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Daily News Roundup: Monday, 23rd July 2018

Posted: 23rd July 2018


New group chief risk officer named by RBS

RBS has named Bruce Fletcher its new group chief risk officer, replacing David Stephen. RBS chief executive Ross McEwan, commented: "We're delighted to welcome Bruce to RBS; he brings significant experience and expertise to the role.” He went on: "Bruce is an excellent addition to our team and his appointment will further strengthen our risk function.”

Nationwide cuts back on phone banking

From 8 October, Nationwide customers will no longer be able to pay bills by using telephone banking, with the lender citing "extremely low demand for phone banking" to make payments as a reason. The bank said fewer than 2,000 of its customers made such transactions in the past 12 months.

IT issues cost TSB £100m

TSB's much-publicised computer system failure earlier this year cost the lender over £100m. RBC analyst Benjamin Toms noted that regulatory reviews “will determine whether senior management of the bank, including the chief executive, will be forced to resign”. Separately, IT issues left Lloyds Banking Group customers unable to transfer money for several hours after suffering problems at its Faster Payments system.

Whistleblower case reopened by Lloyds chairman

Lloyds Banking Group chairman Norman Blackwell has reopened a whistleblower case concerning HBOS after concluding that it was causing damage to the firm’s reputation.

Barclays signs up to AI firm Simudyne

Barclays has become the flagship customer of AI simulation firm Simudyne, which allows lenders to test how individual factors will perform and interact with each other under different circumstances.

Standard Chartered under environmental pressure

Following criticism from environmental groups and institutional investors, a number of banks have agreed to stop financing coal-fuelled power stations, with Standard Chartered under pressure to follow suit.

FCA to monitor early arrears

The Financial Conduct Authority is looking into the fact that three in every 1,000 new mortgage customers are unable to meet their monthly payments within six months of the loan being taken out, with one in every 600 into arrears by the point the second payment is due.


Cannabis oil campaign part-funded by firm with eye on recreational use

A campaign to have medicinal cannabis provided to a sick child has been funded by private equity firm Kingsley Capital Partners (KCP), which has been revealed to have connections to recreational marijuana campaigns and Imperial Brands.

Three remain in Regus battle

The Takeover Panel has given Terra Firma, TDR and US-based Starwood Capital a deadline of 7 August to make firm offers for Regus, after fourth bidder Prime Opportunities was forced to abandon its approach.

TAG stake bought

Corporate travel company The Appointment Group (TAG) has sold a majority stake to private equity firm Apiary Capital for £18m, in the latter’s debut deal.

ECI to investment in Clear Group

ECI Partners is to invest £50m in insurance broker Clear Group, which offers policies to around 30,000 small and medium-sized businesses.


State Street buys Charles River Development for $2.6bn

The world's second biggest trust bank State Street will buy Charles River Development for $2.6bn, the first big deal since Ron O'Hanley was announced as the next chief executive.

NEC hires BoA to oversee auction

NEC Group has engaged Bank of America Merrill Lynch to oversee an auction which could generate a significant profit for LDC, its private equity owner.

UBP to buy wealth manager ACPI

Private bank UBP is to buy specialist wealth manager ACPI, as Swiss wealth managers move to increase their London business ahead of Brexit.


Bitcoin rallies by 20%

Bitcoin’s value has rallied to its highest point since early June after news that Blackrock could enter the digital currency market. The cryptocurrency was trading at $7,467.01 on Friday, up from $6,217.61 last week. Chris Yoo, portfolio manager at Black Square Capital Management, said: “As the largest asset manager in the world, Blackrock’s interest in cryptoassets could be a catalyst for upward price movement and could encourage other asset managers, even with more conservative strategies, to seriously explore investing in the crypto space." Meanwhile, the FT notes that Blackrock plans to recruit more staff in Paris to develop, market and sell products as it expands operations.

Cyber security start-up raises $12m as risk of hacking rises

Cyber security start-up Xage is raising $12m from investors including GE Ventures, with chief executive Duncan Greatwood saying the need for distributed security is becoming "more urgent".

Hedge funds reap Lehman debts windfall

Hedge funds are set to gain £5bn as investment bets they took on failed Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers start to pay off, with administrators to the collapsed bank to pay out a total of £6bn to some 250 creditors this week.

Quantexa seeks funding

British IT group Quantexa, which investigates financial crime, is considering raising funds to finance a push into Asia and the US. CEO and founder Vishal Marria said the firm wants to grow outside of the financial services sector.

Ares raises record fund

The largest ever direct lending fund in Europe has been raised by US alternative asset manager Ares, with €6.5bn in six months exceeding its target of €4.5bn.


TGI Fridays boss in 40% pay rise despite tipping controversy

American-themed restaurant chain TGI Fridays’ chief executive Karen Forrester has been awarded a 40% pay rise, from £260,000 to £365,420, despite action by employees over its policy on pay and tips.

Slug and Lettuce owner ready to buy Be At One

Stonegate Pub Company, owner of the Slug and Lettuce franchise, is to purchase cocktail bar chain Be At One for £50m.


Sky to unveil record results

Sky is set to unveil record figures this week as a high-stakes bidding war over the company continues. UBS analysts believe the firm will reveal revenues of £13.6bn in the year ended June, up 5% from £12.9bn.


Countrywide to make cash call

Countrywide, the company behind Hamptons, Bairstow Eves and a range of other estate agents, is planning a placing or rights issue as it looks to secure over £100m. The funds will be utilised to cut a debt burden of about £200m and help Countrywide tackle competition posed by online rivals – with the Telegraph noting that Countrywide has lost 26% of its market share since 2014. The company is set to announce the fundraising alongside its interim results this week, where it is expected to reveal that cash earnings are down 72% to £8m.

Shareholders seek Hammerson shake-up

Hammerson could face a shareholder backlash, with activist investor Elliott Advisors, which holds a 5.3% stake in the shopping centre owner, calling on other shareholders to demand a shake-up of the business. Hammerson chief executive David Atkins is set to detail plans to trim its portfolio of properties with the sale of some under-performing sites.


Sustainable fashion brand sells stake

Private equity investor True Capital has bought a majority stake in Frugi, a Cornish fashion brand specialising in sustainably sourced clothes for babies, children and new mothers.

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