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Daily News Roundup: Friday, 13th September 2019

Posted: 13th September 2019


Mastercard rolls out cashback service

Mastercard is rolling out a new cashback service in the UK from April 2020 which will see local shops and businesses earn 12p every time they dispense cash to a shopper paying with a Mastercard debit card. It comes amid concern about ATMs and bank branches disappearing from the high street. Mastercard said it hoped the new fee would encourage local retailers to offer the service. The company said all of its debit card-issuing partners would take part in the scheme, including Clydesdale Bank, Metro Bank, Monzo, N26, Starling Bank, Virgin Money, Yorkshire Bank and Santander.

Customers locked out of Cashplus accounts

Several small businesses have complained that they cannot access their Cashplus accounts following a security update rolled out last week. The challenger bank provides prepaid Mastercards and current accounts for consumers, small businesses and local government authorities.

Shorters circling Metro Bank

Shares in Metro Bank fell on Thursday as Ena Investment Capital increased its short position by 11%, to 3.4m shares, around 2% of the company’s stock. Marshall Wace, Odey Asset Management and Connor, Clark & Lunn Investment Management have made similar moves over the past week.

Mitie wins five more years managing Lloyds Bank facilities

Outsourcer Mitie has secured a five-year £850m contract to manage Lloyds Banking Group branches across the UK, extending its nine-year tenure in the role.


Sweden’s EQT boosts listing price by €2bn

Swedish buyout group EQT has set a price range for its shares at between SKr62 and SKr68 as it prepares for a listing that values the firm at between €5.5bn and €6bn.


ECB cuts rates, revives QE and eases lending terms

The European Central Bank has cut interest rates for the first time in three years and restarted its bond-buying programme. The central bank cut its deposit rate by 0.1 percentage points to minus 0.5% and announced the launch of tiered interest rates for eurozone banks to ease the pressure on their lending margins. The quantitative easing will be open-ended and start at €20bn every month from November. The bank’s forward guidance also indicated that interest rates would stay lower for longer than expected. ECB President Mario Draghi said the onus is now on governments to boost stubbornly low growth and inflation.

Permanent TSB sells off mortgages

Permanent TSB is selling almost 2,000 mortgages that have fallen into arrears to part of vulture fund Lone Star for €264m (£235m), slightly more than half the €506m due on the home loans.


Ricardo suffers amid global car industry downturn

Ricardo’s struggling automotive division triggered a 7% share slide yesterday for the engineering consultancy, but the company called it a “resilient” performance against the backdrop of a global automotive slowdown. Pre-tax profit declined 1.9% to £26.5m over the year while turnover grew 2% to £384.4m. Net debt also grew 82% to £47.4m.


TheCityUK criticises planned financial transactions tax

Plans by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell to extend the scope of a proposed financial transactions tax under Labour have been criticised by Miles Celic, chief executive of City lobby group TheCityUK. He stated: “A tax on financial transactions would be bad for business, bad for investors, bad for savers, and bad for the economy,” continuing: “The UK is a world-leader in financial and related professional services, but our lead will not last long if we start booting balls into our own net.”

Brooks Macdonald reports funds and profit growth

Brooks Macdonald has reported a profit before tax of £21m for the year ending 30 June, an 11.8% increase on a year earlier. The wealth management firm said assets under management (AUM) grew 6.8% to a record £13.2bn, while revenue increased 7.3% to £107.3m, with chief executive Caroline Connellan admitting that although “market conditions haven’t been easy”, she was pleased with the “good set of results”.

France to block Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire has said Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency will not be allowed in Europe declaring it a threat to financial stability, risks for sovereignty and the potential abuse of market dominance.

No-deal Brexit fears dampen M&A activity

New data from Mergermarket shows UK focussed M&A activity has fallen by nearly 40% during Q2 compared with the same period last year. Corporate M&A also tumbled to £15.1bn - its lowest value since the EU referendum.


Stonegate Pub signs up lenders

Slug & Lettuce owner Stonegate Pub Company has added Deutsche Bank and Lloyds Banking Group to the syndicate providing financing for its £1.3bn takeover of rival Ei Group - formerly known as Enterprise Inns – which agreed the deal in July. Existing lenders include Barclays, Goldman Sachs and Nomura International.


BAT to axe 2,300 jobs

The new boss of British American Tobacco, Jack Bowles, has announced plans to cut 2,300 senior management jobs as part of a sweeping restructuring designed to address a decline in smoking and a shift towards vaping. The geographical location of the cuts was not disclosed.


Marketers set to ramp up digital advertising

A study published by Kantar shows 84% of global marketers plan to increase their investment in online video advertising next year while 70% will hike their spend on social media. Podcasts will also be a focus for two-thirds of survey respondents. Spending on magazine and newspaper advertising will be cut, however.

Soros-backed Helios to float in London

African telecoms tower company Helios has revived its plans to list in London. At least 25% of the business will be floated with the cash expected to be used to help build and buy new sites and enter new markets.


Blackstone's firepower faces test in tougher property market

Blackstone’s real estate division has raised a record $20.5bn but faces a more challenging investment environment, with prices up and yields compressing.


Sales slide at John Lewis Partnership

The John Lewis Partnership has reported a £25.9m half-year loss in the six months to July 27. The owner of John Lewis and Waitrose said the fall was due to lacklustre sales and higher IT and wage costs. At the John Lewis department store business, total sales were £2.1bn, down 1.8%. Sales at Waitrose slipped slightly to £3.4bn in the six months to 27 July amid what it described as a "weak grocery market". However, the supermarket chain also reported a 10.7% growth in online sales, which the partnership said was "well ahead of the market".

Green’s Topshop brands lose £505m

Sir Philip Green’s Topshop brands lost over £500m for the year to September 2018 with sales down 9% to £847m. The figures come after Arcadia accounts last week revealed the group as a whole lost £93m. The financial problems have raised new fears about the future of Arcadia's pension fund. MP Frank Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions Committee, has written to the Pensions Regulator raising concerns over plans for Arcadia's retirement scheme.


Germany leads July fall in eurozone industrial output

Eurozone industrial production contracted 0.4% in July over the previous month, according to official data from Eurostat, dragged down by a sharp fall in Germany. Compared to the same month last year, factory output in the 19 eurozone countries was down 2%, worse than the 1.3% fall expected. Jessica Hinds of Capital Economics said it was a “disappointing start” to the third quarter by the region’s factories, warning that Germany “remains the weak link”.

Challenges remain for Scots firms

The ICAEW said its business confidence index in Scotland is in "marginally" positive territory for the first time in a year. The third-quarter score of +2.8 was above the UK average of -10.3 - but Scottish firms are experiencing difficult sales conditions while challenges are curbing investment plans.

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