Market Loop - 🔗Vodafone hangs up on boss

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6th December 2022

Bite-sized business news from the UK and beyond
Good morning  The Oxford English Dictionary announced its Word Of The Year for 2022, and the winner is “Goblin mode,” a slang term referring to “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.” 
Today's stories
  • Vodafone hangs up on boss
  • Workers to get flexible rights from day 1
TELECOMS
Vodafone hangs up on boss

 
What happened?
Yesterday Vodafone announced that CEO Nick Read would leave after he failed to halt a decades-long slide in the company’s share price.

How did we get here?
Nick Read has been the chief of the UK’s third biggest mobile provider since 2018 but during his tenure Vodafone’s share price has dropped by 44% to the lowest level in over 20 years.

Last month the company delivered a disappointing set of results warning that profits would be lower than initially expected due to soaring energy costs, higher interest on debt repayments and weakness in its biggest market Germany. It then launched a €1bn cost cutting programme.

In recent years Vodafone has faced criticism from investors for not buying enough companies to increase its scale. In the telecoms sector bigger companies tend to do better as they can do larger infrastructure investment which yield better returns for shareholders. The company is in the middle of merger talks with the Three that if successful would leapfrog BT to become the UK’s largest mobile operator. But that’s not been enough to please investors.

Vodafone’s underperforming share price has attracted the attention of international telecoms firms. This year French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel bought a 2.5% stake and the United Arab Emirates’ biggest telecoms provider, e&, acquired a 9.8% stake.

Zooming out: The hunt is on for a new CEO but there are big questions over what a successor would do differently. To make investors happy a radical rethink of the company’s strategy may be needed which would be a bold move by any board in these uncertain economic times.
Other stories to keep you in the loop
WORK
Workers to get flexible rights from day 1 


What happened?
Under new government proposals employees will get the right to ask for part-time hours or remote working arrangements from the first day of a new job rather than after six months, as the law stands today.

How did we get here?
The pandemic has made flexible working practices like working from home more commonplace. However it’s sectors such as marketing and finance where this is most prevalent.

The government believes making it easier for workers to ask employers for flexible ways of working will create happier and more productive staff:
  • There will be no more limits on people working for multiple employers meaning gig economy workers, students and carers, would be able to boost their income with second jobs if they wanted.
  • Making more roles flexible would make it easier for people to balance work with family and home responsibilities.
It’s also hoped the new rules will help alleviate the UK’s chronic worker shortage, currently there are more open roles than the number of available workers. Only 12% of jobs are advertised as open to part-time work, the type of flexible working most in demand, with most roles lowly paid.  Making roles more accessible could make it easier for sections of society often excluded from the labour market, like single parents, to enter.

Zooming out: During Covid lockdowns flexible working became a necessity for many workplaces. However not everyone is convinced it’s the future. Some employers like Twitter, Goldman Sachs and Netflix have demanded staff come back to the office as they say it encourages collaboration and innovation and ultimately boost productivity.
Stat of the day

An estimated 20.4m people watched England’s match against Senegal on Sunday the largest audience of 2022 so far
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