Skip to Content
Skip to Main Menu

Daily News Roundup: Tuesday, 28th March 2023

Posted: 28th March 2023


Barclays announces more branch closures

Barclays will close another 14 branches at sites across the UK, with 12 in England and two in Wales set to close. This marks the third time this year that Barclays has announced branch closures, with the total now at 58. Barclays, Nationwide, Virgin Money, NatWest, Lloyds, Halifax and TSB have announced 132 closures between them, according to data from cash machine company Link. Lloyds, Barclays, NatWest, HSBC and Santander have all shut more than half of their branches since 2015. Jenny Ross, money editor at Which?, said branch closures “don’t just make access to cash more difficult for the millions of people across the country who rely on it, but also cuts vital in-person banking services, which are particularly important for customers who are not ready or able to bank online.”  She added: “Schemes introduced by the banking industry to protect these services, such as banking hubs, are a good start in plugging gaps left by the removal of physical branches, but they must be rolled out much more quickly if consumers are to feel their benefits.”

Small firms call for capital rules rethink

The Bank of England could reconsider an overhaul of capital rules that critics warn will undermine growth by cutting off funding to SMEs. It has been suggested that the Prudential Regulation Authority could rethink planned reforms to the capital treatment of small business loans, acting on concerns that the proposals could reduce the availability of credit and make loans more expensive. Oxera, a consultancy commissioned by Allica Bank, has warned that the plans could reduce small business lending by up to £44bn and may increase capital requirements for small banks by a third. The Federation of Small Businesses said the reforms – which come as part of a broader package intended to improve the resilience of banks - could “compromise the ability of SMEs to scale up and create jobs.” The British Chambers of Commerce and the Institute of Directors have also expressed concerns about the plans.

Citi’s head of UK investment banking to depart

Citi’s head of UK investment banking Andrew Truscott has been appointed CEO of John Laing Group, an investor and manager of core infrastructure assets which is backed by private equity firm KKR. Mr Truscott has been at Citi since 2018, having joined from JPMorgan. Robert Way has reportedly been promoted to lead Citi’s UK investment banking operation.


US regulators target Binance

US regulators are seeking to ban crypto trading platform Binance, alleging that the firm has been operating illegally. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has accused Binance and chief executive Changpeng Zhao of multiple breaches of the commodity exchange act, including failing to properly register with the watchdog, while former chief compliance officer Samuel Lim has been accused of “aiding and abetting” the violations. The CFTC lawsuit accuses Binance of breaking numerous US financial laws, including rules intended to thwart money laundering, claiming that it used an "intentionally opaque" global corporate structure in a bid to escape oversight. Binance said that the filing was “unexpected and disappointing,” adding that it had been “working collaboratively with the CFTC for more than two years.”

SVB bought by First Citizens

The assets and loans of collapsed US lender Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) are being bought by rival First Citizens Bank. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the US financial regulator that announced the deal, said First Citizens had bought around $72bn of SVB's assets at a discount of $16.5bn. The FDIC said it would retain control of about $90bn of SVB's assets and estimated the cost of the SVB failure to its deposit insurance fund would be about $20bn. It will also receive an equity stake in First Citizens worth up to $500m. Under the SVB takeover deal, all 17 former SVB branches will open under the First Citizens brand. SVB customers have been advised to continue using their current branch until they receive notice from First Citizens Bank that their account has been fully moved across.

Saudi National Bank chairman resigns

The chairman of the Saudi National Bank has resigned, citing "personal reasons," with the departure of Ammar al-Khudairy coming less than two weeks after his comments on Credit Suisse sparked turmoil at the Swiss bank. On March 15, Mr al-Khudairy said that the Saudi National Bank - Credit Suisse's biggest shareholder - would not provide more money to the bank. This saw Credit Suisse’s share value drop by around a third, with the fallout ultimately seeing it acquired by rival UBS. Economic forecasting company Oxford Economics calculates that Saudi National Bank faces over £20.4bn of losses. Saudi National Bank said Mr al-Khudairy would be replaced by Saeed al-Ghamdi, the bank's chief executive.


Treasury urged to unlock pension investments

Lord Mayor of London Nicholas Lyons has urged the Treasury to use post-Brexit freedoms to unlock £50bn in investment. A report by the City of London Corporation and fintech industry body Innovate Finance says ministers should scrap red tape preventing private pensions from plugging a £15bn per year funding gap backing British business. Mr Lyons has called for rule changes that will allow smaller defined contribution (DC) pension schemes to be consolidated. He said: “The UK has the second largest pension fund pot in the world, but UK pension funds invest less in private equity and infrastructure than our competitors.” He added: “We’re missing a trick here – which is leading to the majority of UK pension funds and their scheme members not benefiting from these high growth investment opportunities.”

Elliott will not nominate directors to Salesforce board

Activist investor Elliott Management has scrapped plans to nominate directors to the board of Salesforce, saying the software group has put a “clear focus on value creation.” In a joint statement, the firm said: "Salesforce and Elliott have committed to continue the productive working relationship they have developed together.”


BioNTech plans to spend about $1bn more on research

BioNTech plans to spend €2.4bn to €2.6bn on research and development in 2023, up from €1.54bn last year. 


CVC explores Cineworld deal

Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners had reportedly proposed a takeover of parts of cinema operator Cineworld, with this coming just days after a similar offer from activist investor Elliott Management. Cineworld said in February it may emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the first half of this year. Meanwhile, it has been reported that Cineworld’s creditors are outlining plans for a new board and executive team after nine years under CEO Mooky Greidinger and his deputy Israel Greidinger.


Severfield announces record UK order book

Steel group Severfield has a record order book for projects in the UK and Europe. Its domestic order book hit £508m at the start of March – including £391m for delivery over the next 12 months. This marks a jump on the £464m it recorded in November. The firm said 93% of the order book relates projects in the UK, with the rest representing projects for delivery in continental Europe and the Republic of Ireland.


Matalan hires former supermarket executives

Matalan has hired a pair of former Lidl and Co-op executives as the retailer looks to rebuild its performance following the exit of founder John Hargreaves earlier this year. Jo Whitfield, the former chief of the Co-op's food division, will take over as Matalan's CEO. Meanwhile, former Lidl chief Karl-Heinz Holland has been hired as the retailer's new chairman. 


Inflation is widening gap between rich and poor

Analysis by Legal & General shows that the cost-of-living crisis has hit the poorest households hardest, deepening existing economic inequalities. The firm’s Rebuilding Britain Index shows that 95% of working UK households have experienced a real terms pay cut over the last 12-months. For households with an income under £20,000, this jumped to 99%. It was found that one in two households are concerned about being able to keep up with rent and mortgage payments over the next 12-months. While 54% have reduced day-to-day spending, 51% expect their spending to decrease over the next year. The survey saw just 5% of respondents say their household income has risen in line with or above inflation over the last 12-months. While 19% said it had increased below inflation, 21% experienced a decline in income over the period.

Bailey: BoE will keep hiking rates if inflation persists

Governor Andrew Bailey says the Bank of England will be forced to increase interest rates again if inflation does not fall fast enough in response to previous rate rises. Speaking at an event hosted by the London School of Economics, Mr Bailey said the Bank is still “very alert to any signs of persistent inflationary pressures,” adding: “If they become evident, further monetary tightening would be required.” Suggesting that future hikes in interest rates will be in response to higher-than-expected inflation figures, Mr Bailey said any future rate rises “will be firmly anchored in the emerging evidence.” Pointing to concerns over the global banking system after the failure of Credit Suisse and Silicon Valley Bank, he said the Bank believes “the UK banking system is resilient, with robust capital and liquidity positions, and well placed to support the economy.”

Household debt hits £2trn milestone

Analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that household debt has hit the £2trn mark for the first time. Household debt is now nearly the same size as the entire UK economy, which stands at £2.2trn. Around £8 in every £10 of outstanding debt is tied to home purchases at more than £1.6trn, while unsecured lending has climbed more than 7% over the last year to around £400bn.


Government scraps NFT plan

The Treasury has announced that plans for a Government backed non-fungible token (NFT) produced by the Royal Mint have been dropped. While the Treasury said it was "not proceeding with the launch" following a consultation with the Royal Mint, Economic Secretary Andrew Griffiths said the department would keep the proposal "under review." NFTs are digital assets that can be bought and sold but have no physical form of their own, and critics have voiced concern that the NFT market may be a bubble. Commenting on the decision not to push ahead with the NFT plan, Harriet Baldwin, chair of the Treasury Select Committee, said: "We have not yet seen a lot of evidence that our constituents should be putting their money in these speculative tokens unless they are prepared to lose all their money.”

Close Menu