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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday, 4th November 2020

Posted: 4th November 2020


Nearly 800,000 fail to meet debt obligations

Figures show that close to 800,000 people failed to meet their credit or loan obligations in October, an increase of around 370,000 on September’s total – with this marking the steepest increase in missed payments since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Research from Which? suggests that almost 6% of UK households defaulted on at least one housing, credit card, loan or bill payment in October, while in September the proportion was under 4%. The report comes in a week that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced plans to extend the repayment holiday scheme, with an extension of the support measure rolled out as England goes into a second nationwide lockdown. FCA data shows that a fifth of UK mortgage holders have contacted, or attempted to contact, their lender since the start of the pandemic, with most looking to arrange a mortgage deferral.

Banks urged to refund computer scam victims

Consumer rights group Which? has urged banks to refund more customers who fall victim to computer takeover scams, warning that losses related to incidents where perpetrators pretend to be tech support from a reputable firm have passed the £16m a year mark. Criminals are thought to be targeting people working at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Waterous plans to expand energy company stake

Waterous Energy Fund, which holds a 45% stake in Canada's Osum Oil Sands, plans to expand its stake in the privately held energy company in a deal valued at C$126m.


BNP Paribas beat expectations amid growth in trading revenues

BNP Paribas has beaten third quarter earnings expectations after a surge in trading activity. France's biggest lender reported a 2.3% decline in net income, which fell to €1.9bn for the three months to September, ahead of analyst expectations of €1.5bn. Overall revenue was broadly flat at €10.89bn, although revenue at its investment bank grew 17% for the quarter to €3.4bn.

CBA offers lowest ever rate

Commonwealth Bank is offering a mortgage rate of less than 2% - the first time one of Australia’s major banks has done so. Coming after the Reserve Bank of Australia trimmed the cash rate to a new record-low of 0.1%, Australia's biggest home lender cut its four-year fixed rate for owner occupiers paying off principal and interest by a percentage point - taking its Wealth Package loan rate down to 1.99%.


Wizz Air sees passenger numbers down by nearly 70%

Hungary-based low-cost carrier Wizz Air said passenger numbers fell by 69% to 1.15m in October, down from 3.71m in October 2019. In the year to date, the airline reported a 43% fall in total passenger numbers to 21.8m. Wizz Air reported capacity down 55% and a load factor of 66%.


Crest Nicholson hikes its profit forecast

Housebuilder Crest Nicholson has upped its profit forecast following strong sales after lockdown restrictions were lifted. Adjusted profit before tax is expected to be £45m, and significantly ahead of a previous forecast of £37.9m. Forward sales as of the end of October were 2,289 units, up from 2,013 last year. CEO Peter Truscott expects the housing market to remain “resilient.”


Amigo complaints bill tops £150m

High interest lender Amigo Loans expects the cost of dealing with customer complaints to rise to £150m as the business contends with an increasing number of grievances. Amigo said complaints had remained at a high level for longer than expected, and claims made through claims management companies had increased. The company recorded a £38m loss for the 12 months to March. “Operationally we have turned a corner with complaints [but] the sustained volume we are seeing will have an impact on the complaints provision going forward,” said new CEO Gary Jennison.

Ant Group listing suspended

A planned $35bn (£26.9bn) float of Ant Group has been shelved by Shanghai's stock exchange. The stock market operator identified changes in the regulatory environment after the People's Bank of China and other financial regulators held a meeting with Ant group founder Jack Ma. Ant executive chairman Eric Jing also confirmed the payments company would pause its Hong Kong listing. A market debut in Hong Kong and Shanghai on Thursday was expected to have been the world's biggest stock sale.

VC investment value up in Q3

Figures show that the value of venture capital investment in Scottish scale-ups increased in Q3. While the number of deals fell to 17 from 22 in Q2, total value rose to £71.6m from £62m. In Q3 2019, there were 13 deals valued at more than £32m.


Hollywood firm to build studio in Dagenham

US property developer Hackman Capital Partners is investing £300m to build a Hollywood-style production complex in Dagenham that will create 1,200 jobs and contribute £35m a year to the east London economy. The Easterbrook Studios site will include 12 sound stages covering 11 acres, or about two-thirds the size of Pinewood Studios.


G4S rejects rival £3.3bn offer as takeover battle intensifies

G4S has rejected a £3.3bn takeover offer from US rival Allied Universal in the latest episode in a bidding war for the security services firm, which is publicly fighting a lower £3bn hostile bid from Canada’s GardaWorld. The “highly conditional indicative offer” from Allied was backed by private equity firm Warburg Pincus.


Rate of shop closures increases

The rate of restaurant and shop closures more than doubled in the first half of the year. According to new analysis, there was a net decline of 7,834 units over the period, compared with 3,647 in the same six months last year. Independent businesses, which account for 64% of the retail and leisure market, fared better than chains, accounting for less than a third, or 1,833, of the net loss of occupied units.

Primark profits fall

Associated British Foods will not pay a final dividend this year after seeing annual profits decline at Primark. In the 12 months to September 12, pre-tax profit fell by 40% to £686m, while revenue was down 12% to £13.9bn. The company said the reopening of Primark stores had allowed sales to bounce back more quickly than expected, sparking a better-than-expected performance in the fourth quarter. ABF said the pandemic cost the clothing chain £2bn in sales and £650m in profit.


Labour calls for six-month economic plan

Labour has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide a six-month plan designed to help Britain navigate the economic challenges brought about by the coronavirus crisis. With Mr Sunak, who has vowed to "do whatever it takes" to protect jobs and businesses during the pandemic, having confirmed an extension of the furlough scheme as England nears its second national lockdown, shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds accused him of “very panicked, last-minute decision-making." Ms Dodds told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that businesses need certainty so as to avoid a jobs crisis, “not endless chopping and changing by a Chancellor who is always playing catch-up." She also accused Mr Sunak of a “stubborn refusal to address problems of his own making until the last possible minute”.

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