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Daily News Roundup: Friday, 4th January 2019

Posted: 4th January 2019


Banks to offer customers gambling controls

Banks are to help tackle problem gambling by allowing customers to switch off spending on betting sites. Lloyds, Santander and Royal Bank of Scotland are set to change their banking apps to give customers control over where their money can be spent, enabling them to block their cards being used to place bets. Barclays allows customers to block debit card spending in five categories, including gambling. NatWest owner RBS is looking at introducing spending controls this year; Santander is set to roll out a similar system in the coming months; while Lloyds will also give customers tools to restrict gambling, alongside a service that alerts users to gambling-related outgoings.

Sainsbury’s Bank seeks CEO

Sainsbury’s has confirmed that Peter Griffiths will step down as chief executive of its banking division next year. It says it is in the “early stages” of finding a successor ahead of Mr Griffiths’ 2020 departure. Mr Griffiths joined Sainsbury’s Bank in 2012, having previously served as chief executive of the Principality Building Society.


Bowmark targeting UK mid-caps

London-based private equity firm Bowmark Capital has raised its largest ever fund, of £600m in just 10 weeks, to invest in UK mid-market companies. Bowmark Capital Partners VI is 60% larger than its previous fund.

Key Capital Partners sells interest in Siamo Group

Key Capital Partners has announced the sale of its interest in recruitment and training firm Siamo Group to the management team in a deal backed by Clydesdale Bank. The terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed.

Lehman old boys profit from buying into buyout groups

The FT looks at Dyal Capital and the “fast-expanding field” of injecting permanent capital into private equity firms, noting that Goldman Sachs' Petershill unit and Blackstone are also active in the area.


Brexit investment sees Ireland attract 4,500 jobs

Ireland’s foreign investment agency, the Industrial Development Authority, says the Republic has gained more than 4,500 jobs from international firms because of Brexit-related investments. It says more than 55 investments were approved last year, with firms including Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Barclays among those setting up or expanding in Ireland.

Eurozone bank lending increasing amid wider slowdown

Eurozone bank lending accelerated in November despite the bloc’s economic slowdown. Data from the European Central Bank reveals that corporate loans grew 4% year-on-year in November, up from 3.9% the previous month, while loans to households increased 3.3%, from 3.2% in October.

EU sovereign debt costs at risk if access to City banks ends with no-deal Brexit

The FT reports that a no-deal Brexit could hit the finances of European governments as they would risk losing access to London-based investment banks that help sell their bonds.

State-owned German banks end merger talks as buyout firms circle

Germany’s Helaba has ended merger talks with state-owned NordLB. The state of Lower Saxony, which holds a 59% stake in NordLB, is negotiating with private equity investors including Cerberus and Apollo over minority investments.

UBS chair: No merger on the cards

UBS chairman Axel Weber has dismissed speculation that the bank could merge with Deutsche Bank, saying that combining with another bank “would be premature at this moment.” “We want to grow primarily organically and we surely have to be able to walk before we want to run," he added.

Ex-Credit Suisse bankers arrested

Three former Credit Suisse bankers have been arrested in London as part of a US probe into a $2bn fraud scheme involving state-owned companies in Mozambique. This comes five days after Manuel Chang, Mozambique’s former finance minister, was arrested in South Africa as part of the same criminal case.


Ryanair passenger numbers reflect turbulent 2018

A fall in passenger number growth capped a turbulent 2018 for Ryanair, with the number of people flying with the budget carrier increasing by 8% to 139.2m, compared with 10% at the same time in 2017. Ryanair was beset by problems last year, with air traffic controller shortages and strikes causing cancellations, and pilots and cabin grew staging walkouts.


Construction growth slowing

Growth in the UK construction sector slowest to its lowest rate in three months in December, according to the IHS Markit/ CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which fell to 52.8 in December, down from 53.4 in November. Duncan Brock, Group Director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply said: "With a slight rise in new orders and a softening in overall activity growth, firms continued to be impacted by Brexit-related uncertainty and reluctance by clients to place orders especially for commercial projects."


Guidance body launched

The Money Advice Service, the Pensions Advisory Service and Pensions Wise have been pulled together to form the Single Financial Guidance Body. The financial advice service is sponsored by the Department of Work and Pensions and funded by levies on the financial services industry and pension schemes. Its responsibilities will include the launch of the Pensions Dashboard, a project designed to give savers access to information on their pension schemes via a single platform.


Bristol-Myers Squibb to buy Celgene

US pharma firm Bristol-Myers Squibb is to buy cancer drug research company Celgene Corporation in a deal valued at $74bn (£58.87bn). The merged firm boasts nine products with more than $1bn in annual sales.


EU green light for Coca-Cola’s Costa acquisition

The European Union’s competition watchdog has approved Coca-Cola’s £4bn acquisition of Costa Coffee from Whitbread, putting the deal on course for completion in the next six months.


Manufacturers battling for staff

Labour shortages in the manufacturers sector are at their worst since 1989, according to a new report by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which indicates that 81% of manufacturers struggled to recruit the right staff in the last quarter. Adam Marshall, BCC director general, said that while Brexit was occupying all the Government’s attention and resources, recruitment was another cause of uncertainty.


Shortlist struggling amid digital shift

Shortlist Media is battling to shift its advertising revenue away from print. The publishing group behind Shortlist and Stylist magazines reported pre-tax losses of £8.6m in the year to the end of March 2018, with turnover rising to £22.9m from £22.6m the prior year.


Dames join FPC board

The Bank of England has added two female executives to its Financial Policy Committee, with Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia, former boss of Virgin Money, and chair of the Banking Standards Board, Dame Colette Bowe, to each serve three-year terms as external members. They replace Richard Sharp and Martin Taylor, who will step down at the end of the end of the first quarter and second quarter, respectively. The appointments increase the diversity of the 13-strong board, where Elisabeth Stheeman is currently the sole female member. The Treasury said there were 42 applications for the positions on the committee, with five women and three men shortlisted.

Prestigious bank branch sold

A European investor has bought Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank’s branch at London’s £1bn 100 Knightsbridge development for £27.5m - a £10m premium on its last sale six years ago.

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