City Loses Interest in Mortgage Banks

Daily Mail (London), July 27, 2000 | Go to article overview

City Loses Interest in Mortgage Banks


Byline: GEOFF FOSTER

MORTGAGE banks were in the doghouse. As Alliance & Leicester lost 18 1/2p to 4551/2p after an institutional investor dumped 13m shares at 447p, and Abbey National fell 28p to 740p on disappointment with its interims, sellers put the boot into Halifax ahead of today's half-year figures. The close was 31p down at 537p.

Halifax is still trying to recover from the embarrassment of having to delay the launch of Intelligent Finance, its online banking service, because of computer gremlins. Due to go live earlier this month, it has now been delayed until August. Bears roar that its debut could be put back until later in the year.

Clarification from IF's chief executive Jim Spowart with today's interims is essential.

Halifax bought 60pc of St James's Place Capital from Prudential for [pounds sterling]750m in March, giving it access to 350,000 high-net-worth customers with more than [pounds sterling]150,000 in personal wealth.

It eventually plans to create a new private bank to distribute IF products.

Halifax estimates its clients have mortgages of [pounds sterling]17bn and savings of [pounds sterling]15bn with other companies. Analysts forecast group pre-tax profits of about [pounds sterling]910m, up from [pounds sterling]885m before exceptional charges of [pounds sterling]147m last year.

Other banks were friendless. Barclays declined 20p to 1499p, LloydsTSB 16p to 603p and NatWest owner Royal Bank of Scotland 11p to 1059p.

On the other hand, investment banking and asset management group Close Brothers remained popular at 1135p, up 521/2p. Rumours refuse to die that Charles Schwab, the US dealing service, is stalking its thriving market-making arm, Winterflood Securities.

Revived bid hopes helped Singer & Friedlander edge forward 2p to a peak of 247p. Singers' recently indicated first-half earnings will be substantially above market estimates. It owns 55pc of Swedish stockbroker Carnegie, which contributed 65pc of group profits last year. A management buyout of Carnegie could be on the cards.

The Footsie lost a 34.9-point gain to close 3.6 off at 6387.1. Dealers took profits on seeing Wall Street drop 120 points in the early stages.

The decision to resume Concorde flights helped British Airways recover 11p to 376p. …

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