More JP Morgan workers return to London HQ
Some 50% of bankers, traders and analysts at JP Morgan are to return to the firm’s Canary Wharf London headquarters on a “week on, week off” basis, up from 25% previously. This comes as London’s financial services industry seeks to have more staff back at their desks amid concerns that the capital’s economy is suffering irreparable damage as a result of lockdown restrictions. London train operators have introduced a new timetable, with around 95% of pre-pandemic levels of services, in a bid to assist the recovery.
Business will struggle to repay Covid debt, BCC warns
A survey of service sector and manufacturing businesses by the British Chambers of Commerce and TSB has found that more than one in four companies may need to scale down their operations to repay debt accrued during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses will need to be given flexible repayment options if an "unsustainable debt crisis" is to be avoided, the BCC said.
US banks signal mounting concern over real estate lending
Criticised commercial real estate loans at major US lenders increased by 144% in the second quarter as offices, malls and hotels remain empty due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Equity fund managers dump banks for software stocks
Equity managers have increased their exposure to software stock from 5.1% at the start of 2020 to 6.43%, ahead of pharmaceutical companies and banks, whose respective weightings fell to 6% and 4.1%.
CaixaBank and Bankia mull merger
Spanish banks Bankia and CaixaBank are considering a merger that would create the biggest lender in the country. The move comes amid a consolidation process in the Spanish banking sector as lenders shore up provisions.
Cazoo expansion proceeds amid hiring plans
Online used car retailer Cazoo has announced recruitment plans under which 200 new jobs will be created before the new year. This follows its acquisition in the summer of car dealer Imperial Car Supermarkets, with 14 of that firm’s sites being converted into Cazoo customer centres.
Work underway to revise quarantine measures
Ministers are exploring plans to cut the quarantine time for holidaymakers from 14 days to just five by testing them 48 hours before they arrive in the UK and five days after landing. The news comes as pressure builds on the Government to permit testing in airports as aviation trade bodies warn time is running out to save the industry. Adam Marshall, the head of the British Chambers of Commerce, warned that the imposition of blanket quarantine measures “endangers international business and trade links that help drive the growth.”
Amigo Loans shares details of founder return bid
Amigo Loans founder James Benamor has revealed that his Richmond Group had made an irrevocable bid for 29% of the company at 20p per share, to be executed if he is appointed chief executive. Benamor has requisitioned a shareholder vote to reinstate him as CEO and Amigo confirmed that it will post its notice of a general meeting by the end of the week. The company added that Benamor’s appointment would require the approval of the board and the subsequent approval of the FCA.
Wealth manager targets US expats
Wealth manager Shard Capital has set up a subsidiary, LeifBridge Investment Services, to help high net worth US citizens living in the UK and abroad. The investment offering includes both a discretionary portfolio management service and an advisory service led by a dedicated team of investment managers, who will construct tailored investment strategies for each client.
LEISURE & HOSPITALITY
Pizza Express closures and job losses announced
Pizza Express landlords have approved part of its corporate restructuring plan under which 73 branches will be closed and up to 1,200 jobs lost. The firm stated: “The successful vote unlocks the company’s ability to actively address the challenges brought by COVID-19, securing over 9,000 jobs in the UK. Regrettably, the CVA proposes the closure of 73 restaurants, putting 1,100 jobs at risk.”
MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT
Figma to establish London headquarters
Silicon Valley software firm Figma is to establish a new headquarters in London for the EMEA region. Chief executive Dylan Field remarked: “Knowing that so many of us (including everyone at Figma) will continue to work remotely for the foreseeable future, we considered waiting to share the news until we felt comfortable welcoming Figmates back for in-person work. But the reality is that opening an office is so much more than a physical space. It’s also about sharing a time zone with more of our users, attracting diverse talent as Figma continues to grow, and understanding local nuances in order to support design communities across the world.”
Niche publisher Future boosted by bored readers in lockdown
Magazine publisher Future has reported that full-year operating profits are expected to be “materially ahead” of analysts’ consensus forecast of £78.2m to £83.2m.
Halifax figures show record UK house prices
Halifax has reported that pent-up demand and the stamp duty holiday have seen UK house prices reach a record high in August, with managing director Russell Galley stating: “A surge in market activity has driven up house prices through the post-lockdown summer period.” The price of the average UK house now stands at £245,747, with Andrew Burrell of Capital Economics noting: “Pent-up demand will soon be expended. A weak economy, cautious lenders and the end of the stamp duty cut will weigh on prices.”
UK consumer spending exceeds last year’s level for first time since lockdown
Data from Barclaycard indicates that consumer spending grew 0.2% in August, compared with the same month last year, up from a 2.6% contraction in July and the first expansion since February. Separately, the British Retail Consortium’s retail sales monitor reported retail sales rising at an annual rate of 3.9% in August.
Sterling drops as Brexit tensions escalate
Sterling dropped about 0.5% against the USD in early European trading yesterday ahead of another round of Brexit trade talks between the UK and EU. The prospects for a deal were dealt another blow after news that the UK Government is preparing to override previous agreements with the EU.
Cash makes a comeback
Businesses deposited 3.1% more cash in August compared with July in a sign people are returning to the use of notes and coins, according to the Post Office. Business customers deposited £831m in August. In April, when stricter coronavirus lockdown measures were in place, £313m was deposited by business customers. Martin Kearsley, director of banking at the Post Office, said: "There are definitely encouraging signs of a return to the use of cash."