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Daily News Roundup: Thursday 1st November 2018

Posted: 1st November 2018


Santander net profit up 17%

Santander's net profit in the third quarter rose 17% on the previous quarter to hit €1.99bn, on the back of a strong performance in both Spain and Brazil. For the nine months to September net profit was up 13% to €5.7bn, while Santander UK’s profit was 9% lower year-on-year at €1.07m due to Brexit uncertainties and “a highly competitive market”. Overall the bank’s net interest income for the third quarter was €8.35bn, down 1.5% from the second quarter. Santander UK said it was ahead of its target on gaining small business customers, which rose to 316,000, up from 305,000, and above its aim of 308,000 by the end of the year. Nathan Bostock, chief executive, said: “Our results reflect competitive income pressures and higher regulatory project costs, as well as the impact of ringfence transfers.”

Trade war fears shadow Standard Chartered profits

Concerns that Standard Chartered’s emerging markets could be hit by escalating tensions between China and the US tainted a strong set of results. The bank reported profits of $1.06bn (£830m) in the three months to the end of September, up from profits of $814m in the same period last year. Standard Chartered said the dispute particularly impacted the firm’s wealth management arm, but chief executive Bill Winters said the bank was “cautiously optimistic on global economic growth”, despite being on alert to broader geopolitical uncertainties.

Nottingham BS withdraws easy-access savings account

Nottingham Building Society has withdrawn a 1.55% easy-access savings account from the market. The building society said the account had received unprecedented demand and as a result it had to close applications. The account had topped Goldman Sachs’s Marcus account which has regained its crown as having the best savings rate.


Outperformance proves a tall order with ethical assets

Analysis by Renaissance Capital suggests that ESG assets may prove difficult to achieve outperformance with, as performances so far have been weak. BlackRock has pledged to go all-in on these investments.

TPG hits lull in Europe after deals turn sour

Following a series of soured deals and executive departures, the FT believes that TPG Capital’s future in Europe has been brought into question.

Beringea to launch tech fund

Beringea is planning to launch a dedicated £80m fund to invest in technology businesses.


Italian banks braced for Brussels stress tests

Italian banks will today be the focus of the EBA’s banking health check and, given their vast holdings of Italian sovereign debt, the government’s proposed expansionary budget will be a concern.

Heavy liabilities put GE Capital under growing strain

General Electric may need to pump more funds into its financial services arm GE Capital than previously understood amid lacklustre earnings. Gross assets have fallen from $500bn in 2014 to $129bn in September.


JLR reports loss, announces cuts

Jaguar Land Rover has reported a pre-tax loss of £90m in the third quarter after car sales fell sharply. Sales in China in particular have been hit by consumer uncertainty in the shadow of a looming trade dispute with the US. The brand has also suffered from environmental concerns over diesel in Europe. As a result JLR says it is launching a £2.5bn cost-cutting programme to improve profitability, that would include reducing investment and taking out inventory and working capital..


Airbus profits soar despite delays

Airbus reported a 210% increase in net profit to €953m, with revenue up 20% to €15.4bn beating analysts’ expectations in the third quarter. The strong results come in spite of a major backlog of orders hampering its output, particularly with Rolls-Royce struggling to deliver the engines for its A320neo aircraft. The results boosted the firm’s shares by 5%.

Air France-KLM profit beats estimates in Q3

Air France-KLM's pre-tax profit rose 7.3% in the three months to the end of September, to €915m. Revenue hit €7.55bn and operating profit €1.07bn.


PM strikes deal on financial services

The Times reports that Theresa May has struck a deal with the EU that would give UK financial services firms continued access to European markets after Brexit. Under the services deal the EU would guarantee UK companies access to European markets as long as British financial regulation remained broadly aligned with that of Europe. Senior City figures said they welcomed any deal that provided continuity and stability but warned that delivering the detail in a legal trade agreement after Brexit would be far harder. One executive said: “When it comes to it, countries like France are going to do everything it can to make life hard for the City.”

FCA to probe insurance market

The FCA has launched a probe into pricing practices in the insurance market. Particularly concerned with the impact on vulnerable people, the FCA will also examine the fairness of pricing and the impact of pricing practices on competition in the insurance industry. FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey said: "If change is needed to make the market work well for consumers, we will consider all possible remedies to achieve this.” Alongside the market study, the FCA has also published a paper on fair pricing in financial services, which it is inviting evidence for by January 31 2019.

Just Group riding 'buoyant market'

Total new business sales at pensions provider Just Group hit £765m in the three months to the end of September, up from £656m in the same period last year, and retirement income sales of £581m. Chief executive Rodney Cook said: “The markets in which we operate are generally buoyant…Whilst the price increases will affect sales in the final quarter we remain confident of delivering a strong performance for the year.”

Robo-advisor Nutmeg launches phone advice

Online advisor Nutmeg, which already broke the £1bn assets under management barrier, is launching a portfolio review and a telephone advice service for its customers.

TP Icap closing in on Axiom deal

Energy broker TP Icap is in discussions to acquire its smaller rival Axiom Commodities Group. It is understood a deal could be signed as soon as this week.

CME's purchase of NEX Group cleared

The Competition and Markets Authority has cleared the $5.5bn (£4.31bn) acquisition of London-based financial exchange group NEX by US derivatives marketplace CME.


William Hill strikes £242m deal for online gaming group Mr Green

William Hill is buying online betting firm Mr Green and Co (MRG) for £241m as it seeks new markets in the face of a UK regulatory crackdown. The deal will also provide William Hill with a post-Brexit hub in Malta. The UK firm had been searching for a new location to headquarter non-UK operations post Brexit, owing to Gibraltar’s status as a British overseas territory.


Channel 4 chooses Leeds for new HQ

Channel 4 has chosen Leeds over Birmingham and Greater Manchester to set up a new national HQ in an attempt to boost the way it reflects life outside London, and will move around 200 of its 800 staff to the city. Channel 4 also announced it will open "creative hubs" in Bristol and Glasgow, with around 50 staff in each.


Emoov up for sale?

Online estate agent Emoov has put itself up for sale less than four months after completing a merger with Tepilo and Urban, in order to raise funding, according to Sky News. Emoov has reportedly appointed stockbroker Arden Partners to oversee an auction, with sources claiming that‎ Foxtons had already held preliminary talks about a takeover.


Next riding online growth

Next sales continued climbing in the third quarter, with robust growth in its e-commerce business counterbalancing high street gloom. In-store sales declined 8% in the 13 weeks to October 27th, offset by a 12.7% increase in its digital division, while total full-price sales increased 2%.


UK falling down business ease rankings

The UK is now the ninth easiest country in the world to conduct business, according to the World Bank's annual Doing Business report, down two places from last year. In terms of starting a business, the UK ranked 19th, down from 14th, and was 32nd for ease of getting credit, down three places. The UK had made improvements in supplying electricity however, for which it ranked seventh globally.


Wallace pledges crackdown on facilitators of illicit finance

Security minister Ben Wallace will today launch a new multi-agency national economic crime centre as part of a crackdown on £100bn of money-laundering in the UK. Mr Wallace told the Guardian that the Government will come down hard on estate agents, solicitors and accountants who enable money-laundering but also other facilitators such as public schools, football clubs and luxury goods suppliers. Professionals who fail to report suspicious activity will face sanctions and jail. He added that in order to ensure Britain and the City of London successful post-Brexit “then it has to have a reputation for cleanliness and security.” The Government is also expected to harden its approach to Scottish limited partnerships, which are thought to be used by foreign criminals to launder dirty money in the UK.

McDonnell attempts to reassure worried businesses

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has met with representatives of financial firms and other companies in an effort to defuse a growing sense of distrust among the business community towards the Labour party. He assured attendees that “what you’ll get from us is certainty. There’s nothing up my sleeve.” He insisted all plans and policies would be published in advance, while admitting that at times business leaders wouldn’t like a policy.

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