (US)
(13:30) Personal Consumption Expenditures (US)
(13:30) Personal Spending (US)
(14:45) Chicago PMI (US)
(15:00) U. of Michigan Confidence (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

The district known as the Square Mile represents the oldest part of London, once known as ‘Londinium’ by the Romans. When they arrived around the year AD 43, the Roman legions promptly developed the area and transformed it into a grand commercial centre, before abandoning it in the 5th century.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is not sitting. The House will next sit on 11 May 2021.

House of Lords 

Oral questions
Various
 
Private Notice Question
Support the government will provide to the government of India – Lord Popat
 
Statement
Update the House on the Ministerial Code – Lord True
Reductions in the ODA budget – Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions – Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
 
Legislation
Domestic Abuse Bill – consideration of Commons amendments – Baroness Williams of Trafford
Fire Safety Bill – consideration of Commons amendments – Lord Greenhalgh

Scottish Parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess ahead of the election on 6 May.

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