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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday, 6th November 2019

Posted: 6th November 2019


ATM scheme sees 150 requests

Link’s £1m scheme aimed at funding free-to-use ATMs, which has seen the ATM network promise to install at least 50 new ATMs across the UK in areas deemed to be “cash deserts”, has received around 150 requests since it launched last month. The Mail looks at both the use and loss of cash machines, noting that that there were 52,358 free-to-use machines operating in the UK at the end of 2018, with another 11,002 pay-to-use machines also in place. However, analysis by Which? shows that more than 500 free-to-use ATMs have closed across the South East in the past year alone, while bank branches – and their ATMs - are shutting at a rate of 55 a month across the UK.

RBS plans social bond to support economically deprived UK regions

Royal Bank of Scotland is planning to issue the first “social bond” from a UK financial institution, saying funds raised will support economically deprived regions by backing lending to local SMEs.


Ruling on £4bn Cobham sale is delayed

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom says she needs more time to scrutinise Advent’s proposed £4bn takeover of defence group Cobham. In September she asked the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate the mooted deal, receiving the report last week. Ms Leadsom says she intends to speak to fellow ministers to decide whether the deal poses a threat to national security.

KKR raises record €5.8bn

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has raised its largest ever European fund at €5.8bn. The fund, which launched in February with an initial target of €5bn, will focus on private equity deals in Western Europe.

Inmarsat rejects takeover delay bid

Satellite technology firm Inmarsat has rejected an attempt to thwart its $6bn (£4.7bn) takeover by a private equity consortium by 2.85% stakeholder Oaktree Capital. Oaktree said the offer did not take into account the potential value of spectrum assets used by Inmarsat's US partner Ligado. Shareholders Kite Lake Capital Management and Rubric Capital Management also backed Oaktree's call to delay the completion of the deal.


ECB urged to deliver a digital currency

A draft document from the European Union suggests that the European Central Bank (ECB) should consider coining its own digital currency, saying it should take "concrete steps" toward issuing its own central bank-backed digital currency.

Banks boost new lending to fossil fuel

Two of Australia’s big four banks increased their new lending to fossil fuel projects last year. The investor action group Market Forces says both ANZ and Westpac poured significant new money into fossil fuel projects during 2018/19. This comes despite public commitments to support the goals of the Paris climate agreement.


One in five cars sold now electric

New car registrations fell 6.7% in October, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), though alternatively fuelled vehicles hit a record 9.9% market share with 14,231 registered. While fleet demand remained stable, private demand fell 13.2%, with 10,348 fewer cars registered than in October 2018.


BoE tells insurers to improve corporate culture

Amid a raft of recent bullying and harassment scandals, including allegations of impropriety at the Lloyd’s of London market, the Bank of England (BoE) has warned insurers to improve their workplace culture. The BoE's Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) says it is "deeply concerned" by reports of abuse. In a "Dear CEO" letter, the PRA's acting director of insurance supervision, Gareth Truran, reiterated that senior managers could face bans in cases of non-financial misconduct among their teams.

FOS complaints up 43%

Data from the Financial Ombudsman Service show that more than 12,000 fraud and scam complaints were made in 2018/19, a 43% rise on the total reported in 2017/18. The figures show that only three-quarters of cases are resolved within a year. An ombudsman spokesman commented: “Many complaints involve sophisticated criminal frauds, so it can sometimes take us longer to get to the right answer.”

Government urged to protect London Stock Exchange

The Commons' Foreign Affairs Select Committee (FAC) has urged the government to block London Stock Exchange listings on national security grounds as a check on the “influence and reach” of autocratic states. “The Foreign Office has been far too slow to make use of this important foreign-policy tool in countering the abuse of human rights by countries such as China and Russia, and more broadly in support of the rules-based international system,” the FAC agreed.

BlackRock and Schroders frontrunners for Woodford fund

BlackRock and Schroders have been identified as the frontrunners to take over fund manager Neil Woodford’s third investment fund, with it suggested they could take charge of the £253m Income Focus Fund. Link Fund Solutions is seeking a firm to take the fund over, with it to be wound down with all assets sold if one is not secured. BlackRock has been tasked with selling off stock market-listed investments as part of the liquidation of the larger Equity Income Fund, while Schroders will manage the London-listed Woodford Patient Capital Trust portfolio when it takes over from Mr Woodford before the end of the year.

CAM takes Burford stake

Coltrane Asset Management has taken a £100m stake in Burford Capital, putting it at odds with rival Muddy Waters - which infamously launched a short-selling attack on the UK litigation funder in relation to overvalued courtroom victories in August.

Sunny hit by compensation payouts

Payday lender has been hit by a raft of complaints and compensation payouts. The business, which says it has more than a fifth of the payday market after welcoming over 104,000 new customers last year, has received more customer complaints initiated by claims management companies over the affordability assessment of certain loans. In its accounts for the year to December 2018, the company saw a slide in profits from £5.7m to £78,244.

GoCardless losses widen amid overseas push

Losses at UK payments outfit GoCardless ballooned to £16m from £7m last year as it invested heavily into new markets. Revenue grew to £20m in 2018 from £12m a year earlier however and the number of payments it processed was up 91% over the course of the year - in which it worked with almost 40,000 organisations.


Walgreens exploring $55bn deal

US drug store chain Walgreens Boots Alliance, which has a market value of $55bn (£43bn) and $16.8bn of debt, is considering a deal to go private in what could potentially be the largest ever leveraged buyout. The firm has reportedly had preliminary discussions with private equity firms and has hired Evercore Partners to explore whether a deal can be arranged.

AI healthtech raises $25m

Digital healthcare start-up Medopad has raised $25m in an investment round led by Leaps by Bayer, the pharma giant's venture capital arm. Medopad’s mission is the development of digital biomarkers to collect and patient collate data to predict risk, condition progression and diagnosis, for chronic diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Diabetes, and the investment will be used to develop its digital health platform and fund new clinical studies.


IWG sees higher sales

Serviced offices firm IWG has revealed higher sales for the third quarter. Boss Mark Dixon forecast IWG, whose brand names include Regus, could expand through acquisitions of smaller struggling operators. IWG reported 9.4% revenue growth to £692.3m in the three months to September, comparable sales rose 3.3% and the firm reduced debt to £301.2m from £433.9m.


Mothercare stores to close

Mothercare UK has collapsed and appointed administrators, with 79 stores to close and more than 2,800 jobs under threat.


Fans face £1,888 footy bill

A report from investment firm eToro shows that football fans will spend £1.3bn supporting Premier League teams this season, with the average fan shelling out £1,888 a year on tickets, merchandise, travel, match day programmes and food and drink. Football shirt sales alone are expected to total £23.8m.


Services 'stagnating' amid ongoing Brexit uncertainty

The UK services sector came in flat for October, as the continuing Brexit uncertainty slowed demand. A weak start to the third quarter left the IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply's services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) at 50 last month, up from 49.5 in September on an index where a figure above 50 indicates growth. Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said: “The underlying business trend remains one of stagnation at best.” The seasonally-adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS all-sector output index rose from 48.8 in September to 49.5 in October.

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