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Daily News Roundup: Tuesday, 19th December 2017

Posted: 19th December 2017


UK cannot have a special deal for the City – Barnier

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has said that Britain cannot have a special deal for the City of London following Brexit. He said it was unavoidable that British banks and financial firms would lose the passports that allow them to trade freely in the EU, as a result of any decision to quit the single market. Mr Barnier stated: “There is no place [for financial services]. There is not a single trade agreement that is open to financial services. It doesn’t exist.” He said the outcome was a consequence of “the red lines that the British have chosen themselves. In leaving the single market, they lose the financial services passport.”

Goldman Sachs boss champions Remain poll lead

Following a new poll conducted by BMG Research showing that Britain is turning its back on an EU withdrawal, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, has said he had to take an interest because the global bank employs thousands of UK citizens. “[Goldman Sachs] built its Euro biz in the UK on certain assumptions, pays taxes and employs thousands of UK citizens concerned about the economy and their futures - on their behalf, at least, I have to be interested in the outcome,” Mr Blankfein said on Twitter, while posting a link to the poll.

RBS accused of using misleading figures to justify bank closures

Ian Blackford, the leader of the SNP at Westminster, has accused RBS of using “misleading” figures to justify its planned closure of 62 branches across Scotland. Mr Blackford claimed RBS had defended its decision by publishing the number of customers who visit the affected branches every week, rather than revealing the total number of transactions. He also claimed the bank had downplayed the number of jobs at risk, saying that 1,446 people would be made redundant as a result of the closures.

Lloyds establishes strong lending pipeline in Yorkshire

Steve Harris, the Yorkshire regional director for mid-market banking at Lloyds Banking Group, has said the bank has established a strong lending pipeline to mid-market businesses in Yorkshire. He revealed that Lloyds’ net lending to Yorkshire businesses for the year to September 2017 was up by 3.3% to around £1.5bn.

Why UK bank ringfences don’t make everyone safer

  1. FT’s Patrick Jenkins looks ahead to the new ring-fencing regulations which come into force in 2019. rules will force Britain’s banks to ring-fence their retail banking operations from their parent companies.

Boutique bank sees healthy rise

Hannam & Partners, founded by Ian Hannam, a former senior banker at JP Morgan Cazenove, has reported a 28.8% rise in revenues in the year to the end of March. Profits at the Mayfair-based advisory firm rose 12.4% year on year to £812,125.

Standard Chartered links up with Ant Financial

Standard Chartered is joining forces with IT firm Ant Financial - which runs Chinese payment app Alipay - to boost its tech systems.


3i confirms sale of Anglian Water

3i Infrastructure has agreed to sell its stake in Anglian Water to a consortium of Dalmore Capital and GLIL Infrastructure. 3i Infrastructure said it expects gross proceeds from the sale to be around £395m.


Italian minister warns against efforts to tighten EU banking rules

Italy’s finance minister, Pier Carlo Padoan, has admitted that the Italian Central Bank’s supervision had been “insufficient in some cases”. He also warned against efforts to tighten eurozone banking rules.

Utmost acquires Generali PanEurope in €230m deal

Italian bank Generali has sold its Generali PanEurope operation to Utmost Wealth Solutions for an initial €230m, with an additional €10m to be paid 12 months after the deal has closed.

New chair for Monte dei Paschi

Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Italy's fourth-biggest bank, has named Stefania Bariatti as its new chairwoman, replacing Alessandro Falciai.


EasyJet buys up Air Berlin operations at Tegel Airport

EasyJet has confirmed the acquisition of part of bankrupt German carrier Air Berlin in a deal worth €40m. The transaction will see the budget airline taking control of Air Berlin's operations at Berlin’s Tegel Airport, with EasyJet leasing 25 of its aircraft. The agreement also includes EasyJet taking over landing slots and offering employment to the defunct carrier's flying crew.

Heathrow bids to cut building costs

Heathrow is considering expanding existing terminals instead of constructing a new building as part of measures to cut the cost of expansion by £2.5bn. A series of money-saving design options will be put to public consultation next month amid concerns from airlines that landing charges could be hiked to help pay for the investment.


Analysts back small builders amid property slowdown

Analysts at Liberum have suggested that slower selling price rises and “stubborn” build cost inflation may curtail housebuilders' margins over the next 12 months. Housebuilders have outperformed the rest of the market by around 30% this year, the Standard notes, aided by Help to Buy and strong demand from first-time buyers.


ING: Bitcoin to become ‘niche asset’

Bitcoin will retreat to become a niche asset, according to Teunis Brosens, principle economist at ING, who says its current lofty valuations are “based on shaky foundations”. There are several things holding it back from a mass audience, he added: “regulation, a lack of intermediary, scalability, volatility and energy use”. Meanwhile, Sopnendu Mohanty, fintech chief for Singapore's monetary authority, has warned that Bitcoin has no fundamental value and is likely to end in tears once speculators discover how hard it can be to extricate their cash. Separately, the Standard's Hamish McRae explores the consequences of a collapse in the Bitcoin price.

Curbs to hit spread-betters

Shares in British spread-betting firms slumped yesterday after the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) proposed prohibiting the marketing, distribution or sale of binary options to retail clients, and also restricting the marketing, distribution or sale to retail clients of contracts for differences, or CFDs, including rolling spot forex. IG Group, CMC Markets and Plus 500 were all affected.

UK savers pull £15.3bn from pension pots in a year via drawdown

Data from the Financial Conduct Authority reveals pension withdrawals via income drawdown have risen 173% over the past five years, from £5.6bn in 2012-13 to £15.3bn in 2016-17.

London fund managers warn they are exposed to a ‘sneaky’ Brexit

Britain's asset management industry is “bleeding talent” to rivals. “There has been a drain back to Europe and the UK is suffering from that,” says Andrew Formica, of Janus Henderson.


UK manufacturing at 30-year high

The CBI’s industrial trends survey has revealed that the UK manufacturing industry has kept order books at a near 30-year high thanks to strong demand for motor vehicles and transport equipment. The survey, which includes the views of 371 manufacturers, revealed total order books had a balance of plus 17%, with 28% of firms reporting above normal levels. While firms predict output growth to decelerate over the next quarter, their expectations still had a positive balance of 13%, as 26% believe volumes will rise. Anna Leach, the CBI's head of economic intelligence, said: “While the lower level of sterling supports exporters, cost pressures remain intense. Businesses will expect to see the Government's Industrial Strategy make rapid progress next year to support manufacturing and the wider economy in the UK.”


Great Portland sells London tower for £266.5m

Great Portland Estates and Ropemaker Properties, the property arm of BP’s pension fund, have sold Southbank tower 240 Blackfriars Road to Dubai-based Wolfe Asset Management for £266.5m. Total rental income for the site is about £11.2m per year. The deal, which also includes adjoining 10,690 sq ft retail and residential building Cubitt House, is expected to be completed next month.

Broker launches Facebook bot

Mortgage broker Nuvo has developed smart technology that will help those looking to buy a home to find a mortgage via Facebook. The technology uses artificial intelligence to power a chat bot that talks to buyers through Facebook Messenger, asking a series of questions before identifying suitable loans from 50,000 mortgage products.


Campbell Soup and Hershey snap up snacks groups

The Hershey Company and Campbell Soup have both struck multi-billion dollar deals to buy rival snack firms. Hershey said its $1.6bn (£1.2bn) purchase of popcorn and Tyrrells crisps maker Amplify would help turn it into “a snacking powerhouse”. Meanwhile, Campbell Soup said it would spend $4.89bn on tortilla chip and pretzel crisps maker Snyder’s-Lance.


Bosses fear for job creation after Brexit

An annual survey of employment trends, by the CBI and Pertemps Network Group, has revealed that there has been a “substantial” increase in companies who believe the UK will be a less competitive place to invest and create jobs in five years’ time. The survey found that a balance of 63% of businesses believe the UK will become less competitive in the next five years. This is up from a balance of 25% of companies who thought this in 2015 and 50% in 2016. Meanwhile, fewer than one in five of the 299 companies surveyed expect the UK to become a more attractive location to invest and do business by 2022.

Higher wage hopes for next year

Households are hoping for higher salaries next year, according to a survey of 1,500 people by financial data firm IHS Markit, which found inflation expectations to be at their highest level since 2014. IHS Markit’s associate director Tim Moore suggested slightly increased earnings are beginning to help alleviate some of the squeeze on budgets at the end of 2017. Almost half of those surveyed (48%) thought the Bank of England will raise rates again in the first half of next year.


EU considers Bitcoin database to crack down on criminals

The EU could compile a database of Bitcoin owners in Europe as part of a crackdown on virtual currencies. MEPs will consider setting up a central hub of people who use the online exchanges where Bitcoin is bought and sold. The proposal, agreed last week, follows fears that Bitcoin is being used to dodge taxes and finance criminality.

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