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Daily News Roundup: Tuesday 26th March 2019

Posted: 26th March 2019


JPMorgan asks 300 staff to move in event of no-deal Brexit 
JP Morgan has asked over 300 investment banking staff to sign new contracts to move to France or Germany in the wake of a no-deal Brexit, according to Bloomberg. The development comes months after the staff in question were warned that in the worst-case scenario, they were on a list of people that would have to move to an EU hub such as Paris or Frankfurt. JP Morgan staff who are asked to move will be given a six-month package that allows them to commute between London and their new European location, according to people familiar with the plans. The Telegraph understands that only some of the staff would be able to choose which European city they want to live in.

Lloyds bosses set to face MPs 
MPs are set to hear from executives at Lloyds Banking Group as to why they have awarded CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio a pay rise which more than made up for a cut to his pension. The bank increased his salary and benefits by £175,000, while reducing his pension perks by £154,000 a year. Critics have branded the move a stealth pay rise which goes against the spirit of a crackdown on lucrative executive pensions.

Third of Scottish bank branches have closed 
An investigation by the consumer organisation Which? has found that Scotland has lost over a third of its bank branches in the past eight years. The report found that there were 610 fewer banks or building societies across Scotland in 2018 compared with 2010 - cutting the total number of branches from 1,625 to 1,015. RBS closed the greatest number of branches since 2015, shutting 158 of the 399 banks to have disappeared. It was followed by Bank of Scotland, which closed 86, and Clydesdale which shut 59. 


Inmarsat backs private equity takeover
Satellite firm Inmarsat has recommended a $3.4bn (£2.6bn) takeover offer from a private equity-led consortium including buy-out house Apax Partners. Warburg Pincus and two Canadian pension funds are also involved in the bid, which follows an offer from US rival EchoStar last summer. The Standard's Jim Armitage suggests that the UK needs more “blue sky thinking” to support British tech following the announcement.

Epiris to buy IFG
Epiris is to takeover financial services group IFG in a deal worth £206m. City-based private equity firm Epiris’ investments include TGI Fridays, TI Media, Hollywood Bowl and auction house Bonhams, while IFG comprises of pension provider James Hay and wealth manager Saunderson House.

Private equity moves beyond London in search for deals
According to new statistics, Manchester is emerging as an alternative to London for private equity investors. The city now has enough corporate finance expertise to handle all but the biggest deals. 


Deutsche Bank revealed as behind €150m loan to Wirecard founder
Deutsche Bank has been revealed as the source of a €150m loan to Markus Braun, the founder of Wirecard. Deutsche accepted half of his stake in the group as collateral. 


Takeover talks ground Wow Air flights 
Budget airline Wow Air was forced to cancel a flight from Gatwick to Reykjavik yesterday, after a bid by US private equity firm Indigo Partners fell through. A mooted tie-up with rival Icelandic budget airline Icelandair has also fallen by the wayside.

Jet Airways founder steps down 
The founder of India’s Jet Airways, Naresh Goyal, has stepped down as chairman of the company. The airline has debts which exceed $1bn and has grounded some flights as it struggles to pay employees, suppliers and leasing companies. 


Construction firms facing skills shortage 
Research by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board has found that engineering construction firms are facing a growing shortage of skilled workers, made worse by an ageing workforce. Almost half of 820 companies surveyed said they believed the skills gap will get worse over the next three years.


Automation poses threat to City roles 
The Office for National Statistics has identified around 710,000 jobs in the City at risk from new automated technology, with around 39% of jobs in financial services, excluding insurance and pension funding, likely to be automated. Some 1.5m jobs are at high risk of having some of their duties and tasks automated in the future and job losses are more likely to impact the female workforce - with 70% of high risk jobs held by women.
Just Group completes required fundraising
Retirement services firm Just Group has completed a £375m fundraise to comply with the more stringent new capital requirement rules to counteract the risk of equity release mortgages. The firm, which unveiled heavy 2018 pre-tax losses earlier this month, issued £300m worth of bonds and raised an extra £75m via an equity placing.

Aegon unveils new plan to boost temporary workers 
Aegon UK has revealed a new recruitment partner to deliver hundreds of contingency workers. The insurer has announced a three-year contract with Sanderson Recruitment to manage its contractor and temporary worker hires. Under the agreement, Sanderson will provide around 360 contingent staff for locations across the UK.


Convatec pins hopes on new boss
Medical equipment manufacturer Convatec has poached Genus boss Karim Bitar, after previous CEO Paul Moraviec stepped down last October. Convatec, which makes colostomy bags and catheters, has struggled in recent months after a profit warning in October. 


Housing demand hits six-year low amid Brexit uncertainty
Demand for housing has slumped to its lowest level in almost six years, according to data from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), which shows that sales to first-time buyers, who are taking full advantage, have risen to a seven-month high. The number of buyers registered per estate agent branch dropped by 15% to 252 in February, the lowest number since July 2013. Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, said house hunters are evidently delaying their plans until the impact of Brexit is clearer.


Ashley mulls bid for Debenhams 
Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct is considering launching a bid to buy Debenhams outright as a way to save the ailing department store chain. Mr Ashley has been seeking control of the group and had offered to lend it £150m or buy its Danish subsidiary. However, Debenhams rebuffed these offers and is pursuing its own refinancing plan. Mr Ashley, who has a near-30% share in Debenhams, has argued that his counter proposals - including appointing himself as CEO - offer the firm a better chance of survival. Under British takeover rules Sports Direct has until 22 April to either make a firm offer or walk away.


Nike fined over merchandise breach
The European Commission has fined Nike €12.5m (£10.7m) after accusing it of restricting the sale of merchandise not carrying its own trademark. Between 2004 and 2017 a number of top football clubs were affected by the restrictions on football merchandise sales, including Barcelona, Manchester United and Juventus. 


Treasury will be taught Left-wing economics 
The shadow chancellor John McDonnell will reportedly order Treasury officials to be retrained in Left-wing “economic theories and approaches” if Labour wins power at the next general election. Under the plans, officials would also have to consult the public and trade unions in “listening exercises” around the country. The Conservatives have said the plans expose the impact a potential Labour government would have on the economy. 

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