Good morning. This article is an on-site version of our FirstFT newsletter. Sign up to our Asia, Europe/Africa or Americas edition to get it sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning
As we head into the holiday weekend, our top story today is on LetterOne, the investment group backed by Russian oligarchs upon whom sanctions have been placed.
The group has launched a legal challenge to overturn the decision taken by the UK government on national security grounds to force the sale of its broadband business Upp.
The claim for a judicial review will be a test for the UK’s National Security and Investment Act, which has so far been used only five times to block acquisitions of a business since it came into force at the start of last year. Four of those involved Chinese companies.
In December, Grant Shapps — the UK energy minister who was then business secretary — used the act to order LetterOne to divest its entire shareholding in Upp, citing “a risk to national security” given the “ultimate beneficial owners of LetterOne Core Investments and Upp’s expanding full fibre broadband network”.
LetterOne is part-owned by sanctioned Russian oligarchs Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, although their shareholdings account for less than half of the group. It has cut ties with the businessmen to remain outside of the sanctions regime.
The Russian owners were cut off from decision-making and operations, with shares effectively frozen and dividends stopped. Staff with personal links to the Russians left.
Here’s what else is happening today:
Good Friday: Most financial markets will be closed, Pope Francis will hold mass in St Peter’s Basilica today and Northern Ireland marks the 25th year since the end of the Troubles. Read the FT View on the historic peace deal here and our in-depth piece below.
US labour report: US stocks rose yesterday as investors await a crucial jobs report today, interpreting slowing demand as a sign of cooling economic activity.
PS We’re launching a new newsletter on April 17: One Must-Read. The newsletter will bring readers the most exceptional story from the FT each weekday. Sign up by clicking here.
Five more top stories
1. EXCLUSIVE: JPMorgan Chase’s recent flurry of acquisitions is being scrutinised by US regulators in a review that includes a $175mn deal with a founder of a start-up who was criminally charged this week with defrauding the bank. Here’s why the lender’s due diligence on dealmaking is being audited.
2. Israeli fighter jets bombed the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Friday after militants in Lebanon and Gaza fired a volley of rockets in retaliation for the forcible removal of Palestinian worshippers from Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque. Read the full story.
3. The US has opposed a “road map” to Nato membership for Ukraine at the alliance’s July summit, exposing divides in the west over Kyiv’s postwar status. Here’s why the Americans are pushing back against European allies.
4. EXCLUSIVE: BlackRock has started paying back investors stuck in its £3.5bn UK Property fund since early last year, even as outflows from commercial real estate funds continue and regulators warn that some funds may struggle to meet redemption requests.
5. Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is suffering from leukaemia, his doctor revealed yesterday, as the 86-year-old remained in intensive care for a second day undergoing treatment for a lung infection. More on the country’s longest-serving postwar premier.
How well did you keep up with the news this week? Take our quiz.
As Northern Ireland celebrates 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of conflict, the historic deal still has much unfinished business. Political instability still plagues a region unable to fully move on from its violent past.
We’re also reading . . .
‘Fabulous Fab’: Renewed rulemaking efforts by US regulators bring back memories of the Goldman Sachs banker whose jokey email came to epitomise Wall Street’s poor behaviour in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.
DIY spirituality: With the decline of organised religion in the west, we are seeking solace in the strangest places, writes Camilla Cavendish.
Chart of the day
Persistent and rising double-digit inflation, higher than in all other G7 countries, is hitting UK businesses — and their customers — in myriad ways. With Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey urging restraint on companies that may be too ready to pass rising day-to-day costs on to consumers, how businesses cope with stubborn inflation and higher interest rates is under increasing scrutiny.
Take a break from the news
“Lad mags” may be relegated to the past, but social media has sparked its own “ultra-masculine” influencers. Henry Mance explores how to stop the spread of toxic masculinity in the digital age.
Additional contributions from Emily Goldberg and Vita Dadoo Lomeli
Recommended newsletters for you
Asset Management — Find out the inside story of the movers and shakers behind a multi-trillion-dollar industry. Sign up here
The Week Ahead — Start every week with a preview of what’s on the agenda. Sign up here
Thank you for reading and remember you can add FirstFT to myFT. You can also elect to receive a FirstFT push notification every morning on the app. Send your recommendations and feedback to [email protected]