UK News These companies spectacularly failed to deliver
$500m tech star PrimaryBid woos SoftBank to take stake
The British company which has orchestrated a torrent of retail share placings for cash-strapped companies during the pandemic is in advanced talks to sell a big stake to the world's largest technology investor. © Reuters SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son Sky News has learnt that PrimaryBid is close to finalising the details of a $150m (£110m) funding round that will be led by the second of Japanese giant SoftBank's Vision Funds - which have amassed stakes in companies ranging from Uber to Revolut.
By Andrew MacAskill
LONDON (Reuters) - The British government acted unlawfully by setting up a fast-track "VIP lane" to allow ministers and officials to recommend suppliers of personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic, a London court ruled on Wednesday.
Opposition politicians have accused the government of running a "chumocracy", awarding deals to those with family or business links to people in power, including for what turned out to be unusable PPE in some cases.
The campaign groups, the Good Law Project and EveryDoctor, brought legal action claiming some suppliers were given an unfair advantage in obtaining contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
Romelu Lukaku's key asset vs Spurs and Thomas Tuchel's brutally honest stance on Timo Werner
Chelsea's strikers have struggled with injury and illness this season as well as finding the netThe Belgian forward made his return to the Chelsea side against Spurs following his interview controversy, but made just 26 touches and recorded three shots in the fixtures.
The contracts included one worth over 340 million pounds ($465 million) given to pest control firm PestFix and another worth 252 million pounds to the investment firm Ayanda Capital.
In a ruling, the judge Finola O'Farrell said the government breached its obligation to treat potential suppliers equally by giving some firms preferential treatment.
Video: Eustice defends Omicron response (Sky News)
"There is evidence that opportunities were treated as high priority even where there were no objectively justifiable grounds for expediting the offer," she said.
But the judge said that even if the two companies had not been allocated to the fast-track lane, their offers would have been accepted by the government anyway, because of the large volumes of protective equipment they could supply.
SINCE YOU ASK: We explain baffling stock market terminology
When a privately-owned company sells its shares for the first time through a stock exchange, it is said to be floating, or listing. IPO stands for Initial Public Offering.Older readers will remember the floats of the privatised utility companies, back in the 1980s and 1990s.
A spokesman for the prime minister said the government had acted when there was a "desperate need" for protective equipment and all contracts were awarded after due diligence.
The court ruling causes further embarrassment for the government after the Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced calls to resign on Wednesday for attending a gathering at his official residence during the country's first coronavirus lockdown.
The National Audit Office has said there had been a lack of transparency and a failure to explain why certain suppliers of protective equipment were chosen, or how any conflict of interest was dealt with, in procurement deals worth more than 18 billion pounds.
After the ruling Jolyon Maugham, the founder of the Good Law Project, said "never again should any government treat a public health crisis as an opportunity to enrich its associates and donors at public expense".
($1 = 0.7309 pounds)
(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Alison Williams)
Ukraine conflict with Russia: US obviously consider emergency gas supplies to Europe .
In Ukraine conflict, the US government for emergency gas supplies should have explored in Europe. Around one third of its gas needs, the EU relates to Russia. © Photo: Imago Images / Sergei Krasnoukhov A Gas Tanker in Russia in Ukraine conflict with Russia , according to the US government, insiders with energy companies of emergency plans for gas deliveries to Europe explores.