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The top UK companies to work for in 2021

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Businesspeople brainstorming work during the Covid-19 pandemic

Orbon Alija

British bank Barclays has been named as the best U.K. company to work for, according to research by professional networking platform LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn’s list looked at the U.K. companies that offer employees the best chance to build and sustain a career long term.

It conducted the research between January and December 2020, looking at the activity of its members, considering how companies fared across different categories including: the ability to advance, skills growth, company stability, external opportunity, company affinity, gender diversity and educational background. 

LinkedIn found that Barclays offered a strong mentoring program, as well as compulsory training on diversity and inclusion. Barclays’ practices as an employer came under fire in 2018, when its CEO Jes Staley was fined for trying to reveal the identity of a person who had sent letters criticizing an employee at the bank.

Supermarket Tesco came in second place, with LinkedIn highlighting how it helped train employees to grow in digital confidence. Bank NatWest Group ranked in third place and LinkedIn said it also offered ample opportunity for employees to develop their skills. 

Siobhan Morrin, news editor at LinkedIn told CNBC via email that for many of the top employers on the list “on-the-job learning is a vital part of their culture.” 

LinkedIn said that sectors which have adapted to meet the challenges of the pandemic dominated the rankings, including technology firms, grocery store chains and online retailers. 

Here’s a rundown of the top companies on LinkedIn’s list. 

Top 10 U.K. workplaces

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Canadian chip designer Alphawave sees shares slump 19% in London IPO

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An employee sits reflected in a glass screen featuring the London Stock Exchange Group Plc’s logo at their offices in London, U.K., on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020.

Simon Dawson | Bloomberg via Getty Images

LONDON — Shares of Canadian chip designer Alphawave IP crashed as much as 19% in the company’s debut on the London Stock Exchange on Thursday morning.

Alphawave and its shareholders sold £856 million ($1.2 billion) worth of shares at £4.10 per share, giving it a market value of £3.1 billion. The company sold £360 million new shares, and existing shareholders sold down stock worth roughly £496 million. Approximately 28% of the business was listed.

But within hours of trading, the share price fell to £3.28, cutting the market cap by more than £500 million. Shares recovered slightly and were trading at £3.33 by 9 a.m. London time.

The IPO comes as stock markets worldwide take a hit, with the pan-European Stoxx 600 falling over 1.3% in early trade Thursday. European markets are following the negative trend seen in Asia-Pacific overnight and the U.S. on Wednesday after the latest U.S. inflation data for April showed higher-than-expected price pressures.

Founded in Toronto, Alphawave announced it intended to list on the London Stock Exchange last month, shunning New York’s tech-focused Nasdaq in the process.

John Lofton Holt, executive chairman of Alphawave IP, said in a statement that the company was proud to be launching on the London Stock Exchange.  

“London was the obvious venue for the listing of our silicon IP business because both the industry and the business model were born in the U.K.”

He added: “We are pleased to have executed against our IPO plans successfully, ahead of schedule and supported by a strong UK investor base, alongside a distinguished list of blue-chip investors across the US, Canada and Europe. Today is just the start of our journey.”

Other firms that have listed on the London Stock Exchange this year include food delivery firm Deliveroo, cybersecurity start-up Darktrace, shoemaker Dr Martens, digital greetings card seller Moonpig and consumer review site Trustpilot.

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Premier League clubs agree to three-year renewal of UK TV rights

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The Arsenal players in a huddle before the Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on May 12, 2021 in London, England.

David Price | Arsenal FC | Getty Images

The Premier League has secured approval in principle for a three-year renewal of its TV rights deal with U.K. broadcast partners, including Sky Sports.

The deal, which would extend the current rights arrangements for another three years, is subject to parliamentary approval and any opposition to the proposed plans needs to be made by May 28.

Premier League clubs have also agreed £100 million ($140.6 million) of additional funding for National League, women’s football, League One and League Two clubs and grassroots game.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is “minded to” approve the new deal.

In a statement, the Premier League said: “The U.K. renewals for the next broadcast cycle – from seasons 2022/2023 to 2024/2025 – will be concluded at the same overall value as the current arrangements between the Premier League and its broadcast partners.

“As part of the Premier League’s developing strategic plan, the renewals will provide financial certainty to clubs throughout professional football as a result of maintaining current levels of support and enables the League to commit to increased funding. This will give security and continuity throughout the pyramid until at least 2025.”

Richard Masters, Premier League chief executive, said: “The Premier League would like to express our gratitude to our broadcast partners for their continued commitment to the Premier League and support for the football pyramid.

“We are hugely appreciative of the Government agreeing in principle to allow this arrangement and for their continued support for the Premier League and the English game. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on football, and renewals with our UK broadcast partners will reduce uncertainty, generate stability and promote confidence within the football pyramid.”

The FA welcomed the deal, with their chief executive officer Mark Bullingham commenting: “This increased funding from the Premier League will provide vital support for local football clubs and facilities across the country.

“These clubs are often the bedrock of their community and run by volunteers who have gone above and beyond in the last year. We thank the Premier League for their positive action which will help the pyramid get back on its feet.”

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Portugal hotels face high demand after UK changes quarantine

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Beachgoers sunbathe and swim at a beach in Portimao, Algarve region, Portugal.

NurPhoto | NurPhoto | Getty Images

LONDON — The tables have turned for the Portuguese hotel industry on one announcement. 

The U.K. government said on Friday that from May 17 travelers from England will not need to quarantine when returning from Portugal. They will have to take a Covid PCR test within two days of their arrival in the U.K.— but this is a much simpler process compared to the rules applied to other destinations. 

Though rules might change depending on how the epidemiological situation develops, U.K. tourists were quick to jump on the opportunity to book a vacation abroad.

It’s been “absolute madness in terms of (booking) requests,” Katya Bauval, executive director of sales at the Vila Vita Parc hotel in the Algarve, south of Portugal, told CNBC over the phone.

She said that “bookings literally tripled in demand since Friday.”

Portugal’s largest hotel chain, Pestana, has experienced a similar rush for reservations. “There’s been a very substantial increase in bookings,” Jose Theotonio, CEO of Pestana Hotel Group, told CNBC on Wednesday.

Pestana said demand jumped 250% since Friday and rose by 475% in external booking operators. Consumers are mainly opting for places in the Algarve and Porto Santo, a small island in the archipelago of Madeira.

The preference of consumers is “clearly sunny destinations,” Theotonio said.

This signal from the British government has motivated other bookings.

Jose Theotonio

CEO of Pestana Hotel Group

Portugal also appeared to benefit from the inclusion of relatively few other popular European vacation destinations on the U.K.’s least restricted “green list.”

Spain, Italy and Greece — just to name some of the other competing destinations in the south of Europe — have not yet been added to the U.K.’s top traffic light list. Instead, these countries have been left on the U.K.’s “amber” list, meaning that if U.K. tourists travel to Spain, Italy or Greece they will then be required to self-isolate for 10 days on returning home.

“It was to Portugal’s advantage that Greece, Spain aren’t on the list,” Bauval said.

‘Motivated other bookings’

Portugal has become a hotspot for international visitors in recent years. In 2019, the country welcomed 24.6 million visitors — a 7.9% growth from the previous year, according to the country’s national statistics office.

The U.K. represented the biggest market for tourist stays in Portugal, accounting for 18.8% of the total number of nights in the country. This was followed by Germany, which was 12.3% of the total stays, and Spain, which accounted for 11%.

A woman sunbathes at a beach in Sagres, Algarve region, Portugal on July 29, 2020. Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has promised to visit the Algarve every week this summer to help the regions struggling tourism sector overcome the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the UK governments decision to include mainland Portugal in its travel blacklist. (Photo by Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NurPhoto | NurPhoto | Getty Images

But the country’s tourism industry came to a complete halt in the wake of the coronavirus. The summer season experienced a later start in 2020 and continued at a much slower pace compared to previous years. Portugal was also forced to introduce a second lockdown at the start of 2021 due to a sharp increase in the number of Covid infections, but the strict measures have now been eased.

“This signal from the British government has motivated other bookings,” Theotonio also said, noting that the recent surge in demand has also come from tourists in Germany, Spain and the domestic market too.

U.S. tourists will take longer to come back

There’s also a common feature in recent hotel bookings: its immediacy. Visitors have mainly been booking a stay for May and June.

This type of booking is “even more important,” according to Theotonio as it reduces the likelihood that people will need to cancel their plans.

Portugal has also attracted many non-EU visitors in recent years. In 2019, there was a jump of 21.3% in the number of stays from American tourists; a 16.8% increase from China; and a rise of 14.9% from Brazil.

But this demand will take longer to come back.

“We feel it will take some time,” Bauval said, explaining how Vila Vita Parc had to shift its focus in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic to attract more Europeans. 

This is despite the announcement from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that vaccinated Americans will be able to visit Europe this summer.

“We don’t have illusions,” Theotonio said, expecting only a “gradual” return to pre-pandemic activity levels.

Tourists pull luggage as they walk towards a hotel at Villamoura beach in Villamoura, Algarve region, Portugal.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

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