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Daily News Roundup: Thursday 8th March 2018

Posted: 8th March 2018


Hammond: Financial services must be included in a “fair and balanced” deal

Philip Hammond said in a speech at HSBC’s HQ in Canary Wharf yesterday that a trade deal between the UK and the EU would only happen if it was “fair and balanced” and that this would need to include financial services. The Chancellor said it was time to “address the sceptics who say a trade deal including financial services cannot be done because it has never been done before” and warned that attempts to grab financial services market share from London would only benefit New York, Singapore and Hong Kong. Referring to the £1.3trn of financial assets Britain manages on behalf of EU clients and the financing raised by European companies in the UK, the Chancellor cautioned: “We should be under no illusion about the significant additional costs if this highly efficient market were to fragment.” Meanwhile, the CBI has warned that signing a post-Brexit trade deal that failed to cover financial services would be like “building a ship with no sails”. Josh Hardie, the CBI's deputy director-general, said that protecting financial services should be fundamental to any Brexit deal.

Atom investors increase stakes

Digital-only challenger bank Atom has raised another £150m, with both Toscafund Asset Management and Spanish banking group BBVA raising their stakes. Atom plans to invest in technology and other business capabilities and chief executive Mark Mullen, who previously ran First Direct, said: “This further significant injection of capital secures the bank’s place as a disruptive force in the mainstream of UK banking.”

Goldman Sachs moving bankers to Frankfurt

Goldman Sachs and Standard Chartered are understood to be moving a small team of UK bankers, most of whom are involved in debt capital markets, to Frankfurt, in what is described as a “dry run” for more Brexit-related moves. Further moves could see more staff transferred to other Goldman offices, likely in Stockholm and Madrid. Meanwhile, securities depository Euroclear will move its domicile and tax residency to Brussels later this year in preparation for the UK’s departure from the EU.

Holyrood launches inquiry into bank closures

Holyrood's economy committee is to hold an inquiry into the community impact of the closure of a third of Scotland's bank branches since 2010. The Scottish parliament said Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire, Glasgow and East Ayrshire have seen their bank numbers reduce by around a half, while Edinburgh has experienced the greatest decrease of more than 60% of its banks.

NPIF invests £31m in SMEs

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund has invested £31m in 207 Northern-based SMEs during the first 12 months of its operation. The £400m fund, which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the Government and the European Investment Bank, was launched by the British Business Bank.


Abraaj frees investors from capital commitments

Abraaj has begun freeing large investors from millions of dollars in capital commitments after deciding to suspend its new fund, the Dubai-based private equity firm has said.


Beijing puts foot on accelerator for bank lending

The China Banking Regulatory Commission has loosened rules requiring lenders to set aside provisions against losses on bad loans, to encourage banks to provide more transparent assessments of their health.

Africa’s banks lag behind on innovation in financial services

Mukhisa Kituyi, secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, has said that African central banks are stifling development by failing to keep up with financial services innovation.

Germany hesitates at Weidmann’s nomination for ECB presidency

There are concerns in Germany around bending to Paris and Rome should Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann succeed Mario Draghi as president of the ECB.


Ford increases market share

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that Ford achieved its highest February sales since 2004, making it the UK market leader in total vehicle, car and commercial vehicle registrations. Registrations for Ford stood at 5,201 last month, giving the car maker more than double the sector share of VW, followed by BMW and Audi.

AA climbs 15% on reports of 2017 private equity takeover interest

Claims that the AA has been approached by a private equity firm interested in buying the business saw shares in the roadside assistance group close 15% higher yesterday.


Rolls-Royce flying high

Rolls-Royce has unveiled sky high results amid its sharpened restructuring effort. Underlying profits at the British engineering giant rose 25% to £1bn, while reported profits swung to £4.9bn from a £4.6bn loss last time. Civil aerospace revenue rose 12% to more than £8bn because of the boom in air travel.

Airbus jobs at risk

Airbus has said up to 3,700 jobs could go across its four “home” countries because of falling production rates of its A380 and A400M planes. The European planemaker said jobs would be affected in the UK, France, Germany and Spain. However, Airbus UK said the firm did not expect to see any redundancies at its Broughton plant in Wales.


L&G champions UK cities amid strong results

Unveiling strong financial results, Legal & General’s chief executive Nigel Wilson has said UK cities should be “more like London” to encourage a greater number of young entrepreneurs. Young people can have great careers in Oxford, Cambridge, Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Cardiff, Birmingham, he said, championing a more “inclusive capitalism” to build a fairer society. The company reported £2.1bn of pre-tax profits, boosted by a strong performance at its Retirement division.

Pru in talks to sell Malaysian arm

Prudential is in talks to sell a stake of as much as 30% in its Malaysian business, Prudential Assurance Malaysia Bhd, to Kumpulan Wang Persaraan, Malaysia's second largest pension provider.

Deutsche Bank nears deal for Nippon Life to anchor DWS float

Nippon Life is understood to be considering taking a minority stake in Deutsche Bank’s asset management division DWS, ahead of a planned IPO of the unit.

ESMA publishes delayed dark pool data

The European Securities and Markets Authority has released a long-delayed list of stocks which will be affected by the Mifid II cap on “dark pool” trading.


Hospital group NMC logs profit jump on growing Gulf healthcare market

UAE-headquartered private healthcare operator NMC Health has reported strong growth amid the Gulf's expanding market. Revenues jumped 41.1% last year, with patient numbers reaching 5.8m.


Profits down for Restaurant Group

The Restaurant Group, owner of Frankie & Benny’s, Garfunkel's, Joe's Kitchen and Chiquito, has reported an adjusted pre-tax profit of £56.7m in 2017, down from £77.1m. Sales fell 4.4% to £679.3m and dropped 3% on a like-for-like basis. Separately, Temasek, GIC and Metric Capital are reportedly close to acquiring a minority stake in a group of high-end restaurants, including the Nusr-Et Steakhouse.

Paddy Power Betfair profits up but more to do

The £7bn Paddy Power and Betfair empire is awarding Paddy Power a £20m cash boost to help revive the brand after losing market share to rivals. Paddy Power Betfair’s annual profits rose 18% to £473m, better than expected.


NME to end print edition

The publisher of the NME has announced that it will no longer be available as a weekly magazine. The final edition will be released on Friday after 66 years as one of the UK's most iconic music publications. Its publisher Time Inc UK said the decision to stop its print edition is due to rising production costs and a “tough” advertising market.


House price growth slowest for years

The rate of house price growth in the UK fell to just 1.8% in the year to February, according to the Halifax, its slowest rate of increase since March 2013. The average price of a home has fallen from £226,408 in November, to £224,353 last month, though prices actually rose by 0.4% in February, it noted.


New Look plans to close stores

New Look plans to close 60 stores as part of a rescue deal to help it avoid going into administration. Around 980 staff face redundancy - from a 15,300-strong UK workforce - and rents at about 400 stores will be cut. New Look chairman Alistair McGeorge said the cuts were “tough but necessary”. The fashion retailer - which has 593 stores in total - hopes to redeploy employees within the business where possible.

Rank CEO to join Shop Direct

Henry Birch, CEO of Rank Group, has resigned from the casino operator to take over the top job at online retailer Shop Direct. Shop Direct said Mr Birch would join later this year and take the reins from interim CEO and group FD, Derek Harding.

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