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Daily News Roundup: Friday 18th May 2018

Posted: 18th May 2018


RBS staff not incentivised to move customers online

RBS staff are not financially incentivised to move customers to online banking, the bank’s CEO has told MPs. Ross McEwan said the bank's employees were set "goals" to serve customers well, which include discussing banking options, but did not have targets to sign people up to online and mobile methods. Separately, TSB customers who have had money taken from their accounts say they have not received alerts warning them of fraudulent activity, in the latest issue to have emerged following the problematic switchover to a new computer platform.

Interest-only loans drop by 46% in six years

The number of interest-only mortgages on households has almost halved in six years as banks increasingly abandon the product. According to new data from UK Finance, there are 1.7m outstanding interest-only mortgages, down 46% since 2012. The total value of these loans is down 37% to £250bn over the period.

Monzo now supports Apple Pay

Monzo customers can now use their cards with Apple Pay. The digital challenger bank, which added support for Android Pay last October, said Apple Pay had been "by far the most requested feature".


3i sees returns drop

Private equity firm 3i reported a £200m fall in year-on-year returns, but ruled out a listing of its biggest asset, arguing that it made more sense to keep Action, the Dutch discount retailer. 3i said it had made a total return on its investment in the 12 months to the end of March of £1.42bn in its full-year report, compared with nearly £1.6bn the year before. The performance represented a 24% return on shareholders' opening funds, with net asset value per share rising from 604p to 724p over the period.


Former Deutsche traders face US Libor trial

Two former Deutsche Bank executives are to go on trial in New York next month for allegedly rigging the London Inter-bank Offered Rate. Lawyers for Gavin Black, a UK citizen who worked for the bank's London office, argued that his compelled testimony in the UK Libor trials would bias his upcoming US trial.

Arion prepares IPO 10 years after Iceland’s banking collapse

Arion Bank, the successor to Iceland’s failed Kaupthing, is planning a listing in Reykjavik and Stockholm in June, just before the 10th anniversary of the country’s banking collapse.


Countryside sees profits and revenue rise

Housebuilder Countryside Properties saw profits climb 14% to £80.6m for the first 6 months, up from £71m last year. Revenues climbed 7%. Chief executive Ian Sutcliffe said the firm enters the second half of the year “in great shape.”


Investec's share price falls

Investec carved out a growth in profit of 1% in its latest financial year amid a “challenging backdrop” including ongoing Brexit-related uncertainty, and losses from its exposure to Steinhoff. For the year ending March 2017, Investec managed to generate statutory operating profits of £607.5m – a 1.4% increase on the previous year, but a 3.5% cent drop on a constant currency basis.

David Ferguson to chair fintech body

David Ferguson, founder and chief executive of Edinburgh-based investment wrap platform pioneer Nucleus, has been appointed the first chairman of Fintech Scotland – a firm set up by the Scottish Government, the financial services sector and the University of Edinburgh to help the country capitalise on financial technology (fintech) opportunities.

Ant reveals its enormous scale in China online finance

Ant Financial has revealed a dramatic increase in users, to more than 600m, and revealed the scale of its wealth management business for potential investors in its latest $10bn fundraising.


Fixed odds betting machines curbs confirmed

The government has confirmed that the maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals are to be cut from £100 to £2 to tackle "gambling-related harm". The proposed shake-up still requires parliamentary approval but, to cover any hit to the public finances, the government said the change will be linked to an increase in remote gaming duty - paid by online gaming operators.

Brexit pushing up holiday prices

British holidaymakers are paying an average of 6% more for summer packages, according to Thomas Cook, which is experiencing “margin pressure as a result of currency impact and hotel bed cost inflation”. The firm reported strong demand and “significant growth” to Turkey and North Africa in its half-year results.


British Land warns retail to 'remain challenging' amid rising profits

British Land's annual results reveal underlying profits fell 2.6% to £380m following £1.5bn net sales of income producing assets over the last two financial years. Profit before tax, however, rose to £501m, from £195m last year, thanks to a rise in the value of the business' properties. Chris Grigg, British Land's chief executive noted: "In retail, market conditions are likely to remain challenging”.

Private equity tucks in to Crosspoint

Carlyle has paid £43m for the City's Crosspoint building on Liverpool Street. Formerly belonging to Alan Sugar's property group Amsprop, it will form part of Carlyle’s new 'Uncommon Liverpool Street' co-working space, expected to open later this year, and will offer access to the new Elizabeth Line Crossrail station from 2019.


Mothercare confirms store closures

Mothercare has confirmed the closure of 50 of its 137 UK stores – a move which could put up to 800 jobs at risk. It will also seek to reduce rents at 21 sites. The retailer also revealed that it will be bringing back Mark Newton-Jones as chief executive after he agreed to return as part of the restructuring effort overseen by Clive Whiley, executive chairman. The retailer, which has entered into a company voluntary arrangement, said it will raise £28m through a share issue and has also revised debt facilities of £67.5m with HSBC and Barclays.

Sainsbury’s-Asda merger probe ‘must consider suppliers’

Business secretary Greg Clark has written to Andrea Coscelli, the chief executive of the Competitions and Markets Authority, to insist its inquiry into Sainsbury’s proposed takeover of Asda must look at the implications for suppliers. In the letter, he says: "The effect of this potential increased market power has been highlighted as a potential concern with regard to existing suppliers."


Man Utd quarterly sales up

Manchester United Football Club has seen its third-quarter revenues rise by 8.1% to £137.5m, up from £127.2m the previous year. Broadcast revenues were up 26.4% at £39.7m, while commercial revenues were slightly higher and matchday income was 6% higher at £31.1m.


Interest rates could stay low for a decade

Economists have suggested that Britain could face 20 years of rock-bottom interest rates if saving by people in their 50s and 60s creates a glut of cash that forces down market rates. Analysts at Berenberg Bank believe that following 10 years of ultra-low interest rates, this extra pressure from savings could mean another decade at sub-2% interest rates.

Offshore tax havens unjust, says Vatican

A report by the Vatican has denounced offshore tax havens as immoral and unjust, calling them "ticking time bombs" that hurt the world's poor the most. The report, from the Vatican's doctrine office and social justice department, calls for a more ethical global financial system.

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