Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK’s new chancellor of the exchequer, said the government will pursue sweeping financial reforms to unleash growth and competitiveness at a meeting Wednesday with industry leaders.
The aim is to unleash a “Big Bang 2,” Kwarteng said, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting. Kwarteng was referring to the Big Bang deregulation in the 1980s, which enabled the City of London to become a powerful international financial center.
The meeting with about 14 chief executives and senior figures from banks, insurers and asset managers was one of Kwarteng’s first official acts since his appointment on Tuesday evening. It comes ahead of a planned announcement by the UK government Thursday about a multibillion-pound package to cap energy costs for British households and businesses.
The details of the plan have been kept under wraps because they are market sensitive, but the government is expected to say it will finance a package potentially worth about £200 billion ($229 billion) through the issuance of government debt.
Attendees at the meeting with Kwarteng included Amanda Blanc, chief executive officer of insurance firm Aviva Plc; Charlie Nunn, the Lloyds Banking Group Plc boss; Alison Rose, who runs NatWest Group Plc; and Nigel Wilson, CEO of Legal & General Group Plc.
There were also senior individuals from banks with wholesale operations, which could play a role in the sale of government debt to investors. Those attendees included Richard Gnodde, CEO of Goldman Sachs International; Beatriz Martin, CEO UK and group treasurer of UBS Group AG; and Viswas Raghavan, CEO EMEA and co-head of global investment banking, JP Morgan Chase & Co.
“The Prime Minister and I are committed to taking decisive action to help the British people now, while pursuing an unashamedly pro-growth agenda,” Kwarteng said in a statement after the meeting.
The chancellor also sought to calm relations with the Bank of England following questions about its independence during the Conservative leadership campaign and criticism of its record on inflation. Kwarteng “reiterated his full support for the independent Bank of England” at the meeting, the Treasury said.
Kwarteng’s discussions with finance bosses continue on Thursday, when he is due to meet with Jamie Dimon, the CEO and chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co., according to a person familiar with the matter.
Photograph: New UK Chancellor of Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng. Photo credit: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg
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