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Daily News Roundup: Tuesday, 22nd September 2020

Posted: 22nd September 2020


Banking shares down on reports of alleged suspicious transfers

Barclays fell by 4% in early trading in London on Monday, while HSBC and Standard Chartered both lost 3%, following media reports that some of the world’s largest banks moved large sums of allegedly illicit funds over nearly two decades, despite red flags about the origins of the money. Documents shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists are said to suggest big banks provided financial services to high-risk individuals from around the world, in some cases even after they had been placed under sanctions by the US government. Lawyers said HSBC could be left open to legal action from shareholders who have lost out as the stock tumbled, and fraud victims who feel the bank should have acted quicker.

NS&I slashes savings rates

National Savings & Investments yesterday announced dramatic cuts to its Income Bonds, which from 24 November will to go from paying 1.15% monthly interest to just 0.01%. The Treasury-backed bank also said that from December the odds of winning anything in the Premium Bonds draw will go from 24,500 to one to 34,500 to one, and the estimated number of total prizes won reduced by 1m. NS&I said that it had no choice but to act because savers had put away billions more than usual during the COVID-19 lockdown, which left it in danger of breaching its government-mandated funding limit for the year.


MEMX goes live in New York

A new stock exchange backed by JP Morgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup went live in New York yesterday. Members Exchange, or MEMX, will compete with the NYSE's owner Intercontinental Exchange, Nasdaq and Cboe Global Markets and promises to undercut its larger rivals with lower fees.

Goldman Sachs promotes new co-heads of global M&A

Mark Sorrell and Stephan Feldgoise have been promoted to co-heads of Goldman Sachs’s global deal-making team. The moves come amid a drop in advisory fees as the pandemic hits deal-making.

European banks load up on government bonds, raising concerns over ‘doom loop’

European banks have bought up more than €200bn of their own governments’ bonds since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing their holdings to nearly €1.6tn by the end of June.


Eco-friendly car sales overtake diesel registrations

Official figures show that 33,000 pure electric and hybrid cars were registered between April and June, compared with 29,900 diesels – the first time green car sales have exceeded diesels in a three-month period.


Airbus unveils hydrogen-powered jets

Airbus has drawn up plans for a new generation of full-size hydrogen-powered jets with the hope that zero-emission passenger planes will be operating within 15 years. CEO Guillaume Faury said: “This is a historic moment for the commercial aviation sector as a whole and we intend to play a leading role in the most important transition this industry has ever seen.”


Planned new law to safeguard City of London’s global standing

The UK plans to introduce new financial services sector legislation to maintain the City of London’s global competitiveness and openness after it leaves the European Union. John Glen, Britain's financial services minister, said that the new Financial Services Bill would create a modern, flexible and robust system of financial regulation: “(It) will underpin the continued global competitiveness of the UK financial services sector by enhancing its world leading prudential standards, promoting openness to international markets and maintaining the effectiveness of financial services regulatory framework and sound capital markets.” Mr Glen declined to elaborate on Britain’s negotiations with the EU on financial market access, but noted that a sector that pays £75bn pounds in tax each year was at the centre of the Government's efforts to secure trade deals with countries across the world.

Outgoing FCA chief calls for highest post-Brexit regulatory standards

Chris Woolard, the outgoing head of the Financial Conduct Authority, has called for the maintenance of the “highest international standards” after the Brexit transition period to safeguard the City of London’s reputation. He also warned firms yesterday that they should brace for all possible outcomes of the trade talks between London and Brussels. "Our message is to continue to prepare - indeed to ramp up preparations - for a range of scenarios," Mr Woolard told the International Financial Services Forum.


UK’s hospitality sector warns new lockdown would be ‘nail in coffin’

Trade body UKHospitality has said 900,000 jobs would be at risk if the sector was forced to close again without financial support, with CEO Kate Nicholls warning that debt will create a “difficult spiral” for businesses going forward. Her comments come as more than 175 publicans signed an open letter to the prime minister predicting that a curfew – or stronger measures such as a second national lockdown – could devastate a sector “already on its knees”.


Microsoft buys game maker for $7.5bn

Microsoft is to buy Zenimax Media, owner of Bethesda Softworks, the maker of the popular Doom and Fallout video game franchises for $7.5bn. The move comes as Microsoft seeks to boost its library of games on Game Pass, its subscription service and prepares its new Xbox console for a fresh head-to-head with Sony's new PlayStation 5.

Iliad circles Polish mobile group Play

French telecoms group Iliad announced yesterday that it plans to acquire Polish mobile provider Play in a €3.5bn deal. The move follows the company’s expansion into Ireland in 2017 and Italy in 2018.

Facebook could withdraw from Europe over data row

Facebook has warned it could pull its service out of Europe if it is forced to stop transferring users' data to the US. The statement comes after the Irish Data Protection Commissioner suggested it would enforce a ECJ decision that such transfers of data break EU law.


G4S issues statement amid takeover pressure

In a statement to the stock exchange, G4S indicated that it is on track to make bigger profits this year than it did in 2019. CEO Ashley Almanza said lost revenues that it would normally expect from guarding airports and big sporting and music events had been offset by new business coming from the healthcare, financial services and retail sectors. The company is fending off a £3bn hostile takeover attack from Canadian rival Gardaworld, backed by BC Partners.


Superdry signals improved trading after annual loss

Superdry announced yesterday that its trading performance has improved in the months since April, despite uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, as the fashion retailer swung to an annual loss due to lockdown-led store closures. The company said demand was gradually returning, with a major shift of customers to its online stores, but it had to discount heavily in the last few months to clear items that had accumulated in stores during lockdowns. Online sales for the 20 weeks to September 12th jumped 55.3%. Underlying pre-tax losses stood at £41.8m for the year to April 25th, down from a profit of £38m a year earlier, while group revenue fell 19.2% to £704.4m.


Global stocks sink on fears of new Covid lockdowns

Fears over a string of second lockdowns sent global stocks down on Monday – airlines, hotels and oil were all down while bank shares also suffered. Analysts said the moves were corrective rather than a repeat of the sell-offs witnessed in March. Britain's blue chip companies saw £50bn wiped off their value as investors bet new rules to minimise social contact would wreck the fragile economic rebound.

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