Business Briefing

Amazon recruits James Bond and Rocky for battle of the streaming giants

M&S step up store closures, a hospitality hiring spree, and other breaking business news

1

Film & TV

Amazon to buy MGM in $8.5bn deal 

The battle for “global streaming supremacy” has reached “new heights” after Amazon announced it will buy MGM for $8.5bn (£6bn), The Guardian says. Hollywood studio MGM is home to the James Bond, Rocky and Tomb Raider franchises and its library includes 4,000 film titles and 17,000 hours of TV programming. 

MGM’s huge collection of films and TV shows will help Amazon “ramp up competition” with streaming rivals such as Netflix and Disney+, Reuters reports. “With the talented people at MGM and the talented people at Amazon Studios, we can reimagine and develop that IP for the 21st century,” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said at the company’s annual shareholder meeting yesterday.

2

Automotive 

Nissan plans to open UK battery gigafactory

Japanese car giant Nissan is in “advanced talks” with the UK government to build a battery gigafactory. A post-Brexit plan will make Britain the company’s “largest electric car production hub outside Japan”, the FT reports. 

A possible announcement is scheduled for this summer and the new factory at Nissan’s existing Sunderland site would support the production of 200,000 battery cars a year as well as thousands of jobs. The factory should open towards the end of 2024. 

3

Retail

M&S to close stores after £200m loss

Marks & Spencer is planning an overhaul of its stores after reporting a £201.2m loss in the year to the end of March – the first loss since it became a public company 94 years ago, the Daily Mail reports. The retail giant currently has 255 stores, but plans to reduce this to a chain of 180 clothing and homewares sites in the next ten years. 

Despite the store closures and losses, The Guardian’s Nils Pratley asks: has M&S really got it right at last? “The 8.5% rise in the share price on Wednesday tells the story – the umpteenth round of restructuring may be working,” he said. 

4

Housing 

UK property market ‘set for busiest year since 2007’

New data has revealed that home sales in the UK this year will be higher than when the market last peaked in 2007. According to Zoopla the UK’s property market momentum “continues at pace” and sales transactions are expected to reach 1.5m in the year to December – an increase of 45% year-on year, Yahoo Finance reports. 

The value of homes sold in 2021 is expected to reach £461bn – up £145bn on 2020, and 68% compared to 2019. “Sales of 1.5m would mark 2021 as the busiest sales market since the peak that preceded the global financial crash, and one of the ten busiest years since 1959,” Zoopla said in its report. 

5

Hospitality 

Hotels, bars and restaurants go on hiring spree

Hopes for an “economic bounce-back” are growing after hotels, bars, restaurants, travel and leisure firms took on workers at the “strongest rate since late 2015”, Sky News reports.

A survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) says that “optimism across the service sector improved significantly” in the three months to May with employment increasing to +38% from -47%, and is expected to grow at a similar rate in the next quarter (+39%).

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