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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday, 9th February 2022

Posted: 9th February 2022


Challengers outperform high street rivals for customer satisfaction

A survey by consumer group Which? reveals that 40% of bank customers have been with the same lender for more than 20 years, but traditional banks are lagging behind challengers when it comes to service. Starling, Monzo and Triodos were the most highly rated, especially for customer service and mobile apps, while the Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and TSB were at the bottom of the table. Respondents were unimpressed with the quality of in-branch services, online and mobile app banking as well as the handling of complaints. Jenny Ross, money editor at Which?, said: "Our research shows a clear gap between the best and worst providers, and this should encourage customers unhappy with their service to switch banks, as it's never been easier ... with the cost of living soaring, it's vital to get the most out of your current account.”

Principality pledges to keep branches open for next four years

Principality Building Society has promised to keep all its branches open until at least the end of 2025 after research by the mutual found more than 70% said a branch presence was a key factor when deciding which financial provider to choose. Julie-Ann Haines, CEO at Principality Building Society, said: “People use branch visits as an opportunity to enjoy some social interaction and our colleagues see members as individuals, not just customers. Today we are making a promise to maintain our branch presence in all of the towns and cities we currently operate in Wales and England until 2025 at least, giving our members, colleagues and communities confidence.”

Romance fraudsters on the rise

New data from Lloyds Bank show the number of online scammers masquerading as romantic partners jumped by 16% last year, and the average victim lost £8,655. Lloyds Bank fraud prevention director Liz Ziegler said romance scam victims do not just lose thousands of pounds: "They must also deal with emotional betrayal, as scammers build relationships under a veil of apparent trust and care." Those between 45 and 54 were most likely to be tricked, while victims aged between 55 and 64 lost most, £15,957 on average. Female customers made up two-thirds (66%) of the cases analysed by Lloyds.


Foundry-backed SPACs drop listing plans

Two blank-check vehicles backed by venture capital firm Foundry Group - Crucible Acquisition Corp II and Crucible Acquisition Corp III - have withdrawn plans for an initial public offering in the US. The special purpose acquisition companies did not disclose the reason for cancelling their listings.


Brussels demands banks shift clearing business out of London

The European Commission has told banks they will have to clear trades within the EU from 2025 or face higher charges. Mairead McGuinness, the European commissioner for financial services, said on Tuesday: “Central clearing parties play an important role in mitigating risk in the financial system. The Commission plans to come forward with measures to reduce our excessive dependence on systemic third-country clearinghouses and to improve the attractiveness of EU-based clearing houses.”

BNP lifts payout target after annual profits jump

BNP Paribas said on Tuesday that net income jumped by more than third in 2021 to a record €9.5bn. The lender went on to pledge higher payouts for shareholders as it published a strategy update for 2022 to 2025. The bank set a target for a return on tangible equity of more than 11% in four years’ time and vowed to return 60% of profit to shareholders. However, shares fell as investors focused on a jump in operating costs that outpaced revenue growth in the fourth quarter.

Cerberus to sell more Deutsche Bank shares

Cerberus is dumping a further 15m Deutsche Bank shares, equating to around a 0.73% stake. The US investment fund sold a stake of around 1% in the bank in January and further sales were expected.


Bellway reports record completions

Bellway completed a record number of houses and saw its profit margin rise in the last six months. The housebuilder expects a further rise in completions over 2022 and strong underlying demand will see the average price of homes rise too. The news sent shares up across the sector.


Moneyfarm mulls listing

Digital wealth manager Moneyfarm has hired Barclays and Credit Suisse to advise on a strategic review with options including a possible listing next year. Sources said its latest funding round in January valued the business at around £400m.


Pfizer forecasts record $102bn in revenue this year

Pfizer has revealed that overall revenues doubled in 2021 to $81.3bn, with revenues expected to reach between $98bn to $102bn this year. The company made nearly $37bn from its COVID-19 vaccine alone, making it one of the most lucrative medical products in history. Pfizer expects revenue of $32bn in 2022 off of vaccine sales and some $22bn from its new antiviral Covid pill Paxlovid. However, these estimates missed consensus forecasts and combined with mixed fourth-quarter results - due to lacklustre sales in internal medicine and hospital division sales – led to shares falling 5.4% in early morning trading on Tuesday.


Peloton chief to step down after activist campaign

The co-founder and chief executive of Peloton, John Foley, is stepping down following a campaign by activist investors to remove the company’s directors. Major shareholders had complained that Peloton had been mismanaged. Barry McCarthy, who served as CFO at Spotify as well as at Netflix, will take over the CEO while Foley will become executive chair. But Blackwells Capital wants Foley out completely and for Peloton to explore sale opportunities.

Tui puts pandemic in rear-view mirror

Tui Group has used the pandemic to make itself leaner and more efficient, CEO Fritz Joussen said on Tuesday, as the travel company announced the COVID-19 crisis was behind it as summer bookings surpassed pre-pandemic levels. The FTSE 100 company said that more than four times as many guests had travelled with Tui in the first quarter of this year as in the same period last year, while revenue was five times higher.


EU launches €43bn push for chip factories as shortages hit manufacturing

The European Commission has unveiled a €43bn investment plan in the R&D of high tech chips as the EU moves to double its share of the semiconductor market from 10 to 20% by 2030. Separately, the soaring price of aluminium – to a 13-year high of $3,236 a tonne – has driven up shares in Rio Tinto, one of the world’s biggest producers of the metal, to a six-month high.


France’s Iliad bids for Vodafone Italian business

Iliad, the French telecoms group, has said it has made an offer to buy Vodafone’s Italian business. The move is likely to test the view of competition regulators as a takeover would cut the number of operators from four to three.


M&S remains UK’s fastest growing supermarket

New figures reveal Marks & Spencer has maintained its position as UK’s fastest growing food retailer, with sales rising 12.3% in the 12 weeks to January 29 year-on-year, giving it a market share of 3.6%, up 0.4% on the year. Meanwhile, Tesco was the best performer of the Big Four grocers, with its 0.3% sales decline still significantly outperforming Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons, which had falls of 3.7%, 4.3% and 6.9% respectively. Overall, UK supermarket sales fell 2.9% over the four weeks to January 29, with many shoppers spending less on categories that were popular during the lockdown periods, such as beers, wines and spirits (down 14.2%), frozen foods (down 11%) and packaged grocery (down 8.3%).

Losses treble at Ocado

Ocado has reported that pre-tax losses had more than trebled to £177m in the year to the end of November 2021. Group earnings before interest, tax and other charges fell by 12.1% from £73.1m to £61m. Alongside its annual results, Ocado said that earnings would be under pressure this year because capital expenditure would increase by £30m to about £800m as it invests in rolling out more warehouses and faces higher labour costs. Shares fell 13% on the news.


BoE’s failure to control inflation leaves Britain vulnerable

The Bank of England continues to come under fire for its slow reaction to inflationary pressures. On Monday, former Conservative Treasury minister Jim O’Neill told MPs that the Bank had acted too late on inflation. Now, Paul Mortimer-Lee of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research says BoE officials are behind the curve and have increased the risk that faster, more dangerous hikes will be needed. Britain is now at serious risk of a downturn, Mortimer-Lee continues: “It would only take one more negative shock – still higher inflation, for example, or a significant global confidence shock – to take us into recession territory.” He goes on to say that the increase in NICs should be abandoned amid the surge in living costs, as higher taxes, combined with higher energy bills, pose another risk. Mr Mortimer-Lee, who spent more than a decade working at the Bank, expects the economy to expand by 4.8% in 2022 and 1.3% in 2023, down from growth of 7.3% last year.


Amazon more than doubles its cap on salaries

As competition to attract technology workers heats up, Amazon has approved a record rise in the maximum pay it offers white-collar staff. Amazon said it was “increasing overall compensation ranges for most jobs globally, and the increases are much more considerable than we’ve done in the past”. In the US, the cap on base salaries will be more than doubled from $160,000 to $350,000. The changes do not apply to Amazon’s warehouse staff. The Telegraph cites figures from recruitment company Hays, which show that in the UK, 15 of the 20 jobs with the biggest pay increases last year were for technology and IT roles.

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