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Daily News Roundup: Tuesday, 27th February 2018

Posted: 27th February 2018


NatWest to launch fintech accelerator

NatWest has announced it will launch new fintech accelerators in four cities across the UK in April. Units in London, Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh will support up to 80 fintech firms with a "technology team mentor" and access to government contacts. The six- to 18-month acceleration programmes offer office space, business advice and coaching, as well as "access to the bank’s networks and supply chains", NatWest said.

Paper clearing phased out by Yorkshire

CYBG, owner of both Yorkshire Bank and Clydesdale, has said that its cheque imaging technology will cover all cheques handled by Yorkshire Bank by the second half of this year. Mark Curran, director of Payments and Open Banking at CYBG, commented: "Quick mobile cheque clearing is an excellent example of how we are making our customers' lives easier - offering functionality that is smart, secure and simple to use. Cheques have been embedded in our society for more than 350 years, but advances in technology have given the product a new lease of life.”

Rise in staffing numbers at investment banks

Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and UBS have begun to increase staff numbers, as they capitalise on improving market conditions, expected interest rate rises and the return of market volatility.

Leaseback idea for Goldman Sachs HQ

Goldman Sachs is believed to be considering the sale and lease back of its new £1bn London headquarters. The bank declined to comment on the matter.

RBS state aid deal to be overseen by Lord Cromwell

Reports claim that the Treasury is lining up crossbench peer Lord Cromwell to oversee the distribution of £800m by RBS to smaller banks as part of an EU state aid penalty.


Draghi calls for end to clearing dispute before Brexit

European Central Bank president Mario Draghi has called on the EU to speed up the passage of regulations which will give the ECB far-reaching powers over clearing houses in London. He said he wanted to “stress the crucial importance of finalising the adoption of key pieces of EU legislation, such as Emir II, well in advance of Brexit, in order to be prepared for all possible contingencies, including a no-deal scenario.”


Aston Martin returns to profit

Ahead of a possible flotation of the company, Aston Martin’s Andy Palmer has commented: “It’s an enormous growth story. Our core rebuilding is largely done. The next step is portfolio expansion.” The firm saw a pre-tax profit of £87m in 2017, from a loss of £163m the year before, with


Aerospace firms jetting for production record

Aircraft manufacturers globally are targeting the delivery of more than 1,700 wide-body and single-aisle aircraft for 2018, a production record. It would mark a 15% rise on the record 1,498 deliveries racked up in 2017, according to trade bode ADS, which noted the first month of the year recorded 71 aircraft deliveries with 48 ordered, worth up to £1.3bn to UK industry.


Carillion finance director issued warning in May

Minutes from a boardroom meeting suggest that Emma Mercer, Carillion’s last finance director, raised the alarm about accounting regularities as early as May 2017. Documents released by the House of Commons work and pensions and business committees show that she did “not feel she was listened to”, despite having told Adam Green, managing director, that she was “uncomfortable” with some issues at the firm.

Interserve shares fall after debt talk

Shares in outsourcing group Interserve fell after rumours emerged suggesting that the company has yet to negotiate a debt refinancing deal with lenders.


Revolut hits 1.5m customers

Fintech startup Revolut has broken even while signing up 1.5m customers. The financial services firm has processed $10bn of transactions to date and says its monthly transaction volume is now running at $1.5bn, an increase of 700% on this time last year. Nikolay Storonsky, Revolut's founder and CEO, said: “Instead of becoming a bank from day one, we chose to focus our time and resources on product development and customer acquisition.” Revolut is signing up between 6,000 and 8,000 new customers a day, adding 500,000 new users in the last two months alone.

Provident Financial shares reach record low

Provident Financial shares hit a 22-year low yesterday amid reports that a £500m rights issue is about to be announced. Provident delivers annual results today with investors bracing for updates on two separate probes by financial regulators. Shares in Provident closed at 588p, down more than 68½p.

Natural disasters hit insurers

A string of global natural catastrophes in 2017 had a significant impact on profits at Hiscox and QBE. QBE posted losses of $1.25bn (£0.9bn) compared with profits of $844m in 2016, saying it was “heavily impacted” by the fallout from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the Californian wildfires. Meanwhile, pre-tax profit at Hiscox was £30.8m in 2017, down from £354.5m. "The strong growth and profits in retail countered the volatility felt in our big-ticket businesses which were impacted by an historic year for natural catastrophes," said Hiscox chief executive Bronek Masojada.

Aberdeen Standard Investments to set up in Ireland after Brexit

Aberdeen Standard Investments is to establish investment and distribution operations in Ireland after Britain leaves the EU. Gary Marshall, Head of EMEA at Aberdeen Standard Investments, said that the Dublin base would complement its existing Luxembourg business which manages over 100 funds.

Insurers struggle with high-tech homes

Insurance claims are increasing among the wealthy as the latest technological devices increase the cost of repairing fire and flood damage to homes. Computer systems controlling entertainment equipment, central heating and mood lighting result in a greater likelihood of things going wrong, and greater repair costs.

Capitama launch aims to help high- and ultra-high net worth individuals

Capitama, a new investment platform launched yesterday by serial entrepreneurs Simon Ramery and Brett de Bank, aims to provide high- and ultra-high net worth individuals with exposure to venture capital and private equity-style deals.

Return of star system for analysts

It is believed that changes under Mifid II regulations will see the return of a generation of "star analysts", with lower-ranking analysts expected to lose out.


Melrose focuses efforts on buying GKN

GKN is due to report annual results this week, potentially prompting an increased bid from Melrose after its £7.4bn offer was rejected. Simon Peckham, the chief executive of Melrose, commented: "Look at what's happening in the market - our shares are going up and theirs are tracking ours… It's their job to explain to investors why they think they are the best management for the business. Their shareholders haven't told us to go away.” Mike Turner, GKN's chairman, said in a letter to shareholders this month: "[We believe] that Melrose is more focused on financial engineering than real engineering”.


Epiris buys Time Inc UK

In a deal thought to be worth about £130m, publisher Time Inc UK has been sold to private equity company Epiris. Alex Fortescue, the managing partner at Epiris, commented: "The business itself offers plentiful scope for transformation through operational improvement and mergers and acquisitions".


Mortgage lending rose in January

Borrowers took out mortgages worth £21.9bn in January, according to data from UK Finance, up 9.8% on the same month the previous year. The number of people remortgaging rose 4.6% to 24,930, while the number of loans being taken out for house purchase fell 5% to 28,721.


Sales stumble at Primark

Associated British Foods has reported a sales slowdown at Primark, which it attributed to warm weather last Autumn. ABF said like-for-like sales in the 24 weeks to March 3rd fell 1% on the same period a year earlier. However, the company added that early trading of the new spring/summer range has been “encouraging”, and that margins in the second half will be up on the second half in 2017.


Consumer credit boom over

Consumer credit fell by 0.2% compared with January 2017, according to figures from industry group UK Finance, the first fall since July 2013. Personal loans and overdraft usage fell by 4.6% year on year while credit card borrowing rose by 4.8% - the slowest increase since June 2015.


More male executives going part-time

The Telegraph examines the findings of Timewise’s annual survey of working practices, which reveals the number of employees earning at least £40,000 and working part-time rose by 10% last year. For the first time, a third of so-called “power part-timers” are men. And one in four full-time workers, of either gender, would prefer to work part-time, the recruiter said. The financial sector in particular is leading with “returners programmes” for senior professionals with a CV gap of at least two years.

Old £10 out of circulation this week

The old paper £10 will cease being legal tender after this week, yet figures from the Bank of England suggest that there is still £2.2bn worth in circulation. Whilst some retailers may still accept the old notes following the deadline, the Bank of England will continue to exchange the old notes free of charge.

Cash loses battle to contactless

It is believed that the volume of card transactions may have outpaced those involving cash for the first time in Britain. Sir Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor at the Bank of England, commented: "It looks likely that last year, for the first time, the number of card payments overtook cash payments." This has been driven largely by the contactless payment revolution.

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