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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday, 11th November 2020

Posted: 11th November 2020


Sunak’s vision for finance is a hedge against EU intransigence

The Times’ banking editor Katherine Griffiths says the Chancellor has made some important pledges on behalf of UK financial services companies. Rishi Sunak’s decision to grant equivalence to EU and EEA states on financial services eases the way for UK-based firms to use EU exchanges, credit ratings agencies and clearing houses, Griffiths points out, adding that his most important promise was that British firms with operations inside the bloc - which include most big banks - will not have to hold extra capital against those businesses, because the Government deems EU rules to be equivalent. Further, laying out plans for Britain to be at the forefront of green finance, oversight of cryptocurrencies and financial technology innovation is an invitation for financiers to play their part in the UK’s future success. However, Mr Sunak still needs to push the sector up the negotiating agenda in the coming weeks, Griffiths concludes. Meanwhile, the FT reports that the European Commission has refused to reciprocate on equivalence following the Chancellor’s statement, declaring that it would only “consider equivalence decisions where they are in the EU’s interests.”

Thousands of UK companies apply for ‘top-ups’ to bounce back loans

Lenders in the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) reported that thousands of small businesses had applied for loan top-ups after the scheme opened yesterday. Two high street banks said that there had been about 2,000 applications for extra money in the first few hours of the scheme going live.

Barclays under fire over fossil fuel financing

Climate campaigners have criticised Barclays for increasing its support for fossil fuel companies this year, despite announcing in March it would target net zero carbon emissions by 2050.


Softbank Vision Fund could move to Abu Dhabi

The unit that manages Softbank’s $100bn (£75.6bn) Vision Fund could be relocated from London to Abu Dhabi, with a desire to lower Softbank Investment Advisors’ taxes among the reasons cited by the firm. This comes as Softbank reported a record ¥784.4bn (£5.7bn) quarterly profit for the Vision Fund resulting from a wider upswing in valuations of tech companies, with the firm having invested some $20bn in tech stocks and derivatives.


Lebanon plans digital currency launch

Riad Salameh, the governor of Lebanon’s central bank, has announced plans to introduce a digital currency in 2021 as part of efforts to restore confidence in the banking sector and transition to a cashless system.

US banks in line for windfall after COVID-19 vaccine progress

The positive vaccine news from Pfizer sharply widened the gap between long and short-term bond yields on Monday, a move that could feed through to improved profits from lending.

Bank of Japan offers to reward regional banks for mergers or cost-cuts

Regional lenders will be exempt from the Bank of Japan’s negative interest rates if they merge or reduce costs under a new scheme announced by the central bank.


Meggitt announced that full year profits could halve

Meggitt shares were up 12.8% in morning trading even as the aerospace engineer warned that profits for the full year would halve. Third-quarter revenue was down to £384m, while across the nine months of the year so far the firm has booked £1.3bn in revenue, representing a fall of 18% year-on-year.

Ryanair expects passenger numbers to bounce back in 2021

Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ryanair, says he expects passenger volumes to reach 75-80% of pre-Covid levels in 2021 following the roll-out of a vaccine. Ryanair was poised “at the dawn of an extraordinary era of growth” O’Leary said, noting the upcoming delivery of a fleet of new planes.


Persimmon announces interim dividend

Persimmon has announced that an interim dividend of 70p per share would be paid next month, with chief executive Dean Finch remarking: “Persimmon continues to perform robustly despite the significant challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and we are currently on course to deliver a good result for 2020.”


Schroders pushes ahead with investment trust float

Schroders is pushing ahead with its plans to raise up to £250m by floating an investment trust. The fund manager has formally announced its intention to float the Schroder British Opportunities Trust, which it said would seize on a “once in a generation” opening to invest in public and private companies in the wake of the pandemic. However, the Times says raising the money for the trust could prove challenging - Sanford Deland and Tellworth Investments last month abandoned plans to float new trusts that would have targeted listed British companies after they failed to attract enough interest from investors.

Funds move to quell retail investors’ ire over halted $37bn Ant IPO

Mutual funds established to offer access to the planned $37bn IPO of Ant Group are experiencing investor unrest amid fears they have lost money due to the listing’s suspension.

Ackman places new bet against corporate credit

Pershing Square founder Bill Ackman has said markets had once again become too complacent about the coronavirus. He placed another bet against corporate debt at the start of this week.

Customer milestone boost to Nutmeg

Fintech adviser firm Nutmeg said yesterday that it was on track to move into profit in 24 to 36 months' time after clinching its 100,000th customer. Assets under management at the London-based firm grew by 49% to £2.3bn in the year to September.


Pfizer and BioNTech could make $13bn from vaccine

While drugmakers such as Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca have pledge to make their COVID-19 vaccines on a not-for-profit basis during this pandemic, Pfizer and BioNTech have not. Analysts at Morgan Stanley say the pair stand to bring in nearly $13bn (£9.8bn) in global sales from their coronavirus vaccine next year.


Apollo injects €500m into Sazka Group

Apollo Global Management is investing €500m into Sazka Group, a company owned by Czech billionaire Karel Komárek which is bidding to seize the National Lottery from current operator Camelot. Apollo’s investment will be used for “growth opportunities in Europe and North America, with a focus on lotteries”, Sazka said.


Huawei budget smartphone brand to be sold

Huawei’s budget smartphone brand Honor is to be sold for $15bn (£11.3bn), with smartphone distributor Digital China to become Honor’s largest shareholder as a result. It is believed the firm will now focus on high-end products, and it is also reportedly considering manufacturing its own chips in China to avoid sanctions.

Netflix appointment confirmed

Netflix has signed up Anna Mallett, chief executive of ITN, to oversee production in Britain and local language productions outside the US.

New subscriber-only podcast service to launch

A new service allowing podcast creators to make exclusive content available to subscribers across various platforms is being launched by Acast and Patreon.


Westfield rights issue rejected by shareholders

A controversial €3.5bn (£3.1bn) rights issue has been rejected by shareholders in Westfield shopping centres owner Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. The plans from a consortium led by former chief executive Leon Bressler and French billionaire Xavier Niel has generated fierce opposition, with Unibail claiming the rights issue would help to shore up the company’s balance sheet in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.


Surge in redundancies pushes UK unemployment to 4.8%

Redundancies rose to a record high of 314,000 in the three months to September driving up unemployment from 4.5% to 4.8%, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The number of people out of work rose by 243,000 in the three-month period, the largest increase since May 2009. The redundancy figure was higher because it included people who may have lost their jobs and then retired or decided to stop looking for work. Young people and men fared the worst and there was also a dramatic drop in the foreign-born workforce. Tony Wilson, director of the Institute for Employment Studies, said the changes in unemployment and employment were “worrying but not catastrophic”, although the continued lack of hiring was troubling.

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