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Aegon ‘well-placed’; Barclays boss probe; Centrica slumps

Mike Holliday Williams

New boss: Mike Holiday-Williams

Mike Holliday-Williams, new chief executive at pension group Aegon UK today said repositioning the company from a traditional life company to a digital platform business means it is “incredibly well placed” to lead in the retail and workplace markets.

The Edinburgh-based business generated underlying earnings of £61 million in the second half taking the total to £122 million for the year while the total value of assets managed on behalf of nearly four million customers reached £179bn.

The company has the largest savings platform business in the market.

Barclays

The Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority have launched an investigation into Barclays boss Jes Staley’s ‘characterisation’ of his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein who killed himself while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

The bank said its board believes Mr Staley has been sufficiently transparent about his ties to Epstein.

Mr Staley had developed a professional relationship with Mr Epstein earlier in his career, Barclays said in a statement.

Last summer, Mr Staley explained his relationship with Mr Epstein to Barclays and confirmed he had no contact with the disgraced financier since becoming Barclays Group CEO at the end of 2015.

The bank reported a better than expected 9% rise in profit before tax of £6.2 billion for 2019, as its investment bank reported a sharp rise in returns from fixed income trading.

It is recommending a dividend of 9p for the year, compared with 6.5p for 2018.

Centrica

Scottish Gas owner Centrica said annual profit last year slumped 35% due to a government price cap on some energy bills and falling natural
gas prices.

Britain’s largest energy supplier, said adjusted operating profit for the year ending 31 December fell to £901 million from £1.39 billion a year earlier.

Chief executive Ian Conn said: “2019 operating profit and earnings were materially impacted by a challenging environment, most significantly the implementation of the UK default tariff cap and falling natural gas prices.

“Against this backdrop Centrica delivered growth in customer accounts, higher net promoter scores, significant cost efficiencies in excess of our target, and full year adjusted operating cash flow and net debt within its target ranges.

“As expected, performance during the second half was much improved compared to the first half, demonstrating momentum as we enter 2020.

“Looking to 2020, we expect to deliver earnings momentum relative to 2019 from our core customer divisions, but Upstream earnings are likely to be impacted by the lower commodity price environment. However, with our continued focus on financial discipline we expect 2020 sources and uses of cash flow to remain broadly balanced.

“2020 will be another busy year as we complete the re-positioning of the company towards the customer, focused on our strengths of energy supply and its optimisation, and on services and solutions centred around energy, with an emphasis on helping our customers transition to a lower carbon future.”



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