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Daily News Roundup: Friday, 11th September 2020

Posted: 11th September 2020


Mortgages offered in ‘fire sales’

Banks have begun encouraging homebuyers to snap up mortgage deals in online "fire sales". From today, TSB will offer a limited number of loans for those with as little as a 10% deposit, an area of the market that has been badly hit by the pandemic because of uncertainty about house prices. The bank gave only a few hours' notice of the sale. It announced that the deal would only be available on loans of up to £350,000, for houses and bungalows - but not flats - and that the offer would end as soon as its allocated funds ran out or the clock reached 5.30 pm. The bank is the latest to offer first-come, first-served mortgages. This week Accord, part of the Yorkshire Building Society, issued loans for those with 10% deposits - but only for 48 hours. HSBC has been one of the few banks to offer 10% deposit mortgages, and ran daily offers from 8 am, which have now been withdrawn.

Credit Suisse to launch digital banking app

A digital banking app offering free foreign transactions and digital wealth management is being launched by Credit Suisse. The CSX app, which will launch next month, will feature free online banking tools, including an online debit card and other capabilities such as mortgage applications, investments and pensions. A fully digital wealth management service will be launched inside the app in mid-November.

NatWest tops support lending league

Bank of England data show NatWest has been the biggest user of the Term Funding Scheme for smaller firms so far, which has extended £14.3bn to lenders. NatWest tapped the central bank fund for £5bn while Nationwide drew down £3.2bn, followed by Santander UK at £2.5bn.

Bank brings in cooling-off period for gamblers

Barclays is to add a new time delay feature to its gambling block function so customers who choose to turn off their ability to spend on gambling transactions will be given a 72-hour cooling off period before they can restart it again.


EQT seals €1.3bn deal to buy property website Idealista

Swedish private equity group EQT Partners has agreed to buy Madrid-based property advertising site Idealista in a €1.3bn deal.


Jane Fraser to succeed Michael Corbat as Citigroup CEO

Michael Corbat will be succeeded as CEO of Citigroup by Jane Fraser, who will become the first woman to run a major Wall Street bank. Mr Corbat was expected to remain CEO into 2022. In a memo to employees, he said: “Ms Fraser’s appointment as the bank’s first female CEO is a point of pride for all of us and ground-breaking for our industry.” With Fraser’s appointment to CEO, the 16-member Citigroup board, already the most gender diverse among S&P 500 banks, will become the only bank board that is evenly split by gender, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Ms Fraser has spent 16 years at Citi and headed its consumer bank since last year. Before that, she headed Citi’s Latin American business.

JPMorgan instructs trading-floor staff to return to the office

Senior employees at JPMorgan’s sales and trading operation have been told by bosses that they and their teams must return to the office by September 21st. Executives said employees with child-care issues and medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to coronavirus complications can continue working from home. The coronavirus situation would be closely monitored and if it deteriorated then the call to return would be reversed, they added.

Former Goldman exec seeks review over 1MDB charges

A review of charges in Malaysia linked to the 1MDB scandal is being sought by a former Goldman Sachs executive. Goldman's role came under scrutiny over bond issues worth $6.5bn it helped arrange for 1MDB, with Malaysia claiming money was stolen, and filing charges against the bank and current and former employees. Ng Chong Hwa, a Malaysian ex-managing director at the bank, has been charged in Malaysia and the United States over the fraud.


Menzies flags new business amid Covid pain

John Menzies has reported that revenue to the half year was down approximately 33% on the prior year. In an update to investors, the firm said trading had remained tough due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic on global air travel. However, it said it was now restarting operations and seeing a partial return of flight schedules.


COVID-related claims hit Lloyd’s of London

Lloyd’s of London has posted a £400m pre-tax loss for the six months to June after it was forced to pay out £2.4bn in COVID-related claims in the first half. Last year Lloyd's made a £2.3bn profit during the same period. CEO John Neal said the start of the year had been “exceptionally challenging”. Lloyd’s recorded gross written premiums of £20bn, up from £19.7bn for the same period in 2019. The firm said its combined ratio, a key performance metric for insurance firms, came in at 110.4%, compared to 98.8% in June last year.

FCA delays bonuses over LCF scandal

Members of the Financial Conduct Authority’s executive committee will have bonuses deferred until the conclusion of an investigation into how the regulator handled the collapse of the savings firm London Capital and Finance. The Treasury ordered the FCA to conduct an independent investigation into why nothing was done to protect LCF investors.


AstraZeneca CEO confident vaccine trial “on track”

Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical firm developing the UK’s leading coronavirus vaccine candidate, has insisted researchers are “on track” to submit final data by the end of the year, despite the fact that the study was halted after a volunteer suffered a rare neurological condition. Mr Soriot said that an independent safety committee was currently reviewing data on the adverse event. “Of course it depends on the outcome of this review but if the safety committee allows us to restart the trial we are on track to have a set of data we can submit to regulators before the end of the year,” he said.


Eat Out to Help Out buoys pub chain

Fuller, Smith and Turner said sales had reached 80% of last year’s levels after trade was buoyed by the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. The pub chain said the discount scheme had encouraged customers to return to the pub after lockdown, “reinstating it in their routine”. Stronger trading in suburban and countryside pubs has offset the impact of lower footfall in towns and city centres, the company said.

Saga CEO critical of former PE owners

Euan Sutherland, CEO of Saga, has criticised the over-50's groups former private equity owners for being "too focused on the short-term" and dramatically increasing its debts. Mr Sutherland said that the insurance and travel specialist had a "relentless focus" in its first 55 years that was then followed by 15 years of poor decisions.

Pure Gym bulks up with £100m injection

Pure Gym has received a £100m cash injection from its US private equity shareholder Leonard Green Partners to help the fitness chain weather the coronavirus pandemic.


British Land chief executive to step down in November

British Land CEO Chris Grigg is set to step down in November and will be replaced by Simon Carter, who is currently chief financial officer, the commercial property landlord has announced.


Hut Group confirms IPO pricing

An offer price of 500p per share has been confirmed by The Hut Group ahead of its planned IPO. The price values the business at £5.4bn - much higher than current market caps of Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Asos. The company will look to raise £920m from an IPO set for this month. The Hut Group already has £565m in funds confirmed with fund managers and wealth funds BlackRock, Henderson, Merian and Qatar Investment Authority all signed up.


McLaren puts HQ on the market

Sports car maker McLaren has put its HQ near Woking in Surrey up for sale in a bid to shore up its balance sheet amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis. According to reports, the firm has begun marketing a sale-and-leaseback of the McLaren Technology Centre, with offers in excess of £200m expected.


MPs urge Sunak to consider furlough extension for viable firms

MPs on the Treasury Committee are urging the Chancellor to consider a targeted extension of the furlough scheme so businesses with a chance of surviving the pandemic have an opportunity to do so. In a wide-ranging report on the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, the MPs said Rishi Sunak should consider extending the more generous terms for universal credit and have a plan for helping debt-troubled SMEs, or risk a longer recession. The report added that tax rises were likely to stifle economic recovery, but indicated that the Committee would support the Chancellor if he scrapped the Conservative party's manifesto pledge to maintain the pensions triple lock.

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