Consumers’ credit complaints jump over summer
There was a surge in complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service about credit services in the three months to September, with claims management companies said to have driven a big rise in complaints upheld. The ombudsman service said: "Between July and September 2020 we continued to see an increase in complaints from people who borrowed money, who then felt the debt was unaffordable." In total, the ombudsman received almost 69,000 complaints in the three months.
Bailey must rebuff investor demands for bank dividends
Patrick Hosking in the Times says Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey should reject pleas from bankers and investors for the ban on paying dividends to be lifted. He says the argument that the restriction, introduced in March, makes banks uninvestable is flawed and points out that bankers know the veto on dividends needs to be lifted before bonuses can resume.
Watchdog warns banks on dangers of outsourcing technology
The Financial Stability Board has cautioned that banks’ reliance on a small group of third-party technology firms leaves consumers at risk of being denied access to their money.
Record profits posted by Softbank Vision Fund
Softbank’s Vision Fund has reported a record third-quarter profit of ¥784.4bn (£5.7bn) profit for the third quarter. The company stated that its investment portfolio at the $100bn Vision Fund was no longer worth less than cost due as a result of an upswing in valuations of tech firms, with the fund’s $75bn investment in 83 start-ups worth $76.4bn at the end of September. SoftBank also removed three of its most senior executives from its board, including Rajeev Misra, head of its Vision Fund, after investor pressure to change the Japanese company's corporate governance.
Will the UK axe private equity tax break worth millions?
The FT considers whether the UK will tax payouts for private equity dealmakers as income rather than capital gains and how this could change the way the financial sector is taxed post-pandemic.
Ant setback signals reckoning for fintech
China's decision to suspend Ant Group's $37bn share offering last week could be the result of nervousness among Beijing officials that Ant could become impossible to control, the FT suggests. Elsewhere in the paper, Patrick Jenkins says the debacle highlights the pitfalls ahead for other fintechs when it comes to capitalisation and systemic risk.
ECB executive highlights risks of digital currencies like Facebook's Libra
Comments by the ECB’s Fabio Panetta on the threat stablecoins pose to financial stability suggests it is unlikely Facebook or other Big Tech firms will be allowed to forge a dominant role in payments.
Hong Kong regulator clears funds and banks to implement US sanctions
Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission has privately advised financial institutions they can implement US sanctions without violating Beijing’s new national security law.
Société Générale to cut over 600 jobs
Société Générale is planning to cut 640 positions across its operations, but mostly its investment banking arm. The move aims to reduce costs by about €450m (£405m) by the 2022-2023 financial year.
Julius Baer earmarks $80m to settle Fifa corruption case
Swiss private bank Julius Baer has announced a $79.7m provision to settle a Department of Justice investigation into its role in corruption at Fifa.
Norwegian Air warns of ‘uncertain’ future as government refuses aid
Norway’s government has rejected low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle’s request for extra financial support to weather the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Taylor Wimpey increases profit forecast as housing market recovers
Taylor Wimpey has announced that results for next year are expected to be “materially above the top end” of current expectations, with chief executive Pete Redfern commenting: “The quick recovery of the housing market is testament to the underlying strength of demand and supportive lending backdrop.”
Sunak announces post-Brexit financial services regime
The Chancellor yesterday made a statement in the Commons on financial services in post-Brexit Britain, telling MPs that the UK would unilaterally grant equivalence to EU and EEA states on financial services, despite the failure of the EU to provide “clarity about their intentions.” Rishi Sunak outlined a vision for how the UK could renew the country's position as the "world's pre-eminent financial centre" following Brexit, with a focus on green finance and digital currencies. The UK would launch its first green government bonds next year to raise money for low-carbon infrastructure projects and would require large listed and private companies disclose the threats to their business from climate change by 2025, including banks, insurance companies and pension schemes. A consultation would also be held on how digital currencies could be regulated. Listing requirements would also be reviewed with the aim of attracting fast-growing tech firms to London.
Market surge crashes trading platforms
Customers of AJ Bell and Hargreaves Lansdown found themselves unable to trade yesterday due to overwhelming demand. Markets were sent into a frenzy after an announcement by pharma giant Pfizer that early studies of its coronavirus vaccine are 90% effective. Fidelity Personal Investor customers had similar problems accessing their accounts via the website but were able to make trades over the phone and through its app.
Amigo Loans finance chief departure confirmed
Nayan Kisnadwala, finance chief at Amigo Loans is to leave the firm at the end of the month “to pursue other career interests.” This comes as the firm’s market value stands at £32m, representing less than 3% of its 2018 float valuation.
TP ICAP cautions on flat revenue growth as trading dries up
Interdealer broker TP ICAP has predicted that full-year turnover will be similar to 2019’s £1.8bn on a constant currency basis, as it seeks to acquire equities trading venue Liquidnet.
Schroders launches impact fund to aid Covid-hit emerging markets
Schroders is launching a COVID-19 support fund which will support micro-entrepreneurs and small companies in the developing world with the aim of reducing poverty and inequality.
Positive trial results for COVID-19 vaccine candidate
A coronavirus vaccine under development by Pfizer and BioNTech has been found to be over 90% effective. The companies have announced that as many as 50m doses of the vaccine could be manufactured before the end of the year, with a further 1.3bn expected next year.
Healthcare deals in UK swell as investors seek ‘safe haven’
Knight Frank forecasts that transaction levels in UK healthcare property and services in the final quarter of 2020 will be the highest since 1995 as a record £6bn of assets goes on the market.
LEISURE & HOSPITALITY
Gym Group expansion plan remains in place
Budget fitness company the Gym Group has revealed that expansion plans for next year remain on track even as it predicts to burn some £6m during the UK national lockdown. Chief executive Richard Darwin commented: "The business has traded profitably during the period and we are confident that our strong financial position, with very low levels of net debt and close to £70m of unused facilities, will provide the platform to resume our growth path once we reopen.”
MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT
Apple suspends iPhone assembler in China after labour abuses
Apple says it has put its Taiwanese supplier Pegatron on “probation” after discovering the company used illegal student labour at its plant near Shanghai. The world’s most valuable company is in the middle of producing four new iPhone models with 5G, and has been working with Pegatron to expand iPhone assembly outside of China. Those efforts are unlikely to be impacted by this suspension.
UK music streaming service signs up another pop star stakeholder
Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue has taken a stake in music streaming service Roxi ahead of its planned initial public offering in London. Earlier in the autumn the company signed a deal to integrate its service with the Sky Q platform.
Q3 revenue at S4 Capital up 13%
Advertising firm S4 Capital has reported third-quarter revenue of £86.4m, a rise of 13% on the same period last year, with gross profit up 23% to £75.3m. Billings were up over 13% in the period, reaching £163.1m.
Second lockdown will trash retail progress
A report by the British Retail Consortium suggests the second lockdown will reverse progress by the retail sector, which saw sales up 4.9% last month. Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the consortium, said: “During an incredibly challenging year for the industry, many retailers had finally thought that they were finding their footing. The new lockdown in England will throw away this progress as we enter the crucial Christmas trading period and we estimate that £2bn of sales a week will be lost this month.”
Vaccine roll-out will spur double digit growth
The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has said GDP growth could reach double digits next year after Pfizer announced its COVID-19 vaccine was 90% effective. Douglas McWilliams, an economist at CEBR, said: "We're now at the top end of the range of possibilities." He said the "game changer" could allow GDP to recover to 2019 levels by next summer and reduce the peak in unemployment, adding: "We'll have to see exactly how fast the vaccine gets rolled out but I think GDP will recover pretty quick. "We could have double digit growth next year. It depends how much gets shoved into the tail end of this year."