Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein hints at Frankfurt move

Lloyd BlankfeinImage copyright Reuters

Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein has delivered a hint that Frankfurt will become a key European base for the Wall Street giant post-Brexit.

He tweeted:"Just left Frankfurt.Great meetings, great weather, really enjoyed it.Good, because I'll be spending a lot more time there.#Brexit".

The firm, which is known to have taken office space in Frankfurt, employs about 6,000 people in London.

Banks are particularly worried the UK will fail to strike an EU trade deal.

The firms fear that after Britain leaves the EU their businesses will lose "passporting rights", which allows them to sell financial services across borders.

Earlier this month, the Wall Street bank said it had agreed to lease office space at a new building in Frankfurt giving it space for up to 1,000 staff.

That would be five times the current staff of 200 and see the Wall Street giant bolstering activities including trading, investment banking and asset management.

Wolfgang Fink, Goldman's co-head in Germany, said in September that the bank may triple or quadruple its headcount in the country.The bank is also thought to be looking at expanding its operation in Paris.

Several international banks, insurers and asset managers are preparing to shift portions of their UK operations to the continent in preparation for Britain's divorce from the EU.

Frankfurt has emerged as the biggest beneficiary so far.Standard Chartered has committed to expanding or establishing offices in Germany, Citigroup has notified its bankers of plans to bolster its Frankfurt office, creating 150 jobs, and Morgan Stanley is on track to move as many as 200 staff.

Mr Blankfein, in Germany for what a Goldman spokesman said were "client meetings", is no fan of Brexit.He warned in May that it would "stall" the City of London's development and could even erode its position as a global financial centre.

The Goldman chairman and chief executive is not a prolific tweeter, having done so just 20 times since he started posting on the social messaging service in June.

Despite possibly spending more time in Frankfurt, however, he appears to have a soft spot for London.

He tweeted on 26 June:"Beautiful day in London.Streets busy, everyone out, no concession to terror threats.Have to admire the Brits."

Goldman declined to comment further on Mr Blankfein's Frankfurt tweet....

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The investment fraud costing victims £26,000 each

man trading sharesImage copyright Getty Images

A growing investment scam is resulting in fraud victims losing an average of nearly £26,000 each, according to City of London Police.

It involves so-called binary options trading, where individuals can bet on share price movements.

Victims are being encouraged to go to the trading websites through adverts on social media.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has already warned [1]about binary options, which are not regulated.

In the first half of 2017, nearly 700 victims lost £18m, according to police.

That means average losses of £25,916 each.

'I have no purpose'

One victim from London, Jamie Norton, lost £300,000 on binary trading - all his money.

"They just sucked me in with all their communications and promises," he told the BBC's You and Yours programme earlier this summer.

He was forced to sell his home as a result.And he has been left with lasting emotional damage.

"Every night I don't want to wake up the following day," he said.

"I have no purpose to get up for.There's nothing that I enjoy.There's nothing that I look forward to."


How does binary trading work?

Image copyright Getty Images

Investors do not buy the shares themselves;they simply bet on whether they are going to go up or down.

If they choose a call option, they are betting a particular share price will rise over a given period of time.If the share price is higher at the end of the contract, they win.If it is lower, they lose.

If they choose a put option, they are betting the share price will fall.

Some of the sites are legitimate, according to the Police, but many are not.


Celebrities

Earlier this week the police and Trading Standards visited 20 addresses in the City to investigate such fraud.

Some of the websites are thought to operate from prestigious addresses in the Square Mile, although others are based abroad.

In one case, they found evidence of a firm that had disappeared, despite having paid three months rent in advance.

"This multi-agency operation allowed us to speak with multiple businesses and gather significant intelligence around various investments currently being traded in the City," said chief superintendant Glenn Maleary, head of the Economic Crime Directorate at the City of London Police.

"With our partners, we want to ensure the City is a hostile environment for fraudsters to operate in and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that this is the case."

In some cases the websites use celebrities to entice people in.Both Sir Richard Branson and Martin Lewis - the founder of MoneySaving Expert - have found their photographs being used to promote the scams....

References

  1. ^ already warned (www.fca.org.uk)
  2. ^ Banks consider 555 fraud hotline (www.bbc.co.uk)

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Office provider IWG sees shares plunge after profit warning

IWG lowers 2017 profit expectationImage copyright Reuters

Shares in IWG have sunk more than 30% after the serviced-office provider issued a profit warning.

The firm, formerly known as Regus, said an anticipated third-quarter sales recovery had been weaker than expected.

Trading in London had seen "some weakness", it said, while parts of its global business had been disrupted by the impact of natural disasters.

Investment by IWG will also raise costs, and it said annual profits would be "materially below" market forecasts.

The company is now predicting full-year operating profits of between £160m and £170m.

IWG said its spending plans may dent growth in the short term.

"We are also investing in our development capabilities to establish a strong pipeline of growth in future years," it said in a trading update.[1]

"In the short-term, however, this will lead to additional overhead costs and new centre losses due to the timing of openings."

The reduction in revenues "is in part potentially a timing issue," IWG added, as it anticipates a "very strong uplift" in October.

IWG is facing growing competition from rivals including New York City-based WeWork.

The company has about 3,000 office spaces in more than 100 countries across the world.It derives most of its revenues from its operations in the UK, primarily London....

References

  1. ^ in a trading update. (otp.investis.com)

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Banks consider 555 fraud 'hotline'

older woman on phone with credit cardImage copyright Getty Images

Victims of financial fraud might soon be able to call for help via a new telephone hotline, similar to the 999 emergency service.

Under the plan anyone worried about scammers would be able to dial 555.

The idea - which is in its early stages - is being examined by Financial Fraud Action UK, and has backing from the Home Office.

Victims could be transferred immediately to their bank's fraud department or to the Police.

The information could also be used to help build up a database of incidents.

In the first half of 2017 there were over 937,000 cases of fraud, many of which involved scammers trying to persuade victims to transfer their money into other accounts.

In such cases, prompt action is vital, allowing banks to freeze accounts and stop cash being moved.

"Protecting customers from fraud is a top priority for all banks and the industry is always investigating new ways to improve its response," said a spokesperson for UK Finance.

"This is one potential idea that is at the very early stages of being explored."...

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UK retail sales in sharp fall in September, ONS says

shopping trollerImage copyright Reuters

Retail sales suffered an unexpectedly sharp fall of 0.8% in September, reversing a jump in August, according to the Office for National Statistics.

It meant that third-quarter retail growth slowed to a year-on-year rate of 1.5%, its lowest since the second quarter of 2013.

The figures come at the Bank of England contemplates its first interest rate rise in a decade.

Sterling fell as traders bet the data made imminent rate rise less likely.

Despite September's sales fall, Kate Davies, ONS statistician, said:"There is a continuation of the underlying trend of steady growth in sales volumes following a weak start to the year, and a background of generally rising prices."

The ONS said retail prices continued to rise across all store types and were up 3.3% from a year earlier, the highest year-on-year increase since March 2012.

The biggest downward pressure on sales volume and value in September was in non-food stores.Food stores also reported falls in both measures, but to a lesser degree than non-food outlets, the ONS said.

Online sales values increased year-on-year by 14%, accounting for approximately 17% of all retail spending.

Ian Gilmartin, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays Corporate Banking, said:"It's important to avoid overstating the negatives in September's retail sales, as retailers did manage to post year-on-year growth despite the range of headwinds they are battling currently."

However, he said September's fall, following strong sales in August, was "worse than predicted".

Neil Jones, Mizuho's head of hedge fund currency sales in London, said the retail data was "not encouraging".

The value of pound fell immediately after the figures were released, with sterling down almost half a cent to $1.3126, suggesting traders believe a rate rise next month is less likely.

Bank governor Mark Carney has said rates could go up in the "relatively near term"[1], with many analysts expecting a hike in November.

Alvin Tan, currency strategist at Societe Generale, said that he still felt a rate rise next month was possible, but said a second rise early next year was now very unlikely.

Ian Geddes, head of retail at Deloitte, said a November rate rise "could come at a challenging time for the retail sector".

With rising inflation and increasing consumer debt, a rate hike just as the industry enters the key Christmas period would be "an additional headache for retailers", he said....

References

  1. ^ "relatively near term" (www.bbc.co.uk)

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