State to provide an 80% guarantee on bank loans in export drive
Boris Johnson announced a shake-up of Government export finance on Monday as part of efforts to support small businesses looking to enter new markets after Brexit. The new scheme, to be run by UK Export Finance, will see the state provide an 80% guarantee on bank loans of up to £25m to help companies with general exporting costs. HSBC, Lloyds Bank, NatWest, Santander and Barclays have signed up to the scheme and other banks are expected to be added in future.
Revolut on track for profits as regulators and investors switch focus
Revolut chairman Martin Gilbert has said the fintech company is on course to make its first monthly profit this year following pressure from regulators and shareholders to slow growth and reduce costs.
BoE investigates hoax bonds email
The Bank of England is investigating the source of false emails that claimed it would no longer buy bonds issued by energy firms with high exposure to oil and coal.
Paysafe bought out by Foley-backed Spac
London-based payments company Paysafe is merging with a special purpose acquisition company set up by billionaire Bill Foley creating an entity worth around $9bn. Paysafe, which has been dominant in handling online gambling transactions as well as helping retailers process customers’ online payments, was acquired by Blackstone and CVC for £3bn in 2017.
EBRD chief defends lending strategy in autocratic countries
Odile Renaud-Basso, the new head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, has defended its lending practices in autocratic countries despite a mandate to operate in nations committed to multiparty democracy and pluralism.
SocGen to shut 600 French branches and cut €450m in costs
Société Générale has announced that 600 branches are to close as it seeks to cut €450m in costs, with the French lender merging its two domestic retail bank networks.
Toyota cautions on EV industry move
Johan van Zyl, chief executive of Toyota Motor Europe, has said the firm will not invest in building battery electric cars in the UK until the mid-2030s at the earliest, remarking: “By 2027, when this Corolla’s life cycle comes to an end, I think it will be not possible to produce a zero-emissions vehicle there. Therefore it will have to be a hybrid technology vehicle.”
Continental warns of price to livelihoods in electric car transition
Car supplier Continental has cautioned that livelihoods are being threatened by the transition to electric vehicles in the car industry, which it said is happening too rapidly.
Airlines boosted by vaccine deliveries
Airlines are preparing for key roles in the mass vaccine rollout that promises to unlock an immediate boost for the sector. Freight specialists and airlines with large cargo arms are in line for major distribution roles, Reuters reports.
McCarthy & Stone offer upped by Lone Star
Retirement housebuilding group McCarthy & Stone has been valued at £647m in US private equity firm Lone Star’s latest offer for the firm. Lone Star is being advised by Moelis & Company and Goldman Sachs, while Rothschild, Deutsche and Peel Hunt are working with McCarthy on the deal, with directors at the latter said to “consider the terms of the final offer to be fair and reasonable.”
MPs demand £2.6bn more for Equitable Life investors
A further £2.6bn of compensation should be paid out to investors who lost their life savings when insurance firm Equitable Life collapsed two decades ago, MPs have said. Just £1.5bn of compensation was paid by the Government in 2010, significantly less that the total £4.1bn losses incurred with the substandard payout blamed on poor public finances at the time. Now, campaigners including 140 MPs from all parties are calling for justice to finally be delivered.
Julia Hoggett named new London Stock Exchange CEO
Julia Hoggett has been named new chief executive of London Stock Exchange. She joins from the Financial Conduct Authority, where she was the head of market oversight. She remarked: “I am delighted to be joining London Stock Exchange plc, and the wider Group, at a time when London’s role as a global financial centre is so important. Clean and transparent markets are the underpinning of a vibrant and dynamic marketplace and will remain a huge focus.”
Pandemic brings surge in business for Middle East’s fintechs
Gulf-region payment platforms have benefited during the past year as consumers largely remained at home, with the market now attracting foreign interest in the digital infrastructure responsible for financial technology.
Next generation behind family offices’ ESG push
The FT examines the growing willingness of family offices to push for ESG investments, with the argument in favour driven by growing evidence that such funds outperform their peers.
The battle over ESG investing
An editorial in the FT disapproves of proposals from US banking regulators that lenders should not use ESG criteria to refuse loans, arguing that such a law “flies in the face of sensible prudential risk management”.
Chinese drugmaker gets $500m boost to push COVID-19 vaccine
Sinovac has secured a $515m investment, with the Chinese pharmaceutical firm selling a 15% stake to Hong Kong-listed generic drugs group Sino Biopharmaceutical.
LEISURE & HOSPITALITY
Airbnb plans for $42bn valuation in US listing
Airbnb is set to float in New York with a revised valuation of $42bn (£31bn) making it the biggest US listing of 2020. The decision by the digital travel firm to list in the US is a blow to London’s efforts to attract tech businesses and comes as UK-based payments company Paysafe also said it will go public in New York. Airbnb said that it will price shares at between $56 and $60 - up from a previous forecast of $44 to $50 just a week ago.
Cruise survey results released
As the UK medicines regulator, the MHRA, announces that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine is ready to be rolled out from this week, a survey carried out by travel agency Mundy Cruising has shown that 81% of respondents said they would go on a cruise next year. Some 47% said that they would cruise only when both they and the majority of the population had been vaccinated, with 39% agreeing that their own vaccination would be enough.
Hyatt shrugs off pandemic losses with European expansion plans
Hotel group Hyatt has announced plans to expand in Europe, with over 20 locations to be added to its 63-site estate on the continent in a €900m investment.
MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT
Universal Music buys Bob Dylan’s music catalogue in ‘9-figure deal’
Songwriter Bob Dylan’s entire publishing catalogue has been acquired by Universal Music for a nine-figure sum as music rights continue to increase in value.
M&C Saatchi shares to resume trading after 10-week break
M&C Saatchi has announced that it will publish its audited accounts, with its share price rising as it returned to the stock market after a 10-week suspension.
Shell preferred bidder for Post Office broadband
Royal Dutch Shell is reportedly in exclusive talks to acquire the Post Office’s broadband business for up to £100m.
Cisco announces IMI Mobile acquisition
London-based software firm IMI Mobile is to be acquired by Cisco for $730m deal, subject to conditions and shareholder approval.
UK house prices rising at fastest rate in 16 years
New data has revealed that house prices increased 7.6% in the 12 months to November, with valuations up some 6.5% since the housing market reopened in June. Russell Galley, of Halifax, which provided the figures commented: “The stamp duty saving of £2,500 on a home costing £250,000 is now far outweighed by the average increase in property prices since July.” He went on: “With unemployment predicted to peak around the middle of next year, and the UK’s economy not expected to fully recover the ground lost over 2020 for a number of years, a slowdown in housing market activity is likely over the next 12 months.”
Connells offer for Countrywide increased
Connells is offering £112m for rival firm Countrywide, after an earlier bid was rejected by the estate agency chain. The updated offer for 325p per share is “significantly more attractive to Countrywide shareholders than any potential alternative proposal under which Countrywide remains a listed company with all the risks and uncertainties that this would involve,” Connells stated.
Premier Golf League events planned
Plans for a series of events organised by the breakaway Premier Golf League are to proceed, after the European and PGA Tours announced a “strategic alliance” last month which is expected to result in co-sanctioned events. Under current proposals, Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour’s commissioner, will take up a place on the European Tour board, while the PGA Tour now holds a minority stake in European Tour Productions.
London remains top European tech hub
Figures from venture capital firm Atomico show that Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic have failed to knock the UK off the head of Europe’s tech investment league table. London-based tech firms attracted a bumper $12.5bn (£9.3bn) of investment in the past 12 months - more than France and Germany combined. Rob Kniaz, a partner at Hoxton Ventures, said: "People moaned when Brexit was happening, but fast forward and things are as strong as ever. It comes down to the raw ingredients, the talent and the capital. That's not going to change."