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Daily News Roundup: Thursday 4th July 2019

Posted: 4th July 2019


MP: Watchdog lets down whistle-blowers

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been criticised for its treatment of whistle-blowers, with MPs using a parliamentary debate to suggest the regulator paid “lip service” to those who raise concerns about wrongdoing while “concealing the truth” about wrongdoing by banks. MP Norman Lamb accused the FCA of regarding whistle-blowers as “irritants” and said those who investigate whistle-blower’s allegations “are too close to the people they are supposed to be regulating.” Fellow MP Kevin Hollinrake said the watchdog has a “terrible, terrible reputation” and “seeks to defend the reputation of the banks by concealing the truth” rather than “robustly investigating” claims. An FCA spokesman said: “We have taken steps to encourage whistle-blowers to come forward and increased the resources dedicated to the area.”

New boss for Bank of Scotland business service

Bank of Scotland has appointed Alasdair Gardner as its new head of commercial banking. He will be responsible for all of its business clients in Scotland. Mr Gardner is returning to the bank after a three-year secondment with Lloyds Banking Group as its head of global corporates in North America. Before that he had worked for BoS for nearly 30 years.

Revolut taps banking veteran Richard Davies as operating chief

Revolut has appointed Richard Davies as its chief operating officer. He has previously held senior positions at TSB and HSBC.


Santander faces €100m lawsuit amid CEO row

Santander is facing a €100m (£90m) lawsuit from Andrea Orcel, the former head of UBS, who was denied the role of chief executive just four months after being offered the post. Mr Orcel claims that the Spanish bank violated a contract between the two sides and is insisting that he is given back his role of chief executive - or be paid significant damages. His claim is believed to be based on a calculation of his lost earnings, as well as legal fees and other costs. Santander declined to comment and Mr Orcel could not be reached for comment.

20,000 Deutsche Bank staff face possible axe

According to reports, Deutsche Bank is preparing to unveil an overhaul that could cost up to €5bn and could lead to 15,000 to 20,000 job losses. Deutsche Bank’s CEO Christian Sewing flagged a restructuring in May when he promised shareholders "tough cutbacks" after Deutsche failed to agree a merger with Commerzbank. The FT’s Lex contends that the bank is struggling to plot a course for its recovery while also avoiding regulatory hazard. The shares are to be avoided, Lex adds.

Hong Kong securities watchdog deals Tim Leissner lifetime ban

The Securities and Futures Commission in Hong Kong has issued Tim Leissner, the former Goldman Sachs partner, from re-entering the industry over his involvement in Malaysia's 1MDB scandal. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs has secured a legal victory that will allow the bank to prevent details becoming public on its dealings with the German financier Lars Windhorst.

Société Générale chairman admits it was too slow to fire traders

The chairman of Société Générale, Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, has said that the French bank was too slow to cut jobs at its struggling trading business.

New York takes first-half IPO crown as Hong Kong wilts

New York claimed more IPO scalps ($17.4bn) than anywhere else in the first half of this year, according to Refinitiv, while Hong Kong's haul dropped by 27% to $8.9bn.


Boeing hands out $100m to help 737 Max crash families

Boeing is giving $100m (£80m) to help families affected by the two crashes of the company's 737 Max planes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. The payment, stretching over several years, is independent of lawsuits filed in the wake of the disasters, which together killed 346 people.


Flexible work could encourage more women into construction

Flexible working options are key in making construction a more attractive and progressive career choice for female talent, according to a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors poll which revealed the top recommendations industry professionals believe will help employers encourage more female talent into the property sector. Some 48% of professionals believe flexible working options will help encourage and retain more female talent.


FCA proposes ban on cryptocurrency products

The Financial Conduct Authority has proposed a ban on financial instruments linked to digital cryptocurrencies, warning that such products could cause huge losses for retail consumers unlikely to understand their risks or value. The financial regulator said products such as derivatives and exchange-traded notes (ETNs) that reference crypto-assets were “ill-suited” to small investors.

Woodford warns staff that roles are at risk

Neil Woodford has informed staff at Woodford Investment Management that their jobs are at risk after he blocked investors from accessing his flagship equity income fund. A spokesman for the firm, which employs about 45 staff, said that it had started redundancy talks. It is understood that the move affects a small number of employees.

Fintech deemed the new normal

A new survey has found that 55% of banking and financial services customers believe that fintech is the “new normal” and they use the technology on a regular basis. Around two-thirds – 67% - of those polled used fintech apps to send remittances and money transfers.

Green light for Aberdeen Standard Investments

Aberdeen Standard Investments wholly foreign-owned enterprise in China, Aberdeen Standard Asset Management (Shanghai) has received approval from the Asset Management Association of China to provide onshore investment advisory services in the country.


Vodafone switches on 5G with business focus

Vodafone has become the second provider to switch on its 5G network, following EE’s launch at the end of May, along with a new suite of plans to attract business customers. The service will initially be available to small and medium-sized business customers in seven UK cities only.


Purplebricks’ losses double

Purplebricks’ new boss Vic Darvey has scrapped his predecessor’s global expansion strategy, pulling out of the US and Australia to focus on UK growth, after the online estate agent almost doubled its losses to £54.9m for the year to April. “Clearly, we have made mistakes,” he said, acknowledging: “Our product and tech teams have been stretched to the limit working on overseas expansion.” Purplebricks exit from the US could cost up to £6m.


Tesco faces Brexit deadline headache

Tesco’s CEO Dave Lewis has warned that planning for the new Brexit deadline is “more difficult” because the supply network will be full of Christmas stock. He said that the new deadline of the end of October meant there would be "less capacity" for stockpiling longer-life items. Mr Lewis added that a no-deal Brexit could mean tariffs and delays at the border that interrupt supplies of some food. Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe has said that a no-deal Brexit could hit Christmas supply of toys and electronics. Mr Coupe was speaking as Sainsbury’s unveiled a 1.6% fall in sales for the 16 weeks to June 29, worse than the 0.9% fall in the previous quarter.


UK service sector takes economy into contraction

Brexit uncertainty continued to drag on the service sector in June, according to the latest PMI data from IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, which fell to 50.2 last month from 51.0 in May - taking the UK economy into contraction for the first time since July 2016. The reading comes on the back of dismal data which showed that both the manufacturing and construction sectors shrank. Chris Williamson, the chief business economist at IHS Markit, said the June performance in services was one of the worst of the past decade and the slowdown could drag into a third quarter. “Brexit-related uncertainty has increasingly exacerbated the impact of a broader global economic slowdown. Sentiment about the year ahead is worryingly subdued, suggesting the third quarter could see businesses continue to struggle,” he said.


Banking chief calls for skills revolution

Dylan Williams, the managing director of Coutts, has said there needs to be a concerted effort to help equip schoolchildren with the skills they need to enter the modern workplace. He said access to the best talent was one of the key issues facing entrepreneurs and that school age was the best time to begin addressing this.

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