Connect with us

Published

on

A new twist in the safety crisis engulfing Boeing could see the airline prosecuted over the 737 MAX 8 crashes in 2018 and 2019 that left 346 people dead.

It was revealed late on Tuesday that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) had filed a case accusing the planemaker of breaching its obligations in a 2021 agreement that shielded Boeing from criminal prosecution over the crashes.

Then, Boeing agreed to pay $2.5bn to resolve the investigation into its conduct, compensate victims’ relatives and overhaul its compliance practices.

The terms of that deal – known as a deferred prosecution agreement – were due to expire in January this year but, two days beforehand, a Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft operated by Alaska Airlines suffered a mid-air panel blowout.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Moment Alaska Airlines plane makes emergency landing

The blowout has been the subject of multi-agency investigations, including by the DoJ.

Its court filing exposes Boeing to a potential criminal prosecution over the 2018 and 2019 crashes that could carry further steep financial penalties and tougher oversight, deepening the renewed corporate crisis and reputational damage stemming from the January blowout.

The DoJ said that while Boeing was now subject to prosecution, it would consider steps the planemaker has taken to address and remediate violation of the pact before determining how to proceed.

More from Business

It ordered the company to respond by mid-June and said it would make a decision on whether to proceed with a fresh criminal case by 7 July.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Boeing CEO: ‘We fly safe planes’

“We believe that we have honoured the terms of that agreement and look forward to the opportunity to respond to the Department on this issue,” Boeing said in a statement.

It added: “As we do so, we will engage with the Department with the utmost transparency, as we have throughout the entire term of the agreement, including in response to their questions following the Alaska Airlines 1282 accident.”

The Reuters news agency reported that DoJ officials were to meet families of those killed in the 2018 and 2019 crashes as part of their deliberations.

Women mourn next to the coffins of relatives who died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash
Image:
Relatives of the victims have demanded US officials hold Boeing accountable for the crashes. Pic: Reuters

Relatives have long been critical of the original deferred prosecution agreement, claiming it let Boeing off the hook.

The MAX 8 fleet was withdrawn from service for 20 months in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 disaster outside Addis Ababa in March 2019.

All 157 on board were killed.

Follow Sky News on WhatsApp
Follow Sky News on WhatsApp

Keep up with all the latest news from the UK and around the world by following Sky News

Tap here

Six months earlier, a Lion Air 737 MAX 8, carrying 189 passengers and crew, had crashed in Indonesia.

Poorly designed flight control software was ultimately blamed for both accidents.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Bolts missing from Alaska Airlines door

The 5 January MAX 9 incident of this year resulted in a new wave of scrutiny.

Regulators have limited Boeing’s production schedules and a widespread management shake-up is under way.

The knock-on effects of the crisis have harmed deliveries and the expansion plans of its customers, which include Ryanair.

The planemaker, and regulators, have been widely accused of failing to learn lessons of the past.

During a Senate hearing in April, a Boeing engineer testified the company took dangerous manufacturing shortcuts with certain planes and sidelined him when he raised safety concerns.

Boeing has denied the claims and any suggestion that it has put profits before safety.

Continue Reading

Business

Indian pharma group readies swoop on anti-smoking aid Nicotinell

Published

on

By

Indian pharma group readies swoop on anti-smoking aid Nicotinell

An Indian pharmaceutical group is closing in on a deal to snap up Nicotinell, the anti-smoking aid, from Haleon, its FTSE-100 parent company.

Sky News has learnt that Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy’s Laboratories could be within days of acquiring the brand and a number of lesser-known European products from Haleon.

Sources said a deal was likely to be announced as soon as this week.

It was unclear on Sunday how much Dr Reddy’s might pay for the Haleon-owned assets, although it is expected to be in the hundreds of millions of pounds.

Should it be completed, it will be the latest in a string of acquisitions for the Indian- and US-listed company.

Dr Reddy’s has a market value in New York of about $11.7bn, having been established in 1984.

In Britain, the company has had a presence since 2002, and includes commercial offices and a research and development centre in Cambridge.

More from Business

It also operates an active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing site in Mirfield, West Yorkshire.

Dr Reddy’s has been in talks for months about acquiring the Nicotinell brand from Haleon, the over-the-counter products giant spun out of FTSE-100 drug maker GlaxoSmithKline.

Haleon, which has a market capitalisation of close to £29.5bn, is chaired by the former Tesco chief executive Sir Dave Lewis.

GSK sold its remaining stake in Haleon earlier this month.

Haleon owns some of the most recognisable over-the-counter healthcare brands in Britain, including the multivitamin supplement Centrum, Panadol pain relief tablets and Sensodyne toothpaste.

Nicotinell, which is sold in patch, gum and lozenge form, is said to be the second-largest nicotine replacement therapy product globally.

Its prospective sale will come days after Rishi Sunak’s administration failed to pass his flagship anti-smoking bill after he called a surprise summer general election.

Haleon declined to comment.

Continue Reading

Business

FTSE-100 housebuilder Persimmon weighs £1bn bid for rival Cala

Published

on

By

FTSE-100 housebuilder Persimmon weighs £1bn bid for rival Cala

One of Britain’s biggest housebuilders is exploring a £1bn takeover bid for Cala Group, a rival player in the sector which has been put up for sale.

Sky News has learned that Persimmon, which has a market value of £4.74bn, is leaning towards submitting an offer for Cala ahead of a bid deadline next week.

City sources said it would be a strong contender to buy Cala, whose homes have a significantly higher average sale price than those of Persimmon.

Insiders expect Cala, which is being auctioned by Legal & General (L&G), to command a price tag of about £1bn.

If Persimmon is successful in the auction, it would mark the York-based company’s biggest acquisition for years.

Under Roger Devlin, its chairman, and chief executive Dean Finch, the company’s share price has rallied by over 20% in the last year.

In a trading update last month, Persimmon said it was on track to deliver growth in new home completions this year to up to 10,500.

More from Business

The Cala auction comes amid a general election campaign in which new home provision is expected to figure prominently.

Both main parties are likely to set out new policies to stimulate housebuilding growth, according to sources.

Analysts said this weekend that other housebuilders were also expected to consider bids for the L&G-owned company.

Follow Sky News on WhatsApp
Follow Sky News on WhatsApp

Keep up with all the latest news from the UK and around the world by following Sky News

Tap here

These could include, they said, Persimmon’s larger rival, Taylor Wimpey, and Avant Homes, which is owned by Elliott Advisors and Berkeley DeVeer.

Persimmon is the UK’s third-largest housebuilder by market capitalisation, behind Taylor Wimpey and Barratt Developments.

Both Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey were among eight housebuilders named by the Competition and Markets Authority in February over suspicions they had exchanged commercially sensitive information.

A takeover of Cala by another major housebuilder would underline fresh momentum in the industry’s consolidation, after Barratt Developments unveiled a £2.5bn deal to acquire rival Redrow.

The prospective sale of Cala represents the first significant strategic move by its new chief executive, Antonio Simoes.

Bankers at Rothschild are overseeing the auction.

Mr Simoes described Cala as “a very strong business” during an earnings call earlier this year on which he was quizzed about the housebuilder’s future ownership.

L&G took full control of the business in 2018.

Cala reported a slide in half-year profits last autumn, citing a “challenging market”.

The company has a long-term goal to build 3,000 homes annually.

Persimmon and L&G declined to comment on Saturday.

Continue Reading

Business

Ex-Post Office boss Paula Vennells admits removing reference to Horizon IT system from Royal Mail prospectus

Published

on

By

Ex-Post Office boss Paula Vennells admits removing reference to Horizon IT system from Royal Mail prospectus

Former Post Office boss Paula Vennells has admitted to amending the legal document Royal Mail issued to would-be investors before it became publicly owned to remove mention of the flawed Horizon IT system.

Data from the accounting software created by Fujitsu was used to prosecute more than 700 sub-postmasters for theft and false accounting.

Many more victims lost their homes, livelihoods and good reputation to repay non-existent shortfalls.

Now the inquiry set up to establish a clear account of the introduction and failure of Horizon has heard during Ms Vennells’s third and final day of questioning that she removed “at the very last minute” reference to Horizon from the prospectus Royal Mail issued before it was listed on the London Stock Exchange.

A prospectus is a legal and financial document detailing key information for potential company investors.

It was the first time the issue was raised with Ms Vennells.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Paula Vennells breaks down in tears again

She said: “It was flagged to me that in the IT section of the Royal Mail prospectus, there was reference to – I can’t remember the words now – but risks related to the Horizon IT system… the line that was put in said that no systemic issues had been found with the Horizon system.”

More on Post Office Scandal

Ms Vennells wanted the reference removed as, “the Horizon system was no longer anything to do with the Royal Mail group” she said, and contacted the company secretary to have the reference removed.

Based on this action Ms Vennells wrote to a colleague “I have earned my keep on this”.

Follow Sky News on WhatsApp
Follow Sky News on WhatsApp

Keep up with all the latest news from the UK and around the world by following Sky News

Tap here

She was at the top of Post Office for 12 years and served as its chief executive for seven of those, from 2012 to 2019.

In at times emotional testimony, Ms Vennells said she “loved the Post Office” and worked “as hard as I possibly could to deliver the best Post Office for the UK”.

Continue Reading

Trending