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Daily News Roundup: Thursday, 8th July 2021

Posted: 8th July 2021


Banks should not be judge and jury of scam victims

Writing in the Times, Richard Piggin, the head of campaigns and external affairs at Which?, says a proposal from the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) to allow banks to rewrite the existing code on bank transfer scams effectively hands them the "opportunity to water down the consumer protections they actively disagree with, and make it even less likely that innocent victims will get their money back." To do this would be completely unacceptable, Piggin adds. Instead, he continues, the regulator should be given new powers to make it mandatory for all firms to reimburse customers who have acted appropriately. "It would help remove uncertainty when banks are deciding on a victim’s fate, and would be more consistent with the approach for other types of payment fraud. The PSR needs additional powers to do that, and the Government should act swiftly to provide these."

Fintech start-up Wise set to begin trading after landmark listing

Fintech start-up Wise is to begin trading after it completed a landmark direct listing in London, under which the firm was valued at €8bn. Wise enables people and small businesses to transfer money across borders, doing so at a fraction of the cost of using a high street bank. It claims to have ten million customers and more than doubled pre-tax profits to £41.1m in the year to March.


London fintech funding soars in first half of the year

Fintech companies based in London raised more funding from venture capital investors in the first six months of 2021 than in any other year, indicating the British capital’s continuing resilience as a hub for digital financial services  following Brexit. Research from Dealroom and agency London & Partners shows investors poured $5.3bn into London fintech startups in the first half of the year, compared to $2.1bn in the same period in 2020.

AnyVision raises $235m to fund growth

Israeli artificial intelligence-based facial recognition startup AnyVision has raised $235m in a funding round from SoftBank and Eldridge, among others. "The visual recognition market is nascent but has large potential in the Western world...we believe AnyVision is uniquely placed to redefine physical environment analytics across numerous industries," said Anthony Doeh, partner for SoftBank Investment Advisers.

Private Equity’s swoop on UK plc

An FT editorial reviews concerns over private equity swoops on UK businesses, arguing that one way to restrict the sector would be to limit its tools - the tax-deductibility of interest or permitted levels of debt leveraging, for example.


Wall Street reels at China's listings crackdown

Experts say plans by Beijing to tighten restrictions on overseas listings of Chinese companies could threaten billions of dollars of Chinese technology listings planned for New York. The revisions to listing rules by the China Securities Regulatory Commission would require companies that are structured using a so-called Variable Interest Entity model to seek approval before going public in Hong Kong or the US. The concerns come as the Cyberspace Administration of China flags risks to data security as a result of US demands for US-listed Chinese companies to submit to US audits.

Japanese bank lending rises at slowest pace in 8 years

Bank lending in Japan rose at its slowest annual pace in more than eight years in June as corporate fund demand subsided. Total outstanding loans held by Japanese banks rose 1.4% in June from a year earlier to 578trn yen ($5.23trn), BOJ data showed, the slowest growth rate since January 2013.

JP Morgan wrongly fired banker over 'spoofing' claims

JP Morgan has lost an employment tribunal case against Bradley Jones, who it sacked over claims he sought to trick the markets through a practice known "spoofing". Judge Stephen Knight ruled the bank wrongly fired Jones over allegations of illegal trading in a misguided effort to appease the City watchdog.

ECB policymakers locked in talks to finalise strategic overhaul

The European Central Bank’s first new strategy for almost 20 years could be announced on Thursday, with inflation targets, climate change and housing costs to be focused on.

Brussels plans new agency to fight money laundering

The European Commission will this month table legislation to create the Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA) which will be able to  impose fines totalling millions of euros on firms that breach money-laundering rules.

Court orders Commerzbank to rehire former Wirecard analyst

Commerzbank has been ordered to rehire former Wirecard analyst Heike Pauls, who was dismissed in February over communications she had with the collapsed payment company.

AMP to sell GEFI business to Macquarie

Macquarie Group's asset management arm is to acquire AMP's global equities and fixed income (GEFI) business for $138m.


British Airways data breach claim settled

A legal claim relating to a 2018 data breach, which included the leaking of personal details and resulted in a £20m fine, has been settled by British Airways. Some 420,000 customers and staff had been affected by the incident, according to court-appointed solicitors.


UK housebuilders issue trading updates

With demand for new homes stronger than expected in the first six months of the year, housebuilders Redrow and Vistry Group have revealed they are selling homes more quickly than in the previous two years. Jefferies analyst Glynis Johnson noted that housebuilders’ “stock prices already factored in any clouds on the horizon, whether the [end of] the stamp duty holiday or cost inflation,” describing Redrow and Vistry's trading updates as "reassuring."


Regulators call for diversity-linked pay for financial services bosses

The Financial Conduct Authority, Prudential Regulation Authority and the Bank of England are consulting on plans to link progress with diversity to remuneration in a move they say, “could be a key tool for driving accountability in firms and incentivise progress.” In a discussion paper published yesterday, the regulators said they  are intending to push further responsibility on to senior managers at financial services firms, making them directly accountable for diversity and inclusion at their company. “We think that making senior leaders directly accountable for diversity and inclusion in their firms would be a way to drive strategic thinking” the paper said. Firms would also have to improve their data gathering processes to ensure disclosures on diversity and inclusion are accurate, allowing stakeholders and regulators to measure progress effectively. Nikhil Rathi, FCA chief executive, said: “We are concerned that lack of diversity and inclusion within firms can weaken the quality of decision-making.” Sir Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor for financial stability at the Bank of England, added: ‘Diversity and inclusion is beneficial for financial stability.”

Business growth returns to financial services sector

A survey by the CBI reveals that second quarter growth in the financial services sector hit 40% - its fastest pace since June 2017, and is expected to continue in the next quarter. The June survey also found that profitability grew at the fastest pace since December 2015, with a slightly slower rate of growth expected for the next quarter. Employment was also up, except for the banking sector, but overall, headcounts across the sub-sectors are expected to grow at a faster pace in the next quarter. “Growing business volumes across the sector is good news, especially when combined with rising profitability and employment,” said Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist.

Big Bang UK market rules need refresh, says think tank

Britain's “big bang”-era financial rules need to be refreshed to help the City of London attract new business after Brexit, according a think-tank. The Overseas Person Exclusion (OPE) rules were introduced in 1986 as part of wholesale market liberalisation that helped the City become a global financial powerhouse. But in a new report, the International Regulatory Strategy Group (IRSG) says complicated EU rules, now embedded in British law since Brexit, have muddied the waters on who can benefit from the regime.


Wetherspoon's sales down even as more branches open

Wetherspoon's has announced that as of this week, some 850 pubs are now open out of a total of 860. The chain reported a fall in like-for-like sales of 14.6% from May 17 to July 4, compared with the same period in 2019.


China takeover of UK silicon wafer plant to be reviewed over security

The UK Government is to probe the takeover of Newport Wafer Fab, the UK’s largest silicon wafer manufacturer, by a Chinese-backed company on national security grounds. The Chinese-owned Netherlands-based company Nexperia is said by Tom Tugendhat, chair of the foreign affairs select committee, to have targeted the Welsh business “for a forced takeover”. Boris Johnson told MPs on Wednesday that he has asked the National Security Adviser, Sir Stephen Lovegrove, to assess the deal.

Wind initiative will support 1,000 manufacturing jobs

The Government is contributing to investment into windfarm component factories run by SeAH Wind and Smulders Projects in a move that will reportedly create and protect more than 1,000 jobs. usiness and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said yesterday: "Today's investments will not only put the wind in the sails of the UK's industrial heartlands, creating and supporting thousands of good quality jobs, they will also benefit the whole of Britain."

Renishaw founders fail to find a suitable buyer

One of Britain’s leading precision engineers has failed to find a buyer after a four month search. The founders of Renishaw said they wanted to find a buyer for the company that would respect the culture and employees but none who came forward were prepared to make the requisite commitments. How Sir David McMurtry, chairman, and John Deer, deputy chairman decide to proceed now is not yet known.


Trump sues Facebook, YouTube and Twitter over ‘censorship’

Former US President Donald Trump is suing Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Sundar Pichai, as well their Big Tech platforms in class action lawsuits alleging “unlawful censorship” of Americans. The lawsuits allege the companies acted in concert with Democrats to ban conservative voices and worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “suppress contradictory medical views”. The filings claim that the social media networks violated the First Amendment, which guarantees free speech.


Recruiters boosted by hiring spree

Robert Walters and Page Group saw their shares rise after reporting significant rises in fee income in the second quarter of this year as companies ramped up hiring as the country emerged from the pandemic.


Foxtons chairman resigns after shareholder revolt over pay

The chairman of Foxtons has said he would retire by the end of the year, or as soon as a successor is found, following a shareholder revolt over executive pay and calls for a management shake-up. “Our strategy will take time to deliver and with only one further year to serve under UK governance rules I consider this is the right time to hand over to a successor to oversee its execution,” Ian Barlow said.


Employers suffer worst staff shortages since the late 1990s

A survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation has found that the number of available workers fell in June at the fastest rate since 1997. Shortfalls are particularly acute in areas such as transport and logistics, hospitality, manufacturing, and construction, recruitment firms reported. The squeeze is said to be the result of the rush for businesses to reopen from lockdown, a sharp drop in overseas workers, due to Covid and Brexit, and 1.5m workers still on furlough.

UK productivity figures rose despite the pandemic

Official figures show Britain’s productivity improved in the first twelve months of the pandemic as lockdowns forced labour intensive industries to close and higher value jobs shifted online. Output per hour, a key measure of productivity, grew 0.9% in the year to March and is now 0.5% higher than at the end of 2019, the Office for National Statistics said. It was the fastest annual growth in productivity since the second quarter of 2018, excluding one COVID-19 related anomaly.


FCA bans term "Chinese Wall"

The Financial Conduct Authority is to remove the term “Chinese wall” from its literature and rules as part of plans to foster a more inclusive culture across the finance industry. A spokeswoman told the Times: “We’re aware some people find it upsetting or offensive. We’re exploring alternative phrases.” The disclosure was made as the FCA and the Bank of England announced a drive to a more inclusive and diverse culture across the 60,000 firms they regulate as well as within their own organisations.

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