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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday 2nd October 2019

Posted: 2nd October 2019


Monzo savers call for refund clarity

Monzo customers have criticised the bank due to a lack of communication over refunds after it cancelled a monthly subscription service. Savers say the bank is not being clear about who will get a refund after announcing the end of a £6-a-month Monzo Plus service which gives customers perks including travel insurance. A spokesman for the digital bank denied there had been a lack of clarity around the changes, saying a forum post explained its six different kinds of monthly subscription and which types would be refunded. Monzo will email customers affected by the changes with information about requesting refunds and cancellations, the spokesman added.

Link launches free cashpoint fund

Cash machine operator Link has launched a new £1m Community Access to Cash Delivery Fund to try to ensure that communities don’t lose the ability to access their money for free. Locals are being encouraged to contact their local authority or MP to make a formal bid for a new free-to-use cash machine on their behalf.

Santander IT upgrade locks customers out of accounts

Some customers of Cater Allen, Santander’s private banking arm, have been locked out of their accounts after a bungled launch of a new IT system. Angry users took to social media to complain they could only access their money through desktop computers - not through mobiles or tablets - could not see their bank balance or previous transactions, drop-down menus were not working properly and that financial information was not clearly displayed.

High street banking disruption to continue despite Metro Bank's woes

Matthew Lynn argues that should Metro Bank fail "it will simply prove that high street banking is in more trouble that we realised," because if a company "as innovative as that can’t make traditional retail banking work" it shows that the model is "beyond repair". If Metro's assault on the big banks fails, he says, that doesn’t mean the challenge is over – "it is only just beginning."


Advent to buy Italy's ICE

Advent will reportedly pay around €700m to buy Italian chemicals firm Industria Chimica Emiliana. Advent, which was advised on the deal by Deutsche Bank and Nomura, declined to comment on the price of the transaction.

Citizen Energy in Roan Resources deal

Citizen Energy Operating, which is backed by Warburg Pincus, is set to buy oil and natural gas producer Roan Resources for $1bn, including debt.


Spying scandal claims Credit Suisse scalp

Pierre-Olivier Bouée, Credit Suisse's chief operating officer, has resigned after an investigation found that he initiated surveillance of Iqbal Khan, who left to join rival UBS, without discussing it with CEO Tidjane Thiam or other senior bank officials. Urs Rohner, Credit Suisse's chairman, apologised yesterday for using private detectives to follow the senior banker and admitted that it had damaged the reputation of the bank and Switzerland's financial centre.

Swedbank execs fired amid money laundering investigation

Three executives at the Estonian branch of Swedbank have been fired amid an ongoing investigation into a €200bn money-laundering scandal, including former Estonia chief executive Robert Kitt. Vaiko Tammevali, who had been chief financial officer at Swedbank in Estonia, also lost his job, as did Kaie Metsla, head of the bank’s private customer division. Swedbank appointed Olavi Lepp as its permanent chief executive to run the Estonian unit, while Anna Kouts will take over as CFO.

UBS economist reinstated

Paul Donovan of UBS Global Wealth Management will return to work after being suspended for making controversial comments about swine fever in China. He was suspended in June after saying that the disease only "matters if you are a Chinese pig [or] if you like eating pork in China". The comments drew criticism as the word "pig" in China is used to connote stupidity and laziness. Mr Donovan apologised, saying he "unwittingly used hugely culturally insensitive language."

Tech forecast to destroy more than 200,000 US bank jobs

Analysis by Wells Fargo suggests that use of robots and other technology could see US banks cut more than 200,000 jobs in the next decade - more than 10% of total bank roles.

UniCredit chief urges rethink on negative rates complaints

UniCredit chief executive Jean-Pierre Mustier, president of the European Banking Federation, says banks should look to offset the impact of negative interest rates instead of complaining about them.

India’s central bank seeks to calm fears over tottering lenders

India’s central bank has addressed concern over the stability of the country’s banking system it says has resulted in “anxiety to depositors”, tweeting: “Indian banking is safe and stable.”


Hargreaves counts cost of Woodford crisis

Analysts at Credit Suisse have awarded Hargreaves Lansdown’s stock with an “underperform” rating, adding that the wealth manager’s reputation could still be damaged by the implosion of Neil Woodford’s Equity Income Fund. The Swiss bank said: “We find Hargreaves’ premium valuation difficult to support in the face of near-term revenue and earnings growth headwinds.”

Revolut's losses double amid expansion plans

Fintech firm Revolut, which announced an ambitious expansion plan this week, saw losses double to £33m in its latest financial year. Though revenue rose 354% year on year to £58.2m in 2018, sales costs rose 247%, resulting in a loss after tax of £32.8m - double 2017’s £14.8m loss. Revolut’s gross margin for the second half of 2019 will hit between 40% and 50%, it asserted, compared to under 10% in the same period last year. Writing in the FT, Jamie Powell notes that - despite assertions from senior management that it will become a $10bn behemoth one day - Revolut founder and chief executive Nik Storonsky, former CFO Peter O'Higgins and CTO Vladyslav Yatsenko sold $25m of shares between them last summer.


UK manufacturers vulnerable

UK manufacturing output remained in the red last month as job losses piled up, according to IHS Markit’s latest UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, which shows that factory activity hit 48.3 in September. IHS Markit director Rob Dobson said: “Output, new orders and employment all fell further as rising political, trade and economic uncertainties exacerbated concerns about Brexit,” and cautioned that the sector may be sliding into recession. Separately, the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply warned manufacturers are cutting jobs at the fastest pace for six years.


House prices growth slows

Annual growth in UK house prices fell back to 0.2% in September, according to Nationwide's latest data, leaving the average UK house price at £215,352 last month, down from £216,096 in August. “Indicators of UK economic activity have been fairly volatile in recent quarters, but the underlying pace of growth appears to have slowed as a result of weaker global growth and an intensification of Brexit uncertainty, ” Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner said.


John Lewis to axe a third of top jobs

The John Lewis Partnership is to axe a third of its senior management roles as part of a significant restructuring from February next year. JLP will merge the management teams at John Lewis and Waitrose into a single team, with the aim of saving £100m through the loss of about 75 of its current 225 senior head office roles - one of whom is Rob Collins, the managing director of Waitrose.

CMA to investigate Footasylum takeover

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has referred JD Sports’ £90m takeover of Footasylum to an in-depth probe amid concerns that it could potentially result in higher prices and less competition. The UK sportswear group wants to combine the two businesses, which already have close links among management.


Javid considers scrapping IHT

Chancellor Sajid Javid could be considering scrapping inheritance tax, telling a fringe event at the Conservative party conference that that levy is a “real issue” and saying that changes were “on my mind” when it comes to IHT. Asked if he would consider axing the tax, Mr Javid replied: “We have already made some sensible reforms in that tax … I shouldn’t say too much now but I understand the arguments against that tax.” He added: “I do think when people have paid taxes already through work or through investments and capital gains and other taxes there is a real issue with then asking them on that income to pay taxes all over again.”

WTO warns trade wars threaten living standards and jobs

The WTO has cut its forecast for trade growth by more than half, warning that the slowdown could hit living standards and jobs. The WTO said it expected trade volumes to grow by just 1.2% in 2019, down from the 2.6% it predicted in April. It also cut its global economic growth forecast from 2.6% to 2.3%. It blamed the downgrades on slower growth in major economies, trade wars and ongoing uncertainty over Brexit.

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