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Daily News Roundup: Thursday, 13th June 2019

Posted: 13th June 2019

BANKING

FreeAgent secures Open Banking link for UK lenders

Cloud accounting provider FreeAgent has secured Open Banking data links with the UK's biggest banks. It becomes the first accounting software company in the UK to link banking data from "CMA9" lenders, including the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group, which it claims will provide business customers with greater visibility of their finances. It means FreeAgent, which was acquired by RBS last year, will be able to provide Open Banking data feeds to customers of CMA9 banks, which together operate more than 80% of the UK's small business bank accounts. FreeAgent chief executive and cofounder Ed Molyneux said: "Becoming the first software in our industry to connect to CMA9 banks and enable a strong, robust flow of financial data is a great achievement that shows we are at the vanguard of Open Banking for small businesses in the UK. Eventually, we envisage a whole ecosystem of fintech apps, features and services powered by Open Banking that will make it easier than ever for people to run and maintain a small business."

PRIVATE EQUITY

Baker puts dough in private equity

Former Whitbread chairman Richard Baker has teamed up with Andy Dawson, a former investment partner at Advent International, to launch a private equity firm to invest in midmarket, consumer-facing businesses. BD-Capital will target investments ranging from €25m to €75m in the retail, leisure, services and health sectors, initially in Britain, Spain and the Benelux countries.

INTERNATIONAL

Banks warn EU rules will scupper a quarter of online payments

Trade bodies representing Europe’s banks have warned that more than a quarter of online payments will be impossible to complete from September if new EU anti-fraud rules are not delayed.

Revolut heads Down Under

Revolut is to launch in Australia, marking its first foray outside the UK and Europe. The fintech group, which has set up Australian headquarters in Melbourne, is planning a gradual roll-out of its first public beta app in the country offering free weekday and instant financial transfers with the UK and Europe.

BB&T and SunTrust pick a name for their merged bank: Truist

US regional lenders BB&T and SunTrust are merging to become the sixth-largest bank in the country, with the combined entity to be named Truist.

AUTOMOTIVE

Pendragon shares plunge as profits go into reverse

Britain’s biggest car dealer Pendragon has warned it will fall into the red for the year, with a “significant” first-half loss. The motor retailer cited challenging market conditions, tougher margins on premium cars, and higher labour costs.

AVIATION

Connect Airways appoints new CEO

Connect Airways, the consortium that has purchased Flybe, has named former Virgin Atlantic customer chief Mark Anderson as its chief executive.

CONSTRUCTION

L&G secures affordable homes sites

Legal & General has secured four sites for its new affordable homes business. It has agreed deals to deliver an initial 278 homes in London, Cornwall, Dunstable in Bedfordshire and Shrivenham, Oxfordshire, after gaining regulatory approval six months ago to act as a social housing provider.

FINANCIAL SERVICES

Woodford urges financial advisers to stick by him

Neil Woodford has urged his investors to keep faith with him while his flagship fund remains suspended to withdrawals. In a letter sent to financial advisers and wealth managers, Mr Woodford said he was “deeply sorry” for suspended trading in the Woodford Equity Income Fund last week, but said the decision was taken “in the best interest of investors". Meanwhile data from Morningstar shows that the assets in Woodford’s Income Focus Fund have fallen to £371m from £480m. The slump in the Income Focus Fund, the smaller of Woodford’s two open-ended vehicles, suggests that contagion from the suspension is hurting all areas of his business.

Saga boss to step down

Saga chief executive Lance Batchelor is to retire at the end of the company’s financial year in January. The 55-year-old's exit follows a turbulent period for Saga which included a warning that profits will slump this year. Meanwhile, Saga president Patrick O’Sullivan has criticised the way the insurer was floated five years ago, accusing its private equity owners and bankers of “over-egging” its potential.

Growth Street aims for £60m share of Scots SME lending

Growth Street is targeting a £60m share of Scotland’s SME lending market following its move north of the Border. The London-based peer-to-peer lending platform estimates that there is an £800m funding shortfall faced by SMEs in Scotland due to increasing reluctance from banks to extend overdrafts to small firms.

Provident Financial hit by cash fears

Provident Financial shares suffered a 6.6% fall yesterday - its sharpest one-day loss in five months - amid City concerns about the doorstep lender’s "precarious" capital position.

Investors pull funds from ETF industry in first outflow since 2014

Investors withdrew $4.5bn from exchange traded funds in May, in the first month of net global outflows for more than five years.

Bigger M&A deals mean more insurance claims, AIG finds

Data from AIG show a thriving M&A market has led to an increase in the use of warranty and indemnity cover, with larger M&A deals leading to a rise in big claims.

MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT

Minute Media raises $40m in funding round

Minute Media has raised $40m (£31m) in a funding round, taking its total funding to $120m. The digital publishing platform said it has secured the investment from new investors Hamilton Lane and Maor Investments, alongside its existing backers.

KKR to buy Axel Springer for £6bn

German publishing giant Axel Springer will be taken private by KKR in a €6.8bn (£6bn) deal backed by largest shareholder Friede Springer and chief executive Mathias Doepfner.

RETAIL

Arcadia avoids collapse as landlords back rescue plan

Sir Philip Green’s fashion empire has secured backing for its restructuring plan. Arcadia managed to convince more than three-quarters of its unsecured creditors - made up of landlords, suppliers, and the Pensions Regulator - to vote for a series of company voluntary arrangements (CVAs), staving off administration. However, the plan involves the closure of 50 stores and 1,000 job losses.

FCA to tighten 'buy now pay later' rules

The Financial Conduct Authority has confirmed it will introduce new rules in November to ban retailers from charging backdated interest on “buy now pay later” policies. The FCA said that its new measures would save consumers up to £60m a year.

Elliott eyes Majestic

US investment giant Elliott Advisors has reportedly launched a bid to acquire Majestic Wines’ entire shop network.

ECONOMY

SMEs looking less healthy

CYBG's SME health check index dropped by 6.6 points to 48.5 in the first quarter of 2019, its lowest rating for a year, amid lower SME borrowing and an increase in businesses operating below capacity. Scotland saw a 7.9 point decline to 35.5, with significant drops seen in indicators around capacity, confidence and revenues.

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