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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday, 13th July 2022

Posted: 13th July 2022

BANKING

High-street banks forced to close expats’ accounts

Thousands of British expats living in the EU could be stripped of their UK bank account by the end of the year unless banks set up separate entities in each jurisdiction. High-street banks, including Barclays, have written to British customers who live abroad informing them that because “passporting” rules have ended their accounts will be automatically wound down. Barclays confirmed customers with mortgages and other loans were not affected. A spokesman said: "We will no longer be offering services to personal current account or savings customers (excluding Isas) within the European Economic Area. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”

Investment banks start axing dealmaker roles

Large investment banks have started cutting dealmaker jobs amid a fall in revenue. Banks in the City embarked on a record hiring spree in 2021, but surging inflation, monetary policy tightening by central banks and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have dented confidence in 2022. Research from data provider Coalition Greenwich shows 12 big banks have slashed their investment banker roles in the second quarter of 2022, including Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, SocGen and UBS.

Barclays scraps overdrafts as cost-of-living crisis bites

Barclays has infuriated long-time customers after axing overdrafts with just a month’s notice just as families across the country may start relying on them. Consumer expert Martyn James says he is “concerned that the removal of overdraft facilities basically leaves people with only high-interest options for emergency lending.” A spokesman for the Financial Conduct Authority says: “Lenders need to treat people fairly and we have reminded them of that.” Barclays says: “We review all personal arranged overdraft limits at least once a year. If the overdraft hasn't been used at all for a long time, we may remove it.”

PRIVATE EQUITY

Mubadala in talks to buy Fortress from SoftBank

Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment is in talks to acquire asset manager Fortress Investment Group from Japan's SoftBank Group. The deal would value Fortress at more than $1bn.

INTERNATIONAL

Chinese banks to repay some customers after protests

Following protests by customers of rural Chinese banks blocked from accessing their money, regulators have said depositors will begin to get some money back on Friday. Four banks in Henan province froze cash withdrawals in mid-April in the face of regulatory scrutiny into alleged mismanagement, leaving thousands of savers without funds and sparking sporadic demonstrations. Individual customers with deposits of up to 50,000 yuan ($7,442) will be repaid starting Friday, Henan's provincial banking and insurance regulator said, while arrangements for repaying others will be separately announced. “Funds that are involved in illegal or criminal (activity) will temporarily not be repaid,” the regulator said.

ECB digital euros could be capped

Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau said on Tuesday that the European Central Bank could cap the amount of digital euros in circulation in order to protect banks’ income. “Regarding the possible risks of banks’ deposit conversions, we must and will ensure that a digital euro remains a means of payment rather than a saving/investment asset,” Villeroy told the Paris Europlace financial conference in Paris. “This could be achieved by capping the maximum amount of digital euro in circulation,” he added.

Spain hits banks and utilities with windfall tax

The socialist prime minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, has imposed a windfall tax on banks and energy companies in a move designed to limit their gains from rising interest rates and raise cash. Shares in CaixaBank, Bankinter and Sabadell fell by roughly 10% after the levy was announced while those of Santander and BBVA, the country’s two biggest banks by market cap, dropped by nearly 4%.

UBS appoints Iqbal Khan as sole head of wealth management unit

Iqbal Khan has been appointed by UBS as the sole head of the bank’s flagship wealth management division. Former co-head Tom Naratil will leave UBS after 39 years. Khan’s promotion strengthens his chances of taking over as chief executive of the Swiss bank in the future, experts say.

FINANCIAL SERVICES

Climate reporting for pension funds the only way forward, says minister

Pensions minister Guy Opperman has acknowledged that climate reporting measures for pension funds were a “challenge” and “burden” for fund managers, but insisted it was now the only way to clean up investment. Opperman, who resigned and was reappointed to his role last week, said that becoming the first country to mandate Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) had presented challenges to investors but offered the UK an opportunity to “lead the world.” Opperman additionally called for greater standardisation in the metrics used for climate reporting to stamp out greenwashing.

Woodford retreats from relaunch plans

A company that was intended to relaunch the career of fund manager Neil Woodford is being wound up. Directors at Mr Woodford's business WCM Partners have applied to strike it from the official register, just over a year after the former star manager announced comeback plans following the collapse of his previous empire. The application to remove the business from Companies House came after the departure of two directors earlier this year.

LEISURE & HOSPITALITY

The Restaurant Group acquires Barburrito

The Restaurant Group has acquired Mexican fast-casual restaurant brand Barburrito for £7m. The company, which also owns Wagamama, said Barburrito’s offering was “well aligned with key consumer trends including healthy eating, convenience, customisable cuisine,” with customers offered competitive prices. The Mexican chain’s profit before tax was £1.7m for the period ended 26 September 2021, with gross assets totalling £3.9m. A note from Investec said the acquisition and its plans for debt repayment and interest rate caps, were both “testament to the company’s ability to buy assets in depressed markets while minimizing interest costs in a rising rate environment.”

REAL ESTATE

New owner lined up for Wembley Arena

FTSE 100 fund manager Intermediate Capital is reportedly in exclusive talks to buy Wembley Arena. Quintain, the developer owned by US private equity giant Lone Star, which acquired the venue in 2002, hopes to conclude a deal worth about £50m for the arena, now known as the OVO Arena Wembley. It had originally hoped the venue would fetch £46m, but there were more interested parties than it had expected. Quintain is also rumoured to be exploring a sale of the neighbouring London Designer Outlet.

ECONOMY

Bailey pledges to bring UK inflation back down to 2% target

Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the Bank of England, said on Tuesday that there would be “no ifs or buts” in the quest to bring down inflation to the Bank’s 2% target. However, rates may have to rise more sharply in the meantime in response to surging price rises. He said rising gas prices were a risk to inflation, hinting that a 50 basis-point rate rise could be on the cards at the next meeting of the Bank’s monetary policy committee in August. The Governor went on to defend the Bank’s record after more than a decade of stimulus measures, stating: “I reject the notion that we have stoked up domestic demand.”

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