One in 10 support quick sale of RBS stake
A new poll has found that only 9% of people support a quick sale of the government’s majority stake in RBS. Some 34% believe the Treasury should wait for the RBS share price to recover, while a further 32% believe privatisation efforts should be delayed while RBS is run as a nationalised bank. The Treasury plans to sell the entire public stake by 2023-2024, but is projected to lose about £28.5bn in the process, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility. RBS is set to report its full-year results today, with the bank widely expected to log its second annual profit since the bailout in 2008. Analysts are expecting a near-doubling of profits to £1.4bn for 2018, from £752m a year earlier.
Big Tech poses threat to banks
A report by the Financial Stability Board has suggested that the march of so-called Big Tech into financial services could pose a bigger threat to banks than fintech specialists. The report stops short of recommending specific regulatory reform for Big Tech entrants, but says a broader view may be needed. “While the financial stability implications of fintech have generally been judged to be small because of their relatively small size, this could change quickly with deeper involvement of the large technology providers,” the report states.
Banking hubs can rescue the high street
MPs have suggested that dying high streets could be revitalised by creating “1970s-style banking hubs”. Housing several banks together in the same building would be cost effective, aid customers and help local business communities, the MPs said. They added that drastic action needed to be taken to prevent bank branch closures which are turning Britain’s high streets into “ghost towns”.
RBS under scrutiny in euro bond inquiry
RBS is one of eight banks being investigated by European authorities for its possible role in a euro bond trading cartel. The European Commission said last month it was scrutinising the unidentified banks over a scheme that distorted sovereign bond trading markets from 2007 to 2012.
Qataris chased Barclays for contract
A court has heard that Qatari investors were pushing Barclays “quite aggressively” to be paid for a controversial services contract at the height of the financial crisis. Richard Boath reportedly told fellow executive Rich Ricci that Qatar was growing impatient with the bank after it apparently missed the deadline to pay for the first of two advisory service agreements struck during 2008.
Barclays customers suffer IT outage
Barclays has apologised to its customers after an online outage left many unable to access their accounts. Customers said they were prevented from accessing the Barclays mobile banking app and other online services yesterday morning.
Credit Suisse posts profit
Credit Suisse has posted a Sfr2.1bn (£1.63bn) full-year net profit, its first annual profit in four years. Chief executive Tidjane Thiam said the results showed the bank was now on a sound footing to weather turbulent markets after finishing a three-year turnaround. He said: “The old Credit Suisse would have really struggled. And we've had our best fourth quarter since 2013. So that's the magnitude of the change that has taken place.” The bank’s global markets division continues to be a drag, posting a worse-than-expected pre-tax loss of Sfr193m in the fourth quarter.
Credit Agricole beats forecasts
Credit Agricole has reported that its net profits jumped to €1bn (£882m) from €387m a year earlier when it had to book almost €400m in tax-related charges. Analysts had expected profits of €795m. CEO Philippe Brassac commented: “The strong growth of underlying net income was achieved despite a much less favourable environment.”
Deutsche Bank urged to cut more
Deutsche Bank has hit back after investors called for more cuts at the German lender’s investment banking division. Investor concerns over the struggling investment bank division have grown in recent months as shares continue to hover around all-time lows. However, the bank said it stood by its plans as there was now a “good foundation for growth”.
Commerzbank profits edge higher
Commerzbank has reported a 51% jump in fourth-quarter net profit, but scaled back profit and revenue goals. The German bank reported net profit attributable to shareholders of €113m (£100m).
Ryanair circling Thomas Cook
Ryanair has indicated its interest in holiday group Thomas Cook's runway slots if a buyer does not materialise for the whole unit. Separately, European manufacturer Airbus has pulled the plug on its struggling A380 superjumbo after Emirates, the largest A380 customer, cut its order.
MJ Gleeson smashing through Brexit uncertainty
Building firm MJ Gleeson’s customer base is “unfazed by Brexit,” according to CEO Jolyon Harrison. The firm sold 691 homes in the second half of 2018 at an average price of £127,400, mainly to those on lower wages in the Midlands and the North East, and interim results showed Gleeson’s profit before tax was £22.3m, up 62.8% year-on year for the six months ending December 31, while revenues hit £118.3m, up 52.8% on last year.
Ant Financial buys UK currency exchange
Chinese fintech giant Ant Financial has agreed a deal to acquire UK currency exchange Worldfirst. WorldFirst CEO Jonathan Quin said that the company “will continue to operate as a UK-headquartered and regulated business with global operations” while becoming a wholly-owned division of Ant Financial. The Alibaba-affiliate, last valued at $150bn in reports last summer, made a move to buy US remittances firm Moneygram last year. However, it was blocked over national security concerns.
Insurer heads to Brussels
Alex Mahoney, the CEO of Lancashire Holdings, has said the insurer will use Lloyd’s of London’s European Union hub in Brussels after Britain leaves the EU. “None of us really knows what will happen with Brexit and if that changes and we need an office in Europe, we'll open an office,” Mr Maloney said.
Deutsche Boerse warns of subdued year ahead
The CEO of the German stock exchange has said the outlook for 2019 has become “more subdued” due to the global slowdown. Speaking as Deutsche Boerse posted a 35% drop in profits for the fourth quarter, Theodor Weimer said: “Cyclical risk are increasing and political risks are difficult to predict.”
UK regulator warns no-deal Brexit will ‘heavily constrain’ its investigations
The Competition and Markets Authority has warned that a no-deal Brexit will constrain its ability to launch investigations into price-fixing and markets that are not delivering for consumers.
Property repossessions ‘lowest since 1980’
New figures have shown that the number of homes repossessed in the UK fell to its lowest level since 1980 last year. There were 4,580 homes repossessed by mortgage lenders from owners who were unable to keep up with repayments on their home loans. Low mortgage rates and a less aggressive attitude from lenders has meant low levels of repossession in recent years. The figures from UK Finance showed that the number of landlords falling behind on mortgage repayments was unchanged in the final quarter of last year compared with the same three months in 2017.
Patisserie Valerie bought out of administration
Patisserie Valerie is to be bought out of administration by its management team which has secured backing from investment firm Causeway Capital Partners to take over 96 shops. Patisserie Valerie's parent company, Patisserie Holdings, collapsed in January following an accounting scandal.
Brexit uncertainty costs UK economy £40bn
According to the Bank of England’s economist, Gertjan Vlieghe, Brexit uncertainty has cost the UK £800m per week, or £40bn a year since the referendum in 2016. Vlieghe said the economy had lost about 2% of GDP compared with a scenario where there had been no significant domestic economic events. He said business investment in Britain had been stuck around zero, with a drop of 3.7% in 2018, despite an upswing worth about 6% annually in the rest of the G7.
JP Morgan launches own cryptocurrency
JP Morgan is to trial its own cryptocurrency, called JPM Coin, to settle payments between clients. In a blog post, JP Morgan said: “We have always believed in the potential of blockchain technology and we are supportive of cryptocurrencies as long as they are properly controlled and regulated.”