Home Office bars start-ups banked with Revolut from visa sponsorship licence
City AM reports that start-ups looking to gain a licence to “sponsor” foreign workers through the Government’s new visa system must submit evidence of a corporate bank account in the UK. However, the Home Office is refusing applications from firms banking with Revolut. Although Revolut doesn’t hold a full banking licence in the UK, it does use an electronic money land payments licence regulated by the FCA. Revolut’s James Gibson said the fintech “will be reaching out to the Home Office as a matter of urgency to see if we can enable the Home Office to update its processes.”
Senior Tory calls for UK to mull HSBC sanctions
Former Conservative party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has called for sanctions to be levied on HSBC if the bank refuses to sell on the £2.2m of shares it holds in a subsidiary of Xinjiang Tianye Group, a firm that is closely linked to the ethnic cleansing of Uyghur Muslims in China. HSBC is holding the shares for an anonymous client, but still makes money from this. “We’ve had serious problems with HBSC, and I believe they are behaving very badly,” Duncan Smith said. “They are in breach of the modern day slavery rules, and they are in breach of US sanctions.”
JP Morgan keen to expand digital bank
JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon told Fox News yesterday that its new British digital bank Chase is “doing great” and “may go into mortgages and small business lending in the UK” as it considers how to expand. The team behind Chase “has done an exceptional job” since its launch in the autumn, Dimon went on. “We’re going to take a long-term view of this. This is a long-term thing. Can we build a global, international digital bank?”
Mizuho to acquire US private equity agent Capstone
Mizuho Financial Group plans to acquire U.S. private equity placement agent Capstone Partners, which helps private equity firms find limited partners to invest in their funds. Once the deal is complete, Capstone will come under Mizuho's holding company in the US, where it is expected to help build out the Japanese bank's investment banking business.
Go big or go niche: private equity at a crossroads
As publicly traded private equity firms enjoy significant gains and more firms consider a float, smaller unlisted rivals will either have to find a way to bring in outside capital or settle for being a niche player.
TDR founding partners exit
The founding partners of private equity firm TDR Capital, Stephen Robertson and Manjit Dale, are stepping down after two decades. The pair will pass control to Gary Lindsay and Tom Mitchell.
BofA to cut fees for account overdrafts
Bank of America is cutting the amount it charges customers when they spend more than they have in their accounts and plans to eliminate entirely its fees for bounced checks. The bank will cut the overdraft fees it charges customers to $10 from $35 starting in May. It will also stop charging fees for non-sufficient funds - which are levied when it rejects a transaction - better known as bouncing a check.
Procurement services to be outsourced by Credit Suisse
Credit Suisse has announced it is outsourcing its procurement of goods and services to specialist provider Chain IQ to help pare back costs. The bank's head of procurement, Daniel Helmig, said that approximately half the bank's procurement staff will be transferred to Chain IQ under the envisioned process as part of an agreement aiming "to generate significant financial benefits over the coming years."
Citigroup to exit Mexico retail banking in latest global retreat
Citigroup is to retreat from consumer and small and medium-sized business banking in Mexico, as part of efforts by chief executive Jane Fraser to close a profitability gap with its larger US peers.
UK financial watchdog to review cost of market data
The Financial Conduct Authority has announced that it will launch two market studies on the price of data in wholesale financial markets amid concerns about “limited competition” for benchmarks, indices and credit ratings. “Access to wholesale data is really important for those who want to make investment decisions. Without it, they lack the information they need to make properly informed choices,” said Sheldon Mills, executive director, consumers and competition at the FCA. The study into market data services will begin in the summer, the FCA said. The regulator will launch a review of credit ratings data by the end of the year, it added. The FT says there is a simple well-tested solution: a “consolidated tape, collating and standardising data from different exchanges and other sources,” such as that which has run in the US for almost half a century. Real-time quotes from each trading venue are consolidated into a single feed and low pricing means many brokerages do not charge clients for access.
Bain and CVC join forces for potential Boots bid
Bain Capital is understood to have teamed up with UK-based CVC Capital to launch a bid for Boots. Bain is thought to be interested in developing Boots’ online beauty and healthcare services, according to Sky News, which first reported CVC’s potential tie-up with the US private equity group.
Wellcome Trust to spend £16bn on Covid vaccine research
The Wellcome Trust is planning to spend £16bn on second and third generation Covid vaccines. The charity made a 34.5% return in the year to 30 September on its investment portfolio, which is now worth £38.2bn, about £10bn more than a year ago.
LEISURE & HOSPITALITY
Hospitality bosses call for WFH guidance to end
Hospitality bosses are calling for work from home guidance to be scrapped when Plan B Covid restrictions come up for review on January 26th. Legal requirements for masks and Covid passports in certain venues should also be terminated in order to restore consumer confidence. UK Hospitality chief Kate Nicholls said hospitality businesses in city centres are seeing sales around 50% lower than would be expected, with the drop off in London a crippling 80%. The Mail reports that businesses such as Goldman Sachs, HSBC and JP Morgan have indicated a willingness to bring more employees back into the office if the Government's policy on working from home changes.
Workers shun city centres
City-centre sandwich bars, cafés and other services are experiencing their worst trading since May. Bloomberg’s “Pret Index” shows that transactions at the sandwich chain in the City of London and Canary Wharf fell to below a third of pre-pandemic levels last week, with bankers, lawyers and other office staff staying at home because of work-from-home guidance.
Highly-skilled professionals leverage soaring demand
UK job vacancies have hit record levels since the economy reopened as employers scramble to meet demand. This had put firms in a "fierce competition for talent" said professional recruitment firm Robert Walters, with some companies offering 50% increases in salary to secure talent. Alan Bannatyne, chief financial officer at Robert Walters, said 15% is the minimum pay rise the firm was seeing. Graduate lawyers are among the winners, being offered £150,000 starting salaries before bonuses amid a shortage of workers, but staff in other sectors such as bricks-and-mortar retailers or airlines were not doing as well. City banks have also boosted starter salaries to retain talent and the firm predicts the bonus pool this year will be "huge". Robert Walters, which has offices in Asia, Europe and the US, said it had seen its best December ever, with net fee income up 39% globally.
World Bank warns of 'pronounced slowdown' in global growth
The World Bank is predicting a “grim outlook” for the world economy with the organisation forecasting that global growth will slow to 4.1% this year from 5.5% in 2021. World Bank president David Malpass said: "The world economy is simultaneously facing COVID-19, inflation, and policy uncertainty, with government spending and monetary policies in uncharted territory." Separate figures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) showed inflation across its 38 member countries at 5.8% in November, up from 5.2% in October, and the highest rate since May 1996.
JP Morgan clients unconvinced on Bitcoin
A new survey has revealed that just 5% of JP Morgan's clients believe that Bitcoin will reach $100,000 (£73.6k) at the end of 2022. The survey results come a week after Goldman Sachs published a trading note which predicted Bitcoin's price could hit $100k in the next five years if it continues to increase its share of the global store of value market relative to gold. Respondents to the JP Morgan survey gave an average price prediction of $50k for Bitcoin by the end of this year with 40% of clients predicting its value will be $60k.