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July 2005

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  • When JPMorgan Chase's Sedef Imer finishes her working day at the London office at the end of July, she won't be taking the tube home. Instead she's setting off to Sydney, Australia. Nothing odd in that one might think, but how about if that trip was being made on a recumbent bike (known by aficionados as "a bent").
  • Investors' willingness to accept shares in foreign-owned companies could lead to a boom in European activity
  • Bank of America announced in June its intention of investing $3 billion for a 9% stake in China Construction Bank, China's second-biggest state lender, as part of a strategic move into the country. In a deal that took the market by surprise, Bank of America stated that it had entered into agreements with CCB to provide strategic assistance in relation to, inter alia, corporate governance, risk management, credit cards, consumer banking and treasury services. Bank of America is presumably salivating over the prospect of CCB's 136 million retail accounts and 14,500 branches.
  • The bank is set to snatch Goldman's crown for the first half of 2005
  • Fund management:
  • An inflexible and costly labour market is often blamed for the eurozone's poor economic performance. But in Germany at least, times are changing. In an appeal to pure free-market economics, two Germans have launched a recruitment website where jobs go to the lowest bidder.
  • UK boutique warehouses and bulks up fund managers' troublesome unwanted shares, offering a return within three years
  • Fighting corruption, the scourge of the Philippines, was a major platform of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's election campaign in 2004. Elected, one would expect her to be proud of the zeal with which some in her administration are tackling the issue. It seems some of her colleagues were not so certain, however, and chose to take matters into their own hands.
  • The tool will track the euro against major trading currencies and provide an important non-central bank benchmark
  • Economy shows further signs of life
  • What does it take for banks and investment banks to excel? Obviously they need customers, products, capital, technology, sound strategy, good people and leadership. That's tough enough to assemble, as is managing the balance between customer business and own-account trading. But the characteristic that bankers themselves talk about most as the one that distinguishes winning firms from the rest is even tougher to define and measure. It is culture.
  • CNOOC, China's state-controlled international oil company, launched the first contested bid by a Chinese company when it announced an all-cash offer for Unocal, a US oil and gas company with assets in Asia. CNOOC's offer values Unocal equity at $18.5 billion and outbids the recommended $17 billion shares-and-cash deal from US oil major Chevron. The Chinese company's move is expected by the market to lead to a protracted bidding war.
  • Ameritrade stays independent and buys TD Waterhouse instead
  • Brokers are looking to counterbalance the effects of exchange consolidation
  • Schell to Citi Citigroup has hired Michael Schell to become vice-chairman of global banking from law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, where he was senior partner and senior member of the mergers and acquisitions group. Schell will take up his position at the beginning of August. This is the second senior hire by Citigroup into its advisory business in two months, following the recruitment of Raymond McGuire from Morgan Stanley in May.
  • The US firm's business mix is making it more difficult to bring success in the primary markets
  • In another example of Hutchison Whampoa raising cash to continue the long-term funding of its loss-making 3G business, the conglomerate announced in June the sale of stakes in Hong Kong's port operations to Singapore arch-rival PSA International. The group, led by Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-shing, announced the sale of a 20% interest in cash cow Hutchison International Terminals (HIT) and a 10% stake in Cosco-HIT, a joint venture with China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co.
  • Singapore: CAO executives charged
  • ECNs have sold themselves by claiming to offer fast, competitive, electronic execution. But research suggests only the electronic claim is true.
  • Bankers report a material shift in confidence levels among investors
  • "In 1994 banks held 70% of all loans. That's now dropped to 29%. Institutional investors now hold 64% of loans. That's not syndicated lending, it's capital markets. They need to change the name."
  • At the end of June, Kenneth Lewis, CEO of Bank of America, said that Chinese investment in the US should not be hampered. "I don't think it can be a one-way street," he argued.
  • The US economy is in a fool's paradise – Europe and Japan are by no means doomed to lag behind it. But none of these rivals can afford to abandon free trade to cope with China's massive growth
  • Whole loan sales will offer a growing funding alternative for mortgage lenders
  • Like the mariners of ancient Greece lured to their deaths by the beguiling song of the Sirens, international banks increasingly appear mesmerized by the call to invest in China's state-owned banking system.
  • Venezuela's president has begun to put his anti-capitalist rhetoric into effect
  • Greater competition and increasingly complex customer needs are forcing service providers to reassess their strategies.
  • Russia: Finance minister issues warning
  • Banks miffed at Deutsche's fees
  • Emerging-market countries will enter new territory next year. For the first time since the asset class was established in the late 1980s, these nations will become net creditors in the global economy, according to data from Fitch Ratings.