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Daily News Roundup: Friday, 22nd December 2017

Posted: 22nd December 2017


City of London should be optimistic about Brexit – May

Theresa May has said that the UK’s financial sector should be optimistic about the outcome of Britain’s trade talks with the EU that are due to start early next year. The PM said the financial sector should “take encouragement” from the fact that her government “recognises the importance of financial services and is clear that as we look ahead to our relationship for the future it’s important that we include services in that as well as goods.” Meanwhile, European bankers have hailed the coordinated move by the BoE, the FCA and the Treasury to reassure European investment banks as the first positive move by the UK since the referendum.

RBS reshuffles board

Royal Bank of Scotland is restructuring its board, bringing in Lena Wilson - a former World Bank investment adviser - as a non-executive director, while Robert Gillespie, who is already a member of the remuneration committee, will take over as the committee's chairman. Mark Seligman will replace Sir Sandy Crombie as senior independent director. The move improves the bank’s gender diversity, bringing the number of female board members to four out of fourteen.

SMEs launch CYBG mis-selling claim

Hundreds of small businesses have launched a mis-selling claim against Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank alleging fraud and dishonesty over tailored business loans, which contained a risky interest swap, sold between 2001 and 2012. CYBG said it did not accept the allegations and would defend them "in the strongest terms possible" if necessary.

SME optimism at highest level in five months

A study from Lloyds Bank has found the proportion of SMEs that are confident in the economic outlook outweighed those that are pessimistic by a margin of 28 percentage points, the highest level in five months. A net balance of 48% are upbeat on their business prospects, up from the previous month, while 23% anticipate hiring more workers next year, down on the 28% seen in November.


Who are the business winners and losers from US tax reform bill?

Donald Trump’s tax reforms could see mining companies pay 60% less tax over the period between 2018 and 2027, finance and insurance firms about 35% less, while utilities will pay almost 20% more.

Australian banking watchdog given new powers

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission watchdog is set to get new powers to ban "potentially harmful" financial products, under new laws forcing banks to put more emphasis on serving their customers' interests.

New Zealand blocks HNA takeover of ANZ Bank unit

New Zealand has blocked HNA Group’s $460m purchase of a vehicle finance firm owned by ANZ Bank.


Vauxhall jobs safe

Vauxhall has insisted that it will not have to cut jobs or production shifts at its Luton factory despite the slowdown in British motor manufacturing. A spokesman for Vauxhall, which is owned by PSA, the Peugeot Citroën group, said that the industry slump would not mean cutting shifts or laying off workers.


Takeover talk lifts shares in Embraer

Shares in Brazilian plane-maker Embraer rose by more than 20% yesterday after the company said it had held talks with Boeing about a possible combination. A deal with the US aerospace giant would join two of the world's biggest plane-makers.

Ryanair’s German pilots set to strike

Ryanair pilots in Germany have said they will go on strike for four hours today, following "unsatisfactory negotiations" over union recognition. The pilots' union said initial talks with the airline had been cancelled. The strike by the Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union will be the first industrial action by Ryanair pilots in Germany.


Leasehold ruling hits housebuilders

The Government’s plan to ban the sale of new leasehold homes hit housebuilder share prices yesterday, with Persimmon, Barratt Developments, Berkeley Group and Taylor Wimpey all down around 1%.


Insurers urged to prepare in case of hard Brexit

The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) has said that insurers in the EU must take speedy steps to ensure policies won’t be disrupted if Britain leaves the EU without a trade deal in March 2019. Contingency plans should be realistic and consider all eventualities, including no political agreement between Britain and the EU over their future relations, EIOPA said. EIOPA said steps could include transferring contracts from Britain to EU hubs.

Lithuania looks to poach UK based fintech firms

The Independent examines how Lithuania is looking to attract British fintech firms seeking a back door entrance to the EU. The paper notes that Lithuania offers a specialised banking license with the eurozone’s lowest initial capital requirement, €1m (£888,250). That includes access to the Single Euro Payments Area, permitting electronic payments across the euro region.

FCA sets insider dealing record

The Financial Conduct Authority launched 84 insider dealing investigations in the 12 months to Dec 7 – a record figure for the second year in a row.


Facebook strikes media deal with Universal

Facebook has reached a licensing agreement with a major music label that will allow users to post and share music on the social media network. The global, multi-year deal with Universal Music Group addresses copyright issues raised by unauthorised use of its artists' material. The firms also said they were working together on new music products, a sign Facebook has set its sights on challenging YouTube.


85% of homes sell for less than asking price

Data from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) shows that 85% of homes sold in November went for less than the asking price. This is up from 78% in October and marks the highest proportion since the NAEA started its records in January 2013. The association has also revealed that the average number of properties on estate agents’ books dropped from 42 in October to 34 in November, while demand also dipped to its lowest level since September 2016.


Toys R Us avoids collapse

Creditors have backed a rescue plan for Toys R Us following last-minute negotiations with the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) to secure a £9.8m injection into the company's pension fund, which has a deficit of more than £25m. The PPF said the new offer from the company was composed of a payment of £3.8m in 2018, with a further £6m promised over 2019 and 2020. Toys R Us will continue to trade under its company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which will see the closure of 26 of its 105 UK outlets. No stores will close until spring 2018. Although 800 people could still lose their job as a result of the restructure, more than 2,000 more will be saved if the retailer turns its business around.


Public borrowing shrinks to 10-year low

Government borrowing was at its lowest level for a decade in 2017, according to official data. Public borrowing was £48.1bn in the financial year so far, the lowest year-to-date amount since 2007, the ONS said. Tax receipts were 5% higher in November compared with the same month last year, showing that the government continues to benefit from strong VAT and income tax receipts despite a slowdown in economic growth. Separately, the FTSE 100 hit a record all-time high yesterday. A relatively late “Santa rally” pushed the UK's blue-chip index over 7,600 for the first time.

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