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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

Our roundup this week covers the Panama Papers offshore tax scandal, a new poll suggesting increasing support for the 'In' campaign ahead of the forthcoming referendum on Britain's membership of the EU, signs of a gradual recovery for Tesco and the introduction of a new National Living Wage.


Investigations begin following Panama Papers leak

Investigations have been opened by authorities around the world following the leak of 11.5 million files revealing possible wrongdoing on the part of politicians and public figures regarding secretive offshore tax regimes. Named the 'Panama Papers', the scandal concerns the leak of documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which were obtained from an anonymous source by German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung before being shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The documents appear to show how clients of the firm have avoided tax and laundered money. They include links to more than 12 current or former heads of state, while there are also links to more than 60 of their relatives and associates.

Authorities in the UK have said they are looking into the matter, while those in Australia, New Zealand, France, Sweden, the Netherlands and Austria have all started investigations. 

Poll suggests increasing support for EU 'In' campaign

A new survey has indicated a rise in the number of people in support of Britain remaining in the European Union (EU). The ORB poll, conducted for the Daily Telegraph, revealed support for the 'In' campaign climbed in March, with 51% of Britons in favour of remaining in the 28-member bloc.

The poll, taken to gauge opinion ahead of the EU membership referendum on June 23, showed that 44% of respondents back the UK leaving the EU, while 5% are still undecided. The 51% figure in favour of remaining in the bloc represented a rise of four percentage points on similar research carried out last month.

In an article written for the Daily Telegraph, Prime Minister David Cameron claimed that opting to leave the EU would mean choosing a "second-rate, more restrictive trading relationship" for the UK's economy. 

Slowing sales decline 'suggests gradual recovery for Tesco'

Tesco has enjoyed a slowing of its sales decline for the fourth consecutive month, suggesting a gradual recovery for the supermarket giant. The group has suffered in recent times due to the emergence of discount stores such as Aldi and Lidl, but a new monthly report from market researcher Kantar Worldpanel has revealed Tesco's sales fell by just 0.2% in the 12 weeks to March 27. The supermarket has made efforts to boost sales by improving product availability and customer service, while also placing more of an emphasis on lower prices.

Fraser McKevitt, Head of Retail and Consumer Insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: "A small increase in shopper numbers suggests Tesco could return to growth in the next few months; welcome news after 12 months in decline." 

New National Living Wage introduced

The past week has seen a new National Living Wage (NLW) coming into force. Around 1.8 million workers should enjoy an immediate pay rise after the introduction of the new NLW for workers aged over 25 of £7.20 an hour.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced the move in his Budget last summer. Employees aged between 21 and 24 will continue to receive the National Minimum Wage of £6.70 an hour.