Market Intelligence

Sources are acknowledged.  

 

November 2018

 

EU firms keen on keeping City access

The Financial Conduct Authority has said over 1,000 EU firms have signalled interest in taking up the UK's offer of continued access to the City in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Nausicaa Delfas, the watchdog's international director, said around 1,300 EU firms were seeking to trade within the FCA's temporary permission regime, an arrangement that will allow firms and investment funds in the European Economic Area to continue operating in the City without impediment for three years after a no-deal scenario, to minimise cliff-edge risks.

City AM

 

Manufacturers sitting on £252bn on assets

New analysis from Wyelands Bank has found that mid-sized manufacturers in the UK are sitting on assets worth £252bn, which they could tap to raise finance for growth. According to the research, original equipment manufacturers have the highest proportion of working capital assets, amounting to 28% of turnover on average. Iain Hunter, CEO of Wyelands Bank, said: “Freeing up these potential working capital assets can help provide the finance that businesses need to grow.”

City AM

 

Banks demand greater scrutiny of P2P lenders

According to the Sunday Telegraph, big banks are calling on the Financial Conduct Authority and Lending Standards Board to “level the playing field” on regulation of the peer-to-peer lending sector. A source at one high street lender told the paper that the recent float of Funding Circle and problems at property lender Lendy had raised the profile of P2P firms and the need for “adequate regulation”. The FCA has consulted on new rules to tighten regulation of P2P lenders, while the LSB said it was “engaging” with lenders.

The Sunday Telegraph

 

Tough for newcomers to thrive

Anne Boden, the boss of Starling Bank, has said that conditions remain tough for new market entrants despite renewed efforts to boost competition in the banking sector since the financial crisis. While a raft of new firms entered the lending market, Ms Boden said few have managed to push on to launch current accounts for everyday retail customers. Meanwhile, the boss of Metro Bank insists that competition is stronger than it was in 2008. CEO Craig Donaldson said: "There are more challenger banks, I think that there's an acceptance of new organisations and that people can see the banks are trying to create competition.”

Daily Express

 

UK construction activity rises

The PMI index for the construction industry, compiled by IHS Markit, rose to 53.2% in October, up from 52.1% the previous month. However, business optimism was the weakest in nearly six years, while new orders dipped from highs over the summer. Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, said: “Construction activity clearly benefited over the second and third quarters, making up some of the activity lost in the first quarter to the severe weather, but that help is now likely fading.”

Financial Times

 

Business confidence slumps

Business confidence has fallen to its lowest level since the financial crisis, according to the latest snapshot index from the ICAEW. The Business Confidence Monitor survey generated an index reading of -12.3 for the current quarter, compared with -0.2 for the third quarter. The survey found that 42% of businesses were less confident about their outlook than they were last year, compared with 31% in the last quarter. A separate survey by EY found that uncertainty was prompting more firms to put M&A plans on hold. EY’s Capital Confidence Barometer found that only 40% of firms were looking to pursue M&A deals in the next year, a fall of 20 percentage points.

The Times

 

Housing report recommends new planning rules for larger sites

An independent review written by Oliver Letwin MP has claimed that a new set of planning rules should be introduced for sites with more than 1,500 homes, to speed up the property-building process. Among its recommendations are new rules requiring homebuilders to offer a range of different types of properties on big sites, so they can be completed more quickly without “flooding” the market with a large number of identical properties, and incentives for homebuilders to change plans for existing sites so they start offering a variety of property types immediately.

Development Finance Today

Wallace pledges crackdown on facilitators of illicit finance

Security minister Ben Wallace will today launch a new multi-agency national economic crime centre as part of a crackdown on £100bn of money-laundering in the UK. Mr Wallace told the Guardian that the Government will come down hard on estate agents, solicitors and accountants who enable money-laundering but also other facilitators such as public schools, football clubs and luxury goods suppliers. A £48m funding boost will be provided to the National Crime Agency to recruit more officers to probe domestic and international crime. Professionals who fail to report suspicious activity will face sanctions and jail. He added that in order to ensure the City of London is successful post-Brexit “then it has to have a reputation for cleanliness and security.” The Government is also expected to harden its approach to Scottish limited partnerships, which are thought to be used by foreign criminals to launder dirty money in the UK .

The Guardian

 

Brexit to blame for fall in regulated bridging loans?

Gareth Lewis, commercial director at MT Finance, has suggested that a third-quarter decline in regulated bridging loans to the lowest level since 2015 could be due to the UK’s impending departure from the European Union. The loans fell to 31.6% of all lending, compared to 36.8% in the previous quarter. Bridging loan volume transacted by contributors hit £213.35m in Q3 2018, an increase of £15.4m on the previous quarter. Mr Lewis said: "The data continues to show that property investors are seeking attractive opportunities to acquire properties where they can add value, a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. Conversely the transaction flow in the regulated space has continued to show signs of slowing down. Is this a direct response to the everyday purchaser taking stock of Brexit and holding fire before looking to commit to the purchase of a new residence?"

Bridging Directory

 

 

October 2018

 

Global companies ramp up R&D spending in UK

A report from PwC reveals that the world's biggest businesses drove an extra £3.5bn into R&D in the UK this year as global spending growth jumped to a decade high. The inflow marks an increase of 10.7% on last year, when R&D investment fell by 8.9%, and puts the UK close to the global R&D growth rate this year of 11.4% - the fastest pace of growth since 2008.

The Daily Telegraph

 

Entrepreneurs’ tax relief rules tightened

Philip Hammond has tightened the rules on entrepreneurs’ tax relief, so entrepreneurs must, from 2019, own a business for two years before selling in order to qualify for the relief. The relief means owners pay a lower CGT rate of 10% when they sell all or part of their business, compared with a normal rate of 20%. However, the Chancellor also announced that, from October 29th, entrepreneurs must have a greater stake in the business to qualify. Nimesh Shah, partner at Blick Rothenberg, commented: “The overnight change will cause concern for those entrepreneurs who believed they qualified for entrepreneurs’ relief but no longer do so.” Sam Smith, chief executive of broker FinnCap, welcomed the changes, stating: “Making the relief available only to entrepreneurs who have owned their business for over two years should help promote a stronger commitment by owners to their businesses and encoura ge them to plan for the long term.”

Financial Times

 

HMRC will be at front of queue when firms go bust

Philip Hammond said yesterday that HMRC will become a preferred creditor in insolvencies in a move criticised by R3, which warned it could be "a retrograde and damaging step to UK plc if not thought through carefully." The Chancellor said the move would "ensure that tax which has been collected on behalf of HMRC, is actually paid to HMRC," but Michael Wistow, co-head of White & Case, described it as a "retrograde step". He said: "Every time this has occurred in the past HMRC has abused this power and led the liquidation of otherwise salvageable businesses." Peter Kubik, partner at UHY Hacker Young, added that the change would "push ordinary trade creditors much further down the pecking order". The Government will also end the practice of purchasing services through offshore companies.
Financial Times

 

IR35 extended to private sector

Philip Hammond’s decision to extend the IR35 system from the public to the private sector could bring in over £1bn in tax revenue in its first year. Large and medium-sized companies will have to review all their contracts with freelance staff and determine whether they should be taxed under IR35 rules. The move, which will come into effect from April 2020, is described by Julian Sansum of PwC as “one of the most significant changes to the operation of employment taxes for many years” which will “put a significant burden on business at a time when contingency planning for Brexit is already stretching resources”. Experts say businesses in the construction and manufacturing sectors are among those most likely to be impacted.

Financial Times

 

Hammond announces tax cuts for 32m people

From next April people will be able earn £12,500 a year tax-free and will not pay 40% tax until they earn more than £50,000. Those earning £12,500 will save £130 a year compared to their current income tax bill thanks to the rise in the personal allowance. Those earning £50,000 will keep an extra £860 compared to their current income tax bill, reduced to £520 once NI is taken into account. The announcement by the Chancellor in his Budget yesterday brings forward the Conservative manifesto pledge to raise the thresholds from 2020. The Treasury says the move will cut taxes for 32m people.

Daily Express

 

New Digital Services Tax announced

Philip Hammond detailed a new UK Digital Services Tax in his Budget that will target tech giants generating £500m or more a year in global revenues by 2020. The Chancellor said he would have preferred a “global agreement” but reaching it was proving painfully slow. However, industry leaders warned that firms could pull their investment as a result of the move. Firms will be taxed 2% on the revenue they make from advertising and online marketplaces from April 2020. Julian David, CEO of TechUK said it “risks undermining the UK's reputation as the best place to start a tech business or to invest.”

Daily Express

 

Lendy case could be first of many

The type of legal action facing Lendy could also be brought against other peer-to-peer lenders, experts have warned. Last week it emerged that Lendy and some of its investors were being threatened with a £10m damages claim by one of the company’s largest borrowers, who accused Lendy of unfairly giving notice on its loans and failing to arrange for it to receive further funds in line with its contract. “There will be more high-profile cases like this and more P2P investments will fail,” says Patrick Connolly, the head of communications at Chase de Vere. Mark Posniak, the managing director of Octane Capital, added that he expects “further fall-outs” because some lenders do not understand the risks involved. Elsewhere, the FT’s Neil Collins says events at Lendy illustrate British investors’ “near-obsession with property, viewed as an asset class which cannot fall in value.”

The Times

 

Call for rates rethink

Philip Hammond is facing more pressure to act on business rates after Debenhams announced plans to close 50 stores following the worst loss in its 240-year history. The retailer’s chief executive Sergio Bucher highlighted that Debenhams now pays £80m a year in business rates and called on the government to end the “preferential” tax regime for online retailers. The Telegraph’s Jeremy Warner says there is now an urgent need to shift from a tax based on property to one levied on sales in the retail sector. He adds that increasingly, business rates are treated not as a conventional tax but as a money machine for the Treasury. 

The Guardian

 

MPs call for urgent overhaul of small business lending

MPs have called for a drastic overhaul of Britain’s approach to small business lending, citing the “scandalous” treatment of companies at the hands of big banks. A report by the Treasury select committee said commercial loans must be urgently regulated to prevent a repeat of the abuse of thousands of SMEs after the financial crisis. MPs concluded that the Financial Conduct Authority’s decision not to punish RBS for the actions of its Global Restructuring Group (GRG), which the regulator had found to have systematically mistreated small businesses, was a “damning indictment of the regulatory regime and a sad reflection of its inadequacies”.

The Times

 

London Square secures bumper expansion backing

Residential flats builder London Square has secured £200m of new funding - £150m from NatWest, HSBC and Allied Irish Bank GB, and a £50m loan from Pricoa Capital. In the year to March the firm completed 490 homes, and notched up sales of £287.5m. Its £2bn pipeline includes sites in Bermondsey and Caledonian Road, north London.

Evening Standard

 

Code Investing announces £500m SME funding line

Code Investing has announced that its institutional funding lines for UK SMEs have hit £500m. The loans are being provided in the form of structured and asset finance, hire purchase and leasing agreements, bridging facilities, cash flow and unsecured loans. Code CEO Ayan Mitra said that SMEs and commercial brokers are starting to discover the benefits of institutional loans.

Bridging and Commercial

 

RICS urges rates review

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has called on the government to review the business rates system in next week’s Budget. The organisation says 39% more respondents reported a further rise than a fall in retail availability in the third quarter of 2018, as fewer businesses demanded space in a sector that is struggling to compete with e-commerce rivals.

City AM

 

Britain’s financial services see world’s biggest surplus

Analysis by TheCityUK shows that Britain's financial services industry had the biggest trade surplus in the world last year, at £68bn. The total is bigger than the US, Switzerland and Luxembourg – the second, third and fourth nations on the list - combined. The research shows that the UK holds 37% of all foreign exchange trading and an 18% share of cross-border bank lending. The analysis also shows that at $10.8tn, the UK's banking sector assets were the largest in Europe last year. Anjalika Bardalai, chief economist at TheCityUK, said: "The UK is not only a leading global financial centre, it is also Europe's financial hub.”

The Times

 

IBM to launch open banking platform

IBM is set to launch a new open banking platform that will enable banks to take an incremental approach to open banking, opening up their legacy systems and tapping into APIs. Say Tom Eck, CTO, industry platforms, IBM: "In short, it enables you to augment and revitalise your existing systems, rather than undertaking the cost, effort and risk of a complete overhaul." The platform features an ecosystem that contains APIs from IBM Financial Services and third-party fintech companies, letting users choose from a range of APIs to add capabilities such as financial risk assessment, payments, AI and blockchain to their apps.

Finextra

 

Carney: Banks can cope with no-deal
The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has said that Britain could withstand a hard Brexit and tough trade relations after Britain leaves the EU. The BoE does not see the scenario as the most likely outcome in March next year, when Britain formally leaves the EU, but it is still possible. Mr Carney said: “We aren't hoping for the best, we're preparing for the worst in several ways.”. Mr Carney added that about £100trn of cross-border derivative contracts may be disrupted by loss of regulatory permissions for clearing houses after Brexit.
The Times

 

Banks fight back against the fintechs
The Telegraph’s Iain Withers profiles how the big UK banks are launching their own financial technology start-ups to compete against the fast-growing digital banks such as Monzo, Starling and Tandem. RBS is developing a spin-out online bank called Bó, which is expected to launch in beta testing mode next year. Rivals Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds also have launched separate digital hubs churning out potential new services scattered across London’s tech clusters. Josh Bottomley, head of HSBC’s digital operations, said the bank was investing heavily in fintech and has so far created “1,000 jobs that didn’t previously exist”. Robin Knox, CEO of Tandem, says he is not surprised that some high street banks are launching new brands. He is relaxed about the threat they pose, adding: “They may try to emulate start-ups with new businesses with new names in new offices, but th ey will struggle to compete with us in terms of speed and culture.”
The Sunday Telegraph

 

Name checks to begin on bank payments
As part of plans to combat fraud, the name of someone receiving a payment will be as important as their bank details for the first time from next summer. The plans, which have been revealed by Pay UK, will alert the sender if the name does not match the account. It is designed to combat cases when fraudsters mimic a genuine business and attempt to trick people into sending money to an account controlled by the con-artist.
BBC News

 

Oracle’s NetSuite adopted by Landbay
Buy-to-let mortgage lender Landbay has chosen Oracle NetSuite to attract more users to its platform, while enabling it to make swifter decisions around mortgage applications and investor sign-ups. The firm says it is now able to approve any loan application in 48 hours, against the industry average of three weeks.
Best Advice

 

The Bank of England has predicted that banks will tighten mortgage lending over the next three months by the greatest amount since 2008. The news comes just six months before Britain leaves the European Union, and the survey suggests that high street banks and building societies are becoming more risk-averse, squeezing the supply of secured borrowing and loans for businesses. Helping to calm concerns at the Bank about the growth of consumer credit over the past couple of years, lenders expect demand for credit card and other unsecured loans to consumers to drop by the most since late 2011. Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the EY Item Club, said: “The survey for the third quarter should go down well at the Bank of England, given its view that recent rapid growth in consumer credit has created a ‘pocket of risk’.”
The Times

 

Bank of England warns over leveraged business loans
The Bank of England has warned that £31bn worth of risky loans have been issued this year to businesses that already shoulder large levels of debt. So-called "leveraged loans" to indebted businesses, which are packaged up and sold in global financial markets similar to sub-prime lending before the financial crisis, are different to standard lending by UK banks, who would be unlikely to lend to struggling firms.
BBC News

 

Professionals question number of property investment platforms
According to a recent Development Finance Today poll, 65% of industry professionals feel there are too many property investment platforms in the market. Bronwen Vearncombe, director at Property Investing Foundation, said that it was hard to decipher which platforms were best, as there are a lot of online investment platforms out there, many of which promised very high returns to grab investors’ attention.
Development Finance Today

 

£275m bond launched by Unite Group
A £275m sterling-dominated senior unsecured bond is to be launched by The Unite Group PLC, the company behind student housing developer Unite Students. The bond, which is for a term of 10 years and will bear interest at a rate of 3.5% pa, is to form part of Unite’s overall finance strategy as it attempts to further diversify its sources of funding and move more of its funding to an unsecured basis. Joe Lister, chief financial officer at Unite Group, said: “The new financing will provide increased flexibility to support our portfolio strategy as well as lengthening the maturity and reducing our overall cost of debt.”
Development Finance Today

 

 

Fraud reports dismissed by banks’ algorithms
Figures released by the Home Office show that more than 450,000 reported bank frauds over the past three years have been dismissed by banks’ automated systems.
The Sunday Times

 

Horta-Osorio: Curbs on banks have gone too far
Antonio Horta-Osorio, the CEO of Lloyds Banking Group, has suggested that Britain’s financial sector is now too over-regulated, having been badly policed in the years’ up to the financial crisis. In an interview with the Sunday Times, he said: “I think that in life, when you have excesses in one direction, normally to correct, you go a bit too much in the other direction - like a pendulum. Sometimes the pendulum goes further in the other direction before it comes to the middle. In aggregate, I would think that has happened in the UK.” He also apologises for the scandal at the Reading office of HBOS in the piece, and says his “total focus” was on helping SMEs. He also notes that the bank has devised a programme to help Lloyds staff “improve mental and physical resilience”. It will be offered to all 75,000 employees in due course.
The Sunday Times

 

Moulton regrets launching fund
Private equity veteran Jon Moulton is interviewed in the Mail. In the piece, Mr Moulton reveals that his last Better Capital fund – launched in 2012 – has estimated losses of more than £140m, caused by the troubles of City Link, Jaeger and double-glazing firm Everest. He describes the fund as a “wreckage”, adding that it will take him between 18 months and four years to close it and sell off its remaining investments.
The Mail on Sunday

 

UK house prices grew in September
UK house prices grew 2% year on year for September, Nationwide has said, up 0.3% from August to September to an average of £214,922. England had the slowest rate of annual growth, at 1.4% for the quarter, with Northern Ireland up 4.3%, and Scotland and Wales’ growth rates slowing 2.1% and 3.3%, respectively, while London house prices fell 0.7% year-on-year to £468,544 for September. Nationwide's chief economist, Robert Gardner, said: “Subdued economic activity and ongoing pressure on household budgets are likely to continue to exert a modest drag on housing market activity and house price growth this year, though borrowing costs are likely to remain low.”
City AM

 

London developers hit by new stamp duty tax on overseas buyers
Shares in developers reliant on overseas investors to fund new luxury apartment blocks in London fell yesterday after the government announced plans to tax foreign buyers of UK property.
Financial Times 

 

Lenders attempt to galvanise B2L market as tax changes bite
Lenders are improving their offer to buy-to-let landlords after changes to the tax rules cut demand for borrowing. Landlords were being discouraged by the stamp duty surcharge on second homes and were slowly losing the ability to offset mortgage interest against profits, experts said.
The Daily Telegraph

 

New stamp duty levy for foreign buyers
Theresa May has announced plans for a new stamp duty levy of up to 3% for buyers of property in the UK who do not live or pay tax in the country. Mrs May said: “Britain will always be open to people who want to live, work and build a life here. However, it cannot be right that it is as easy for individuals who don’t live in the UK, as well as foreign based companies, to buy homes as hard working British residents." The announcement counters Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to tax second home owners, but the Sunday Telegraph contends that the tax hike will risk criticism that it could harm efforts to paint Britain as a global nation open for business after Brexit. The Government will announce plans to launch a consultation on the tax, which will include the level of tax that will be levied.
The Sunday Telegraph

 

Funding Circle debuts on LSE
Funding Circle has completed its London stock market flotation, with a valuation of £1.5bn. Samir Desai, chief executive and co-founder of Funding Circle, described the flotation as a milestone for the business and said that it showed that Britain was a "great place" to build a financial technology company. Neil Rimer, a partner who led Funding Circle's investment and board member of the company, said the IPO showed that after a "decade of rapid experimentation and growth", the European fintech sector had now "come of age".
The Daily Telegraph

 

 


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