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Daily News Roundup: Friday, 22nd March 2019

Posted: 22nd March 2019

BANKING

Scammers steal £1.2bn from British bank customers

Figures from UK Finance show criminals fraudulently stole a total of £1.2bn from UK bank customers in 2018 - up almost a quarter on 2017, when £968m was stolen. The amount stolen in authorised push payment (APP) scams rose to £354m, although financial providers were able to return a total of £83m of these losses. Banks recorded 84,624 cases of APP fraud last year, almost double the number reported in 2017. Furthermore, cheque fraud losses jumped to £20.6m in 2018, more than double the 2017 figure of £9.8m. Consumer groups described the soaring numbers as “alarming” and warned the true number of victims and losses were likely to be even higher as many people are too ashamed to come forward.

Credit card cash bill tops £219m

Consumers have withdrawn £4.6bn of cash using their credit cards in a year – resulting in a bill of £219m from interest and charges. The study by Moneycomms and Totallymoney reveals there were more than 36m withdrawals using credit cards from December 2017 to November 2018.

Challenger banks partner to launch savings accounts

OakNorth has teamed up with Monzo to allow the latter challenger bank's customers to access a high-interest savings account, with rates of up to 1.55%, for the first time. An easy-access cash ISA offering 1.14% AER will be available next week and other products will follow.

Standard Chartered faces investor unrest over chief executive's pay

A top-10 investor in Standard Chartered has said the way that the bank has tweaked chief executive Bill Winters' pension is a "clear contravention" of Financial Reporting Council rules.

INTERNATIONAL

The Big Short’s Steve Eisman raises bets against Canadian banks

Neuberger Berman fund manager Steve Eisman is among the increasing number of short-sellers taking positions in the likes of TD Bank and Royal Bank of Canada.

CONSTRUCTION

Wates Group builds profits

Construction outfit Wates Group managed to build its profits last year despite the Brexit-related downturn and carries forward a record order book of £5.4bn going into 2019. Though turnover was down 1% to £1.6bn, profit before tax rose 1% to £35.9m and net assets were up 13.7% to £135.8m.

Persimmon pledges cash to rebuild reputation

Persimmon is aiming to rebuild its reputation by giving customers the chance to keep part of their cash for new homes until faults are fixed. From July, homebuyers’ solicitors will keep 6% of the build cost of every new Persimmon home, equivalent to an average of £3,600 per property, until any faults identified are fixed.

FINANCIAL SERVICES

1,000 EU firms sign up for continued City access

More than 1,000 EU firms have signed up to the Financial Conduct Authority’s “Temporary Permissions Regime”, which offers continued access to the City in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The FCA’s international director, Nausicaa Delfas, said the watchdog was “pleased” with the uptake and that fund managers representing thousands of funds had also signed up to the scheme. However, Ms Delfas also reiterated that a no-deal Brexit still presents risks to the financial sector and its customers.

IG Group revenue extends quarterly drop

IG Group’s decline in revenues extended in Q3, falling by almost 30% from last year, as a regulatory crackdown was compounded by sluggish markets. The spread-better saw a 12% fall in revenues in the quarter to February 28, following tough limits imposed by Europe’s watchdogs on the leverage that clients can use to enhance winnings.

LV= changes legal structure

Insurer LV= is ditching its 123-year-old legal structure in favour of a ‘company limited by guarantee’ structure, which will maintain its mutual status. Chief executive Richard Rowney said: “We are trying to modernise our approach. At some point you have to do a bit of tidying up. Our mutual status is really important to us. We have no plans to change it.”

Record operating profits for Royal London

Royal London has reported record operating profits of £396m for 2018, up 20% on the previous year. The insurer’s asset management arm saw net external inflows of £4.1bn, up from £2.8bn in 2017, while funds under management held firm at £114bn. However, pre-tax profit fell to £351m for the year ending 31 December.

Amigo loses £80m

Almost £80m was wiped off the value of Amigo Holdings yesterday after the Financial Conduct Authority said it had concerns about guarantor loans. It comes after the regulator warned this month that it was increasing its focus on the area.

UK insurers to be scrutinised by BoE over climate change planning

The Bank of England will next month test how UK insurers are planning for climate change, amid concern some are not properly considering how it might affect their assets.

Sovereign wealth funds cut UK investment ahead of Brexit

Research by IE Business School in Madrid shows state-backed sovereign wealth funds invested only $1.8bn in the UK last year, down from $21bn in 2017, amid Brexit uncertainty.

MANUFACTURING

Renishaw issues profit warning

Renishaw has issued a profit warning on the back of weak demand in Asia. The FTSE 250 precision engineer said profit before tax is expected to land in the range of £123m to £141m, a bracket lower than the £146m to £166m it predicted in January’s half-year results.

MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT

Amazon hires BT Sport for PL coverage

Amazon has hired BT Sport to produce its matchday coverage for Premier League games next season. Amazon last year secured exclusive rights to livestream 20 matches per season, which will be available to its Prime customers.

Profits and revenue rise at Three

Mobile provider Three UK has enjoyed a rise in revenues and profit ahead of the rollout of 5G. Total revenue grew 1% to £2.4bn in the 12 months to the end of December, while earnings before interest and tax also ticked up 1% to £441m.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

Blooming Burford's stock soars

Business litigation funder Burford Capital has posted another record year of profit growth, sending shares up as much as 10% to value the firm at over £4bn. Net profits were up 24% to $328m in 2018, on an operating margin of 84%, while return on equity was 30%.

REAL ESTATE

Housing transactions edge up

HMRC figures show there were 101,780 residential property transactions in February, an increase of 1.7% on the previous month and 2.7% when compared to February a year earlier.

RETAIL

Shoppers defying Brexit chaos, ONS says

Retail sales grew 0.4% month-on-month in February, according to the Office for National Statistics, defying expectations of a fall amid the continuing Brexit uncertainty. Compared with February 2018, sales were up 4%.

Levis shares surge on first day of trading

Shares in Levi Strauss soared as the company made its return to the stock market. The jeans manufacturer’s price shot up immediately as Wall Street opened, closing up 31.8% and valuing the company at $8.7bn (£6.7bn).

ECONOMY

Bank of England holds rates amid Brexit deadlock

The Bank of England's monetary policy committee (MPC) has voted unanimously to hold interest rates, citing weakening global economic conditions and “shifting expectations” concerning Brexit. The Bank also published the findings of a special survey carried out by the Bank's agents, which reveals about 80% of British firms are ready for a no-deal, no-transition Brexit scenario, up from about 50% in January. Separately, UK government borrowing has fallen to its lowest level for 17 years, with borrowing in the 10 months of the financial year to date at £23.1bn - down £18bn on the same period in the prior year. Income tax revenue increased by £3bn.

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