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August 2008

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  • 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."
  • Third regional development bank will have an initial $10 billion capital.
  • 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.
  • The Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, struck a new deal with countries in the Caribbean during the PetroCaribe summit last month. In order to adjust prices in line with rising oil prices, Chávez has proposed that member countries pay 40% of the cost of oil purchased from Venezuela. The rest will be paid over 25 years with 1% interest charged. If the price of oil rises above $200 a barrel, the members will pay only 30% within 90 days and the rest under new long-term conditions. Under a 2005 agreement, Venezuela provides countries in the Caribbean basin with oil at a preferential rate in order to "help the weakest countries".
  • G8 ECM The number of ECM transactions from issuers in the G8 countries in the year to date has fallen 42% to 941 deals compared with the same period in 2007. The total volume of equity raised, however, fell by just 9%. Russia has experienced the sharpest decline in volume, with $3.5 billion raised via 12 deals and 1% market share, down from 9% in the 2007 period. US issuers, by contrast, have raised $143.7 billion via 269 deals so far this year, compared with $134.8bln via 496 deals in the 2007 period.
  • Luis Valdivieso was named as the new finance minister in Peru last month. After nearly two years as finance minister, Luis Carranza stepped down from office. The move was not a surprise and Valdivieso is expected to maintain the same conservative approach to fiscal and debt management. Many applaud Carranza’s austere fiscal policies and credit him with moving Peru towards investment-grade status. On the day of Carranza’s resignation, Standard & Poor’s awarded Peru an investment-grade rating, the second rating agency to do so after Fitch in April.
  • 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.
  • Abu Dhabi state-owned investment fund Mubadala has agreed to set up an $8 billion joint venture with General Electric. It will "focus exclusively on investment opportunities generated through GE Capital’s existing origination and servicing capacity, with targeted assets of $40 billion," they said in a joint statement. Mubadala will also become one of the 10 biggest stakeholders in GE by buying shares in the open market.
  • Halbis, the active management arm of HSBC Global Asset Management, has recruited Ed Conroy to its global emerging markets team, where he will focus on researching Russian equities. Conroy joins from Aberdeen Asset Management, where he was previously an investment manager in the global emerging markets equity team. Based in London, Conroy reports to Douglas Helfer, senior portfolio manager and head of Russian equities at Halbis.
  • Bernardo Parnes has been named as the new chief country officer for Deutsche Bank Brazil. Parnes has more than 23 years’ banking experience. Most recently he was chief executive of Banco Bradesco’s BBI unit. Before that, he spent 14 years at Merrill Lynch. "Brazil is a key growth market for Deutsche Bank and an important part of our emerging markets business," says Dalinc Ariburnu, global head of emerging markets at the German bank.
  • 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.
  • Finance sector ECM Banks and agencies raised $108.5 billion via 81 deals globally in the second quarter of 2008, up from $32.9 billion via 49 deals in the first quarter of the year, and year-to-date issuance already surpasses the total amount raised in 2007 ($100.8 billion). ECM issuance by financial sector issuers accounted for 42% of all global issuance in the second quarter and 26% in the first quarter. Royal Bank of Scotland’s $24.3 billion rights issue via Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and RBS is the largest ECM deal on record.
  • 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.
  • Raiffeisen International, the central and eastern European banking arm of Austria’s RZB Group, has announced plans to establish a greenfield operation in Kazakhstan.
  • 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.
  • New entrant aims for a big splash in dark pools but Nasdaq OMX and Bats are close behind, and Baikal promises intelligent order matching.
  • Markets have changed and so will the terms for Mexico’s next round of toll road financing.
  • The current market is testing relations between managers and investors to the full, says Neil Wilson.
  • Austria’s Erste Bank has bought a 9.8% stake in Bank Center-Invest for an undisclosed sum. Bank Center-Invest is a leading bank in southern Russia, which is one of the most economically diversified regions with limited reliance on the oil and gas industry and particular strength in agriculture. Founded in 1992, Bank Center-Invest is headquartered in Rostov-on-Don, employs about 2,000 staff and has 110 branches, the second largest network in southern Russia. Other major shareholders in the bank include the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (27.5%) and German development agency DEG (22.5%).
  • Banorte, the biggest locally owned bank in Mexico, plans to establish a new venture capital unit that will be spun off from its distressed assets business, Solida, according to the bank’s chief executive.
  • Structured product issuers have a new set of guidelines that they will be expected to informally adhere to after trade organizations, including the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, released non-binding principles for managing relationships with retail investors.
  • 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.
  • The last of the traditional monoline insurance companies to maintain their triple-A rating are facing a downgrade.
  • How will the baby boomers that will come onto the Middle East’s job market over the next 10 years be employed?
  • Despite the far superior performance of CLOs to that of ABS CDOs, CLO managers on both sides of the Atlantic face a battle to survive in present and future market conditions.
  • New heads of fixed income, loans and equity appointed in Europe – Berman takes banking role.
  • 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.
  • Nasir Afaf has joined Calyon as its global head of FX trading. Sources say he is replacing Steve Nutland; Nutland moved at the end of June from London to run Calyon’s FX operations in Asia.
  • Governments should give investors what they need and issue inflation-linked bonds.
  • Cypriot finance minister Charilaos Stavrakis wants to cement his country’s role as a centre of capitalism.