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Daily News Roundup: Thursday 18th July 2019

Posted: 18th July 2019


HSBC under fire for not signing up to code

Women’s rights groups have criticised HSBC after the bank failed to sign up to the Investment in Women Code, which aims to support female entrepreneurs. The bank is the only large British lender not to support the code, which has RBS, Lloyds, Santander, TSB and Barclays among the signatories. A spokesperson for HSBC said: “We support the spirit of the code and the ambition to support female entrepreneurship; we look forward to signing up once final details have been agreed.” The Telegraph profiles the code in more detail. Its launch comes just over a year after 200 business leaders, entrepreneurs, MPs and academics joined the paper in calling on the Government to boost female entrepreneurship.

Arbuthnot pursuing growth as profits rise

Arbuthnot Banking Group has posted a rise in profits for the first half of the year, along with plans to pursue a major capital-raising plan to leverage growth. Though assets under management fell 4% from last year, to £1.03bn, pre-tax profits came in at £2.9m for the six months to June 30 - up from £1.2m in the same period a year earlier.

Banks failing customers by making it too hard to switch

Sam Barker writes in the Telegraph that banks are failing customers by making it too hard to switch. He says that both Open Banking and the Current Account Switching Service (Cass) have had limited success, and only one in five consumers have heard of Open Banking. He adds that there are more than 70m current accounts, but only 5.4m have switched with Cass since it was introduced in 2013.

New CFO lined up for Nationwide

Nationwide Building Society has announced that Chris Rhodes will succeed Mark Rennison as chief financial officer. He is expected to take up his duties in the early autumn.

Former Lloyds boss to chair banking board

Dame Susan Rice, a former boss of Lloyds TSB Scotland, is taking on the role as chair of the Banking Standards Board. She will begin the new role from the start of next year.


G7 pushed to back $255m financial inclusion fund

Finance ministers from the G7 will today be asked to fund a $255m initiative to improve financial inclusion, specifically women, in developing areas of the world. The initiative is designed to prevent “the inequalities of the past being insinuated into the future” as cultural and market barriers lead to women being excluded from mobile banking, e-commerce and smartphone technology.

Bank of America boosted by strong retail division and cost control

Bank of America's loans income could be below previous guidance due to a potential interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve. Second quarter net income rose 10% to $7.1bn.

BNY Mellon results hit by tepid markets and negative yield curve

Total revenue at Bank of New York Mellon fell 5% in the three months to the end of June, to $3.9bn, on the back of the strong dollar, a negative yield curve and low general volatility.

N26 increases valuation

The German fintech firm N26 has upped its valuation to $3.5bn (£2.8bn), after extending its series D funding round to raise another $160m. The start-up said it will use the funds to accelerate its expansion in Europe and the US, with plans to launch in Brazil soon.

The lawyer thrust into the front line of Deutsche Bank clean-up

The FT profiles Stefan Simon who has been named as Deutsche Bank’s new head of regulation. As a lawyer, he advised the bank on the Libor scandal.


Renault invests €128m into China electric vehicle joint venture

Renault is to invest €128m into a joint venture with China’s Jiangling Motors, giving it greater access to the world’s largest EV market.


Galliford completes restructuring

Galliford Try has announced that the restructuring of its construction arm has been completed and pre-tax profits for the year are set to be in line with expectations.


Collapse of LCF worrying – Bailey

Andrew Bailey, the CEO of the FCA, has described the collapse of London Capital & Finance (LCF), which has resulted in thousands of first-time and retired investors fearing the loss of their savings, as a “worrying situation” and there was a “risk” that customers’ cash might not be recovered. Mr Bailey said the collapse of LCF proved that the “old regime” that distinguished regulated firms from regulated products and associated promotional activity was not working as the watchdog intended. Meanwhile, the FCA’s chairman, Charles Randell, said the watchdog’s rules were so complex that even its staff may not understand which investment products come under its jurisdiction. He said: “There’s tremendous risk of confusion, either on the part of consumers, or - on the part of our staff. So it's not a good situation and I'll be the first to acknowledge that.”

Activist hedge fund takes Saga position

Elliott Management has taken a 5% stake in over-50s specialist Saga. The entrance of billionaire Paul Singer’s activist hedge fund follows the company’s shock profit warning in April - though Saga has lost almost 80% of its value since listing in 2014.

Rothschild buys stake in UK equity research house Redburn

Rothschild has agreed to buy a minority stake in British equity research and financial services firm Redburn for an undisclosed amount. The investment will allow Redburn to expand its coverage of new companies as it seeks to take advantage of changes in the market in the wake of the Mifid II reforms.

Woodford to offload illiquid assets

Neil Woodford is reportedly planning to offload stakes in illiquid biotech investments from the end of this month as he seeks to save his £3.7bn suspended fund. PJT, the boutique investment bank, has been lined up by Link Fund Solutions, the authorised corporate director of the Woodford Equity Income fund, to start the sale process. The plans come as Woodford seeks to reposition his fund towards more liquid stocks and to bring an end to the crisis.


AstraZeneca to pay millions of pounds to former staff

AstraZeneca has agreed to set aside £12m to cover redundancy costs at a factory near Bristol after its new owners closed the facility.

Bidders circle Four Seasons care homes at knockdown price

Four Seasons, Britain’s second biggest care home group, could be sold for as little as £400m, according to a report from the FT.


New £2 limit hits GVC

The new £2 limit on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT) has taken gambling operator GVC Holdings to a double-digit decline in its UK retail sales for the first half of the year. The Ladbrokes and Coral owner revealed a 10% fall in like-for-like retail net gaming revenue (NGR) in its UK market - despite 17% growth in its online NGR. Overall group revenue rose 5% compared with the first half of 2018.


Accountants and lawyers paid £19.1bn in tax last year

Britain's lawyers and accountants paid £19.1bn in tax last year, up 6.8% on the year before, according to The City UK. The legal and accounting sectors made up 2.8% of UK tax receipts and employ 743,000 people, around 2.4% of the total workforce.

Management consulting sector boosted by Brexit planning

The UK's management consultancy industry has successfully leveraged firms' fears over Brexit to expand at its highest rate in 10 years - up 7% to £10.6bn in 2018.


Top London home prices falling fastest

Detached homes in London fell in value by more than £50,000 in a year, according to official figures, driving the slowdown in UK house price growth. Typically, this type of property cost £903,088 in May last year, but fell by 6.1% to £847,998 by this May, Land Registry figures show. The prices of other property types in the capital also fell, but by less. Annual property price rises overall in the UK slowed to 1.2% in May, from 1.5% the previous month. The fact they are still rising at all is thanks to price increases in homes outside London.

BT offloads City HQ

BT has agreed the sale of its London headquarters in Newgate Street, which overlook St Paul’s Cathedral. The telecoms firm said it has sold the BT Centre to Orion Capital Managers for £209.6m. The deal for the 300,000 square feet building includes an initial leaseback agreement of 30 months.


EU to investigate Amazon marketplace

EU anti-trust regulators have opened an investigation into Amazon after allegations that it misuses “sensitive data” from independent retailers who sell on the online giant's website. Anti-trust commissioner Margrethe Vestager said she would take “a very close look” at its business practices. The European Commission said it would examine Amazon's standard contracts with marketplace sellers. It will also look at how data is used to allocate prominent slots on pages.


OBR warns of no-deal recession

The Office for Budget Responsibility is expected to warn today that a no-deal Brexit will push the UK into a recession next year and lead to an economy 3% smaller than if it leaves with a deal. The OBR’s analysis is based on a relatively “soft” scenario that was modelled by the International Monetary Fund in April, the Times reports. Meanwhile, the Chancellor has hit back at Jacob Rees Mogg after he dismissed Treasury forecasts as “silly” saying it was “terrifying” to think he could soon become part of government. But Stephen Barclay, the Brexit secretary, joined in the criticism of Philp Hammond saying his claim that a no-deal would cost £90bn was a prediction for 2035 and assumed there would be no government intervention.

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