What to Watch: Barclays trial, HSBC job cuts, Kazak fintech firm delays IPO

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
A woman walks past a branch of Barclays in London. Photo: David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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

Former Barclays executives set for fraud trial over Qatar rescue

Three former Barclays (BARC.L) executives charged with fraud in relation to an emergency cash injection from Qatari investors during the financial crisis are set to appear in court on Monday.

The case, which is being taken by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), sees Roger Jenkins, Richard Boath, and Tom Kalaris charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and also fraud by false representation — which carry a 10-year maximum sentence.

Jenkins, Kalaris, and Boath deny wrongdoing.

In January 2019, an earlier attempt at prosecution went to trial, when former Barclays CEO John Varley became the first major bank CEO to stand trial for alleged crimes committed during the financial crisis era.

In June, Varley was acquitted when a judge ruled that the evidence against him was insufficient for the case to proceed. A case against the bank itself was dismissed by a court in 2018.

The SFO alleges that the three bankers on trial from Monday misled the stock market by not fully disclosing fees paid to Qatar.

HSBC 'to axe 10,000 jobs' to cut costs

One of the world’s largest banks, HSBC (HSBA.L), is reportedly cutting 10,000 jobs in a bid to radically cut costs by the end of 2019.

According to a report by the Financial Times, the bank will see “a substantial reduction” in its headcount, under new plans from interim boss Noel Quinn, who has been in the role for about three months.

One unnamed source told the paper that “there’s some very hard modelling going on. We are asking why we have so many people in Europe when we’ve got double-digit returns in parts of Asia.”

HSBC employs 240,000 staff worldwide and the report did not reveal what regions would be most affected. If HSBC were to cut the 10,000 jobs, this would be on top of the 4,700 redundancies it has already announced, globally.

HSBC declined to comment on the report.

Kazakhstan fintech company delays London listing

Kaspi.kz, a Kazakh fintech firm that was aiming for a $5bn (£4.1bn) listing on the London Stock Exchange, said on Monday that it was postponing its IPO.

The delay to the IPO, which was announced only last month, comes amid fears that Brexit uncertainty has dented the appeal of listing in London.

The payments, finance, and e-commerce company said that “currently unfavourable and uncertain market conditions, particularly in the technology sector” were to blame, even as it said there had been “significant interest” in the IPO.

“We are pleased with the very strong interest shown by investors and their very high level of engagement in the process. However, we've come to the decision that the timing is not the best at the current moment for an IPO,” Kaspi.kz said on Monday.

“We are looking forward to sharing the financial success of Kaspi.kz with public investors in the future.”

Kaspi.kz is part-owned by Baring Vostock and Goldman Sachs.

UK house price growth slowest since 2013

Economic uncertainty, driven by ongoing Brexit negotiations, helped drag UK property price growth to its slowest rate since 2013.

According to the latest Halifax house price index, house prices in September rose by just 1.1% year-on-year to £232,574 ($286,029) — the lowest rate of growth since April 2013. The average house price also marked a 0.4% drop month-on-month.

Halifax said economic uncertainty is likely to keep property price growth subdued in the immediate future.

“Annual house price growth slowed somewhat in September ... Whilst this is lowest level of growth since April 2013, it remains in keeping with the predominantly flat trend we’ve seen in recent months,” said Russell Galley, managing director, Halifax.

Halifax pointed out that sales actually rose in August, up by 16% from July and the highest level since November 2018 — meaning homes are selling, but prices aren’t rising as fast as sales.

European stocks in the red

European stocks largely fell on Monday, with the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) hovering after falling earlier in the morning. Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) was down by 0.13%, while France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) was down by 0.22%.

The pound fell by 0.26% against the dollar (GBPUSD=X) to around £1.23. It similarly fell against the euro (GBPEUR=X) to around €1.12.

What to expect in the US

Futures are pointing to a lower open for US stocks.

S&P 500 futures (ES=F) were down by 0.47% and Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM=F) were down by 0.46%. Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) are down by 0.48%.