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Daily News Roundup: Friday, 29th January 2021

Posted: 29th January 2021


Half of remaining cashpoints could disappear in two years

Some 13,000 cashpoints were axed over the last three years, leaving just 54,400 remaining. But this figure could halve again by 2023, Which? has warned. The CEO of the consumer group, Anabel Hoult, has now written to the eight big banks urging them to guarantee they will preserve cashpoints. Ms Hoult said: "Ensuring the most vulnerable members of society have cash to pay for essential goods and services must be a priority not an afterthought. There is no doubt that more people than ever benefit from digital banking. That does not detract from the need to provide reasonable access to cash for the millions who need it."

Banks urged to reconsider branch closures

The Financial Conduct Authority has said banks should reconsider branch closures during the coronavirus lockdown, warning that their disappearance could have “significant consequences” for vulnerable customers. The City regulator pointed to its guidance on closing branches, which includes treating customers fairly and consulting vulnerable and hard-to-reach customers.

Bitcoin lacks any value, says BIS chief

Agustín Carstens, president of the Bank for International Settlements, has said bitcoin is simply a speculative asset and huge price fluctuations “undermine its usefulness as a means of exchange, and makes it a poor store of value." Mr Carstens went on to say that while stablecoins are more credible than bitcoin, “there are still serious governance concerns if a private entity issues its own currency and is responsible for maintaining its asset backing."

Ombudsman queried over claims delays

MPs have questioned why the Financial Ombudsman Service has had more than 56,000 cases open for more than six months and more than 23,000 for more than two years. The Treasury select committee has asked it to explain how it will clear the backlog of claims by consumers against banks.


JP Morgan to fund property loans on LendInvest’s online platform

JPMorgan Chase has agreed to fund £500m in UK home loans originated by London-based fintech LendInvest. The move comes after the US bank bought a £125m mortgage portfolio from LendInvest in September. Bloomberg says the deal underscores the resilience of Britain’s residential mortgage market in the face of headwinds from Brexit and COVID-19.

Commerzbank to cut one in three jobs in Germany

Commerzbank will axe one in three jobs in Germany and halve branch network by 2024, its CEO Manfred Knof has said, as the lender seeks to turnaround its fortunes.

Nine banks ate into capital buffers under ECB’s pandemic relief

Nine eurozone banks fell below the ECB’s overall capital requirements last year amid an easing of rules to keep credit flowing during the coronavirus crisis.


General Motors pledges to go all-electric by 2035

General Motors has set a target of 2035 to cease the production of internal combustion engines vehicles. "GM is joining governments and companies around the globe working to establish a safer, greener and better world," chief executive Mary Barra said. "We encourage others to follow suit and make a significant impact on our industry and on the economy as a whole."

Toyota regains positions as world’s biggest carmaker

Toyota has been named the world’s biggest car manufacturer, the first time it has held the spot since 2015. The Japanese carmaker saw 9.5m cars roll off its assembly lines last year, despite an 11% drop in production due to the pandemic.


Lockdowns ground easyJet revenue

EasyJet said total revenue fell almost 90% to £165m in the three months to December, after passenger numbers decreased 87% to 2.9m. As a result of lockdown restrictions across Europe, easyJet expects to fly no more than 10% of its comparable 2019 capacity for the second quarter of its current financial year.

Revenue plummets at Wizz Air

Wizz Air has posted a statutory loss of $116m (£102m) for the third quarter. The Hungarian carrier said that revenue plummeted 76% in the quarter, falling to €149.9m. It carried just 2.3m passengers across the three-month period, almost 80% down on the 10m it carried the prior year. Wizz Air said that its cash balance stood at €1.2bn. It also recently enhanced liquidity with a €500m bond issue.


Barroso: UK-EU divergence on financial services likely

Jose Manuel Barroso, a former head of the European Commission and now an adviser to Goldman Sachs, has warned that the EU is unlikely to grant equivalence to the UK on financial services, with divergence between the two “the most likely scenario” in coming years. “It is clear” the EU wants more business to shift from London to the euro area as a result of Brexit, Barroso added. The bloc wants the “dislocation” of some capital, people and “management of risk from the UK to the euro area, and to the European Union in general,” he said.

Revenues decline for Euromoney

Quarterly revenue for financial information company Euromoney fell to £78.7m, a 20% drop from the £99.2m reported a year earlier. Group events revenue of £8.6m was just 30% of the same period last year. However, Euromoney’s financial position remains strong, with £20.3m in net cash at the end of December 2020.

SJP grows FUM after “extraordinary” year

St. James’s Place reported £2.3bn of net inflows after an “extraordinary” year which saw its funds under management soar. As of 31 December the firm’s funds under management stood at a record £129.3bn, an 11% year-on-year increase. Despite the pandemic gross inflows of £14.33bn fell just 5% on the previous year.

Prudential to demerge US business and raise up to $3bn of equity

Prudential has announced it is to demerge its US business in the second quarter and raise up to $3bn of fresh equity. It agreed to demerge Jackson directly to shareholders rather than go through an IPO of the business.

BaFin employee suspended over Wirecard insider dealing allegations

A criminal complaint has been filed by German financial regulator BaFin against one of its employees who is suspected of having used insider information when trading Wirecard shares last summer.

Allianz gets approval for insurance asset management firm in China

Allianz has obtained regulatory approval to set up China’s first wholly foreign-owned insurance asset management company, as the German insurer steps up expansion in the world’s second-biggest economy.

LSE boss says London must ‘move quickly’ to attract prized companies

London Stock Exchange Group chief David Schwimmer is calling on the Government to overhaul the UK’s listing rules rapidly if it wants to challenge Wall Street for tech floats.


Novavax vaccine shows 89% efficacy in UK trials

A new coronavirus vaccine developed by US biotech company Novavax has been shown to be 89.3% effective against the disease in large-scale UK trials. The vaccine also works against the new variants of the virus, according to interim data published from clinical trials in the UK and South Africa.


US tequila drinkers push up sales at Diageo

Surging demand for bourbon and tequila from US consumers helped Diageo to push up underlying first-half net sales, as the drinks maker defied expectations of a decline in revenues. Net revenue measured on an organic basis grew 1% in the six months to December 31, well ahead of an anticipated 4.6% drop. Sales were up 12.3% on an organic basis in the US, its largest market. Pre-tax profits fell from £2.46bn to £2.2bn.


De La Rue has big plans for plastic

De La Rue announced yesterday that it would invest an extra £5m in its polymer strategy in a move it hopes will double production. the banknote printer said it was “confident” that it could deliver adjusted operating profits of between £36m and £37m this financial year, up from the £34m forecast.


M&C Saatchi raises FY guidance

M&C Saatchi has raised forecasts for the full year. The ad agency had previously forecast pre-tax profit of £4m for 2020, but now expects an upward revision of this figure after delivering better-than-expected trading in the fourth quarter. Net cash of £33m was significantly ahead of the £10m previously forecast. M&C Saatchi said it would target revenue growth of 6% and a rise in operating profit of more than 25% by 2025.


Mitie raises guidance following merger boost

Mitie has raised its full year guidance following an improved performance in the second half and its merger with Interserve. The outsourcer said that full year revenue would now come in at £2.4-£2.5bn, with profit up to £57m-£61m. The new forecast came as Mitie reported a 6.7% rise in revenue to £573.9m over the last three months. As a result of the merger, Mitie is now the country’s largest facilities management operation, with headcount around 80,000. For the first month of ownership, the division generated revenue of £109.2m. The firm also said it had won and renewed more than £770m worth of contracts over the last three months.


Workspace remains optimistic

Despite a sharp drop in enquiries throughout the pandemic, Workspace has said it remains optimistic about the future of London’s office work. The group averaged 672 enquiries per month in the third quarter, a 33% drop from the previous year. Lettings per month also fell by 3.4% to 109, driven by the exit of customers who had given notice on their departure earlier in the year.


Boohoo in talks to acquire remains of Arcadia

Boohoo Group is in advanced talks to acquire the remaining components of Sir Philip Green’s high street empire, according to Sky News. Boohoo is said to have offered around £25m for Burton, Wallis and Dorothy Perkins, just days after agreeing to acquire Debenhams' brand and website for £55m.

Brexit disrupts exports for Joules

Joules has said that Brexit had disrupted exports and could cost it an extra £1m per year. The fashion retailer said that, despite its preparation for the end of the transition agreement, exports to certain EU markets had suffered, with Germany being particularly impacted.


Early warnings of Brexit trade trouble emerge in UK data

Early signs of disruption caused by the UK’s departure from the European Union are emerging in economic data. According to IHS Markit, manufacturers and services firms have been hit hard by supply chain and export disruption. British factories reported the steepest increase in supplier delivery times among the six “flash” preliminary PMI surveys published by IHS Markit for the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Australia and the United States.

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