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June 2012

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  • In my last column, I predicted that the over-hyped Facebook initial public offering was an ominous sign for the health of equity markets. Nevertheless, Facebook and flop were not words I expected to see in the same sentence. I was wrong. I’ve watched some deals backfire during my time as a Euromoney columnist: the listings of Bumi and Blackstone come to mind as well as Prudential’s grandiose plan in 2010 to purchase AIA, the former Asian arm of AIG. But the Facebook IPO is one of the biggest collapsed soufflés of them all.
  • Knowing your client is a big part of any business relationship. Finding out what they like to do, what their interests are and developing an understanding of their personality is vital. So when Mark Zuckerberg turned up for Facebook’s much vaunted and, as it later turned out, hugely anticlimactic initial public offering on Nasdaq, he must have been delighted that Bob Greifeld, the exchange’s chief executive, had taken note of two of Zuckerberg’s most obvious non-geeky interests: dressing-down and hoodies.
  • Someone whom I’m sure is of similar mind is Stuart Gulliver, chief executive of HSBC. Since ascending to the Tai Pan role, Gulliver has kept a studiously low profile while sticking to plan A. In May 2011, Gulliver announced the results of a strategic review that could have been entitled: "Focus is the price to pay for excellence."
  • China’s wealthy are growing rapidly in number. But the private banking industry’s capacity to cater for them is still limited, not least because of the restricted range of products on offer and the need to educate clients. In this discussion private banking experts consider prospects for wealth management development in this dynamic economy.
  • Last month I mused about the 2012 compensation for Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond and whether the large package was justified. I received some interesting feedback on this topic. One source pointed out that a large part of the £20 million number I had referred to was vesting shares, accumulated during previous years when Diamond was head of the investment bank. Source went on to state that if Diamond and his advisers were more in touch with sentiment in the country, they might have realized that even though every item of the compensation package could be justified, it was simply not appropriate to snaffle all the moolah at once. "Why not put some of it in a charitable foundation?" source queried. "Or put it in trust until the share price rises by 30% so investors feel good about Diamond getting paid?"
  • "Investing for impact is the most important evolution in investing we have seen in our lifetime"
  • "What do you mean it’s a big job? President of the USA is a big job, but he doesn’t have a co-president!"
  • The Icma held its 44th AGM in Milan in May – a packed event at which the industry’s great and good wrestled with the many challenges facing the market. Before the meeting, however, the organizers must have wrestled with one aspect of the venue, the stock exchange in Milan’s Piazza Affari. It is home to both the Borsa Italiana and a 36-foot sculpture by Italy’s most famous contemporary artist, Maurizio Cattelan, the meaning of which is hard to misinterpret. The giant hand, with middle finger extended, has been a feature of the square since 2010, when it was originally meant to be on display for just 10 days. But the Milanese seem to have taken it to heart, and it has remained, dubbed by the locals ‘il dito’ (the finger).
  • It may be a poor relation to the Rugby Sevens, but in football-mad Asia the Citi Soccer Sevens, held in Hong Kong, is starting to gain a strong following.
  • Santander spends huge sums promoting its brand in the glorified world of Grand Prix racing. It sponsors races across continents. Its chairman Emilio Botín is often seen in the pit lane.
  • Some stories cause you to raise an eyebrow, others make you gasp out loud. In the past year, there have been a few gasp-out-loud stories.
  • As if Dimon’s fall from grace wasn’t bad enough, markets are also battling with Grexit demons. ‘Grexit’ is a new word that has entered the financial lexicon along with ‘financial repression’ and ‘the great recession’.
  • The dim sum bond market gets the headlines, as deal-driven capital markets always do. But while the emergence of the offshore renminbi bond market is remarkable, the truth is that many banks are likely to make a lot more money out of the lower-profile work that flows from the internationalization of China’s currency.
  • The Portuguese authorities and people are buckling down to structural reform. But putting the economy onto a growth path is a daunting task, especially when that growth needs to come from the country’s uncompetitive exporters.
  • The country’s banking system had a bad crisis. Cheap funding, overcapacity and poor business models led too many banks to buy rogue assets. But as it returns to health, is there now a shortage of capital to fund needed consolidation?
  • Transaction banking in an increasingly attractive business to be in. And the best way to gain a foothold is through financial institutions.
  • Two years ago, Deutsche Bank beat a host of rival suitors to secure the services of China rainmaker Henry Cai. His task: to make the bank punch harder in the lucrative Asian equities business. Progress has been made, but does Deutsche have what it takes to reach the summit in Asia?
  • The country has come a long way in transforming a reputation as an opaque, corrupt state into a model open economy with aspirations to be a regional hub in trade and finance. But can its achievements survive the political upheaval threatened by elections?
  • Mongolia’s mining industry is booming. Now the country’s stock exchange and banking sector must rapidly modernize to support it.
  • Philanthropy debate participants share how:
    • social impact bonds are structured and when they are launching;
    • foundations and family offices are looking to work with governments to solve social issues;
    • impact investing will boost the microfinance industry;
    • private banks and asset managers are developing impact investing products and platforms.
  • CIMB’s acquisition of RBS’s Asia-Pacific investment banking business looks set to propel the Malaysian bank into a leading position in the region. But the full benefits, as CIMB CEO Nazir Razak recognizes, will materialize only if regional integration comes to fruition.
  • QInvest to inject $250 million; Eyes expansion in Africa, Asia
  • Eurozone woes take centre stage; Regional self-reliance comes to the fore
  • Eased IPO rules might boost dual listings; Attractive opportunities for retail investors
  • Expects to build a strong niche position; Courting international investors
  • Impact investing – putting money to work both for profit and social impact – is in its infancy as an industry. But it has the potential to become part of the fabric of financial markets. A group of leading wealth managers, foundations and sector specialists discuss how impact investment will develop, and the challenges they face.
  • Financial institutions deals prominent; Chinese outbound M&A on the rise
  • Emerging market investors’ preferred sovereign borrower is now taking on its richer EU neighbours in the competition for funding. Anna Suszynska, deputy director of the public debt department in Poland, tells Euromoney about its issuance strategy.
  • Four of the top five corporates in the emerging markets asset class of Euromoney’s survey are Latin American, signalling a renewed strength in the region, as Mexico takes second place in the sovereign rankings.
  • Institutional investors tell us which analysts have made the best calls in the past 12 months. An invaluable guide to investors looking to diversify their European portfolios.