Published: 24 June 2021
Location: London, UK
The BBC says rules on foreign travel will be reviewed following a united plea from industry bosses. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will face MPs this morning, with an update on the traffic light system expected in the afternoon. Travel firms are calling for an exemption to quarantine for fully-vaccinated people from amber countries. Shapps has said ministers "need to look at what the science says". However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said all EU countries should make British travellers quarantine on arrival to slow the spread of the Delta variant. She told Germany's parliament: "In our country, if you come from Great Britain, you have to go into quarantine - and that's not the case in every European country, and that's what I would like to see."
A report released by the Treasury Committee has called for sweeping culture changes to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), to prevent a repeat of the London Capital and Finance (LFC) scandal. Committee Chair Mel Stride MP said: "The collapse of LCF is one of the largest conduct regulatory failures in decades," and the committee recommended that the FCA should set a clear date for completing changes to move the culture on, so the FCA is a more proactive and agile regulator. The MPs’ report also said mini-bonds should be regulated, and that there should be speedier compensation for those who lost money. Additionally, the committee criticised an “over-reliance on collective responsibility,” which made it hard to see who was accountable for the FCA's actions. 11,625 people invested a total of £237m with LCF before it collapsed. A judge-led review criticised the FCA for failures, saying it had not effectively supervised or regulated LCF. Investors thought they were putting their life savings into safe, secure 8% fixed-rate ISAs, approved by the FCA, when in fact they were investing in high-risk mini-bonds which were not approved. The FCA froze LCF's assets following an investigation, forcing the company into administration in January 2019. At the time, the FCA was run by Andrew Bailey, who is now the governor of the Bank of England.
Liquidators acting for Carillion, the construction giant whose collapse became one of Britain’s biggest corporate scandals, have issued legal proceedings against KPMG, the former FTSE 100 company’s auditor. A letter before action has been sent by to KPMG by the Official Receiver - who is working with PricewaterhouseCoopers – and Sky News says it has learnt that the accountancy firm will be pursued for as much as £250m. Separately, KPMG's work for Carillion is being investigated by the Financial Reporting Council. The construction group, which was involved in building and maintaining hospitals and roads, and delivering millions of school meals, went bust in January 2018 owing close to £7bn. Thousands of jobs were lost because of its collapse.
Lloyds Banking Group is to shut a further 44 Lloyds and Halifax branches before November, meaning Lloyds will have shut a total of 100 branches in 2021. The bank closed 56 sites in the spring. Lloyds said the latest closures were linked to a drop in branch transactions because of customers turning to digital banking. “Like many businesses on the high street, we must change for a future where branches will be used in a different way, and visited less often,” said Vim Maru, the Lloyds retail director. Trade Union Unite – which represents many Lloyds staff – criticised the move, saying the bank is depriving vulnerable consumers and small businesses of essential services.
Dublin announced yesterday that it is beginning a "phased exit" from the Bank of Ireland, the only Irish bank that avoided majority state ownership after the 2008 financial crisis. The Irish government pumped €64bn into six institutions - Allied Irish Banks, Anglo Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, EBS, Irish Life & Permanent and Irish Nationwide Building Society - between 2009 and 2011 to stop them capsizing. Paschal Donohoe, Ireland's minister for finance, said part of the government's remaining 13.9% stake in Bank of Ireland, worth approximately €700m, would be sold during the next six months, putting the bank back solely in private hands.
In an interview for the Reuters Global Energy Transition conference, BP Chief Executive Bernard Looney has said the company will not stay away from the oil and gas business and will continue to produce hydrocarbons for decades, to capitalise on rising crude prices. Looney said he is of the opinion the oil price will remain favourable in coming years, and so he expects BP to continue having a strong presence in the trade, even as it lowers production to address climate change. Looney argued that with healthy crude prices sustaining the British energy major, proceeds could be allocated towards renewable energy operations and share buybacks.
London-based engineering services company Babcock has signed a tripartite memorandum of implementation in Odesa with the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine and the UK Government. The FTSE 250-listed firm said the programme includes the enhancement of capabilities on Ukraine’s existing naval platforms, the delivery of new platforms - including fast attack missile craft - a modern frigate capability, shipborne armaments, and the training of naval personnel. It will also work to regenerate Ukrainian shipyards. The contract builds on an earlier agreement signed in October 2020.
Europcar has reportedly rejected a €2.2bn bid from a consortium led by Volkswagen. According to Bloomberg, who yesterday cited people familiar with the matter, an offer of 44 cents per share was offered earlier this month. Europcar was understood to have deemed the proposal too low, although it would represent a premium of about 12% to Europcar's closing price on Tuesday. Bloomberg claimed the German car maker is looking to gain access to Europcar's infrastructure and technology in a bet on the future of mobility services. Sources told Bloomberg that VW isn't planning to raise its offer, but that could still change.
The Australian government has announced it will shelve the controversial AstraZeneca vaccine by October, saying it will have enough supplies of other vaccines to meet “allocation horizons” for vaccinating the population by the end of the year. The Commonwealth last week announced changed health advice for the AstraZeneca shot restricting it to over-60s because it has been linked to an extremely rare blood clotting condition.
US President Joe Biden ousted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s housing regulator yesterday, replacing Trump administration appointee Mark Calabriawith a long-term Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) senior official, Sandra Thompson. The move follows a ruling from the US Supreme Courtgiving the president the authority to fire Calabria. Thompson has been deputy director of the agency’s division of housing mission and goals since 2013, Yahoo Finance reports. In addition to triggering Calabria’s removal, the Supreme Court also dealt a blow to Fannie and Freddie shareholders who are challenging the government’s collection of more than $100 billion of the companies’ profits. The justices rejected claims that the FHFA exceeded its authority under federal law, leaving investors few options to get their hands on funds they’ve been seeking for years.
Billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett has donated another $4.1bn (£2.9bn) worth of Berkshire Hathaway shares to charity. In a statement, he wrote: "Society has a use for my money; I don't." Mr Buffett also announced his resignation as a trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The donation takes him half-way to meeting his 2006 pledge to give all of his Berkshire Hathaway shares to five organisations, including the Gates Foundation. Buffett has controlled Berkshire Hathaway Inc., an American multinational conglomerate holding company headquartered in Nebraska, since the 1960s. He is considered one of the world’s most successful investors and has a net worth of over $100bn, making him the world's seventh-wealthiest person.
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