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December 2007

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LATEST ARTICLES

  • What does it take to be a pioneer in Corporate Social Responsibility?
  • Watch out Standard Chartered: a potential competitor might have been born. London-based investment bank Medicap, 100% owned by BMCE, a Moroccan bank, launched in November, and intends to focus on one of Standard Chartered’s specialities: Africa.
  • Deutsche Bank has hired Dierk Reuter as its new global head of e-commerce and algorithmic trading. Reuter was previously a managing director at Goldman Sachs in its equity algo business, although he also has extensive knowledge of FX. He was seconded to FXall by Goldman Sachs as its original chief technology officer when the multi-bank portal launched.
  • Infrastructure investment is not without risk. Even the US has found this; the collapse of a bridge in Minneapolis in August led to the realization that much of the country’s ageing infrastructure needs refurbishment. But flows of new money bring their own problems. Investment skills and experience remain the pre-eminent qualities required to succeed.
  • Foreign exchange history is littered with the corpses of institutions that have looked at the industry and then decided to enter the market and become significant players. Now the perceived wisdom is that it is harder than ever for someone new to break into even the top 20, let alone the top five.
  • With the dollar in seeming free fall, the Gulf Cooperation Council is set to discuss the wisdom of keeping its member states’ currencies pegged to the ailing currency.
  • Japan’s Nomura booked a ¥73 billion ($621 million) loss from its residential mortgage-backed securities unit as the company announced its exit from the US RMBS market. The bank described the move as part of a general reduction in its US activities that will cut the number of employees by 400 to 900. Although the loss is small in comparison with the billion-dollar losses at some American banks, it is the largest yet reported by a major Japanese institution as a result of the sub-prime problem. In a statement, Nomura president and CEO Nobuyuki Koga acknowledged "disappointing results" in the US RMBS market but said that the bank had "moved decisively to deal with the issue and had avoided further and protracted losses by taking firm and immediate action".
  • Goldman Sachs has appointed Beatrice Sánchez as regional manager for its private wealth management business in Latin America. She will join the US bank next spring from HSBC Private Bank. Sánchez will be based in Miami.
  • Those looking to harm Ms Whitney may want to think twice.
  • Despite all the jawboning over the past few years about succession planning, banks seem woefully unprepared if they are forced to jettison a flailing chief executive because of cauldron-like shareholder pressure.
  • While India and China look the best long-term bets, short-term gains could be easier to find elsewhere in the region.
  • The big banks’ Mlec fund might well unblock the present credit log jam. But there’s no escaping the fact that global liquidity has contracted and capital is being repriced upwards.
  • Many investors had been positioning themselves for an inevitable downturn in the leveraged finance market long before this summer’s dislocation. But, ironically, the underwriting abuses of the past few years mean that they could still face a long wait before any meaningful opportunities arise. Louise Bowman reports.
  • Markit purchase of IIC could herald creation of a global credit derivatives index.
  • The problem is with time rather than the legislation or its implementation, say analysts.
  • Market remains open but substantial new-issue premiums return.
  • The strong run of emerging markets equities looks set to continue.
  • Whether it’s Louis Hagen donning pom-poms and leading a Pfandbrief cheer or a University Challenge-style quiz during the lunch break, every conference needs its memorable moments.
  • Spain’s thriving cajas show the rest of Europe the way forward.
  • With little to choose between the capabilities of covered bond departments, issuers are granting mandates for different reasons.
  • The sinking dollar – not ­the sub-prime fallout – is the big hurdle for India’s most buoyant sectors.
  • DIC Asset Management – a wholly owned subsidiary of Dubai International Capital, the international investment arm of Dubai Holding; HSBC Bank Middle East; and Oasis International Leasing – has concluded the first close of its MENA Infrastructure Fund with commitments totalling $300 million.
  • Rob Walker has become head of Africa debt capital markets at Standard Bank, South Africa’s biggest banking group. Head of DCM Africa is a newly created position, reflecting the bank’s decision to centralize its Africa DCM coverage in London. "The region deserves a focused approach," says Florian von Hartig, managing director and global DCM head at Standard Bank. Rob Walker moved to London from Gaborone, Botswana, where he led the DCM efforts of Stanbic, as Standard Bank’s branch network in Africa excluding South Africa is known. Also joining Standard Bank’s new London-based Africa DCM team are Gaelle Biteghe, previously a relationship manager at Citi’s corporate and investment banking arm, and Kojo Amoo-Gottfried, an analyst previously at RBS.
  • The scramble for Africa just became institutionalized. Anyone who thought that the latest round of deals in Africa – led mainly by the Chinese – would be limited to the commodity sector had better revise their views. Two developments in the past month show that the Chinese are willing, even desperate, to take stakes in financial institutions on the continent. All indications suggest that direct investment inflows into Africa, some $39 billion in 2006, according to Unctad, the UN trade and development agency, are likely to be much higher for 2007. Some analysts expect the figure to hit $100 billion by 2010. The first deal, announced on October 31, is a partnership between Nigeria’s United Bank of Africa and China Development Bank. Details on the level of credit available to UBA are not being disclosed but it is understood to be significant. UBA feels it has stolen a march on its rivals and done the region a favour as well. "This partnership will contribute to strengthening of the economic cooperation between China and Nigeria and indeed the sub-region," says Tony Elumelu, chief executive of UBA. "The long-term funding gap in Africa is the highest in the world and this partnership will seek to close that gap."
  • Two of Kazakhstan’s leading companies are poised to fully test investor sentiment towards the central Asian state in the coming weeks, with big transactions in the debt and equity markets.
  • Concern is growing in Israel over the US MBS portfolio of what until recently was the country’s biggest bank by market capitalization, Hapoalim.
  • US buyout firm Carlyle Group has expanded its Warsaw-based central and eastern European team with the appointment of three professionals. Janusz Guy has been named a managing director, and Aleksander Kacprzyk and Piotr Nocen come in as directors. They join the team established and led by managing director Ryszard Wojtkowski.
  • The Spanish savings bank sector’s days of annual loan growth of more than 20% are over as construction wobbles and cédulas are tarnished by the international credit crunch. Cajas need to re-examine their funding strategies and business plans, writes Peter Koh.
  • The closing months of 2007 are proving to be full of intrigue for watchers of the Japanese banking industry, with the year’s two biggest M&A deals experiencing setbacks while smaller banks look to forge new alliances.
  • Rami Hayek has left his post as global head of equity and fixed-income investments at Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management group to join Credit Suisse. Hayek joins Omar Cordes in the role of co-head of Asia Pacific distribution for asset management, and will be based in Hong Kong.