City set for boost as Hunt loosens financial services rule book
Jeremy Hunt will attempt to provide a boost to the City of London today when he unveils a package of more than 30 financial services reforms in Edinburgh. The Chancellor said Brexit had provided Britain with the “golden opportunity” to reshape the rules governing the financial sector. Mr Hunt said the Government was delivering an “agile, proportionate and home-grown regulatory regime which will unlock investment across our economy to deliver jobs and opportunity for the British people”. The Chancellor is expected to relax ring-fencing rules on smaller banks and mandate financial regulators to focus on economic growth as well as consumer protection. EU rules which discourage companies from listing in the UK will also be overhauled.
TSB launches fund to support people fleeing domestic abuse
TSB has set up a fund that will financially support people fleeing abusive relationships. People will be able to get support payments of between £50 and £500, depending on their needs, which will be paid into an account that only the claimant can access. The scheme has been developed in partnership with domestic abuse charities, including Women's Aid. TSB is also launching a pilot scheme to allow domestic abuse victims to safely open and access a bank account, without standard documentation. Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid said: “Women’s Aid welcomes the launch of TSB’s emergency flee fund, which addresses a vital need to help survivors escape abuse in this crisis period.”
Starmer promises not to hike bank taxes if elected
Sir Keir Starmer addressed 350 business leaders in London's Canary Wharf on Thursday and pledged to extend tax relief schemes for small business investors. The Labour leader also said he would not slap a windfall tax on City financial services firms or hike the banking surcharge. But City AM notes that Labour opposed the Chancellor’s move to cut the bank surcharge last month. One Conservative minister told the paper: “Starmer's a hypocrite and he'll say anything in front of any audience. A bit like Boris really.”
CMA fines BMW £15k a day for failing to comply with document request
BMW has been fined £30,000 by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for failing to hand over documents relating to an investigation by the regulator into the way the German manufacturer recycles old cars. BMW will also be levied with a daily penalty of £15,000 until either BMW hands over the information, an infringement decision is reached or the case is closed.
Michael O'Leary given extra time to win €100m bonus
Ryanair has agreed to give Michael O'Leary an extra four years to secure a €100m (£86.4m) bonus after the pandemic brought the industry heavy losses. Mr O'Leary has now agreed to extend his contract to July 2028, giving him longer to hit targets for the incentive.
Trafigura to pay out £1.4bn after profit surge
Swiss-based commodities trading company Trafigura has announced a massive lap in earning with net profit soaring to £5.7bn ($7bn) for the year ending in September. This is more than the previous four years combined. As a result, Trafigura will hand over £1.4bn ($1.7bn) to its 1,100 shareholders, who are mainly made up of executives and traders at the privately held firm. Jeremy Weir, Trafigura’s executive chairman and chief executive said: “The past year saw our people work hard to solve the disruptions created by unprecedented market volatility and the big structural shifts that are shaping our industry.”
BGC Partners fined £5m for market abuse surveillance failures
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined the New York-based broker BGC Partners nearly £5m for failing to ensure they had appropriate systems and controls in place to effectively detect market abuse. The regulator said that between July 2016 and the start of January 2018 three subsidiaries of BGC had breached market abuse regulations because there were gaps in their surveillance systems. "This meant there was an increased risk that potentially suspicious trading would go undetected," it said.
Numis warns of bonus hit as equity market activity dries up
The corporate broker Numis has warned that staff would receive smaller bonuses this year after a sharp decline in IPOs, equity raisings and other capital market activity.
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BT pension scheme warns it may need ‘support’ from company
The managers of BT’s £47bn pension scheme have warned MPs that changes to how the scheme is managed in the wake of the gilt market crisis will reduce returns and could mean it will need to call on the telecoms group for more cash support. “We have become more cautious in how we manage the scheme’s liquidity and have increased the collateral buffer to which we operate. This will position the scheme to better weather any further volatility in the gilt market but will also reduce the expected returns from our assets,” the fund’s managers said in a letter to the work and pensions committee. The BT scheme, which pays out £2.5bn to retirees each year, currently has a £4.4bn deficit.
Homebuyer interest declines again
The monthly survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors reveals home buyer inquiries fell again in November, but a slower pace than in the month before. The net balance for new buyer inquiries came in at -38% on the RICS index. Although this is better than the revised -53% reported in October, it still indicates that demand for buying a home remains weak. Meanwhile, demand for rental properties continues to rise, boosted by the number of would-be buyers delaying house purchases. Inquiries from prospective tenants remained positive, with a net balance of +35% in the latest survey. Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, said although the survey appeared “downbeat” the downturn in the housing market this time “could be shallower compared with past experiences.”
Meta shrinks office space in Dublin and London
Meta has decided not occupy a Dublin building it signed a 25-year lease on after the Facebook owner reduced its headcount by 11,000, or 13%. Meta is also closing its Grand Canal Dock offices as it shrinks its Dublin footprint and is reducing its office space in London too. The company plans to sublet the whole of a new office in Regent’s Place at Triton Square.
CMA probe prompts Asda to lower fuel prices
Following the decision by the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) earlier this week to deepen its probe into rip-off pricing by fuel retailers, Asda has cut 4.5p per litre off the cost of unleaded petrol and 5.5p off diesel across its 320 sites nationwide. RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “While we’re pleased one major supermarket retailer has finally started heeding our calls to pass on the enormous drop in the wholesale prices of both fuels, the fact these price cuts have been made so quietly is surely admission that they should have come much sooner.”
Investors pulled £1bn from UK-focused funds last month
Figures from data provider Calastone show investors pulled a net £1.02bn from UK-focused funds in November, the second worst month for outflows on record. “Fears over the potential duration of the UK’s recession rather than hopes for inflation abating are dominating investor concerns for UK assets,” Edward Glyn, head of global markets, said. “Despite low valuations, you can barely give them away at the moment.”
UK household spending trails industrialised world as cost of living bites
Analysis by the FT has found that household spending in the UK in the three months to September was 3.2% below pre-pandemic levels, by far the biggest fall among the G7 economies.
SMEs urged to continue efforts to become net zero
A new report from Lloyds Banking Group has found 43% of SMEs see the cost of transitioning their business to net zero as the chief obstacle to achieving that goal while a third cited difficulties in reducing emissions outside of their own operations. Over seven in ten reported that both the rising cost of energy and soaring inflation are having the severest impact on their journey to net zero. Paul Gordon, MD of SME and mid corporates at Lloyds, said there are “common and significant” challenges all SMEs face in the journey to net zero. However, he stressed that such firms “should not be discouraged” from continuing, adding: “The progress small businesses make is crucial… and tackling the challenges around measuring impact and progress will take collaboration to overcome.”