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Daily News Roundup: Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Posted: 28th January 2020


Amigo Loans for sale

Lender Amigo Loans has opened itself to offers and launched a strategic review. Founder James Benamor’s Richmond Group wants to sell its 60.66% majority stake in the face of a “challenging operating environment”. The strategic review will consider various aspects of the company’s strategy, ownership and operating model, including the potential sale of the company as a whole. Amigo has come under pressure from the FCA which last year targeted the guarantor loans market, where repayments are guaranteed by friends or family.

Alison of RBS will say it with prickly roses on Valentine’s Day

The FT’s Lombard predicts some tough love from RBS chief Alison Rose when she reveals her strategy for the bank’s future on February 14th - it “won’t read like a love letter”.


Investment in therapy apps surges past £500m

Investment into mental health start-ups has increased almost fivefold since 2014 to £580m, according to Pitchbook data analysed by venture capital firm Octopus Ventures, spurred by a rising demand for apps and other services that offer therapy.


Big investment banks cool on Chinese IPOs on Wall Street

Credit Suisse, Citigroup and Bank of America are among the big US investment banks to be backing out of Chinese IPOs on Wall Street as valuations falter amidst a tense political backdrop.

Debate on ‘too big to fail’ needs reframing

With the likes of Bank of America rapidly increasing their market share of the retail market, Robert Armstrong suggests this growth should form part of the “too big to fail” debate.

Goldman Sachs: will Solomon’s consumer gamble pay off?

The FT looks ahead to Goldman Sachs’ first ever investor day on Wednesday as CEO David Solomon sets out his strategy to end the poor returns of the recent past.


FastJet struggling again

With cash reserves of just £3m as of January 23, low-cost African airline FastJet, which operates in South Africa and Zimbabwe, has again warned that it could go under without a restructuring by the end of March. Talks to sell its Zimbabwean operations with an investor consortium headed by Solenta Aviation, its biggest shareholder, are not yet finished but could help the carrier to stay in operation until 2021. Separately, the Indian government has launched another bid to privatise debt-heavy national carrier Air India, which has struggled against budget rivals.

Airbus poised for deal to settle corruption probes

Airbus is expected to agree a deal with regulators in the UK, France and the US over a corruption probe which his expected to cost the aerospace group more than €3bn.


Financial services facing training and culture crisis

Britain's financial services industry is facing an "existential skills crisis" according to a report from the Financial Services Skills Taskforce, chaired by Mark Hoban. Rapid technological changes, a lack of diversity and too few top graduates coming into the sector is putting the industry at risk. The former City minister also said that the financial services industry was lacking the "vision, co-ordination and focus needed to weather the megatrends transforming global business". John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury and City minister, said: "The industry needs to invest further in skills, boost diversity and ensure we're training the next generation of leaders and innovators."

Regulation making IPOs less appealing

Private firms are balking at the idea of listing in the UK due to increased regulatory burdens, according to a survey by broker Peel Hunt and the Quoted Company Alliance (QCA). Just 36 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange last year making it the quietest year since 2009. The number listing on AIM fell to a 15-year low. “The number of IPOs and companies leaving the markets in 2019 was stark and action is needed from UK policymakers and regulators to reverse the de-equitisation trend in 2020,” said QCA chief executive Tim Ward. Along with red tape, the availability of cheap capital from private equity and venture capital has also been blamed for the decline.

Finablr’s broker downgrades its shares

JP Morgan Cazenove has cut its target share price for foreign exchange group Finablr below the level at which it was floated less than a year ago. Analysts at the bank said that last week's large share pledge by Finablr’s founder Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty, whose businesses include Travelex, had increased the overhang on the shares. The Times’ Alistair Osborne points out that JP Morgan Cazenove was one of three banks that floated Finablr, also participated in the Amigo float, and was joint global co-ordinator for Aston Martin's IPO.

Funding Circle replaces finance director

Sean Glithero, the finance director of peer-to-peer lender Funding Circle, is leaving the firm. Mr Glithero will be replaced by Oliver White, chief financial officer at Vanquis Bank, the credit card division of subprime lender Provident Financial. Shares in Funding Circle, which matches investors with small businesses, are down 74% over the last 12 months. Mr White said yesterday that lending to small and mid-sized companies was "a substantial market" that "has been hugely underserved for years".

Major hedge funds calculate cliff-edge Brexit fears overdone

Prominent UK hedge fund managers have suggested that investors are too worried about a possible no-deal Brexit and are in danger of missing out on overlooked UK stocks.

Varadkar threatens UK on fish and financial services

Leo Varadkar is the latest EU leader to warn Britain that hindering access to its fishing waters will result in the loss of access to the EU market for the financial services industry.


Forward Health secures $5m investment

Forward Health has revealed it is rebranding to Pando Health, following a $5m (£3.8m) investment from Australian venture capital firm Skip Capital. Stride.VC and Albion Capital also participated in the round.


Tabcorp throws hat into the ring for National Lottery

Tabcorp, the largest lottery company in Australia, is the latest high-profile gambling name to hold talks with Rothschild about bidding for the licence to be the next operator of the UK’s National Lottery.


S Three reveals rising profits

London-listed tech-focused recruiter S Three has posted a 20% increase in pre-tax profits on the back of strong growth in the USA, continental Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. While S Three’s UK and Ireland business struggled, with net fees down 9% for the year to £48.2m, reported profit before tax hit £56.8m in the year to November 30 and revenue grew almost 7% to £1.3bn.


Mortgage approvals surged last month

UK banks in December approved the most mortgages since August 2015, according to data from UK Finance, though mortgage lending fell overall last year. Mortgage approvals for house purchases hit 46,815 last month, while the number of mortgages approved rose 7.4% to 982,000 in 2019 compared to 2018. Approvals for remortgages were 7.9% higher over the same period and banks and building societies lent a total of £265.8bn in 2019, which was 1.1% down on 2018. “Repayments continue to offset spending, so that the level of borrowing on cards is currently growing at only 2.4% annually, continuing the general slowdown from the recent high of 6.6% in October 2016,” UK Finance said.

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