Chris Woolard is to lead a ‘review of the future regulation of the unsecured credit market’ © Anna Gordon/FT

Chris Woolard, interim boss of the Financial Conduct Authority, revealed this week that he’s handing in his sheriff’s badge. And given the praise he’s received from business owners for winning them Covid-19 insurance payouts in a High Court dust-up, plus the tribute paid to him by Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey, Woolard’s is surely a badge of honour.

But it seems he has one last duty before riding into the sunset: ensuring there’s only one sheriff in town. A day after judges ruled in favour of FCA lawmen acting for beleaguered insurance claimants, the regulator announced Woolard “will be moving on” in early 2021. However, before he holsters his FCA handbook, Woolard has been deputed to lead “a review of the future regulation of the unsecured credit market”.

That’s the same market in which the Financial Ombudsman Service has been throwing its weight around — to the extent that the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Alternative Lending reported concerns that the industry was “under siege from [an ombudsman] that is applying its own interpretation of FCA rules”.

Now Woolard “will concentrate on how regulation can better support a healthy unsecured lending market”. According to one insider: “This is an acknowledgment that the FCA wants to put the FOS back in its box!” Or as they say a little further west of Woolard’s Stratford HQ: “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us”.

Dan Hubert: Dragons to Unicorn

From FinnCap’s Cavendish Corporate Finance team comes news to delight brokers, small business backers, and loathers of TV show Dragons’ Den. An entrepreneur who walked away from the BBC programme’s notoriously condescending investors has just launched a £20m Series B funding round for his car parking app, having previously secured £10.8m to finance its national rollout.

Dan Hubert, founder of the AppyWay business, had been offered £200,000 by the ‘Dragons’ for 20 per cent of his equity. He has since built the largest data set of UK kerbside parking rules and added real-time information from sensors — enabling drivers to find a space anywhere in a city, and helping councils to better monetise them. Good news for British drivers who waste an average of four days a year looking for an empty space and end up paying £1.2bn in fines annually.

Cavendish reckons AppyWay has similar potential to that of mobility tech success stories Waze and Moovit. Were Hubert to secure a similar $1bn valuation, it would mean the TV business pundits were out by a factor of 1,000. Or as one waggish Cavendish partner put it: “It’s gone from Dragons to a unicorn.”

Corrado Abbattista: Brought to book?

Mayfair-based hedge fund Fenician Capital Management might have to do without the trading skills of its chief investment officer Corrado Abbattista, after the City watchdog proposed fining him £100,000 for market abuse and banning him from regulated activities.

According to the regulatory decision notice, he was deemed to have placed “large misleading orders . . . which he did not intend to execute”. Or spoofed, as it’s better known. Abbattista has appealed against the decision to the regulator’s Upper Tribunal. But if the Tribunal doesn’t throw the book at him, might his boss? Literally? Court reports from 2018 show Fenician CEO Andrew Crane pleaded guilty to an assault charge after “throwing a book” at his partner. Let’s hope Fenician’s shelves mostly contain paperbacks.


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