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What to Watch: Metro Bank names new CEO, Qatar raises BA stake, and stocks bounce

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
The moon rises as a British Airways aircraft flies on its way to the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, June 13, 2019. (Michael Probst/AP)

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

Metro Bank names new CEO

Struggling lender Metro Bank (MTRO.L) has named interim boss Dan Frumkin as its new permanent chief executive.

Frumkin has been in charge since the start of the year after longstanding chief executive Craig Donaldson stepped down in January.

Donaldson left in the wake of a loan misclassification fiasco that forced the bank to raise hundreds of millions of extra capital. Metro Bank’s share price has dropped by 90% over the last year.

“We have conducted a comprehensive evaluation from a strong field of candidates and Dan stood out,” Metro Bank chair Sir Michael Snyder said in a statement.

Frumkin said: “Having spent the past few months getting to know Metro Bank and meeting colleagues across the country, it is clear that their passion and commitment to delivering for customers is second to none.

“This is a business with robust foundations and real potential to shake up British banking.”

Qatar raises BA stake

Qatar has increased its investment in British Airways-owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG.L).

Qatar Airways Group raised its holding from 21.4% of the company to 25.1%. The total stake is worth almost £3.2bn ($4.1bn).

“Our investment to date has been highly successful and the announced increase in our shareholding is evidence of our continued support of IAG and its strategy,” said Akbar Al Baker, chief executive of Qatar Airways.

“Qatar Airways continues to consider opportunities to invest in airlines and support management teams that share our vision to enhance travel opportunities for airline passengers across the globe.”

Stocks bounce

European stocks were rising on Wednesday morning, recovering some of the losses made on Tuesday.

“It feels like markets are looking for any excuse to feel positive at the moment,” said Russ Mould, investment director at stockbroker AJ Bell. “Apple’s coronavirus-linked iPhone sales warning earlier this week may have spooked investors briefly. However, markets have soon shifted their attention elsewhere.

“A small fall in the number of new coronavirus cases and apparent hopes that central banks will intervene to prop up the global economy helped the FTSE 100 to a positive start on Wednesday. US futures are pointing to a higher open on Wall Street later too.”

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) was up 0.9%, the German DAX (^GDAXI) rose 0.3%, the French CAC 40 (^FCHI) climbed 0.5%, and the Euronext 100 (^N100) was 0.4% higher.

Overnight in Asia, the Hong Kong Hang Seng (^HSI) jumped 0.4%, Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) closed up by 0.8%, and the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) fell by 0.3%.

S&P 500 futures (ES=F) were up 0.2%, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM=F) were up 0.2%, and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were up 0.3%.

New immigration system announced

The UK government has vowed to “end the reliance on cheap, low-skilled labour” with its new points-based immigration system.

The Home Office on Wednesday launched proposals for a new Australia-style points-based immigration system, which will take effect from 1 January 2021.

The proposals mean foreigners moving to the UK will have to earn enough points to gain a visa. Points will be awarded for things like English language skills, professional qualifications, job offers and salary. A minimum threshold would mean migrants would have to speak English and have a job offer worth £25,600 ($33,278) a year.

The Home Office said the new system would reduce overall migration levels and curb the number of low-skilled migrants coming to the UK. However, some business groups warned the new system could create skills shortages in professionals like social care and construction.

Moneysupermarket CEO to leave

The boss of Moneysupermarket (MONY.L) is stepping down as he seeks a career change.

Mark Lewis, who has run the business for three years, will remain in the top job until a successor is found and board has started looking for a new chief executive.

The company thanked Lewis in a statement and said: “In the three years since Mark became CEO, the group has helped households save over £6bn, returned £250m to shareholders, launched new personalised customer experiences and developed new capabilities in business to business services and the digitisation of mortgage comparison under the reinvent growth strategy.”

Reading to get £150m movie studio

The production company behind blockbuster hits such as Venom, Godzilla, and Jumanji plans to spend £150m on a huge purpose-built film studio in Reading.

Blackhall Studios said the move would create 1,500 on-site jobs, and potentially up to 3,000 jobs for the local area.

The company said the facility, which would be built at Thames Valley Science Park around 65km west of London, would be the “largest purpose-built film studio” in the UK.