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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday 21st March 2018

Posted: 21st March 2018


Virgin Money and Aberdeen Standard join forces

Standard Life Aberdeen has agreed to buy a 50% stake in Virgin Money’s investment business for £40m, in a joint venture that will allow it to broaden its retail investment services. “This mutually beneficial relationship will give our customers a broader fund choice and the tools and capability to invest for the future with confidence,” said Virgin Money's chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia. “It is expected to generate significant growth in assets under management, drive additional capital-light returns and to be game-changing for our investment business over the longer term,” she continued.

City unimpressed by Bramson bid

The City poured cold water on Edward Bramson’s attempt to shake up Barclays yesterday after it emerged his investment vehicle, Sherborne Investors has built up a 5% stake in the bank. Ian Gordon at Investec advised clients to sell the shares. He downgraded his recommendation from Buy to Hold and said: “We advise taking profits.” JPMorgan Cazenove thinks the shares are still a buy but believes “self-help measures” will be enough to boost the stock.

FCA concern over overdraft fees

Christopher Woolard, an executive director at the Financial Conduct Authority, has warned banks that the way in which they charge customers for unarranged overdrafts faces “fundamental reform”. Mr Woolard said he was concerned by “disproportionately high” charges when customers went above their limits. “There appears to be no clear relationship between the amount borrowed by the consumer and the amount charged,” he added.

Bank loyalty

Two out of five children still use the same bank their parents chose for them when they were young, rather than asserting their independence and moving on, according to research from TSB.


PE investments triple in Portugal

Private equity investments in Portugal have more than tripled to €7bn in the past three years, according to data by TTR, as investors flock to a rebounding economy, which is set to grow 2.2% this year, four years after it exited a bailout and seven years since it faced sovereign default.


Jefferies hit by US tax code change

Jefferies swung to a quarterly loss, hit by a $164m charge related to changes to the US tax code. Net loss attributable to the investment bank was $60.8m for the first quarter, compared with a profit of $114.0m a year ago. Net revenue for the quarter rose 3.2% to $821.2m from last year.

Alpha Bank swings to loss

Greece's Alpha Bank, which is 11% owned by the country's bank rescue fund HFSF, has reported a fourth quarter net loss from continuing operations of €64m after a net profit of €35.6m in the third quarter.

Tencent and Allianz lead $160m funding for German online bank N26

German online bank N26 has raised $160m from a group of investors led by Tencent and Allianz X, the insurance group’s digital investment unit.


BMW HQ raided by prosecutors

BMW’s HQ has been raided by German prosecutors as part of an investigation into the suspected use of emissions cheating software. “There is an early suspicion that BMW has used a test bench-related defeat device,” prosecutors said.


Bellway builds up to milestone

Bellway has said it is on course to build more than 10,000 homes this year for the first time. The housebuilder built 4,741 homes - 3,768 of them private and 973 social housing - in the first half of the year to the end of January, a 6.3% increase compared with last year.


City rejects “equivalence” offer for financial services

Draft EU guidelines on the future relationship of the bloc with the UK include an annex on financial services which considers how the City might be offered a degree of market access after Brexit, but only on “equivalence” terms. Access would be unilaterally managed by the EU, with any determination of equivalence withdrawn at short notice and access would not be allowed to pose any threat to “financial stability”. Although UK officials welcomed the move as a step in right direction, Miles Celic, chief executive of TheCityUK, said only the use of mutual recognition frameworks would work.

Actor takes aim at rent-to-own

Actor Michael Sheen has founded a new initiative aimed at providing “fairer alternatives” to mainstream rent-to-own firms and payday lenders. The End High Cost Credit Alliance aims to create a “social movement” that brings together 50 partners and will invest in not-for-profit companies to “compete and win against” high-cost credit providers. Separately, rent-to-own firm PerfectHome has agreed to pay out a total of £2.1m, with as many as 37,000 customers receiving an average of £57 each, after an investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Aviva under pressure over preference share plan

Investors including M&G Prudential, Invesco, GAM, Blackrock, Legal & General and Eden Tree have met Sir Adrian Montague, Aviva’s chairman, to demand the insurer withdraw its plan to cancel £450m of preference shares. The City investor group owns 30% of Aviva’s preference shares and 15% of its ordinary stock.

Rolet could receive millions

Xavier Rolet, former CEO of the LSE, will still receive his multi-million-pound bonus pay-outs for three years after his departure, according to reports. It is understood Mr Rolet could be granted up to £8.8m of shares under long-term bonus schemes, assuming various targets are hit.

UK’s first pension consolidation fund targets £500bn in assets

Edi Truell, founder of Disruptive Capital Finance, is to back the UK’s pension consolidation fund. Mr Truell has partnered with Warburg Pincus to back a fund that will pool the assets and liabilities of private-sector retirement plans.

CofE offers faster way to pay

The Church of England is offering its members a faster way to pay - through contactless transactions or Apple Pay and Google Pay. The Church said it should appeal to younger people in the congregation, many of whom no longer carry cash.

Dorsey: Bitcoin will become the world’s single currency

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and payments company Square, has claimed that Bitcoin will overtake the dollar in importance as it becomes the single global currency of the internet within a decade.


Oxford Nanopore value reaches £1.5bn as it taps Asia-Pacific funding
UK biotechnology firm Oxford Nanopore has raised £100m from Asia-Pacific investors, valuing it at £1.5bn, to meet accelerating demand for its gene sequencing machines.


Social media stars could face tougher advertising rules

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has said that social media stars could face tougher rules on advertising in posts. The ASA said online ads, such as those on Instagram, should be “obviously recognisable” but that some users with big followings broke the rules. The regulator is seeking evidence on whether ad labelling rules need strengthening.


De La Rue CFO quits

Bank note maker De La Rue’s share prices tanked yesterday after it warned of weaker profits and reported that its finance chief had resigned. CFO Jitesh Sodha will step down from the board immediately but stay in his role until September.


Icy spell melts Ocado sales

Ocado reported that heavy snow brought to the UK by the “Beast from the East” weather event lost it around 1% of first-quarter revenue, although sales still rose 11.7% to £363m. Chief executive Tim Steiner said he was “pleased” with the firm’s performance in the 13 weeks to March 4th, with orders per week rising 11.1% to 280,000. The average customer order was down 0.4% to £110.45 per shop.


Inflation eases to 2.7% on falling petrol prices

Falling petrol prices and a slower rise in the cost of food contributed to a drop in UK consumer price inflation during February. The rate fell from 3% to 2.7%, the lowest figure since July 2017. The figures suggest the squeeze on households, caused by rising inflation and stagnant wages, may be ending. The ONS will publish the latest pay growth figures today. Economists expect those figures to show pay growth edged higher, to an annual rate of 2.6% in the three months to January.


Top rate taxpayers shoulder income tax burden

The top tenth of taxpayers paid 59.2% of all income tax last year, according to figures from HMRC, up from 54.9% in 2009-10. The poorest half of taxpayers, those earning under £23,200 were liable for 9.7% of the total income tax owed in 2017-18, down from 11.2% in 2009-10. The richest 1% of taxpayers are liable for 27.7% of income tax, HMRC said, up from 11% in the late 1970s.

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