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Daily News Roundup: Tuesday, 22nd October 2019

Posted: 22nd October 2019


Half of people back data monitoring for debt prevention

A new report suggests banks and building societies should be able to monitor customers' personal data to help protect those with mental-health issues from falling into debt. The poll, by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) think-tank, shows that 50% of respondents would like their bank to be able to track their financial data for red flags, with 68% of these saying it would be useful for their bank to spot financial problems as they develop. Just 12% of the 2,000 people polled would be against having their finances tracked, with many voicing privacy concerns. Overall, 52% of respondents said privacy may be an issue – although many said risks would be outweighed by the benefits.

CYBG in Virgin Money rebrand

CYBG is to relaunch under the Virgin Money brand following completion of the legal transfer of Virgin Money's business. This means Yorkshire Bank, Clydesdale Bank, B and Virgin Money customers can be served from a single authorised and regulated banking entity. This will see all branches rebranded as Virgin Money during 2020, with the B digital banking service switching to the Virgin Money brand by the end of 2019.

Minister to intervene over Post Office plan

Post Office Minister Kelly Tolhurst is to investigate concerns that Barclays’ plan to stop customers from withdrawing cash at Post Office branches from January could leave people without access to their pensions. Ms Tolhurst said: “I am happy to raise that particular issue with Barclays and take the point forward.” Analysis shows that 900,000 Britons use a simple card account offered by the Post Office to receive pensions and benefits payments - and withdraw them as cash.


Private equity groups in rival LGC bids

A number of private equity firms are competing to acquire KKR-owned scientific measurement and testing company LGC in a deal that could value the firm at as much as £2.5bn. Cinven, which is working with Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, has secured a place in the second round of bidding, as have offers from Leonard Green, Blackstone and Advent.


Santander to sell unit and plans online deposit platform

Banco Santander has agreed to sell Santander Bancorp, its retail and commercial banking franchise in Puerto Rico, to FirstBank Puerto Rico in a deal valued at $1.1bn. Separately, Santander is planning to launch a platform to attract online deposits in the US – a service that will rival Goldman Sachs’ Marcus.

Germany slides into recession

Germany’s central bank says the country has fallen into recession, revealing that the economy contracted in Q3 after a 0.1% decline in Q2. The Bundesbank said: “The decisive factor here is the continued downturn in the export-oriented industry,” with the US-China trade war, a global economic slowdown, and weaker demand from China hitting Europe's biggest economy.

Investors join lawsuit against Danske Bank

Lawyers have announced that 64 institutional investors have joined an existing US lawsuit against Danske Bank. Law firms representing 232 pension funds and other investors over a $200bn money laundering scandal say claims against the bank for economic losses resulting from the alleged money laundering stand at almost $800m.

BoA expands zero-commission trading

Bank Of America is to expand zero-dollar online trading to all customers of its Preferred Rewards program and cut commissions for others. This comes after Charles Schwab, Fidelity Investments and TD Ameritrade eliminated commissions on online trading, with the Mail saying they have done so in an effort to lure clients amid increased competition from fintech start-ups that offer quick and cheaper services.

Deutsche Bank plans cuts at rates unit

Deutsche Bank is considering substantial cuts to the unit that trades interest-rate securities. The bank is currently carrying out a review of the unit which employs several hundred staff but has struggled with low profitability.


Fund manager forced to resign after Panorama claims

Fund manager Mark Denning has been forced to resign from Capital Group after BBC One's Panorama uncovered evidence that he had broken investment rules by secretly acquiring shares in some of the same companies as his funds for his own benefit. Mr Denning left the firm five days after Panorama contacted Capital Group with the findings of its investigation. The firm said: “We have a Code of Ethics and personal investing disclosure requirements that hold our associates to the highest standards of conduct. When we learned of this matter, we took immediate action.” Mr Denning, who managed more than £229bn of investors' money, denies any wrongdoing.

Funding Circle loan growth sees shares surge

Funding Circle has reported strong loan growth in a trading update showing loans under management increased 31% year-on-year in the third quarter to £3.7bn. The number of new loans it arranged was at £1.8bn, up 9% compared to the same period last year. Shares jumped over 10% to 113.4p in early trading.

Prudential demerger complete

Prudential’s demerger of M&G is now complete, with the fund management and insurance arm M&G valued at around £5.6bn following the spinoff. Prudential Chairman Paul Manduca noted: “The Board believes the demerger will help Prudential and M&G to become more closely aligned to the interests of their customers and shareholders.”

Watchstone settles fraud claim

A long-running fraud claim involving insurance firm Watchstone and law firm Slater & Gordon has been settled ahead of a High Court trial. The dispute stemmed from Slater & Gordon’s 2015 acquisition of Quindell’s professional services arm for £637m, leading to its suing of Watchstone for breach of warranty and fraudulent misrepresentation.

Lansdowne in portfolio shakeup

Lansdowne Partners has undertaken a large-scale repositioning of its portfolio, with a source at the hedge fund quoted as saying that the move would result in a major increase in the firm’s exposure to UK equities. The company is believed to be banking on the price of technology stocks falling, with valuations currently high, but declined to comment on reports.


Glaxo in vaccines sale

GlaxoSmithKline is set to make more than £800m from the sale of two travel vaccines to Danish biotechnology firm Bavarian Nordic. Selling rabies drug Rabipur and tick-borne encephalitis vaccine Encepur will give the drug maker an upfront payment of €301m, with up to as much as €495m extra due if the drugs meet certain targets. It will also benefit from the sale of inventory over the duration of the supply arrangement.

Smith & Nephew boss exits after pay row

Namal Nawana is leaving his role as chief executive of medical equipment maker Smith & Nephew after the board turned down his demand for a pay rise on top of a pay package that could hit $6m if targets are met. He will step down on October 31 and be replaced by Roland Diggelmann, who has been a non-executive director since March 2018.


Just Eat revenue and orders up

Third quarter revenue at food delivery firm Just Eat was up 25% to £248m, while orders grew 16% to £62m. The company plans to conclude a £9bn merger with Dutch rival by the end of the year.


Global launches nationwide rolling news radio station

Global Media is to launch a sister station to LBC, with LBC News set to be the first nationally broadcast radio station devoted exclusively to breaking news.


Industrial real estate inflows double

With investors focusing on warehouse and logistics assets, global industrial real estate funds could raise $6.4bn this year, an increase of 120% from inflows of $2.9bn in 2018. This comes as online retailers seek to grow their warehouse space, while figures from MSCI show that yields on UK industrial property are at 4.1%, compared to 3.9% for office property.

Candy brother eyes takeover of Earl’s Court owner

Property developer Nicholas Candy’s investment vehicle Candy Ventures is in “the early stages of considering” an offer to acquire real estate firm Capital & Counties, a regulatory filing shows.


Pound slips after Brexit vote delay

The pound slipped against the dollar yesterday as currency markets got their first chance to react to MPs backing a move to delay approval of the Brexit deal. Many banks in London had called in extra staff, expecting volatile trading after the first Saturday sitting in the House of Commons for 37 years but the pound's reaction was muted, slipping 0.6% against the dollar to $1.29, and down 0.4% against the euro. On Friday, the pound had been trading at its highest level for five months. Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda, said the fall in the currency was limited because "a hard Brexit is now highly unlikely".

Public expect rate cuts

The UK household finance index by data firm IHS Markit shows that 25% of households expect the Bank of England to cut interest rates - the highest proportion since October 2016. The index, which gauges perceptions of financial wellbeing, rose to 44.4 in October from 43.1 in September on a measure where a score of under 50 is considered a negative reading. October’s reading was the highest since January.


Barclays chair: PM’s deal is ‘doable’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal is "acceptable" and the country should push ahead with it, leading banker Sir Ian Cheshire has said. Sir Ian, chairman of Barclays' UK operations, told the BBC that business leaders wanted to see certainty. He added that it was "extremely unlikely" further negotiations with the EU would produce a different outcome. Sir Ian said: "No deal is perfect, but this deal is actually doable.”

Britain has fourth highest number of dollar millionaires

Credit Suisse’s tenth annual Global Wealth Report reveals Britain has the fourth highest number of dollar millionaires in the world, despite the impact of Brexit on the pound and the softening of the high-end property market. The UK has 2.46m dollar millionaires this year — down from 2.49m last year, but up from 750,000 in 2010. There are a total of 46.8m worldwide.

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