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Daily News Roundup: Friday, 7th December 2018

Posted: 7th December 2018


RBS looks to Amsterdam

RBS is preparing to move a third of its investment bank clients and around £6bn worth of client assets and £7bn in liabilities out of the UK to Amsterdam. As part of its contingency plans as the possibility of a no-deal Brexit remains, RBS has lodged an application at Scotland’s supreme civil court to transfer European clients of its NatWest Market business to its Dutch subsidiary if Britain leaves the European Union in a way that saw the "immediate loss of access to the European single market". Meanwhile, Barclays, NatWest and JP Morgan trading teams are set to extend working hours and bring in extra staff to help navigate major market moves and volatility after parliament votes on Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal deal on December 11.

Investor bets against UK banks

Steve Eisman, an investor who predicted the 2008 financial crisis, is betting against the UK banking system, saying he expects Brexit to cause a fall for UK markets. He said he has recently bet against two UK banks over Brexit and the possibility of Jeremy Corbyn becoming PM, saying: “I think in either eventuality the British market will go down.” He also bet against a third UK bank as “it "seems more likely that Theresa May's proposals will fail". Refusing to name the institutions he deemed vulnerable, he said the issue is industry-wide, commenting: “It doesn't matter which UK banks I'm short. I could have picked three others.”

More households in mortgage arrears

The Financial Conduct Authority has warned that more families are struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments now than at the height of the financial crash. In 2008 the number of homes in serious arrears of more than 12 months was 56,000, with a repossession rate per year of 22%, while 70,000 are now behind - although repossession rates have dropped to 2.7%. Jonathan Davidson, executive director of supervision, retail and authorisation at the FCA, said: "If interest rates start to go up, I’m afraid the repossessions will also rise." The FCA also warned that some banks are not doing enough to support those in arrears, with some failing to identify vulnerable customers. The regulator looked at eight banks, covering around 40% of the market, and is considering regulatory action against one or more of them.


Tech sale sees strong return

Maven Capital Partners and the Scottish Investment Bank have achieved four times their original investment in digital technology company Incremental Group, selling their stake to Dunedin for £3m.

Spencer invests in insurance start-up

Investor Michael Spencer is to invest £41.3m in insurance start-up Singapore Life through his investment company IPGL. The deal will take Mr Spencer's stake in Singapore Life, which is worth about $156m, to more than 60%.


Deutsche Bank in fresh Danske claim

Deutsche Bank shares have fallen to a new record low on the back of claims that it processed €31bn more in suspicious payments on behalf of Danske Bank than previously thought. A report suggests that Deutsche has processed more than 80% of the €200bn laundered by Danske. Deutsche Bank insists it severed ties with Danske Bank after identifying suspicious transactions.

Huawei probe includes bank fraud accusations

People familiar with the matter claim that the arrest of Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou comes as part of a US investigation into an alleged scheme to use the global banking system to evade sanctions against Iran, with claims that HSBC Holdings was used to make illegal transactions involving Iran. The report notes that HSBC is not under investigation.

NordLB to shortlist stake bidders

NordLB aims to shortlist two final bidders for the sale of a 49% stake by Sunday, sources close to the matter have claimed. Cerberus, Apollo and Centerbridge are among four bidders which submitted final bids by a late November deadline, with bidders since asked to elaborate on their offers.

HSBC chairman takes up role at South African insurer

Mark Tucker, chairman of HSBC, has joined the board of South African insurance firm Discovery Limited, prompting corporate governance concerns from some parties with so-called “over-boarding” fears.

Noble restructuring plunged into doubt by Singapore authorities

Singaporean authorities have curbed commodities trader Noble Group's restructuring plans by not allowing it to relist shares on the MAS and SGX exchanges.

Hong Kong watchdog fines Soros-linked fund over short selling

George Soros-linked SFM HK Management has been fined in Hong Kong for naked short selling. The target was Chinese carmaker Great Wall Motor Co.


Volkswagen shrugs off headwinds and posts record sales

VW says it is on track for a record year of deliveries, with deliveries of its vehicles in the first 11 months up 1.2% from the record level of 2017, hitting 5.7m cars.


Financial services exports to EU face 59% fall, warns think-tank

The Centre for European Reform says British exports of financial services to the EU could fall from the £23.6bn recorded in 2013 to £9.8bn a year as a result of leaving the single market.

FCA concerned over pensions advice

Financial Conduct Authority analysis suggests that advice recommending that savers cash in pensions was misleading in half of cases, with less than half of the advice it had reviewed deemed "suitable". The regulator says it is "very concerned" that financial advisers were not consistently providing suitable advice on pension transfers, adding that it “will not hesitate to take action against any firm that continues to present harm to consumers."

Guidance calls for superfund scrutiny

The Government says superfunds – large profit-seeking consolidation vehicles backed by private equity and sovereign wealth funds – should have to consult the Pensions Regulator about their plans beforehand if they intend to reinvest the liabilities of final salary schemes. The guidance has been put out for consultation.

Charles Stanley in Aberdeen opening

Wealth management firm Charles Stanley has set up an office in Aberdeen as part of its plans for expansion. The site is its second in Scotland, with an office already open in Edinburgh. The new location increases the firm’s UK-wide network to 25 branches.

GoCompare in tech tie-up

GoCompare has announced a strategic partnership with personal finance app Money Dashboard in a move that will improve services by utilising machine learning and data science. The tie-up will strengthen the Machine Learning for Fintech initiative which Go Compare launched in January.

California wildfires burn into Beazley

This year's California wildfires have cost insurer Beazley $40m (£31.5m). Shore Capital Market analysts asserted that the losses were expected and are manageable.


Gambling firms agree live sport advertising ban

The gambling industry has agreed a deal to ban betting promotions during live sports broadcasts. The Remote Gambling Association, which includes Bet365, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power, has committed to a "whistle-to-whistle" TV advertising ban, whereby no adverts will be broadcast for a defined period before and after a game is broadcast, and includes any game that starts prior to the 9pm watershed.

Nando’s UK sales hit £722.3m

Nando’s says global sales excluding South Africa increased 14% to £969.3m in the year to February 25, with UK sales hitting £722.3m, up from £646.8m. Pre-tax losses widened to £20m, from a £17m loss a year earlier.


O2 outage hits UK data networks

O2 and mobile network equipment supplier Ericsson have blamed faulty software for a data network outage on Thursday. The issue took down Giffgaff, Sky's mobile services, Lycamobile and Tesco Mobile, which all rely on O2's network, and hit the wealth of systems reliant on O2's network, including Transport for London's electronic bus timetable. Ericsson said there had been network disruption for customers in multiple countries, with Japan's Y!Mobile network, owned by Softbank, among those affected by the outages.


Government set to appeal against ATM tax ruling

Retailers’ hopes of securing nearly £400m in tax rebates have been dealt a blow, with it reported that the Valuation Office Agency is lodging a petition to appeal against a decision that saw retailers win a long-running case not to pay business rates separately on cash machines attached to shops. The decision had paved the way for £382m of backdated rates refunds to retailers and ATM operators and offered relief over multi-million-pound future tax bills.

SFO case against Tesco directors collapses

A trial brought by the Serious Fraud Office against two former Tesco executives over a £250m accounting scandal collapsed on Thursday, after former UK managing director Christopher Bush and ex-UK food commercial director John Scouler were acquitted by the Criminal Court of Appeal. The pair had both been charged with one count of fraud and false accounting. The acquittal came after trial judge Sir John Royce dismissed the case, bringing the trial to a halt after the prosecution presented its case.


BoE has 'plenty of firepower' left to ramp up QE

Deputy Bank of England governor Ben Broadbent has said there is “plenty of firepower” available if the Bank chooses to ramp up quantitative easing to fight another economic downturn. He also told the online ‘future forum’ event there was no guarantee that rates would be cut in response to a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, in contrast to the loosening of policy after the EU referendum.

Collapse in pound could benefit Britain, says Davis

Former Brexit secretary David Davis has said Britain could benefit from a plunging pound after a no-deal Brexit. Rejecting claims that a hard Brexit would be worse for Britain than Europe, Mr Davis claimed a 10% drop in sterling would have a negative impact on European importers while offsetting the cost of tariffs for British companies selling to Europe.

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