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Equilibrium's finance and investment news roundup

In our roundup this week we report on a pledge by Qatar to significantly invest in the UK as Article 50 is triggered, a £129 million fine for Tesco for overstating its profits, the introduction of the new £1 coin, and figures suggesting a record number of homebuyers relying on the 'bank of mum and dad'. 


Qatar pledges £5bn UK investment

Qatar has pledged a significant investment in the UK at a time when Prime Minister Theresa May is beginning formal Brexit talks by triggering Article 50. The Middle Eastern state, which has already invested £40 billion in the UK, including its ownership of Harrods and 95% stake in the Shard, has committed £5 billion of new money to invest in Britain moving forward.

The move will involve Qatar investing in property, transport, digital technology and other infrastructure sectors, and will be invested in the next three to five years.

Ali Shareef al Emadi, Qatar's Finance Minister, told the BBC: "Currently the UK is our first investment destination and it is the largest investment destination for Qatari investors, both public and private." 

Tesco hit with £129m false accounting fine

Tesco is to pay a fine of £129 million plus compensation following an investigation into accounting fraud in 2014. The one-off charge has been accepted by the supermarket giant after it signed a deferred prosecution agreement with the Serious Fraud Office, which means it will avoid a criminal conviction.

As part of the agreement, Tesco will also pay around £85 million to compensate investors who purchased shares or bonds between August 29 and September 19 2014.

Dave Lewis, Chief Executive of Tesco, commented: "We sincerely regret the issues which occurred in 2014 and we are committed to doing everything we can to continue to restore trust in our business and brand." 

New £1 coin enters circulation with extra security features  

The new £1 coin has been introduced this week and includes not only a new 12-sided design, but also a number of security features.

Although the Royal Mint has not released further details on the features, these are believed to include a material inside the coin that is detected by scanning mechanisms in coin-counting and payment machines, micro-sized lettering inside the rims of the coin and a hologram-like image.

Royal Mail Chief Executive Adam Lawrence said: "It's been designed to be fit for the future, using security features that aim to safeguard our currency, and currencies around the world, for years to come." 

Record homebuyer numbers turn to 'bank of mum and dad'

The so-called 'bank of mum and dad' is helping record numbers of first-time buyers to access the housing market. This is according to new analysis carried out for the Social Mobility Commission, which found - using the latest available official data from 2013-14 - that more than one-third of new buyers (34%) required financial help from their parents.

This figure was markedly higher than the 20% recorded in 2010/11, and the average amount borrowed was found to be £17,500.

Report author Dr Paul Sanderson from Anglia Ruskin University, said: "Affordability problems mean that parents and other family members have a critical role in assisting their children to buy their first home, either by means of a gift of money or a soft loan."


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