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Daily News Roundup: Tuesday, 11th February 2020

Posted: 11th February 2020


Starling Bank raises £60m

Challenger bank Starling is to award shares to all of its 800 employees after raising £60m to boost its expansion plans. The new finance, led by existing investors Merian Global Investors and JTC, brings the total raised by Starling to £323m and follows two funding rounds of £105m last year. The move echoes similar fundraising efforts within the community - Monzo and Monese have both been linked with new funding rounds in the first half of this year, while Revolut has already completed a bumper funding round set to value the rival challenger bank at $5bn (£3.85bn).

BoE criticised over fossil fuel investments

The outgoing governor of the Bank of England has been a strong proponent of action against climate change but campaigners complain that the central bank has refused to consider divesting its own portfolio from fossil fuels. The Bank invested £300m in fossil fuel companies as part of a corporate bond purchase scheme launched in 2016 to stimulate the markets after Brexit.

Job fears sends morale at HSBC down

An internal survey completed by 100,000 HSBC staff globally has found morale has plunged since CEO John Flint was ousted and the bank said it was preparing to cut 10,000 jobs. Interim boss Noel Quinn is due to unveil HSBC’s new strategy shortly.

DAG seeks £15m for SME lending

DAG Global has applied for a UK banking licence and launched a £15m funding round. The merchant bank will take deposits from fintech, blockchain and crypto firms and lend those funds to digital SMEs.


KKR sells German high-speed internet business

KKR has agreed to sell Deutsche Glasfaser, its ultrafast German fibre internet business, to EQT and Canadian pension fund Omers in a €2.8bn deal.


Deutsche merger plan wins watchdog backing

Deutsche Bank's plan to subsume Deutsche Bank Privat-und Firmenkundenbank AG (PFK) into the overall group has won approval from the European Central Bank and BaFin, Germany's financial regulator.

Regulator urges greater clarity on Europe’s bank bailout rules

The Single Resolution Board – an EU agency created to wind down banks – has said there needs to be more consistency in the way failing lenders are dealt with following the €3.6bn rescue of Germany's Nord LB.

UniCredit to cut 6,000 jobs in Italy

UniCredit confirmed plans to cut 6,000 jobs in Italy over the next four years while 450 branches would also close in the country.


Geely and Volvo Cars plan merger and listing

Geely is planning to further integrate Volvo into the Chinese brand with a merger that will bring the Swedish company back to public markets and create China’s first global carmaker.


Sajid Javid to push for ‘permanent equivalence’ for City in Brexit talks

The UK will reportedly demand the EU provide the City of London with a “permanent equivalence” regime for financial services in any FTA. Current equivalence agreements can be swiftly revoked by the EU. Writing in City AM, the Chancellor explains how a reliable equivalence process “would provide the certainty on which internationally mobile businesses can depend” and sets out his vision for the financial sector in the decades to come. Mr Javid says the future will see the UK “at the forefront of technological innovation and efforts to tackle climate change, with a strong, resilient, and competitive financial sector, underpinned by world leading regulatory standards and open to global markets.”

Jayne-Anne Gadhia appointed to overhaul culture at Lloyd’s of London

Former Virgin Money CEO Jayne-Anne Gadhia has been hired to help a special culture advisory group at Lloyd’s of London. The 14-strong team, chaired by Lloyd’s board member Fiona Luck, will be tasked with scrutinising changes at the insurance market as it tries to rebuild its reputation after a survey last year found nearly 500 of its underwriters and brokers either suffered or witnessed sexual harassment in the previous year.

Clive Cowdery eyes $100bn of insurers’ trapped capital

Insurance entrepreneur Clive Cowdery has said he believes that life insurers are sitting on more than $100bn on trapped capital that they could release through disposals in the next decade.


NMC Health hunts for truth over shareholder register

The Financial Conduct Authority has said it was “making inquiries” after NMC Health told investors yesterday that its founder and his advisers’ holdings had been "incorrectly reported historically to the company and the market". The firm also said it has received “highly preliminary” bid approaches from US buyout giant KKR and Swiss firm GK Investment. NMC has been in trouble since US short-seller Muddy Waters raised concerns about NMC’s accounting and governance in December.


CMA orders Viagogo and Stubhub to pause merger

The Competition and Markets Authority has ordered ticket resale websites Viagogo and Stubhub to pause any integration of the two businesses while it probes their $4.1bn (£3.2bn) merger.


Audioboom confirms potential sale

Shares in Audioboom soared yesterday after the podcasting platform confirmed recent speculation that the firm is for sale. New York-based Raine Advisors and Allenby Capital have been appointed to help lead the effort. Among those who could be interested in bidding for Audioboom, which has more than 13,000 content channels and attracts in excess of 60m listens each month, is digital music group Spotify, TalkSport owner News Corp and Capital and Smooth radio owner Global.

Xerox raises its takeover offer for HP

Xerox has sweetened its offer for HP to $24 per share, valuing the computer maker at about $35bn including debt. HP’s board twice rejected a previous $22-a-share bid.


Expanding role primes CFOs for the top

A survey of 2,500 CFOs by professional services firm Norman Broadbent found more than 60% thought their next move would be up to a CEO role. Angela Hickmore, the author of the report, said: "With most chief financial officers regularly deputising for the chief executive, this shift in ambition should not be surprising. After all the role of the chief financial officer has become ever more important and moved beyond pure finance." She added: "Today's chief executive doesn't want a one-dimensional number cruncher. They want a business adviser - one that can provide insight and leadership into decision making which may fundamentally alter the course of the business."


Shoppers spend as post-election confidence returns

The value of retail sales rose 0.4% in January compared with the same month last year, according to the latest figures from the BRC. The data marked an improvement on the 0.1% contraction for 2019 as a whole. Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, commented: "Recent political uncertainty and a decade of austerity appear to have ingrained a more thrifty approach to shopping among consumers. Furthermore, as sustainability continues to rise up the agenda, many customers are switching to more environmentally friendly products or simply choosing to buy less.”

Intu in "constructive" fundraising talks

Cash-strapped shopping centres owner Intu, which has been hit hard by retailers closing stores or getting rent cuts through restructures, is in talks over a £1bn fundraising to help pay down its £4.7bn debt pile. Intu has named Hong Kong-listed Link Real Estate Investment Trust as one of the new potential investors, as well as property tycoon John Whittaker’s Peel Group, which is already the firm’s largest shareholder.


Coronavirus could cut global GDP to zero this quarter

Capital Economics estimates that the coronavirus could cost the world economy over $280bn in the first quarter of this year meaning zero growth in global GDP for the first time since 2009.

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