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February 2010

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  • The sale by the state-owned Financial Institutions Development Fund (FIDF) of a 47.58% stake in Siam City Bank is the last opportunity for a foreign bank to enter the Thai market, given the government’s declaration that new licences are unlikely to be granted in the short term. The deal is also perhaps in another way the last opportunity for the bidders involved. With war chests of acquisition capital at the ready and managements eager to capitalize on the financial crisis to snap up opportunities, both Korea Development Bank (KDB) and HSBC have been looking to buy in Asia – with limited success so far.
  • Governor leaves after stand off; $6.6bln transfer at root of conflict
  • UBS and Morgan Stanley beef up to regain market share; Broader competition from the French banks
  • High yield, Korea, financials among key themes; China the top local-currency market
  • First bond issue of the year gets plenty of bids; fails in secondary trading; Fears that Greece might have to keep raising premium to attract investors
  • The International Finance Corporation has launched the first restructuring fund aimed at central and eastern Europe following the economic crisis. The private-sector arm of the World Bank has teamed up with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and CRG Capital, a distressed asset specialist, and plans to raise €200 million. The three partners have committed a total of €36 million and hope to bring on board another leading investor within the next couple of months.
  • Banco do Brasil considering US acquisitions; M&A volumes expected to pick up
  • Capital regulators tighten rules; Banks required to set aside more capital
  • CLS Group and Traiana, Icap’s post-trade company, have announced that their joint venture to provide trade aggregation services went live at the end of January. The joint venture says that the system, named CLSAS, will alleviate the processing burdens on participating banks by as much as 90%. The technology behind the system is Traiana’s Harmony network.
  • Ossi Grübel, the chief executive of UBS, has told Euromoney that rumours linking Bill Winters, the former co-head of investment banking at JPMorgan, with his own position were without foundation.
  • Platforms form lobby group to counter proposals
  • As foreign exchange finds itself under the same legislative spotlight as other asset classes, it looks as if only options and non-deliverable forwards (NDFs) will be have to be cleared through a central counterparty (CCP) in the US. But such legislation might prove very difficult to enforce.
  • Selective devaluation only of short-term efficacy; Power supply crisis looms
  • Standard Bank has hired Celal Çelikcan as managing director, Turkey. Çelikcan was previously a principal trader at Citi in London, although he was at one time the bank’s treasurer in Istanbul.
  • After last year’s gas war with Ukraine, Russia began 2010 with the opening of a new front in its energy disputes with former Soviet states. At the start of the year the Kremlin cut off oil supplies to Belarus via the Druschba (Friendship) pipeline in a spat over prices and transit fees. The pipeline supplies Belarus as well as 75% of Poland’s oil and 15% of Germany’s. The dispute, which pushed oil prices to a two-month high of $81, once again highlights the hot/cold relationship Russia has with some of its neighbours.
  • Record number of funds seek cash; Debt appetite returns
  • Keith Dack has joined UBS, where he will run the bank’s proprietary team in Singapore. Dack, who will report to Dave Tait, has had a long and illustrious career in FX. Over the past 30 years he has worked at Fical, Northern Trust, BCI, Bankers, Barclays, Salomons, DLJ, RBC, Nomura and Commerz, which he joined when it took over Dresdner.
  • Newedge, the global exchange-traded products clearer and broker, has become the first foreign company to be granted a full futures licence by the Korea Financial Services Commission. The company is now able to offer all products listed on the Korea Exchange (KRX), which includes currency products.
  • Marchenko plays down Eurobond option; Bank restructurings nearing completion
  • Local players and foreign firms show interest; Expansion capital and turnaround opportunities sought
  • Funds want more issuance, please; Non-prime ABS will face period of higher financing costs
  • BNP Paribas’ push into prime brokerage took another step forward in January when it was announced it had signed up as an EBS FX prime bank. "Joining EBS as a prime bank is an important part of BNP Paribas’ strategy to build out our prime brokerage offering. Our ambition is to become a top five FX house globally and our prime brokerage business is a vital part of realizing that ambition. Our current strength and potential for future growth in FX prime brokerage stems from factors including our strong balance sheet and a credit rating that makes us a particularly desirable counterparty," says Nathaniel Litwak, the bank’s head of marketing for FX prime brokerage.
  • Hotspot says it is now averaging around $30 billion a day in spot transactions, and it will publish its monthly volume statistics from now on. According to John Miesner, the company’s global head of sales, and Bill Goodbody, its business manager, Hotspot completely rethought its business model when it was taken over by Knight Capital for what looked like a modest $77.5 million four years ago. The upshot of this was the ultimate decision to concentrate fully on institutional rather than retail FX. This resulted in Hotspot selling its retail operations to FXCM in January 2009.
  • BNP Paribas has hired Deane Nuttall from Harmonic Capital. Sources say he will work in hedge fund sales and develop the bank’s commodity trading advisor (CTA) franchise with a focus on high-frequency accounts. Nuttall will report to Miranda Royston, BNP Paribas’ head of hedge fund sales.
  • Gain Capital has launched a new platform, GTX, which is aimed at the bigger-ticket market. The company says that means qualifying financial institutions, hedge funds, CTAs, high-frequency traders, broker/dealers and high-net-worth individuals. The platform provides order-book depth and integration with Traiana’s Harmony post-trade solution.
  • GFT has hired Paul Chesterton from CMC Markets as a sales trader for its UK dealing team. Chesterton, who is a familiar face on CNBC, has extensive experience in the industry – he has also worked at Finspreads and IG Index.
  • Hungary’s prime minister believes action taken by his government has helped to stabilize the country’s finances but says that the reform process must continue if it is to become a more competitive economy.
  • Saudi banks often set aside most of their provisions for bad debt in the fourth quarter. Last year, there was more reason to do so, as debt problems at the local Saad and Al Gosaibi groups emerged in May and information only came out gradually.
  • Average daily spot jumped 32%, says FEC
  • No Christmas joy for RBS, where the exodus of staff continued right up to December 25. The latest departure from its FX sales force is Juan Urdaneta, who was director global FX bank sales and is off to Santander. The bank has also lost Paolo Comerci, head of gap risk.