Banks prove hard to reach as PPI deadline arrives
Consumers reported problems making claims for mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) as the clock ticked down to yesterday’s 11:59pm deadline. Santander's online complaints form reportedly stopped working on Wednesday night, while NatWest and the Co-operative Bank were also said to be having issues. The problems prompted the Financial Conduct Authority to comment: "where a firm knows that customers may have had trouble accessing their services (whether website or phone)… then we would expect them to apply a pragmatic approach to dealing with complaints received immediately after the deadline."
UK business not chasing up outstanding payment
Research from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking reveals a third of UK businesses who were paid late in the last year did not chase outstanding payments. Fear of damaging valuable customer relationships was cited by 62% of businesses, while capacity and time constraints were cited by 27%.
Banks outpaced by intangible economy
Writing in City AM, Caple co-founder Dominic Buch argues that the financial system has failed to keep pace with innovation. He suggests that lending models, especially for smaller businesses, are not designed to support the intangible economy and that a greater focus on cash flow lending is needed to foster growth.
Micro Focus profit shock sparks PE speculation
Software giant Micro Focus International has warned sales will be 6% to 8% below last year's figures – with the announcement wiping about £1.7bn from its market value. Stephen Murdoch, chief executive, also announced plans for a strategic review, paving the way for possible asset sales and triggering speculation about a possible sale of the business to private equity.
Bennett Goodman set to leave Blackstone powerhouse GSO
Bennett Goodman of Blackstone’s credit unit GSO Capital is set to retire, having negotiated a new pay package with Blackstone in 2018.
UBS hires Credit Suisse veteran Iqbal Khan as wealth head
Former Credit Suisse executive Iqbal Khan has been hired by UBS as co-president of its wealth management division, with the lender seeking to revitalise its flagship business.
Wirecard rated just above junk by Moody’s as it launches €500m bond
Rating agency Moody’s has assigned a Baa3 rating to Aschheim, Germany-based fintech group Wirecard as it looks to issue a €500m bond.
Brickability looking solid
Shares in construction materials distributor Brickability posted modest gains on their first day of trading in London yesterday. The Bridgend-based company's shares rose 3p above the 65p pricing, valuing it at almost £157m.
Amigo sees share price fall as loan growth dwindles
Amigo has seen one-third of its market value lost after the high interest rate lender warned of a change of strategy ahead of a crackdown by the Financial Conduct Authority. Chief executive Hamish Paton announced that the company was being “proactive and pragmatic” by restructuring before regulators begin their investigation. Profit before tax at the firm increased to £22.6m for the three months ending 30 June, a rise from £17m the same period last year, while revenue was up to £71.5m.
Insurers will shy from deals involving courts, Chesnara warns
The head of life insurance group Chesnara says the High Court’s decision to block a £12bn annuity transfer will make insurers more wary of making deals that require court approval.
Prices tumble for debt backing KKR’s $9.9bn Envision buyout
The debt backing a 2018 $9.9bn buyout of Envision Healthcare by KKR has fallen in value, amid fears that increased government scrutiny of US medical billing practices could affect revenues.
LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY
Rise in profits at Gym Group
Gym Group has revealed that earnings almost doubled in the first half of the year, with pre-tax profits increasing 80.5% to £5.6m in the period, compared to £3.1m in the same period last year. Meanwhile revenue was up 26.9% year on year to £74m, with net debt up £1m from its December total at £47.2m.
Decline in London pub numbers stopped by microbrewery success
The decline in the number of pubs in London has been arrested by the growth in microbreweries, although the number of traditional public houses continues to decline. Figures from City Hall show the total stabilised at 3,540 pubs across 32 boroughs last year.
Hays profits weighed down by stalling growth and restructuring costs
Stalling economic growth and costs related to restructuring its European operations have weighed down full-year profits at recruiter Hays. A pre-tax profit of £231.2m for the year ending 30 June, represented a 3% year-on-year decrease, while net fees were up 5% to £1.13bn. Meanwhile earnings per share were down 3% to 11.10p, with the core dividend per share at 3.97p and net cash was up 6% at £129.7m.
Firms snap up City office space
More than 1m sq ft of office space was taken up in the City of London last month. Transactions included the largest pre-let deal this year - BT Group’s occupancy of all 328,011 sq ft of 1 Braham Street, near Aldgate East Tube station, on a 15-year lease.
Goals Soccer Centres puts itself up for sale amid fraud accusations
Goals Soccer Centres has put itself on the market as former chief executive Keith Rogers and finance chief Bill Gow stand accused of fraud in a report by forensic accountants.
Economic sentiment at seven-year low
Economic sentiment in the UK has dropped to its lowest level in seven years. The European Commission’s economic sentiment indicator for the UK fell from 94.3 in July to 92.5 this month, compared with a long-term average of 100. The slowdown was led by the services sector, which has a 30% weight in the overall index. Meanwhile, Lloyds Bank's latest business barometer shows overall confidence in the outlook has fallen to its lowest level since the eurozone crisis, while bosses' assessments of futures trading prospects are now at levels last seen during the financial crisis ten years ago.
Brexit readiness fund launched
The Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom has launched a £10m grant scheme for business organisations and trade associations to support businesses in preparing for Brexit ahead of October 31. The fund is open to business organisations and trade associations throughout the UK and will support events, training and the production of advice packs to assist businesses in making sure they are fully prepared for a Brexit.