Daily business and finance update 30th October 2023
NatWest shares plunge
Good morning. Today we're talking about NatWest shares tumbling, the Crypto King takes the stand in his fraud trial and The Body Shop takeover talk.
NatWest shares plunge
On Friday, NatWest's share price dropped by 12% after the bank downgraded its profit outlook for the full year. The downgrade was due to tougher competition for savers' cash, higher costs and a weaker economic outlook. The bank, which is 40% owned by taxpayers following the 2008 government bailout, is the UK's largest mortgage lender, and it is particularly vulnerable to a slowdown in the housing market. The profit outlook downgrade is a blow for NatWest investors, who have already seen the bank's share price fall by more than 30% this year. The news came the same day as the bank published a report into its controversial decision to close Nigel Farage’s bank accounts. The independent review found that the bank had made "serious failings" in its treatment of the politician including not providing him a clear explanation of the reasons for the decision.
Crypto King takes the stand
Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, testified in court on Friday, in his high-profile fraud trial. Bankman-Fried is facing seven counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money in connection with the collapse of FTX in November 2022. In his testimony, Bankman-Fried, once dubbed the “Crypto King” admitted to making mistakes, but he denied that he intentionally defrauded FTX customers. Bankman-Fried testified that he received between 10,000 and 100,000 emails per day, and that he often responded to them within minutes. He also said that he worked up to 120 hours per week, and that he often slept on the floor of his office. He said that he believed that FTX was solvent at the time of its collapse, and that he was working to raise new capital to keep the company afloat. If he is found guilty he could face what is effectively a life sentence in prison.
Body Shop takeover talk
The Body Shop, the British cosmetics company known for its natural and ethical products, could be up for sale again, just six years after being acquired by Brazilian cosmetics giant Natura & Co. In August, Natura & Co. announced that it was exploring "strategic alternatives" for The Body Shop, including a possible sale. The company said that the decision was part of a broader plan to simplify its business and focus on its core brands. The Body Shop has been struggling in recent years, with sales declining both in-store and online as it faces increased competition from other natural and ethical cosmetics brands. Aurelius, a German private equity firm, is reportedly the favourite to buy the brand and could pay as much as £500m. Aurelius acquired the sportswear chain Footasylum last year after JD Sports was ordered to sell it by competition regulators.
Retail comeback: Wilko will return to the High Street, with the brand's new owner opening up to five shops before Christmas.
Selling up: Online fashion retailer ASOS is exploring a sale of the Topshop brand it bought from the wreckage of Sir Philip Green's collapsed retail empire less than three years ago.
Health data sale: NHS patients’ data will be safe with Palantir, the company’s CEO has pledged, as the firm bids for a £500m contract to provide software to the health service.
Number of the Day
The value of the one million JPMorgan shares that Jamie Dimon is planning to sell. The move marks Dimon’s first stock sale during his 17 years as the bank’s CEO.
Not a subscriber? Sign up for free
Want to reach an audience of UK business leaders, young professionals and 2,000+ other smart, ambitious people? Reply to this email and we'll be in touch.