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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday, 14th April 2021

Posted: 14th April 2021


Goldman Sachs announces new Birmingham base

Goldman Sachs has announced plans to open a technology centre in Birmingham. Richard Gnodde, chief executive of Goldman Sachs International, commented: “Establishing a new office in Birmingham will diversify our UK footprint and give us access to a broad and deep talent pool in the local area. We see tremendous opportunity to enhance our UK presence and continue delivering for our global clients.” Neil Rami, chief executive of the West Midlands Growth Company, noted that the region was “successfully recasting typically London-centric banking structures, offering a premium but far more cost-effective base for innovative businesses.”

FCA aims to attract more listings to London

The Financial Conduct Authority will undertake a thorough post-Brexit review of Britain’s capital markets to help attract more foreign company listings. Clare Cole, the FCA’s director of market oversight, and Nausicaa Delfas, head of its international division, told a City & Financial conference that Britain could use its freedom from European Union rules to regulate markets flexibly. Easing listing rules was “controversial” and the FCA would consult broadly to ensure the right level of protections, Cole said.

Metro closes down Ratesetter accounts

Metro Bank has finalised the closure of accounts belonging to Ratesetter investors and returned their money. The investing side of the now-defunct peer-to-peer lender closed on April 2nd, and Metro is now offering RateSetter loans through its 77 branches for the first time since the £12m takeover last summer.


Toshiba chief to step down after $20bn CVC bid sparks board coup

Nobuaki Kurumatani has resigned as CEO of Toshiba after a $20bn buyout offer from CVC exacerbated board tensions. Now, KKR is planning to outbid CVC with its own buyout offer. Meanwhile, Hong Kong-based activist fund Oasis Management said on Tuesday that CVC’s offer was "far below fair value" and urged the Japanese conglomerate to seek other offers.

Lord Browne joins General Atlantic

Lord Browne, the former boss of BP, has joined private equity firm General Atlantic to advise it on environmental and social issues. Browne said: “Addressing global climate change requires a systemic transformation at a pace and scale never seen before,” adding: “Investment in engineered climate solutions now needs to increase significantly, and I look forward to working with General Atlantic to help shape the future of climate investing.”

Private equity houses target Japan as Covid shadow extends

Experts believe that increasingly nervous Japanese banks are about to pressure rail and property companies to look for ways to recapitalise – an opening for deal-hungry private equity houses.


SEC says warrants issued by blank-check companies may be liabilities

The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued guidance indicating that the warrants issued to early investors in SPAC deals should not be classified as an equity, but rather “a liability measured at fair value, with changes in fair value each period reported in earnings.” In a statement late Monday, SEC officials said: “The evaluation of the accounting for contracts in an entity’s own equity, such as warrants issued by a SPAC, requires careful consideration of the specific facts and circumstances for each entity and each contract.” Forbes reports that uncertainty over how the SEC will treat warrants has stopped all new SPAC offerings as accounting firms will not sign-off on any financial statements or company audits until they receive clarity from the government.

BNP Paribas names Switzerland investment banking Head of Advisory

BNP Paribas has named former HSBC M&A specialist Jan Masek as Head of Advisory for its investment banking business in Switzerland. He will report to Enna Pariset, Head of Corporate & Institutional Banking Switzerland, and will also join the firm’s Corporate & Institutional Banking Switzerland Executive Committee.

Tenacious Orcel will need to draw on diplomatic skills at UniCredit

The FT looks ahead to some of Andrea Orcel’s challenges as he prepares to take over as chief executive at UniCredit at the group’s AGM on Thursday.

BBVA to start job cut talks on Friday

BBVA will formally kick off negotiations over staff cuts on Friday with the Spanish bank conceding that it needs to reduce costs in the face of growing competition from fintech companies offering online banking services.

Morgan Stanley boosts low-carbon investments

Morgan Stanley has said it will commit a further $750bn towards financing low-carbon solutions by 2030 with an escalation of activities such as green-bond financing and financing companies that support clean technology and renewable energy.


Virgin Atlantic boss warns of long-term hit to business travel

Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss has told the FT that the firm expects a long-term reduction in business travel, with a 20% fall forecast over the next two years.


SAP and investor Dediq announce JV

Business software group SAP and Munich-based investor Dediq have announced a joint venture under which new digital solutions for banking and insurance will be developed. Luka Mucic, SAP's chief financial officer, commented: "What we want to deliver is a financial services industry speedboat," while Dediq Managing Partner Matthias Tomann noted: "Our approach is to do entrepreneurial investments with evergreen capital.”

Blockchain firm raises $65m for expansion

ConsenSys has raised $65m from investors including JP Morgan, Mastercard and UBS to fund the blockchain company’s growth and global expansion. It is noted that ConsenSys is building digital currencies for six central banks.

Rathbones in multi-asset ESG launch

Rathbones is bringing together its multi-asset investment team and members of its Greenbank responsible investment team to launch four multi-asset ESG funds.


Johnson & Johnson to delay rollout of Covid vaccine to Europe

The UK Government has said the decision by Johnson & Johnson to delay the supply of its Covid vaccine to Europe, while the US investigates reports of six cases of unusual blood clots, will not derail the UK’s vaccination programme. “We have made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe,” J&J said, adding that it was reviewing the cases with European health authorities. The UK bought 30m doses of the J&J vaccine – which is currently under review in the UK but has not yet been approved.


Babcock in writedowns warning

Defence contractor Babcock has warned of writedowns totalling some £1.7bn, more than double analysts’ estimates, following a review of historic contracts and future income. In a trading update, the firm noted that the “vast majority” of impairments are one-off in nature and non-cash affecting, with group underlying operating profit expected to be reduced by around £30m annually.


DMU must have power to force Big Tech to pay fairly for news

The Competition and Markets Authority’s Daniel Gordon told the Lords' Communications and Digital Committee on Tuesday that the regulator’s new Digital Markets Unit must have tough legal powers to force tech giants like Google and Facebook to pay news organisations fairly for content. Mr Gordon told peers that a planned code of conduct for online platforms was 'necessary' to protect the interests of newspapers, websites and advertisers due to Google and Facebook's online dominance.


JD Sports to open Dublin warehouse

JD Sports has announced plans to open a 65,000 sq ft warehouse near Dublin to tackle post-Brexit trading problems. The company says the Irish facility will become operational in the second half of this year. It is also considering a bigger facility elsewhere in the EU from which it would process all EU online orders. Meanwhile, the retailer’s boss has said he has no intention of repaying taxpayer support despite resuming dividend payments to shareholders and saying that profits this year will be higher than before the pandemic.

Experian director to run John Lewis’s financial services arm

John Lewis has hired Amir Goshtai, a 20-year veteran of credit agency Experian, to take over as its director of financial services as the department store pushes into the digital retail space.


February export figures released

The Office for National Statistics has released figures showing that UK trade with the EU recovered in February, with exports increasing by £3.7bn, or 46.6%, after a £5.7bn decline a month earlier. AJ Bell financial analyst Danni Hewson commented: “There is small comfort to be had in February’s trade figures. Exports to the EU, which dropped so dramatically off a cliff in January, have bungeed back up, though they are still £2bn down on pre-Brexit levels. Notably imports from the EU were less resilient and remain more than £5bn down.”


Bank of England’s chief economist to run Royal Society of Arts

Andy Haldane is leaving the Bank of England after a 30-year career to join the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) as chief executive in September. The Bank of England’s chief economist has been among the most optimistic forecasters throughout the pandemic. “Haldane’s departure means the Bank of England is losing its major – and maybe only – current hawk,” said James Smith, economist at ING. “In theory, at the margin this tilts the committee towards a more favourable view on negative interest rates if more stimulus were needed, though we still think this is unlikely.”

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