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Daily News Roundup: Tuesday, 14th August 2018

Posted: 14th August 2018

BANKING

FBI warns of attack on ATMs

The FBI has warned banks of a major hacking threat to cash machines worldwide in the next few days. America’s intelligence chiefs sent out a confidential alert last week to warn that cyber criminals are planning a global “cash-out scheme” using malware to take over ATMs and steal millions of dollars. The Telegraph notes that smaller banks with less sophisticated security systems are believed to be most vulnerable to an attack. Andrew Bushby, UK director at Fidelis Cybersecurity, said: “UK banks are a likely target - and this latest 'ATM cash-out blitz' will no doubt send shockwaves to financial institutions.” He added: “Whilst the financial services industry is heavily regulated, it doesn't make banks immune from being attacked by cyber criminals ... UK banks need to urgently take a look at their security posture.”

Banks using biometrics to catch fraudsters

The Telegraph reports that high street banks have begun monitoring “biometric behaviour” in a bid to catch fraudsters. The methods, which are being used by RBS, involve checking how customers type on their keyboard or even hold their mobile phone. Kevin Hanley, RBS's innovation director, commented: “It can be anything from the pressure they use to type with or the way they move the mouse. We can then see how it deviates. We have managed to stop six or seven figure sums going out by spotting these patterns.” The bank said that in one case it detected a hacker attempting to log in to a user’s account using the numbers at the top of the keyboard, rather than via the number pad.

RBS completes large chunk of ring-fencing

RBS has become the latest big UK lender to take a major step in ring-fencing its retail bank from investment bank operations. RBS’s ring-fencing plan was sanctioned by the Scottish courts at the end of July, and was implemented from yesterday. Under the new structure, RBS Group will serve as a holding bank for NatWest Holdings, the ring-fenced bank which owns RBS Plc, Ulster Bank and NatWest. Today's final move transfers ownership of NatWest Holdings to the Group, completing the ring-fencing.

Barclays moves ownership of European branches to Irish unit

Barclays is putting its Brexit contingency plans into action by moving the ownership of European branches to its Irish unit, according to sources. In addition to the shift in ownership of the French, German, and Spanish branches, Barclays will move the remainder of its European branches under the control of Barclays Bank Ireland. Barclays rival HSBC has begun shifting direct ownership of its European branches from its British entity to its French subsidiary, while Lloyds is planning three EU subsidiaries.

UK banks face downgrade risk from disruptive Brexit

S&P Global has said that British banks face a possible ratings downgrade if the UK leaves the EU without a deal in March 2019. The ratings agency said that UK lenders are set for a “stable” performance in the coming years but could be knocked by a “disruptive Brexit”. Richard Barnes, the primary credit analyst covering the British banking sector at S&P Global, said the possible ratings downgrades would reflect the “impact on the real economy” of a “no deal” Brexit.

Morgan Stanley launches new Canary Wharf nursery scheme

In a bid to become more “family friendly”, Morgan Stanley has launched a new childcare scheme for its employees based in Canary Wharf. Tamsin Rowe, head of human resources in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region at Morgan Stanley, said: “We are delighted to offer another resource to enable our employees to better balance work and family”. City AM notes that lack of childcare and poor work life balance are two of the factors blamed for wide gender gaps in the UK’s financial services sector.

Lenders use loophole to dodge PPI claims

Lenders are making use of a loophole to reject claims for mis-sold payment protection insurance sold with store cards, on the grounds that the cards are a form of “restricted” credit.

PRIVATE EQUITY

KKR plans listing of bulk of Indian operations

According to sources, KKR is planning to list the majority of its Indian operations on the local stock exchange. The potential IPO excludes KKR’s Indian private equity business.

Bain Capital in advanced talks to take Esure private for £1.2bn

Esure is in advanced talks with Bain Capital about a possible takeover that would value the UK insurer’s equity at just under £1.2bn. Esure said it had “indicated to Bain Capital that it would be minded to recommend a firm offer” at that price. The move puts chairman Sir Peter Wood, who has a 30.7% stake in the business, in line for a £360m payday.

INTERNATIONAL

Ulster Bank offloads bad loans

Ulster Bank has agreed to sell €1.4bn (£1.3bn) worth of bad loans to Cerberus Capital Management, saying “not all mortgages are sustainable”. The sale is the latest in a series of disposals by Irish lenders.

UBS tapping into AI

UBS has confirmed that it is in the early stages of applying recommendation algorithms - similar to those used by Netflix and Spotify - to suggest investments to its asset management and hedge fund clients.

Head of Citigroup’s global cards business to depart

Jud Lunville, head of Citigroup’s global cards business, is set to leave as the bank seeks to unify the business with the rest of its retail banking operation.

AUTOMOTIVE

Electric cars could be charged in seconds

Researchers at the University of Glasgow have developed a revolutionary battery system which could charge electric cars in a matter of seconds. The scientists have adapted nanomolecules so they are able to store either electric power or hydrogen gas, creating a flexible dual-output battery system.

AVIATION

Easygroup sues over brand theft

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of the EasyJet, is pursuing two Latin American airlines – Easy Sky and Easyfly, accusing them of brand theft for using the word “easy”. Sir Stelios said Easygroup was spending £1m a year taking on alleged “brand thieves”.

FINANCIAL SERVICES

UK employees pessimistic about retirement finances

UK employees are among the most pessimistic in the world about their retirement finances, according to a report by asset manager State Street. Its survey suggested that employees in the UK expected their retirement income to be half of their earnings in work and that fewer than one in 10 young workers felt financially prepared for retirement. State Street also suggested that the pensions industry needed to do more to help people understand whether they were on track to meet their income expectations in retirement.

HEALTHCARE

Bayer shares tumble after Roundup cancer ruling

Shares in Bayer dropped by more than 10% yesterday as investors feared the pharmaceutical firm could face a series of legal defeats linked to a weedkiller made by Monsanto.

LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY

Fitness chain Equinox enjoys jump in sales

US fitness chain Equinox has revealed that its 2017 sales hit £9.3m from £2.9m, with membership rising to 3,242 from 3,013. The privately owned firm, which has two London sites at present, in Kensington and St James, plans two more in Bishopsgate and Shoreditch, and wants to have eight in total by 2022.

MANUFACTURING

How ‘cobotics’ could transform manufacturing

Dave Holmes, manufacturing director for BAE Systems’ Air sector, says cobotics - humans collaborating seamlessly and naturally with robots - will soon be a reality in factories. While technology that can enhance human activity already exists, introducing them to the shop floor is more tricky. Holmes says helping humans adapt to their robotic helpmates is key. BAE’s latest cobotics workstation - a fluid robotic arm attached to a “smart” bench, complete with a dextrous grip that can assist staff - will be tested on the Typhoon production line by the end of this year.

MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT

EU should halt takeover of EMI

A group of independent music labels have called on EU antitrust regulators to halt Sony’s $2.3bn bid to buy EMI Music Publishing. Impala, an association for independent music companies, said the merger would give the combined business too much control over the market.

OTHER

Blind banker gets dream job

A blind woman who is also profoundly deaf has won her dream job as a personal banker. Andrea Salt has joined the team at NatWest, armed with a braille computer and support worker to help with visual tasks like checking signatures and IDs.

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