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Daily News Roundup: Tuesday, 7th September 2021

Posted: 7th September 2021


Europe’s top banks failing on green pledges

Research by investment campaign group ShareAction has found that Europe’s 25 largest banks are still failing to present comprehensive plans that address both the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. The campaign group said the lack of action cast doubt on the sincerity of their sustainability pledges. For the most part, executive pay policies are failing to encourage major change, ShareAction said, while only Lloyds, NatWest and Nordea have committed to halving their financed emissions by 2030 to ensure they are on track to meet the goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. In response to the research, banking lobby group UK Finance said the sector fully supports the Government’s goal of reach net zero climate emissions by 2050 and has a key role to play in the transition to a low-carbon economy. “Lenders are putting climate responsibility at the core of their strategies, making net zero commitments and have already introduced a range of green finance options across their operations”, it added.

Revolut to enter 'buy now, pay later' market

Revolut CEO Nikolay Storonsky has confirmed the challenger bank is to enter the buy-now-pay-later market, and is developing a product to enable online shoppers to spread the cost of purchases over multiple instalments. The start-up is also working on a feature that will allow its 16m customers to automatically spread the cost of any high street purchase made using its cards.

Treasury official quits to join Barclays

Katharine Braddick, the Treasury's director-general for financial services, has quit to join Barclays as director of public policy -  a new position at the bank. The appointment will be subject to approval by Whitehall's Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) which may insist on a lengthy ban on her lobbying ministers and Treasury officials.

Nationwide to name Kevin Parry new chairman

Former Schroders executive Kevin Parry is set to be announced as Nationwide’s new chairman. Parry has been on Nationwide's board since 2016 and has been acting as the company's senior independent director since last year. He will replace David Roberts next year.


Goldman Sachs plans IPO for $5bn Petershill Partners

Goldman Sachs has said it is looking to float Petershill Partners on the London Stock Exchange. The investment vehicle plans to raise $750m by issuing new shares and will use the proceeds to buy stakes in private equity and other investment firms. It would sell at least $500m in existing stock, assuming a $5bn valuation.

Silver Lake continues shopping spree with stake in UK’s RAC

California-based private equity group Silver Lake has bought a stake in breakdown assistance provider RAC in a deal that values the company at £3.7bn. It will join fellow private equity outfit CVC and GIC, the Singapore sovereign wealth fund, as a co-shareholder.


StanChart in deal to launch Singapore digital-only bank

Standard Chartered has agreed a 60-40 joint venture deal to launch a digital-only bank in Singapore with the country's National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).


Eight-year low for August car sales

Car sales suffered their weakest month since August 2013 after a 22% slump in sales compared to 12 months earlier, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said the figures were "disappointing, albeit not wholly surprising". He warned: "The global shortage of semiconductors has affected UK, and indeed global, car production volumes so new car registrations will inevitably be undermined."

BMW stocks up on batteries

BMW has ordered more than €20bn (£17bn) worth of batteries as demand for electric cars spikes. CEO Oliver Zipse said: "We're growing and gaining market share. We're right in the middle of electrification." Elsewhere, VW boss Herbert Diess has warned that car production could be held back for months if not years due to the high demand for semiconductors.


Ryanair and Boeing fail to agree deal on new 737 Max 10 planes

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary has suggested the airline could ditch Boeing in favour of Airbus after talks with the US plane maker over a new order of jets broke down. Mr O'Leary said: "We are disappointed we couldn't reach an agreement with Boeing on a Max 10 order. However, Boeing has a more optimistic outlook on aircraft pricing than we do, and we have a disciplined track record of not paying high prices for aircraft."


Construction firms suffering severe disruption

The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply said on Monday that construction firms faced "sustained and severe" disruption in August, pushing up firms' costs at a near-record pace. Concrete, fuel, steel and timber prices jumped as staff and material costs "went through the roof", CIPS director Duncan Brock said. Meanwhile, Jewson has warned customers that prices for a range of goods will rise by as much as a fifth this month due to the ongoing supply chain disruption. Brian Berry, the chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “Builders throughout the UK, particularly smaller firms, are struggling to recover from the pandemic as a result of the continued materials crisis.”


UK regulator calls for greater powers against risky crypto ventures

The chair of the Financial Conduct Authority has warned investors not to take cryptocurrency advice from social media influencers such as US celebrity Kim Kardashian, who recently encouraged her 250m Instagram followers to speculate on crypto tokens. Charles Randell warned that influencers “are routinely paid by scammers to help them pump and dump new tokens” some of which turn out not to exist at all. Randell went on to raise the prospect of the FCA bringing the creation and trading of cryptocurrency tokens under its scope, adding that he hoped to see a “consistent collaborative effort” among leading regulators to take action against “businesses which choose not to bring themselves within the reach of an effective national regulator”.

London warned of risk of losing status as top financial centre

TheCityUK has called for tax and labour reforms to help London compete with Hong Kong and New York. The group also noted that the UK financial services sector was taxed considerably more than its rivals. Other proposals in its manifesto for British finance include deepening ties with Communist China arguing that finance firms should help China to develop its markets and expand its green finance and fintech industries.

Climate risks to add $183bn to property insurance costs by 2040, Swiss Re predicts

The research institute of Swiss Re has predicted that climate risks could add as much as $183bn to annual premiums for property insurance by 2040 - just over a fifth of the total rise over the period.


Channel 4 boss rails against privatisation

Channel 4's chief executive Alex Mahon has hit out at government proposals to sell the broadcaster into private hands, citing new analysis demonstrating a shift to private ownership would have a "major impact" on operations. Speaking on a webinar broadcast from Leeds, Mahon said the report showed no evidence that the “irreversible change of privatising Channel 4 would be in the interest of either British audiences or the UK's economy."


Demand for holiday let mortgages rises

A study from financial data provider Moneyfacts reveals that the number of “holiday let” mortgage deals on the market have more than doubled in a year. Moneyfacts said there were 186 holiday let mortgage deals available this month, compared with 74 in August 2020. More lenders have also entered the market, up from 14 in August last year to 25 this year. Rachel Springall, of Moneyfacts, said: "It would not be too surprising to see more growth in this market in the months to come."


Retail sales slow in August

Figures from the British Retail Consortium show retail sales continued to rise in August – up 3% compared to a month earlier – but the speed of growth slowed with shoppers directing more of their money towards leisure and travel. The BRC said that with the “precarious economic backdrop and retailers grappling with higher costs” the Government had to deliver on its promise of business rates reform or brace for more shop closures and job losses. Separate data from Barclaycard indicates household spending increased by 15.4% in the year to August.


Rate-setter plays down inflation threat

Catherine Mann, a former Citigroup chief economist and the latest recruit to the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, has insisted the world economy will avoid a 1970s-style inflation crisis despite mounting evidence of soaring prices and product shortages. Ms Mann told an Australian conference that rising oil prices were less of a threat now and firms were more reluctant to hit households with price increases, while the link between inflation and wages had diminished in recent times.

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