Exclusive: Ministers and business leaders have raised concerns over the soaring cost of insuring British directors after prices more than doubled in the past year on concerns about corporate governance and pandemic-related claims.

Government officials are talking with executives in the insurance sector about the rising costs of serving as a director, according to people familiar with the situation, given mounting fears that smaller businesses in particular are struggling.

The cost of insurance is set to rise further, according to executives, given the prospect of new regulations that could make directors personally responsible for the accuracy of financial statements under a forthcoming consultation into audit reform.

The government’s plans are due to be published as early as this week. (FT)

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Exclusive: TikTok’s US ecommerce push TikTok is planning an aggressive expansion into ecommerce in the US, going head-to-head with Facebook. The Chinese-owned viral-video app is set to unveil a tool that lets popular users share links to products and automatically earn commission on any sales, among other features. (FT)

Exclusive: UK regulator ringfencing rules Bankers are gearing up for a face off with the Bank of England over the future of the UK’s ringfencing law, with parts of the industry lobbying to ease restrictions set to clash with regulators insisting they be maintained. (FT)

Mercedes’ electric profits Mercedes-Benz will earn as much from electric cars as its luxury combustion engine models by the end of this decade, Ola Kallenius, chief executive, said, as the German carmaker announced it would divorce its car arm from its trucks unit. (FT)

Reddit-led turmoil hits big quant hedge funds Two Sigma Investments and DE Shaw are nursing losses after an army of retail investors on Reddit upended markets. Wall Street trading firms paid almost $3bn to retail brokers such as Robinhood to handle their trades last year — a lucrative practice that is attracting attention in Washington. Robin Wigglesworth asks: is a new era of retail trading emerging? (FT)

Bar chart of $m showing Brokers that earned the most

UK targeted Isis drones A secret UK cyber operation to undermine Isis and weaken its fighters on the battlefield involved disabling drones, jamming phones and targeting servers to block online propaganda, according to military and security chiefs. (FT)

Mike Lynch fights extradition The British tech entrepreneur will this week begin his fight against extradition to the US, in the biggest test yet of whether British courts are willing to block the transfer of executives to face justice. Lynch has been charged with 14 counts of conspiracy and fraud linked to the $11.6bn sale of his former company, Autonomy. (FT)

Blinken blasts China The US secretary of state warned Beijing that Washington would hold it “accountable for its abuses” following a phone call with China’s top foreign policy official, the first high-level interaction since Joe Biden became president. China hawks are seeking to influence Biden’s choice to lead the commerce department’s Bureau of Industry and Security. (FT)

Cuba lifts private business ban Havana has announced a big expansion of the private sector weeks after devaluing the peso and scrapping a dual currency system, as the communist government struggles to deal with the worst economic crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union. (FT)

Exclusive: Marshall Wace seeks venture capital deals One of the world’s biggest hedge fund firms is expanding into late-stage venture capital, the latest sign that managers usually focused on trading stock markets are seeking new sources of returns in private markets. (FT)

US backs Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala to lead WTO Washington’s endorsement removed a final hurdle to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment as director-general of the World Trade Organization. Last Friday, South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee dropped out of the race. (FT)

ECB annual report European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde is set to discuss the bank’s annual report at the European parliament on Monday. (FT)

Andrew Bailey testifies The Bank of England governor will answer questions from the Treasury select committee about his failure to protect investors in the collapsed London Capital & Finance fund while he was chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority. (FT)

UK ‘pay as you grow’ mechanism Chancellor Rishi Sunak will offer relief to the 1.4m small businesses that borrowed through the state-backed bounce back loan scheme by letting them repay over a longer timescale. (FT)

Grenfell inquiry The inquiry into the tower block blaze resumes, having been halted in December by the pandemic. Two of the world’s largest manufacturers of cladding and insulation are set to face scrutiny. (FT)

Earnings round-up Hasbro, KKR and SoftBank report results. (FT, BW)

Economic data Germany is to release industrial production figures for December.

The UK’s dysfunctional tax system The UK tax system is such a mess that reform makes sense anyway, writes Martin Wolf. Rishi Sunak needs to spell out in his Budget that he understands why this needs to happen, and how. (FT)

Line chart of Public sector net debt as a % of GDP showing The fall, rise and threatened further rise of UK public indebtedness

Stress and anxiety weigh on workers The Financial Times conducted a global survey on work and mental health, to which more than 250 readers around the world reported the difficulties — and benefits — of new work practices, as well as the demands spurred by Covid-19 that have affected their mental health. Two economics professors share insights on how to avoid pitfalls in remote work. (FT)

Impeachment dilemma After four years of moving in lockstep with Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell broke with the outgoing president. “The mob was fed lies,” he said, referencing the Capitol siege. But with the Senate impeachment trial due to begin this week, McConnell is striking a different tone, indicating a probable second exoneration. (FT)

Bezos’s revolution — and complicated legacy In the years to come, what will be said about Jeff Bezos as an innovator? The Amazon founder steps aside as some of Amazon’s impacts crystallise — what critics say are acts of monopolisation, worker exploitation and privacy intrusion. Perhaps, his lasting legacy will be re-engineering the business of innovation itself. Behind Amazon’s success lies its strategy to reinvest income and experiment incessantly, writes Andrew Hill. (FT)

FT Global MBA ranking 2021 US business schools continue to dominate provision of the world’s leading MBAs despite two European rivals topping the FT’s annual Global MBA Ranking. Insead, based in France and Singapore, and the UK’s London Business School were first and second overall, ahead of Chicago: Booth in third. Read the full rankings here. (FT)

Samsung’s biggest challenge: ‘The Lee family has to reform’ With billionaire Lee Jae-yong in jail for bribery, South Korea’s biggest company could become the country’s first major conglomerate without a family owner at the helm. But some believe Samsung is simply too important to fail. (FT)

Samsung shareholder structure

Vaccine triumphs and the lockdown question When will the UK economy be able to open up again? Plus, Sebastian Payne talks tension over trade checks in Northern Ireland. (FT)