Home News Barclays plc gears up to defend itself in key interest swap mis-selling suit
Barclays plc gears up to defend itself in key interest swap mis-selling suit
Thursday, 25 October 2012 08:38

News round up: Barclays, GDB statistics, BP, Shell, Ford, Mortgages, Sir David Walker, Double-dip recession.

Barclays plc (LON:BARC) was yesterday gearing up to face down interest rate mis-selling claims, with the Guardian Care Homes (GCH) suit set to come before a judge on Monday. The pre-trial hearing will see GCH present its accusations at the Commercial Court, while Barclays will defend itself. The judge will then decide which, if any, of the claims can progress.

The case marks a benchmark in the mis-selling scandal. GCH claims it was mis-sold an interest rate swap product, while Barclays argues the business is a sophisticated and well-advised investor with full knowledge of the swap’s terms. If GCH wins the case, it could allow other similar firms to take action.

But the case has also evolved since its early stages, with GCH adding in Libor accusations as the bank has been fined by the FSA for submitting false data to the industry body that compiles the rate. GCH hopes the product will be rescinded in full as a result. "Barclays will respond if and when appropriate and in accordance with the Court’s processes," the bank said in a statement according to City A.M.

GDP statistics

David Cameron on Wednesday promised "the good news will keep coming" as his error-prone government prepared to seize on new data that is expected to show Britain’s double-dip recession is over. Mr Cameron hopes Thursday’s release of GDP statistics for the third quarter – including the period of the London Olympics – will be a political tipping point, even though he will also warn that the economy still faces tough times ahead. Private sector economists expect third-quarter growth to be about 0.6 per cent following nine months of contraction.

It comes after other positive recent data showing rising employment and falling inflation. Economists say the British economy will remain weak at that rate of growth. Labour will also argue that even growth of 1 per cent would only bring the economy back to where it was a year ago and that a "one-off Olympic boost" is no substitute for a long-term economic strategy. The Office for National Statistics has valued Olympics ticket sales at 0.3 per cent of national income, according to The Financial Times.

BP and Shell

BP and Royal Dutch Shell have been accused of colluding with four other oil companies to fix diesel prices for more than 15 years. Subsidiaries of the two oil giants were yesterday named, along with divisions of America’s Chevron, France’s Total, and domestic companies Sasol and Engen, in a referral to South Africa’s Competition Tribunal by the country’s Competition Commission.

Farmers, fishing and mining industries and the transport industry were all likely to have suffered as a result of the alleged "price fixing and market division", the Commission said. An investigation begun in 2009 had "revealed collusive conduct through extensive exchanges of commercially sensitive information" by the companies, The Telegraph reports.

Ford

Ford’s vehicle manufacturing in Britain is at risk of coming to an end after more than a century following the US car maker’s decision to shrink its European production operations. Ford’s vehicle manufacturing in Britain is at risk of coming to an end after more than a century following the US car maker’s decision to shrink its European production operations. It is understood that Ford’s Southampton plant has been earmarked for closure risking 500 jobs as part of a broader consolidation process prompted by the negative impact of the Eurozone debt crisis on the industry. In a statement Stephen Odell, chairman and chief executive of Ford’s business in Europe said the region-wide review was necessary for the company’s future, The Telegraph says.

Mortgages

New rules to curb the number of homeowners with risky interest-only mortgages have been watered down by regulators, as it emerged that the Government has been asking banks to consider reviving mortgages for people with a deposit of just 5 per cent. The Times has learnt that the Treasury has approached at least two high street banks to ask whether the Government could offer guarantees or other assistance to revive the market in mortgages that cover 95 per cent of the value of a property.

Last year the Government launched its "NewBuy" scheme, which offered a Treasury guarantee for 95 per cent mortgages sold to buyers of newly built homes. Banks said that they welcomed any form of subsidy. "If they are willing to take the risk on their books, of course we’d be willing to offer the product," one banking source said.

Sir David Walker

Sir David Walker is planning a clean sweep of Barclays’ board after he formally becomes chairman of the scandal-tainted bank next week and will also oversee the replacement of some key executive positions. The City grandee has spent recent weeks sounding out a selection of top figures over their suitability to join the bank in a variety of roles, according to people close to the process.

Last week, Tim Breedon, the former Legal & General chief executive, signed up to join the board from November 1. Barclays is trying to revive its image and overhaul its way of doing business, following a succession of scandals. A week ago the bank revealed a surprise £700m of additional charges relating to the misselling of personal protection insurance (PPI), The Financial Times reports.

Double-dip recession

Britons are more than £1,800 a year worse off than they would be had the country avoided a double-dip recession, according to a study by leading business analysts. With official growth figures due this morning expected to show the economy growing for the first time this year, a study by PwC for The Times shows the long shadow cast by the banking collapse of 2008-09.

Annual incomes, including taxes and benefits, would have been 9% higher if they had carried on growing along their pre-crisis path, John Hawksworth, PwC’s chief economist, found. The overall annual output of the economy would have been £200bn (12.8%) higher if it had followed its normal trajectory, he said. Hundreds of thousands more people would be in work.


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