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Daily News Roundup: Friday, 3rd January 2020

Posted: 3rd January 2020


HSBC considering further redundancies

HSBC is reportedly considering job cuts that could see up to 10,000 more staff made redundant across its global business, with as many as 1,000 UK staff under threat. These losses would come on top of 10,000 worldwide redundancies announced last October and 4,700 revealed last August. An ongoing strategic review under the interim chief executive Noel Quinn is said to be considering an exit from retail banking in mainland Europe, with only UK and a slimmed down high street bank branch network in Malta remaining.


Book-keeping app scores £55m investment

Receipt Bank, a book-keeping app for small businesses which automatically processes uploaded images of receipts and invoices, has secured a £55m investment from venture capital funds. The fundraising was led by New York-based Insight Partners, with Augmentum Fintech and Kennet Partners also understood to have taken part.

Cartesian invests in Simba

Cartesian Capital has invested $24m in debt and equity to acquire an undisclosed share of online mattress retailer Simba.


HSBC forced to close Hong Kong branches as protests intensify

HSBC has closed branches and suspended a number of ATMs in Hong Kong after protestors targeted the bank over the closure of an account that supported demonstrators.

German savers shrug off negative interest rate fears

Figures from DZ Bank show Germans put aside 11% of their disposable income on average in 2019, with their cash and current account deposits climbing 8.5% to a record €1.8tn.

Gaming hardware firm plans digital bank

Razer, a US firm which makes peripherals for gamers, has applied for a banking licence in Singapore. It has applied for a licence that would let it launch a digital bank targeted at younger customers and plans to launch Razer Youth Bank, which would be majority owned by its financial technology wing.


Volkswagen in 'dieselgate' talks with motorists

Volkswagen has said it is in early-stage talks with a group of German drivers who are suing the car giant over excessive emissions from its diesel cars.


British Airways falls from 20 safest airlines list

British Airways has been dropped from the annual top 20 safest airlines rankings. The website placed Virgin Atlantic, Qantas, Swiss, Emirates and Lufthansa among the safest. British Airways still carries the maximum safety score of seven stars despite the fall.


M&G keeping property fund on ice

UK insurer and asset manager M&G is to continue the suspension of its £2.5bn property fund. Announcing that it had sold £70.4m of real estate assets to raise cash, the firm, which split from parent Prudential in October, also indicated that it has completed the sale of a retail park in Edmonton for £51.4m and exchanged contracts on a property in Staines for £19m.

Travelex takes systems offline after virus

Travel money firm Travelex has taken all its websites down after being attacked by a software virus. The firm took down its online systems to protect data and prevent the virus spreading after discovering the attack on New Year's Eve. The company has been carrying out transactions manually, providing foreign-exchange services over the counter in its branches.


Woodford-linked biotech firm raises £109.5m

Biotech start-up Oxford Nanopore has secured £109.5m in funding after it abandoned plans for a stock market flotation. The medical company, which was previously backed by embattled fund manager Neil Woodford, raised £29.3m in fresh cash and oversaw a sale of shares raising £80.2m. The company recorded £53m in losses in 2018.


UK manufacturers struggle in December

UK manufacturing shrank at its fastest pace in almost seven-and-a-half years in December, with an eighth successive month of decline. The IHS Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index was 47.5 last month, down from 48.9 in November on an index where any figure below 50 is seen as a contraction. Duncan Brock, a director at the CIPS, said: “As the downturn deepened, Brexit uncertainty continued to dominate the business landscape and impact on client confidence. Combined with the effects of a slowing global economy, new orders from domestic and export markets dried up at one of the fastest rates seen in seven and a half years.”


Imagination Technologies and Apple make up

British chip manufacturer Imagination Technologies and Apple have ended a three-year public dispute under a deal that will see the former continue to supply the Silicon Valley giant with its technology. The new licence agreement also provides Apple access to a wider range of Imagination’s intellectual property.


First-timers pay 44% more in Edinburgh

Analysis suggests first-time buyers in Edinburgh face paying a premium of 44% compared with the Scottish average. While data from Registers of Scotland shows that the average Scottish house price stands at £151,891, research from the Bank of Scotland suggests that a typical starter home in the Scottish capital cost £217,406 last year. This is up 255% on 1999’s average. First-time buyers made up half of Scottish property transactions in 2019 and paid an average of £19,952 for a deposit.


Retailers braced for impact of gift returns

Royal Mail expects 2 January, the first working day of the year for postal workers in the UK, to have been the busiest for returning unwanted Christmas gifts. Returns on "Takeback Thursday" were expected to be 72% higher than the average day in December. It said most people will send back their unwanted and ill-fitting Christmas presents on that day. And three in five of those shoppers said they may not use a retailer again if they have a bad returns experience.

Aspinal of London's losses widen

Luxury leather goods maker Aspinal of London has fallen further into the red on the back of a surge in costs, losing almost £6m in the year to March 2019. Despite an 11% increase in sales, to £35m, one-off costs of a new IT system, a management restructure and investment in its Regent Street flagship store took their toll. While the company still plans to introduce its largest UK concession at Harrods in May, bosses have hired investment bank Houlihan Lokey to explore funding options.


Retirees' spending surges

Data from the International Longevity Centre (ILC) shows that spending by retirees is adding billions to the UK economy but barriers including inaccessible high streets, poorly designed products and age-discriminatory attitudes mean people aged 75 and over are not spending as much as they could. If these barriers were removed, the ILC says an extra 2% (£47bn) could be added to UK GDP by 2040. Spending by those aged 65 and over increased by 75% between 2001 and 2018, compared with a 16% fall in spending by those aged 50 and under, according to the report. It is estimated that older people will be spending 63p in every pound spent in the UK economy by 2040 – up from 54p in 2018.


42% of CFOs expect uncertainty to continue beyond 2020

A Bank of England poll of 2,887 CFOs shows that more than four in 10 believe that Brexit-related uncertainty for business will not be resolved until at least 2021, while a fifth fear that Britain will leave the EU with no deal in place. December’s edition of the monthly poll saw 42% of respondents say they do not expect the uncertainty surrounding Brexit to be resolved until 2021, up from 33% in November. It was also found that 19% believe the UK will leave the EU this year without a deal, up from 16% a year earlier – although the number who expect Brexit with a deal to occur this year rose from 46.2% to 46.6%. The poll saw 53% of CFOs say Brexit was among their top three sources of uncertainty in December.

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