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Daily News Roundup: Tuesday 9th June 2020

Posted: 9th June 2020


HSBC staff prepare for redundancies

Leaked emails show HSBC is pressing ahead with a restructuring of its European management team with staff now said to be "just waiting for the starting gun" on redundancies. HSBC said in March it would put plans for 35,000 layoffs aside while it assessed the impact of coronavirus. But Europe boss Nuno Matos said in the memo that changes to "simplify" the European arm of the bank would be effective immediately. HSBC’s UK high street operations are thought to be safe for now, but this comes after 27 branch closures were announced in February.

Small businesses urged to switch from expensive CBILS

Analysis by HW Fisher has found small businesses that have accessed the cash through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) are paying far higher charges than those that waited until the newer Bounce Back programme. In some cases firms are paying 6% interest compared with the 2.5% fixed-rate for the bounce back loans. Simon Michaels, of HW Fisher, said that businesses are able to switch their loans by speaking to their bank.


UK Finance chief dragged into Staveley’s case against Barclays

A sexism row has flared up in the City after UK Finance chief Stephen Jones was accused of making “deeply unpleasant personal comments” about financier Amanda Staveley. Ms Staveley is suing Barclays for £1.6bn claiming her private equity firm PCP Capital Partners was short-changed on a fundraising deal during the financial crisis.

Venture chief: use cash to boost equality

Eric Collins, the co-founder and chief executive of London-based venture capital fund Impact X, is urging people to support more BAME-owned businesses and BAME professionals stating: "Capitalism is driven on money, so use your money to drive the results that you'd like.”


Danske Bank agrees sale of remaining Estonian portfolio to local bank

Danske Bank’s remaining Estonian portfolio is to be sold to local bank LHV, after Denmark's biggest bank was ordered to leave Estonia last year following an admission that €200bn ($226bn) in suspicious payments had been made via its branch in Tallinn. LHV stated: "According to LHV's assessment, this is a strong credit portfolio with relatively low capital requirements for the loans involved with local governments," while a spokeswoman for Danske said the number of its clients in Estonia is now at around 1% of the total two years ago.

Hong Kong hedge funds eye exit as national security law looms

Fund managers in Hong Kong are mulling moving operations elsewhere citing China’s new national security law for the former British colony, with one adviser claiming: “Hong Kong as we know it is dead.”

Fed’s corporate bond facility faces teething problems

The two-month delay to the Federal Reserve’s programme for buying corporate bonds is costing the central bank credibility critics says, which could hamper its ability to tackle future crises.

Investors expect credit to outperform despite COVID-19 downturn

A survey shows the world’s biggest asset managers expect investment-grade US corporate debt will outperform sovereign bonds over the next 12 months - the most bullish response to the question since 2016.


Fiat-PSA tie-up could face antitrust investigation

Competition concerns over the proposed $50bn (£39.6bn) merger of Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot owner PSA could see the European Commission seek concessions, after reports suggested unease among antitrust regulators at the body. Sources claim a four-month long investigation into the deal could take place, which would bring together brands such as Peugeot, Opel and DS with Fiat, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and Maserati.

Sertec plans redundancies

Vehicle components manufacturer Sertec is cutting a third of its workforce - 400 jobs – in a further hit to Britain’s automotive industry. The Birmingham-based firm supplies JLR, Nissan and Toyota.


Easyjet warns of further possible job losses

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, has warned that further job cuts could result from the government’s new quarantine rules, as the firm joins Ryanair and British Airways in sending a pre-legal letter to the government over what they called “wholly unjustified and disproportionate” measures. Mr Lundgren confirmed the carrier’s plans to as much as 30% of its normal passenger load in July and August.


Record Q2 activity reported at Plus 500

Plus 500 has reported record levels of second-quarter customer activity as the online trading platform saw over 100,000 new traders sign up. The firm announced record revenue from customer income of $249m (£196.2m) in the most recent quarter, with interim chief executive David Zruia remarking: “We are pleased the business has continued to generate record levels of customer income, added over 100,000 new customers so far in [the second quarter] and has materially grown the net client deposits balance to almost half a billion dollars.”

Buyer walks away from subprime UK lender Amigo Loans

An un-named potential buyer of Amigo Loans has backed away from the subprime lender amid tensions between the board and founder and majority shareholder James Benamor. Amigo said it will scrap its final dividend as it seeks to conserve cash amid an increase in customers demanding compensation, which is expected to cost it at least £35m. Shares in the firm were down 16%, with the company valued at £68m.

'Bitcoin cashback' scheme launched in UK

Bitcoin exchange CoinCorner has announced the launch of a new ‘Bitcoin cashback’ service, partnering with over 400 retailers including Twinings, Confused and New Era. Chief executive Danny Scott remarked: “This is an opportunity for people to earn and own Bitcoin while buying their everyday products and services. A number of our customers have already used the service after we soft launched it on CoinCorner last week.”


Oxford Biomedica strikes deal to boost production of Oxford vaccine

British drugmaker Oxford Biomedica has struck a deal with the Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre to help ramp up production of Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine which is being developed by AstraZeneca.


Pub shares bubble with reopening hopes

Shares in pub groups have risen on expectations the hospitality industry will be reopened as early as June 22, as ministers launch a bid to “Save the Summer”. Marston's rose 8.3%, Mitchells & Butlers was up 6.3% and Wetherspoons gained 0.6%.


Ocean Outdoor reports fall in Q1 revenue

Digital advertising group Ocean Outdoor has reported a 4% fall in first-quarter revenue to £27.4m, with demand for advertising damaged by the coronavirus pandemic. Group revenue was down 4% in the first quarter on a pro-forma basis, from £28.5m in the year-earlier period, while full-year group revenue was up 14% to £141.3m in 2019, representing a £16.8m increase from the 2018 figure.

Nokia orders up as Ericsson announces Q2 loss on Chinese inventory

Nokia has reported an increase in orders, with the firm’s president of fixed networks Sandy Motley noting that customers were already talking about the need to accelerate the growth they had planned. This comes as Swedish competitor Ericsson announced that it expects a second-quarter writedown of some 1bn crowns (£85m) on its Chinese product inventory, though it expects healthy profitability over the life of recently-announced 5G contracts in the region.


Warehouse landlord closes £200m west London deal

Warehouse landlord Segro has acquired a 34-acre warehouse estate in west London in a £202.5m deal. The Perival Park estate that Segro is buying from Federated Hermes is fully let, bringing in rental income of £6.8m. The buildings are next to the A40 leading into central London, and comprise 55,100 sq m of lettable space across 23 units, and 8 acres of land.


May’s sales figures improve on April

British retailers reported a 5.9% fall in sales in May compared with a year earlier, the British Retail Consortium said. Total spending was down 19.1% in April when almost all non-essential stores were closed due to coronavirus restrictions. Barclaycard said its broader measure of consumer spending, based on transactions on around half of Britain’s credit and debit cards, showed a 27.7% annual fall in May compared with a record 36.5% drop in April.


British households facing mounting debt crisis

Bank of England figures show UK households repaid a record £7.4bn of debt on credit cards and personal loans in April while household bank deposits also rose £16.2bn, more than triple the usual monthly figure. However, research by the Resolution Foundation indicates only one in eight low-income households experienced budget gains during the crisis compared with two in five high-income families. The charity StepChange said that since the beginning of lockdown in late March, 4.2m people had borrowed to make ends meet with 2.7m people using payment holidays on mortgages and credit products.

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