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Daily News Roundup: Friday, 2nd February 2018

Posted: 2nd February 2018


Standard Chartered agrees “Belt and Road” fund

Standard Chartered and the China Development Bank have agreed to provide 10bn renminbi (£1.1bn) to “facilitate” projects connected to the “Belt and Road” collection of infrastructure projects. Standard Chartered will use the facility to support loans that will fund corporate finance projects and trade finance transactions. Bill Winters, Standard Chartered chief executive, said the agreement “brings us closer together, and offers more flexibility of funding” particularly in renminbi, adding it will “help clients mitigate or avoid risks.”

British finance companies have limited options post Brexit

The European Commission’s Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis has said that Britain’s financial companies can either establish full-blown subsidiaries in the EU after Brexit or fall back on financial regulatory “equivalence”. His comments come after EU negotiators revealed earlier this week that they see no room for Britain keeping “passport” access to EU financial markets for its banks.

English: Big banks proving resilient

The Standard’s Simon English looks ahead to the banking reporting season later this month. He says he expects the older generation of banks – Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and HSBC – to show their resilience in the face of the challenge from newer rivals namely Metro Bank, Virgin Money and CYBG. He says that in banking scale appears to be as important as innovation. He adds that smaller challenger banks look unable to resist the bigger banks’ pricing power.

UK High Court to hear objections to Barclays’ pension plans

The High Court will this month hear objections to Barclays’ decision to use its non-ring-fenced bank to back its staff pension scheme from April 2018.


3i shares rise

3i has said that the net asset value of its shares rose by nearly 20% in the nine months to the end of December 2017. The private equity firm added that it had raised nearly £400m from disposals. “We enter the final quarter of our financial year confident that our investment portfolio will deliver another year of strong growth,” CEO Simon Borrows said.

IWG suitors walk away

Onex Corp and Brookfield Asset Management have both walked away from attempts to buy IWG, the owner of serviced office space provider Regus. IWG said it “confirms that discussions regarding the consortium's approach ... have ended, and that the process will not therefore move to a due diligence phase.”


Swiss regulator censures Gazprombank after Panama Papers

Switzerland’s market regulator has banned the Swiss affiliate of Russia's Gazprombank from taking new private clients over money laundering concerns that emerged from the Panama Papers leak.

Bob Diamond to join board of Corrado Passera acquisition vehicle

Bob Diamond is set to join the board of a €600m acquisition vehicle called Spaxs, which is headed by Corrado Passera. Mr Passera said that Spaxs would look to acquire one of five small Italian lenders.

Nomura profits driven by domestic retail and asset management

Japanese investment bank Nomura has posted its strongest quarterly net profit in nearly 12 years as its retail and asset management arms surged amid buoyant global equities markets.


Skills gap needs to be plugged

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has warned that there is an “urgent need” to plug the construction skills gap if the government wants to achieve its target of 300,000 new homes a year. The CITB said that migration masks the challenge the industry faces from an ageing workforce as fewer young people are trained.

SIG to restate profits after irregularities

Building materials supplier SIG is to restate its profits and investigate the conduct of its former chief executive and finance director after a whistleblower revealed accounting irregularities.


FCA names Delfas as head of international

Nausicaa Delfas has been named as the FCA’s new executive director of international, where she will head up the regulator's response to Brexit. The FCA said Ms Delfas will provide technical support to the government and work closely with the European Union, international regulators and the financial services industry.

Deregulate to protect the City

Conservative MP Bim Afolami has said that Britain must deregulate the City if Brussels blocks a Brexit trade deal giving its financial services access to EU markets. The former HSBC executive said playing hardball was the only way to change the EU's uncompromising stance. He said: “It is complacent to believe Europe will accept London's domination of European financial markets and not seek to promote their own centres, like Paris and Frankfurt. We need to make sure we are prepared to aggressively compete if others seek to damage the City.”

Provident to appoint acting chair as CEO

Doorstop lender Provident Financial is set to name its acting chairman, Malcolm Le May, as its new chief executive on Friday, after more than five months with no-one in the position.


Rising negligence bills could bankrupt NHS

Health service leaders have warned that the “staggering” costs of NHS negligence bills are threatening to bankrupt the health service. The leaders of the NHS Confederation, the British Medical Association and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges have written to the government to stress the need for cuts to compensation payouts. The letter warns that payouts on negligence have almost doubled since 2011, with current liability now at £65bn.


Betting firms to stop “unfair” promotions

Betting firms Ladbrokes, William Hill, and PT Entertainment have agreed to change online games promotions after pressure from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which has said punters must be able to cash out when they want and not have to play more to release winnings. The CMA said “gambling firms must now stop unfair online promotions that trap players' money.”


Manufacturers’ slow start to 2018

Britain’s manufacturing companies in January saw production fall to its lowest level since June and prices for raw materials and other input costs rise at one of the fastest paces in 25 years. The sector’s PMI defied analyst expectations of a small increase by showing activity dropped to a balance of 55.3 last month, down from 56.2 in December and from a four-year high in November. Survey compiler IHS Markit said that if growth were sustained at January’s level for the next two months, it would point to quarterly growth of 0.6% for the sector, better than the broader economy but half the rate achieved in the final quarter of last year.

Melrose leaves GKN bid unchanged

Melrose has stopped short of raising its £7.4bn bid for GKN, instead offering 81p and 1.49 shares for each share in the engineering business. The deal would give its investors 57% of the combined company. GKN’s boss Anne Stevens has deemed the bid as “derisory”. The Standard's Jim Armitage agrees: “Nobody doubts Melrose has been a brilliant value creator for its investors, but this hostile bid will all come down to price. Right now, it’s not high enough,” he says.


Nationwide: ‘Surprising’ growth in house prices

Annual house price growth picked up to 3.2% in January, up from 2.6% in December, according to Nationwide. The average UK house price in January was £211,756, the highest on Nationwide’s records. Month-on-month house price growth stood at 0.6%, the same as that seen in December. The lender also said mortgage approvals were at their weakest in three years in December, with 61,000 granted.

Hong Kong tycoon shakes Shaftesbury

Shaftesbury is bracing itself for a tough AGM next week after Hong Kong billionaire Samuel Tak Lee, owner of 25% of the firm, wrote advising of his intention to oppose three resolutions on February 9. Mr Lee wants to vote against rules surrounding the ability of directors at the West End landlord to allocate shares.


Morrisons to shed 1,500 middle managers

Morrisons is to replace around 1,500 store management roles with 1,700 more junior positions, leaving around 700 senior workers either facing redundancy or a lower paying job if they remain with the grocer.


F1 revenue slows

Formula One has revealed that its revenue fell by £13m in 2017, the first year its new owner, Liberty Media, was in charge. In a letter to shareholders Liberty said that “Formula 1 revenue for the year ended December 31, 2017 is expected to be down approximately 1% as compared to the prior year period.”


BoE warns volatility could be lurking in financial markets

The Bank of England’s executive director for financial stability strategy and risk has warned that investors may be taking too many risks in over-priced markets because they are underestimating potential volatility. Alex Brazier said low measures of volatility did not equate to low measures of risk.


More Brits become millionaires

The number of British households that could consider themselves as millionaires rose by nearly a third in two years. The ONS said a total of 3.6m households in Britain held wealth - including pension savings, investments, belongings, and property values - of more than £1m by June 2016, up 29% in two years. The median wealth per British household, after borrowing is taken into account, was £259,400 by July 2016.

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