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Daily News Roundup: Tuesday, 24th January 2023

Posted: 24th January 2023


Private finance firms have fewer women leaders than listed rivals

Privately-owned finance firms have significantly fewer women in leadership positions than their publicly-listed rivals, according to research from employment law firm Fox & Partners. Only 15.1% of partners in financial services companies structured as privately-owned partnerships are women, compared with 43% on the boards of the UK’s top listed banks, asset managers, fintech companies and insurance firms, separate research shows. Catriona Watt, a partner at Fox & Partners, said: “Poor diversity at the boardroom level can be a vicious cycle. Women may be less motivated to join a new firm if it doesn’t already have senior female leaders in place.” Watts added: “This highlights the importance of cultivating and supporting existing female employees so that they can become the next generation of leaders and also put in place measures to attract women to the sector in the first place.”

Marion King to chair OBIE

Former NatWest and Mastercard executive Marion King has been appointed chair and trustee of the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE), whose outgoing chief Charlotte Crosswell is moving into a position at the government-backed Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology. “Open banking is a UK success story and exemplifies the very best of UK innovation and entrepreneurship, providing benefits to over 6.5m consumers and small businesses. I am looking forward to seeing even more users adopt and take advantage of products that will help them better manage, move and make more of their money,” King said in statement.

Ex-Treasury official John Kingman to join Barclays board as UK chair

Sir John Kingman will succeed Crawford Gillies as chair of Barclays’ UK retail division in June. Sir John will retain his post as chair of Legal & General but stood down as chair of Tesco Bank over the weekend. The former Treasury official oversaw the bailout of the British banking system during the financial crisis, before moving on to UK Financial Investments, which managed and sold down the country’s holdings in the rescued banks.

Bankers switching firms rewarded with 20% pay bump

Research by recruiter Morgan McKinley shows bankers, brokers and insurers switching to a rival firm scored a 20% pay rise last year as City firms lure talent from rivals with a hike in pay. “The competition for talent clearly remains and combined with higher costs of living, candidates continue to demand premiums for their commitment,” Hakan Enver, managing director at Morgan McKinley UK, said.

UK begins post-Brexit review of EU’s investor fund regulation

British regulators have begun a review into whether EU standards for money market funds could put UK financial stability at risk following the pension fund turmoil in September.


Highland Europe raises €1bn fund for start-up investing despite slowdown

Highland Europe has closed a new €1bn fund to back start-ups, stating that it will use the new money to finance private software and consumer internet companies across Europe.


Carney’s climate alliance 'dragging feet' on green investments

The climate change alliance set up by former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has been accused of "dragging its feet" on green investment. A report by BankTrack, a charity that charts bank finance activities, found members of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) are providing less financing for renewable energy than lenders that are not in the group. Maaike Beenes, campaign lead at BankTrack, a charity that charts bank finance activities, said: "To stop the climate crisis from further unfolding, banks must stop dragging their feet and start shifting their financing away from fossil fuels towards green energy." But a spokesman for GFANZ disputed the findings, saying: "This report does not provide a comprehensive view of clean energy investment.”

Goldman Sachs to cut asset management investments

Goldman Sachs is looking to significantly reduce the $59bn of alternative investments that weighed on the bank's earnings. The bank intends to divest its positions over the next few years and replace some of those funds with outside capital, Julian Salisbury, chief investment officer of asset and wealth management at Goldman Sachs, said. "I would expect to see a meaningful decline from the current levels," Salisbury added. "It's not going to zero because we will continue to invest in and alongside funds, as opposed to individual deals on the balance sheet."

Qatar Investment Authority doubles stake in Credit Suisse

The Qatar Investment Authority has become the second-biggest shareholder in Credit Suisse after doubling its stake to just under 7%, a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday shows.


Ford plans to axe jobs in Europe, says union

Germany's largest union has revealed that Ford intends to cut thousands of jobs in Europe and move more product development roles to the US. IG Metall claims Ford intends to slash up to 3,200 jobs in Germany alone and suggested sites in Belgium and the UK could also be affected.


Redrow switches to heat pumps

Redrow is to switch to installing airsource heat pumps instead of gas boilers in all detached homes it builds. Matthew Pratt, its chief executive, said he had committed to installing them on all further detached houses it built as a way of "future-proofing our homes and helping our customers to lower their energy use".


Citadel breaks records with $16bn profit

Ken Griffin’s Citadel made a 38.1% return in its main hedge fund and strong gains in other products last year, equating to a record $16bn profit for investors after fees - the biggest dollar gain by a hedge fund in history. According to a report published by LCH Investments, Citadel topped the top 20 hedge fund manager's list, beating John Paulson's 2007 $15bn gain. Overall, the top 20 managers made $22.4bn net of fees for their investors in 2022 and achieved an average return of 3.4%, while the rest made losses averaging 8.2%. Rick Sopher, LCH chairman, said Citadel's record gain was down to being a "diversified firm with multiple sources of profits and active capital allocation and risk management." He added: "Their progress up the rankings in the past few years has been remarkable.”

FCA monitoring hedge fund after more claims against founder

The Financial Conduct Authority is keeping an eye on Odey Asset Management after further allegations of sexual misconduct were made against founder Crispin Odey. He was cleared of indecent assault after a trial almost two years ago, but there have since been other claims about his behaviour. The Times reports that the FCA is monitoring the situation at the hedge fund. A spokeswoman for the watchdog said: “We are unable to comment on individuals or specific firms. However, we take allegations of non-financial misconduct seriously and expect firms to properly investigate any allegations of misconduct.”

Bloomberg to pay $5m to settle SEC charges

Bloomberg Finance LP has been fined $5m by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for "misleading" disclosures relating to its paid subscription service. Bloomberg failed to disclose to customers of its BVAL service that its daily price valuations for fixed-income securities could be based on a single data input from at least 2016 to October 2022, the SEC said in a statement. That practice did not adhere to methodologies the firm had previously disclosed, the agency said.

Bank of England warns insurers over ability to sell down assets in a crisis

Stress tests by the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority found life insurers are resilient overall, but could be overly optimistic about their ability to sell down assets in a crisis.


UK life sciences sector at risk - report

The Government’s strategy for Britain’s £94bn life sciences sector is at risk of failing unless ministers act to stem a loss of manufacturing investment, jobs and exports to international rivals. In a report, the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership warns that there has been a significant loss of traditional medicines manufacturing capacity over the past 25 years and that the global proportion of capital investment has fallen “dramatically”. The warning comes amid strained relations between global drugs industry bosses and Westminster amid a disagreement over a “rocketing” sales levy that multinational bosses warn is hitting investment in Britain.


Pubs chain lost £4m in Christmas rail strikes

Fuller, Smith & Turner has issued a profit warning, blaming months of train strikes for a £4m slump in sales at the pub group. Simon Emeny, Fuller's chief executive, said strike action and the cost of living crisis had created short-term hurdles for the company's post pandemic recovery and that he expected further strikes to dampen sales still further.


UK to propose carbon border tax as part of steel industry aid package

The UK Government is considering a carbon tax on steel imports as part of a £600m package to level the playing field for Britain’s steelmakers and support their investment in greener technologies.


Investor calls for Google to cut more jobs

British activist investor Sir Chris Hohn has written to Google to warn that its plans to cut 12,000 jobs do not go far enough and more redundancies will need to be made to “reverse the very strong headcount growth of 2022." The founder of The Children's Investment Fund Management (TCI), who holds a $6bn stake in Google-parent company Alphabet, said: "I believe that management should aim to reduce headcount to around 150,000. This would require a total headcount reduction in the order of 20%.” The 12,000 job cuts at Google represented a reduction of around 6% of its workforce. Sir Chris also said Google should look to "address excessive employee compensation", warning the median salary at Alphabet was nearly $300,000. Major tech firms to also announce staff cuts over-hiring during the pandemic include Facebook-owner Meta, Microsoft and Amazon.

Spotify’s chief content exits amid mass job cuts

The Spotify executive who signed up the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in a multi-million-pound podcast deal is leaving as the company amid mass layoffs. Chief content officer Dawn Ostroff has "decided to depart Spotify", according to chief executive Daniel Ek. Her exit came as the Stockholm-headquartered company confirmed it would reduce its headcount by around 6%, with around 600 people losing their jobs. Mr Ek said in a blog post: "In hindsight, I was too ambitious in investing ahead of our revenue growth."


Bill Ackman takes stake in Bremont after buying its watches

Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman has taken a minority stake in luxury British watch brand Bremont, investing alongside existing investors Hellcat in a funding round worth £48.4m.


Investors spurn US companies in favour of London stocks

Goldman Sachs says Europe has become the “region du jour” for investors betting on a less severe economic downturn and attracted by its cheaper valuations compared with American stocks. London-listed equities are among the European markets to have rallied this year, as a fall in wholesale gas prices, the reopening of the Chinese economy and signs that inflation may have peaked have boosted sentiment. Last week the FTSE 100 index of London’s leading companies came close to the record high hit in 2018. Beijing’s ending of its zero-Covid policies more rapidly than expected has provided a huge boost to European stocks, said Sharon Bell, senior European equity strategist at Goldman Sachs.

ONS revises productivity data following ‘manual error’

The Office for National Statistics has revised its data on UK productivity, declaring that instead of Britain leading the way on productivity among the world’s wealthy nations, it had in fact suffered one of the worst rates of productivity growth in the G7. The statistics office released the correction after finding a “manual error” on its output per hour measurements had heavily skewed its findings.

Bank of England expected to keep up interest rate rises

The Bank of England is expected to raise interest rates by a further 0.5 percentage points next month, with analysts pointing to high underlying inflation, strong wage growth and broad unexpected resilience in the economy.


Brazil and Argentina to start preparations for a common currency

Brazil and Argentina will discuss a plan to create a new common currency at a summit in Buenos Aires this week, with a currency union covering all of Latin America a strategic target.

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