Atom Bank cuts losses despite collapse of backer Woodford
Atom Bank has reported a pre-tax loss of £66.5m in the year to March 31, compared to a £80.2m loss the previous year, while total assets were flat at £2.8bn.
Pitt named First Direct CEO
First Direct has appointed Chris Pitt, current head of marketing at HSBC UK, as chief executive, with effect from October 1. Stuart Haire, group general manager of wealth and personal banking at HSBC UK, said: "I am delighted to confirm Chris's appointment … He is a great fit for the bank."
Critics say lenders are still exploiting loopholes to fund biggest polluters
Campaigners say banks have been too slow to act on climate change, noting that the 35 biggest lenders have lent and underwritten $2.7tn to oil, gas and coal companies since 2015.
UK challenger banks: held to account
The FT’s Lex column considers challenger banks such as Revolut, Monzo, Metro Bank, Virgin Money and Atom, concluding that only the more specialised players are likely to challenge established lenders.
Capita denies CVC reports
Outsourcing and professional services company Capita has denied that it has received a takeover approach from CVC Partners. The Times cites City sources who say reports of a private equity bid may be the result of confusion stemming from the fact that Capita’s education software business is set to be sold, with TPG and Blackstone said to be lining up offers.
KKR loses one of its top European dealmakers
KKR has announced that Edouard Pillot, European head of industrials, has left the company and will be replaced by Christian Ollig, current head of KKR’s German operations.
Spanish banks in merger talks
Bankia and Caixabank are considering a merger to create the biggest lender in Spain, with the mooted combined entity having more than €650bn in total assets. Santander and BBVA’s extensive overseas businesses put them ahead as the biggest of Spain’s banks but the all-share merger between Caixabank and Bankia would create the country’s biggest domestic banking business.
A tale of two Hong Kongs: Beijing cracks down while the financial hub thrives
Analysis suggests that while Hong Kong placed third for equity funds raised in H1, Ant Group’s IPO could push it close to the top slot it secured in 2019.
GKN-owner announces £581m loss
Melrose Industries, owner of aerospace business GKN, has warned that the coronavirus pandemic has led to an operating loss of £581m, which also announced it had scrapped its interim dividend. The takeover specialist reported that revenue had declined to £4.1bn from £5.5bn in the year earlier period.
FCA looks to limit compensation
Proposals from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) could see compensation payouts related to errors by the watchdog capped. The City regulator has proposed that cases where a customer has experienced distress and inconvenience will see payouts limited to £1,000, while those involving financial loss will be restricted to £10,000. While the FCA is legally exempt from claims for damages unless it is found to have acted in bad faith or breached human rights, it does offer compensation when its own failures contribute to consumer losses. A consultation on the FCA’s proposals will run until September 14.
Pension freedoms age rising
The Government has confirmed that the pension freedoms age is set to rise from 55 to 57, with the increase in the age that people can access personal pensions coming into effect in 2028. Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, said it is “imperative” that ministers and the industry make sure the change in pension freedoms age is clear to all those saving in pensions.
Ex-Aviva chief Wilson behind failed Saga bid
The Times reports that former Aviva boss Mark Wilson is behind a £370m bid for Saga that has been spurned by the company. It adds that disclosure of the insurance industry veteran’s involvement in the failed takeover is likely to put pressure on Saga to provide shareholders with a fuller explanation of why it rejected the 33p-a-share bid.
UK reviews role of state-backed terror insurer as pressure grows for pandemic cover
The Government has ordered a review of the state-backed terrorism insurer Pool Re, as the insurance industry pushes to adapt the model to cover pandemic risks.
Pharmacy funding fears
A new report suggests that community pharmacies are underfunded by £497m a year, with analysis suggesting that 72% of the family businesses will be losing money within four years unless there is increased funding from NHS England.
LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY
Revolution Bars to continue discount initiative
Revolution Bars’ sales in the eight weeks since reopening were 27.5% lower than in the year earlier period, with the better-than-expected performance ascribed to the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme. The firm is planning to continue to run the discount scheme at its own expense through September at least.
Costa Coffee announces job cuts
As many as 1,650 jobs at Costa Coffee are to be lost, representing some 10% of the firm’s workforce, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Neil Lake, managing director for Costa Coffee UK and Ireland, commented: “We have had to make these difficult decisions to protect the business and ensure we safeguard as many jobs as possible for our 16,000 team members, whilst emerging stronger ready for future growth.”
MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT
Facebook confirms tech tax stance
Facebook has announced that it has no plans to force extra fees on its customers to make up extra costs resulting from the Government's digital service tax. This comes as a report from think tank TaxWatch found that Apple, Google, Cisco, Facebook and Microsoft avoided around £763bn in total tax in 2018 as they booked their UK profits in other countries.
First home price rises outpace wider average
Analysis by Halifax shows that the price of the average first home has increased by more than two-thirds in the last decade, jumping 69% from £142,473 in 2010 to £241,025 today. In the same period, the average house price has only risen 33%. The report also shows that the number of first-time buyers has fallen by 29% this year, with 116,843 first-time buyers in the first six months of 2020 compared to 164,800 in the same period in 2019.
Retail sales climb in August
Retail sales climbed in August, hitting the highest level since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. In-store like-for-like sales were down 28.1% year-on-year in August, marking the best result since February, while non-store sales jumped 72% from a base of 18.6% as the shift toward online shopping driven by the pandemic continued.
Premier League terminates $700m China TV rights deal
The Premier League’s $700m broadcast deal with Chinese broadcaster PPTV has been cancelled ahead of its 2022 expiration date, with PPTV accused of withholding payment of an instalment due in March.
Business activity spikes
The IHS Markit/CIPS Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a monthly gauge of activity in the services and manufacturing sector, points to rapid growth in August, with the index hitting a six-year high of 59.1 from 57.0 in July. The survey’s index of employment revealed the first decline in three months, with concerns that further job losses are on the horizon as the Government’s furlough scheme comes to an end on October 31. Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said companies’ ability to cope with the withdrawal of economic support measures is the “burning question”, adding: “Policymakers face a huge challenge in sustaining this recovery and avoiding a ‘bounce and fade’ scenario.” The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Services PMI Business Activity Index registered 58.8 in August, up from 56.5 in July. This marks an ongoing increase, with readings of 47.1 in June, 29.0 in May and a record low of just 13.4 in April. August’s figure signalled the fastest pace of output growth since April 2015.
UK businesses cut investments
A Bank of England survey of CFOs shows that average investment by UK firms will be down 32% in Q3 compared to if there had been no coronavirus pandemic. The study also found that sales are estimated to be 14% lower than normal and employment is 7% down as a result of the pandemic.