Politics dominates the headlines this morning, the FT reporting that the Conservative party on ...
Politics dominates the headlines this morning, the FT reporting that the Conservative party on Tuesday night faced another brutally divisive leadership contest after MPs chose the europhile Kenneth Clarke and hardline sceptic Iain Duncan Smith to put before a final ballot of party members. Michael Portillo, the shadow chancellor and initial favourite, was eliminated and immediately announced he was stepping down from front-line politics.
The FT also writes that ministers are concerned that the financial problems of Eqquitable Life pensioners could deliver a blow to the government's stakeholder pension. About 1m with-profit Equitable policy holders saw the value of their pension funds cut by 16% this week.
Gartmore is to slip out of the UK's premier league of big investment houses, writes the FT, after deciding to sell its passive equity fund management business to State Street Global Advisors, the world's second largest index-tracking specialist. It is to focus on its high margin active business, including a lucrative range of hedge funds. Gartmore was once one of the UK's big five fund managers which dominated the pension fund business in the 1990's.
The Times reports that Merrill Lynch, the US investment bank whose logo is a charging bull, reported a disastrous 41 per cent collapse in profits yesterday, the worse second-quarter performance of any Wall Street firm. The bank blamed stock market turmoil for the terrible quarter, which affected its four main areas of trading, brokerage, asset management and investment banking. The results followed last year's crash in Internet and technology stocks.
Euro MPs are demanding a European Commission investigation into UK insurance regulation, says the Times, in the wake of the financial debacles at Equitable Life and Independent Insurance. The move comes just weeks ahead of a decision by Brussels on whether to prosecute the UK Government over its regulation of Lloyd's, the insurance market, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, when it ran up huge losses.
The Times notes that an attempt by financial advisers to claw back compensation payments owed to victims of the personal pension and endowment mortgage mis-selling scandals reached the High Court yesterday. The test case to decide whether demutualisation shares and benefits should be taken into account when calculating loss in the £13.5 billion pensions review is to last three days and judgment is expected by the end of the month. Collegiate Insurance, an insurance broker, is challenging a pensions policyholder who complained to the Financial Ombudsman Service. The case will be set a precedent on the payment of windfalls to more than 52,000 mis-selling victims. These cases are on hold until the judge reaches a decision.
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