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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday 1st July 2020

Posted: 1st July 2020


Name-checking service looks to thwart bank transfer fraud´

The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) believes widespread adoption of a new name-checking service by banks will make it harder for fraudsters to con people into transferring them money. Bank of Scotland, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, NatWest, Nationwide Building Society, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and Ulster Bank have adopted the “confirmation of payee” service that checks the name of who the person wants to pay against the account number they are paying money into. The PSR said that in 95% of cases where a new payee is set up by a customer of one of the banks utilising the service, the customer will have the protections.

Savers see worst six months since 2009

The first half of 2020 represents the poorest six-month period for savings rates since 2009, with savers hit as interest rates were cut to record lows of 0.1%. The average easy-access Isa paid 0.81% in January but the current average is just 0.37% - a fall of 56%. Rachel Springall, of data provider Moneyfacts, said: “All average rates have fallen between January and June this year, and this demonstrates just how much the market has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and base rate cuts, and it will leave savers feeling frustrated and disappointed.”

Santander set to name Vereker as UK chairman

Santander is reportedly lining up JPMorgan’s William Vereker as its new UK chairman. Vereker, once of UBS and the former business envoy of Theresa May, is set to replace Shriti Vadera when she becomes chair of Prudential later this year.


Cerberus urging more cost cuts at Commerzbank

Cerberus is seeking more than 7,000 job cuts at Commerzbank, after the lender said that many positions could be affected by cost-cutting plans. US activist investor Cerberus is planning to present the firm with measures it should take on headcount alongside other savings areas, sources claim. A Commerzbank spokesperson stated: “As already announced, we plan to disclose the details of our cost project the latest with our second quarter numbers. Currently, different options and scenarios are being discussed. No decisions have been taken.”

UBS falls in Australian equities rankings

UBS, long the dominant bank in Australian equities markets, has ended a half-year outside the top three for the first time in 15 years, slipping to fourth place in the equity capital markets league table. UBS's market share fell from 22.8% in the first half of last year to 12.4% now, ranking it behind Macquarie with 23.4%, Goldman Sachs with 17.4% and JP Morgan with 14.8%, according to Refinitiv.


EasyJet to close bases and reduce workforce

EasyJet has begun consultations on plans to close bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle. The airline says pressure brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak may mean it will need to reduce staff numbers by up to a third. Union Unite said nearly 1,300 UK crew members faced losing their jobs, while pilots’ union Balpa said 727 UK-based pilots were also at risk of redundancy.

Airbus to cut 15,000 jobs

Plane-maker Airbus plans to cut 15,000 jobs as it deals with the effects of the coronavirus crisis, with 1,700 jobs to go in the UK. The firm said the UK cuts would fall in the commercial aircraft division at its two sites at in Flintshire and Bristol. Union Unite said it expected 1,116 manufacturing jobs and 611 office-based jobs to go, shrinking Airbus's UK workforce by 15%. Airbus expects to make the cuts by summer 2021, saying it hopes the majority of redundancies will be voluntary.


Redrow retreats from London

Redrow is to focus on higher demand for larger homes and gardens outside the capital, with chief executive John Tutte remarking: “Trading has been relatively challenging, even in outer London.” The firm, which furloughed 80% of its 2,300 employees during the lockdown, also plans to return taxpayers' money it accepted from the furlough scheme.


TransferWise gets green light for new investment service

TransferWise has gained Financial Conduct Authority approval to start offering investments to its customers, with the firm saying it will use its retail investment permissions to launch investment services for its customers in the next 12 months. The move is expected to encourage TransferWise customers to keep their money in their TransferWise accounts, rather than moving it to challenger banks such as Revolut and Monzo. Chief executive Kristo Käärmann said the company doesn’t wish to compete directly with other financial technology start-ups, commenting: “From our perspective, it's better if people use TransferWise through Monzo than to use TransferWise directly. It's just a better experience.”

EU negotiator hits out at UK’s City plan

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator in Brexit trade talks, has described British proposals to allow the City of London access to EU markets as "unacceptable". He said plans put forward by the UK would undermine the EU's "regulatory and decision-taking autonomy", suggesting Britain is “trying to keep as many single market benefits as it can". Mr Barnier said the UK “cannot keep the benefits of the single market without the obligations", adding that "there is no way" the proposals would be accepted EU governments or the European Parliament.

London Stock Exchange and Primarybid in acquisition talks

Primarybid is in talks to sell part of its business to London Stock Exchange Group. The technology start-up holds a long-standing commercial relationship with the stock exchange, raising $8.6m last year, with backers such as Pentech, Outward VC and Hambro Perks.

Standard Life Aberdeen appoints chief executive-designate

Keith Skeoch is to step down as chief executive of asset manager Standard Life Aberdeen. He will be replaced by former Citi executive Stephen Bird, who will start as CEO-designate today - with a full transition expected later in the year.

SPW names new CEO

Schroders Personal Wealth has announced the appointment of Mark Duckworth as its new chief executive, subject to regulatory approval.


Cinema re-openings delayed in UK and US

Cineworld has suspended its scheduled reopening date for three weeks amid delays to cinema releases and ongoing hygiene concerns. AMC in the US is also delaying its reopening, from 15 July until the end of the month.

InterContinental Hotels faces 70% revenue fall for June

Revenues at hotels group InterContinental could be down 70% this month, even as “small but steady improvements” in trading are reported at the firm. The projected slide in revenues per available room compares with 82% in April and 76% last month.


Italian clubs look to score private equity deal

Italy's top-flight football clubs have mandated Serie A, the nation’s top-flight, to weigh private equity bids for its broadcast rights business. Serie A and CVC Capital Partners have been in exclusive talks over a €2.2bn bid for a stake of up 20% in a venture managing the league's media rights for 10 seasons, while Bain Capital and Advent have reportedly made rival bids.


Economy sees worst contraction since 1979

The UK economy shrank more than first thought between January and March, contracting 2.2% where the Office for National Statistics (ONS) had estimated a 2% dip. This marks the biggest quarterly contraction since Q3 1979. Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at the ONS, said that all main sectors of the economy shrank “significantly” in March due to the hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. The services sector - which accounts for about three-quarters of UK GDP - shrank by a record 2.3% in Q1, with production down 1.5% and construction slipping 1.7%.

BoE economist positive about UK recovery

Andy Haldane, the Bank of England's chief economist, has sounded a positive note about the UK’s ability to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic, saying the country’s economy is on track for a sharp V-shaped recovery thanks to a faster-than-expected rebound helped by an uptick in consumer spending since lockdown restrictions have been eased. Real-time data suggests the cumulative loss of annual GDP as a result of the pandemic will be 8%, rather than the 17% in the scenario modelled by the Bank in May, he claimed.


PM announces post-virus recovery plan

Boris Johnson has presented his plan for infrastructure investment that is designed to drive the economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. The Prime Minister outlined a £5bn “new deal” that will centre on investment in schools, hospitals, and the road and rail network, with Mr Johnson saying plans set out in the election manifesto will be accelerated and "intensified”.

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