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Daily News Roundup: Tuesday, 5th June 2018

Posted: 5th June 2018


RBS government share to be reduced in £2.6bn sale

Chancellor Philip Hammond has restarted the sale of RBS government-owned shares, with a stake worth almost £2.6bn offered to City investors at a loss. John McDonnell, shadow chancellor, commented: "There is no economic justification for this sell-off of RBS shares. There should be no sales of RBS shares, full-stop - but particularly with such a large loss to the taxpayers who bailed out the bank."

Starling targets sole traders

Mobile-only lender Starling Bank has announced it is making its business account available to the 3.4m sole traders in Britain. Anne Boden, chief executive, commented: "We live in the age of the entrepreneur and start-up, but banks haven't been providing a good enough service to them. We want to change that. Since successfully launching the first mobile-only business bank account earlier this year, we have been humbled by the number of requests we have had from potential customers who are self-employed to launch an account for them."


Regus move abandoned by Lone Star

Lone Star, the US private equity company, has dropped a potential takeover of IWG, owner of Regus. Lone Star emerged as one of three interested parties in May.


Rothschild hired by En+ to sell down Oleg Deripaska’s stake

En+ has hired Rothschild to sell off part of Oleg Deripaska’s controlling stake, following sanctions against the firm by the US.

Libor and Libya investigations settled by Société Générale

Société Générale has announced the settlement of US and French legal actions following claims it rigged the Libor benchmark rate, and regarding transactions with Libyan parties. This comes as demand for shares was boosted following reported interest in a merger from Italy’s Unicredit.

Record money laundering fine for Commonwealth

Australia's biggest lender, Commonwealth Bank, is to pay a record A$700m fine to settle an anti-money-laundering case brought by the government's financial intelligence agency.


Airline profits expected to fall $5bn this year

According to forecasts by the International Air Transport Association (Iata), airlines will make $5bn (£3bn) less profit than previously estimated in 2018. The amount is expected to be $4bn less than in 2017.


Construction growth remains slow

UK construction activity remains subdued, according to IHS Markit's purchasing managers' index (PMI), with a score of 52.5 for May matching that recorded in April. Residential work performed best of the three monitored sub-sectors for the third month running, with housebuilding seeing a 55.7 rating, against 52.2 and 50.6 for the commercial and civil engineering sectors, respectively. IHS economist Sam Teague cautioned that a renewed drop in new work hints that a recovery could prove "short-lived".


Carillion presents business funding dialogue opportunity

Helen Wheeler, managing director of construction finance at Bibby Financial Services, argues that the fallout from the Carillion collapse presents a crucial opportunity to change the way future supply chains are managed. "Late payments of up to 120 days and subcontractors losing £16,000 per year on average due to bad debt, means that many businesses are simply surviving from day-to-day," she says. "Carillion has already shown that other regulators such as the FRC and the Pensions Regulator were unable to act – it’s vital that the Small Business Commissioner isn’t found to be in the same position in five years’ time," Wheeler asserts.

Transferwise's French deal brings millions of new customers

Payments outfit Transferwise has partnered with Banques Populaires and Caisses d’Espargne (BPCE) to integrate its API directly into France’s second largest bank's apps. The fintech’s international payments API will power all payments made digitally by the group’s 15.1m retail customers.

Multi-billion pound mega-merger for Nets and Concardis

Payments businesses Nets and Concardis are to merge in a multi-billion pound deal, with Nets' CEO Bo Nilsson commenting: "Germany offers attractive growth potential due to market size, consumer spending and the fact that around 75% of all payment transactions are still cash-based."

Lloyds fund fight

Goldman Sachs Asset Management is believed to be up against rivals Blackrock, JP Morgan and Schroders in the bid to run Lloyds Banking Group's £109bn investment fund.


David Lloyd acquires German club

David Lloyd Leisure is to invest £10m in the Health City club in Bad Homburg, Germany, bringing the number of its overseas clubs to 15. Glenn Earlam, chief executive, noted "a huge untapped market for family-focused health and leisure clubs".


UK manufacturing shrinking, GMB union says

Britain’s manufacturing sector has lost almost 600,000 jobs over the last decade, according to a study by the GMB union, leaving just under 3m workers employed in the sector. Every region in the UK has suffered, GMB said, with London, Scotland and the north-west the worst affected. Jude Brimble, GMB national officer, said: “We are at a critical crossroads in UK manufacturing".


Microsoft strikes coding deal

Microsoft has made a $7.5bn deal for digital coding platform Github as it seeks to expand its presence among software developers. Satya Nadella, chief executive of Microsoft, commented: "By joining forces with Github we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation. We recognise the community responsibility we take on with this agreement and will do our best work to empower every developer to build, innovate and solve the world's most pressing challenges."

Premier League rights get new online bid

A new online player has emerged in the fight for live rights to top-flight football broadcasts. It is speculated that Amazon and Facebook are among the bidders.

Software platform stake taken by KKR and Goldman Sachs

KKR and Goldman Sachs have acquired a "significant" minority stake in software platform OutSystems, in a deal which values the firm at over $1bn.


Poor funding hampering property developers

Bank lending to UK real estate SMEs has fallen by 9% over the last year, from £13.9bn to £12.7bn, according to research from commercial lender Ortus Secured Finance. Managing director Jon Salisbury, who warned that the lack of funding is contributing to the housing crisis, said: “The fall in lending to SMEs in the property sector is indicative of the wider lack of financing available to smaller businesses from the high-street lenders across all industries as the economy rebalances.”


Retail sales up after hot weather

Shops benefitted from the recent hot weather, with May spending growing 5.1% compared with the same month in 2017. Garden centres saw takings up 50%. Esme Harwood, open banking director at Barclays, commented: "Looking ahead, it seems the experience economy will remain a top priority as consumers plan to treat themselves to major music and sporting events. In the next few months, we expect to see families carefully balancing their budgets to ensure they don't miss out on their must-see and must-do experiences of the summer."

Brazilian sale to lead to $4.5bn loss for Walmart

Walmart has made an estimated $4.5bn loss after selling a majority stake in its Brazilian operations. Enrique Ostale, chief executive of Walmart Latin America, UK and Africa, said Walmart will keep a minority stake in Brazil, which will give “our Brazil business the best opportunity for long-term growth”.

House of Fraser denies shutdown rumours

Retailer House of Fraser has maintained that its restructuring plan is "on track", dismissing "inaccurate and unhelpful media speculation".


Clarity sought on post-Brexit customs plans

City executives have warned the Prime Minister that they urgently require clarity on government plans for Brexit so that firms can prepare to leave the European Union. Edwin Morgan, of the Institute of Directors, commented: “Businesses need clarity about the government's objectives to help them to plan. Everything is still subject to negotiation with the EU, but we don't yet know what the UK will pushing for in key areas like customs. Our members want to know whether the government's forthcoming white paper will make clear their intentions on VAT, customs and regulatory alignment - to understand in what areas ministers foresee continued harmonisation with EU rules, and where they want freedom to diverge.”


Doubt grows over £7.8bn Smurfit US bid

Shares in Smurfit Kappa fell as doubts grew over a £7.8bn takeover by US rival International Paper Company, down 7.2%, or 222p, to 2880p.

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