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Bank and P2P boards take shape as Zopa prepares for next gen bank launch

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Bank and P2P boards take shape as Zopa prepares for next gen bank launch

Zopa, the pioneering financial services company, has today announced a governance restructure in advance of launching its next generation bank.

The re-structure will establish separate boards for the Zopa P2P business, proposed bank (subject to banking licence approval) and Group in order to facilitate the increasing scale of the business, ensure good corporate governance and protect the interests of its customers.

The changes come with the appointment of two new board chairs as well as two new independent non-executive directors to the proposed bank. Christine Farnish will be chair of the P2P board and Peter Herbert will be chair of the proposed bank.

Zopa’s new independent non-executive directors

Zopa’s P2P board

Subject to regulatory approval, a new P2P board will oversee the success of Zopa’s peer-to-peer business and will be chaired by Christine Farnish CBE.

  • Christine Farnish,chair, will join as an independent non-executive director, and a member of the Group board. Christine has spent the last six years as chair of the P2P Finance Association. She is also a non-executive director on the boards of Ofwat and Ofgem. Previously, Christine was Group Managing Director, Public Policy, at Barclays, CEO of the National Association of Pension Funds, and Consumer Affairs Director at the FSA (the forerunner to the FCA).

Zopa’s board for the proposed bank 

Subject to regulatory approval, Zopa will put in place a new board of directors to oversee the success of Zopa’s proposed bank. The new board will include:

  • Peter Herbert, chair, joins as independent non-executive director, and a member of the Group board. Peter has over 40 years’ experience in the financial services industry, most recently as Chief Executive Officer at Tandem. Peter started his career at Barclays: the positions he held included Finance Director of three of the Group’s major operating divisions, Group Head of Strategy, and Managing Director of Barclaycard. Subsequently, at GE Capital, he was the Chief Executive Officer of the global mortgage, consumer lending and credit cards business.
  • Richard Goulding joins as independent non-executive director, and a member of the Group board. Previously, Richard was at Standard Chartered Bank, where he was Group Chief Risk Officer and director for 10 years. He holds positions as a non-executive director at the Bank of Ireland and CitiGroup Global Markets Ltd.
  • Paul Cutter has been appointed as an independent non-executive director, specialising in technology. Paul has been Chief Technology Officer at Paddy Power Betfair since 2014, having previously spent nearly 10 years in senior technology roles at BSkyB and AOL.

Giles Andrews, Zopa Group chair, commented: “Over the last 13 years, Zopa has grown significantly, delivering better value products and an excellent experience to its customers. I am excited to have such an experienced group of independent non-executive directors joining us and I look forward to working with them on the next stage of Zopa’s growth. These appointments represent another major building block in our ambition to make Zopa the best place for its customers’ money.”

JaidevJanardana, Zopa’s CEO, added: “We’re delighted that Christine, Peter, Richard and Paul share the same excitement for the business as we do and have chosen to join us for the next stage of our journey. All of them bring a diverse set of skills, experiences, and perspectives to our team at what is a pivotal time for the business.”

Zopa is looking to fill the remaining positions on its proposed bank and P2P boards in the coming months.

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Women inch towards equal legal rights despite COVID-19 risks, World Bank says

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Women inch towards equal legal rights despite COVID-19 risks, World Bank says 1

By Sonia Elks

(Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Women gained legal rights in nearly 30 countries last year despite disruption due to COVID-19, but governments must do more to ease the disproportionate burden shouldered by women during the pandemic, the World Bank said on Tuesday.

Nations should prioritise gender equality in economic recovery efforts, the bank said, warning that progress on equal rights was threatened by heavier job losses in female-dominated sectors, increased childcare and a surge in domestic violence.

“This pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities that disadvantage girls and women,” David Malpass, World Bank Group president, said in a statement accompanying the annual “Women, Business and the Law” report.

“Women should have the same access to finance and the same rights to inheritance as men and must be at the centre of our efforts toward an inclusive and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

A total of 27 countries reformed laws or regulations to give women more economic equality with men in 2019-20, said the report, which grades 190 nations on laws and regulations that affect women’s economic opportunities.

While countries in all of the world’s regions made improvements in the new index – with most reforms addressing pay and parenthood, women on average still have only about three quarters of the rights granted to men, the report found.

Notably, nearly 40 countries brought in extra benefit or leave policies to help employees balance their jobs with the extra childcare needs created by coronavirus restrictions.

But such measures were “few and far between” worldwide and will probably not go far enough to tackle the “motherhood penalty” many women face in the workplace, it said.

The report also noted separate data from a United Nations tool tracking gender-sensitive pandemic responses which found 70% of such measures addressed violence, with just 10% targeting women’s economic security.

The pandemic could result in “a backslide on various hard-won advances in women’s rights achieved in recent years”, said Antonia Kirkland, the global lead on legal equality at women’s rights organisation Equality Now.

“This disruption is a unique opportunity for countries to rebuild more resilient, inclusive and prosperous economies,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by email.

“But this can only be achieved alongside the removal of sex discriminatory laws that prevent women from participating fully and equally in economic, social and family life.”

(Reporting by Sonia Elks @soniaelks; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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Digital health checks vital to travel recovery, Heathrow says

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Digital health checks vital to travel recovery, Heathrow says 2

By Sarah Young

LONDON (Reuters) – Digital health checks will be vital to a recovery in foreign travel from the COVID-19 pandemic, Britain’s Heathrow airport said on Wednesday, after a collapse in passenger numbers saw it plunge to a 2 billion pound ($2.8 billion) loss last year.

The UK government said on Monday trips abroad could restart in mid-May as its vaccination campaign kicks in, sparking a surge in holiday bookings.

It is also looking into a digital health passport or app to help ease restrictions, while conceding the benefits have to be weighed against potential risks to civil liberties.

But Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said digital technology, and international agreements, would be vital to reviving a travel industry on its knees.

“It’s absolutely critical and that’s one of the main things that government needs to work on,” he said, when asked about a digital health app.

At present, paper checks on COVID-19 test results and passenger locator forms take 20 minutes per traveller at Heathrow, making travel near impossible should passenger numbers rise from current low levels.

Britain’s biggest airport said it was “very likely” people would be able to go on their summer holidays, but expects passenger numbers will take time to recover.

The airport, west of London, is forecasting 25 million passengers in the second half of the year, meaning it would be operating at about 50% capacity.

Heathrow, owned by Spain’s Ferrovial, the Qatar Investment Authority, China Investment Corp and others, last year lost its title as Europe’s busiest airport to Paris after its flight schedules shrank more than those of its rivals.

Passenger numbers plunged 73% to 22 million people last year, with half of those travelling during January and February, before the pandemic shut down global travel in March.

Heathrow said it had 3.9 billion pounds of liquidity, giving it sufficient resources to keep going with low levels of traffic until 2023, despite the 2 billion loss before tax for 2020.

The airport urged the government to provide business tax breaks for big airports, something only available to smaller airports so far, and to extend the furlough job support scheme to help it financially before the recovery takes off.

($1 = 0.7044 pounds)

(Reporting by Sarah Young. Editing by James Davey and Mark Potter)

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Britain’s Heathrow sinks to $2.8 billion loss during pandemic

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Britain's Heathrow sinks to $2.8 billion loss during pandemic 3

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Heathrow Airport plunged to a 2 billion pound ($2.8 billion) annual loss after passenger numbers collapsed to levels last seen in the 1970s during the pandemic.

Heathrow called on the government to agree a common international travel standard to allow passengers to start flying again in the summer and to provide business tax breaks for airports to help them ride out the crisis.

The airport, west of London, is hopeful that travel markets will reopen from mid-May after a government announcement on easing lockdown on Monday.

Still Britain’s biggest airport, Heathrow last year lost its title as the busiest in Europe to Paris as its flight schedules contracted more than its rival’s.

The airport said on Wednesday that during 2020 passenger numbers shrunk 73% to 22 million people, with half of those people having travelled during January and February before COVID-19 shut down global travel.

The airport sunk to a 2 billion loss before tax on revenues which were down 62% to 1.18 billion pounds, but Heathrow said it had 3.9 billion pounds of liquidity and that could keep it going until 2023.

The airport is owned by Spain’s Ferrovial, the Qatar Investment Authority and China Investment Corp, among others.

($1 = 0.7044 pounds)

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton and James Davey)

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