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NEWS - ACCOUNTANCY & FINANCE

Alibaba makes record $25 billion IPO

September 23 ,2014 | by Thiago Kiwi

Alibaba makes record $25 billion IPO

Alibaba finally posted the world’s biggest initial public offering (IPO) this week after a lengthy build-up.

It’s been a long road to get there, but after months and months of build-up, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba finally floated on the stock market last Friday, 19 September.

Everyone who had been watching the deal had expected it to be huge, and there was talk of a record-breaker long before Alibaba had even confirmed it would list on the New York Stock Exchange. They weren’t disappointed.

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PricewaterhouseCoopers revenue grows to £2.8 billion

September 16 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

PricewaterhouseCoopers revenue grows to £2.8 billion

Revenues are up five percent to £2.814 billion at PricewaterhouseCoopers as clients become more optimistic about the economic outlook.

Most recent data has pointed to a marked upturn in the UK’s economic fortunes as the business world looks forward to better trading conditions in the next few months and years. It makes sense that one of the touchstones of this success would be the professional services sector – after all, improvements in other sectors will have knock-on effects for the firms that provide services to them.

This became apparent at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) yesterday, 15 September, as the company announcedthat revenues have risen on the back of encouraging improvements in client confidence.

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Bank switching rises with 7-day service

September 12 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Bank switching rises with 7-day service

More and more people are switching bank accounts since a seven-day switching system was introduced.

Last September, moves were finally made to simplify the process of switching bank accounts. As part of a move to increase competition and make life easier for consumers, the Current Account Switch Service (CASS) was launched to ensure that customers could switch their accounts within seven days.

Direct debits and credits would also be changed over for them without any extra charges. According to new Payments Council figures published today, the scheme has been fairly successful so far.

This two-year project will see a total of £750 million invested in the design, building, testing and launch of the service by the time it ends. However, it is already being well used – in fact, the data shows that in just under a year since the launch, over 1.1 million switches have been made.

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Hong Kong raises $1 billion through Islamic bonds

September 11 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Hong Kong raises $1 billion through Islamic bonds

Hong Kong has reported a highly successful first foray into Islamic ‘sukuk’ bond sales by raising $1 billion in sales.

Since Islamic nations around the world have begun emerging as powerful economic forces, it is hardly surprising that so many authorities and institutions have started looking into the world of Islamic finance. Not to be outdone, Hong Kong has just announced its first successful attempt at an Islamic bond sale.

The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has published the details of its first sukuk – bonds that are structured to comply with Islamic law and investment principles.

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From the world of business: August 2014 highlights

September 01 ,2014 | by Thiago Kiwi

From the world of business: August 2014 highlights

Welcome to our business news round-up for August 2014.

In this round-up of the most important business news stories from around the world, we point you to some of the biggest news stories that have had people talking during the past month.

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Global equities hit record high value of $66 trillion

August 29 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Global equities hit record high value of $66 trillion

Global equities hit a new high this week as the S&P 500 closed above 2,000 for the first time.

Global financial markets made history this week, after a record-breaking performance from the S&P 500 Index contributed to the highest value ever recorded for international equities. Bloomberg reports that global shares had added more than $2.2 trillion in value since 7 August.

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Bank of China weighs up European interest in shares

August 22 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Bank of China weighs up European interest in shares

Officials from the Bank of China have met with investors from Europe, as part of a wider strategy to sell shares worth billions of dollars.

The move by Bank of China to solicit European investment is seen as another indicator that Chinese lenders are eager to boost cash levels, which is also being realised through the sale of equity and debt.

The move overseas is viewed as the most logical step forward, seeing as it is anticipated that there is going to be a decided lack of demand from Asian investors over the next few years.

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Nestle plans to buy back shares as profits take a hit

August 12 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Nestle plans to buy back shares as profits take a hit

Nestle is planning a major share buyback programme as it moves to reposition itself against a backdrop of lower first-half earnings.

Nestle is the world’s biggest food group in terms of sales. It casts a huge – and often controversial – shadow over the food industry worldwide and its influence is considerable. But the firm has just announced plans to reposition itself in the market alongside an ambitious share buyback plan.

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Lifetime ISA pitched to resolve UK pension crisis

August 07 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Lifetime ISA pitched to resolve UK pension crisis

An academic has claimed that a new ‘lifetime ISA’ could help to prevent a capital crisis in the UK.

As the population age and birth rates decline across many developed economies, governments are increasingly trying to determine new ways to support a rising population of elderly citizens. But with a pensions crisis potentially on the horizon, one academic has pitched a novel and highly radical new idea to the government.

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From the world of business: July 2014 highlights

August 01 ,2014 | by Thiago Kiwi

From the world of business: July 2014 highlights

Here’s our guide to all the major business news from July.

Welcome to our business news round-up for July 2014. In this round-up of the most important business news stories from around the world, we point you to some of the biggest news stories that have had people talking during the past month.

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Could Google search predict a market crash?

July 30 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Could Google search predict a market crash?

Popular Google search queries could potentially be used to predict falling stocks, new research has found.

Every analyst and trader on Wall Street wants to stay ahead of the game and avoid the next great crash. But researchers at Warwick Business School and Boston University say they have developed a method that could potentially use one of the world’s biggest data sources – Google.

 

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Is Islamic banking here to stay?

Is Islamic banking here to stay?

Islamic banking has been growing fast, but could it break out of its niche position in the market?

As economies across Asia, Africa and the Middle East have grown, it is not surprising that demand for financial services in these markets has risen in the past few years.

But at the same time, the high proportion of Muslims living in these countries and other global economies has created the need for a different approach to financial services. Islamic banking, which is administered so that it complies with sharia law, has boomed as a result.

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Banks in the UK to face full competition inquiry

July 21 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Banks in the UK to face full competition inquiry

The Competition and Markets Authority has recommended that UK banks face a full competition inquiry.

The UK’s retail banking sector is lacking competition and needs to be subject to a full competition investigation, according to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Two studies conducted by the markets watchdog found that the existing range of options offered by the banking sector fails to satisfy the needs of either individuals or small businesses. As a result, it has now opened aconsultation on its decision to launch an in-depth market investigation that will focus on the markets for personal current accounts and banking for small and medium-sized businesses.

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Turkey slashes interest rates for third month in a row

July 21 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Turkey slashes interest rates for third month in a row

Turkey’s central bank has slashed interest rates yet again in the third consecutive month of cuts.

Turkey has been seen as a high-potential market, but recent instability there has made its outlook less certain.

Now, the central bank has made yet another dramatic cut to interest rates in a bid to keep the country on its feet, with the third round of interest rate cuts in three months announced on 17 July.

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London hedge funds focusing on US rather than Europe

London hedge funds focusing on US rather than Europe

More and more London-based hedge funds groups are looking across the Atlantic for investment opportunities.

Winton Capital, Odey Asset Management and Cheyne Capital are just a few of the big names refocusing their attention on the US market because the potential there is markedly more pronounced than in Europe.

The Financial Times reported that this strategic change comes on the back of investors in North America “significantly” boosting their allocations to hedge funds, especially in pension schemes.

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ECB President Mario Draghi offers banks $1 trillion

ECB President Mario Draghi offers banks $1 trillion

The president of the European Central Bank (ECB) Mario Draghi is offering banks up to $1 trillion (approximately £557 billion) of cheap funding, in the latest effort to boost growth in the eurozone.

Mr Draghi, who was previously the governor of the Bank of Italy, is hoping this stimulus measure will act as a spark for boosting credit and investor activity, as well as ensure the financial system is “flush with cash”, Bloomberg reported.

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British Chambers of Commerce warn against hasty interest rate rises

British Chambers of Commerce warn against hasty interest rate rises

The Bank of England has been advised by the British Chambers of Commerce to approach interest rate increases with caution.

In its Quarterly Economic Survey for Q2 2014, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) advised the Bank to refrain from “hasty decisions”, arguing that it could limit economic development.

John Longworth, director of the BCC, said that a premature hike in interest rates would potentially hamper the growth of firms that the nation is “counting on to drive the recovery”.

Canvassing the opinions of 7,000 UK businesses, researchers found that growth in certain industries has slowed between April and June. However, the economy is in robust health, showing positive signs and clearly “moving in the right direction”.

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Obama criticises Wall Street’s ‘big bonuses for bankers’ culture

Obama criticises Wall Street’s ‘big bonuses for bankers’ culture

United States President Barack Obama has attacked the risk-taking, big bonus culture of Wall Street, claiming that it poses a threat to the economic security of the country.

Speaking in an interview with the radio programme Marketplace, he promised that he would do everything in his power to make the financial world more transparent.

Mr Obama said that while a lot had been done in the way of improvements, following on from the credit crunch of 2008, there was still “unfinished business” – the system requires further and deeper reforms.

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IPOs in European stock markets begin to lose steam

IPOs in European stock markets begin to lose steam

A flurry of high-value IPOs have kept Europe’s markets busy recently, but it seems interest is cooling off.

European markets have seen a rush of high-value initial public offerings (IPOs) in the past few months. London alone has been a hive of flotation activity, but Paris and Frankfurt have also been attractive locations.

On 3 July, ING floated its insurance arm NN Group on the Amsterdam stock exchange in the largest IPO of the year, which valued the company at €7 billion.

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BNP Paribas to pay record $8.9 billion fine

BNP Paribas to pay record $8.9 billion fine

French bank BNP Paribas has been fined $8.9 billion after it admitted helping clients to breach global sanctions.

French banking giant BNP Paribas has agreed a huge settlement that will see it pay a record $8.9 billion (£5.2 billion) fine, after it admitted helping clients to violate economic sanctions.

The bank has acknowledged widespread wrongdoing which saw the bank disguising transactions for clients in Sudan, Iran and Cuba, even though those countries are subject to sanctions. Prosecutors said that executives in some of the most senior levels of the bank had been aware of the practice, but it continued from 2004 to as late as 2012.

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Barclays faces charges for alleged “dark pool” fraud

Barclays faces charges for alleged “dark pool” fraud

Barclays will be subject to a fraud lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general.

New York’s attorney general has filed a lawsuit against Barclays over alleged fraud related to “dark pool” operations – where clients trade big blocks of shares while keeping prices private.

According to a statement from Eric Schneiderman’s office, Barclays is accused of boosting its dark pool’s market share by making false claims about its operations. Rather than safeguarding clients from “aggressive” high-speed traders as it has claimed, the bank allegedly ran its dark pool so that it favoured them. The rest of the charges also look very serious.

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London Stock Exchange confirms $2.7 billion Russell Investments deal

London Stock Exchange confirms $2.7 billion Russell Investments deal

Russell Investments is about to be acquired by the London Stock Exchange for $2.7 billion.

The London Stock Exchange Group has finally agreed to acquire Russell Investments in a huge $2.7 billion (£1.59 billion) deal, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.

On 26 June, the exchange said it was planning to carry out the major deal with assistance from a $1.6 billion rights issue as part of a plan to break into the huge US capital markets, taking over Russell from life insurer Northwestern Mutual.

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50,000 customer strong Islamic Bank of Britain seeks to expand its business

June 25 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

50,000 customer strong Islamic Bank of Britain seeks to expand its business

With a new chief executive and profit in mind, Islamic Bank of Britain is looking to expand its products and services to attract new customers.

Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB) is the only sharia-compliant retail bank in the UK, and with over 50,000 customers, it has enjoyed a level of success. But with a new chief executive on board, it is seeking to broaden its target audience by expanding the products and services it is owed.

Sultan Choudhury, who was announced as the new chief executive on 23 June, told Reuters that the bank is planning to grow its commercial property business as part of a plan to increase its profitability.

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Lloyds sells bigger stake in ‘oversubscribed’ TSB IPO

June 23 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Lloyds sells bigger stake in ‘oversubscribed’ TSB IPO

Lloyds has had to sell more of its stake in TSB than anticipated in a highly successful IPO.

Lloyds Banking Group has actually had to sell a bigger stake in TSB than it originally planned after a huge wave of interest for the bank’s initial public offering (IPO) in the London Stock Exchange.

The bank’s flotation was as many as 10 times oversubscribed, as institutional investors and members of the public all sought to secure a stake in one of the UK’s newest challenger banks. Overall, Lloyds has sold a stake of 35 per cent in the bank on 20 June – despite having intended to sell off a quarter of the company. After the success of this flotation, the next share sale could even take place as early as September.

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Finance, tech and creative industries set to drive London growth

Finance, tech and creative industries set to drive London growth

The tech and creative industries will be crucial to London’s future growth, according to a new CBI report.

Businesses are optimistic about London’s growth prospects over the next five years, saying that the key industries to keep the city thriving will be technology, the creative industries and the city’s ever-popular professional services and finance sectors.

The latest London Business Survey from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) shows that nearly seven out of ten firms said the technology and creative industries would be key to the continued economic growth of the capital in the next five years. Another 65 per cent said that professional services would be an important driver of growth, while 62 per cent said the same of the financial services industry.

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