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June 2008

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  • Reaz Islam, head of Citi’s Falcon Strategies hedge funds, is leaving the bank.
  • Malayan Bank, Malaysia’s biggest lender, has acquired 15% of Pakistan’s MCB Bank, Pakistan’s fourth-largest bank by asset value. This is the Malaysian bank’s third acquisition in Asia in two months and the largest banking acquisition in Pakistan.
  • The region’s importance could mean more banking officials relocating there.
  • Having been hit by a series of defections in recent months, Deutsche Bank has acquired a new head for its Russian business.
  • Following the retirement of John Fleming at Credit Suisse and ABN Amro’s Paul White, another longstanding debt syndicate head has left his role. Lorenzo Frontini, who ran European debt syndicate at Lehman Brothers for four years has moved to origination within the bank’s global finance division. Frontini is a Lehman veteran with 11 years experience, and now will run coverage for Italian financial institutions. He reports to European co-heads of global finance Philippe Dufournier and Richard Atterbury and geographically to Riccardo Banchettti, CEO of Italy.
  • Martin Egan is the new global head of debt capital markets at BNP Paribas. Egan maintains his role as head of primary markets where he oversees fixed income syndicate.
  • Why has idiosyncratic Idzik exited? In early May, it seeped out that Paul Idzik, Barclays’ chief operating officer, had decided to leave the UK bank. And for a while, all anyone wanted to discuss was the Idzik exodus.
  • Series of opportunistic buybacks is ruffling feathers in the loan market.
  • Permanent deal is the most exciting thing for a very long time.
  • Star money manager Bill Miller has framed the questions that the mainstream asset management industry must answer. Hedge funds will be rubbing their hands with glee.
  • When a medical doctor with close ties to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was appointed as minister of finance many were surprised. Surapong Suebwonglee has worked hard to woo Thai people and foreign investors with tax cuts, capital markets reforms and a focus on growth. Lawrence White met him on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank meeting.
  • The recent burst of issuance in Spain appears to have run its course, but the news is better in Portugal.
  • New president Ma Ying-jeou is intent on improving relations with the People’s Republic of China, with likely benefits for business, especially in financial services. Chris Wright reports.
  • Despite conflicting views on the state of the economy and uncertainty caused by political unrest, banks are riding high on mortgage lending and consumer loans. There is still huge untapped potential for credit cards. High interest rates remain the fly in the ointment, however. Julian Marshall reports.
  • When BlackRock announced in May that it would be buying $15 billion of UBS’s sub-prime mortgages, for some market participants it signalled the bottom of the mortgage-backed securities market. But house prices are still falling. Is US real estate still too risky? Helen Avery goes doorstepping.
  • The billionaire investor is one of the world’s most successful buyers of distressed assets. He talks to Sudip Roy in New York about value destruction, a Middle East partnership and his strategy for the future.
  • Financial institutions’ woes are not at an end. Non-deposit institutions still have losses to book and the whole credit creation model is broken. So a quick and easy upturn from the credit crisis is not to be expected.
  • The Angolan government wants foreign companies to divest part of their stakes in their subsidiaries to the country’s wealthiest companies as part of its strategy to localize key assets.
  • After a year that has been ruthless in its revelation of sub-par debt services, the Euromoney debt poll reveals which banks have managed to survive the credit crunch with their reputations, and their client bases, still intact.
  • The commodity price boom masks fundamental questions about the value of commodity investments in a portfolio, the choice of commodities and the most constructive use of indices. Euromoney’s debate panel grapples with the crucial issues.
  • If you don’t know what to buy friends who invested in Bear Stearns to cheer them up, look no further than eBay. For just $17.99 the bidding website is offering a T-shirt with the slogan: "I invested my life savings with Bear Stearns and all I have left is this lousy t-shirt." The item had received no bids by time we went to press but other interesting Bear Stearns memorabilia was faring better. Among the 24 Bear Stearns-related items up for grabs on the website is a Bear Stearns hard hat, a Bear Stearns aviator Teddy Bear, and a sealed deck of cards issued to Bear Stearns employees to mark the 50th anniversary of Ace Greenberg’s joining the firm.
  • Euromoney: What was the reasoning behind the latest reorganization?
  • "There are no second acts in American lives," wrote F Scott Fitzgerald towards the end of his own monochrome career. He can’t have been talking about Wall Street: as anyone who has tracked the career of John Meriwether will know, third, fourth and fifth acts are perfectly possible. Perhaps more careers have taken a dramatic turn in the present crisis than was the case when the hedge fund LTCM failed; for those seeking an uplifting plot twist, a stage name might come in handy. Euromoney has noticed that merely shuffling the letters in the names of some victims of the credit crisis produces plausible pseudonyms, and respectfully presents the stars of tomorrow: Enterprising readers might wish to suggest their own anagrams: Euromoney confesses to being stumped by Jonathan Chenevix-Trench, former COO of Morgan Stanley’s institutional securities business.
  • Most US hedge fund managers are pessimistic about the US economy this year, according to a survey by Kinetic Partners.
  • "I don’t think it’s a Great Depression, I don’t think it’s Armageddon but I think that it’s purely wishful thinking for people to be forecasting a sharp V-shaped recovery in the second half of the year"
  • It seems that life at the UK Treasury is far more relaxing since the credit crunch hit last summer. According to figures released by the Treasury, staff took in total an average of 166 days off a month because of stress-related illnesses in the first half of 2007, while in the second half of the year the figure was 106 days.
  • The usually laborious task of bringing a new exchange traded fund product to market in the US looks set to become a thing of the past once new SEC rules come into play.
  • Many voices have called an end to structured credit. And yet, amid the continued retrenchment and fallout from several years of excessive activity, there are signs that this structuring technique is far from dead: its proponents are merely reshaping the technology. Alex Chambers reports.
  • A commodity boom masks fundamental problems in the Brazilian economy, observers argue.
  • Standard Chartered and the International Finance Corporation have joined forces to launch the first-ever issuance of credit-linked notes backed by loans to microfinance institutions (MFIs) in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.