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August 2008

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  • Moscow-headquartered investment bank Renaissance Capital has teamed up with France’s BNP Paribas to offer investors a diversified form of structured equity exposure to the Russian market.
  • Armins Rusis is joining Markit’s executive team from Morgan Stanley as vice-president and global co-head of fixed income, alongside a founding partner at Markit, Kevin Gould. Rusis worked at Morgan Stanley for 17 years and was latterly head of US credit trading and global head of securitized and structured credit trading. Prior to that he worked in Europe, until May where he was head of credit trading. He was replaced by Patrick Lynch.
  • It has always been a big contributor to investment banking profitability – and with credit derivatives in turmoil, the market’s importance is rising again. Total Derivatives, in association with Euromoney, polled the market to find out who is the best of breed in rates.
  • Like other global investment banks that are rushing to send their best talent to the Gulf, UBS is seeking to take advantage of the opportunities there.
  • In 2004 Santander had looked at ABN Amro as an entire business but decided it was not interested in a deal. Botín told his board at the time that the only parts of ABN that Santander might be interested in were its Brazil and Italy operations.
  • Regional buoyancy and declining opportunities elsewhere are pulling banks into the Gulf region, bringing with them research capability. Local firms still lead Euromoney’s poll but foreign rivals are coming up fast. Rupert Wright reports.
  • Standard Chartered Bank has relaunched the Shariah-compliant version of its online treasury FX trading and hedging platform under its global brand for Islamic products, Standard Chartered Saadiq. The bank says it is the first to launch online services in Islamic FX utilizing the wa’ad structure, which enables Islamic companies and institutions to hedge forward FX exposures under a Shariah-compliant structure.
  • The financing for Peru’s biggest ever project is in the final stages after a $3.8 billion package was signed last month.
  • New entrant aims for a big splash in dark pools but Nasdaq OMX and Bats are close behind, and Baikal promises intelligent order matching.
  • "If you don’t fully understand an instrument, don’t buy it. If you would not buy for yourself a specific product, don’t try to sell it. If you don’t know very well your customers, don’t lend them any money. If you do all these things, you will be a better banker, my son"
  • "Putting an idiot in a suit doesn’t make him a private banker"
  • New heads of fixed income, loans and equity appointed in Europe – Berman takes banking role.
  • I hate to be the ugly fairy at the wedding but I'm starting to wonder if John Thain will turn out ot be Merrill's messiah after all.
  • The Merrill chief’s honeymoon is over. The question now is whether he’s guilty of misjudgment or mismanagement.
  • It’s been a ropey year so far for Pakistan’s embattled stock markets but better news is on the horizon for global investors. Over the next 12 months, the government is expected to push ahead with aggressive plans to privatize a clutch of state-run firms, as the government seeks to cut into a current account deficit that widened to $14 billion in the fiscal year to end-June 2008, from less than half that a year earlier.
  • It’s a year since the credit crunch began and still there is no end in sight to the bloodletting. Alex Chambers looks at the prospects for bankers facing this unprecedented downturn as traditional alternative employment avenues, such as hedge funds, struggle to pick up the slack.
  • Shinsei Bank has announced that it is to acquire General Electric’s Japanese consumer finance business for ¥580 billion ($5.4 billion). The deal comprises GE’s personal loans unit, Lake, as well as its mortgage loans and credit card arms, and will bring Shinsei more than 2 million new customers as it seeks to combine its consumer finance and retail operations.
  • IPO ends long struggle for the gambling tycoon.
  • In India it’s simply called The Feud and, on July 18, after years of simmering, it finally boiled over. That day, Mumbai-based industrialist Anil Ambani was finally, unwillingly, forced to pull the plug on a planned telecommunications mega-merger between his flagship corporation Reliance Communications (RelCom) and MTN Group of South Africa.
  • China’s National Development and Reform Commission announced on July 22 that it would strengthen approval requirements for foreign capital inflow in an effort to control more speculative investments. In a note analysing the potential impact of the changes, Qu Hongbin and Ma Xiaoping, economists at HSBC, say that the major changes include requirements for all foreign investments to seek NDRC approval, stricter reviews of the credibility of foreign investment projects and "the prevention of capital inflows that are not based on real investments."
  • Promising "a new exchange for the new economic world order", the Singapore Mercantile Exchange (SMX) aims to be the Asian hub of commodities derivatives trading. The exchange, announced on July 9, will offer futures and options trading in precious metals, base metals, energy, agricultural commodities, currency pairs, carbon credits and commodity indices.
  • The audience fell silent as they listened to his advice: don’t buy things you don’t understand; if you wouldn’t buy something, don’t sell it to anyone else; and don’t lend money to customers you don’t know.
  • Professional cycling is a sport that has a long association with doping. In reality, it is probably no worse than any other and its fans will tell you it has done more to clean its tarnished image than those sports that are not regarded with such suspicion.
  • At a difficult time for the global asset management industry, the GCC countries are increasingly attractive markets. The region’s oil and gas fuelled wealth and increasing investment sophistication offer huge opportunities. Regional financial centres equipped with world-class regulation and facilities provide the right environments for international firms to establish local operations, while the Shariah-compliant investment market is growing in popularity and diversity. Stuart Pearce, CEO of Qatar Financial Centre Authority, introduces this report.
  • Family disputes in Asian listed companies have an unfortunate propensity to boil over unresolved into the public arena, raising important corporate governance issues.
  • Panic over the state of Fannie and Freddie may have been overplayed, but more transparency over their role in US housing should be welcomed.
  • Markets have changed and so will the terms for Mexico’s next round of toll road financing.
  • Regulators have put huge pressure on the CDS market to address counterparty risk. And the collapse of Lehman Brothers shows why. But in doing so they might be creating a bandwagon that exacerbates rather than solves the problem. Louise Bowman reports.
  • The global equity bear market and credit crunch have slowed Latin American growth but the rise of the region’s wealthy is still spectacular. One effect of disruption in developed markets is a flight to perceived quality in wealth management – to domestic providers rather than those abroad. Jason Mitchell reports.
  • Dealers report that liquidity in the variance swaps market held up well amid recent equity market turbulence. Equity volatility might finally have matured to the point where it is an asset class in its own right. John Ferry reports.