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Monday newspaper round-up: Barclays, BoE, Energy companies

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Barclays may face fine over stolen customer data; Bank of England to stress test banks & building societies; energy firms' profit margins under scrutiny by minister.

Barclays is under scrutiny by regulators and could face a hefty fine after thousands of confidential customer files were stolen in a data breach described as catastrophic by an adviser to the business secretary, Vince Cable. The files, containing details on 2,000 individuals including their names, addresses, phone numbers, passport numbers, mortgages and levels of savings, were allegedly sold for use in boiler-room scams, in which vulnerable savers are snared into fraudulent investments. – The Guardian

The Bank of England is to test whether banks and building societies would go bust if house prices crash. A ‘stress test’ will examine whether banks will need bailing out if prices plunge. It is being drawn up by the Bank’s Financial Policy Committee, whose members include Governor Mark Carney. – Daily Mail

The Energy Secretary has questioned the profit margins made on gas by Britain’s biggest energy companies, going as far as suggesting that the UK’s biggest supplier, British Gas, could be broken up. In a letter to regulators, Ed Davey estimated that margins on gas bills are up to five times those made on electricity. He pointed to evidence indicating that British Gas was using its grip on the market to boost profits, and said the company could face a market investigation. – The Telegraph

A Labour government would introduce quotas to get more directors from ethnic minorities on to the boards of British companies, it was announced today. The intervention into the debate over the profile of Britain’s business leaders follows a new report which shows that more than half the boards in the FTSE 100 are all-white. – The Times

The Eurozone’s new chief banking regulator has warned that some of the region’s lenders have no future and should be allowed to die, heralding a far tougher approach to the supervision across the currency bloc. […] Danièle Nouy also signalled she wants to weaken the link between governments and the bloc’s banks that lies at the core of the region’s crisis by breaking with tradition and demanding lenders hold capital against their sovereign assets. – Financial Times

Car maker BMW is likely to have sold more vehicles in January compared to the same month last year thanks to rising demand in China, where group deliveries surged more than 20%. Overall deliveries, including the British Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, increased in single-digit terms in the United States and were also up in core European markets, according to the German group’s finance chief Friedrich Eichiner. – The Scotsman

George Soros’s Quantum Endowment fund had its second-best year ever in dollar terms in 2013, adding $5.5bn to the billionaire’s fortune and putting Quantum back in top place among the most successful hedge funds of all time. – Financial Times

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