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Northern & Shell joins Camelot in taking legal action over National Lottery

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Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell group has become the third company to sue the UK’s gambling regulator over its decision to award the next National Lottery licence to Czech operator Allwyn, making it the most contested award in the competition’s history.

Northern & Shell, which owns The Health Lottery, and The New Lottery Company, another business owned by Desmond, filed a procurement challenge against the Gambling Commission on Wednesday, according to court filings, which do not give further details of the claim.

Camelot, the current lottery operator, and Camelot’s technology provider IGT have also issued legal proceedings against the commission in relation to the award. Camelot has filed both a procurement challenge, which claims a breach of rules during the bidding process, and a judicial review, which requires a court to assess whether the decision of a public body was at fault.

Canadian-owned Camelot said the commission had got its decision “badly wrong”.

The competition for the next National Lottery licence, which kicked off in 2020, has been one of the most heated since the lottery was launched in 1994. It is among the most valuable government contracts on offer to private bidders, with Camelot, which has operated the weekly draw since its inception, reporting more than £8bn in revenues in the year to March 2021.

The current licence expires in 2024.

Allwyn and Camelot, who were seen as frontrunners to win the bid, both appointed lawyers in the run-up to the result being announced in expectation of legal wranglings following the outcome.

Camelot’s claim centres around the way that a “risk factor”, normally applied to the contestants’ bids and affecting 15 per cent of the final score, appeared to be discounted in the result.

Northern & Shell, which never officially announced its entry into the fourth lottery competition, did not respond to requests for comment.

IGT said it had issued legal proceedings “to protect our interests and to preserve our rights in connection with the legal challenge launched against the UK Gambling Commission by Camelot, with whom we have a longstanding relationship”.

A lawyer with knowledge of the process said that if any of the gambling companies were successful in challenging Allwyn’s victory, the commission could be forced “back to square one”.

“If a court finds the award decision was unlawful in some way, the court could require the Gambling Commission to rewind the whole process and rerun it,” the lawyer said. “There is a lot of uncertainty as to how this will resolve itself.”

The Gambling Commission declined to comment beyond a statement it issued after Camelot initiated proceedings on April 1. “The competition and our evaluation have been carried out fairly and lawfully in accordance with our statutory duties, and we are confident that a court would come to that conclusion,” the statement said.

It is not the first time that the outcome of the National Lottery competition has been contested. Sir Richard Branson considered launching a judicial review in 2000 when Camelot was awarded the second lottery licence but stepped away, saying it risked the lottery’s “credibility being irreparably damaged”.

The other bidder to run the lottery was Sisal, an Italian operator. It declined to comment on whether it was considering legal action.



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IMF hikes global growth forecast as inflation cools

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The IMF has revised its global economic outlook upwards.

Norberto Duarte | Afp | Getty Images

The International Monetary Fund on Monday revised upward its global growth projections for the year, but warned that higher interest rates and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would likely still weigh on activity.

In its latest economic update, the institution said the global economy will grow 2.9% this year — which represents a 0.2 percentage point improvement from its previous forecast in October. However, it said that number would still mean a fall from an expansion of 3.4% in 2022.

It also revised its projection for 2024 down to 3.1%.

“Growth will remain weak by historical standards, as the fight against inflation and Russia’s war in Ukraine weigh on activity,” Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, director of the research department at the IMF, said in a blog post.

The Fund turned more positive on the global economy due to better-than-expected domestic factors in several countries, such as the United States.

“Economic growth proved surprisingly resilient in the third quarter of last year, with strong labor markets, robust household consumption and business investment, and better-than-expected adaptation to the energy crisis in Europe,” Gourinchas said, also noting that inflationary pressures have come down.

Global outlook is better but don't get too optimistic, IMF chief warns at Davos

In addition, China announced the reopening of its economy after strict Covid-19 lockdowns, which is expected to contribute to higher global growth. A weaker U.S. dollar has also brightened the prospects for emerging countries that hold debt in foreign currency.

However, the picture isn’t totally positive. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva warned earlier this month that the economy was not as bad as some feared, “but less bad doesn’t quite yet mean good.”

“We have to be cautious,” she said during a CNBC-moderated panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The IMF on Monday warned of several factors that could deteriorate the outlook in the coming months. These included the fact that China’s Covid reopening could stall; inflation could remain high; Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could shake energy and food costs even further; and markets could turn sour on worse-than-expected inflation prints.

IMF calculations say that about 84% of nations will face lower headline inflation this year compared to 2022, but they still forecast an annual average rate of 6.6% in 2023 and of 4.3% in 2024.

As such, the Washington, D.C.-based institution said one of the main policy priorities is that central banks keep addressing the surge in consumer prices.

“Clear central bank communication and appropriate reactions to shifts in the data will help keep inflation expectations anchored and lessen wage and price pressures,” the IMF said in its latest report.

“Central banks’ balance sheets will need to be unwound carefully, amid market liquidity risks,” it added.



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Credit Suisse see Apple beating the Street this week for a few reasons

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Most Adani shares continue losses; founder loses $28 billion in month

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Gautam Adani, chairperson of Indian conglomerate Adani Group, at the World Congress of Accountants in Mumbai on Nov. 19, 2022. Founder Gautam Adani, the richest man in Asia and once second only to Elon Musk, fell out of the world’s top five richest to rank seventh on the Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index.

Indranil Mukherjee | Afp | Getty Images

Shares of most of Adani Group companies continued to see sharp losses for a third consecutive trading session as the company attempted to rebut short seller firm Hindenburg’s report, which accused the conglomerate of stock manipulation and an “accounting fraud scheme.”

Adani Enterprises erased earlier gains of up to 10% and last traded flat in Mumbai’s afternoon trade after the group published a lengthy response of over 400 pages to Hindenburg’s report over the weekend, saying that it will exercise its rights to “pursue remedies” to protect its investors “before all appropriate authorities.”

Adani Enterprises’ stock price remains more than 25% lower in the month to date, Refinitiv data showed. It proceeded with a secondary share sale worth $2.5 billion, which were overshadowed by a rout that wiped out a total of $48 billion as of last week’s close.

Founder Gautam Adani, the richest man in Asia and once second only to Elon Musk, fell out of the world’s top five richest to seventh place on the Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index.

His net worth fell $27.9 billion year to date, the index showed. It peaked at $150 billion on Sept. 20, 2022, before falling to to $92.7 billion as of last week’s close, according to the index.

Despite small gains seen in Adani Enterprises, other affiliates of the Adani Group continued to plunge.

‘Attack on India’

Adani Group said Hindenburg’s allegations were a “calculated attack on India, independence, integrity and quality of Indian institutions, and growth story and ambition of India,” in the response it released over the weekend.

The group’s chief financial officer Jugeshinder Singh said in an interview with CNBC-TV18, an affiliate of CNBC, that the value of Adani Enterprises has not changed “simply because” of share price volatility, adding it instead lies in its “ability to incubate new businesses.”

He added that he is confident Adani Enterprises‘ follow-on public offering will be fully subscribed, calling Hindenburg’s report “simply a lie” and the timing of the report “malicious.”

Hindenburg on Monday morning described the group’s response “bloated” and claimed it “ignores every key allegation” against the conglomerate that it raised.

“Fraud cannot be obfuscated by nationalism of a bloated response that ignores every key allegation we raised,” the short seller titled its response to Adani Group.



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