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Daily News Roundup: Thursday, 22nd November 2018

Posted: 22nd November 2018


Paragon sees profits climb

Paragon has announced a 7.8% increase in underlying profit before tax to £156.5m. Mortgage lending was up 10.8% to £1.62bn, with buy-to-let lending increasing 28.9% to £778.9m. Paragon chief executive Nigel Terrington said: “In the last year we have made great strides in our strategy to become a leading UK based specialist banking group. A combination of new start-up ventures and acquisitions means we now offer an increasingly broad range of products, supporting British savers, homeowners, landlords, consumers and small businesses.” Paragon says it intends to take a "robust approach" to property valuation and has strengthened an in-house property team who undertake around two thirds of valuations and conduct validation work on all valuations performed by third party surveyors. The bank said in a statement: “The impact of a potential economic downturn, whether as a result of the Brexit process or otherwise, remains an area of focus across all lending markets.” Meanwhile, the bank has been named SME Specialist of the Year at the Leasing World Awards 2018.

Monzo vies for grant to launch business banking service

Digital bank Monzo plans to launch a product for SMEs and will vie for a slice of the £775m in funding that has been set aside to boost competition in the business banking market. Meanwhile, the bank has announced that customers can now deposit cash at any of Paypoint's 28,000-strong UK network of corner shops and local stores. Deposits can range from £5 to £300, with a fee of £1 per deposit and a cap of £1,000 every six months.

Noel to launch Lloyds claim

TV personality Noel Edmonds’ lawsuit against Lloyds Bank is expected to begin today. The £60m suit centres on claims that that Mr Edmonds’ firm Unique Group was pushed into failure by the Reading branch of HBOS, which Lloyds bought. The bank says it will contest any claim.

Starling hires retail head

Starling Bank has appointed Helen Bierton, previously of Santander, head of its retail arm.


Goldman Sachs sued over 1MDB scandal

An Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund is suing Goldman Sachs for allegedly conspiring against it to further a criminal scheme by Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company’s (IPIC) lawsuit “seeks redress for a massive global conspiracy on the part of the defendants to defraud and injure plaintiffs.” IPIC says Goldman bribed Khadem al-Qubaisi, IPIC’s former managing director, and Mohammed al-Husseiny, chief executive of subsidiary Aabar, to act against the fund’s interests. Goldman said it will “vigorously” contest the claims.


Deutsche Bank had limited need to know about Danske, exec says

Deutsche Bank's regulation chief has said the German lender played only a secondary role as a so-called correspondent bank to scandal-hit Danske Bank, so limiting what it needed to know about the people behind the transactions. Sylvie Matherat said Deutsche Bank acted once it noticed suspicious transactions, and that Deutsche's relationship with Danske lasted eight years before Deutsche ended the arrangement. Meanwhile, the FT offers an anatomy of the €200bn money laundering scandal that has engulfed the Copenhagen headquartered lender.

Swiss 'big three' face additional capital requirements

Switzerland's cabinet has said that the three biggest domestically focused Swiss banks - Postfinance, Raiffeisen Switzerland and Zuercher Kantonalbank - must hold capital against their possible restructuring or winding up in the event of a crisis. The cabinet said that corresponding requirements for Credit Suisse and UBS would be decided next year. Zuercher Kantonalbank said it already met the additional capital requirements.

Standard Chartered monitor lifted

The New York Department of Financial Services says the monitoring system imposed on Standard Chartered over fines for breaching US sanctions and money laundering in 2012 and 2014 will be lifted at the end of the year.

Greek central bank aims to use lenders’ tax credits to fix bad debts

Greece's central bank is looking to cut non-performing loans, with new plans to call on the country’s five largest banks to transfer up to €7.5bn of deferred tax assets to a special purpose vehicle.

ABN Amro seeks UK licences

ABN Amro has applied for licences to guarantee it can access critical market infrastructure after the UK leaves the EU, and intends to establish a London-based unit of its clearing business. This follows a similar move by Swedish bank Handelsbanken, which acquired a UK licence earlier this month.


Nissan CEO set to become interim chairman amid Ghosn controversy

The FT reports that Nissan’s board intends to install chief executive Hiroto Saikawa as interim chairman after it removes Carlos Ghosn from the chairman’s post after he was arrested on charges of falsifying financial documents. Elsewhere, the paper says Nissan is looking to use the matter as an opportunity to rebalance its alliance with Renault.


Flybe loan

Flybe has taken out a £3.9m loan secured against one of its aircraft, drawing funds from NordLB through an existing facility that was agreed in 2015.

Airbus overhaul

Airbus has announced Dominik Asam, finance director of chipmaker Infineon Technologies, will replace Harald Wilhelm as chief financial officer, while Bosch appliances executive Michael Schoellhorn will replace Tom Williams as chief operating officer for commercial aircraft.


Financial regulator under pressure to broaden exit fee clampdown

The Financial Conduct Authority is considering broadening a proposed ban on exit fees to include the largest wealth managers and pension companies, after intense pressure from online rivals.

The people must have the final say on May’s EU deal

The FT carries a letter from a group of financial services professionals who back a People’s Vote on whether Britain pushes ahead with Theresa May’s Brexit deal or remains in the EU.

Majority of firms yet to develop Open Banking strategy

A survey by law firm TLT shows that 84% of financial services firms are investing in Open Banking products and services, although 64% do not have a detailed strategy on how to benefit from the initiative. The poll also saw large tech firms such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple identified as the biggest competition to the traditional financial services sector as Open Banking develops.

Lloyd’s of London to lose COO

Lloyd's of London's chief operating officer Shirine Khoury-Haq is to step down next year, the latest in a slew of senior departures, following CFO John Parry and boss Inga Beale.

WhatsApp hires Indian operations head

WhatsApp has named Abhijit Bose as the head of its operations in India, its biggest market by users. The hiring of the co-founder and chief executive of Indian mobile payments firm Ezetap is said to underscore WhatsApp's ambitions in the payment space.


Pub chain toasts growth

Pub owner Marston’s has reported a 4% year-on-year rise in profit before tax to £104m for the year ending 29 September/ Revenues hit a record £1.1bn – a 15% increase on the previous year – while like-for-like sales were up for a fifth consecutive year, having risen 0.6%.


Sage to invest £60m next year in shifting customers to the cloud

Sage has announced plans to invest more in shifting customers to the cloud in a move that the tech company says could slow short-term revenue growth.


Stamp duty revenue drops 10%

Government revenue from stamp duty on property sales has fallen by a tenth in the third quarter of 2018 compared with the same period last year. HMRC said total revenue from residential property sales was £2.347bn in the third quarter of 2018, compared with £2.605bn in the same period of 2017.

NewRiver Reit hit by high street woes

NewRiver Reit has taken a hit from the high street woes of late, seeing the value of its net assets fall in value by 3% to £864m in the six months to September. Funds from operations at NewRiver, which runs shopping centres and pubs, fell 5% to £25.3m during the same period.


Surprise rise in government borrowing

The government borrowed more than analysts expected in October, according to the first figures to be published since the Budget. The deficit rose to £8.8bn from £7.2bn last year, marking the biggest October figure for three years, and well above the £6.1bn forecast. However, the amount borrowed so far this financial year is the lowest for 13 years. The ONS said the current year-to-date borrowing was £26.7bn, which is £11.2bn less than the same period last year.


Opposition to greater government powers over M&A

Leading investors, trade bodies, lawyers and banks have criticised proposals to give the government greater powers to intervene in takeover deals. The proposals would give officials greater scope to scrutinise deals on security grounds, but critics say the new rules could be exploited for political purposes. Under the plans, a senior minister could call-in any merger, acquisition or investment if they had a “reasonable suspicion” it may give rise to national security concerns.

Danske whistleblower criticises UK

Howard Wilkinson, a former Danske Bank executive who exposed the €200m money laundering scandal at the bank, has said that corporate structures in the UK have been abused for years and criticised company structures that allow owners to remain anonymous.

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