Daily business and finance update 27th July 2023
NatWest boss Farage fallout
Good morning. Today we're talking about the NatWest boss exit, rental market frenzy and the sale of a London newspaper.
NatWest boss Farage fallout
Alison Rose has resigned as chief executive of NatWest after admitting she leaked private information about Nigel Farage’s finances to the BBC. The former UKIP leader – who says his account was closed by Coutts private bank, a subsidiary of NatWest, because of his political views – called for the whole board to step down. Rose, who has led the bank since November 2019, left by “mutual consent,” but it’s understood the prime minister and chancellor pushed for the exit given the government’s 40% stake in the bank. Paul Thwaite, who runs the firm’s commercial and institutional business, will take over interim CEO duties for 12 months. Rose's departure is a blow to NatWest, as she was seen as a rising star in the banking industry. She was the first woman CEO of a top-four UK bank and spearheaded various government initiatives including the review into female entrepreneurship.
Rental market frenzy
There are now an average of 20 requests to view every property available for rent in Britain, according to Rightmove. That’s around three times as many as in 2019, largely thanks to rising mortgage rates making home ownership less affordable and pushing some landlords to sell up. Competition for rental properties is particularly fierce in the north west of England, where there are now an average of 30 viewing requests per property. The high level of demand is also having an impact on rental prices. The average rent for regions outside of London have hit record highs of £1,231 per month with all-time highs of £2,567 a month in London as well.
London newspaper sold
London business newspaper City AM has been sold to THG the online retailer of beauty, wellness and lifestyle products. Founded in 2005, City AM is distributed for free in hubs in London and the Home Counties. It has around 2m monthly unique visitors online and a daily print circulation of almost 70,000 making it the ninth-most-circulated newspaper in the country. It was put up for sale last month after the newspaper's advertising revenue fell during the pandemic. THG has reportedly paid "a small seven-figure sum" and has pledged to invest in City AM whilst growing its digital audience.
Changing plans: Amazon has closed three of its suburban Fresh stores and is poised to open two new sites in the Square Mile in an apparent pivot to attract more City customers.
Rate rises: The Federal Reserve have increased US interest rates to a 22-year high.
Energy security: Energy watchdog Ofgem has announced new rules to make gas and electricity suppliers more financially secure.
The "head start" in terms of ability to buy a home given to a 26-year old whose parents can afford to help them to buy their first property, relative to someone without parental help, according to new research from the Bank of England.
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