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Daily News Roundup: Thursday, 7th March 2019

Posted: 7th March 2019


Female entrepreneurs gain half as much funding as men

A report commissioned by the Treasury will today reveal that female entrepreneurs typically have to start up businesses with only half as much capital as men. The Rose Review, led by RBS executive Alison Rose, will show that if women were able to start businesses at the same rate as men, there would be an additional 1.1m female-led companies in the UK. The Treasury will announce a range of measures in response to the review. Banks and investment funds will be urged to sign up to a new Investing in Women Code to track the amount of funding they give female entrepreneurs. The review will also recommend the launch of new banking products to provide extra flexibility for those juggling a business and childcare costs.

Barclays directors to depart

Barclays has announced that Mike Turner, Reuben Jeffery and Dambisa Moyo are stepping down from its board. The move comes weeks after Nigel Higgins, who replaces John McFarlane as chairman in May, began discussions with the bank’s top investors amid activist investor Edward Bramson’s campaign for a board seat.

HSBC appeals to shareholders in pension row

HSBC is facing a shareholder vote at next month's annual meeting over an old pension fund for thousands of UK staff which campaigners argue is "unfair". The dispute relates to "clawback" applied to the pension payout when a member reaches retirement age and also receives a state pension. HSBC said it would cost £450m to stop the practice for members yet to retire and is urging its shareholders not to vote for the resolution on 12 April.

Nationwide to take stake in banking startup

Nationwide is today expected to announce its purchase of a £15m stake in 10x Future Technologies, the banking technology startup founded by former Barclays chief executive Antony Jenkins. The acquisition will be part of a larger series B funding round with further announcements of new investors expected imminently.

Open Banking challenges traditional lenders

Robert Hughes-Penney, investment director of Rathbones, questions whether the launch of Open Banking will mean the end of the traditional bank. He says Open Banking should make it easier than ever before for customers to switch provider. He also notes that many of the new digital challengers are growing in popularity on the promise of democratising and demystifying finance, and that big banks must embrace change quickly, or risk being left behind.

Banks standing firm against big tech

Writing in City AM, Kuangyi Wei of Parker Fitzgerald highlights how formidable players from big tech, including Amazon, are beginning to offer core banking products like business loans and current accounts, alongside payments, asset management, and insurance offerings. She suggests that this increasing competition means banks only have a short window of opportunity to truly upgrade customer experience for the digital age.

BNY Mellon scraps home working

BNY Mellon plans to scrap a policy enabling UK employees to work from home, saying bringing an end to a flexible working policy that allows staff to work from home several days a week will ensure "better collaboration and quicker decision making". The Evening Standard says a number of staff have criticised the proposal, saying some have consulted conciliation service Acas, with several considering legal action over a breach of contract.

UK’s poor record on corporate crime comes under attack

Anti-corruption watchdog Corruption Watch has highlighted that the US has prosecuted 25 banks and levied £25bn in fines over the past decade, whereas the UK prosecuted none and collected £2.5bn.


BlackRock steps up 'sin' stock and ESG disclosures

BlackRock is to disclose how much each of its exchange traded funds are exposed to “sin stocks”, as well as how they score on environmental, social and governance principles.

Melrose in £200m sale to One Equity Partners

Melrose Industries is set to sell Walterscheid Powertrain Group, its off-highway powertrain applications business, to One Equity Partners for £200m.


Wall Street cuts a deal to clean up $8.2tn credit default swaps trading

Several Wall Street banks and fund managers have drawn up new proposals to cover credit default swaps, after run of questionable trades drew concern from US regulators.

Dirty money scandal taints Nordic nations spotless reputations

The FT's Richard Milne says the Nordic dirty money scandal involving Danske Bank, Nordea and Swedbank "demonstrates how these supposedly whiter-than-white countries are an essential part of the alleged corruption."

Mizuho takes $6bn restructuring hit

Mizuho Financial Group has made an 86% cut to its full-year profit forecast following a shock ¥680bn ($6.1bn) loss from impairment charges and restructuring costs.

German bank merger would erode bail-in rules

The FT argues that a proposed merger between Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank seems driven by “systemic precaution” and is unlikely to be transformative, either for customers or shareholders.


FCA rebukes credit firms for unacceptable fees

The Financial Conduct Authority has criticised lenders for charging credit-card customers "unacceptable" fees for missed payments. The regulator has forced providers of high-cost credit to make a number of changes, leading to savings of more than £80m, after finding "many cases" where lenders had made vulnerable customers' situations worse with late penalties. "Incurring multiple fees could indicate that a customer is in financial difficulty and that appropriate action should be taken," it told company bosses in a letter this week. It urged them to keep a check on staff culture and ensure there were no "high-risk financial incentives" that might encourage staff to be pushy with customers.

Provident resolves regulatory issues

Provident Financial says it has 'substantially resolved' all its outstanding regulatory issues with the Financial Conduct Authority. The sub-prime lender's Vanquis Bank and Moneybarn car and van financing arms have been subject to probes by the regulator into lending practices. In a stock market update yesterday, Provident also reiterated its decision to reject a £1.3bn hostile takeover bid from Non-Standard Finance. Provident also revealed that it has completed the search for a new chairman for Vanquis and had agreed to appoint a new managing director next month.

L&G becomes UK's first £1trn investment house

Legal & General has become the UK's first £1trn investment manager after attracting £42.6bn worth of new money in 2018. Falling life expectancy rates also allowed the insurer to release £433m last year that it had put aside for future pension payouts.

Aon drops plans to bid for Willis Towers Watson

Aon has announced it has dropped plans to pursue a bid for Willis Towers Watson.


Shepherd Neame posts pre-tax profits despite costs

A one-off cost of £10.8m, linked to refinancing and the termination of its contracts with Asahi and Lidl, was not enough to keep Shepherd Neame from posting a modest rise in profit before tax, to £5.9m, for the six months to the end of December.


Page Group profits up

Page Group has reported record annual profits after a decline in operations in Britain was offset by international growth. The recruiter made a pre-tax profit of £142.3m last year, up 20% from £118.2m, as revenue rose by 13% to £1.5bn.


IWG planning property sell-off

The serviced offices group IWG is considering selling large parts of its business in the face of stiffer competition and new accounting rules. The group has instructed Rothschild to advise on the possible sale of operations in its international portfolio of 3,306 sites.


No-deal Brexit could tip Britain into recession

The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has warned that Britain risks a no-deal recession so severe that it sends "shockwaves across Europe and beyond." Even if Theresa May gets her proposed Brexit deal through Parliament, the OECD suggested, the UK economy will grow by less than 1% both this year and next. The OECD has cut its growth projections for almost every economy in the G20 for the next two years and said that it now believed that Britain’s GDP would rise by just 0.8% this year.

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