Uber appeal, EU summit, Mexico election
Josh de la Mare previews some of the big stories in the week ahead, including the latest EU summit to discuss migration and Brexit, an appeal by Uber against losing its London licence, Mexico's presidential election and results from scandal-hit Steinhoff, owner of Poundland.
Words by Gideon Rachman, Alex Barker, Jude Webber, Aliya Ram, Simon Greaves and Jonathan Eley. Studio filmed by Bianca Wakeman and Petros Gioumpasis. Images from Getty and Reuters. Produced by Josh de la Mare.
Hello, and welcome to The Week Ahead from the Financial Times in London. Here are some of the big stories we'll be watching this week. Migration and Brexit will top the agenda at a key EU summit. Uber appeals against losing its licence in London. Leftwing Amlo looks set to win Mexico's presidential election. And results from South Africa's Steinhoff, the owner of Poundland, will show if the scandal-hit retailer can bounce back.
First, in Brussels, EU leaders gather on Thursday for one of the most difficult summits in years, with member states badly divided over migration and how to respond to the US under Donald Trump. The two-day gathering will cover some of the most fraught issues for the union - how to break the impasse on a common asylum policy, how to reform the eurozone, how to salvage the transatlantic alliance, and how to handle Brexit. Gideon Rachman has more.
From the British point of view, the thing they'll be most worried about is Brexit, because time is running out. Britain is meant to be out of the EU by March of next year. And there are all sorts of incredibly important details which have not been agreed. The British will be hoping for some advances. Frankly, I'm sceptical.
However, from the German and French point of view, there are other more pressing issues. Migration is number one. The government of Angela Merkel in Germany is actually under threat because its coalition partners want a much tougher migration regime. Merkel is pleading for time and saying maybe she can get a pan-European deal at this council. So that will be really important, whether she can do that.
And finally, there's the question of eurozone reform. Merkel and Macron, the French and German leaders, have just agreed to have a separate budget for the eurozone, the countries that use the European single currency. But the details are yet to be filled in, and it's not clear whether the other EU countries will go for that. But if it happens, it's a huge development.
Uber will face London's transport authority this week in a much anticipated hearing about its licence to operate in the capital. The ride-hailing app was banned by Transport for London, or TFL, in September over safety concerns. Aliya Ram has this analysis.
It's a really important case for Uber because London is Uber's biggest market in Europe. TFL banned Uber primarily because of concerns over how it dealt with security incidents and how it reported violent incidents to the police. And since the start of the year, Uber's made a series of changes intended to appease TFL.
So they've invested millions of pounds in call centre staff so drivers and riders can call if they have a question or a concern. They've said they'll start reporting violent incidents to the police. They've also capped the number of hours that drivers can work before they have to take a break, which is a response to concerns about tired drivers on the road.
So I think they will be going into the hearing this week very confident and hopeful that they'll get their licence back, although there were some expectations that the licence issue would be settled before the hearing. And that hasn't happened, so we'll have to see.
Mexico looks set for one of the most profound political shifts in decades when voters go to the polls on July the 1st. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a leftist nationalist, is more than 20 points clear of his rivals and is predicted to win a landslide with his Morena party, dealing a major blow to the ruling Institutional Revolutionary party.
Amlo, as the 64-year-old is widely known, is vowing to eradicate corruption and to revive Mexico's poor south. He has pledged also to pause the energy reform that opened Mexico's oil sector to private investment. But his opponents warn about a return to the failed policies of Mexico's populist governments of the 1970s.
Steinhoff has been one of the more spectacular high-profile corporate scandals of recent years. Equity in the South African retail group, which owns Poundland in the UK, collapsed after the discovery of accounting irregularities six months ago. Jonathan Eley says investors will be watching Steinhoff results very closely this week
Steinhoff, which is a pan-African retail group, was the biggest flotation of 2015 on Frankfurt's markets when it floated there. Since then, its shares have lost 90% of their value. Its bonds are junk. Its former major shareholder is suing it. And its former chief executive is under investigation for corruption and fraud. It's been a quite spectacular fall from grace.
It reports interim results this week. The key focus with results is normally profits. In this case, it will be the balance sheets. There are enormous doubts about what assets exactly this company owns and how much those assets are worth. The balance sheet hopefully should give creditors some confidence as to the financial picture of the company. That's important because Steinhoff needs to renegotiate its substantial debts.
And that's what the week ahead looks like from the Financial Times in London. Goodbye.