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Daily News Roundup: Thursday, 9th December 2021

Posted: 9th December 2021


Monzo valuation hits $4.5bn following sharp recovery

UK challenger bank Monzo is raising more than $500m at a valuation of $4.5bn. The start-up said on Wednesday that it has closed $475m and expects to close the remainder of the round in the next few weeks. The Abu Dhabi Growth Fund led the round. Monzo said the fresh funds came off the back of “incredibly strong performance and growth” this year including a doubling of its revenues and the addition of about 100,000 customers a month. The online lender, which is exploring new products such as buy-now-pay-later services and potentially cryptocurrencies, was valued at only £1.25bn in February.

Santander to launch an ETF robo-adviser with SigFig

A recent regulatory filing has revealed that Santander is preparing to launch a pure-play robo-adviser with SigFig, a digital adviser and technology provider.


Retiring Blackstone vice-chair sells $500m worth of stock

Hamilton James, the outgoing vice-chair of Blackstone Group, has sold $500m worth of stock just weeks before leaving the firm.


DoJ notifies Deutsche Bank it may have violated US criminal settlement

The US Department of Justice has notified Deutsche Bank that it may be in violation of a criminal settlement after it failed to alert authorities about an internal complaint regarding the approach its asset management division took to ESG standards. The potential breach involves a deferred prosecution agreement reached in January between the Justice Department and Deutsche Bank in which the German lender agreed to pay more than $130m to settle charges that it bribed foreign officials and manipulated the market for precious-metals futures. As part of that accord, the bank vowed to cooperate with investigations and make certain disclosures about allegations of misconduct.

Credit Suisse admits chair Horta-Osório breached quarantine rules

Credit Suisse has admitted that its chairman, António Horta-Osório, broke Swiss quarantine rules after flying out of the country before his 10-day quarantine period was up. The banking veteran said: "I unintentionally violated Swiss quarantine rules by leaving the country prematurely on Dec 1st. I sincerely regret this mistake. I apologise and will ensure that this does not happen again."


Taylor Wimpey CEO resigns

Taylor Wimpey boss of 14 years Pete Redfern is to step down in the New Year with the 51-year-old stating that he wanted to spend more time with his family and hobbies. The announcement comes days after reports that activist investor Elliott Management has built a small stake in the company. He will stay on as chief executive until his successor has been appointed. But one senior industry insider told the Times that the timing “looks really odd”. They added: “I think he’s played into Elliott’s hands.”


Crypto-related losses should not be eligible for compensation schemes – Rathi

Nikhil Rathi, CEO of the Financial Conduct Authority, has said that losses from crypto-related investments should not be eligible for compensation schemes given that the sector can help spread serious crime. He told the Treasury Select Committee, that there was a need to “draw some pretty clear lines” around the Financial Services Compensation Scheme when it comes to individual investors in cryptoassets. He added: “They have been a vector for serious organised crime and money laundering and anyone who invests in them must be ready to lose all of their money.” Meanwhile, MPs on the Committee said that even the health warnings in the small print of adverts risked giving the products undeserved credibility. “The words ‘your investment’ endorse the idea that this is an investment on a par with a FTSE 100 company or a unit trust,” Harriett Baldwin said.

Visa rolls out crypto advisory service

Visa has launched a global crypto advisory service for banks and retailers as demand for crypto services rockets. A new global study by the payment processor showed nearly 40% of crypto owners surveyed would be likely or very likely to switch their primary bank to one that offers crypto-related products in the next 12 months.


Triton in Clinigen takeover

Clinigen, a drugs company best known for its Proleukin cancer treatment, has agreed to a £1.2bn cash takeover by Triton Investment Management.


Hospitality devastated as Christmas profits slip away

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) warned that Plan B restrictions, including vaccine passports for large events and work from home guidance, would have a “devastating impact” on businesses. The trade body's chief executive Michael Kill pointed out that the Government's own report on the subject concluded that vaccine passports wouldn't even have a significant impact on virus transmission. “You do, therefore, have to question the timing and rationale for this announcement.” Elsewhere, Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of New West End Company in London, said a return to work-from-home orders “during the most important trading period of the year would be a hammer blow for our retail and leisure tenants.” Major events have been cancelled and restaurants and hotels have seen thousands of bookings cancelled. Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, predicted that revenue from hospitality would fall by 15 to 20% as people working from home were likely to limit their socialising.

Sales slide at SSP

SSP has reported a 41.8% fall in annual sales to £834.2m in the year to the end of September compared with the previous year, a 70.1% drop from the sales generated before the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, SSP, which operates brands including Upper Crust and Caffè Ritazza, delivered a £411.2m annual pre-tax loss.


GB news plots international expansion

GB News is looking to expand internationally with the push headed up by company executives including former Sky News Australia boss Angelos Frangopoulos, according to Bloomberg. Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland are being eyed up as potential markets for expansion, provided viewing figures pick up in the UK.


Tesco workers offered above-inflation pay rise

Tesco has offered an above-inflation pay rise to thousands of workers in an attempt to avert strikes at its depots before Christmas. The 1,200 members of the Unite union at distribution centres in Antrim, Belfast, Didcot and Doncaster have been offered a minimum of a 5.5% rise backdated to July and an additional 0.5% from February next year. Unite is recommending that members accept the deal.


Covid fiasco: Johnson’s days are numbered

Boris Johnson’s tenure as Prime Minister is coming to an end, a minister has told the FT, with Conservative MPs appalled by the imposition of new restrictions and talk of forcing people to take experimental vaccines. Just days after global health leaders stated that the Omicron variant was mild, and with no reported deaths from it in the UK, Mr Johnson has placed Britain under the Government’s tough new Plan B Covid rules because the Covid variant purportedly has higher transmissibility than the Delta variant. Tory MP, William Wragg, the chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, claimed they were being used as a “diversionary tactic” to distract attention from Johnson’s political problems over Number 10 parties. The move could cost the country’s economy £4bn a month and leave taxpayers with another crippling bill for emergency support, according to the Institute of Economic Affairs. The think tank called for “much stronger evidence” the new variant posed a greater risk than the Delta strain before putting in place further measures. Despite the Omicron variant spreading through vaccinated populations, as reported by Dr Angelique Coetzee, chairperson of the South African Medical Association, and evading the protection afforded by current vaccines, the PM argued that a “national conversation” about mandatory vaccination was needed as restrictions should not be maintained just “because a substantial proportion of the population sadly has still not got vaccinated.”

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