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Daily News Roundup: Tuesday, 22nd December 2020

Posted: 22nd December 2020


Metro Bank shares soar following mortgages sale

Metro Bank’s shares reached their highest level since the COVID-19 pandemic began on Monday after a £3bn loan sale to NatWest was announced on Friday. The sale lifted Metro Bank's capital level above a key regulatory minimum, optimising its balance sheet and freeing up cash to pursue more unsecured lending.

Fines issued by FCA fall by half in 2020

The FCA issued £183.6m worth of fines this year, more than half the total bill in 2019, while the number of fines fell too, from 21 to ten. Lloyds Bank received the biggest fine in June for unfair treatment of mortgage customers whilst Barclays was handed a £26m bill in December for chasing customers in arrears too aggressively.

Jenkins to join the BoE's PRC

Former Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins has been appointed by Rishi Sunak to sit on the Bank of England's Prudential Regulation Committee. Along with Mr Jenkins, John Taylor, a former Standard Life and Lloyds Banking Group executive, and Tanya Castell, a former banker at Lloyds and UBS, will succeed Sandra Boss, Mark Yallop and David Belsham in 2021.

Co-op Bank calls off sale talks with Cerberus

The Co-operative Bank has ended sale talks with Cerberus without giving a reason. The bank said it remained committed to its existing turnround strategy.


PE firm to buy into advice sector

Beech Tree Private Equity has set aside funds of between £10m - £40m as it nears the completion of an investment in an undisclosed wealth management business. The deal will see it support the firm's "rapid acquisition strategy" with hubs in London, the South East, the South West and Scotland. Simon Hemley, director at Beech Tree, said: "We are targeting an ambitious buy and build strategy and would welcome the opportunity to discuss our strategy with potential targets."


Credit Suisse chief vows a ‘clean slate’ in 2021

Credit Suisse CEO Thomas Gottstein says the bank will start 2021 with "a clean slate" after a tough year characterised by a spying scandal and the fallout from legacy compliance and lending failures.


EASA expected to give 737-Max green light to fly

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is expected to give Boeing’s controversial 737-Max aircraft the OK to fly in the New Year. EASA boss Patrick Ky said he was “certain” the aircraft was safe to fly. He said his inspectors had “left no stone unturned” in assessing the changes to the design after two crashes. US regulators gave the go-ahead earlier this month, though insisted upon mandatory training for pilots.

Signature backs £3.2bn offer from Blackstone

Private jet servicing firm Signature Aviation is set to be snapped up by US private equity giant Blackstone after agreeing to a £3.2bn offer. The London-listed company is the world's biggest servicing operation for private aviation and business jets. It does 85% of its business in the US.

Director at easyJet quits over Wirecard board role

easyJet board member Anastassia Lauterbach has resigned following scrutiny over her role as chair of the risk and compliance committee at Wirecard, the collapsed German payments company.


Amigo touts restructuring to stop insolvency

In an attempt to avoid insolvency, Amigo Loans is asking borrowers to back a restructuring that will result in lower compensation payouts for customers sold unaffordable loans by the firm. Boss Gary Jennison said: "The counterfactual to a scheme of arrangement, we think, is insolvency. And that means that creditors [would] get nothing." Mr Jennison went on to accuse claims management firms of launching a slew of spurious claims and said the Financial Ombudsman had been less than supportive of the company.

FCA publishes climate-related disclosure rules

The Financial Conduct Authority says its new disclosure rules for listed firms should help reduce the risk of consumers buying unsuitable and mis-sold products. The FCA has confirmed it will enforce a rule for premium listed companies, including advice firms, that mandates better disclosure around climate-related risks and opportunities. The new rules will require firms to include a statement in their annual financial report setting out whether they have made disclosures consistent with the recommendations made by the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

FCA fines Charles Schwab

The FCA has fined Charles Schwab £9m for failing to adequately protect client assets and making a false statement to the regulator. The investment firm’s breaches occurred between August 2017 and April 2019 when it moved client money from the UK arm to a US business.

Scotland's financial sector ready for Brexit, says trade body

The head of Scottish Financial Enterprise, Sandy Begbie, says Scotland’s financial services industry is well prepared for Brexit, adding that SME fintechs north of the border have doubled between 2019 and this year.


EU medicines regulator approves Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine

The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has won European approval, clearing the way for inoculations to start before the end of the year. The European Commission granted market authorization to the vaccine, named Comirnaty, on Monday, compressing multiple steps of bureaucracy after a signoff from the European Medicines Agency earlier in the day.


House prices ‘unlikely to be sustained'

UK house prices are expected to fall by 5% next year when the stamp duty holiday ends and unemployment levels rise, according to the Halifax housing market outlook for 2021. The latest predictions from the lender reveal that prospects for next year look weaker compared to this year. House prices could drop as unemployment levels rise and the furlough scheme comes to an end.


City Chic buys Evans following Arcadia collapse

The administrator to Philip Green’s Arcadia empire has confirmed that the Evans clothing brand has been bought by Australian company City Chic for £23m. Evans’ five bricks-and-mortar stores are not included in the deal which is just for the Evans brand and its online business. Arcadia - which also owns Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, Wallis and Burton - crashed into administration at the start of this month.

Frasers retail group withdraws profit guidance after new lockdown

Frasers Group has withdrawn its 2021 profit guidance after concerns over a new strain of COVID-19 prompted the UK government to impose a stringent lockdown on the south-east of England. The group, which includes Sports Direct and Evans Cycles, said that the board could no longer commit to hitting its guidance of a 20%-30% improvement in underlying profit during 2021.


New Covid virus strain triggers market slump, double-dip predicted

The pound slumped on Monday along with global markets amid concern over the new strain of coronavirus identified in Britain, which has led to tighter restrictions, and the continued failure of the EU and the UK to agree a Brexit trade deal. Ruth Gregory, senior UK economist at Capital Economics, said the new lockdown measures “raise the chances that the economy stagnates, if not contracts, in the first three months of 2021.” Ms Gregory continued. “If the economy is heading for a double-dip, at least the second leg down will be much smaller than the first. But this is only because activity in some sectors never fully recovered and therefore cannot fall as far this time.”


Harrods mega-spender must reveal source of wealth

An attempt by a woman who spent £16m in Harrods to overturn the UK's first Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) has been rejected by the Supreme Court. Zamira Hajiyeva, wife of a jailed banker, may now lose her £12m London home - and a separate golf course - if she can't explain her riches. The court said her challenge to the UWO raised no arguable point of law. Mrs Hajieyva's husband is in jail in Azerbaijan for embezzling millions of pounds from a state bank.

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