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Daily News Roundup: Friday, 13th April 2018

Posted: 13th April 2018


BoE: Lenders rein in unsecured lending

A survey from the Bank of England has found that lenders reined in the availability of non-mortgage credit to households in the first quarter of 2018. The Bank’s latest Credit Conditions Survey said lenders reported that the availability of unsecured credit to households fell significantly in January to March. The decrease was “largely driven by a changing appetite to risk”, according to the report. The length of interest-free periods for balance transfers on new credit card lending decreased significantly in the first quarter of this year, the survey found. Lenders also reported that credit-scoring criteria for granting both credit card and other loan applications tightened during the period. The report concluded that the availability of unsecured credit is expected to remain unchanged over the next three months.

Blankfein admits he was wrong about Brexit

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has admitted that his prediction for the UK economy if Britain voted for Brexit was wrong. "There might be a lag effect to this, or it may not happen, but I would say so far what's evident is we would have thought that decision making would have been altered by now, it would have been felt more than it has by now,” he said. "The UK economy has surprised to the upside, it's slower than Europe but not by that much." However, Mr Blankfein added that if Goldman Sachs had known about Brexit four years ago, the bank may have devalued investing in its new £1bn building in London.

Metro chairman faces backlash

Vernon Hill, the Metro Bank chairman, is facing a backlash from shareholders following £21m of payments from the lender to his wife’s architecture firm InterArch. "We question whether Metro Bank's audit committee has been sufficiently rigorous in its scrutiny of the payments made to InterArch," said Royal London's head of responsible investment Ashley Hamilton Claxton. "In light of this, we'll be voting against the reappointment of both the chairman and the chair of the audit committee at Metro Bank's AGM this year," added Mr Claxton.

Santander launches blockchain-based foreign exchange service

A cross-border payments system based on blockchain has been launched by Santander. The “One Pay FX” service will become available for the bank’s customers in Spain, the UK, Brazil and Poland tomorrow.

Zopa creates new boards in governance shake-up ahead of bank launch

Zopa has appointed a number of former senior banking executives in a bid to overhaul its governance structure from the launch of its own banking offering. The firm is looking to raise around £50m and could be valued at up to £400m.

Andrew Tyrie named as new CMA head

Andrew Tyrie's appointment as the new head of the Competition and Markets Authority heralds a harder line on banking competition issues, as he pledges to "make markets work for the benefit of millions of people"

Banking on AI

Banks are planning how they will implement AI and how the technology will transform the industry, with some predicting 30% of banking jobs will be wiped out in five years.


Avast seeks London listing

Cyber security specialist Avast, which is backed by CVC and buyout group Summit, is preparing to list on the London Stock Market, in a deal which values the software group at $4bn (£2.8bn). The firm is planning to free float 25% of its share capital in early May, as it looks to raise $200m from primary proceeds and $800m from secondary shares. Avast, which blocked around 2bn cyber-attacks a month last year, said it will use the money to bolster growth by driving down its debt pile.

FirstGroup shares surge after Apollo approach

Shares in FirstGroup have continued to rise steeply after the bus and rail operator's rejection of a takeover approach from Apollo Management, raising the prospect of further pursuit from the private equity firm. Meanwhile, The Pensions Regulator has warned Apollo Management that its planned takeover of FirstGroup will face scrutiny over the company's £350m retirement fund deficit.

BlackRock growth dented by market volatility

BlackRock said new business growth weakened in the first half of 2018, with its exchange traded fund arm attracting net inflows of $34.6bn, down 36.9% on the $54.8bn gathered in the previous quarter.


Wall Street looks to banks for strong first quarter

US earnings seasons will kick off today, with Citibank, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo presenting numbers simultaneously. Following a period of market weakness, corporate reports over the next few weeks could keep investors optimistic. The recent increases in interest rates, coupled with a slight uptick in US commercial loans, should help boost earnings.

ECB expresses concerns over trade war

There was “widespread concern” amongst policymakers at the European Central Bank during a meeting last month about the possibility of an all-out trade war with the US. Minutes from the meeting also revealed that ECB expressed concern that financial conditions had worsened amid volatility in foreign exchange markets.

US postal official misled in Barclays whistleblower hunt

A US postal official claims he was misled into assisting Barclays track down the identity of whistleblower, who had sent a letter detailing allegations against the bank.


Norwegian Air shares soar 47% on potential IAG bid

British Airways owner IAG is reportedly considering a bid for Norwegian Air. News of the offer saw shares in the Nordic airline soar 47%.


Davis insists City will remain Europe’s banking hub

David Davis has insisted that the City will retain its position as Europe’s number one financial hub post-Brexit. Addressing a conference, the Brexit Secretary said that there would be no “mass migration” of financial institutions because the “enormous” benefits offered by Britain outweighed any gain businesses would see if they relocate to the continent. The EU has maintained Britain will not be able to “cherry pick” areas of the single market - such as barrier-free trade for financial institutions - as part of the deal on the UK’s future trading relationship with the bloc. Meanwhile Santander’s chairwoman, Ana Botin, has warned that international companies would be less inclined to base themselves in the UK in future.


Greene King toasts strong Easter

Greene King has said that the recent bad weather hit sales, particularly at its food-focused sites. It recorded a 1.8% comparable sales drop for the 49 weeks to April 8. However, after experiencing a strong Easter, the brewer forecast that full-year pre-tax profits will be in line with expectations of £240m-£245m.


Disney told it must bid for Sky

Walt Disney must bid for Sky even if 21st Century Fox’s £11.7bn offer for it is blocked, the Takeover Panel has ruled. 21st Century Fox still faces a number of regulatory hurdles after the UK’s competition watchdog ruled that the £11.7bn deal was “not in the public interest”.


Demand for mortgages drops

The UK housing market has experienced its worst first quarter since 2015, as demand for mortgages has dropped at a steep pace and stunted house prices. The drop in demand has seen lenders start offering high-risk mortgages for record low costs in desperation to win more business, cutting the costs for customers taking out a mortgage worth 90% of their home. Meanwhile, house prices in London were down 3.2% between January and March - the sharpest decline since the financial crisis, according to data from Halifax.


Carpetright to close a quarter of stores

Carpetright has announced it is closing 92 stores and cutting 300 jobs as part of a restructuring plan. The chain, which recently started talks with lenders to ensure it does not breach the terms of its bank loans, is planning a CVA that will allow it to shut the worst-performing stores and ask for rent concessions on another 113 sites. As part of its announcement, it also said it had identified a "technical breach" in its borrowing agreement.


SoftBank teams with investors for $25bn Fifa shake-up plan

Softbank, along with investors from China, Saudi Arabia, the US and the UAE, is understood to be part of a consortium planning to create global football tournaments for Fifa.


A third of children making contactless payments

A third of children under the age of 11 have made contactless payments using their parents’ bank cards or phone apps, according to a recent poll. Some 34% of parents confessed that their children had used their bank cards to buy things online in the past year, of which 37% had done so without gaining permission beforehand.

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