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July 2008

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  • NYSE plans rule changes to improve the competitiveness of its trading floor.
  • Perhaps Credit Suisse is seeking to reach the parts other banks dare not reach for?
  • Icap has confirmed the launch of its web-based version of EBS.
  • Tight spreads and a lack of differentiation between issuers are things of the past in the covered bond markets. But perhaps this is more “normal” than the bull market situation.
  • The announcement of the creation of a central counterparty for over-the-counter credit default swap trades has been described as one of the biggest developments in the history of the market.
  • "We’ve certainly seen some clients actively seeking out firms that have avoided the worst of the problems. I should say ‘there, but for the grace of God’... but the truth is, we’ve so far avoided massive write-downs and that’s allowed us to focus on our clients and their needs, and not have to be very focused on ourselves"
  • We could be living through the last days of the independent investment banks.
  • The 2008 Global Awards for excellence
  • Institutional investment in commodity markets is boon not bane.
  • As part of the decision-making process for the Awards for Excellence, Euromoney journalists conduct numerous interviews with senior bankers who aim to convince us why they should win.
  • As the structured finance market struggles to reinvent itself, the orgy of recrimination among constituents is intensifying.
  • Man Group has bought a 25% stake in alternative investment manager Nephila Capital. The Bermuda-based manager specializes in insurance-based instruments such as catastrophe bonds, weather derivatives and insurance-linked securities.
  • Euromoney’s awards for excellence recognize the banks that have best performed under difficult conditions over the past year. But what of the CEOs? Profile is everything but how can one really judge the most influential chiefs of the world’s biggest banks?
  • Barings, Castlepoint, AIG, Eclectica, to name but a few, have all set up agriculture funds in the past 12 months to cash in on expected commodity price increases. And if returns to date are anything to go by, more will be joining them.
  • Jack Jeffery, former chief executive of EBS, has joined option pricing specialist SuperDerivatives as chief operations officer. Jeffery will lead SuperDerivatives’ management team and oversee the execution of its business strategy. He will be based in London. The company has also employed Anton Aucamp, who worked with Jeffery at EBS, as its head of marketing.
  • 'The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable' is an excellent read, but anyone who talks about the credit crunch in these terms is not being intellectually honest.
  • Underlying the headlines are distortions in the market that can be overcome by liberalization.
  • The firm appears to have timed the launch of its upgraded option system to perfection.
  • Standard Chartered has opened a branch in Paris to tap into the considerable flow it already sees from French corporates and financial institutions. The bank says the branch will facilitate access for those French firms looking to capitalize on the huge investment flows between key markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The team in Paris will be led by Raoul Leblanc.
  • Many hedge funds are significantly more hedged that they were one year ago, says Steve Gross, principal of Penso Capital Markets, a New York asset management and risk management firm.
  • Last month’s Global ABS conference in Cannes was shaping up to be more of a wake than its usual annual party as things in the market went from bad to worse in the first quarter this year. But speakers at the event in June were (not surprisingly, given what they do for a living) determinedly upbeat about the market’s prospects. "We come to praise Caesar, not to bury him," declared Clifford Chance’s Kevin Ingram in the opening panel.
  • Drake Management, the $11 billion global macro fund, has said it will be shutting its two remaining funds after poor performance. Its largest fund dropped 24% last year. Anthony Faillace, Drake’s CIO, has built up a solid reputation, however, after the fund returned more than 40% in 2006. The firm is expected to create some successor funds for investors that want to stay with it.
  • FSA forces disclosure of significant short positions in companies undertaking rights issues while issuers look for a quicker route to market.
  • The belief that Libor is an actual rate at which banks lend substantial money to one another is a façade that the credit crunch has torn down with a vengeance.
  • Brazilian mining company Vale announced on June 12 that it had requested permission to issue $14 billion in shares to raise cash for acquisitions and growth. Vale, the world’s largest producer of iron ore, has filed with the Brazilian securities and exchange commission to sell an unspecified number of common and preferred class-A shares in Brazil and abroad, as well as US traded ADRs. In a statement the company said the money would help fund a $59 billion investment plan.
  • International investors clearly still have faith in the growth prospects for banks in Kazakhstan, despite the fact that the global credit crunch has hit the country harder than arguably anywhere else in emerging Europe. In late June, Alnair Capital, a private equity group backed by capital from Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nayhan, announced its intention to take a 25% stake in Kazkommertsbank, the country’s second-biggest bank by assets.
  • OGX, the Brazilian mining company owned by billionaire Eike Batista, and the Bolsa Mexicana de Valores, the Mexican stock exchange, both came to market last month with landmark IPOs. They were important deals in a number of respects, including getting Latin primary market issuance going again this year. At least as significant was the emergence of China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corporation, as an investor in Latin American IPOs.
  • Ceiba Investments, a closed-end fund that invests solely in Cuban assets, is set to list its shares on London junior market AIM this month.
  • The transatlantic exchange group this June announced a strategic partnership with the State of Qatar to invest $250 million in a 25% stake in the Doha Securities Market. The DSM will adopt NYSE Euronext technology and gain an international partner while NYSE Euronext will gain a foothold in the fast expanding Middle East.
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