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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday 19th September 2018

Posted: 19th September 2018


RBS testing new NatWest digital banking platform

RBS is trialling two standalone digital banks under its NatWest brand. A senior source at the bank said that a handful of SME customers are now testing one of the standalone banking platforms aimed at business banking clients. RBS is also trialling a separate digital NatWest retail bank that would serve everyday customers, with both projects among a number of online banking programmes currently under development. Separately, RBS has been urged to order a review into the way it serves rural communities as MSPs in Scotland joined forces to condemn bank branch closures. RBS’s bosses were told to “take their foot off the accelerator” and look at the impact their decisions were having in remote parts of the north and north-east of Scotland.

HSBC launches lending fund to boost regions

HSBC has launched a £12bn lending fund to support Britain’s small and medium-sized business. The bank said the annual lending commitment was its highest to date since launch five years ago and £2bn more than in 2017. HSBC’s business banking boss Amanda Murphy said the fund would help SMEs who are “ambitious, entrepreneurial and ready to expand”.

TSB plans to bid for RBS competition fund

TSB is preparing to bid for an £833m competition fund set up by RBS to fund a relaunch of its business bank. According to the Telegraph, TSB wants to grab a chunk of the available funds to invest millions in its business services ahead of a relaunch by the end of the year. Rivals including Metro Bank, Clydesdale and Santander - which is many times the size of its eligible rivals - have also set their sights on the cash.

Interest-free credit cards drying up

New figures have shown that the number of interest-free credit cards available to consumers has fallen to a record low. In September there were just 87 such deals available - the lowest number since 2006, when analysts Moneyfacts’ records began. The amount is down from 101 in June. Meanwhile, the cost of transferring debt to 0% balance transfer cards has risen, up from an average rate of 2.04% in January to 2.2% this month.

Paragon loan sale pushes up its profits

Paragon has announced a “reverse profit warning” after it sold a portfolio of loans, while also seeing a strong pipeline of buy-to-let loans. Paragon said the premium for which it sold the assets will have a positive impact of 7p per share on final earnings. The lender added that its buy-to-let pipeline at the end of the financial year will be over 25% higher than 2017.

Diamond rediscovers his sparkle

Katherine Griffiths in the Times profiles Bob Diamond, the former boss of Barclays. She says that Mr Diamond has shown toughness and spirit in carving out a new career having created Atlas Mara and Atlas Merchant Capital. She adds that although he may been part of the problem associated with the financial crisis, having people around in the business world who were not merely ringside but actually in the ring then is rare and valuable.


Bank watchdog rules out ‘back-to-back’ trading ban after Brexit

Andrea Enria, the head of the European Banking Authority, has said that “back-to-back” trading operations, a contentious way of transferring risk across borders, will not be banned after Brexit.

Visa and MasterCard set to pay fines

Visa and MasterCard, along with several banks, will pay $6.2bn to settle part of a long-running lawsuit brought by merchants over fees on credit card transactions. Visa will pay out $4.1bn and MasterCard is paying about $900m.


BMW to close Mini plant for a month post-Brexit

BMW has said it will close its Mini factory in Oxford for a month after Brexit at the end of March 2019 to minimise disruption in case of a no-deal outcome. The German car manufacturer said its summer maintenance shutdown had been brought forward to 1 April to reduce any “possible short-term parts-supply disruption”. “While we believe this worst case scenario is an unlikely outcome, we have to plan for it,” BMW said. BMW added that the downtime would be used to start preparing the plant to make the new electric Mini.

EU launches probe into BMW, Daimler and VW over cartel claims

Brussels has launched a formal investigation into BMW, Daimler and the Volkswagen Group over whether they colluded to hold back technological developments in clean emissions technology.

Ferrari to launch new models

Ferrari has said it will launch 15 new models by 2022, as it embarks on a new five-year strategy under new CEO Louis Camilleri. The company also intends to launch its first SUV, Purosangue, at the end of the five-year period.


UK and US need immediate system of mutual recognition

A new report entitled “The Ideal US-UK Free Trade Agreement”, co-authored by a group of 11 think tanks, calls for a post-Brexit free trade deal between the UK and US to include mutual recognition in the finance and services sectors from "day one" to boost competition. The report says: "It is proposed that mutual recognition exist across all financial sectors (including banking, investment banking, dealing, broking, fund management, custody, derivatives dealing, clearing, financial infrastructure, and, where possible insurance and reinsurance) from day one", adding: "Given the experiences after the 2007–2008 financial crisis, we believe the two regimes are generally already synchronized and seek to achieve the same outcomes."

Cenkos’ profits slide amid fall in firms fundraising

Broker Cenkos has revealed a 92% drop in post-tax profits, to just £300,000 for the six months ending June, compared to the £3.7m it recorded in the same period for 2017. Revenue at the firm, which blamed a fall in fundraising rounds among growth companies, on which it earns money as an advisor, slipped by more than a third to £18.1m for the half year, while net assets stood at £26.3m, down from £27.7m the year before.

France seeking to lure UK fintech jobs

Delphine Gény-Stephann, the French junior economy and finance minister, has launched a new government-backed tech incubator to lure thousands of UK financial technology jobs to France. The incubator offers companies support with funding and strategies, and also offers foreign companies “relocation packages”.

Investment staff set for Brexit exit

CFA UK, the industry body that sets exams for professional investors, has said that one in nine investment professionals is planning to leave Britain after Brexit. The group identified a growing concern about a no-deal Brexit, with the percentage expecting it up from 17% to 22.5%.

Marsh & McLennan buys Jardine Lloyd Thompson

New York-headquartered Marsh & McLennan is to buy Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) in a £4.3bn deal. Shares in the UK insurance broker rocketed by over 30% following the announcement, which represents a premium of 33.7% to the closing price of £14.32 per share on September 17.


Endeavor enters bid battle for Endemol

The Telegraph reports that the Hollywood talent agent Endeavor is in talks to acquire Endemol Shine, the television production company. Endeavor is up against ITV, which has been assembling its production business via a string of acquisitions.


Rosenblatt rolls out litigation fund

City law firm Rosenblatt has revealed a £2m litigation fund via its new Rosenblatt Litigation Funding arm. In its first results since floating on the stock market - for the eight weeks to June 30 the firm generated £3m revenue and had an adjusted profit before tax of £950,000, up from £2.6m and £800,000 in the equivalent period the year prior.


PM pledges money for housing associations

The Prime Minister is set to announce £2bn in extra money for housing associations over a decade, arguing that secure funding for new schemes is a key way to ease the housebuilding crisis. Theresa May will promise longer-term cash for housing associations, asking in return that they take more of a lead in building their own large-scale developments.


Ocado’s robot warehouses paying off

Retail revenues at Ocado increased by 11.5% in its third quarter, a slight slowdown from the first half of the year but in line with the online grocer’s guidance for the year. Chief executive officer Tim Steiner said performance from its newest robotic warehouses at Andover and Erith was helping to meet consumer demand.


Formula 1’s owners sign sponsorship deal

Liberty Media, the owners of Formula 1, have signed a deal to sell sponsorship rights to betting companies. The deal with Interregional Sports Group will allow F1 to develop in-play betting markets during grands prix.


EU migrants pay more in taxes than they receive, MAC report says

The government must make it easier for high-skilled workers to come to the UK, according to reforms proposed by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which include abolishing caps on tier 2 visas for high-and medium-skilled workers and streamlining the application system. The tier 2 scheme would be extended to EU citizens, ending free movement. Other findings include European migrants paying significantly more in taxes than they receive in benefits, - with migrants from the first 13 member states benefiting HMRC more than those from newer member states.


Bitcoin in need of regulation

MPs on the Treasury Select Committee have warned that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are “wild west” assets that expose investors to a litany of risks and are in urgent need of regulation. Nicky Morgan, the chair of the committee, said the present situation was unsustainable, adding: “This unregulated industry leaves investors facing numerous risks.”

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