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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday, 28th August 2019

Posted: 28th August 2019

BANKING

UK mortgage approvals soaring

July saw the number of mortgage approvals in Britain rise to its highest level since early 2017, as buyers took advantage of increasingly competitive rates, according to UK Finance. Banks approved 43,300 mortgages last month, higher than the 42,800 in June and 10.6% more than in July last year, while remortgaging approvals saw a 15% year-on-year rise to 30,200 in July, the fastest increase since May 2018. UK Finance figures also show credit card spending totalled £12bn in July - the highest on record and an increase of 8.2% on July 2018. The value of borrowing for personal loans was also up, by 9.3% annually.

NatWest and RBS recover after websites crash

A problem which saw RBS and NatWest’s online banking websites inaccessible for seven and nine hours respectively, from 9am yesterday, has been resolved. RBS had suggested customers could use other methods to access their accounts, including mobile apps, ATMs, telephone banking, or going into a branch. Figures published last week showed that RBS and NatWest were the banks with the most problems in the past three months, although Barclays has had the most in the past year.

Sharia accounts offering high returns

Sharia-based savings accounts are rising to the top of the league tables with returns exceeding those of high street and challenger banks. Hargreaves Lansdown offers an account with the Bank of London and the Middle East (BLME) through its active savings online marketplace which “offers three times the interest of a high street alternative.” BLME offers a five-year fixed rate savings account paying 2.75%, which can be opened online or by post.

Fraud compensation fund could be paid for by customers

Payment services provider Pay.UK has suggested that banks pay a 2.9p transaction fee on all transfers over £30 to fund a compensation scheme to help victims of fraud. So far, only Nationwide and Lloyds have pledged not to pass the fee on to customers.

Lloyds launches economic abuse support team

Lloyds Banking Group is launching a specialist team to help people who suffer domestic abuse through the arbitrary control, exploitation or sabotage of household finances and debt. At-risk customers will initially be referred to Lloyds by charity partners and victim refuges.

Monzo offers early payments

App-based bank Monzo says account holders can now opt to have Bacs direct credit payments transferred into their accounts at 4pm the day before the money is due.

YBS extends mortgage offering

Yorkshire Building Society has extended its long-term mortgage offering with a new range of 15-year fixed rate loans. The mortgages range from a 65% LTV fix that charges fixed interest of 2.79%, up to a 90% LTV product charging 3.65%.

PRIVATE EQUITY

Ordinary savers should be allowed to invest in private equity

Hal Scott and John Gulliver make the case for retail investors in the US to be allowed to invest in private equity funds, with PE and VC funds outperforming the S&P 500.

INTERNATIONAL

Deutsche Bank revamps treasury unit to combat negative rates

Deutsche Bank has combined all its treasury markets and investment operations into a single unit with the aim of putting its excess cash to work and offsetting negative interest rates. François Jourdain, formerly of Barclays and the Bank of England, will run the unit.

AVIATION

CAA seeks answers from BA over pilot strike chaos

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has criticised British Airways for its response to a pilot strike that saw customers unable get through on the phone to reschedule flights and given wrong information on which flights were cancelled. BA flights have been cancelled on September 9, 10 and 27 because of a walkout by the British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa).

Boeing sued over 737 Max breach of contract

Avia Capital Services, an aircraft leasing company that is a subsidiary of Russian firm Rostec, is suing Boeing for breach of contract over an order for 35 737 Max jets. It now wants the order cancelled.

FINANCIAL SERVICES

Lloyds underwriters double pot to cover emerging risks

A syndicate of underwriters at Lloyd's of London have doubled their financial commitment to help insure against emerging and hard-to-insure risks. The group, which is led by senior underwriters from Tokio Marine Kiln, Beazley, Hiscox, Axis Capital, Aspen and Munich Re, among others, has doubled its £50m pool to £100m. John Neal, Lloyd's chief executive, said: “Lloyd's new Product Innovation Facility will incubate new product ideas and help ensure we continue to deal with our customers' rapidly evolving and emerging risks."

Deutsche Börse offices raided as authorities investigate alleged tax evasion

German police have searched the premises of Deutsche Börse subsidiary Clearstream as part of an investigation into trades that were allegedly used to falsely claim tax rebates. The investigation centres on so-called cum-ex dividend trades. With cum-ex transactions, investors were able to obtain refunds for capital gains tax multiple times, even if the tax was only paid once.

HEALTHCARE

Blue Brick sells two care homes

Blue Brick Healthcare has sold two care homes for £18.6m to listed investor Target Healthcare.

MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT

CP Media joins forces with Top Screen

CP Media has formed a strategic partnership with digital technology provider Top Screen Media. The Halifax-based outdoor advertising services specialist will market Top Screen Media's HQ displays.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

Harper Macleod unveils record results

Harper Macleod has announced record results for 2018/2019 with a 9.5% rise in turnover to £29m and 8% rise in profits to £11m – marking the company's eighth consecutive year of profit growth.

REAL ESTATE

US spin-off reports send IWG to record high

Rumours that IWG founder Mark Dixon was planning a spin-off and listing of IWG’s US business in New York sent shares to a record high, up 21p to 428.4p.

RETAIL

Arcadia CVA can now progress

US retail landlords Vornado and Caruso have withdrawn legal challenges to Sir Philip Green’s restructuring plan for his retail business Arcadia. After the firm’s company voluntary arrangement plans were narrowly passed by shareholders earlier this summer, the landlords had stated their opposition, but an agreement is now believed to have been reached. Arcadia chief executive Ian Grabiner remarked: “With these legal challenges now withdrawn all the components of the CVAs can now be implemented.”

Carpetright stakeholder buys up debt pile

Shares in Carpetright jumped almost 10% yesterday after it emerged that Meditor Capital Management, a hedge fund that owns 29.9% of the business, would purchase its £40.7m revolving credit facility from its current lenders AIB and NatWest.

ECONOMY

Prices driven lower in August

Prices in Britain's shops fell by 0.4% in August driven by a 1.5% decline in prices for clothes, consumer goods and other non-food items. The BRC blamed the slowdown on weak consumer spending and a rise in discounting among retailers.

OTHER

Brits hold on to £1.5bn in old notes

The Bank of England has said Britons still have £1.5bn of old £5 and £10 notes more than a year after they ceased to be legal tender. The Bank says 118m paper £5 notes and 94m £10 paper notes have still not been returned. The Bank said there is no deadline to exchange them for new polymer notes. It added: "All notes withdrawn from circulation keep their face value for all time and can be changed."

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