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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday, 14th March 2018

Posted: 14th March 2018



A fifth of over-60s targeted by multiple scams in 2017

Almost 20% of over-60s claim to have been targeted by fraudsters more than 10 times during 2017, a poll by Santander claims. Chris Ainsley, head of fraud strategy at Santander UK, commented: “Our research has given us important insight into what really worries them, and of course our own data provides a picture of the kind of scams that they are falling for. We believe that education and public awareness is absolutely key to tackling what is currently one of the biggest threats to the security of people's finances.”

Travelex leaks Tesco Bank Travel Money customers' details online

Tesco Bank customers’ details have been exposed online after a data leak by its travel money partner Travelex. Emails, phone numbers, IP addresses and the final digits of bank cards, along with full names of 17,000 customers, were made available. Travelex commented that the breach is not believed to be cyber-attack related, but rather caused by human error.

NS and I still lags peers after Jisa rate rise

National Savings and Investments has raised the rate of its Junior Isa (Jisa) by 0.25 percentage points to 2.5%. Eight providers, however, still offer a better rate: Coventry Building Society pays a market-leading 3.5%, Nationwide's Smart Junior Isa offers 3.25% and Tesco Bank pays 3.15%.

Coinbase opens account at Barclays

Coinbase has announced that its UK subsidiary has secured a bank account with Barclays, aiming to simplify deposits and withdrawals for British customers of the leading bitcoin exchange.

App deal for Tandem

Tandem has agreed to buy money management app Pariti as it seeks to take advantage of new "open banking" rules enabling it to access customer data from other banks if individuals give their permission.


Private equity set to see more investment

Following a record year in 2017, private equity investors plan to plough even more capital into the asset class over the next year, a new survey by Rede Partners suggests.


ING chief executive pay increase dropped

ING yesterday abandoned proposals to approve an increase in chief executive Ralph Hamers' salary, after shareholders, the public and the Dutch prime minister complained. Newspapers had reported that Mr Hamers' annual income would have come to more than €3m (£2.6m). Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte called the proposed raise "excessive" and "unwise". Jeroen van der Veer, ING supervisory board chairman, commented: "We realise we have underestimated the public response in the Netherlands on this clearly sensitive matter".

Coincheck refunds victims of $500m heist

Cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck has resumed limited trading and paid nearly $435m to investors after a heist saw the loss of 523m NEM tokens at the rate of ¥88.549 ($0.82) apiece.


VW chief pockets €10m

Volkswagen chief executive Matthias Mueller was paid €10.14m in 2017, a near 40% increase in what he was paid the previous year. The rise came despite changes to the executive pay scheme in the wake of shareholder unrest following the emissions scandal.


MPs want Heathrow expansion funding clarity

A cross-party group of councillors and MPs has claimed that the true cost to the public of building a third runway at Heathrow has not been made clear to taxpayers. In a letter to the Guardian they warn that domestic flight connections and other transport spending will be jeopardised. Among the signatories are Richmond Council leader Paul Hodgins, Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia, Hillingdon Council leader Ray Puddifoot and Windsor and Maidenhead Council leader Simon Dudley.


Carillion’s finances affected by accounting flaw

Credit ratings agency Moody’s has noted that the collapse of Carillion has exposed serious problems with the accounting for finance arrangements between firms and suppliers.


TP Icap blames uncertainty for Brexit move

Interdealer broker TP Icap is in talks with European financial regulators about leaving London after Brexit. "Our work to prepare for Brexit has been hampered by political uncertainty which persists into 2018," said chief executive John Phizackerley.

Amazon considers US credit card

Small-business customers in the US could benefit from a new credit card from Amazon, with the firm believed to have been in talks with lenders including JPMorgan on a co-branded credit card.

Blackstone stake offloaded by China

The Chinese sovereign wealth fund has sold its stake in Blackstone, with neither party disclosing the reasons for the sale. The China Investment Corp’s ownership stake originally made up 9.9% of Blackstone when it was purchased for $3bn in 2007.

Spearpoint Capital takeover affects profits at Brooks MacDonald

Brooks Macdonald was forced to put aside more cash to deal with issues relating to its 2012 acquisition of Spearpoint Capital, with profits down year-on-year from £8.1m to £600,000.

Leap in profits at Close Brothers

Close Brothers Group has reported a 6% rise in first-half adjusted operating profit, rising to £142.3m for the six months to January 31 from £134.2m a year earlier.

Elliott buys Prosperity Life

Activist hedge fund Elliott Management has bought Prosperity Life for just over $500m, with analysts predicting that the sale will be used as a springboard for further acquisitions.


Intercontinental joins £1.2bn race for Principal and De Vere

Intercontinental Hotels Group has teamed up with an unnamed investor partner to take part in the £1.2bn auction for the Principal Hotel Company, which operates the Principal and De Vere brands. The group is being sold by Starwood Capital Group through UBS.


£25m to boost mobile coverage blackspots

Rural areas of Scotland are to benefit from a £25m investment aimed at boosting mobile phone coverage. Between 60 and 70 sites are ultimately expected to benefit from new telephone masts, with a focus placed on the Highlands and Islands. The Scottish Futures Trust, the publicly owned infrastructure investment body, has designed the mast deployment project on behalf of Holyrood.


Accountants must report tax avoidance under new law

Under a new European Union law, penalties will be imposed on accountants, bankers and lawyers who fail to report aggressive tax-avoidance schemes employed by companies or individuals to move money to offshore havens.


Profits at property developers aided by slow building

West Dorset MP Sir Oliver Letwin has accused Britain's biggest housebuilders of maintaining their profits by building new homes on major developments slowly. A Home Builders Federation spokesman commented: “He has acknowledged the fact that builders can only build at the rate they can sell. Casting developers as villains makes good headlines but the issues with housing delivery are far more complex and the chancellor's tentative message suggests the government is fumbling around in the dark over what it can actually do to increase housing delivery.”

Buy-to-let property boom affected by taxes and loan limits

Britain's buy-to-let housing boom has been slowed down by new taxes and limits on lending. In the last three months of 2017 just 12.7% of mortgages went to buy-to-let borrowers, the lowest level since 2013,. This follows a stamp duty surcharge and the scrapping of mortgage interest relief.

UK Treasury looks to sell £7.4bn Help to Buy loan book

The government is looking to sell its £7.4bn Help to Buy loan book. Separately, the FT's Lex column warns that long-term investors "should steer clear".


French Connection losses narrow

French Connection has reported its sixth consecutive year of annual losses but shares soared after it revealed takeover interest. The retailer disclosed unsolicited interest by a U.S. company last year in its results but said it resulted in no firm offer being made after due diligence was completed. The company reported an underlying operating loss of £0.6m in its last financial year - an improvement on the £3.1m figure in 2016. It was aided by the closure of 11 loss-making stores which helped like-for-like sales climb 0.8% in the UK and Europe. Total revenue was largely flat on the previous year at £154m.


Hammond hails economic 'turning point'

Philip Hammond has used his Spring Statement to set out a series of consultations on future policies, including a deeper look at how tech giants such as Google and Facebook are taxed. There will also be a consultation on extending current training tax relief to self-employed people and employees. Mr Hammond revealed that the next revaluation for business rates is being brought forward to 2021, after which the government will move to revaluations every three years. He also signalled that the government will take action on the culture of late payment, along with broad measures to increase small business productivity. Other announcements included a rise in the National Living Wage, to £7.83 an hour in April. Regarding housing, Mr Hammond announced that 60,000 property buyers had so far benefited from the stamp duty relief introduced following last Autumn's Budget. The chancellor told MPs growth was forecast to be 1.5% this year, up from 1.4% forecast by the OBR in November, and that the government plans to borrow £45.2bn in the 2017-18 fiscal year. He said the figures showed the UK economy had reached a turning point and there was "light at the end of the tunnel".

UK growth to be slowest in G20 this year

The OECD has said the UK economy will grow at a slower pace than any other advanced or emerging nation this year. The think-tank raised its UK growth forecast to 1.3% in 2018 amid a strengthening global recovery. This is up from an earlier projection of 1.2%, but is the weakest in the G20. The OECD said the world economy was on course to expand at an annual pace of 3.9% over the next two years. This is up from a forecast last November of 3.7% in 2018 and 3.6% in 2019. In the UK, the OECD said higher inflation would continue to squeeze household incomes, while weak business investment would continue to weigh on growth for the next two years.


IMF champions tech to aid crypto-crackdown

Christine Lagarde has called for regulators to "fight fire with fire" as part of the wider crackdown on crypto-currencies. The International Monetary Fund boss said technologies such as biometrics, artificial intelligence and cryptography "can enhance digital security and identify suspicious transactions in close to real time. Industry body Crypto UK said regulatory certainty was "essential to attracting the best of this sector to call the UK home."

Copper coins at risk

Documents published as part of the chancellor’s Spring Statement suggest that one and two pence coins should be removed from circulation. The prospect has been criticised, with Conservative MP Ian Liddell-Grainger commenting: “A lot of charities live for those pennies”. The £50 note may also be under threat, after the Treasury commissioned a consultation on the matter.

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