Financial services reforms should make City more competitive
A Financial Services and Markets Bill aimed at cutting red tape in the City of London was among the flagship measures announced in the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday. It revokes retained EU law on financial services and updates the objectives of the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority to bring about a greater focus on growth and international competitiveness. It will also help to protect people from scams, with additional protections for those investing or using financial products. Under this bill, the Payment Systems Regulator will be able to require banks to reimburse authorised push payment. The trade body UK Finance applauded the bill stating that it provides the opportunity to “tailor” regulations and create a more competitive financial services sector post-Brexit. The new legislation will sit alongside the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, which will clamp down on money laundering and create powers to seize and recover crypto assets more quickly and easily. This was also welcomed by UK Finance as “critical in helping to address money laundering and the growth in fraud and scams, which are now the most prevalent type of crime in the UK”.
Queen's Speech promises to protect access to cash
The Queen’s Speech promised to introduce legislation to protect people’s access to cash as banks continue to cut branches and free cash machines close. Announcing the promised measures, economic secretary to the Treasury John Glen said: "We know that access to cash is still vital for many people, especially vulnerable people. We promised we would protect it, and we are delivering on that promise." Natalie Cheney, chair of the Access to Cash Review said: “Today’s announcement to legislate to protect cash is a huge step forward.” She added: “We owe it to the public, small businesses and the communities they live in to see this through and get the legislation on the statute book.”
Plans for Infrastructure Bank welcomed
The Institute of Directors has welcomed plans announced in the Queen’s Speech to complete the establishment of the UK Infrastructure Bank, utilising its £22bn financial capacity to “support growth, improve connections across the country and help level up the UK whilst supporting our transition to net zero by 2050”. The GMB union also supported the move saying it was a “great opportunity to stop UK renewables jobs going overseas”.
NatWest customers charged twice in Visa card glitch
NatWest on Tuesday confirmed a payments glitch had caused some accounts to be accidentally charged twice. Around 112,000 customers were affected by the error which showed Visa debit card purchases twice, pushing some people into their overdraft. A NatWest spokesman apologised for the inconvenience and said customers would not incur fees as a result of the mistake.
CVC pushes back IPO plans amid market turmoil
CVC Capital Partners has pushed back plans for an IPO due to market turbulence. The private equity group told analysts it now expects to float on Amsterdam’s Euronext exchange this autumn or early in 2023.
BlackRock will vote against more climate resolutions this year
Asset management giant BlackRock has warned that it will not be supporting the majority of shareholder resolutions on climate this year because they have become too extreme or too prescriptive.
Wizz Air goes east for growth with Saudi routes
European budget airline Wizz Air is to launch flights to Saudi Arabia as it extends its presence in the Arabian Peninsula. Wizz said that its low-cost business model was proven in the development of new markets. “Wizz Air could... stimulate new demand thereby making a significant contribution to Saudi Arabia’s planned growth,” it said.
New “anti-woke” fund to focus on making money
A US entrepreneur known for his opposition to liberal idealogues in the investment sector has launched a new fund aimed at making money rather than posturing on woke causes. Vivek Ramaswamy has won the backing of Pershing Square Capital boss Bill Ackman and billionaire tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel to launch Strive Asset Management. The fund has raised more than $20m and has a mandate to pursue a strategy focused “on excellence over politics.” Americans “want iconic American brands…to deliver high-quality products that improve our lives, not controversial political ideologies that divide us,” Ramaswamy said in a statement. He went on to accuse firms such as BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street of fuelling the increasingly polarised atmosphere in corporate America describing the money managers as an “ideological cartel”.
Panmure Gordon posts first profit under Bob Diamond ownership
Panmure Gordon has turned a profit for the first time since 2018 when Bob Diamond bought a majority stake in the firm. The stockbroker lost £28.6mn in 2019 and £5.4mn in 2020 but managed to post profits of £3m for 2021. CEO Rich Ricci said the company had doubled its corporate client list since 2020, adding: “The company is at a tipping point in terms of its operational leverage.”
Insurance brokers could face caps on commissions
A review into tower block insurance coverage could result in the Financial Conduct Authority limiting commissions for insurance brokers if this was found to be “a significant cause of harm to leaseholders.” The regulator was asked to review the insurance market for blocks of flats earlier this year, after housing minister Michael Gove said he was “extremely concerned” by accelerating costs faced by leaseholders since the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
Yapily acquires German open banking firm
London-based fintech Yapily has bought German open banking firm finAPI making it the largest open banking platform in Europe. Yapily boss Stefano Vaccino said: “We wanted to accelerate our path to European leadership, which is our first objective, before over time becoming the global leader in open finance.”
Pfizer returns to fray with $11.6bn deal for Biohaven
Pfizer has agreed to buy US biotech Biohaven Pharmaceuticals for $11.6bn, marking its biggest deal in more than five years. Biohaven specialises in drugs that target neurological diseases and rare disorders.
MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT
Ministers push ahead with Channel 4 sale
The Government is to push ahead with the sale of Channel 4 despite widespread criticism of the move. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries will go ahead with the £1bn sale arguing that the current ownership is “holding Channel 4 back from competing against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon.” A Media Bill announced in the Queen's Speech said a sale will “unleash the potential of the UK's creative sector” and “give it the tools it needs to succeed in the future as a public service broadcaster while protecting its distinctiveness.” Additionally, Ofcom will be given new regulatory powers through a ‘Video-on-Demand code’, covering platforms including Netflix and Amazon Prime, to protect viewers from “harmful material”.
Lenders dampen soaring house prices
House sales are slowing down amid a surge of down-valuations, according to property industry insiders. House prices have been surging for two years, with the average home now worth £286,079 - up 10.8% in the past 12 months alone, according to Halifax. High demand among buyers seeking more space, coupled with a shortage of supply, has sparked bidding wars, pushing offers far above asking prices. However, brokers say they are now seeing lenders apply the brakes and increasingly down-value homes by tens of thousands of pounds.
We can't spend our way out of trouble, says PM
The Prime Minister yesterday said the Government could not shield everyone completely from the cost-of-living crisis, warning that Britain “cannot simply spend our way out” of the crisis caused by surging inflation. Boris Johnson rejected calls to cut taxes adding that the Government's priority was to take a "responsible approach to the public finances". Mr Johnson argued wider economic reforms would help households, telling MPs: "However great our compassion and commitment, we cannot simply spend our way out of problems. We need to grow our economy out of these problems by creating hundreds of thousands of high-waged, high-skilled jobs across the country."