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Daily News Roundup: Friday, 25th June 2021

Posted: 25th June 2021


Zopa CEO interview

City AM features an interview with Jaidev Janardana, CEO of digital bank Zopa, who discusses the future for digital financial services and other issues. He states that: "A year into the pandemic, some customers' finances have been negatively impacted and to support them, we have launched a range of tools to help them to repair their financial position." The firm's use of technology like cloud computing and machine learning techniques is also noted.

Letter: Banks should not be the gatekeepers of digital currencies

A letter from an MIT PhD candidate says the proposal by the BIS to “anoint banks as the gatekeepers” of digital currencies “would keep the current oligopoly in place and jeopardise many of the possible benefits.”


Blackstone offer for St Modwen increased

Blackstone has improved its offer for warehouse and housebuilder St Modwen Properties to £1.27bn. Blackstone’s offer has been backed by St Modwen’s board, as well as the founding families and major shareholders Aviva, Aberdeen Standard and JO Hambro.


JPMorgan pushes bankers to get vaccine before office return

JPMorgan Chase has urged its US staff to get vaccinated ahead of a planned return to the office next month. America’s biggest bank said it may mandate vaccination in the future. Meanwhile, James Bardrick, Citigroup's country officer for the UK, has told the BBC that although there would be flexibility for staff to work away from the office for two days a week, workers needed to be together "to get the best out of yourself and for the team". Mr Bardrick added that the bank would not be replicating JP Morgan's policy on vaccination status, but anyone entering a company building had to "demonstrate that they have got a negative test result".

Russia regulates spending on non-core activities

Russia’s central bank on Thursday said lenders would have to create additional buffers if investments in non-core activities exceed 30% of their total capital. Oliver Hughes, the chief executive of online bank Tinkoff, said the move was the first stage of the Russian central bank's efforts to manage corporate diversification across multiple sectors.

US banks gear up for buyback bonanza after passing stress tests

Stress tests undertaken by the US Federal Reserve pave the way for billions of dollars in stock buybacks and dividends with banks expected to announce capital action plans on Monday.

Saudi Arabia's Bank AlJazira to raise $500m

Bank AlJazira is expected to raise $500m via an Islamic bond sale. Alinma Investment Company, Aljazira Capital and JPMorgan are arranging the deal.


Cathay Pacific aircrew told to get vaccine or risk losing job

Aircrew working for Cathay Pacific have been told they must get a Covid vaccination by 31st August or risk losing their jobs. The airline said staff rostering has become "difficult and complicated" because of a need to segregate vaccinated and non-vaccinated crew.


Crest lifts housebuilders

Shares in Crest Nicholson rose yesterday after the housebuilder predicted that this year’s profits would be bigger than investors had forecast. Shares in Berkeley and Vistry also rose on the back of the news.


Insurers band together in climate fight

The bosses of 17 insurance firms have formed the Sustainable Market Initiative Insurance Taskforce. The sector-wide initiative is backing efforts by the Prince of Wales to tackle the climate crisis by expanding insurance coverage for green projects and partnering with governments to provide better disaster protection cover in countries facing serious climate-related risks. Bruce Carnegie-Brown, the chairman of insurance market Lloyd’s of London, which is chairing the taskforce, said. “So there is now increasing demand by customers for these kinds of protections and we need to respond to them.” He went on to say that the industry may have to  take more drastic action such as pulling cover for carbon-intensive companies that fail to transition to more sustainable business models.

Silchester pays partners £110m despite profit fall

Mayfair-based asset manager and Morrisons’ biggest shareholder Silchester International Investors has paid out £110m to its partners despite profits falling during the pandemic. The fund recorded an 8% fall in investment management fees to £201.8m while profits fell 5% to £185.8m in the year to the end of March. Despite this 17 partners were handed £110.8m of profit allocations for last year, compared with £117m the year before.

Rathbones buys rival wealth manager Saunderson House

Rathbone Brothers has agreed to buy rival Saunderson House for around £150m in a move that will make it the third-biggest wealth manager in Britain by assets with £61bn in funds under management. Rathbones will ask shareholders for £50m to help to pay for the acquisition.

German fintech rivals to merge in bid to create pan-European leader

Two of Germany’s largest fintechs, Raisin and Deposit Solutions, have struck a merger aimed at creating a pan-European group that links banks with depositors.

Clearscore gains US investment

London-based free-to-use credit check company Clearscore has reportedly accepted a £144m investment from US-based fund Invus Opportunities. The deal values the company at £503m.

Visa buys Swedish fintech Tink in €1.8bn deal

Visa is to acquire Swedish fintech Tink, which develops technology that connects third parties to customer data from different financial institutions, for €1.8bn.

Vanguard steps up push into financial advice

Asset manager Vanguard is increasingly focusing on providing financial advice, following the firm's cutting of mutual fund fees in recent decades.


Vida Ventures raises $825m

Vida Ventures, a life sciences venture capital firm, said on Thursday it had raised $825m in an oversubscribed funding round for its Vida III fund, which will focus on identifying and investing in transformative biomedical innovations.


Lloyd Webber joins legal action to force ministers to release Covid pilot data

Lord Lloyd Webber and other representatives of the UK's music and theatre industry have launched legal action to force the Government to publish results of research into the impact of relaxing Covid restrictions.

UK court says Deliveroo couriers are self-employed

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has lost its appeal against a ruling that takeaway delivery company Deliveroo is entitled to consider its riders as self-employed. Deliveroo’s shares jumped by more than 9%, adding nearly £400m to its stock market value, following the verdict.


Jansen delighted at Drahi’s investment in BT

BT chief executive Philip Jansen had said that the £2.2bn investment recently made by Altice founder Patrick Drahi in the company  was “a big vote of confidence” in Britain’s largest telecoms group. Jansen said Mr Drahi supported BT’s strategy and did not rule out the tycoon taking a seat on the board.

BuzzFeed to list via Spac

BuzzFeed has struck a deal to go public through a merger with a Spac called 890 5th Avenue Partners, valuing the New York-based digital media firm at $1.5bn.

Google delays Chrome cookie ban after watchdog warning

Google said on Thursday that it will delay a  move to ban tracking cookies from its Chrome browser by two years following pushback from rivals and regulators.


Prime London property back in vogue

Wealthy Londoners are buying super luxury houses in the heart of the capital at record prices in the wake of three lockdowns, with £817.4m spent on top end homes in the six months to April. This is up by more than a fifth on the same period the year before. New data reveals that the number of buyers registering to purchase properties costing more than £10m was 150% higher in May than in January 2020, when the capital was in the middle of the pre-COVID-19 'Boris bounce'.


Maternity brand gears up for £61m IPO

Maternity brand Seraphine is gearing up for a £61m float on the London Stock Exchange. The company intends to use approximately £16m of proceeds to repay its existing term loan and to pay costs associated with the float. The remaining £45m will be used to repay Seraphine’s loan notes held by certain existing shareholders in the company.

Lidl eyes London sites in major expansion plan

Lidl has confirmed it will hit its annual target of opening 50 new stores in 2021, creating 2,000 jobs. The discount retailer is now planning to open a further 140 stores in the UK by the end of 2023, and has released a list of 237 London areas it is considering for potential new store openings.


Derby fined £100,000 for accounting irregularities

Championship club Derby County has been fined £100,000 by an independent disciplinary committee for accounting irregularities.


Inflation rise will be transitory, Bank says

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously on Thursday to keep interest rates at the historic low of 0.1%, despite inflation hitting a two-year high of 2.1%. The MPC said it expected inflation to go above 3% "for a temporary period" but that it did not believe this should affect monetary policy. The MPC also voted 8-1 (Andy Haldane, the Bank’s outgoing chief economist dissenting) to continue with the Bank's existing asset purchase scheme, maintaining its bond-buying target at £895bn. Several economists believe the Bank is being complacent about UK debt and that QE is no longer required to support the economy, warning of debt-fuelled asset price booms and abrupt corrections. Nils Pratley in the Guardian wonders why Threadneedle Street isn’t more worried amid rising commodity prices and 5% inflation in the US.

Pandemic debt mountain risks a new eurozone crisis

New analysis by Deutsche Bank asserts that ballooning pandemic debts, a relaxed attitude to heavy borrowing and a complacent view that interest rates will never rise risks leading the world into a new economic crisis. Senior economist Sebastian Becker fears eurozone countries risk repeating their mistakes of a decade ago by being careless with debt sustainability. Justifying ever more borrowing on the basis that interest rates are below the rate of economic growth ultimately looks like a "Ponzi game", Mr Becker added.

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