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Daily News Roundup: Friday, 7th January 2022

Posted: 7th January 2022


Monument appoints ex-Barclays business boss as CEO

Ian Rand, former boss of business banking at Barclays, has joined startup lender Monument as CEO. Mr Rand began his career at JPMorgan before moving to Barclays, where he worked for 12 years. He left the bank in late 2020. He will take over the role from Mintoo Bhandari, a former MD at Apollo, who founded the lender in 2018. Monument is targeting what it calls the “mass affluent”: property investors, mid-ranking execs and entrepreneurs who have more money than a retail bank can cater for but not enough to attract the interest of wealth managers. 

Banks in talks with UK regulator about loans for energy suppliers

Ofgem is in discussions with NatWest and Barclays about a financing scheme for energy suppliers taking on the customers of failed rivals in a move that could save consumers around £70.


Boden denounces investors over gender funding gap

Anne Boden, the CEO of Starling Bank, criticised venture capitalists in her annual letter outlining the lender’s priorities for the year ahead. Ms Boden cited data from Dealroom which showed that venture capital raised by women founders dropped from a record 2.4% in 2020 to 1.1% in 2021. She said it seemed investors were willing to take a punt on women providing there were few uncertainties, but in times of crises they scaled-back investment in female-led companies. Separate research released by Innovate Finance showed that UK female FinTech founders received 9% of all capital invested in 2021 – falling from 13% in 2019.

US start-ups raise record $330bn as venture investors vie for stakes

US start-ups raised a total of $329.8bn last year compared with $166.6bn in 2020 while global fundraising by start-ups hit $671bn leading some investors to raise doubts that the boom can sustain itself.


Credit Agricole offers to acquire Italy's Banca Carige

Credit Agricole has reportedly offered to buy troubled Italian lender Banca Carige for a euro. It is understood that the French bank has asked for a capital injection of €700m in the loss-making bank before the acquisition. Carige has been focused on the local economy of the maritime Liguria region and its purchase would allow Credit Agricole to expand further in the north.

Bank of America and UBS ask HK staff to adopt new work routines

Bank of America and UBS have told their staff in Hong Kong to adapt to new work routines, as the city-state imposes a two-week COVID-19 circuit breaker. Bank of America has encouraged staff to work from home beyond the two-weeks, from January 7 to January 24, according to reports. While the UBS Group has told its 2,400 Hong Kong staff to split into two groups, with each taking it turns to return to workplaces.

Soc Gen's car leasing division to buy rival

ALD, Societe Generale's car leasing division, has agreed to buy rival LeasePlan for €4.9bn. The French bank said the deal would result in a new, enlarged company with a combined fleet of about 3.5m vehicles, in which it would hold a 53% stake, and would boost its own net earnings per share by more than 5% from 2024.

New MD for BofA's Americas Financial Institutions Investment Banking unit

Bank of America has appointed Alice Wong as a managing director in its Americas Financial Institutions Investment Banking unit. Reuters notes that Ms Wong's appointment is the newest addition in recent months to women in key executive positions at major Wall Street banks.


Tesla takes UK sales crown as EVs surge in popularity

New electric cars made up 26% of the total sold in December, lower that the 33% seen in April 2020 but up from less than 3% of new sales two years ago, while petrol cars' market share dipped to 46%. Tesla became the best-selling brand in the UK with 9% of the market, with the company making up 36% of all new electric car purchases.

Bentayga helps drive Bentley to new sales record

Bentley smashed its sales record last year moving 14,659 cars – up a third - in what the carmaker called a “significant achievement” driven by strong demand for its hybrid SUV the Bentayga.


SoftBank ploughs $100m into Gousto

SoftBank's Vision Fund II has bought a $100m (£74m) stake in the British meal-kit subscription service Gousto. In its 2020 financial year, Gousto saw revenue more than double to £189m, up from £83m during the prior 12 months.


Suspicious payments in China threaten Arm deal

Cambridge-based microchip maker Arm is investigating suspicious payments to senior executives at its Chinese joint venture in a development that could complicate its $40bn takeover by US rival Nvidia. Further allegations have been made about the conduct of certain members of senior management in Arm China, annual accounts for Arm Limited said. Nvidia agreed to buy Arm from SoftBank in 2020 but investigations from competition regulators in the UK, US, China and Europe have threatened the deal. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority was asked in November to investigate the deal on national security grounds.

Manufacturing output index rises

Output and jobs in the manufacturing sector continued to grow at the end of last year as supply chain disruptions began to ease, according to survey results from the IHS Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI. The output index rose to 53.6 in December, from 52.7 in November, indicating that the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant had not yet hit the sector’s recovery.


Buy-to-let investors borrow record sums

Figures from UK Finance have revealed that buy-to-let investors borrowed a record £18bn in 2021 - an 83% increase on 2020. It comes as 34% of UK landlords are planning to buy at least one more property in the next 12 months, according to research from Shawbrook Bank. Meanwhile, banks are doing all they can to attract landlords in 2022: interest rates on buy-to-let mortgages are low and several lenders are offering higher than usual loan-to-value (LTV) deals, including TSB, which has an 80% LTV mortgage.


Next raises profit guidance

Next has raised pre-tax profit guidance by £22m to £822m, which will be 9.8% higher than pre-pandemic levels and £122m more than its original estimates. For the 12 months to January 2023, it predicts profits of £860m, beating the £836m reported in 2016. It comes after the retailer saw full-price sales over the eight weeks to December 25 rise by 20% compared to two years ago, which is £70m higher than its previous guidance for the festive season.

Profits at B&M ahead of estimates

B&M is expecting profits for the year to the end of March to come in at £605m-£625m, well ahead of City expectations of £578m, following what chief executive Simon Arora called a "very strong golden quarter" at the end of 2021.


Omicron spread hits services

Service sector activity fell to a ten-month low in December, according to the monthly IHS Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ survey. The index fell to 53.6, from 58.5 in November, as the Omicron coronavirus variant took its toll on demand for travel, hospitality and leisure services. Tim Moore, economics director at IHS Markit, said December’s PMI reveals the UK economy is suffering from “a severe loss of momentum”. The news came as analysts at Capital Economics hiked their forecasts for inflation to peak at 7% this April forcing the Bank of England to raise interest rates four times this year, lifting them to 1.25%.

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