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Daily News Roundup: Thursday, 14th December 2017

Posted: 14th December 2017


New FCA banking rules won't help consumers, critics warn

New Financial Conduct Authority rules aimed at helping customers compare bank accounts have been rubbished by consumer groups. The FCA claims the new measures will allow customers to "make meaningful comparisons of the services different current account providers offer" but critics say they focus on "limited aspects of banks' service standards, rather than the actual costs of accounts and interest rates charged or paid". Andrew Hagger of Moneycomms said: "It's more important for people to be able to compare overdraft charges, credit interest and the different fees for using a debit card abroad. Those are the things that will really help consumers get the best deal and save money."

GDPR could leave banks suffering

The Standard's Simon English and Laura Onita suggest the incoming GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) could potentially result in "bank branches closing and retailers suffering". The Information Commissioner’s Office, they note, will be able to fine companies up to 4% of their turnover for failures, which, at Lloyds Bank for example, would be 4% of almost £40bn. Gareth Lindahl-Wise, director of cyber risk at ITC Secure Networking, suggests most organisations are not in a good place: ”Potentially, some say, this is the next PPI mis-selling scandal, where lawyers gang up to pursue banks and others for legal failings," he says.

Whistleblower aids HSBC money laundering investigation

The House of Lords has heard that a whistleblower is aiding the FCA’s investigation into alleged money laundering in South Africa by British banks including HSBC and Standard Chartered. Lord Hain, the former Labour minister, passed evidence to the watchdog this autumn that he claims shows the duo helped launder money for companies linked to the Gupta-family. Lord Hain told peers yesterday that the FCA was now dealing directly with one of the whistleblowers supplying him with information from South Africa.

Link promises to protect free cash machines

Link has pledged that cash machines 1km or more away from the nearest free-to-use ATM will not be subject to a cut in the fee that card providers pay to machine operators. It follows concerns that some areas would be left without an ATM if providers decided to shut unprofitable machines.

Banks set to move fewer than 4,600 City jobs over Brexit

FT research has found the UK’s biggest international banks are set to move fewer than 4,600 jobs from London in preparation for Brexit — just 6% of their total workforce in the financial centre.

Rapid response scheme

The Daily Telegraph explores a new pilot scheme which has seen police called to bank branches to prevent customers from being duped by online fraudsters. The "rapid response" scheme enables bank staff to contact police if they suspect a customer is in the process of being scammed, with an immediate priority response to the branch. As well as preventing fraud, the initiative ensures a consistent response to potential victims.

Banks seek reprieve over Mifid II

Banks are pushing for a late reprieve on a key part of new Mifid II rules, arguing that around a fifth of their clients do not have the Legal Entity Identifier that they need to continue trading.

Aldermore names new chairman

Aldermore Group has appointed Pat Butler to be its chairman after a £1.1bn takeover by South African lender Firstrand completes.


Banks warned over North Korea’s complex finance web

A new report from research groups in Washington and Seoul has highlighted the sophisticated ways in which North Korea uses foreign banks to sidestep payment sanctions.

CBA admits breaching counter-terror law

Commonwealth Bank of Australia has admitted multiple breaches of money laundering and counter terrorism laws in response to claims made by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.


Vectura speculation

The Daily Telegraph’s Tom Rees notes that city chatter swirled around pharma company Vectura yesterday amid speculation that one of its partners such as Novartis could be ready to make a swoop.


TUI puts Brexit contingency plans in place

TUI has said it is putting contingency plans in place for Britain’s exit from the EU, aiming to address potential problem areas such as flying rights, visa requirements and changes in demand. CEO Fritz Joussen said if certain destinations became more expensive for Britons due to a fall in sterling then demand could shift to cheaper countries, and the group had already increased hotel space in places such as Bulgaria and Croatia.


Fintech ‘could cause the next financial crisis’

The risk management consultancy Parker Fitzgerald Group has warned fintech has the potential to cause the next financial crisis if regulation isn't harmonised and coordinated across industries. Its report says the adoption of digital technology in banking is widening the gap between businesses' aspirations and the operational reality, since the new "digital landscape" is often incompatible with banks' legacy systems.

FCA delays fresh conduct rules for asset managers

The FCA has pushed back the extension of the Senior Managers Regime to late 2018 for insurers and to mid-to-late 2019 for other financial companies, including asset managers.


Disney set to seal 21st Century Fox takeover

Walt Disney is close to confirming a deal to buy 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets for about $60bn, reports say. The sale would include the 20th Century Fox film studio and the Sky and Star satellite broadcasters in the UK, Europe and Asia.

Hedge fund takes control of Avanti

A proposed restructuring at satellite broadband firm Avanti Communications will hand bondholders a $557m (£417.6m) equity stake and should save at least $81m a year in interest payments. After the swap, hedge fund Solus Alternative Asset Management will hold approximately 41.5% of shares and Avanti will enjoy space to raise around $30m of additional capital.


Aviva Investors drops trust float

Aviva Investors has joined a number of other trusts who have been forced to scale back fundraising ambitions in recent months, dropping a £200m property trust listing over “insufficient demand” from retail investors and City fund managers. M7 Multi-Let REIT scrapped a £300m London listing last month, the Standard notes, while K&C REIT was also forced to delay a £150m fundraising drive and Tri-Pillar Infrastructure Fund yesterday delayed a £200m funding round blaming poor market conditions.

Purplebricks revenues surging

Purplebricks has reported a 150% surge in revenues to £46.8m for the six months to October 31, helped by £6.8m of revenues at the firm’s new Australian subsidiary, up from £400,000 last year. The company upped its full-year revenue guidance by 5%, to £84m, and chief executive Michael Bruce said his company was better placed to weather a cooler market than its competitors. Purplebricks is one of several fast-growing online agents, the Telegraph notes, including HouseSimple, easyProperty and Tepilo, but is dominating the UK online market with a 74% share.


Dixons Carphone profits fall on weak demand for mobiles

First-half profits at Dixons Carphone fell 60% to £61m, the firm reported this morning, after a drop in demand for new mobile phone models. The electricals retailer said like-for-like sales in mobile fell by 3%, hit by customers holding on to their existing mobile phones for longer, with the late launch of the iPhone X also having an impact. Group sales dropped 1% to £4.8bn, although like-for-likes grew 4%. The company now expects full-year pre-tax profits to reach between £360m and £400m compared with £510m in the previous 12 months.


Ashley close to agreeing Newcastle takeover

Newcastle United Football Club owner Mike Ashley and British businesswoman Amanda Staveley met to discuss a sale last week after her investment firm PCP Capital Partners made a fresh offer of around £300m.


UK wage growth continues to lag inflation

Wage growth fell behind inflation for a seventh month in a row, according to new employment figures from the ONS, which show that average weekly wages rose by 2.3% in the three months to October, below inflation at 3%. Real earnings, which take into account the cost of living, fell by 0.4%, unemployment declined by 26,000 to 1.43m, while the jobless rate remained at 4.3%, the lowest since 1975.


BoE to scrap gendered language

The old lady of Threadneedle Street may soon lose her moniker, after the Bank of England announced plans to remove gendered language from documentation. The Prudential Regulatory Authority said that the changes to the Senior Managers and Certification Regime "form part of the PRA's commitment to encourage equality and diversity at regulated firms".

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