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Daily News Roundup: Friday, 8th December 2017

Posted: 8th December 2017


Brexit affecting London’s talent pool

Bill Winters, the boss of Standard Chartered, has said that the UK’s ability to attract talent is already suffering following the vote to leave the EU. Mr Winters said that StanChart was “preparing for the worst” from Brexit, adding that it was in the process of turning its Frankfurt branch into a subsidiary requiring additional capital. He said he would be happy to take the tens of millions of pounds he has spent on Brexit contingency planning and “flush it down the toilet” if it meant he could carry on as before and maintain the bank’s current structure. He added: “We have already had some setbacks for the talent pool in London through the restriction on student visas. That's already a problem.”

Barclays no longer top for European government bond syndications

Barclays has slid down the rankings for arranging European government bond sales, from top to fifth. BNP Paribas took the top spot with a 9.3% share, U.S. lender Citigroup placed second with 9.2%, HSBC followed with 7.8% and Société Générale took fourth spot with an increased market share of 7.4%.

Lloyds sells HQ to Chinese firm

Lloyds Banking Group has sold its London headquarters to Hengli Investments Holding, a Chinese investment firm. The bank will lease back its building, at 25 Gresham Street, for the next 20 years as part of the deal.

Secrets of my success: Vernon Hill

Vernon Hill, the founder of Metro Bank, is interviewed in the Standard. He discusses why he founded Metro Bank, what are the biggest challenges he faces and he is asked what the big five banks do badly: “They all know what they do badly. They are disliked by their customers, the press, the government,” he states.


Bramson relinquishes control over Electra

Ed Bramson is set to give up control of Electra Private Equity in March when he becomes a non-executive. Chairman Neil Johnson and chief financial officer Gavin Manson will assume responsibility for Electra. The Standard notes that Bramson raised £700m in July for another takeover venture, which he is yet to spend.


New Basel rules on capital hit European banks

Top international central bankers and regulators have reached a deal on bank capital rules which have been dubbed Basel IV. As a result of the new regulations, banks will have to increase their capital due to limits on how much they can diverge from regulators’ risk calculations for assets such as mortgages. The reforms will mean an average increase in minimum capital of 12.9% for EU banks according to official estimates by the European Banking Authority.

China’s financial system harbours large risks

Rising levels of debt pose “large risks” to China’s economy, according to the IMF. In its first report since 2011 on China's resilience to shocks and contagion, the IMF said it still had concerns over imbalances in the world's second-largest economy. A stress test on China's banks found four-fifths were vulnerable. Beijing should put less emphasis on growth, beef up regulation, and improve banks' finances, the IMF said.

Australian stock exchange to move to blockchain

The Australian Securities Exchange is to replace its current clearing system with blockchain technology. ASX chief executive Dominic Stevens said the move to distributed ledger technology - also known as blockchain - will “put Australia at the forefront of innovation in financial markets”. Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist for CMC Markets in Sydney, estimated that tens of millions of dollars could be saved by introducing the new technology.


Uber’s licence suspended in Sheffield

Sheffield City Council has suspended Uber’s licence in the city after it failed to respond to official requests about its management. The firm can still operate in Sheffield until 18 December and can appeal against the decision, the council said. If it decides not to appeal, the suspension will come into force.

Barclays warn over UK car dealers

Barclays has reclassified the struggling UK car dealer sector as a “high risk”. The internal categorisation will likely see funding to the sector face greater scrutiny from Barclays credit functions signing off new deals.


City watchdogs need more funding after Brexit

A report from the International Regulatory Strategy Group (IRSG) has warned that the watchdogs charged with policing Britain’s financial system need to be beefed up to cope with additional regulatory pressures after Brexit. IRSG said the Bank of England, the Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority should all be given extra public money to help them adapt, with the responsibility for a host of financial rules and regulations transferring from Brussels to the City. The report also called for an urgent review of the UK’s post-Brexit mix of financial regulation, arguing that resolving regulatory issues is “vital for long-term financial stability”. Meanwhile, TheCityUK has called for a post-Brexit review of regulation. In its report, it says the powers and resources handed to the UK should be re-examined, for London to ensure it stays at the “forefront of global standards”.

Hedge funds will flee if Brexit bites

Elizabeth Desmond, the chief investment officer at Mondrian Investment Partners’ UK operation, has said that hedge funds who backed the campaign to leave the EU will not think twice about abandoning Britain and picking off businesses damaged by Brexit. She said she had no knowledge of any hedge funds preparing to leave Britain but claimed that their decisions would be guided by clients' interests. Meanwhile, Richard Pym, chairman of Allied Irish Banks, said the Conservatives “betrayed business with their wealth-destroying approach to Brexit. Labour scare business with their anti-capitalism rhetoric.”

L&G digital chief champions constructive innovation

Legal and General’s digital chief Maarten Ectors has said fintech start-ups should concentrate on solving the problems currently faced by business. “It’s about constructive innovation, not disruptive innovation,” he told City AM. Businesses are facing several challenges, some of which could be solved with blockchain technology, particularly in the insurance industry, he noted. Meanwhile, L&G has said it is “on track for a record year” of profits after a boom in its retirement business. The financial services firm said it had generated around £3.3bn of UK bulk annuity sales so far in 2017 and doubled US bulk sales to $700m (£521m).


Philippines threatens Sanofi with legal action over dengue vaccine

The Philippines is planning to sue Sanofi over its dengue fever vaccine in response to warnings from the French company that the drug could lead to severe infections in some cases.


Ladbrokes Coral in takeover talks

Ladbrokes Coral’s share price rose yesterday after it revealed it is in “detailed” talks over a takeover by online rival GVC over a deal that could value the group at up to £3.9bn. Under the proposals, GVC - which owns the Bwin and Sportingbet brands - would hold 53.5% of the combined group.

William Hill settles NYX dispute

Legal action relating to Scientific Games Corp’s attempted takeover of Canadian gambling firm NYX has now ceased. William Hill had objected, and threatened to block it with its 32% stake, but will now support Scientific Games’s bid, netting the bookie an estimated £96.5m.


General Electric to shed 12,000 jobs

General Electric is to cut 12,000 jobs in its power business, 18% of the division’s global workforce. The US industrial group expects the “painful but necessary” job losses to help save $1bn next year as demand for fossil fuel power plants wanes. GE intends to cut 1,100 jobs from its UK power business, mainly in Stafford and Rugby.


UK house price growth slowing, says Halifax

The growth in UK house prices is continuing to slow, according to the Halifax, which has said average prices rose by 3.9% in the year to the end of November, down from 4.5% in October, meaning that the average house or flat in the UK is now selling for £226,821. Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax Community Bank said house price growth was however likely to slow in the long term.


Brighthouse eyes survival plan

Hire purchase retailer Brighthouse is close to agreeing a £220m restructuring designed to ensure its survival. Under a debt for equity swap, Apollo Management and Alteri Investors, who are already bondholders in Brighthouse, will take control of a significant minority of shares in the company. Under the plan, Vision Capital, the previous owner, will be left with only 3% of Brighthouse.


All UK regions exporting more goods

Figures released by HMRC have shown that exports of goods have risen in every region of the UK since last year. HMRC found that in the year to September, England exported 14% more goods than a year earlier, reaching £241.1bn, while Scotland's goods exports rose by 19.9% to £28bn. Exports of goods in Wales rose by 18.9% to £16.4bn and Northern Ireland's by 13.3% to £8.5bn. According to the data, the US was the top buyer of goods from the UK, while the Irish Republic was the biggest buyer of goods from Northern Ireland,.

Bitcoin breaks through the $16,000 mark

Bitcoin has breached the $16,000 mark, extending the digital currency’s record-breaking surge. The cryptocurrency began the year below $1,000 but continues to rise despite warnings of a dangerous bubble. According to Coindesk, Bitcoin reached $16,050.83 (£11,928.78), having soared over 50% in a week. Sir Howard Davies, the chairman of RBS, likened Bitcoin’s rise to Dante’s Inferno. He suggested it should carry a similarly apocalyptic warning for investors.


Cluster of UK companies reports highly improbable gender pay gap

FT analysis of gender pay gap data submitted by UK companies reveals one in 20 reported statistically improbable figures (identical median and mean pay gaps), indicating they had failed to accurately report their data.

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