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Daily News Roundup: Tuesday, 12th February 2019

Posted: 12th February 2019

BANKING

Cash machine closures prompt call for new regulator

Cash points are closing at a rate of 16 per day, the fastest ever recorded, according to a new study. Figures from the consumer group Which? show cash machines disappeared at a rate of 488 per month between June and December last year. Over the six months, 2,962 cash points were taken out of service, representing a 4.6% decline in the overall network of 63,152. The Federation of Small Businesses and Which? are today launching a campaign calling for a dedicated regulator to be put in place to ensure companies and shoppers who rely on cash are not left behind. FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: "The rapid pace of bank branch and cashpoint closures is hurting small businesses all over the UK. Millions of small firms have customers who want to pay using notes and coins. The vast majority of shoppers either use cash frequently or want to see access to it maintained.”

Revolut boss denies Kremlin links to bank

Revolut chief executive Nikolay Storonsky has denied that the digital bank has links to the Kremlin. Revolut was granted a European banking licence by the Bank of Lithuania in December, enabling the company to offer its services across the EU. However, Stasys Jakeliunas, chairman of the Lithuanian parliament's budget and finance committee, has accused Mr Storonsky - who is the son of a director at a division of Gazprom - of interfering in the country's politics due to his links with Russia. Mr Storonsky has published an open letter in which he rejects the claims.

Lloyds customers hit by online banking glitch

Lloyds Banking Group has apologised to customers for problems with its online banking service, after some customers faced "intermittent issues" when trying to log on to the online system yesterday.

PRIVATE EQUITY

InReach exceeds €50m fund target

InReach Ventures has closed a €53m (£46m) fund to help European entrepreneurs "get discovered", having initially targeted a fund of €50m. The VC firm also said that Brexit is unlikely to decrease entrepreneurship in the EU.

INTERNATIONAL

Morgan Stanley acquires Solium Capital

Morgan Stanley has acquired Canadian stock plan platform Solium Capital for $900m (£696.9m). Solium manages the stock that employees receive in their pay packets and already provides share plan administration to around 1m participants. James Gorman, chairman and chief executive of Morgan Stanley, said that the acquisition of Solium would give the bank “broader access to corporate clients and a direct channel to their employees”.

Compensation stand-off scuppered Orcel’s Santander move

The Times reports that a failure to cut the bill for recruiting Andrea Orcel from UBS to around €20m lay behind Santander’s aborted attempt to fill its chief executive position last month. Senior Santander staff thought that the Swiss lender would agree to pay at least half of the compensation that Mr Orcel had accrued as head of UBS's investment bank. UBS, however, refused to pay any money, saying that it was impossible to pay deferred bonuses because he was leaving for a competitor.

Thiam pulled advisers from Covéa bid

The CEO of Scor says Credit Suisse chief executive Tidjane Thiam personally intervened to stop the bank advising insurance group Covéa on its contentious bid for the reinsurer.

Lane to be next ECB chief economist

Ireland’s Central Bank governor Philip Lane will be confirmed by EU leaders as the European Central Bank’s chief economist next month. He will replace Peter Praet, a former director of the Belgian National Bank, and serve a non-renewable eight-year term from 1 June.

Euronext ups offer for Oslo Børs in bid to fend off Nasdaq

Euronext has raised its offer to buy Oslo Børs in response to a rival offer from Nasdaq for Norway’s main stock exchange.

AUTOMOTIVE

Mercedes expects record year

Mercedes-Benz sales dropped 6.7% on the previous month in January, but still made for the firm’s second-best ever start to a year after a record beginning for 2018. The luxury car maker also said an upcoming new model offensive would make 2019 another record year.

AVIATION

Passenger numbers soar at Heathrow

Heathrow Airport has reported a 27th consecutive month of growth, with passenger numbers in January rising 2.1% year-on-year to 5.9m.

CONSTRUCTION

Construction output drops in December

Construction output dropped significantly in December, according to the latest ONS figures, with output down 2.8% month-on-month. The housebuilding sector saw new work fall 6.8% month-on-month.

FINANCIAL SERVICES

Pension scheme savers exposed to climate change risks

A study by ShareAction claims several FTSE 100 company pension schemes leave savers highly exposed to climate change risks, despite the same firms making a strong public commitment to environmental causes. The survey of 15 of the UK's largest public companies with defined contribution schemes found that just two - the HSBC Bank Pension Scheme and the RBS Retirement Savings Plan - have changed their default investment strategies to reduce the carbon exposure of their staff pensions.

Asset managers want weapons firms dropped from benchmarks

More than 140 asset and wealth management firms - including Man Group, Credit Suisse and Pictet Asset Management - have signed an open letter calling on global index providers to remove controversial weapons companies from mainstream benchmarks. The letter is addressed to representatives at FTSE Russell, Morningstar, MSCI, S&P Dow Jones and Stoxx.

Fidelity and Allianz performance-fee funds struggle to pull in money

A series of funds that link fees to performance, launched by Fidelity International and Allianz Global Investors in 2018, have gathered only minimal assets so far.

Baillie Gifford drives up its exposure to Tesla

Baillie Gifford has spent about £25m buying more shares in Tesla, cementing the fund’s position as the second largest institutional investor in the manufacturer.

Progeny expands into Scotland

Wealth manager Progeny Group will expand into Scotland for the first time with the acquisition of Innovate Financial Services.

HEALTHCARE

Smith & Nephew chasing another US deal

Smith & Nephew is in talks to buy US spine technology Nuvasive for $3bn (£2.32bn). Last month the UK medical device company closed its acquisition of Ceterix Orthopaedics, a California-based manufacturer of surgical tools for use in knee replacements.

LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY

Stride up for sale

Stride Gaming, which owns brands including Kitty Bingo and Lucky Pants Bingo, is mulling a potential sale. The online bingo operator was hit with a £4m compliance fine last September.

MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT

Dentsu Aegis names new boss

Advertising firm Dentsu Aegis has revealed Euan Jarvie as its new chief executive with immediate effect.

RETAIL

Watchdog delays Sainsbury's-Asda merger report

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has extended its probe into the £12bn supermarket tie-up between Sainsbury's and Asda by eight weeks, over the "scope and complexity" of the investigation and the need to fully consider submissions made. The CMA said it will “reach a fully reasoned final decision” by April 30.

ECONOMY

GDP growth falls to six-year low

New figures from the ONS reveal that UK GDP growth slowed to 0.2% in the fourth quarter of last year, leaving annual GDP growth for 2018 at just 1.4%, the lowest it has been since 2012. Annual services sector growth was 1.7%, the lowest since 2011, the production sector grew 0.7%, the lowest since 2013, and construction growth was 0.6%, the lowest since 2012. Chancellor Philip Hammond admitted Britain’s economy is now being hit by Brexit.

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