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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday, 25th August 2021

Posted: 25th August 2021

BANKING

Barclays sponsors green summit

The UK Government yesterday announced that Barclays has become the first sponsor for the Global Investment Summit, which takes place on October 19th. The summit will showcase British innovation and demonstrate commitment to green industries of the future ahead of the Cop26 meeting in Glasgow. Jes Staley, the chief executive of Barclays, said: “Barclays fully supports the Global Investment Summit and the Government’s ambitious drive to boost investments, jobs and growth in the UK’s green industries.”

UK bank account and loan fraud soars in pandemic

Fraudulent activity soared during the course of the pandemic with loan fraud up 40% in Q2, according to Experian, with criminals opening bank accounts at five times the rate of the same quarter last year. Meanwhile, a survey by consumer group Which? of more than 400 people who had been victims of a fraud - or attempted fraud - in the past 12 months, found that nearly a fifth were dissatisfied with how their bank had managed it, while almost a third said their bank had failed to offer advice or resources on how to protect themselves in the future.

Public sticks with premium bonds despite prize pool cuts

National Savings & Investments (NS&I) has said demand for premium bonds remains solid despite the prize pool for premium bonds being slashed last October. Savers have snapped up another £17bn worth of bonds since then. The Times notes that government borrowing via NS&I stood at £202.8bn at the end of June.

PRIVATE EQUITY

TPG appoints bankers to work on IPO of private equity firm

Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase have been appointed by TPG to work on an initial public offering for the private equity company.

SoftBank takes stake in AI start-up

Japan's SoftBank Group is to plough about $50m into Peak - a Manchester-based artificial intelligence (AI) start-up which aids corporate decision-making.

INTERNATIONAL

Goldman Sachs demands on-site workers and clients are vaccinated

Goldman Sachs will require proof of vaccination from all staff and clients entering the bank’s US offices, the bank said on Tuesday. The investment bank will also require everyone to wear masks at its offices regardless of vaccination status starting on Wednesday, and fully vaccinated employees will receive weekly COVID-19 tests starting on September 7th, according to a memo. The move follows the granting of full approval by the FDA of the BioNTech/Pfizer jab, which experts predict will prompt more public and private organisations to introduce mandates. Richard Gnodde, the head of Goldman Sachs International, said it would not insist on bankers returning to its London head office being vaccinated, nor would it force people to return if they felt uncomfortable doing so.

Santander: Botin must show a tighter structure boosts earnings

Santander US is buying the remaining 20% of its American consumer unit for $2.5bn. The move comes after a recent offer by the bank to buy a stake in its Mexican consumer unit. The FT's Lex says that unless buying out minority shareholders of subsidiaries tightens the group and increases earnings, it may look as though CEO Ana Botin is trying to reduce public scrutiny.

JP Morgan drops defence and petrol stocks

JP Morgan’s London-listed American Investment Trust has sold its holdings in Marathon Petroleum and Raytheon Technologies due to their poor ESG credentials. The move comes as pressure mounts on financiers to stop bankrolling firms that could be harming the environment.

AVIATION

Hybrid Cessna makes test flight from Exeter to Newquay

A test flight from Exeter to Newquay was been completed by a hybrid-powered passenger plane on Tuesday, demonstrating the feasibility of the green technology. Developed by US-based Ampaire, the modified Cessna 337 Skymaster has a battery-driven propeller on its nose combined with a conventionally powered rear engine.

Ryanair pulls out of Northern Ireland

Ryanair has pulled services out of Northern Ireland blaming the refusal of ministers to suspend or reduce air passenger duty and a lack of "COVID recovery incentives" from Belfast International Airport and Belfast City Airport. The airline stopped flying from the City of Derry airport earlier this year.

FINANCIAL SERVICES

Amigo Holdings 'under threat'

The delayed results for Amigo Holdings show the sub-prime lender struggling under a £234m loss with no agreement with the FCA in sight regarding its compensation scheme for customers who were mis-sold loans.

Lloyd's losses to balloon to £2bn

Analysts expect Lloyd's to set to swing to a £2bn loss, triggered by a surge in claims on business interruption policies. Research from Insurance DataLab shows the London market nursed losses that were £1.6bn higher than 2019's figure.

The ESG investing industry is dangerous

Robert Armstrong in the FT backs the views of former Blackrock CIO Tariq Fancy who says executives pushing ESG don’t believe their own claims that such investing can help solve the problems it purports to address.

HEALTHCARE

Compulsory vaccinations risk catastrophe for care homes

Experts fear that vaccine mandates for care home workers will “shatter a sector already in crisis”, the Telegraph reports. Care managers say they are finding it impossible to recruit whilst 60% of homes experience an increased rate of staff turnover. As studies show vaccinated people can still get and transmit the Delta variant, some are calling for daily testing rather than firing those who are determined not to be jabbed. The Guardian reports that care provider representatives are warning that an “army of volunteers” could be needed this winter to tackle rising staff shortages driven by the “no jab, no job” policy.

LEISURE & HOSPITALITY

Just Eat to bring 1,500 call centre jobs to UK

Just Eat is to create more than 1,500 jobs in Sunderland after the online food delivery group decided to bring outsourced customer service roles back to the UK. A new call centre in Houghton-le-Spring is expected to open early next year with staff permitted to work flexibly, splitting their time between the four-floor office and their homes.

MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT

Young people drive web publishing sales up by third

Digital publishing sales jumped 31.9% to £152m in the first three months of this year, according to data from the Association of Online Publishers. The majority of revenue came from display advertising, rising by 4.7% to £53.6m, but subscription revenues surged by 49% compared to the first quarter of last year, driven by young people signing up for online subscriptions to newspapers and magazines. Business confidence remained strong across the industry, as total digital sales rose 10% to £517m over the past year.

REAL ESTATE

UK house sales plunge in July after stamp duty holiday ends

Property sales fell sharply last month following a spike in June when buyers rushed to complete before the end of the stamp duty holiday. HMRC said 73,740 homes were sold in July on a seasonally adjusted basis - 63% fewer than the previous month which saw 213,120 sales. The figure was 4% up on July 2020 but down 24% compared with the same month in 2019. The full tax break on homes up to £500,000 finished at the end of June but the stamp duty threshold will remain at £250,000 until the end of September when it will revert to £125,000.

RETAIL

Retailers report higher sales, prices also rise

The CBI’s latest distributive trades survey has found that a net balance of 60% of retailers reported higher sales in the year to August, up from 23% in July and the highest reading since December 2014. However, labour shortages continue to affect supply and are also creating inflationary pressure in the sector. A net balance of 73% of businesses said that prices were up compared with the same month a year ago. This was up from 53% in May. Alpesh Paleja, economist at the CBI, said: “A ramping up in retail sales growth in the year to August shows just how much consumer demand continues to spur economic recovery. While sales growth is set to remain strong, a more definitive shift in household spending towards consumer services is anticipated later in the year, leading to greater normalisation of growth in the retail sector.”

Trustees warn Morrisons takeover would ‘materially weaken’ pension schemes

A takeover of Morrisons by either of the current private equity bidders would “materially weaken” the supermarket chain’s retirement schemes, trustees of the pension funds have said. Steve Southern, the chairman of trustees, called for both Clayton, Dubilier and Rice and the rival consortium led by Fortress Investment Group to offer improved financial security to scheme members.

ECONOMY

London markets track global gains

Wall Street rallied on Tuesday amid suspicions that the US Federal Reserve will row back on plans to begin winding down its asset purchase programme. Analysts said concerning economic data and the surge in delta cases in the US may lead the central bank to take a more cautious position. London markets also rose, led by travel stocks including IAG, Rolls-Royce and Whitbread, as investors took note that the resurgence in new Covid cases globally has failed to trigger a severe crackdown on international travel restrictions.

OTHER

Amazon offers £1,000 bonus to new workers

Amazon is offering new warehouse recruits a £1,000 bonus as the US tech giant urgently seeks to fill roles at its sites across the UK, including Darlington, Dartford, Swansea, Redditch and Coventry. The move comes as UK companies struggle with staff shortages caused by a combination of Brexit, the coronavirus and self-isolation rules. Official data last month showed the number of UK job vacancies passed one million for the first time ever in July.

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