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Daily News Roundup: Monday, 3rd September 2018

Posted: 3rd September 2018


TSB worst for customer service following IT meltdown

TSB has plummeted from 4th to 11th in a banking customer service poll following its recent IT disasters. Some 49% of those who graded TSB’s service in the poll rated it as “poor” with just 23% describing its service as “great”. “We’re sorry for the problems customers experienced as a result of our IT switch. Regrettably this is why our scores are low in this poll. Our priority is putting things right for our customers and we’re making good progress with improvements in our service levels,” said a TSB spokesperson.

RBS prepared to snap up taxpayer shares

Royal Bank of Scotland is planning to hold an extraordinary general meeting to address plans for a share buyback designed to reduce a 62.4% stake held by the taxpayer. "I would imagine that it would be announced alongside full-year results at the end of February," said Gary Greenwood, banking analyst at Shore Capital.

HSBC plans digital bank

HSBC is set to launch a stand-alone digital bank, with sources saying it has recruited more than 100 people to work on what is known internally as "Project Iceberg". The project is expected to focus on small business customers. A HSBC spokesman offered no detail but commented: "We are always exploring ways to make commercial banking quicker, easier and more convenient. Technology is radically changing the environment for business, so we're looking to innovate where this enables us to deliver a better service."

Edmonds to file Lloyds case in late September

Noel Edmonds is close to filing his £64m case against Lloyds Banking Group. Mr Edmonds is seeking financial redress from the lender after his former business Unique Group was destroyed after falling victim to fraud by former staff at the Reading branch of HBOS, which Lloyds rescued at the height of the financial crisis.

RBS fears loss of European customers in no-deal Brexit

Royal Bank of Scotland has warned that the bank may lose some of its European business customers if there is no Brexit deal. CEO Ross McEwan said a new operation in Amsterdam set up to mitigate a no-deal scenario had yet to have its licences approved. Mr McEwan told BBC Scotland: "We are planning, unfortunately, for the worst [but if] “we don't get the right licences…that could create major problems for our customers and for the bank."

Goldman to launch online banking platform

It has been reported that Goldman Sachs shied away from making acquisitions in the fintech sector as it prepared to move into retail banking in the UK, deterred by “lofty” valuations. The firm chose instead to build its own platform, Marcus, set to launch with a savings account this month.

SVR rate rises take effect

Homeowners face higher mortgage bills from today as banks pass on increased interest costs to their standard variable rate customers following the Bank Rate rise last month. Britain's biggest mortgage lenders - including Barclays, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds, Nationwide and NatWest - have passed on the 0.25 percentage points increase to their customers.

Popularity of Isas drops to 18-year UK low

Record low interest rates have driven down the popularity of cash Isas to an 18-year low, according to HMRC data, while demand for stocks and shares Isas has risen.


Diversity efforts in private equity slow

Senior executives in hedge funds, private equity firms and other financial services partnerships are failing to implement significant diversity initiatives, analysis by law firm Fox & Partners of data from the Financial Conduct Authority reveals.

Blackstone’s Assant notes return of large-scale private equity deals

A profile of Blackstone’s European private equity chief Lionel Assant notes that the sector is enjoying a boom and is tackling its largest transactions.

New fund for infrastructure launched by former KKR executive

Jesus Olmos, former global co-head and founding member of KKR's infrastructure team, is seeking to raise €1bn in a new infrastructure fund.

Chinese firm snaps up engineer

Chinese manufacturer Future Aerospace Industry is to buy precision engineer Smith's Harlow from its management team and the private equity firm Agathos in an £8m deal.


German investors and banks prepare for no-deal

Deutsche Börse boss Theodor Weimer has said the vast majority of investors expect the UK to leave without a deal. His comments come after Wolfgang Fink, Germany chief of the US investment bank Goldman Sachs, said: “We have to adjust to the extreme scenario.” German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has also urged German companies to make arrangements for no-deal while the financial regulator BaFin is calling for Brussels to act on derivatives trading to avoid no-deal chaos.

UBS closes gap on rivals in US

UBS has moved up to joint-third place, with Morgan Stanley, at the top of the FTSE 100 stockbroker ranking list for the third quarter, with 22 clients.

Commerzbank headquarters to be sold for £425m

An undisclosed Asian buyer has agreed to purchase Commerzbank’s London HQ at 30 Gresham Street in the City of London in a deal worth more than £400m.


BMW planning new factory

BMW has announced plans to build a new manufacturing site at its plant near Swindon. If approved, the 138,000 sq ft site would house additional capacity for an existing factory that produces doors, bonnets, tailgates and roof assemblies for Mini vehicles.

Ford roles at risk from European revival plan

Analysts at Morgan Stanley believe Ford will look to revive its European operations in a plan which could see up to 24,000 workers lose jobs – a figure equating to 12% of its 202,000 strong global workforce.


Demand for access to quick credit still high, say charities

There is still likely to be a demand for payday lenders in Britain, despite the collapse of Wonga, campaigners have warned. Wonga filed for administration after becoming bogged down by compensation claims. The company has an estimated 200,000 customers still owing more than £400m in short-term loans - who will need to continue making repayments. But debt charity StepChange believes more than a million people still need access to quick loans, which carry high interest rates, claiming that government benefit cuts and austerity, sluggish pay rises, insecure work and the rising cost of living mean households will face increasing financial pressure.

Luxembourg investment jobs multiply

Luxembourg’s investment industry has seen its staff numbers grow 10% last year as fund managers based in Britain implement their Brexit contingency plans.


GV backs Oxford University spinout

GV, the venture capital arm of Google's parent company, Alphabet, is among those which have backed Evox Therapeutics. The Oxford University spinout, which is developing ways to deliver drugs to hard to reach places within the body, has received £35m in a fundraising that values it at about £85m.


Coca-Cola buys Costa for £3.9bn

Coca-Cola will purchase Costa coffee chain from Whitbread in a deal worth £3.9bn. Whitbread had intended to spin off the chain as a separate firm, but decided a straight sale would be more profitable. Coca-Cola was advised by Rothschild for the deal, whilst Goldman Sachs’ Anthony Gutman led the advice for Whitbread.


Sky eyes Berlin

Sky is looking to open a new office in Berlin, saying the move would allow it to tap into the city’s “ever growing start up ecosystem”.


House price growth at six-year low, Nationwide says

UK house prices suffered their greatest month-on-month fall in August since July 2012, according to new data. Nationwide Building Society's house price index showed prices fell by 0.5% in the month, as annual house price growth slowed to 2%, down from 2.5% in the previous month. The average price of a house slipped to £214,745 in August, from £217,010 in July. Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner said: “We continue to expect house prices to rise by around 1% over the course of 2018.”

No-deal Brexit threat to London property

A “no-deal” Brexit would hit the capital’s house prices “like a sledgehammer”, a London mortgage lender has warned. Jonathan Samuels, chief executive of specialist home loans company Octane Capital, said the London market was already “fragile”, and uniquely exposed to the fallout from a “chaotic” Brexit because of its dependence on international buyers. “Given that the London property market is heavily exposed to big business and international buyers, if both begin to retreat in the event of a no-deal Brexit, prices in the capital could suffer disproportionately,” he said.


Investor groups urge Sports Direct rebellions

Shareholder advisory group ISS are urging investors to vote against the re-election of Sports Direct CEO Mike Ashley and Keith Hellawell as chairman. ISS also recommended abstention in a vote on re-appointing Grant Thornton, which the Times notes is under investigation by the Financial Reporting Council for signing off a deal to provide delivery services between Sports Direct and a company owned by Mr Ashley’s brother.

Homebase secures creditor backing for store closures

Homebase creditors have approved a proposal to close 42 stores as part of a CVA, a move that puts 1,500 jobs at risk. The retailer said over 95% of its creditors and landlords backed the restructuring plan. Hilco Capital, which bought Homebase from Wesfarmers for £1 in June, warned that if the CVA had not gained approval, the DIY retailer was likely to have started insolvency proceedings.


Summer boost will lead to Autumn growth slowdown

The CBI's latest Growth Indicator, which covers companies in the distribution, manufacturing and service industries, shows an increase in private sector companies reporting growth in output in the three months to August. The proportion of businesses reporting expansion was 19 percentage points greater than the share saying things had got worse, with retail expanding at its fastest rate for more than a year. However, respondents predicted a slowdown in growth in the coming quarter.


Governor under pressure to reveal intentions

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, has indicated that he may be willing to remain as Bank of England Governor after his term expires next year.

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