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February 2011

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  • The capital markets experienced peaks and trough in 2010. The first quarter saw Greece descending into chaos, the second an EU bailout solution, then relative calm before the bond markets took Ireland down. Deal volumes were down but the year’s top deals set some defining trends. Hamish Risk and Peter Lee report.
  • In his time as UK secretary of state for business, enterprise and regulatory reform, Lord Mandelson sometimes found it necessary to castigate investment bankers with sharp words, once attacking then Barclays Capital chief executive Bob Diamond for deriving "unacceptable and quite obscene earnings" from work that consisted of merely "making deals, not building businesses" and with none of the virtues of true entrepreneurship. But Lord Mandelson is not one to hold grudges and within a year of this attack has become an investment banker himself of a sort, as a senior adviser to Lazard. The firm expects Mandelson to do roughly one day’s work a week for his undisclosed annual fee. "He’s not a full-time employee, but this is a proper job," says a Lazard source. "This firm doesn’t make ceremonial appointments. He’ll role up his sleeves, attend meetings, deal directly with clients at times."
  • Some disgruntled clients grumble darkly about their underwriters. Some vow never to work with them again. And some write a song about their incompetence, call them "motherfuckers", and distribute it on the Chinese internet.
  • "I got an email from a superior asking if I thought it was a good deal. I gave a two-letter answer. Suffice to say the industry is stunned"
  • Although Islamic finance has performed better in Asia than in the Middle East, the sector faced one of its tougher years in 2010. The industry’s future is not secured yet, and the boasts of the boom years have been replaced by introspection and a focus on sustainability. Dominic O’Neill reports.
  • Bankers aren’t yet being burnt at the stake but the Irish have formulated a handy alternative. A scrap dealer is auctioning the chance to publicly destroy the repossessed BMW of the bankrupt former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, Sean FitzPatrick. As Euromoney went to press, a bidder had already offered €5,200 for the chance to push the button on the scrapyard’s crushing machine: presumably in front of a cheering crowd and assembled press.
  • It is one of the eternal unknowns of the bond market, a riddle wrapped inside a mystery inside an enigma: who is going to buy contingent capital notes?
  • "If there’s one thing I learned from being treasurer of Morgan Stanley it is never to buy structured products from derivatives people"
  • The inadequacy of investment banks’ risk management systems was glaringly exposed during the financial crisis. Since then, the industry has sought to understand what went wrong. Will the banks be better prepared next time? Dawn Cowie investigates.
  • Goldman Sachs posted weak fourth-quarter results in January and released a code of revised business principles that threatened to slow its legendary speed in closing deals.
  • The financial crisis proved almost as tough for wealth managers as it did for investment bankers. They have worked hard to redeem reputations and improve services. The heads of the world’s eight leading private banks tell Helen Avery how they are giving clients the returns they expect.
  • Renewed growth and prospects of active capital markets and M&A business in 2011 have put both global and domestic private banks in a bullish mood. Guy Norton reports.
  • Domestic banks and well-established foreign rivals are fighting hard for a share of a high-net-worth asset base expected to grow at double-digit rates. With foreign banks’ involvement in the global crisis fresh in potential clients’ minds, domestic banks might just have the edge. Elliot Wilson reports.
  • The private banking industry is coming of age in China, as the number of new millionaires in the country rockets. Foreign and local banks are rushing to offer them wealth management services. Clients have sky-high expectations, and meeting them will be tough.
  • According to the heads of the world’s largest and most successful global private banks, the main driver of revenue growth for 2011, and for several years to come, will be rich individuals in Asia and Latin America. So adamant are they that this is where growth lies that the top-10 global private banks aim to add a combined 1,000 or so employees in those regions over the next 12 months.
  • Offering third-party products proved no panacea in the financial crisis, yet clients still distrust an exclusively in-house approach. As the focus returns to increasing revenues, private banks are rethinking their models. Helen Avery reports.
  • With the number of high-net-worth Brazilians increasing rapidly, private banking is buoyant but highly competitive. However, customers’ preference for safe fixed-income investments restricts margins and banks are trying to foster more lucrative products. Rob Dwyer reports.
  • Majority of banks say focus on tax evasion to blame; ‘Secrecy’ now ‘confidentiality’, tax ‘avoidance’ now ‘evasion’?
  • New categories of participants, electronic trading and the use of algorithms have had profound effects on liquidity and pricing in the FX market, which now offer a real opportunity to manage macro events.
  • Many investors in structured credit deals are anxiously awaiting the outcome of SEC investigations into a number of CDO transactions, hoping that they will be able to bring lawsuits of their own if the banks are forced to settle. But the statute of limitations means that they might have already left it too late.
  • Credit Suisse retains the global overall crown but it’s all change in the regional and country results.
  • In the second part of Euromoney’s cash management roundtable, the participants look at the effect of volatility in foreign exchange and commodity prices and how new products are giving treasurers more investment options.
  • Morse’s Primus group loses out – again; Regulators still uneasy about mainland money
  • Part of south-south trade flow trend; More such deals are likely
  • New S&P ranking claims serious shortfalls at Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley.
  • Affluenza has caught a cold. Those hoping to piggyback off an ever expanding middle-class piggybank should take due note.
  • Germany’s fragmenting political scene tends towards stasis on big decisions, with key voting groups settling for conservatism. It bodes ill for the country’s role in solving EU problems.
  • John Havens takes over day-to-day running of the firm; Vikram Pandit concentrates on strategy
  • Growth is good for emerging economies but overheating is an ever-present danger. Governments are still failing to devise suitable cooling measures.