Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

The great British sell-off

Written by Maria Julia Pieraccioni, senior associate
Edited by Iain Gibson, partner
7 April 2022

Good morning,

Channel 4, the public television broadcasting company that gave Britons the likes of Gogglebox and Location, Location, Location among others, is set to be privatised – much to the chagrin, I imagine, of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, had she been alive to witness it.
 
Channel 4 was launched in 1982 as a publicly-owned television broadcaster fully self-funded via advertising – an innovative commercial structure that’s hard to imagine was ideated by Thatcher and her home secretary Willie Whitelaw, given this government’s historic reputation for privatisation. As early as 1989, Thatcher rebuked the idea of privatising the channel, fearing it would reduce its quality. In the thirty plus years since, governments and ministers alike have toyed with privatising the channel, never truly succeeding in their endeavour. Attempts were made again in 1996, which were blocked by Channel 4’s then-chairman Sir Michael Bishop’s appeal to John Major, and again in 2016, when a House of Lords committee decision halted any talk of a sale.
 
On Monday, culture secretary Nadine Dorries confirmed the UK government is pushing ahead with plans to sell the broadcaster and anticipated on Twitterthat a White Paper will be published “in due course”. The minister also alluded to the possible reasons behind the timing of this decision, arguing that “government ownership is holding Channel 4 back from competing against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon”. Sources close to the government indicate the plan is to sell the company for north of £1 billion and reinvest the money into the UK’s burgeoning independent film and television sector.
 
While the reasons behind the timing of the sell-off are yet to be fully clarified, the government has already demonstrated what little it knows of how the broadcaster operates. In a recently resurfaced video, Dorries appeared in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in November 2021 to present the government’s intention to push ahead with Channel 4’s sale. In the video, Dorries claimed the broadcaster was “in receipt of public money” but was immediately corrected by a shocked Damien Green.
 
Dorries’ stumble was an unfortunate first of many since.  
 
The government’s intention to reinvest the money into the UK’s film and television sector has been widely criticised as redundant at best. In fact, Channel 4 already purchases the licensing to air independent production companies’ content on their channel.
 
Also, about that competition? Channel 4 seems to be better funded and is arguably ahead of its privately-owned national competitors on digital development. But privatising it so it can compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon? A non-starter argument: these are digital mammoths with a $100 billion combined spend on content production per year – Channel 4 is hardly the competition here.
 
The UK’s political love affair with industry privatisation is already one for the history books, but if Channel 4 can operate during Thatcherism in its current format, the odds are it can survive long after this government.

News

During a visit to a hospital in Welwyn Garden City yesterday, British prime minister Boris Johnson called Putin’s offensive in Bucha nothing “short of genocide”. The prime minister has in the past been reluctant to label the atrocities in Ukraine as genocide, but has now shifted gears, as the UK and EU prepares to sanction more individuals from Russia’s inner circle. (£)
 
The hotly-debated rise in National Insurance payments officially came into effect yesterday. While opposition MP maintain that this will continue to exacerbate the ongoing cost of living crisis, the government has recently said that mitigations will be introduced in July.
 
Sri Lanka is facing the imminent threat of starvation, as the country weathers its worst economic crisis since independence. The crisis spiralled yesterday, as the Sri Lankan rupee plunged to become the world’s worst-performing currency and the stock market fell a further 2%.

Business and economy

Global trade has fallen 2.8% between February and March as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to a sharp drop in container ship traffic from the two countries, according to recent data from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. In addition, the German research institute’s data shows that imports into Russia fell 9.7% and exports fell 5% in March from the previous month. (£)
 
The UK government has published the much-anticipated energy strategy today. It includes plans to reduce the UK’s reliance on oil and gas, speed up approvals for new offshore wind farms, a new licensing round for North Sea projects and increased targets for hydrogen production.
 
The Treasury has blocked a proposal to upgrade household insulation and energy efficiency improvements. The proposal had been strongly advocated by some government ministers and business those in the business community, who had called for an expansion of the Energy Company Obligation scheme.
 
Russian president Vladimir Putin’s daughters, Maria Vorontsova and Katerina Tikhonova have been officially sanctioned by the United States. Putin’s daughters are the latest in a long list of those in Putin’s inner circle to be sanctioned, a list that now tallies more than 1,000 Russian individuals. In addition, the EU is set to ban imports on Russian coal.

Columns of note

In this week’s edition, The Economist takes a closer look at a labour market phenomenon satirically referred to as the ‘Great Resignation’ by businesses, central banks, and economists around the world. Data collected by the magazine from countries in the OECD group show there are currently 30 million job vacancies, a  number that has never been so high. Historically, unemployment has never been lower following an economic recession, and the share of 15 to 64 year olds with a job is “slightly below its level at the end of 2019”. While employees may rejoice in the upward pressure this data puts on wages, the same pressure applies to inflation. The Economist foreshadows much darker implications for central banks, who will most likely keep tightening monetary policies to curb the Great Resignation. (£)
 
In The Guardian Nadeine Asbali illustrates the “communal and personal change” benefits that Ramadan may bring for Muslims and non-Muslims alike in a time of deep societal divisions. Ramadan is a holy month, during which Muslims fast to allow space for growth in spirituality, introspection, “generosity and discipline”. In a world deeply divided along tribal lines, and where “the self is supreme”, Asbali suggests we should remind ourselves instead of the collective feeling that allowed us to abide by lockdown rules to protect others, welcome refugees into our homes from war-torn countries, and shift our spending habits for the sake of the planet.

Markets

What happened yesterday?

Global markets took a hit on Wednesday, as minutes from the Federal Reserve meeting confirmed its intentions to aggressively raise interest rates to curb inflation. The minutes revealed that despite last month’s interest rate hike of  0.25% the Fed is willing to increase again later in the year. The hawkish data from the US put a downward pressure on London stocks, with the FTSE 100 ending the session down 0.34%. Sterling ended trading in a mixed state, trading 0.07% stronger against the dollar and 0.01% weaker than the euro, at $1.30 and €1.19 respectively.
 
In Europe, news from the Fed and the intention to increase the breadth of sanctions on Russia caused stocks to slide, as the pan-European Stoxx 600 index slumped 1.53%.
 
Across the Atlantic, the blue-chip S&P 500 index closed 1% lower, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost  2.2% at close.

What’s happening today?

AGM
Rm     
Law Debenture          
Polar Cap Gbl
Afc Energy     
 
Final Dividend Payment Date
Safestore       
 
Final Ex-Dividend Date
Aferian
Smurfit Kappa
Kerry  
Synectics       
Inter. Pers.     
Grafton Group
Lloyds
IMI      
Abrdn Plc       
Rotork
Man    
Vistry Grp       
Aviva  
Mondi 
Rentokil Initial
Melrose          
Direct Line     
Dominos         
Quilter
Somero Enter Di        
F&C Investment Trust
Savills
Scotgems       
Capital
TP ICAP         
Harbour Energy         
Dunedin Ent.it.           
Fevertree Drk 
Luceco
Bristol&w.prf  
Kitwave          
Personal Group         
Chesnara       
Investec 5%Pf
 
Interim Dividend Payment Date
Diageo
Pz Cussons   
BBGI  
South32         
Dechra

Interim Ex-Dividend Date
Begbies          
Smith (DS)     
Barratt Developments
Chemring 7%Prf        
Tristel 
Shires Inc.      
Murray International  
Abrdn Sml.co 
Savills
Dfs Furn         
Chelvertn Uk  
Henderson High Income Trust          
Softcat
Heavitree 11H%        
Troy Income   
Hend.euro.     
VinaCapital vietnam Opportunity Fund         
Us Solar Fund
Us Solar Fund
International Public Partnerships
Kings Arms Yard        
Invesco Asia  
Martin Currie Global Portfolio Trust  
Smiths Group 
Bioventix        
Schroder Income Growth Fund         
Northamber    
European Assets Trust          
Nippon Active .          
 
Quarterly Dividend Payment Date
Land Securities          
Glaxosmithkline         
Wheaton Prec.           
 
Quarterly Ex-Dividend Date
REI     
BMO UK High Income Trust  
BMO UK High Income Trust B          
BMO Private Equity Trust      
Ediston Prprty
Marble Point L.          
 
Special Ex-Dividend Date
Somero Enter Di        
Savills
Dfs Furn         
 
Trading Announcement
Parity  
 
Intl Economic Announcement
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(07:00) Industrial Production (GER)
(20:00) Consumer Credit (US)
(10:00) Retail Sales (EU)
 
UK Economic Announcement
(00:01) RICS Housing Market Survey
(09:30) PMI Construction
(07:00) Halifax House Price Index

Source: Financial Times

did you know

In 1959, Americans Robert Timm and John Cook set a record when they flew their plane non-stop for two months. Their record still stands today.
(source: @qikipedia)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is in recess and will next sit on 19 April 2022.

House of Lords 

Oral questions
Various
 
Legislation
Various
 
Orders and regulations
Town and Country Planning (Napier Barracks) Special Development Order 2021 – motion to regret
 
Debate
State sanctioned political violence, voter roll irregularities and the intimidation of voters ahead of recent local by-elections in Zimbabwe
 
Short debate
Various

Scottish parliament 

No business scheduled.  

Share this post