British Prime Minister Theresa May laid out her government's vision for a future outside the EU yesterday, saying that Britain would act as though no deal with Europe was better than a bad deal. "June the 23rd was not the moment Britain chose to step back from the world," she said. "It was the moment we chose to build a truly Global Britain." This may come as news to many voters, but it was music to the ears of Leave campaigners such as Matthew Elliott at the Brexit Central blog. "I was also delighted to hear her explicitly say that no deal would be better than a bad deal since that negotiating position maximises the chances of securing the best possible trading arrangements post-Brexit." Meanwhile, the parsing of Britain's departure continues, with many commentators agreeing that Mrs May is now committed to a Hard Brexit, and others offering that her position is a 'Hard Brexit Lite' that leaves room for negotiations on customs and a common travel area with Ireland. Mrs May had laid out a 12-point plan for Brexit which suggested that Britain would return to the supremacy of its own courts, completely leave the single market and take control of immigration. On the movement of goods, there was some wriggle room, though commentators in Ireland reacted with incredulity to the idea that Britain and Ireland can make a side deal on the common travel area, pointing out that Ireland is a member of the EU and thus governed by EU regulations.
Speaking to CNBC Africa in Davos, Abraaj Group managing partner Sev Vettivetpillai said that the group was preparing to invest another billion dollars into Africa. Mr Vettivetpillai said that, although an investment in Barclays Africa seemed to be off the table, Abraaj would look at it again if the opportunity arose. Dubai-based Abraaj, formerly a stakeholder in Network International, is looking to invest in smaller banks in the continent, he said in this video interview. "We have quite a lot of valuations going on right now, these tier two and three banks, because they tend to form a good base. We roll up and focus on (not brick and mortar, but) technology, to access the mass market on this continent, which is under penetrated still."
As we cover in this week's Retail Banking Intelligence newsletter, WEF has been considering the undeniable shift in corporate power, as the chart on this page comparing the top ten global corporations now and a decade ago illustrates. Energy and banking businesses have been displaced by technology companies, and scale continues to excite investors. While Apple remains firmly rooted in the hardware business, and has hundreds of thousands of employees, Facebook, with less than 16,000 employees, has reached the number seven position. China Mobile, in tenth place, has almost half a million employees.
Occasionally a powerful executive will take to a popular platform to get down with the kids, and more often than not the friendly tone betrays an anxiety about the usefulness of what has been hailed in the boardroom as exciting stuff. Writing on Medium.com, Infosys president Mohit Joshi is declaring 2017 as the year that the Internet of Things finally arrives: "You know your life has officially gone digital when you can speak into the phone in your car and get a pot of coffee started in your kitchen during your commute home." Somehow Lafferty News can't get excited about this development. Perhaps Mr Moshi is being (in marketing language), 'relatable', but like the milk-ordering fridge, a remote voice-command activated coffee machine doesn't really seem like a great leap forward. The other thing is, why would anyone order a coffee for arriving home?
Press agencies are reporting this morning that the UK's Competition and Markets Authority is inclining towards approval of Mastercard's takeover of Vocalink. The CMA had invited Mastercard to allay its concerns that the takeover would reduce the competition to provide services. "CMA said on Wednesday that Mastercard had now set out a number of proposals, including VocaLink making its connectivity infrastructure available to a new supplier of infrastructure services to LINK, which it has accepted in principle," according to Reuters. Mastercard welcomed the development.
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