UK news

Tag Archives

Deutsche Bank fined $630m over Russia money laundering claims

Authorities in US and UK issue fine after saying bank used offices in Moscow and London to move $10bn out of country

Deutsche Bank has been fined more than $630m (506m) for failing to prevent $10bn of Russian money laundering and exposing the UK financial system to the risk of financial crime.

The UKs Financial Conduct Authority imposed its largest ever fine 163m for potential money laundering offences on Germanys biggest bank, which it said had missed several opportunities to clamp down on the activities of its Russian operations as a result of weak systems to detect financial crime between 2012 and 2015.

A US regulator, the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS), also fined the bank $425m as it listed problems at Deutsche including one senior compliance officer stating he had to beg, borrow, and steal to get the resources to combat money laundering. As part of the settlement, the DFS has imposed a monitor, who will police the behaviour inside the bank for two years.

The latest run-in with regulators comes as Deutsches chief executive, John Cryan, tries to clean up the bank. Last month it paid $7.2bn to settle a decade-old toxic bond mis-selling scandal with the US Department of Justice .

The German bank admitted that the investigations into its Russian operations over so-called mirror trades had not yet finished. It said it was cooperating with other regulators and law enforcement authorities. The DoJ is reported to be among them.

Deutsches share price has been extremely volatile in recent months over concerns about the banks ability to pay fines, at one point dipping to less than 11 last autumn . Its share price before the financial crash was 117.

As the latest penalties were announced, the shares fell by 0.5% to 18.52 valuing the bank at 25bn, which is less than half that of the UKs Lloyds Banking Group, for example.

In a memo to staff Karl von Rohr, chief administrative officer of Deutsche,said: We deeply regret the banks role in the issues cited. He added that the number of staff employed to fight crime had risen 30% in 2016 and now stood at 700. Another 450 will be hired this year.

The FCA said Deutsches anti-money laundering (AML) controls were not tough enough to stop the bank being used by unidentified customers to transfer approximately $10bn from Russia to offshore bank accounts in a manner that is highly suggestive of financial crime. Money was moved via Deutsche Bank in the UK, to obank accounts overseas, including onesin Cyprus, Estonia, and Latvia, the FCA said.

Mark Steward, director of enforcement and market oversight at the regulator, said: Financial crime is a risk to the UK financial system. Deutsche Bank was obliged to establish and maintain an effective AML control framework. By failing to do so, Deutsche Bank put itself at risk of being used to facilitate financial crime and exposed the UK to the risk of financial crime.

The size of the fine reflects the seriousness of Deutsche Banks failings. We have repeatedly told firms how to comply with our AML requirements and the failings of Deutsche Bank are simply unacceptable. Other firms should take notice of todays fine and look again at their own AML procedures to ensure they do not face similar action.

The penalties relate to the bank failing to obtain information about its customers involved in mirror trades ones which mirror each other and have no economic purpose which allowed Deutsche Banks Russia-based subsidiary (DB Moscow) to execute more than 2,400 pairs of trades between April 2012 and October 2014.

Shares in major Russian companies were paid for in roubles through the Moscow office and then the same stock would be sold through London, sometimes on the same day, for a related customer, the New York regulator said. The sellers were registered in offshore locations and received payment for the shares in dollars. A dozen entities were identified.

The FCA said the purpose of $6bn mirror trades was the conversion of roubles into US dollars and the covert transfer of those funds out of Russia, which is highly suggestive of financial crime.

The regulators found almost $3bn in 3,400 suspiciousone-sided trades also occurred. The FCA believes that some, if not all, of these formed one side of mirror trades. They were often conducted by the same customers involved in the mirror trading.

This Russian mirror-trading scheme occurred while the bank was on clear notice of serious and widespread compliance issues dating back a decade. The offsetting trades here lacked economic purpose and could have been used to facilitate money laundering or enable other illicit conduct, and todays action sends a clear message that DFS will not tolerate such conduct, said New Yorks financial services superintendent, Maria Vullo.

The FCA described Deutsche Bank as being exceptionally cooperative and having committed to solve the problems in its AML systems. The bank received a 30% discount for its cooperation. This is a contrast to 2015 when the bank was fined for rigging Libor and accused of being obstructive towards regulators in their investigations into the global manipulation of the benchmark rate.

Last year, Deutsche said, it had taken disciplinary measures with regards to certain individuals in this matter and will continue to do so with respect to others as warranted.

Five previous Deutsche fines

January 2017 500m for Russian money-laundering offences.

January 2017 75m to resolve a US government lawsuit over hiding tax liabilities to the Internal Revenue Service in 2000.

December 2016 5.9bn for toxic bond mis-selling scandal.

November 2015 200m for breaching US sanctions with Iran and Syria.

April 2015 1.7bn for rigging Libor.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jan/31/deutsche-bank-fined-630m-over-russia-money-laundering-claims


Foreign billionaires in London choosing to rent to avoid stamp duty

Number of lettings costing more than 3,000 a week increased by 28% in the last three months of 2016, research shows

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/12/foreign-billionaires-london-choosing-rent-avoid-stamp-duty


Trumps honeymoon with the stock market will soon be over | Nouriel Roubini

His promises have rallied the Dow Jones but his inconsistent, erratic and destructive policies will take a toll on growth

When Donald Trump was elected president of the US, stock markets rallied impressively. Investors were initially giddy about Trumps promises of fiscal stimulus, deregulation of energy, health care and financial services, and steep cuts in corporate, personal, estate, and capital-gains taxes. But will the reality of Trumponomics sustain a continued rise in equity prices?

It is little wonder that corporations and investors have been happy. This traditional Republican embrace of trickle-down supply-side economics will mostly favour corporations and wealthy individuals, while doing almost nothing to create jobs or raise blue-collar workers incomes. According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, almost half of the benefits from Trumps proposed tax cuts would go to the top 1% of income earners.

Yet the corporate sectors animal spirits may soon give way to primal fear: the market rally is already running out of steam, and Trumps honeymoon with investors might be coming to an end. There are several reasons for this.

For starters, the anticipation of fiscal stimulus may have pushed stock prices up, but it also led to higher long-term interest rates, which hurts capital spending and interest-sensitive sectors such as real estate. Meanwhile, the strengthening dollar will destroy more of the jobs typically held by Trumps blue-collar base. The president may have saved 1,000 jobs in Indiana by bullying and cajoling the air-conditioner manufacturer Carrier; but the US dollars appreciation since the election could destroy almost 400,000 manufacturing jobs over time.

Moreover, Trumps fiscal stimulus package might end up being much larger than the markets current pricing suggests. As Ronald Reagan and George W Bush showed, Republicans can rarely resist the temptation to cut corporate, income and other taxes, even when they have no way to make up for the lost revenue and no desire to cut spending. If this happens again under Trump, fiscal deficits will push up interest rates and the dollar even further, and hurt the economy in the long term.

A second reason for investors to curb their enthusiasm is the spectre of inflation. With the US economy already close to full employment, Trumps fiscal stimulus will fuel inflation more than it does growth. Inflation will then force even Janet Yellens dovish Federal Reserve to hike up interest rates sooner and faster than it otherwise would have done, which will drive up long-term interest rates and the value of the dollar still more.

Third, this undesirable policy mix of excessively loose fiscal policy and tight monetary policy will tighten financial conditions, hurting blue-collar workers incomes and employment prospects. An already protectionist Trump administration will then have to pursue additional protectionist measures to maintain these workers support, thereby further hampering economic growth and diminishing corporate profits.

If Trump takes his protectionism too far, he will undoubtedly spark trade wars. Americas trading partners will have little choice but to respond to US import restrictions by imposing their own tariffs on US exports. The ensuing tit-for-tat will hinder global economic growth and damage economies and markets everywhere. It is worth remembering how Americas 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act triggered global trade wars that exacerbated the Great Depression.

Fourth, Trumps actions suggest that his administrations economic interventionism will go beyond traditional protectionism. Trump has already shown his willingness to target firms foreign operations with the threat of import levies, public accusations of price gouging and immigration restrictions (which make it harder to attract talent).

The Nobel laureate economist Edmund S Phelps has described Trumps direct interference in the corporate sector as reminiscent of corporatist Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. Indeed, if Barack Obama had treated the corporate sector in the way that Trump has, he would have been smeared as a communist; but for some reason when Trump does it, corporate America puts its tail between its legs.

Fifth, Trump is questioning US alliances, cosying up to American rivals such as Russia, and antagonizing important global powers such as China. His erratic foreign policies are spooking world leaders, multinational corporations and global markets generally.

Finally, Trump may pursue damage-control methods that only make matters worse. For example, he and his advisers have already made verbal pronouncements intended to weaken the dollar. But talk is cheap, and open-mouth operations have only a temporary effect on the currency.

This means that Trump might take a more radical and heterodox approach. During the campaign, he bashed the Fed for being too dovish, and creating a false economy. And yet he may now be tempted to appoint new members to the Fed board who are even more dovish, and less independent, than Yellen in order to boost credit to the private sector.

If that fails, Trump could unilaterally intervene to weaken the dollar, or impose capital controls to limit dollar-strengthening capital inflows. Markets are already becoming wary; full-blown panic is likely if protectionism and reckless, politicised monetary policy precipitate trade, currency, and capital-control wars.

To be sure, expectations of stimulus, lower taxes and deregulation could still boost the economy and the markets performance in the short term. But, as the vacillation in financial markets since Trumps inauguration indicates, the presidents inconsistent, erratic, and destructive policies will take their toll on domestic and global economic growth in the long run.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/02/trump-honeymoon-stock-market-dow-jones


Never mind the optics, Theresa Mays US dash was mortifying | Jonathan Freedland

Sure, it went fine Trump managed not to drop any bombshells. But this hasty visit smacks of desperation

In normal times, youd say everything went swimmingly. Sure, the American president seemed a tad unsure how to say the name of his guest whom he greeted as Ter-raiser slightly reinforcing the White Houses earlier failure, in a briefing note, to spell the British prime ministers name correctly, dropping the h and thereby suggesting Donald Trump was about to receive Teresa May, who made her name as a porn star.

But other than that, the PM would have been delighted. In the press conference that followed their Oval Office meeting, there were no bombshells: Trump managed to get through it without insulting an entire ethnic group, trashing a democratic norm or declaring war, any of which might have diverted attention from Mays big moment. He was on best behaviour, diligently reading the script that had been written for him, attesting to the deep bond that connects Britain and the US. May received all the assurances she craved that her countrys relationship with the US remains special. Why, he even, briefly, took her hand.

However, these are not normal times. May and her team will be pleased with the optics and indeed some of the substance artfully, May got Trump to confirm, on camera, that he is 100% behind Nato but the underlying truth is that this dash to Washington was mortifying.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/27/never-mind-the-optics-theresa-mays-us-dash-was-mortifying


Donald Trump mistakes Ivanka from Brighton for his daughter

President-elect mistakenly retweets praise for a Brighton council worker with the same first name as his daughter, leading to Twitter storm

A woman from Brighton is waking up to chaos on Twitter after having been singled out by Donald Trump as his daughter.

The president-elect quoted a praiseworthy tweet directed to him by Lawrence Goodstein, a Twitter user in Seekonk in Massachusetts, that described his daughter Ivanka as a woman with real character and class late on Monday.

But Goodstein had mistakenly put @Ivanka, not @IvankaTrump not a significant mistake in light of Goodsteins 160-odd followers; of far greater consequence circulated by Trump to his 20.1m.

So Trumps shout-out was instead directed to Ivanka Majic, a council worker from Brighton, England, with just over 2,800 followers.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

@drgoodspine: @realDonaldTrump @Ivanka Trump is great, a woman with real character and class.”

January 17, 2017

Ivanka Majic from Brighton, England, is a wonderful woman. Youre right, replied Mark Pygas, a writer for Distractify, to Trump and Goodstein. RIP her mentions though.

I mean, shes probably trying to sleep and her phone is going off the hook but its a hell of a story. (According to a subsequent screenshot tweeted by Pygas, Goodstein blocked him for pointing out the error and made his account private.)

Mark Pygas (@MarkPygas)

@realDonaldTrump @drgoodspine @ivanka Ivanka Majic from Brighton, England, is a wonderful woman. You’re right. RIP her mentions though. pic.twitter.com/FH4f2KMOQU

January 17, 2017

Trump had not deleted his tweet nor acknowledged his mistake at time of writing, though Goodstein made his account private.

It had been retweeted 2,800 times and favourited 15,000 times, with more than 4,600 replies the vast majority of them including Majic.

The Guardian has attempted to contact Majic, believed to be employed as a researcher at the Brighton and Hove City Council.

Her profile suggests she is not as active a user of Twitter as the president-elect, with just six tweets most of them retweets in the past week.

Her last activity on Twitter was a retweet encouraging votes in Brightons upcoming restaurant competition and another publicising another residents appeal for return of her lost house keys.

On Saturday Majic had tweeted a link to a news story in The Argus about Brightons thriving food scene: Made the local paper. Fame at last!

Ivanka Majic (@ivanka)

Made the local paper. Fame at last! https://t.co/qs9M61IlEc @bravofoodawards @XDBPhotography @edofcopy @prykey24 @EatBrighton

January 13, 2017

Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump seemed oblivious to the compliment paid to her by the Twitter user Goodstein and co-signed by her father, sharing a photo of #datenight with her 2.74m followers.

Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump)

bright lights, big city #datenight pic.twitter.com/XclaOxvus4

January 17, 2017

Ivanka Trump had been the subject of a special report that broadcast on CNN on Monday night that her father had expressed concerns about.

At 9:00 P.M. @CNN, of all places, is doing a Special Report on my daughter, Ivanka. Considering it is CNN, cant imagine it will be great!

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

At 9:00 P.M. @CNN, of all places, is doing a Special Report on my daughter, Ivanka. Considering it is CNN, can’t imagine it will be great!

January 17, 2017

As president, Donald Trump will have the option of taking over the official @POTUS handle or maintaining his own, @realDonaldTrump. With 20.1m followers hanging on his every missive compared to @POTUSs 13.5m, Trump himself has given no indication he will make the switch.

Sean Spicer, the incoming White House press secretary, told CNN earlier in January that Trump would probably be tweeting from both, or whatever he chooses.

Last week BuzzFeed News publicised concerns that Trumps shockingly insecure personal Twitter account had no known special security protections and was open to being exploited with potentially devastating impacts for the stock market and geopolitical stability.

It would not be the first time Trumps account has been hacked before: in 2013, when he was best-known as a real estate tycoon and host of The Apprentice, someone reportedly gained access to his account to tweet Lil Wayne lyrics (These hoes think they classy, well thats the class Im skippen, from the remix of will.i.am and Britney Spears Scream & Shout).

My Twitter has been seriously hacked— and we are looking for the perpetrators, said Trump at the time.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

My Twitter has been seriously hacked— and we are looking for the perpetrators.

February 21, 2013

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jan/17/donald-trump-mistakes-ivanka-from-brighton-for-his-daughter


Trump’s Scotland golf resort proceeds with expansion despite business pledge

President-elects team does not consider multimillion-dollar plans in conflict with written vow to end new foreign investments, which critics call ambiguous

The Trump Organization will press ahead with multimillion-dollar plans to expand one of the president-elects golf resorts in Scotland, despite its apparent pledge to halt new investments overseas.

Trump officials said the plans for the Trump International Golf Course Scotland in Aberdeenshire likely to immediately involve extending its boutique hotel and building a second 18-hole golf course did not conflict with his promise not to pursue new or pending deals outside the US.

Implementing future phasing of existing properties does not constitute a new transaction so we intend to proceed, a Trump Organization spokeswoman told the Guardian.

The expansion plans could see the resort grow substantially, with a new 450-room five-star hotel, timeshare complex and private housing estate. This would greatly increase the value to the Trump Organization of an investment onwhich Trump originally boasted he would spend up to 1bn.

Richard Painter, a former White House chief ethics adviser to George W Bush, said this extra investment was a perfect example of the clear conflicts of interest between Trumps newfound power as president and his familys business interests.

Hes using language which is ambiguous. It clearly illustrates that around the world, he will just simply expand around the various holdings and as they continue to expand, the conflicts of interest expand, Painter said.

Its like [the board game] Monopoly: if you have one house on Boardwalk, its not a new deal to go for three hotels on Boardwalk.

At a contentious press conference on Wednesday, the president-elect announced that his organisation would no longer pursue foreign investments as part of his controversial plans to avoid conflicts between his substantial business interests and his presidency.

In a document issued by the Trump team later that day, the president-elects lawyers Morgan, Lewis & Bockius wrote that his new pledge prohibits without exception new foreign deals during the duration of President-Elect Trumps Presidency.

Trump and his legal adviser Sheri Dillon said control of his property, hotels and golfing empire which includes two golf resorts in Scotland and one in Ireland would pass to his sons Eric and Donald Jr, and Trump executive Allen Weisslberg, before his inauguration as president on Friday 20 January.

There is speculation that Eric Trump will fly to Scotland next week, as that transfer of power takes place.

Trump
Trump International Golf Links, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Photograph: Mapbox, OpenStreetMap

Crucially, President-elect Trump has not agreed to sell or transfer his shares in the golf resorts, which means he retains ultimate ownership and stands to benefit from increases in the value of those investments. He owns 100% of the shares in the Aberdeenshire course, which has consistently made heavy losses. He has personally loaned it nearly 40m, and it lost 1.1m last year.

The so-called white paper released by Trumps legal advisers on Wednesday, setting out the new management arrangements and announcing a new trust to be run by his sons and Weisselberg, also said the agreement prohibits the Trump Organization from entering into any new transaction or contract with a foreign country, agency [or] any state or local government or any agency or instrumentality thereof, other than normal and customary arrangements already undertaken before the president-elects election.

Trumps legal advisers claim this structure will prevent Trump from breaching foreign bribery rules because any profits earned by allowing foreign dignitaries and leaders to stay at his two Scottish hotels, and his large Irish golf resort and hotel at Doonbeg there, would be passed to the US Treasury.

Walter M Shaub, director of the US Office of Government Ethics, said Trumps plan doesnt meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and every president in the past four decades has met.

Painter added that this structure was not legally enforceable. This is meaningless language, because what is the definition of a new deal? When youre a real estate developer, you are constantly entering into new contracts, expanding existing facilities, refinancing leases.

The phrase new deal is subject to such wide range of interpretation that it can easily be worked around, he said.

Trumps executives in Scotland argue that his new agreement to halt overseas investment cannot affect the Trump International Golf Course Scotland in Aberdeenshire course, which lies 10 miles north of Aberdeen, since its expansion plans predate Trumps election victory on 9 November. A spokesperson for the Trump transition team did not immediately return a request for comment.

The expansion proposals are partly derived from the resorts masterplan, which was approved against fierce opposition from environmentalists by the Scottish government in 2008.

The largest of his two Scottish hotels is the 149-room five-star hotel at Turnberry, which Trump bought with its associated Open championship course in 2014. He has since spent some 60m developing the resort, adding a new ballroom, a 3,500-a-night presidential suite and an ostentatious fountain.

Aberdeenshire councils planning department has recently approved plans to expand Trumps boutique hotel at the resort north of Aberdeen, which he bought in 2006, and is processing a live planning application for the second golf course.

On 2 November, a week before Trump stunned his opponents by winning the presidency, it gave listed building consent to extend the resorts boutique hotel, a converted early Victorian country house called Macleod House in memory of the president-elects Scotland-born mother Mary Macleod, to include a banqueting hall and six new bedrooms.

On 22 December, the council published a further official report on water management plans for the second 18-hole golf course, which is also being named in honour of Trumps mother. The course was a central part of the 2008 masterplan and this application has been in the planning system since September 2015.

The boutique hotel was not included in the masterplan approved by Scottish ministers in 2008 but it has been in use as a hotel for several years. Trumps critics in Aberdeenshire argue that its expansion raises substantial questions about the future of Trumps ultimate plans for the resort.

The Trump Organization had tried to dilute the original masterplan proposals last year by setting out plans for a new 850-home private housing estate and 1,900 leisure accommodation units, thought to be timeshares. Those plans were incorporated in Aberdeenshires draft local plan, although the council said he would also have to build a new primary school and affordable homes for local residents in return for planning consent.

But in December government planning inspectors threw that proposal out and insisted the Trump Organization stuck to the original 2008 plan which requires it to first build the 450-bed luxury hotel, and associated sports facilities, as a prerequisite for approval to build highly profitable private homes.

They said that if he built a new housing estate, he must also provide hundreds of affordable homes, the new school, community facilities and pay for a new roundabout, alongside robust environmental checks during construction.

David Milne, a local resident and vocal critic of the resort, said the decision to press ahead with expanding the boutique hotel suggested the Trump Organization had dropped plans for a five-star hotel at the resort.

I would question whether or not theres any valid reason why the plans are compatible, Milne said. If youre going to be required to do a 450-room hotel, why are you messing around with adding a six-bedroom extension to a boutique hotel?

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/14/trump-scotland-golf-resort-conflicts-of-interest


Qatar wins approval to turn US embassy in London into hotel

Westminster council accepts plan to build 137-room hotel in Grade II-listed building in Grosvenor Square

The Qatari royal familys property company has won approval to turn the US embassy in London into a luxury hotel.

Westminster council agreed Qatari Diar Real Estates plan for the Grade II-listed building in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, on Tuesday. The nine floors, three of which are underground, will include up to 137 hotel rooms, shops, restaurants and bars.

The US state department agreed to sell the building to Qatari Diar in 2009 to fund a new embassy in the Nine Elms regeneration project south of the Thames. Estimates put the Grosvenor Square sites value at 500m before it was made a listed building, which would have reduced the value because of restrictions on development.

Qatari Diar, part of the Qatari Investment Authority, has snapped up several high-profile London properties including the former Chelsea barracks, the former Olympic athletes village and most of Canary Wharf. Qatari investment interests also own Harrods and substantial stakes in Heathrow airport, Sainsburys, Barclays Bank and IAG, the parent company of British Airways.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/nov/16/qatar-wins-approval-to-turn-american-embassy-into-luxury-hotel


How a writers first film script inspired Idris Elba to become its star

Leon Butler asked a friend for help and ended up meeting the Wire actor

Even in his wildest dreams, Leon Butler never imagined that he would make a film with Idris Elba one of Britains biggest stars of film and TV.

As a quantity surveyor and property developer, Butler had no connections with that world, let alone with an actor on the wishlist of most casting directors. Yet Butlers first screenplay inspired the star of crime series Luther and The Wire to waive his usual fee to both star in it and produce it.

The film, 100 Streets, is a drama about modern city life. It is set in London, on the streets around the Albert Bridge, Chelsea and Battersea.

Elba plays a former rugby superstar who has lost his way since his glory days and is on a downward spiral with a disintegrating marriage. Other characters include a small-time drug dealer who strikes up an unlikely friendship with an ageing actor, and a cab driver torn apart by an accident. Relationships and loyalties are pushed to the limit.

Butler, 42, told the Observer that watching Elba bring to life his character was just surreal. He recalled: There were many times on the set where I would pinch myself. He will be walking up the red carpet at the films charity premiere in London on 8 November, three days before its release in UK cinemas.

Leon
Leon Butler. Photograph: Getty

It was Elbas compelling portrayal of the complex but deadly lieutenant of a Baltimore drug empire in The Wire that propelled the actor to international fame. His depiction of the complex anti-hero Detective Chief Inspector John Luther in the crime series Luther earned him Golden Globe recognition, among other awards. His films include Mandela: the Long Walk to Freedom.

But he was drawn to the novice scriptwriters work, helping to shape it, advising on the musical score and producing videos expressing his enthusiasm for the project, to entice investors. His involvement immediately opened doors. He introduced Butler to sales agents, distributors and other key players.

Butler said: Its a very difficult world out there for independent drama. Without Idris, [the film] would be nowhere with Idris, of course thats how we got Sony to buy worldwide distribution. I owe him everything.

In the films production notes, Elba says: I respected Leons drive and wanted to try to help make the project happen. Its so important that smaller-scale British films still get made and I was keen to do my bit.

He also brought in other A-list actors, including Gemma Arterton, who starred alongside Daniel Craigs 007 in Quantum of Solace and was Elbas co-star in Guy Ritchies gangster film RocknRolla. In 100 Streets, she plays Elbas estranged wife. Butler said: She worked with us for a couple of weeks. You couldnt have found a more professional young woman.

The son of a builder and architect, Butler grew up in Bedfordshire before studying quantity surveying and commercial management at Manchester University. He then moved to London, working on high-end refurbishments.

A sports injury led indirectly to his change of career. While he was convalescing, and unable to do anything else, he was urged by a friend to occupy himself with a screenwriting course. He had always loved watching films, but he never had a burning desire to write one until then.

When he later started to raise money for his film, he approached friends from school and the City. Their initial reaction was one of disbelief. But he inspired them with his enthusiasm.

One friend, a financial adviser, introduced him to a leading casting director, Ros Hubbard, after he happened to organise her mortgage. She has cast about 140 films and TV productions, including The Da Vinci Code.

She read the script, and loved it so much that she became one of its producers and showed it to Elba. Butler recalled: She said that Idris would love to meet you. That was a real buzz.

He added: Its difficult to walk into an industry armed with a first draft of a script. Idris does these huge movies in Hollywood now, but hes very keen to show real stories about real people.

100 Streets conveys the loneliness of life in a big city. Even when living cheek by jowl with other people, we can all be lost, Butler said.

Elba believes that the film will appeal to a worldwide audience as the characters are familiar to all city life. If theres a message, its mainly that, although city life can be lonely, we can all be part of something. People are always willing to help you in your hour of need. Its a complex, but ultimately a positive film.

DEBUT CLASSICS


Citizen Kane (1941)

Orson Welles produced, co-authored, directed and performed the lead role. It won an Academy Award for best writing.

Rocky (1976)

Sylvester Stallones first screenplay became the highest-grossing film of 1976 and won three Oscars.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed the cult classic, his first feature-length film, later named the greatest independent film of all time by Empire.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

First-time writer Michael Arndt won the Academy Award for best original screenplay. It was also the joint feature film debut of husband-and-wife team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.

Juno (2007)

Diablo Codys debut script won an Academy Award and a Bafta for best original screenplay.

Rebecca Ratcliffe

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/oct/29/film-script-idris-elba-premiere


One month after the referendum, are predictions of Brexit blight coming true?

Though the Leave vote hit share values hard, many have recovered. But other sectors of the economy will be counting the cost for years

The overall impact of the historic referendum that saw the UK unexpectedly vote to leave the European Union has so far, in the space of a month, been less severe than some of the more apocalyptic warnings had suggested. But there have been winners and losers across the economy.

The pound

Sterling went on a rollercoaster ride on referendum night, ending up down 8% against the dollar as the results confirmed a victory for the Leave camp. Since then, its decline has continued and the pound is now at levels not seen since 1985, having lost about 12% against the US currency. Compared with the euro, the pound has fallen by 9% since the vote and is at a three-year low making holidays in euroland more expensive.

The decline comes as investors worry about weakness in the UK economy and the prospect of interest rate cuts to boost demand. This month the Bank of England left rates on hold but said most members of its monetary policy committee expected a cut in August if the economy did not improve.

The weak pound is a boon to exporters but will make imported goods more expensive. On Thursday, Unilever the business behind brands including Dove, Flora, Bertolli, Hellmans and Persil became the first major food and consumer goods company to warn that companies were likely to pass on increased costs to customers.

Stock markets

Markets were caught by surprise by the Leave result and a record $2tn was wiped off the value of global shares. But since then, there has been something of a recovery, particularly for the FTSE 100, which has regained all lost ground and more, and is currently at 11-month highs. However, the leading UK index is chock-full of companies with international operations, which are less exposed to any slump in the UK economy, and which earn in dollars, thus gaining from the new lower exchange rate.

The weak pound has also raised the prospect of UK-listed companies being snapped up by foreign rivals because suddenly they look cheap. Just last week chip designer ARM agreed to be taken over by Japans SoftBank for 24bn, while South African retailer Steinhoff has agreed to buy Poundland. Analysts believe more deals will follow.

Markets have also been lifted by bargain hunters who believed valuations had fallen too far, as well as by the quick resolution to the political crisis threatening to engulf the government following Theresa Mays appointment as prime minister.

However, the mid-cap FTSE 250, which is more exposed to the UK economy than the 100 index, has yet to reach the level it was sitting at before the referendum result, despite recovering more than 13% from its lows. It is now down 2% from its pre-Brexit level.

Housing market

There has been a spate of profit warnings from estate agents, and many are making gloomy forecasts for the rest of the year. Agents in some upmarket parts of London have reported a bounce in interest from overseas buyers keen to take advantage of weak sterling, but for the mainstream market there are signs both interest and price growth have cooled.

On Friday, LSL, Britains second-biggest estate agent group owner of Your Move and Marsh & Parsons among others said business had slowed since the vote and warned that its annual profits would be significantly lower than anticipated. London-focused Foxtons issued a similar warning in late June.

Forecasts for the rest of the year are for falling interest from buyers and price drops, particularly in the most expensive parts of the market. French bank Socit Gnrale said last week that a price correction of even 40-50% in the most expensive London boroughs could be possible.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) says its members expect sales to slump over the summer, because buyer inquiries fell significantly in June. Ricss findings were cited by the Bank of England when it announced that it was revising down its forecast for price rises.

Housebuilders

Shares in housebuilders lost around 40% of their value in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, with investors worried that an economic slowdown in the UK would hit their business, despite the country seeing record low interest rates.

There has been some recovery since then, but the companies have failed to regain all their losses. Barratt Developments, Britains biggest housebuilder, is still down around 28%, and it has said that it may build fewer homes because of the current uncertainty.

Even before the vote, upmarket rival Berkeley had warned in June of a 20% drop in reservations of new homes.

Barratt
Barratts share price is down 28%. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Commercial property

The commercial property market was already stalling in the months running up to the referendum as investors put plans on hold to await the result. The UKs decision to leave the EU has not encouraged them back.

Rics said last week that there had been a significant drop in confidence and demand among investors and tenants since the vote. Both rent and capital value expectations are now in negative territory, it reported, adding that office and retail properties have been hardest hit.

Funds invested in commercial property were forced to close their doors for a while, as panicked savers tried to withdraw their cash. Those barring withdrawals included funds run by Standard Life, M&G Investments and Aviva Investors. Last week, they started to reopen for business, but some investors who want to get their money out will take a hit. Aberdeen Asset Management, for example, is adjusting payments downwards by 7%.

Banks

The banking sector has been hard hit by the Brexit fallout, thanks to a combination of low interest rates, worries about future access to European financial markets and the prospect of a general downturn.

With expectations of another rate cut in August, the banks are braced for more strain on their stretched balance sheets, at the same time as the economy is slowing and the risk of bad debts is increasing.

Moreover, so-called passporting arrangements, under which banks can sell financial products throughout Europe even though the UK is not part of the single currency, could come under threat after Brexit.

Banks most exposed to the UK market have been hardest hit, with Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland down 25% and challenger bank Virgin Money falling 35%.

Profit warnings

Estate agents have been the only businesses to issue profit warnings following the Brexit vote. However, British Airways owner International Airlines Group was quick off the mark to say the uncertainty would hit demand, closely following by easyJet. Last week, the budget airline added that the fall in the pound had cost it 40m.

Other travel companies are also suffering as, along with increased concerns about terror attacks, they face the prospect of UK holidaymakers ditching more expensive overseas trips and staying at home.

But executives at Heathrow airport said on Friday that the Leave vote had been good for business, with the falling pound encouraging international visitors to spend more in its shops, as well as making it easier to raise money from foreign investors.

FIRST SIGNS OF ECONOMIC IMPACT

The first real sign that Brexit is having an impact on the economy emerged last Friday, with a Markit survey showing business activity in services and manufacturing shrinking in July at its fastest rate since the global financial crisis in 2009. The data suggested that UK GDP could contract by 0.4% in the third quarter, according to Markit.

Until then, the data had been equivocal. The International Monetary Fund, which before the referendum had warned of possible recession if the Leave campaign won, cut its forecast for UK growth in 2017 by 0.9% points to 1.3% from its April estimate. But that is still similar to its forecasts for Germany and France.

A report from the Bank of Englands regional agents last week showed that a majority of firms were not planning to mothball investment or change their hiring plans.

The latest job figures looked upbeat: showing unemployment at its lowest level for more than a decade, with 31.7 million people in work in the three months to the end of May 176,000 more than for the three months to February 2016.

On the high street, however, the volume of retail sales fell by 0.9% between May and June. This compared to a rise of the same amount in the previous three months, and showed the effect of falling consumer confidence in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of the EU vote.

This was backed up by a survey from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG showing retail sales in the three months before the vote at their weakest for seven years, while market research group GfK recorded the biggest slide in consumer confidence for 21 years in a one-off poll following the referendum.

Inflation is on the rise, with official figures showing that dearer air fares and driving costs helped to push the consumer price index up by 0.5% in the year ending in June, up from 0.3% previously.

With higher prices on the way after the Brexit vote, inflation could breach its 2% target during 2017.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jul/23/brexit-one-month-after-referendum-blight-predictions


UK loses triple-A credit rating after Brexit vote

Standard & Poors issues downgrade and pound hits 31-year low despite chancellors attempts to soothe markets

The UK has been stripped of its last AAA rating as credit agency Standard & Poors warned of the economic, fiscal and constitutional risks the country now faces as a result of the EU referendum result.

The two-notch downgrade came with a warning that S&P could slash its rating again. It described the result of the vote as a seminal event that would lead to a less predictable stable and effective policy framework in the UK.

The agency added that the vote to remain in Scotland and Northern Ireland creates wider constitutional issues for the country as a whole.

S&P was the last of the big three ratings agencies to have a blue-chip rating on the UKs credit-worthiness. Moodys, which stripped the UK of its top notch rating amid the austerity cuts of 2013, said last week it might further cut its view of the UK.

Rating agency moves have the potential to make it more expensive for the government to borrow.

The S&P move came after another torrid day on the financial markets. The pound hit fresh 31-year lows and 40bn was wiped off the value of the UKs biggest companies on Monday, despite efforts by George Osborne to quell investors concerns about the economic and political ramifications of the Brexit vote.

After three days of silence, the chancellor made a statement on Monday morning to try to calm the markets. However, sterling remained under sustained pressure on the foreign exchange markets as economists slashed their forecasts for UK economic growth. Wall Street was also weaker while continental bourses sold off sharply after Fridays record $2tn of losses on global stock markets.

Expectations are mounting that the Bank of England will cut interest rates possibly to zero from their historic low 0.5% to stimulate the economy, and yields on government bonds fell below 1% for the first time, which could spell cheaper mortgage rates.

In a live broadcast just after 7am, as dealers in London braced for another day of turmoil, Osborne insisted: Our economy is about as strong as it could be to confront the challenge our country now faces.

But moderate losses on the FTSE 100quickly deepened and at one point sterling was down 3.5% against the dollar, at $1.3122, its lowest level since 1985. Against the euro, the pound was down 2.4% at 1.19.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in China, Nouriel Roubini, economist at New York University, described Brexit as a major significant financial shock that would create a whole bunch of economic, financial, political and also geopolitical uncertainties.

By the end of trading, the FTSE 100 index was down 2.6%, or 156.5 points, and below 6,000. The FTSE 250, the next tier of companies and more closely tied to the UK economy, was down 7%, coming on top of a 7% fall on Friday.

Its been another dramatic day of trading on the UK stock market, said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at the financial firm Hargreaves Lansdown.

Companies likely to be impacted by a Brexit-induced recession were hit hard. In two days, about 40bn has been wiped off the value of banking stocks and 8bn off housebuilders. At one point, shares in the bailed-out Royal Bank of Scotland plunged 25%, while housebuilders such as Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey have lost more than 40% in just two trading days.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said while Osbornes statement had been measured his comments were unable to prevent the feeling that UK politics remains in a state of paralysis, with no clear contingencies in place to deal with the fallout of a leave vote.

The biggest faller in the FTSE 100 was short-haul airline easyjet, which plunged by 22% after warning that wary consumers would now rethink their travel plans. Exchange rate movements, the carrier added, would add 25m to costs.

Another profit warning came from the London-focused estate agent Foxtons. Its shares dived 25% after it said Brexit would hit sales for the rest of the year. Shares in so-called challenger banks such as Virgin Money were also pummelled.

Osborne spoke after it emerged that the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, had cancelled a trip to Portugal to remain in the UK to oversee any response from Threadneedle Street.

The Banks financial policy committee, set in the aftermath of the financial crisis to look for threats to stability, will meet on Tuesday, when the Bank of England will again offer emergency loans to banks as part of its Brexit planning.

The fallout from the vote is being felt around the world. Italys main index fell 4%, extending Fridays record losses of 12.5%. In Germany and France there were losses of 3%. At the time of the London close, on Wall Street the main share indices were all down more than 1%.

The chancellor may have taken some comfort from the fall in yields on 10-year government bonds. Yields on these gilts, which move inversely to prices, fell below 1% for the first time. This fall in gilt yields will keep government borrowing costs down and lead to lower mortgage rates. However, they also mean pension companies have started cutting the amount paid to the newly retired.

Osborne refused to repeat his pre-vote warning of a Brexit recession, saying only that the economy would face adjustments. But analysts started to cut their forecasts for UK growth. Goldman Sachs, forecasts just 0.2% growth in 2017, down from 2% predicted previously.

The consultancy Oxford Economics said interest rates could be slashed to 0% within weeks. Morgan Stanley analysts said European and UK stocks would fall up to 10% over the coming months and sterling would fall to between $1.25 and $1.30.

Much of the markets focus has been on the pound, particularly after the speculator George Soros, who made $1bn when sterling fell out of the exchange rate mechanism in 1992, had warned of a black Friday in the event of Brexit. His spokesman stressed that he had not bet against the pound last week.

George Soros did not speculate against sterling while he was arguing for Britain to remain in the European Union, the spokesman told Reuters. However, because of his generally bearish outlook on world markets, Mr Soros did profit from other investments

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jun/27/property-and-financial-shares-slide-as-referendum-fallout-hits-stock-markets


Recent Tweets

Call Now Button