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February 2006

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  • Raising money in global financial markets in 2005 was not always easy. But equity returns were strong and global credit survived a volatile year; it was also a notably profitable year for investment banks as M&A boomed again and the fees came rolling in.
  • Emerging market companies still lag behind in corporate governance but, says Karina Litvack, their success in developing businesses outside their home countries and their need to tap global capital markets is forcing them to devote more attention to the rules
  • The country’s president-elect knows little of economics, but is set to appoint a market-friendly finance minister.
  • Debt exchange plans hobbled by bad timing, repeat performance and a fully tapped shelf.
  • Year-long talks to create leading investment bank in Brazil break down.
  • Eurex’s US woes are continuing. Last month the derivatives exchange’s chief executive, Rudolf Ferscha, stepped down. Ferscha had been behind the launch of Eurex US in Chicago in 2004 but sources say he was not given the support he needed to develop the US effort properly.
  • Bank of America is expanding its private banking business by targeting US families worth $50 mln+.
  • The second SVG Capital fund of funds securitization – SVG Diamond 2, again arranged by Nomura, has further developed the concept of private equity collateralized fund obligations. This is a managed deal where the assets are selected over time by SVG to deliver enhanced equity returns. Some €175 million of equity risk in the form of preference shares in the fund was sold to various external investors. This is drawable equity, meaning that this most expensive form of capital is not utilized until it is needed, thus enhancing the efficiency of the CFO. The rest of the financing comprises €328.5 million of rated paper (seven tranches ranging from triple A to triple B).
  • The name has changed but the business has not. Credit Suisse has demoted its First Boston heritage to a passing reference in its new logo, but it is far from jettisoning its US investment banking expertise. In January, it announced an expansion of its Asian leveraged finance team with three new hires in Australia, Hong Kong and Japan. Once this is complete, Credit Suisse will boast Asia’s largest leveraged finance team.
  • Exchange looking to build on the success of its established dollar index.
  • “I was meant to buy a new house today. All the financing was in place. Everything was agreed. Then a Russian turned up with a bag of cash and gazumped me. My wife’s not very happy.”
  • “Some of the other banks closed their internet offerings at 9pm. Just think about that for a minute. ‘The internet is closed.’”
  • Ariel Sigal, chairman of Latin America at Deutsche Bank, left the bank at the end of January, and it’s far from clear whether he will return.
  • Foreign banks are lining up to follow RZB and BNP Paribas’ lead by acquiring Ukrainian banks. The next to be sold looks set to be Ukrsotsbank, which oligarch Viktor Pinchuk has been looking to sell since the Orange Revolution of December 2004. Erste Bank, OTP, Société Générale and Intesa are all looking to buy the bank, which is Ukraine’s fourth biggest by assets. Ukrsotsbank has attracted foreign banks’ attention thanks to its strong growth in retail lending, with its gross consumer loan portfolio growing by 58% last year.
  • Behind Japan’s headline economic restructuring, a gradual but fundamental shift in Japan’s corporate ownership is taking place. A growing band of fund managers is encouraging companies to change; in some cases forcing them to do so. In the process the managers are making a tidy sum. Chris Leahy reports.
  • In the first of a regular new column featuring heads of funding at leading financial institutions, Barclays’ new treasurer talks to Alex Chambers about the early days of his new role and how its demands differs from his experience as an investment banker.
  • Larry Trotter and the Bonus of Doom
  • Rumours had been swirling around about the fate of ECN Hotspot for weeks. Many commented that with legendary billionaire currency speculator Joe Lewis as one of its backers, Hotspot was unlikely to be experiencing a cash crunch. Nonetheless, its present owners have seen fit to accept an all-cash bid of about $77.5 million for the business from Knight Capital Group. The close of the transaction is subject to receipt of appropriate regulatory approval and is expected to be completed within 90 days of its announcement on January 24.
  • UK breakfast cereal maker Weetabix will be one of the first companies this year to test the market for leveraged recapitalizations. The deal, expected to come to market in the next few weeks, will be lead arranged by JPMorgan. It takes out the £450 million ($803 million) leveraged loan backing the £642 million buyout of Weetabix in 2004 by private equity firm Hicks Muse Tate and Furst.
  • Funding from Abbott Laboratories for Boston Scientific’s bid for Guidant could set an important precedent.
  • UK
  • Vanilla deals fell out of favour in equity-linked issuance in 2005, with highly complex, structured transactions building unprecedented dominance. Despite higher volatility levels than in 2005 and a very promising M&A outlook, this trend is likely to continue in 2006. Peter Koh reports.
  • The US commercial real estate CDO market is the one to watch in 2006 for volumes and new opportunities.
  • In 2005, the Nikkei equity index shot ahead by 40% while 10-year Japanese government bond yields inched higher by just 15bp.
  • Investment banks take their branding very, very seriously. The agonizing over choice of name, fonts and colour schemes can be endless – and extremely costly.
  • The UK’s Financial Services Authority is working on rules for UK covered bonds. Bankers hope that the regulator will announce at the February 7 Zurich meeting of the European Covered Bond Council plans for a framework for UK financial institutions. Abbey, HBOS, Northern Rock, Nationwide and Bradford & Bingley have all issued covered bonds using UK contract law. But because the UK has not introduced a special public supervision, UK covered bonds attract a 20% risk weighting for BIS restricted investors as opposed to the 10% enjoyed by investors for bonds issued where there is such supervision or specific covered bond law. This puts the UK issuers at a disadvantage as their bonds price wider. This development is a volte-face by the regulator. It initially had a conservative stance on the structure, placing an unofficial limit on the proportion of their overall balance sheets UK issuers could sell as covered bonds.
  • KfW inaugurated its 2006 euro benchmark programme with a blowout €5 billion 15-year deal, the first time the German agency has issued in this maturity. The deal is able to take full advantage of demand from pension funds and insurers for long-dated assets. Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch had a €10 billion order book after just one day. Pricing was 2 basis points through the 15-year swaps rate or 11bp over the April 2021 OAT.
  • Emerging market sovereigns that issue heavily in debt markets should prepare for higher borrowing costs.
  • Second-tier triple-A issuers have an opportunity to close the funding gap on KfW and EIB.
  • The borrower makes disappointing start to wave of telco financing.