Barclays urges investors to reject Bramson board bid
Barclays bosses have told investors to reject corporate raider Ed Bramson's bid for a seat on its board as they prepare to meet the activist investor in New York. In the bank's first formal letter to investors on the issue, chairman John McFarlane said the board was confident in its strategy and believed it was "important to avoid a further period of significant disruption which we have only just freed ourselves". Aviva Investors, which has historically been one of Mr Bramson’s staunchest backers, has said it will vote against his election to the Barclays board. Barclays yesterday reported a profit of £3.5bn for 2018, unchanged on the previous year. The bank also announced a £150m provision to cover the impact of "anticipated economic uncertainty in the UK". The bank's chief executive, Jes Staley, said 2018 had seen the bank take charges of £2.2bn to cover legal issues and fines, including a large settlement with US regulators and, in the UK, compensation over PPI. Barclays confirmed that it will pay a dividend of 6.5p this year.
Apple to launch credit card with Goldman Sachs
Apple is planning to launch a credit card with Goldman Sachs within the next few months. The joint venture will allow iPhone users to link the card with the Apple Wallet app, allowing them to better track spending and earn rewards. The credit card is due to be tested with employees of both companies in the coming weeks before an official launch in the US later in the year. It would be Goldman’s first credit card, with the WSJ reporting that the bank is spending $200m to build customer support call centres in America and a new internal system to handle payments.
StanChart sets aside $900m for fines
Standard Chartered has set aside $900m to cover potential fines relating to historical sanctions breaches in the US, investigations linked to foreign exchange trading issues and a £102m penalty from the Financial Conduct Authority.
SEC joins list of authorities probing Danske money laundering
Danske Bank’s Estonian money-laundering scandal is being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which has launched a probe alongside the criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice.
TBC posts profit
Georgian bank TBC has reported a 21.5% rise in full-year profit to 437.4m lari (£126.3m). The London-listed lender has also withdrawn its appeal over a National Bank of Georgia investigation and will pay a fine of 1m lari to cover the regulatory dispute.
Axe swings at European banks after lamentable fourth quarter
Europe’s seven largest investment banks reported sharp declines in markets revenues in the final period of 2018, falling an average 19%, according to figures from Citigroup.
Hong Kong opens banking market to online competition
Hong Kong is set to issue digital banking licences to six companies including Tencent, Ant Financial and Xiaomi.
VW boss warns US tariffs could cost billions
Volkswagen’s chief executive Herbert Diess has warned that tariffs threatened by Donald Trump are the biggest risk facing European carmakers this year. He said the duties could cost the German company billions of euros a year “in a worst-case situation”.
Flybe completes sale to Virgin-led consortium
Flybe has completed the sale of its assets and operations to a consortium of buyers led by Virgin Atlantic for £2.8m.
Mortality table could boost insurers' balance sheets
Insurers that sell annuities are expected to benefit from a reduction in UK life expectancy, which will enable them to release cash earmarked for paying out to pensioners. According to analysts at Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Capital Markets, the 2018 mortality table produced by the Continuous Mortality Investigation will show a life expectancy reduction of seven months for men and six months for women. Aviva, Just Group and Phoenix will adopt the 2018 mortality table for their 2019 results with RBC predicting mortality releases of £1.112bn, £161m, and £179m respectively in their results next year.
FCA fines asset managers over IPO price collusion
The Financial Conduct Authority has fined Hargreave Hale and River and Mercantile Asset Management for breaching competition law over price collusion. The FCA fined Hargreave Hale £306,300 and River and Mercantile £108,600 for sharing information about the initial public offering of holiday company On The Beach that could have influenced the price of its shares. Newton Investment Management was also found to have shared information about the IPO but was not fined under the competition leniency programme.
Rathbone Brothers warns of Brexit impact
Wealth manager Rathbone Brothers has warned that Brexit could affect the value of its funds under management and administration. Its total funds under management and administration were £44.1bn at the year end, up 12.8% from £39.1bn a year previously, while profit before tax increased 4.1%, from £58.9m to £61.3m.
Swiss Re boosts profit 27%
Swiss Re boosted net profit by 27.2% last year, despite 2018 being the fourth-costliest year on record for the insurance industry. The reinsurer reported net profit of $421m (£366m) compared with $331m a year previously.
Axa profits drop by 66%
Net profit at Axa fell by 66% last year, with the insurer citing charges related to its US arm’s initial public offering and a rash of natural disasters. Net profit dropped from €6.2bn to €2.1bn for the year ended 31 December.
Finance sees ‘cliff-edge’ risks in a no-deal exit
Catherine McGuinness, chair of City of London Corporation, says the UK’s finance sector has highlighted substantial cliff-edge risks that could disrupt cross-border financial services in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
GAM drops hedge fund boss
Asset manager GAM has sacked its bond manager Tim Haywood after an internal investigation found him to have acted with "gross misconduct".
Eurozone output slumps
Eurozone manufacturing output has contracted for the first time in six years on the back of a sharp fall in Germany. The manufacturing purchasing managers' index from IHS Markit fell to 49.2, down from 50.5 last month, its lowest since July 2013.
Profits rise at Hays Group
Hays Group saw operating profit for the six months to 31 December rise to £124.1m, up 7% year-on-year from £116.5m. The recruitment firm said it was battling “economic uncertainties” in the UK, but that other global markets were strong in its interim results.
Housing transactions creep up in January
Figures from Zoopla show there has been an 8.1% annual drop in the number of homes in London worth an estimated £1m or more, down from 430,720 to 395,871 last year. This compares with a UK-wide decline of 4.5%. Across Britain there are now 733,777 homes worth £1m or more, down from 768,553. Meanwhile, HMRC figures show that housing transactions in the UK rose 0.8% in January from December, and by 1.3% on an annual basis.
Purplebricks shares plummet amid disappointing growth
Shares in Purplebricks fell as much as 40% in early trading on Thursday after the online estate agent cut sales forecasts and parted company with two senior executives. The company now expects full-year revenues of £130m-£140m, compared with a forecast of £165m-£175m in December, due to “challenging” markets in both the UK and Australia, and a failure to make headway in the US.
UK racks up record government surplus
Income from taxes beat public spending by £14.9bn in January, the largest monthly surplus since records began in 1993. The haul was well ahead of the £10bn surplus predicted by economists and £5.6bn greater than January 2018.