Banks insist small business account delays are over
High Street banks have told MPs that the delays faced by SMEs during the pandemic when trying to open business accounts are over after the pressures experienced during the height of the Covid crisis waned. "It is clear that delivering on bounce back loans at short notice rapidly increased the demand for business bank accounts at the same time as banks faced considerable additional work in delivering this extra support," said Mel Stride, the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee. "It is good to hear from these banks that the availability of business bank accounts is now returning to pre-pandemic levels."
Banks refund only half of lost transfer scam cash
Figures from UK Finance show that only 46% of the money lost to bank transfer fraud is being reimbursed. Consumer group Which?, which analysed the banking data, demanded better protection for customers to fix the “unfair and inconsistent” approach to refunds. Victims lose more than £700,000 to such scams every day, Which? said.
Pockit promises to act over frozen customer accounts
Online pre-paid card firm Pockit has pledged to take action after admitting more than a thousand of its customers have had accounts frozen. Pockit allows customers to load money on to a card and then, for a price, it offers many services that a bank would - such as faster payments and direct debits.
MPs raise concerns over private equity takeovers
MPs will grill ministers later in the year on what measures they are taking to protect British firms from private equity takeovers. Darren Jones, chairman of the business, energy and industrial strategy committee, said on Wednesday: “There have been too many examples of private equity owners buying important British businesses only to load them with debt, withdraw value and then leave workers, customers and high streets worse off when they walk away at the point of failure. Government reforms to audit, corporate governance and director responsibilities should give sufficient powers to the new regulator to take action in the future.” Concerns over PE takeovers of UK companies come as Morgan Stanley reveals its interest in waste management company Augean and New York-based Siris Capital has announced the takeover of payments firm Equiniti. Dealogic data show 831 UK target takeovers across all categories so far this year with a total value of £96bn - up 16% by deal count and more than 40% by value from the same point in 2020.
Deutsche Bank overhaul ahead of schedule
Deutsche Bank's CEO Christian Sewing told shareholders on Thursday that the bank’s multi-year overhaul is ahead of plan and remains its primary focus. Shares are up more than 130% from last year's record lows and Deutsche posted a net profit for the first quarter, its strongest result for seven years. "There are no more question marks hanging over the stability of our bank, while many - but not all - of the problems of recent years have been remedied," said Chairman Paul Achleitner.
Iceland launches privatisation of state-owned lender Islandsbanki
Iceland’s state-owned lender Islandsbanki is to be part-privatised with the country intending to sell off 25% of the bank next month. "The listing of Islandsbanki on Nasdaq Iceland is an important first step to reduce the Icelandic state's significant ownership in the banking sector," Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson said in a statement.
Morgan Stanley closes Indonesian onshore equities business
Morgan Stanley has announced that it is closing its Indonesian onshore institutional equities trading business. The investment bank will carry out sales, trading and research functions from Singapore but investment banking clients will continue to be served onshore.
Julius Baer handed red card in FIFA bribe scandal
Julius Baer has entered into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement with United States authorities and agreed to pay nearly $80m in fines and penalties after admitting conspiring to launder funds through through the US to FIFA officials and soccer federations in South America.
Intesa Sanpaolo takes top spot in Italian asset management
Intesa Sanpaolo has surpassed Assicurazioni Generali as Italy's biggest asset manager, according to data published on Thursday. Intesa's market share stood at 21.8% in April versus Generali's 21.5%.
Canada's top lenders top profit estimates
Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce all reported better-than-expected quarterly profits on Thursday, as signs of an economic recovery helped them reverse bad debt provisions and their capital markets and wealth management units boomed.
Hong Kong bankers face jail if they deal with opposition figurehead
Hong Kong has threatened bankers at HSBC and Citibank with seven years in prison if they manage the funds of billionaire media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who is in jail facing charges relating to pro-democracy protests.
Bank Leumi bullish on further 2021 profits
Israel's largest lender, Bank Leumi, has reported a steep jump in quarterly net profit and expects strong profitability for the rest of 2021.
BBVA staff in Spain urged to strike over layoff plans
More than 20,000 BBVA employees in Spain have been urged by a union to hold a one-day strike next week in protest over the bank's plans for layoffs.
Rolls-Royce opens new engine test facility in Derby
Rolls-Royce has officially opened the world’s largest engine test facility in Derby. Codenamed Testbed 80, the facility will evaluate the performance of Rolls-Royce's engines for long-haul passenger aircraft and will be used to develop the company’s next generation of more efficient Ultrafan engines.
Airbus lifts production targets
Aerospace stocks rose yesterday after Airbus said it was stepping up production of its A320 single-aisle airliner to produce 70 of the aircraft a month.
Treasury pledges transparency around regulation
The Economic Secretary to the Treasury has pledged transparency around the Government's dealings with financial services regulators post-Brexit. At a Treasury Committee evidence session on Wednesday, John Glen was asked where the industry was headed from a regulatory point of view, and whether the UK would take a common laws approach or whether it will be more rules-based. Glen said. “What I see is continuing to give our regulators responsibility for detailed rules and have an outcome based approach to that.”
ECB to crack down on ‘desk-mapping' in the City
The European Central Bank is to scrutinise how US banks service their EU clients as the authority seeks to increase the resources moved out of the City of London. The ECB is specifically targeting JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Citibank, Morgan Stanley and other US investment banks which have continued serving their EU-based clients from their offices in London. “The desk-mapping exercise is at an early stage and still ongoing. Thus the ECB has not yet given feedback to individual banks on its outcome,” an ECB spokeswoman said.
Aviva records highest general insurance sales for a decade
Aviva has notched up its highest general insurance sales for a decade thanks to trends in the pandemic. The group posted a 4% rise in core general insurance gross written premiums to £4bn in the three months to the end of March, with commercial business surging 11%. Aviva’s savings and retirement sales leapt 23% higher to £6.2bn in the first quarter, with net inflows of cash up 31%, as the coronavirus crisis saw people save more in their workplace pensions.
SFE launches five-year plan
With the backing of Scottish and UK ministers, Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE) has launched a new five-year strategy focused on four key areas – leading the journey to net zero, supporting economic recovery, responding to changing customer needs and developing skills and inclusion. The industry group said more collaboration across the industry and with both governments would be crucial to achieving these objectives.
Investment platforms target younger customers’ lockdown savings
The FT reports on a push by UK investment platforms to offer simplified online products to younger clients amid a a boom in interest from a new generation of retail investors.
FCA set to report on Woodford probe
The Financial Conduct Authority is set to update the Treasury select committee today on its investigation into the downfall of Woodford Investment Management.
GSK's sotrovimab gets US approval
GlaxoSmithKline’s new antibody treatment for COVID-19, Sotrovimab, has been approved for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration. The drug cuts a high-risk adult’s risk of having to stay in hospital with COVID-19 by 85%.
DoJ probes Eli Lilly plant
The U.S. Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into Eli Lilly. The case involves lapses at its Branchburg factory in New Jersey, which manufactures Eli Lilly´s COVID-19 antibody therapy bamlanivimab.
LEISURE & HOSPITALITY
Tui sells stake in RIU Hotels
Tui Group has agreed to sell its 49% stake in Spain’s RIU Hotels to co-owner RIU Group in a deal giving the joint venture an enterprise value of €1.5bn.
MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT
Boris Johnson orders rerun of search for Ofcom chair
Paul Dacre has been rejected for the role of Ofcom chair by an independent assessment panel. Boris Johnson has now ordered a rerun of the process amid claims that Facebook and Google lobbied to stop the appointment.
DMGT profits fall by a fifth
Revenues at the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) fell 12% to £580m in the six months to the end of March. Underlying pre-tax earnings were down 20% to £47m after the pandemic damaged its corporate events and newspaper divisions.
Etsy raises fees to counter digital tax
Online marketplace Etsy has said it will charge UK sellers a regulatory fee of 0.25% on every transaction from July 1 to help cover the cost of the Government's digital services levy. This is equivalent to 6p on a £25 order. The digital services tax, introduced last April, requires multinational tech companies to pay a 2% levy on revenues made online from UK users.
We’re not out of the woods yet, warns Vlieghe
Bank of England rate-setter Gertjan Vlieghe has warned that it is still possible that more stimulus will be needed if the recovery falters due to fears over Covid variants. He said: “Despite an improved economic outlook and a likely temporary rise in inflation in the near term, a major challenge for the economy remains to integrate the large numbers of currently furloughed workers smoothly back into the labour market. Only once the furlough scheme has ended will we have a better idea of how much persistent slack there is in the labour market.” Vlieghe added that an interest rate cut below the current record low of 0.1%, to -0.25%, for as long as three years, was possible under his worst-case scenario for the economy. The Bank would raise rates from 0.1% to 1.25% by the middle of 2024 in his optimistic scenario. Vlieghe also dismissed inflation fears, arguing that we are not witnessing a broad-based increase in prices.
Quantum computing: it could supercharge or wreck finance
The FT considers the rise of quantum computing, which for finance could not only result in super-fast risk modelling and deal processing, but also fatal attacks from rogue actors.