Lloyds eyes Berlin for post-Brexit push

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Lloyds Banking Group has decided to set up a European base in Germany after the UK leaves the EU, the BBC understands.

Lloyds has decided to convert its Berlin branch into a European hub, in order to maintain a presence inside the EU, sources told the BBC.

Several British financial institutions are putting plans in place to protect their EU operations after Brexit.

With the UK likely to leave the EU single market, they want to make sure they can still cater for EU clients.

Lloyds is the only major British lender that does not currently have a subsidiary in another EU nation.

However, it already has a branch in Berlin and employs 300 people in the city.

Lloyds is believed to have considered both Frankfurt and Amsterdam for its European base before finally opting for Berlin.

The Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported that Lloyds would apply for a new German banking licence within a few months, but the company has refused to comment.

HSBC has already said it is likely to move 1,000 workers from London to its European headquarters in Paris, while the insurance market Lloyds of London recently said it was setting up an office in Brussels.

How many jobs will move?

Various studies have suggested tens of thousands of financial jobs could leave the UK after Brexit.

Authorities in Paris, Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Amsterdam have all said they would welcome banks moving operations from London when the UK leaves the EU.

Many in the City of London fear a rival financial centre could emerge if many banks choose the same location, but no single place has yet materialised as a likely winner from Brexit.

UK police have thwarted Paris-style terror plots, top officer says

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Mark Rowley, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, says 13 planned attacks were stopped since 2013 Lee Rigby murder

Terrorist plots on the scale of those carried out in Paris and Brussels have been foiled in Britain in the past four years, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer has revealed. Launching an appeal for public help in combating terrorismea, assistant commissioner Mark Rowley said the thwarted attacks were among 13 plots that had been prevented since the murder of Lee Rigby in 2013. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Rowley said many of the disrupted attacks involved only one or two individuals. But he added: “Some of them have been more sophisticated planning looking to attack public spaces, or police offices or the military, not that dissimilar to some of the attacks we have seen in Belgium and France and elsewhere. There is a whole range from the simple to the complicated.”

The figure 13 is one higher than the previous tally in October.  As part of the Action Counters Terrorism campaign, a podcast has been produced revealing previously untold stories of how UK terrorist attacks were prevented, featuring accounts from detectives, bomb disposal and surveillance officers. Rowley said the aim of releasing new material was to give an insight into how terrorists might prepare and provide more confidence for the public to report any suspicions. TV adverts have been launched appealing for members of the public to report any suspicious conversation they might overhear. Rowley, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for counter-terrorism, urged the public to be wary of far-right terrorist plots as well as those from Islamic extremists.

He said: “Sometimes reporting oversimplifies things and says terrorism is about IS [Islamic State] or Daesh and it’s about Syria. Actually there are many Isis offshoots in other parts of world, al-Qaida is still very, very significant. “And of course in the UK … extreme rightwing groups are very provocative and can cause significant risk to our communities, and indeed there are extreme rightwing-related issues which led to the tragic murder of Jo Cox.” Rowley conceded that such cases were not of the same magnitude as Islamic extremism but denied that bracketing the two forms of terrorism confused the public.

He pointed out that the judge who tried Cox’s killer, Thomas Mair, said he had been inspired by an admiration for Nazis. Rowley also said the threat of terrorism from those inspired by Isis would continue despite the group’s military setbacks in Iraq and Syria. “This threat is going to continue in different forms and it going to keep metamorphosing,” he said. “The reason for this appeal is to say to the public: ‘Trust your instinct, we are already getting lots of information on a third of our cases, look at our website, listen to these adverts, and if you pick up anything at all suspicious don’t be cautious please us.’” The official threat level for international terrorism has been at severe – meaning an attack is highly likely – for more than two years.

Rowley said: “We are likely to face a severe threat for sometime to come. And we need the missing piece in the jigsaw in the investigations we are running that often the public have.” In the year to March, the anti-terrorist hotline received more than twice the number of calls in the previous 12 months, with 22,000 people making contact.

Manchester is Europe’s third most influential city

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The city’s work within the Northern Powerhouse initiative has also given it kudos on an international level.

Manchester has been named as one of Europe’s top influential city. Thanks to a combination of factors including top scores for talent, location, the cost of living, Manchester ranked third in Colliers International Cities of Influence TLC index.  The city’s work within the Northern Powerhouse initiative has also given it kudos on an international level.

London and Paris hold the top two spots, primarily because of their size, while Stockholm and Dublin feature fourth and fifth place, respectively, while the bottom ranking markets features Milan, Budapest and Brussels.  Andrew McFarlane, director and head of the Manchester office of Colliers International, said: “Manchester has worked hard to build its reputation as an international city. “Over the past 20-plus years it has steadily grown and developed into the global player that it is today and that momentum is still building as Manchester cements its place at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse. “What is encouraging about this report is that what has been clear to many in Manchester for several years is increasingly being recognised by a global audience. Manchester’s best days lie ahead.”

The report’s ‘TLC’ index features 20 major individual economic cities which are ranked in terms of talent, location and cost. These factors have been categorised based on the size and orientation of economic output and the workforce; the capacity and skill-set of the latent and emerging talent pool; the cost and affordability of the city – as a place to live and save, and in terms of the cost of labour and total cost of office occupation; and finally, the country risk associated with the market, and the inherent risk/challenges presented by labour laws.  Damian Harrington, director head of EMEA Research at Colliers International, added: “Some occupiers will be more focused or interested in one component over another and thus the overall weightings and scores could change according to these preferences. “For example, occupiers driven by cost may see the southern European and CEE markets as more attractive than their northern and western European counterparts. Alternatively, occupiers focused on a digitally sophisticated workforce will be more tempted by Stockholm and Prague than Barcelona or Brussels.”

Why Philip Hammond should be getting ready to break up RBS

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Conservative Leader Theresa May Addresses Party Conference

The new series of The Missing is surely the gloomiest television of the year. But it has nothing on the endless saga of RBS, which seems to use the same disturbing time-shift device: whenever there’s a horrible new plot twist, you have to spot whether we’re in 2008, 2011 or today.

The crippled bank, still 73 per cent state-owned, has lost £2.5 billion in the first three quarters of this year, having just paid out another £425 million in ‘litigation and conduct’ costs chiefly relating to mortgage-backed securities hanky-panky in the US. Since its bailout eight years ago, it has lost considerably more than the £46 billion of taxpayers’ money that was pumped into it, and has never reported a full-year profit. Attempts by chief executive Ross-McEwan, after three years in post, to persuade analysts to focus on the bank’s positive underlying performance, rather than the extraordinary charges that are the legacy of his cursed predecessor-but-one Fred-Goodwin, fall quarterly on stony ground.

The harsh truth is this: if ever there was a company that cried out to be broken up, its operating business either sold to the highest bidder or if unsellable then parked in a ‘bad bank’ to be gradually wound down, RBS is surely it. The parent brand deserves to be buried forever, even if the main subsidiary brands of NatWest and Coutts are still viable and the original Scottish branch network might have a new life under a new (or old) name. But the one serious attempt to sell off a significant piece of the group — the separation of 314 branches into a ‘challenger bank’ under the revived and well-respected name of Williams & Glyn — has turned into the biggest cock-up of all.

The disposal was insisted upon by competition officials in Brussels, to be done by 31 December next year as a condition of the 2008 bailout. Plans for flotation of Williams & Glyn this year were abandoned because it proved too difficult to clone a separate computer platform; ‘restructuring costs’ relating to that and other problems amounted to £301 million in the most recent quarter alone. Next, Santander withdrew as a potential buyer because of incompatibility with its own superior systems; and after a recent second look, the Spanish group withdrew again because the price asked by RBS was too high for the can of worms on offer.

Now the Clydesdale & Yorkshire Banking Group — a hard-nosed operator recently spun off by National Australia Bank — has made a tentative offer, causing its own share price to dip as a result. But RBS says neither this nor any other Williams & Glyn sale can hope to be signed off by the end of 2017. In which case, Brussels may appoint its own ‘trustee’, somehow to force the disposal to completion.

What a farce. Philip Hammond, with none of George Osborne’s baggage to carry on this one, should call for a reappraisal of RBS’s chances of ever returning to the private sector in anything like its present size and shape. If he wants to set a generous time limit, he might say ‘before the opening of Heathrow’s new runway’. But if the expert advice is that the likelihood is close to zero however distant the deadline, he should send in a ruthless hit squad of accountants and liquidators to retrieve whatever value for the taxpayer they can find.

That would at least have some justice to it, since it is what RBS was accused of doing to so many of its struggling business customers during the recession.



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