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Tesla boss Elon Musk to scoop £26bn shares windfall despite the electric car maker’s stock tumbling










Elon Musk is in line to receive £26billion in Tesla share awards this year despite the electric car maker’s stock tumbling.

The world’s richest man is set to secure five tranches of shares worth around £5.2billion each in the coming months, according to analysts. 

The awards are linked to a controversial pay package for the Tesla boss, who does not take a salary from the firm.

Tesla boss Elon Musk is set to secure five tranches of shares worth around £5.2bn each in the coming months, according to analysts

Tesla boss Elon Musk is set to secure five tranches of shares worth around £5.2bn each in the coming months, according to analysts

In 2018, the 50-year-old was given the opportunity to access 12 sets of 8.4m shares if the company hit a combination of market value, revenue and profitability milestones. 

He has already gained access to seven of these – with five remaining. Musk is the world’s richest man according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with a £178billion fortune. 

He is still Tesla’s biggest investor despite selling almost £12billion of shares in November and December to settle tax bills.

Tesla is the world’s most valuable car company having seen its shares skyrocket in 2020 and 2021

So far this year a rout among tech stocks on Wall Street has seen its value tumble by more than 23 per cent.

Microsoft beat analyst forecasts as its cloud services division was boosted by businesses switching to hybrid working during the latest Covid waves. 

Turnover hit £38billion in the second quarter to December 31, compared with £32billion in the same period of 2020, while profits rose by a fifth to £14billion.

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Amigo finance boss Mike Corcoran steps down as loans firm battles for survival










Out: Amigo finance boss Mike Corcoran

Out: Amigo finance boss Mike Corcoran

Amigo’s finance boss resigned last night as the company battles for survival.

Mike Corcoran said he was stepping down from the troubled lender immediately. The company refused to disclose the reasons for Corcoran’s departure.

But it came after shares fell 41.9 per cent as Amigo launched a final push to get its customer redress scheme passed by the High Court. 

Amigo has a complaints bill of £344.4million, racked up after handing out loans to customers who should not have passed affordability checks.

A fresh court hearing in April will decide how much Amigo should pay back.

 It said an updated scheme would see shareholders own just 5 per cent of the firm if they did not participate in a fundraising to help the business pull in more money.

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Unilever roars back to life as billionaire activist hedge fund boss Nelson Peltz grabs stake










Unilever shares roared back to life as investors welcomed an activist hedge fund taking a stake in the company.

Shares in the Hellmann’s and Marmite maker jumped 7.3 per cent, or 268.5p, to 3943.5p.

The FTSE 100 giant’s value swung back above £100billion for the first time since its failed takeover of Glaxosmithkline’s consumer health arm.

Billionaire Nelson Peltz (pictured) was revealed to have built a stake in Unilever through his New York-based hedge fund Trian Partners

Billionaire Nelson Peltz (pictured) was revealed to have built a stake in Unilever through his New York-based hedge fund Trian Partners

The rise came after billionaire investor Nelson Peltz was revealed to have built a stake in the company through his New York-based hedge fund Trian Partners.

It is unknown how big a stake Trian has built, but it usually takes positions of between 1 per cent and 3.5 per cent. 

That would make the asset management firm one of Unilever’s five biggest shareholders.

It is believed the £6.3billion hedge fund started buying shares before Unilever’s bids for GSK consumer health were revealed. 

But analysts said it would pile further pressure on Unilever chief executive Alan Jope, whose leadership was questioned over the failed £50billion takeover attempt.

Jefferies analyst Martin Deboo said Trian’s involvement will ‘increase the pressure’ on Jope and the board. 

Unilever’s shares crashed as much as 10 per cent last week as analysts and investors roundly rejected the deal. 

Two major Unilever shareholders publicly questioned Jope’s leadership over the GSK approach.

Terry Smith – whose Fundsmith fund owns 0.8 per cent of Unilever – called the saga a ‘near death’ experience and raised questions over the quality of Unilever’s management. 

Smith said Unilever bosses – ‘or someone else if they don’t want the job’ – should focus on fixing the existing business before looking to buy others.

And investment manager Flossbach von Storch, which owns 1 per cent of the company, also urged Jope to stick to improving performance rather than chasing costly deals. Jope has also been heavily criticised for Unilever’s sales and share price growth.

Trian is renowned for pushing strategic and governance changes at companies it is involved in and its involvement helped shares claw back last week’s losses.

Deboo said the hedge fund has a ‘long and successful track record’ of unlocking value at companies through splits and spin outs.

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Legal & General boss criticises Government’s levelling up efforts as data shows UK has taken ‘a step back’ in some areas of life










The boss of Legal & General has criticised the Government’s levelling up efforts as data showed the UK had taken ‘a step back’ in some areas of life. 

L&G’s Rebuilding Britain Index, which tracks quality of life, showed that in 12 months there had been declines in healthcare and housing access, but less unemployment. 

Criticism: L&G's Rebuilding Britain Index showed that in 12 months there had been declines in healthcare and housing access, but less unemployment

Criticism: L&G’s Rebuilding Britain Index showed that in 12 months there had been declines in healthcare and housing access, but less unemployment

The index highlighted that the UK had ‘yet to show significant signs of rebuilding’. 

L&G chief executive Nigel Wilson said ‘more local’ focus was needed. 

‘Levelling up is too often talked about as London, the wider regions and devolved nations. Arguably, this doesn’t go far enough.’

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Chief executive of company led by controversial housebuilding boss Jeff Fairburn is leaving less than a year after his takeover










The chief executive of a company led by controversial housebuilding boss Jeff Fairburn is leaving less than a year after his takeover, The Mail on Sunday can reveal

Mark Mitchell has resigned from his role running Northern builder Avant Homes, which was bought by Fairburn’s Berkeley DeVeer with backing from powerful US hedge fund Elliott. 

Fairburn was ousted from Persimmon in 2018 after a furore over his £75million bonus, which was aided by the Government’s Help to Buy scheme. 

Leaving: Mark Mitchell has resigned from his role running Northern builder Avant Homes

Leaving: Mark Mitchell has resigned from his role running Northern builder Avant Homes

Last month, the MoS reported that Avant had lost seven directors since the takeover. 

Fairburn became chairman at Avant on completion of the deal in April, with Mitchell stepping up from chief operating officer. 

Former Avant boss Colin Lewis, who retired, later voiced fears that Fairburn would strip higher specification features from Avant’s new homes, ‘dumbing down’ the brand. 

Mitchell, 41, will leave this month after 21 years with the business.

He began his career as a trainee quantity surveyor at Henry Boot Homes, before moving to Ben Bailey Homes. He rose to the role of commercial director before the business was sold to what is now Avant Homes. He was made managing director at just 27. 

Elliott has taken a stake in Avant rival Taylor Wimpey and is pushing for the builder to replace outgoing chief Pete Redfern with an external candidate. 

Avant thanked Mitchell for his service, adding: ‘We wish him well for the future.’ 

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Rick Baldridge is on a mission worthy of a James Bond plot: to convince Her Majesty’s Government he can safeguard state secrets. The head of US satellite company Viasat is closing in on a $7.3billion (£5.4billion) takeover of British rival Inmarsat, seen as the jewel in the crown of the UK space industry. 

This week he flies into London for a charm offensive with media and officials examining the deal, which is its biggest ever takeover. 

‘We’re a growth company. The Government should think, ‘Here’s a technology company going to invest in high quality UK jobs in the area of space’,’ Baldridge says as he finesses his pitch in his first British newspaper interview since agreeing the deal in November. 

Space man: Rick Baldridge, the head of US satellite company Viasat

Space man: Rick Baldridge, the head of US satellite company Viasat

Viasat needs to persuade officials in Whitehall that it can be trusted with the highly sensitive information transmitted by Inmarsat: from locations of tanks in war zones to identities of hackers trying to take control of ships. 

‘We have procedures to ensure classified information is protected and operate that way in the US, where only limited people have access to certain pieces of information,’ Baldridge says, speaking via Zoom from California

The issue is of particular significance as Inmarsat is a bidder for a £6billion contract to upgrade the UK military’s secure communications network. Inmarsat, the London-based satellite stalwart founded in 1979, handles communications for the military, ships and commercial airlines. 

Baldridge, 63, says the takeover is not contingent on Inmarsat winning the £6billion contract. But he adds: ‘I like to win every contract we bid on so we’re big cheerleaders for the Inmarsat team. That’s a very, very important contract. I think they have a really good chance.’ 

Baldridge says Viasat’s skill in handling sensitive data is evidenced by its receipt of America’s James Cogswell award for careful protection of intelligence, bestowed on a tiny fraction of firms. Baldridge’s assurances will form part of a string of commitments Viasat will make to the British Government to secure the Inmarsat deal, along with pledges to invest further here. 

The sale of British defence firms to US bidders became a headline issue last year. The National Security and Investment Act was introduced this month to make it harder for UK firms of national importance to fall into foreign hands. The Government could refer Inmarsat’s takeover for deeper scrutiny under these powers. 

The takeover of aerospace and defence giant Meggitt by Parker-Hannifin and the acquisition of Ultra Electronics by US buyout firm Advent are being assessed for threats to national security. 

Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, has written to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng calling for a review of the Inmarsat purchase and concerns about selling ‘strategically important’ UK companies to overseas counterparts. 

Viasat and Inmarsat already overlap on national security projects. Both work with the Ministry of Defence and have contracts on the US President’s Air Force One plane. Inmarsat was snapped up before – in 2019 by a consortium of private equity firms, including London’s Apax and New York’s Warburg Pincus, as well as pension funds.

If this latest deal is not held up, it could be completed in the second half of this year. Baldridge says it would mark a bold step towards creating a new hub in Britain. 

Last spring, Viasat announced it would build a £300million cyber security base in Aldershot, Hampshire, to help fend off attacks on Britain’s communications networks and satellites. As such, Baldridge says the swoop was not opportunistic: ‘If we didn’t see the value, we certainly would have backed away and let somebody else do it.’ 

Viasat has identified $80million a year of ‘synergies’ – cost cuts from overlaps – at the two companies. So should staff at Inmarsat’s HQ at London’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’ in East London be concerned? Baldridge says: ‘My message to employees is: we’re going to hire really strong technical talent. If you’re an engineer and want to work on cool things in the space area there’s just enormous opportunities.’

Viasat has 6,000 employees and is valued at $3.3billion. It has four satellites which hang about 22,000 miles above Earth in geostationary orbit to provide communications for the military as well as airlines.

Industry watchers have claimed it is a golden age for investment in space. The Mail on Sunday revealed in November last year that Viasat beat off competition from Luxembourg’s SES – which made the first satellite for Sky TV – to agree the deal to buy debt-laden Inmarsat. 

There is also a trend for tycoons to get involved, led by billionaire entrepreneurs Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. Baldridge, in the industry for 22 years, says the huge sums being poured into the space industry represent a ‘frothy period’ but Viasat is investing more prudently.

Viasat is building a 300-strong Leo constellation that will compete with Musk’s SpaceX and the UK Government-backed OneWeb when completed in the next four years. 

Baldridge says the Inmarsat deal can aid Viasat’s mission to improve broadband communication – especially in towns and cities – amid unprecedented internet demand in the pandemic. Of the growing use of video calls, not to mention streaming shows from home, he says: ‘Video is dominating demand for bandwidth growth, and demand is concentrated where people are.’ 

Viasat hopes to improve wi-fi on planes too, cutting costs for airlines and passengers. And Baldridge also hopes that this week can help Viasat’s global ambitions take flight. 

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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One of Unilever’s most powerful shareholders breaks ranks to deliver stark warning to Marmite owner’s boss that his job is hanging by a thread










One of Unilever’s most powerful shareholders has broken ranks to deliver a stark warning to the Marmite owner’s boss that his job is hanging by a thread. 

Bert Flossbach – owner of investment group Flossbach von Storch which holds Unilever stock worth £1.25billion – urged chief executive Alan Jope to stick to improving performance rather than chasing costly deals. 

Jope was criticised after revelations he repeatedly tried to buy a £50billion arm of rival GlaxoSmithKline. Shares in Unilever plunged after it emerged last weekend the FTSE100 company tried three times to acquire GSK’s consumer division, including Sensodyne and Panadol. 

Swoop: City sources said that private equity firms, said to include KKR, are now circling Unilever with a view to picking off parts

Swoop: City sources said that private equity firms, said to include KKR, are now circling Unilever with a view to picking off parts

The audacious bid by Unilever, which makes products including Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Hellmann’s mayonnaise, sparked a fierce backlash from investors. 

City sources told The Mail on Sunday that private equity firms, said to include KKR, are now circling Unilever with a view to picking off parts. 

Flossbach – Unilever’s 12th largest shareholder – likened the disastrous bid to Reckitt Benckiser’s much-criticised takeover of Mead Johnson in 2017. Flossbach told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Unilever should stay focused on their core competence, which is not [over the counter] pharmaceuticals.

‘Reckitt Benckiser’s acquisition of Mead Johnson Nutrition showed the risks of leaving your circle of competence. In the end, it cost the CEO his job.’ 

Reckitt Benckiser, which sells Dettol and Durex, saw £10billion written off the baby formula company Mead Johnson which it had bought for $17billion (£12.5billion). 

Chief executive Rakesh Kapoor ended up retiring. 

Fund veteran Terry Smith also called on the group to focus on its own performance before embarking on a large acquisition. Smith, who stopped short of calling for Jope’s head, described the proposed deal as a ‘near death experience’. 

Several major investors told The Mail on Sunday they met privately with Unilever last week and expressed concerns about the takeover attempt. 

But some analysts said Jope should not be singled out, pointing to the board and senior bankers at Deutsche and Centerview Partners who were advising on the deal. 

During the investor meetings, it is understood Jope explained which divisions have been earmarked for growth through acquisitions – including beauty, pet care and consumer health care.

He said they saw an opportunity to buy GSK’s consumer businesses as part of that strategy. Unilever declined to comment. 

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Boss of London Metal Exchange leaving less than a year after his drive to shut its famous trading floor failed










The boss of the London Metal Exchange (LME) is leaving less than a year after his drive to shut its famous trading floor failed. 

Matthew Chamberlain will step down from the City institution at the end of April to run an obscure crypto-currency startup. 

Komainu, which is headquartered in Jersey, stores crypto-currencies such as bitcoin for investors to keep them safe. It was founded in 2018 and raised £18.5m last year.

Vocal: The exchange runs one of the last 'open-outcry' marketplaces in Europe

Vocal: The exchange runs one of the last ‘open-outcry’ marketplaces in Europe

It will mark a drastic change for Chamberlain, who has headed the 145-year-old LME since 2017. 

The exchange runs one of the last ‘open-outcry’ marketplaces in Europe, where traders bark ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ orders to one another around a circular red leather sofa and setting global prices for industrial metals such as copper and aluminium. 

Chamberlain, who has worked in mergers and acquisitions at Citibank and UBS, said he believes digital currency technologies ‘will only deliver their true potential when robust infrastructure exists to make them easily and reliably available to all those who wish to participate in this unprecedented period of financial democratisation’.

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Terry Smith has taken a second pop at Unilever in as many weeks, accusing its bosses of playing ‘gin rummy management’.

The stockpicker, who looks after more than £33billion of savers’ money through his firm Fundsmith, said he was ‘thankful’ that the company’s £50billion bid for the consumer arm of GSK was now ‘dead’.

The fund manager said the whole sorry saga, which entailed the consumer goods giant being repeatedly rebuffed by GSK, was a ‘near-death’ experience, raising serious questions over the quality of the Marmite-maker’s management, including chief executive Alan Jope.

In the ring: Fund manager Terry Smith (pictured) said he was 'thankful' that Unilever's £50bn bid for the consumer arm of GSK was now 'dead'

In the ring: Fund manager Terry Smith (pictured) said he was ‘thankful’ that Unilever’s £50bn bid for the consumer arm of GSK was now ‘dead’

In a devastating analysis, which Smith titled a ‘post-mortem’ into the flopped deal, he said bosses should consider whether they – rather than the business – were the problem.

Borrowing a phrase from the legendary US investor, he said: ‘The management seems to be playing what Warren Buffett lampoons as ‘gin rummy’ management.’ He added that they should consider whether the problem was not with the hand of cards but with the player, in a dig at Unilever’s bosses.

His criticism came after the business made three separate bids to acquire GSK’s consumer arm, which makes Aquafresh toothpaste and Panadol painkillers.

Unilever said the move was part of its plan to move into selling more beauty products, while potentially selling its food and refreshment business which includes brands such as Marmite and Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

GSK had been pushing for more money, but on Wednesday Unilever said it was drawing the line at £50billion, effectively abandoning the bid.

Smith, however, suggested the deal should never have got that far. The 68-year-old, who is one of the best-known names in Britain’s investment industry, criticised Unilever for failing to show any analysis of how it intended to make a strong return on its £50billion investment.

On Smith’s estimates, the company would have needed to significantly improve the performance of GSK Consumer to avoid destroying the value of the cash it pumped in. 

And getting Unilever to disclose its calculations ‘was like a dentist pulling a back tooth’, he added, claiming the firm had a ‘penchant for corporate gobbledegook’.

Smith, who is based in Mauritius, also raised concerns that Unilever’s decision to switch its focus to beauty was misplaced.

Under fire: Unilever chief executive Alan Jope (pictured). The firm has made three separate bids to acquire GSK's consumer arm

Under fire: Unilever chief executive Alan Jope (pictured). The firm has made three separate bids to acquire GSK’s consumer arm

Few conglomerates had achieved success in the sector, he said, pointing to Proctor & Gamble’s move to assemble a bunch of beauty brands before selling them to US giant, Coty.

His comments come as Bruno Monteyne, a Bernstein analyst, questioned whether there would have to be management changes at company after the failed bid.

Monteyne said investors had expressed disbelief over the bid adding that it wreaked of desperation and he believes there will be changes at board level over the next few months.

He added: ‘Given the performance of the business over recent years; given this sudden change in strategy and the shareholder refusal to back one of the key pieces of the plan, we think management has lost credibility. 

We would expect management and board change to be the key topics for the next three to months.’

But Smith’s issues with Unilever go back much further than its recent failed attempt to buy GSK, as he pointed out it had performed much more poorly than its rivals over the past decade.

Lashing out at the company’s communications, he said: ‘Against the background of this miserable performance the company did not even attempt to contact us for the first eight years we were shareholders.’

It was the second outburst from Smith in as many weeks.

Last week he blasted the company for being ‘obsessed’ with its sustainability credentials – to the detriment of its financial performance. The stock-picker said Unilever had ‘lost the plot’ over trying to define some of its brands like Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

In his annual letter to investors in his Fundsmith Equity fund, Smith said: ‘A company which feels it has to define the purpose of Hellmann’s mayonnaise has clearly lost the plot.

‘The brand has existed since 1913 so we would guess that by now consumers have figured out its purpose (spoiler alert – salads and sandwiches).’

He also blasted its refusal to supply Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the West Bank, as sales ‘in the Occupied Palestinian Territory’ were ‘inconsistent with our values’. 

Smith said: ‘Unilever seems to be labouring under the weight of a management obsessed with publicly displaying sustainability credentials at the expense of focusing on the fundamentals of the business.’

But rival fund managers disagreed with Smith’s criticism.

John William Olsen, a portfolio manager at M&G Investments, said the firm was ‘focused on running the business sustainability and explaining its strategy – something that should be demanded from any company’.

And one City investor suggested that Smith may have been using Unilever’s focus on sustainability to excuse its poor performance, when actually there were other reasons why the company was not a very canny investment.

These included features such as its lack of investment in ecommerce and direct-to-consumer businesses, the investor said.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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ALEX BRUMMER: GSK loses its biggest fish – now can under-fire boss Walmsley survive the activist assault?










Emma Walmsley could not have done more to woo scientific whizz Hal Barron to Glaxosmithkline. 

In the manner of a star Wall Street trader, he was offered a package worth more than the chief executive’s, and allowed to set up HQ in San Francisco, far from the labs in Stevenage and Philadelphia.

In picking Barron in 2017, the GSK boss sought to demonstrate her lack of top scientific knowhow was no bar to restoring it to the top division in pharma research and development (R&D).

Red carpet treatment: GSK boss Emma Walmsley (pictured) could not have done more to woo scientific whizz Hal Barron to Glaxosmithkline

Red carpet treatment: GSK boss Emma Walmsley (pictured) could not have done more to woo scientific whizz Hal Barron to Glaxosmithkline

It is hard to see his departure to join Jeff Bezos in the quest for eternal life at Silicon Valley’s Altos Labs as anything but a setback as Walmsley seeks to keep activists Elliott at bay and win a glorious price for the consumer healthcare division.

Covid has demonstrated that developing vaccines and compounds does not have to take decades, as has been the case for malaria. 

Nevertheless, creating oncology drugs doesn’t simply happen. That is for the long-term and Barron’s four-year stint doesn’t get anywhere near that.

Moreover, for all the new drugs to escape from GSK’s pipeline during Barron’s tenure the firm is certain to be remembered as the vaccine champion that was beaten to the punch in the pandemic by Astrazeneca in the UK and Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson in the US.

Indeed, the pandemic saw sales of its blockbuster, shingrix, stymied by lockdowns. Barron is to be succeeded by Tony Wood as chief scientific officer. He is described by GSK as ‘one of the world’s pre-eminent chemists’ and will bring R&D headquarters back to the UK.

If Wood is so capable, one wonders why GSK felt it necessary to entice Barron back as a non-executive director and to offer him a one-day-a-week role. 

Aside from potential conflict of interest, it is hardly a vote of confidence in Wood to have a ‘big foot’ in the background. 

Where all this leaves Walmsley is hard to gauge. She has shown her mettle as the staggering prices for selling consumer healthcare demonstrate.

But the loss of Barron will reinforce the activist view that after all, she is not the right person to run pharma and vaccines.

Jilted Jope

Where does this leave the Unilever effort to buy GSK’s consumer healthcare?

Walmsley, the board and minority partner Pfizer could start to feel that the slow burn path to an initial public offering this summer is getting too risky. 

Gaining a £50billion valuation for a float outside the fashionable tech sector might be a stretch.

Unilever’s firm offer has been hurt by the share price slide.

But what cannot be dismissed is chief executive Alan Jope’s determination to reshape the Ben & Jerry’s-to-Dove group around health, beauty and hygiene.

When Unilever decided after a shareholder revolt to domicile in Britain it was partly a decision based around growth. Internal analysis showed this part of the enterprise was outperforming foodstuffs.

The retreat has been under way for some time, with the sale of margarines to KKR for £6billion in 2017 and last year’s disposal of most of its tea operations to another private equity group, CVC. 

Both disposals demonstrate a willingness to offload even the most historic parts of the empire, for the right price.

Negotiations with GSK are now off the table and Unilever has boxed itself in by imposing a £50billion ceiling. 

Jope is pressing ahead with a reorganisation and could offer more clarity on ambitions when Unilever presents its annual results next month.

Determination to change direction should not be underestimated. Jope could look elsewhere, with a possible bid or ‘merger’ with £45billion Reckitt Benckiser. But that might pose anti-trust problems.

Anything goes

Revolut boss Nik Storonsky may still be awaiting a UK banking licence but his ambition is relentless.

The latest move for the UK fintech outfit is to compete with Robinhood Markets and Charles Schwab in the US lucrative ‘commission-free’ retail share trading.

The market was estimated to be worth a stonking £207billion in 2021.

Instead of charging retail customers commission, Revolut will rely on payments from market makers for orders, a practice that is under investigation by the US Securities & Exchange Commission.

Nothing to worry about then.

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