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Daily News Roundup: Thursday, 9th May 2019

Posted: 9th May 2019


Co-op Bank on track despite Q1 loss

The Co-op Bank has unveiled a loss for the first three months of the year whilst also reporting "encouraging progress" over the period. The bank posted a pre-tax loss of £28.6m for the first quarter following a £140m loss it racked up in 2018. However, chief executive Andrew Bester said the bank was moving in the right direction despite the "challenging UK retail banking market and uncertain economic backdrop". He said the Co-op Bank was on track to break even in 2021 and return to profitability by 2023. Meanwhile, the Financial Reporting Council has fined KPMG £5m after it admitted misconduct in its 2009 audit of the Co-op Bank. The regulator said that the firm had failed to spot bad debts that brought the bank to the brink of collapse. KPMG will pay £4m after agreeing to a settlement.

CMA calls for tougher sanctions to protect consumers

The chairman of the Competition and Markets Authority says tougher fines, bans and prosecutions are needed to enforce competition rules and protect millions of consumers. Lord Tyrie said customers are being treated badly by businesses including banks, insurers and energy firms. He warned existing rules fail to meet the needs of the digital economy and said the public would be “shocked” to learn about the “weakness” of penalties for companies that break consumer law and mistreat consumers with unfair trading practices.

SMEs launch court fight on loans

A group of SMEs has launched a legal claim against Clydesdale Bank and its former owner National Australia Bank in connection with the alleged mis-selling of tailored business loans (TBLS). RGL Management said it had started legal action for a group of around 2,000 claimants from England, Scotland and Wale in relation to TBLs.

Challenger bank partners with challenger energy suppliers

Monzo customers will be able to use their apps to get a better deal on their electricity and gas supplies, after the challenger bank teamed up with challenger energy suppliers Ovo and Octopus to help lure more customers away from the Big Six suppliers. Ovo’s retail chief executive, Adrian Letts, said: “With more people using smartphones to access everything in their lives, monitoring and controlling your household energy use should be no different.”

RBS to launch women-only crowdfunding scheme

Royal Bank of Scotland is to launch a women-only crowdfunding programme in order to encourage female entrepreneurship. The initiative, entitled "Back Her Business", has been developed in partnership with funding platform Crowdfunder and will offer financial support as well as bespoke training, coaching and networking opportunities.

Yorkshire Bank closing more branches

Yorkshire Bank has announced the closure of six branches across the North but insists it is “committed to maintaining a national network of branches.”


Zayo agrees $14.3bn sale to private equity groups

Digital Colony Partners and EQT have agreed a $14.3bn deal to take over Zayo Group, the owner of fibre optic cables that stretch across the US and Europe.


Commerzbank's profits and revenues fall following merger collapse

Following the collapse of merger talks with rival Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank has revealed that revenue fell 2.8% year-on-year to €2.16bn in the first quarter of 2019, while profit before tax dropped by 25.3% to €225m. Group operating profit was €244m and the bank added 123,000 new customers.

Standard Chartered investors protest over pay

Almost 40% of Standard Chartered investors have declined to back the bank’s new remuneration policy, which will hand chief executive Bill Winters a pension cash allowance of £474,000 this year. StanChart has promised to engage more with its shareholders following the rebellion.

JP Morgan set to control Chinese fund

JP Morgan’s asset management arm is poised to become the first foreign company to own a majority stake in a Chinese fund manager. It comes after Shanghai International Trust put a 2% equity stake in China International Fund Management (CIFM) up for auction, with JP Morgan - which owns 49% of the fund - expected to snap it up.

Wells Fargo creates new role to improve compliance

Wells Fargo has created a new senior executive position - head of strategic execution and operations - to oversee operational and compliance improvements demanded by regulators following the fake accounts scandal.

Investors urged to protest against Deutsche Bank chairman

European proxy vote adviser ECGS has backed a shareholder protest vote against Deutsche Bank’s chairman Paul Achleitner and three of the lender’s senior executives at its annual meeting.

CaixaBank earmarks up to €890m for Spain-based lay-offs

Spanish lender CaixaBank will spend up to €890m on a plan to lay off about 6% of its workers after reaching an agreement with its employee unions.


Congested motor market hits Direct Line

Direct Line’s motor insurance business struggled in the first quarter after the insurer opted to raise prices to shore up its profit margins. Gross written premiums in Direct Line’s car insurance arm fell by more than 4.2% amid what it called a "highly competitive" sector. Overall gross written premiums dipped by 2.1% to £753.9m during the period.

Toyota forecasts 20% full-year profit jump but misses expectations

Toyota has forecast a 20% rise in annual net profit and unveiled an aggressive cost-cutting campaign to offset US and China headwinds.


L&G plans retirement villages

Legal & General has unveiled plans to build 3,000 retirement dwellings over the next five years. The company has created a new business called Guild Living to build and operate retirement villages in urban areas where it says there is not enough high-quality accommodation. The first two projects will be in Epsom, Surrey and Bath, and could be completed within three years, with up to 16 planned to follow in the next five years.


Law firm calls for rethink on LCF damages

American law firm Shearman & Sterling has put the UK’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme under pressure to reconsider a decision not to pay out to investors who lost millions of pounds in the collapse of London Capital & Finance. Shearman & Sterling is understood to be advising the parents of one of its partners who lost their savings following LCF’s collapse. In a letter to the FSCS, the firm challenged the grounds on which the scheme said that it could not protect investments in the scandal-hit company.

Facebook picks London for WhatsApp payments push

Facebook has put London at the centre of its plans to introduce mobile payments on its WhatsApp messaging service. The company plans to hire about 100 software engineers in the capital, along with additional operations staff in Dublin, as it tries to make money from the messaging service. The large number of workers in London who come from countries where WhatsApp is most popular, such as India, is understood to have influenced Facebook’s decision.

Provident warns shareholders against NSF

Provident Financial has stepped up efforts to convince shareholders to reject a £1.2bn hostile bid from Non-Standard Finance by warning that the new company would need to raise £130m if the takeover were to succeed.

Regulator urges post-Brexit deal for City of London

FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey has warned that retaining a customs union between the UK and EU will not help the UK’s financial services industry.


ITV's ad revenues slip further

ITV has reported that revenues dropped as much as 16% in March compared to the same month last year and warned that revenues would remain lower for the first half of 2019 because Brexit has reduced demand for advertising.


House prices up, Halifax says

British house prices in the three months to April stood 5% higher than they did a year ago, according to Halifax, ringing in their strongest growth since February 2017. The gains reflected unusually weak prices in April 2018, Halifax said, as well as increased sales of more expensive new-build homes and a larger proportion of sales coming from London. However, analysts have questioned the accuracy of the Halifax figures, after Nationwide estimated that prices rose by only 0.9% over the period, while Rightmove’s measure of online asking prices was 0.1% lower. Meanwhile, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has reported there were fewer new properties on the market last month than at any time since June 2016.


Sales building at Travis Perkins

Like-for-like sales for the first quarter at builders’ merchant Travis Perkins have risen by 7.3% year-on-year.


Andy Haldane: central banks need to tap into local perspectives

Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane has said central bankers need to focus on regional developments to better manage the economy and secure public trust.

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