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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday, 14th February 2018

Posted: 14th February 2018

BANKING

Flash sales entice savers

Lenders are launching a string of new savings deals after talk of interest rate increases this year. Many of the deals are from new online banks, which can see exactly how much money they are attracting and can shut account offers once they have reached their targets. The Mail warns that “savers need to be aware of complicated terms and conditions on the accounts being launched by new banks.”

Daily Mail, Page: 51

Japanese bank takes new London office

The European arm of Japanese banking giant Sumitomo Mitsui is taking a huge three-floor space of the Broadgate development on Liverpool Street. The lender will join cyber security company Mimecast, challenger bank Starling Bank and fintech body Innovate Finance as occupiers in the prime City space.

Tandem raises up to £4m from crowdfunding investors

Digital bank Tandem is asking investors that participated in a crowdfunding last year for up to another £4m, following its acquisition of Harrods Bank earlier this month.

Anthony Browne joins Barclays Techstars

Anthony Browne, formerly of the British Bankers' Association, is joining Barclays Techstars as entrepreneur in residence. Mr Browne commented: “Financial technology is one of the most exciting and innovative sectors of the economy”.

PRIVATE EQUITY

Blackstone plots succession path

Stephen Schwarzman has named Jon Gray as president of his private equity firm Blackstone. It is speculated that the real estate investor may be lined up for the top job at the asset management group. Mr Schwarzman said in a statement: "I've learnt over the past 26 years that Jon Gray has great judgment, enormous energy and unique personal charisma, which has enabled him to garner enormous respect within the global financial community.”

INTERNATIONAL

Goldman invests in debt trade unit

Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs is investing more into the bank's bond trading business, after its fixed-income, currencies and commodities (FICC) unit faltered in recent years. Mr Blankfein said yesterday that the firm’s trading unit braced last year for a return of volatility that did not materialise.

Vix "fear index" was manipulated, says alleged whistleblower

An anonymous whistleblower has told the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission that Wall Street's Vix index has been manipulated by traders, potentially causing "systemic risk to the entire equity market". Washington-based Zuckerman Law stated that the person responsible for the information has "held senior positions at some of the largest investment firms in the world".

HNA sells Hong Kong plots for nearly $2bn

HNA Group has sold two plots of land in Hong Kong for nearly HK$16bn ($2bn), after facing financial problems recently. Henderson Land is the buyer in both cases.

AVIATION

Norwegian expands to South America

Low-cost airline Norwegian plans further expansion of its long-haul flight network, including more routes to Latin America and Asia. Chief executive Bjorn Kjos also said yesterday that he intends to keep the UK "at the heart" of the airline's growth.

FINANCIAL SERVICES

Pension deficits fall by 50% in January

Over half the value of Britain’s pension shortfalls was wiped away in January, according to newly released figures. The aggregate deficits of more than 5,500 retirement funds compiled by the Pension Protection Fund fell from £103.8bn to £51bn between the end of December and January. The value of pension payouts dropped by over £66bn with asset pots funding them worth only £14bn lower, the PPF said.

Crisis-era loans final bidder list drawn up

A shortlist of fund managers including Pacific Management (Pimco), investment firm Cerberus Capital Management, hedge fund Och-Ziff, and M and G Prudential, is closing in on mortgage loans to the value of £5.5bn taken on by the UK taxpayer during the financial crisis.

Former boss of hedge fund raises £70m in float for new fintech firm

Trufin has floated on the London Stock Exchange, raising £70m. The new fintech company is led by Henry Kenner, one of the founding members and chief executive of Arrowgrass Capital Partners.

New chair appointed to FSCS

Marshall Bailey has been named as the next chair of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, taking over the post from Lawrence Churchill in April.

HEALTHCARE

Consolidation sought to ward off online competition

Walgreens Boots Alliance has approached drug distributor Amerisourcebergen about a takeover, with threat of competition from online retailers spurring healthcare companies to seek consolidation.

MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY

AudioBoom to merge with Triton Digital

UK podcasting company AudioBoom, backed by property investor Nick Candy, will merge with Triton Digital in a deal worth £134m. Triton is controlled by private equity group Vector Capital.

REAL ESTATE

House buyers hit affordability ceiling

Buyers in the UK are still struggling with affordability as prices continue to rise faster than wages, according to the latest figures from the ONS. The average house price hit £227,000 in December 2017, nearly £12,000 (5.2%) higher than the previous year and 0.2% up on November. The ONS data shows that the most expensive area in which to buy a home was the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where the average property sold for £1.2m, while Burnley, with an average sale price of £78,000, was the cheapest.

Number of first-time buyers hits 10-year peak

UK Finance has revealed that the number of first-time home buyers reached the highest level for 10 years in 2017, while at the same time buy-to-let lending has gone into retreat. The organisation’s Paul Smee commented: “Although the market remains competitive, there is no room for complacency, with weaker December figures consistent with our market forecast of subdued growth this year… We are also seeing a less buoyant buy-to-let market, which continues to be impacted by recent tax and regulatory changes. This will continue to flatten gross lending volumes."

SPORT

Premier League TV rights won by Sky and BT

BT Sport and Sky have agreed to pay £4.464bn for the rights to broadcast Premier League football games for three seasons from 2019-20. Bidding for the remaining two live packages, of seven, remains ongoing with interest from multiple bidders, according to the Premier League.

ECONOMY

UK inflation steady at 3%

UK consumer price inflation remained at 3% in January, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the same level as in December. ONS senior statistician James Tucker said: "Factory goods price inflation continued to slow, with food prices falling in January. The growth in the cost of raw materials also slowed, with the prices of some imported materials falling."

OTHER

Norges Bank Investment Management issues anti-corruption call

Norges Bank Investment Management, the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, has issued a call for the companies in which it invests to prioritise fighting corruption. Yngve Slyngstad, chief executive, commented: "Our work on international standards is an important part of responsible investment. In 2017, we expressed our expectations of multinational companies on appropriate, prudent and transparent tax behaviour… Data on corporate governance and sustainability can influence our investment decisions ... we want companies to move from words to numbers so that we can get a better understanding of financial opportunities and risks."

Scottish SME bosses prepare to work beyond retirement age

The latest Aldermore Future Attitudes report shows that 68% of SME bosses in Scotland expect to work beyond the current state retirement age. Carl D'Ammassa, group MD, business finance at Aldermore, commented that it is heartening to see so many SME bosses "are still relishing the opportunity to be their own boss and lead the way well after they are 65".

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