Putin slashes gas supplies to Europe again

Putin Russia gas supplies Nord Stream pipeline energy crisis – Contributor/Getty Images

Putin has cut gas supplies to Europe through the Nord Stream pipeline just days after restarting flows, marking an escalation of the continent’s energy crisis.

Gazprom will cut flows through the link to about 20pc of its capacity from 7am Moscow time on Wednesday.

Flows restarted through the pipeline last week at about 40pc of capacity following 10 days of planned maintenance work. They’ve been at roughly that level since Russia first cut supplies last month.

It follows a warning from the Kremlin that supplies could fall further if a spat over equipment isn’t resolved.

A turbine that was trapped in Canada due to sanctions has still not been returned, while Gazprom said another turbine is due for maintenance and will be taken out of service.

The move threatens to plunge Europe even further into an energy crisis and will fuel concerns about rationing and blackouts this winter.

Benchmark European gas prices rose as much as 10pc following the announcement.

05:01 PM

Premier Foods gobbles up The Spice Tailor for £43.8m

Premier Foods has bought meal kit brand The Spice Tailor for £43.8m as the consumer group seeks to take advantage of the boom in home cooking.

The company, which owns the Sharwood’s and Loyd Grossman brands, said the deal will help to expand its ethnic food business, particularly in Australia which is The Spice Tailor’s second largest market after the UK.

It is expected to generate revenue of £17.3m in the current financial year.

04:38 PM

Volkswagen investors question plan for chief to lead Porsche listing

Volkswagen investors believe incoming chief Oliver Blume will struggle to lead both the wider group and Porsche, where he is currently the boss — and to pull off a planned listing of the sports car maker while wearing both hats.

Story continues

Friday’s announcement that group chief Herbert Diess would be replaced by Porsche boss Blume has rekindled investor concerns about corporate governance problems at Europe’s top carmaker, which some shareholders have said weigh on the stock’s performance.

“Blume can’t take care of everything … this underscores the bad corporate management at Wolfsburg,” Ingo Speich at top-20 Volkswagen investor Deka Investment told Reuters, referring to the German carmaking group’s headquarters.

“It is poison for the Porsche IPO,” Speich added. Volkswagen plans to list the luxury cars division in the fourth quarter.

04:20 PM

Handing over

That’s all from me today – thanks for following! Giulia Bottaro is in the hot seat for the rest of the day.

04:17 PM

British Airways pilots poised to launch strike action

British Airways strike – Boarding1Now

British Airways pilots are clamouring for a ballot on strike action after airline chiefs rejected demands for a new pay deal.

Oliver Gill has the story:

Under growing pressure from members, the pilots union Balpa is preparing to threaten industrial action after a wave of ballots secured wage increases for check-in and baggage staff.

A walkout could come as soon as this summer in further blow for thousands of holidaymakers who have already endured waves of cancelled flights, as well as traffic jams at Dover.

British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle was warned during a meeting with pilot representatives last Tuesday that “only quantifiable actions… would be acceptable”, according to an email to its members last week seen by the Telegraph. “This did not occur,” the email said.

Read Ollie’s full story here

03:48 PM

Lastminute.com bosses arrested in Covid fund misuse probe

Lastminute.com has been left scrambling to find a new chief executive after a string of its top bosses were arrested in Switzerland as part of an investigation into potential misuse of public funds.

The company, which is headquartered in Switzerland, said it had suspended its co-chief executives Andrea Bertoli and Fabio Cannavale for at least three months after they were detained over the weekend, the Financial Times reports.

In total, five current and former executives were arrested. One was released on Saturday after questioning while the other four could remain in custody for up to seven weeks.

Lastminute.com, which was founded by British entrepreneurs Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane Fox, said it’s installed chief customer officer Laura Amoretti as interim chief executive while it searches for a permanent replacement.

03:34 PM

Broadband firm Gigaclear eyes £300m in new funding

In other broadband news today, fibre firm Gigaclear is said to be seeking hundreds of millions of pounds in new funding to help roll out its network.

The company is working with bankers at Rothschild to raise between £200m and £300m of additional capital, Sky News reports.

The capital raise, which could take the form of debt or equity, is one of a number of attempts by so-called altnets to build high-speed internet networks to challenge BT’s dominance.

03:19 PM

TBS hands out £1,000 bonus to 4,500 workers

Around 4,500 staff at TSB will be handed a £1,000 bonus after the high street lender became the latest firm to announce payouts to help employees weather the cost-of-living crisis.

The payment will be made to all staff at the bank earning £35,000 or less and will be made in two stages – one in October and the other next February.

Trade union Unite said it had successfully secured the payout on behalf of workers at the bank to help with the rocketing cost of energy and surging inflation.

Caren Evans, Unite national officer, said: “Unite was able to successfully demonstrate to TSB that the lowest paid members of staff are struggling to meet their costs of living.

“The agreement announced today is welcome news for over 4,000 staff, and the £1,000 payment will be given to all those regardless of whether they are full- or part-time workers.”

It follows moves by other employers to help staff struggling in the cost crunch, with Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays making similar payments to employees.

03:00 PM

Nokia signs UK broadband deal with CityFibre

Nokia CityFibre - REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

Nokia CityFibre – REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

Nokia has inked a 10-year deal with Goldman Sachs-backed CityFibre to build a broadband network in the UK.

The deal covers a network reaching 10GB per second, with deliveries set to begin in the fourth quarter of this year.

CityFibre is aiming to connect 8m premises to its network in 285 cities and towns, reaching a third of the UK. Earlier this year it raised £4.9bn from a group of banks and investors to help fund the rollout.

02:38 PM

Wall Street edges higher as traders looks to results and Fed

Wall Street has pushed cautiously higher at the open as traders assess the outlook for major corporate earnings and an expected interest rate rise by the Federal Reserve.

Investors are betting on another Fed hike of at least 75 basis points this week, which will probably inflict more pain on the economy.

The decision, along with earnings from the likes of Google owner Alphabet and Apple, will help clarify the outlook for a sustained rebound in stocks.

The benchmark S&P 500 edged up 0.2pc after last week’s rally, while the Dow Jones was up 0.3pc. The tech-heavy Nasdaq was little changed.

02:16 PM

Ukraine hopes for first grain shipment this week

Ukraine is hoping a UN-brokered deal to resume grain exports from the Black Sea region will start being implemented this week, despite Russian strikes on Odesa over the weekend.

Senior government officials said they hoped the first grain shipment under the deal would be from the port of Chornomorsk this week, and that shipments could be made from all ports included under the deal within two weeks.

Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, said there were no limits on how much grain could be exported under the agreement signed on Friday in Istanbul, which also allows for fertiliser imports and exports.

Friday’s agreement aims to allow safe passage in and out of Ukrainian ports, which have been blocked by Russia since the start of the invasion.

But the deal, which aims to ease global food shortages, has been thrown into doubt after Russia launched missile strikes on the port city of Odesa.

01:22 PM

Kremlin says gas flows depend on Nord Stream turbine

The Kremlin has warned that flows of Russian gas through the Nord Stream pipeline will depend on how quickly equipment is repaired and returned.

Nord Stream has been operating at around 40pc of capacity after Russia slashed supplies. A turbine that was sent to Canada for maintenance work has been stranded there due to sanctions.

Russian media reported that the turbine is still stuck in Germany amid paperwork delays, but that the shipment may happen in the next few days if Gazprom provides the required documentation to Siemens.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskove said: “The turbine will be installed after all the technological formalities have been completed and the flows will be at the levels that are technologically possible.

But he warned there were “issues with other equipment, of which Siemens is well aware”, suggesting the Nord Stream saga is only beginning.

Benchmark European gas prices rose 4.7pc amid continued uncertainty, while the UK equivalent edged down 2.6pc.

01:03 PM

Naked Wines finance boss quits after sales warning

Naked Wines CFO - Naked Wines

Naked Wines CFO – Naked Wines

Naked Wines has confirmed its chief financial officer has quit just a month after seeing its shares tumble by almost 40pc.

The wine retailer said Shawn Tabak left the company “by mutual agreement”, stepping down on Friday last week.

It follows a warning from the group that sales could fall by up to 4pc in the year to the end of March 2023 as customers tighten their belts during the cost-of-living crisis.

The company said last month it expects to only break even on an underlying earnings basis, which sent shares plummeting.

Mr Tabak will be replaced provisionally by the current managing director of the UK division, James Crawford, but the group said his board position will not be filled.

Mr Crawford served as chief financial officer for five years until November 2020 and will be returning to the role temporarily until June 2023.

12:13 PM

Wall Street set to rise in busy results week

Wall Street looks set to start trading on the front foot as investors look ahead to a busy week for corporate results.

Big tech firms including Apple and Google owner Alphabet are due to report figures, which will be closely watched for hints about the economic outlook.

Meanwhile, traders are also bracing for another Federal Reserve interest rate rise of at least 75 basis points this week.

Futures tracking the S&P 500 and Dow Jones both rose 0.4pc. The tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.5pc.

11:57 AM

Watchdog starts review of Viasat’s $7bn Inmarsat takeover

Viasat Inmarsat satellites CMA -  OV

Viasat Inmarsat satellites CMA – OV

It’s a busy day for satellite news.

Following confirmation that Eutelsat is discussing a tie-up with OneWeb, the competition watchdog said it’s launched an investigation into Viasat’s takeover of Inmarsat.

US-based Viasat last year inked a $7.3bn (£6bn) deal to buy its British rival. In March, both companies agreed to legally-binding commitments with the Government to increase jobs and investment in the UK space sector.

But the Competition and Markets Authority today said it’s launching a review to see whether the deal will lessen competition. It’s invited comments from third parties by August 15.

11:44 AM

Factory orders weaken – but cost pressure ease

UK manufacturers have reported a weakening of demand over the last three months. On the plus side, though, they said inflation is showing signs of peaking.

The latest survey of the sector by the CBI showed order books growing at their slowest pace in 15 months. An index of output expectations fell to the lowest since January 2021.

Businesses are still deeply pessimistic as fears about a global recession mounted.

However, the pressure from soaring raw material prices appears to be easing, with average costs per unit of output rising less quickly than in the quarter to April.

11:23 AM

Ukraine downgraded by Fitch as it begins ‘default-like’ process

Ukraine has been downgraded by Fitch Ratings after the country began the formal process to defer payments on its external bonds and restructure $22.8bn (£18.9bn) in sovereign debt.

The country’s credit score was lowered to C from CCC by Fitch, which said the Government’s request to postpone foreign-debt payments constitutes a “default-like process.”

The rating would be lowered again to RD if the proposal is accepted by creditors – a move that the firm said is likely.

The rating company said: “Even if not accepted, Fitch considers that the risk of missed payments or initiation of an alternative distressed-debt exchange process is high as the Government seeks to preserve liquidity in the face of acute military spending pressure.”

Kyiv filed a formal request last week asking bondholders to agree to a two-year payment freeze and changes to coupons on its so-called GDP warrants by the middle of next month.

The Finance Ministry said it “received explicit indications of support” for the plan from a select group of its biggest debt holders, including BlackRock and Fidelity International.

Beyond a payment delay, Fitch said a broader restructuring of the Government’s commercial debt will also be required, though timing remains uncertain.

The firm expects the war to continue well into next year, leading the economy to contract 33pc this year – a hit that will have long-term effects as the government estimates at least $750bn in reconstruction costs over the next decade.

11:04 AM

Lufthansa ground staff to strike over pay

Lufthansa strike travel chaos - Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

Lufthansa strike travel chaos – Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

Workers at Lufthansa will walk out this week, adding to the travel misery sweeping Europe.

Ground staff at the German airline will stage a one-day strike on Wednesday as they push for a 9.5pc pay rise.

The Verdi union said the industrial action would spark more cancellations and delays as it includes workers with key jobs such as aircraft maintenance and moving aircraft away from boarding gates so they can take off.

The strike will affect German airports including Frankfurt, Duesseldorf and Berlin, and will run from 3.45am local time on Wednesday until 6am on Thursday.

Lufthansa said the walkout was “incomprehensible” and would be a burden on both passengers and staff beyond the end of the walkout.

10:44 AM

Wheat prices jump as Russian missile strike tests grain deal

Russian Ukraine grain wheat Odesa - REUTERS

Russian Ukraine grain wheat Odesa – REUTERS

Wheat prices have jumped after Russia’s weekend missile strike on Odesa raised concerns about its deal to release millions of tonnes of Ukrainian grain.

Ukrainian officials indicated they’re still moving ahead with plans to restart sea exports despite the attack, which drew swift condemnation from the UN, US and EU.

But the assault will serve as a stark reminder of the risks for shippers and insurers as Russia’s war rages on.

The landmark agreement signed last week aims to facilitate shipments from three of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports – including Odesa – and was hailed as a vital step towards easing a global food crisis.

However, many analysts and western officials were sceptical even as the agreement was signed last week.

Chicago wheat prices surged as much as 4.6pc. They had slumped almost 6pc on Friday and closed at the lowest since early February after the deal was signed in Istanbul.

10:33 AM

EU countries try to water down gas cut demands

EU countries are trying to soften the bloc’s plan to require them to use less gas as Europe braces for a potential cut-off of Russian gas supplies this winter.

The European Commission has asked member states to reduce their gas consumption by 15pc for the next eight months. The target is voluntary, but it could be made compulsory if the supply situation worsens.

But the plan has faced resistance from a swathe of governments, with some flatly against binding cuts and others unwilling to let Brussels control their energy use.

Diplomats from EU countries will discuss a revised proposal today. The proposal, seen by Reuters, would keep the voluntary target for all countries to curb gas use, but set different mandatory targets.

Countries without links to EU gas networks – such as Ireland and Malta – would be exempted, while those with large volumes of stored gas could face lower targets to curb demand.

States that export gas to other countries could also face lower targets, likely including Spain, which does not rely on Russia for gas and has been among the firmest opponents of the EU proposal. Critical sectors such as chemicals and steel could also be exempted.

10:16 AM

Britain forced to beg Belgium for power to keep the lights on

National Grid was forced to issue an emergency appeal to Belgium to keep Britain’s lights on as the market was roiled by surging prices ahead of a looming winter crisis.

Rachel Millard and Matt Oliver have the story:

The power network’s electricity system operator (ESO) issued an emergency instruction to operators of the Nemo cable running between Belgium and the UK to make sure supplies were sent to Britain last week, after failing to secure enough in the normal market.

Experts said it cast doubt on the Grid’s ability to cope during the “looming iceberg” of winter, when gas supplies are expected to be under far more severe pressure and Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, may cut off shipments to Europe altogether.

The Grid’s notice, issued at lunchtime on Wednesday, came as high demand in the UK and constraints moving power into the south-east of England coincided with high demand on the continent and outages in France’s nuclear fleet.

The ESO at one point on Wednesday paid an all-time high of £9,724 per MWh to import power over the Nemo cable amid a scramble for electricity around Europe, data from market analyst EnAppSys shows.

​Read the full story here

09:56 AM

Pound slips ahead CBI data

Sterling has fallen back slightly against the dollar this morning as investors look ahead to more data for signs of the economic outlook.

Markets are expecting a weaker reading of CBI selling prices and business optimism as inflation continues to climb. That would keep the pound under pressure.

Analysts at UniCredit wrote: “Weaker readings of both the Ifo business climate index in Germany and the CBI industrial survey in the UK would represent another two tests of the resilience to the downside that both the common currency and sterling have shown so far.”

The pound lost 0.1pc against the dollar to $1.1987. Against the euro it was little changed at 85.13p.

09:42 AM

Germany ‘on brink of recession’ as business confidence falls

German business confidence has dropped to its lowest level since the early months of the pandemic amid fears a cut-off in Russian gas supplies could push Europe’s largest economy into a downturn.

The Ifo Institute’s gauge of expectations fell to 80.3 in July from 85.8 in June – deeper than forecasts of a fall to 83.0. An index of current conditions also dropped.

Clemens Fuest, Ifo President, said: “Germany is on the brink of a recession. High energy prices and the threat of gas shortages are weighing on the economy. Companies are expecting significantly worse business activity in the coming months.”

The report reflects mounting gloom in Germany, whose pandemic recovery was already muted because of rampant inflation and component shortages exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

A gauge of private-sector activity by S&P Global last week showed the economy began contracting in July for the first time this year.

09:34 AM

Railway lines at risk from rising sea levels to be rerouted in Network Rail plan

Network Rail coastal -  Paul Martin / Alamy Stock Photo

Network Rail coastal – Paul Martin / Alamy Stock Photo

Network Rail is drawing up plans to reroute coastal railway lines that will be swept away by rising sea levels as it speeds up its climate preparations following last week’s heatwave.

Tom Rees has the story:

The company, which owns tracks and stations across Britain, is starting to identify lines close to the coast most at risk of becoming swamped and considering options to mitigate the impact. These include fortifying sea defences and moving lines most under threat.

Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s director of safety and engineering, said the state-backed company is ranking areas on their risk and conducting modelling over concerns that sea levels will rise.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) estimates that 650km of railway line and 92 train stations will be at risk from coastal erosion this century.

Coastal erosion is expected to worsen from climate change causing sea levels to rise and wilder weather.

​Read Tom’s full story here

09:25 AM

Eutelsat shares plunge on OneWeb takeover talks

Shares in Eutelsat have dropped sharply this morning after it confirmed it’s in talks about a merger with OneWeb.

The French satellite operator plunged 16pc as investors baulked at the potential tie-up, which would see Eutelsat and OneWeb shareholders each holding 50pc of the new, combined company.

09:16 AM

China is biggest threat to Britain, says Sunak

Rishi Sunak has said China represents the largest threat to Britain and world security this century as he set out his plans to deal with Beijing in the latest front in the Tory leadership contest.

Liz Truss is ahead in polls among party members who will choose Boris Johnson’s successor, but Mr Sunak is hoping that weeks of hustings and debates will help his campaign ahead of a vote result due in September.

The former Chancellor said: “China is the biggest-long term threat to Britain and the world’s economic and national security.

“For too long, politicians in Britain and across the West have rolled out the red carpet and turned a blind eye to China’s nefarious activity and ambitions. I will change this on Day 1 as PM.”

He said he would ban Bejing-funded Confucius Institutes in the UK and use spy agencies to help British businesses counter Chinese spying.

He said he would also examine the case for banning Chinese acquisitions of key British assets, including strategically sensitive tech firms.

A spokesperson for Truss’s campaign said the Foreign Secretary had “strengthened Britain’s position on China” and “helped lead the international response to increases Chinese aggression”.

“This will only continue when she becomes prime minister and seeks to expand her network of liberty around the world,” the spokesperson said.

09:07 AM

Apple launches rare iPhone sale in China

Apple China iPhone - REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo

Apple China iPhone – REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo

Apple has launched a rare retail promotion in China, offering four days of discounts on its top-tier iPhones and related accessories ahead of the launch of its next-generation devices.

The tech giant, which is usually reluctant to cut prices, will take up to 600 yuan (£74) off the price of its top-line iPhone 13 Pro series between July 29 and August 1, according to a notice on its website.

To be eligible, buyers have to use one of a select number of payment platforms, such as Alipay. Certain AirPods and Apple Watch models are also part of the promotion.

The sale comes as China tries to bounce back from major Covid lockdowns in Shanghai and Beijing, which have hurt sales of leading domestic smartphone brands from Xiaomi to Vivo and Oppo.

Apple bucked the trend by registering healthy growth in China shipments in June, according to national statistics, though the discounts suggest even it has surplus inventory heading into the latter half of the year.

08:53 AM

Vodafone sales rise as price rises offset German slump

Vodafone has reported a rise in sales over the first quarter as price increases helped to offset weaker trading in Germany.

The telecoms giant said total revenues rose by 1.6pc over the three-month period, with service revenues up 2.5pc.

Germany – its largest market – suffered a 0.5pc fall in service revenue, with its TV customer base dropping by 79,000, while it also suffered a 34,000 decline across its broadband service.

But this was countered as growth picked up pace across the UK, where it saw service revenues jump by 6.5pc, up from growth of 2pc in the previous three months.

Vodafone said the UK improvement was partly driven by annual price increases, but insisted it did not see a “material” rise in customers quitting the group while it added 18,000 contract customers in the quarter.

Nick Read, chief executive of Vodafone, said:

Whilst we are not immune to the current macroeconomic challenges, we’re on track to deliver financial results for the year in line with our guidance.

Our near-term focus on our operational and portfolio priorities remains unchanged.

We’ve made good progress towards stabilising our commercial performance in Germany, and we continue to actively pursue opportunities with Vantage Towers and to strengthen our market positions in Europe.

08:44 AM

Elon Musk denies having affair with wife of Google founder Sergey Brin

Elon Musk Sergey Brin - Angela Weiss / AFP

Elon Musk Sergey Brin – Angela Weiss / AFP

ICYMI – Elon Musk has denied having an affair with the wife of Sergey Brin, who co-founded Google.

Mr Musk took to Twitter to deny that he had had any kind of romantic relationship with Nicole Shanahan, describing reports as “total bs”.

The Tesla chief, 51, is an old friend of Mr Brin – who co-founded the search engine in 1998 – to such an extent that, for years, he used to crash at his Silicon Valley home.

Mr Brin even lent Mr Musk $500 million to prop up Tesla in the early days and in return, he received one of Tesla’s first all-electric sport-utility vehicles.

“Sergey and I are friends and were at a party together last night,” Mr Musk wrote on Twitter.

“I’ve only seen Nicole twice in three years, both times with many other people around. Nothing romantic.”

Read the full story here

08:30 AM

FTSE risers and fallers

It’s a lacklustre start to the week for the FTSE 100 as fears of an economic slowdown continue to sap investor confidence.

The blue-chip index fell 0.3pc in early trading, dragged down by oil and mining stocks.

Oil giants BP and Shell were down 1.6pc and 1.3pc respectively, tracking commodity prices lower amid fears an expected rise in US interest rates this week will dent demand.

Vodafone slipped as much as 0.4pc after reporting a drop in first-quarter service revenue in its largest market Germany. Rival BT topped the blue-chip index with a gain of 1.5pc.

The domestically-focused FTSE 250 dropped 0.7pc. Mr Kipling owner Premier Foods rose 2.5pc after saying it will buy Indian food brand The Spice Tailor for £43.8m.

08:19 AM

Aldi dishes out second pay rise this year

Aldi supermarket pay rise - Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

Aldi supermarket pay rise – Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

German discounter Aldi is awarding staff a second pay rise this year in another sign of how employers are struggling to attract and retain staff.

Aldi, which has 970 stores across the UK, said that from September about 26,000 store assistants would receive a minimum of £10.50 an hour and £11.95 in London – rises of 4pc and 3.5pc respectively.

Rates had gone up from £9.55 to£ 10.10 nationally and from £11.07 to £11.55 in London in February.

Aldi is Britain’s fifth-largest supermarket group after Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons. All have raised pay this year.

08:10 AM

France’s Eutelsat in talks over possible OneWeb merger

OneWeb Eutelsat satellite

OneWeb Eutelsat satellite

French satellite company Eutelsat has confirmed it’s in talks with British rival OneWeb over a possible merger than would help the firms take on competitors including Elon Musk’s Starlink.

The talks are based around a possible tie-up that would see Eutelsat and OneWeb shareholders each holding 50pc of the new, combined company.

It comes amid a race to set up constellations of low-orbit satellites to provide internet services around the globe. Musk’s Space X Starlink and Amazon’s Project Kuiper are also in the running.

Eutelsat said it estimated the sector to be worth around $16bn (£13.4bn) by 2030.

But a deal between Eutelsat and OneWeb would be politically sensitive, as it would bring Indian billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal, France, China and Britain together as shareholders of the new company.

08:01 AM

FTSE 100 opens lower

The FTSE 100 has started the week on the back foot, with investors turning their attention to a string of major results.

The blue-chip index shed 0.3pc to 7,252 points.

07:54 AM

KPMG fined £18m over audit failures

Audit giant KPMG will have to pay £18.4m while four of its former staff members have been banned from the Institute of Chartered Accountants for between seven and 10 years for misleading regulators.

The Financial Reporting Council said that it had levelled a fine at the auditing giant for providing “false and misleading information and documents” over its audits of collapsed outsourcing giant Carillion and another firm called Regenersis.

KPMG was fined £20m, reduced to £14.4mbecause it co-operated and admitted wrongdoing, and agreed to pay nearly £4m in costs.

The four former staff members were fined a combined £365,000. A fifth member of staff was severely reprimanded.

07:47 AM

Ryanair boss: Covid pay cuts have been ‘vindicated’

Here’s the full statement from Ryanair’s outspoken chief executive Michael O’Leary:

Our decision to work with our unions and agree pay cuts to minimise job losses (and keep crews current) throughout the two years of Covid was vindicated in recent months, as many European airlines, airports, and handling companies struggled to restore jobs that were cut during the pandemic.

Ryanair seems unusual among the major EU airlines in summer ’22, insofar as we are fully crewed, despite operating at 115pc of our pre-Covid capacity.

Our business, our schedules and our customers are being disrupted by unprecedented air traffic control and airport handling delays, but we remain confident that we can operate almost 100pc of our scheduled flights, while minimising delays and disruptions for our guests and their families.”

While we remain hopeful that the high rate of vaccinations in Europe will allow the airline and tourism industry to fully recover and finally put Covid behind us, we cannot ignore the risk of new Covid variants in autumn 2022.

Our experience with omicron last November, and the Ukraine invasion in February, shows how fragile the air travel market remains, and the strength of any recovery will be hugely dependent upon there being no adverse or unexpected developments over the remainder of 2022-23.

07:44 AM

Ryanair blames airports for travel chaos

Good morning. 

Ryanair has fired a fresh salvo at airports as the row over this summer’s travel chaos rumbles on.

Neil Sorahan, chief financial officer, told BBC radio that airports “had one job to do, and that was to make sure they had sufficient handlers and security staff”.

He added: “It is incumbent on the airports to get their planning better next year.”

It came as Ryanair posted a profit of €170m (£145m) in the three months to the end of June thanks to pent-up demand from holidaymakers.

But the budget airline warned of a “fragile” recovery ahead as the threats of Covid and the Ukraine war continue to hang over the sector.

5 things to start your day

1)  Britain forced to beg Belgium to keep the lights on The National Grid’s emergency instruction came as the market was roiled by surging prices ahead of a looming winter crisis.

2) OneWeb sale risks giving Chinese a stake in spy division used by Five Eyes Scrutiny is thought to focus on security contracts which OneWeb runs on behalf of the Western allies.

3) Network Rail draws up plans to reroute tracks at risk from rising sea levels The company is starting to identify lines close to the coast most at risk of becoming swamped and considering options to mitigate the impact.

4) Hydrogen refuelling station to open on British motorway The developer Element 2 is installing the facility on the M6 in Carlisle, as well as at another site on the A1 in Northallerton.

5) Arms makers scramble to defeat Putin’s hypersonic missile threat The weapons can travel five times faster than the speed of sound and are currently extremely difficult to shoot down.

What happened overnight

Hong Kong stocks started down this morning following losses on Wall Street. The Hang Seng Index dropped 0.5pc, the Shanghai Composite Index was flat, while the Shenzhen Composite Index on China’s second exchange also barely moved.

Tokyo stocks opened lower, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 index dipping 0.6pc.

Coming up today