BUSINESS LIVE: Aviva buys Probitas; Hipgnosis portfolio value cut; Clarkson achieves

Among the companies with reports and trading updates today are Aviva, Clarkson, THG, Vertu Motors, Wizz Air, Hipgnosis Songs Fund, AstraZeneca, Halma and Intertek Group.

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One in four first-time home buyers are signing up to 35-year mortgages

Nearly one in four first-time buyers have been signing up to mortgages with terms of more than 35 years after a surge in borrowing costs.

Figures from the trade body UK Finance showed the proportion hit a new record as mortgage rates on completed house purchases reached a peak at the end of 2023.

KPMG fined almost £1.5M over M&C Saatchi audit failures

(PA) – KPMG has been fined almost £1.5million by the UK accounting watchdog over its audit of advertising firm M&C Saatchi.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) announced the sanctions against the big-four financial firm and auditor Adrian Wilcox on Monday, almost three years after a probe was first launched into the firm.

It came after M&C Saatchi found accounting errors which led to the restatement of its company accounts for 2018.

The FRC found breaches including a failure to “audit with professional scepticism”.

It said revenues were inflated by around £1.2million as a result of the failures linked to client credit payments.

These were ultimately revised in M&C Saatchi’s annual accounts for 2019.

The investigation also found “failures to properly audit journal entries across a number of subsidiary companies”, including failures in identifying potentially high-risk journals.

In addition, there was a failure to “document the auditors’ reasoning, or complete their inquiries with management” in relation to rebates related to one contract.

Premier League footballers could leave UK if non-dom tax is scrapped

Scrapping the non-dom tax regime could cost the Treasury £5billion in revenue, reduce GDP and prompt dozens of top Premier League footballers to leave the country, warns an analysis.

The study by an independent group of international economists says such a move by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in the Budget would be ‘highly risky’.

Companies House gets new powers to tackle fraud on its register

Companies House has been given new legal powers to tackle scammers who use other peoples’ addresses to fraudulently register companies.

UK residents’ homes have been entered without their consent as the correspondence address on the register of companies, when in reality they have no connection to the firm in question.

Nikkei surpasses 40,000 mark for the first time

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, comments on the markets this morning:

“A cautious mood pervaded despite Japan’s Nikkei 225 breaking new ground to trade above the 40,000 mark. The push for the index to new all-time highs is undoubtedly a key milestone but whether it truly marks an end to more than three decades of stagnation is still up for debate.

“One swallow doesn’t make a summer and the fact it has taken since 1989 for the index to claim a new record high is probably cause for some reflection rather than outright celebration.

“Later this week the latest decision on Eurozone interest rates and US jobs numbers may help to shape the narrative for stocks.

“Bitcoin is on the brink of hitting new heights – flirting with the $69,000 level it reached in November 2021. The launch of exchange-traded funds which track the cryptocurrency have provided a big catalyst.”

Wizz Air sees 15.8% rise in passengers annually in February

Wizz Air saw a rise in passengers last month as the low cost airline said its load factor ‘continued to be impacted by reallocated Israel capacity’.

The Hungarian air carrier saw a 15.8 per cent rise in passengers year-on-year to 4.4 million in February.

Aviva to re-enter Lloyd’s market with £242m takeover deal

Aviva is set to rejoin the Lloyd’s of London marketplace after agreeing to acquire the underwriting syndicate Probitas for £242million.

Britain’s largest life insurer said the takeover would help bolster growth in its capital-light general insurance business, particularly its global corporate and specialty arm.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund shares top FTSE 350 fallers

Top 15 falling FTSE 350 firms 04032023

Top FTSE 350 risers are…

Top 15 rising FTSE 350 firms 040302023

RUTH SUNDERLAND: Sexism still blights the City

The UK has had three female prime ministers, but there has yet to be a woman Governor of the Bank of England or Chancellor of the Exchequer.

That might change if Labour wins the next election and Rachel Reeves moves into Number 11.

Tory alarm at Budget plan to ‘fund 2p NICs cut with other tax rises’

Tory unrest is growing today amid signs Jeremy Hunt will fund a 2p cut to national insurance with hikes to other taxes in the Budget.

The Chancellor and Rishi Sunak are still racing to finalise the crucial fiscal package, just 48 hours before it is due to be delivered.

CBI calls for mileage allowance ‘stealth tax’ to be scrapped in Budget

The CBI has called for a mileage allowance ‘stealth tax’ to be scrapped in Wednesday’s Budget after figures suggested it was causing some employees to refuse to take their cars on business journeys.

Approved Mileage Allowance Payments (AMAP) allow firms to reimburse around two million workers for using their cars or vans for business trips without incurring any extra taxes.

Banks set to report 1m cases of fraud in a year

The number of reports about suspected fraud filed by banks is set to hit one million a year for the first time, the Mail can reveal.

Fraud is one reason individuals or companies may have their account forcibly shut down, otherwise known as being ‘debanked’.

The FTSE 100 Index opened at 7682.50

The pound at 8am was 1.2677 dollars compared to 1.2651 dollars at the previous close.

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