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Daily News Roundup: Thursday, 29th August 2019

Posted: 29th August 2019


Banks to fund free ATM trial

Cash machine network Link has pledged to ensure free ATMs are available on every UK high street, with the initiative paid for through funding from all the UK's main banks and building societies. It follows an independent “Access to Cash Review” commissioned by Link which found that the country is not ready to transition to a fully cashless society and steps need to be taken to ensure cash users are not left isolated. Link's first free-to-use ATM will be installed in Durness in the Scottish Highlands, where there is said to be an "unfulfilled need for cash access specific to the local economy".

Consumer groups fear bank transfer charge could be passed to consumers

Concerns have been raised that a proposed 2.9p charge on all bank transfers over £30 would be paid by consumers under banks' new plans to refund scam victims. With the levy set to be introduced as early as January, banks would have to make a “commercial decision” about whether to pass the cost onto their customers or absorb it themselves. But Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, remarked: “It must not lead to banks directly passing fees on to their customers.”

Barclays boss concerned by challenger compliance

Barclays’ head of consumer banking and payments has warned that compliance concerns around challenger banks risk “creating a bad name for the banking industry”. Ashok Vaswani said that concerns around the ability of start-ups to automatically monitor transactions are “dangerous” for the sector. “At the end of the day, the whole system is only as strong as the weakest link,” the executive said. “And therefore, it’s in nobody’s interest that we get into trouble for that kind of stuff,” he added.

Banking regulator fears return of PPI-type scandals

The Financial Conduct Authority’s Jonathan Davidson says British banks need "a generation" to fix the cultural issues that led to the payment protection insurance mis-selling scandal. Meanwhile, the Mail reports that several claims firms have said they will continue to seek PPI payouts through the courts after today’s deadline for claims.

Banks and law firms in UK demand more female barristers

The FT reports that lawyers and banks, including Barclays and Lloyds, have begun demanding more diversity from the barristers they instruct.


TeamViewer aims for €5bn listing in boost for German software sector

Software group TeamViewer is planning to list in Frankfurt before the end of 2019, with owner Permira expected to sell 30-40% of its stake.


Norway’s oil fund seeks wider access to unlisted shares

Norway’s $1trn sovereign wealth fund wants more freedom to invest in large unlisted companies. Norges Bank, the country’s central bank which houses the managers of the oil fund, recommended yesterday that it be allowed to hold up to 1% of its equity portfolio in unlisted companies.

China Construction Bank sees profit rise as margins contract

China Construction Bank Corp (CCB) has posted a 4.9% increase in first-half profit, but saw margins shrink for the third quarter in a row. Net profit was up at 154.19bn ($21.74bn) for the six months to June, from 147bn yuan a year earlier, according to a Shanghai Stock Exchange filing.

HSBC offers help to HK firms

HSBC has said it will offer rebates and fee reductions to smaller businesses in Hong Kong as the city economy struggles.


Car production drops in July

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show a 10% production decline at British car plants in July. In the year to date factories have produced 180,000 fewer cars, at 955,000, meaning that Britain’s car factories workers are producing 26,000 fewer cars a month.

Toyota and Suzuki deepen alliance with capital tie-up

Toyota and Suzuki have agreed to take additional stakes in each other as they deepen their alliance to share the costs of developing autonomous driving technology.


Flagstone drops deposit requirement to £50k

Flagstone has dropped its minimum deposit level from £250,000 to £50,000 due to increased demand from those with smaller pots. The savings platform charges a fee of 0.25% a year, and the new £50,000 option is being rolled out first to clients of St. James's Place and Tilney.

Allianz stops buying German government bonds

Insurer Allianz will stop buying German government bonds because of their sub-zero yields, the firm's chief executive Oliver Bäte has confirmed.

LendingCrowd builds management team

Fintech lending platform LendingCrowd has appointed four new senior business development managers as it looks to ramp up growth.


Drugs boost for AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca has revealed that its medicine Fasenra has been granted special status as an orphan drug in the US.


Thomas Cook in £900m rescue deal

Thomas Cook has effectively handed control to Chinese backer Fosun, raising the prospect of a stock-market delisting, after the travel operator received a £900m rescue package. Shareholders will be practically wiped out by the deal, which saw shares in the firm fall 16% to 6p per share. Fosun will take 75% of Thomas Cook’s package holidays arm and 25% of the airline unit in return for its £450m investment while banks and bondholders, who agreed to waive their debts, will own 75% of the airline unit and 25% of the package holidays unit in return for their share.

Pizza Express profits hit by casual dining downturn

Pizza Express has blamed cost pressures as it reported an 8% fall in earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation to £32.4m, in the six months to the end of June.


Delayed sales and partnerships hit London Square

London Square has been affected by delays or cancellations to £100m of partnerships and sales, with chief financial officer Scott Brown commenting: “We saw some bulk sales of homes delayed or axed, and some partnerships with housing associations took longer to agree than we hoped.” Total sales fell 30.5% to £168.3m in the year to March 2019, with the firm making a pre-tax loss of £6.2m compared to a profit of £8.6m a year earlier.


Hospitals and stations keep WH Smith on track

WH Smith has forecast annual results in line with its expectations amid strong sales in its travel and hospital branches. Trade in hospitals has become more lucrative than train stations but airports are leading the growth, it added. The company also said that its international business had grown “strongly”.


Johnson asks Queen to suspend parliament

The Queen has been asked to suspend parliament for more than a month by Boris Johnson. The request, which asks that the current parliamentary session be ended “in the second sitting week in September”, to return on 14 October for the Queen’s Speech, drew sharp criticism from his opponents. However, the PM told Sky News that claims he was trying to prevent MPs from blocking a no-deal exit were “completely untrue”. He said his plans were about legislating for his domestic priorities such as the NHS and crime, and parliament would have “ample” time to debate Brexit. The news was followed by a volatile period for the pound, which finished down about 0.5% against both the euro and US dollar.

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