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March 2006

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  • International cash management meets the global challenge
  • It’s not easy to see, but behind the trillions of dollars of FX trading a collision between new technology and traditional banking is changing the economics and mechanics of the business. So far, participants talk politely of cooperation.
  • Conflict over oil and gas supplies is set to fuel tension between western Europe and Russia in coming years.
  • With Mario Draghi taking up a position on the European Central Bank’s governing council, and Jürgen Stark set to be the next new member, the inner sanctum is likely to become more pragmatic than doctrinaire.
  • It hasn’t been the easiest of starts to 2006 for Citigroup in Asia, with continuing integration challenges at its Korean banking acquisition and difficult negotiations with existing and future partners over its China strategy [see Citigroup fails to solve the China conundrum, this issue]. Now Citi’s China strategy will need to be reconsidered after the departures of chief rainmakers Francis Leung and Wei Christianson.
  • In Japan emerges from the shadows, February issue, we reported that Nikko Citigroup had led a ¥120 billion domestic bond deal for Sanyo last September. In fact, the deal was for Sony. Apologies to all concerned.
  • Asian-based hedge funds generated 30% of all reported commissions earned by brokers over the past 12 months on trades of Asian stocks.
  • Javier Lazaro has joined Credit Suisse as head of global markets solutions covering Spain and Portugal from Goldman Sachs’s leveraged finance group. He will report to Paul Raphael, head of European equity capital markets, and Marisa Drew and Craig Klaasmeyer, co-heads of European leveraged finance origination.
  • Stock market reforms and restructuring portend further share price rises. There is money to be made, say fund managers, for those with patience and diligence.
  • This could be just the beginning of a battle between exchanges and their users.
  • As China’s banks continue their rapid restructuring, government and regulators are already mapping out the future for the industry. “One word is becoming very important in China’s banking sector – deregulation,” says Zhang Jinguo, president of Bank of Communications (Bocom). “Banks in the west were talking about this in the 1980s and 1990s. We’ve been talking about this only since last year.” The People’s Bank of China, the mainland’s central bank, wants several so-called universal banks to emerge. That, say China bankers, means huge opportunities for mergers and acquisitions of banks and other financial services businesses such as securities firms and insurance companies.
  • Goldman Sachs might still be the firm to beat when it comes to global M&A but it has just lost the chairman of its European investment banking business, Claudio Costamagna, who will leave this month after 17 years at the firm.
  • The FSA took a couple of years but the UK regulator has finally accepted the concept of covered bonds; the Netherlands will be next.
  • Our December cover story, The problem with foreign exchange, has sparked debate about the structure of today's FX market. Responses to the feature are still arriving at the Euromoney office.
  • Financial sponsors now account for an important chunk of advisory fees, but not all banks are cashing in.
  • Cheyne Capital Management sold one of the largest-ever European arbitrage CLOs last month via Nomura. The €1 billion Cheyne Credit Opportunity CDO 1 incorporated several structural features to overcome problems that could arise from its relatively large size. In contrast to typical CLOs, which are normally half the size, 40% ramped up at launch and have around a year to complete sourcing loans, Cheyne Credit Opportunity has a two-year time period to ramp up fully. This extra flexibility will be particularly useful. The competition for leveraged loans will be greater than ever, given that an estimated 35 CLOs are operating this year, compared with about 25 last year.
  • Dave Tait has not only had a long and successful career in the FX market, but he has also climbed some notable peaks outside of the trading environment.
  • ESG
    Invest with female mutual fund managers to save on trading costs
  • Jollibee Bee, mascot, all dressed up to collect company's award for Best-managed consumer goods company in Asia.
  • The ASEAN tigers: back with a roar?
  • “Probably a good idea” was how a leading market participant described the news that the International Capital Market Association (Icma), the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (Isda) and The Bond Market Association (TBMA) have formed a Global Capital Markets Board (GCMB).
  • Regulators outnumbered the regulated at a meeting at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on February 16. Representatives of 15 bank and securities regulators and exchanges were relieved to hear that the world’s 14 largest credit derivatives dealers had fulfilled their promise, made last October, to cut by 30% the number of credit derivatives trades remaining unconfirmed for 30 days or more by January 31 2006. The backlog, which arose from high-velocity trading and assignment by hedge funds in a market with underdeveloped systems for initial confirmation of trade details, had sparked widespread alarm across the industry. More good news: electronic confirmation has risen to 62% of trade volume, from 46% in September 2005.
  • LBOs and technicals have boosted betting on the continuing steepness of the European credit curve. But nothing good lasts for ever and several things could upset the apple cart.
  • The UK government’s commitment to imminent PFI transactions appears to be wavering. Have critics of the funding strategy won the argument?
  • Second-lien financings grew dramatically in 2005. Total US second-lien loan issuance alone amounted to more than $22 billion in 2005. In Europe, second-lien issuance totalled €5.75 billion in 2005, rising from €1.88 billion in 2004.
  • The Chicago Mercantile Exchange has launched a snowfall index. From the end of February, investors were able to trade snowfall futures and options based on snowfall in New York and Boston. “From municipal snow removal budgets to holiday retail sales, snowfall, or lack thereof, can have a major impact on local and regional economies,” says Scott Mathews, president of CTA WeatherEX. “Our clients will be able to hedge the expense or revenue side of the snowfall equation.” It will be a little too late for those affected by the snowstorms in New York in February. A record 27 inches of snow fell in 24 hours, costing the city an estimated $20 million.
  • There was a message of serious intent in the choice of syndicate for Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa’s proposed flotation of its Italian 3G business. The message from the market was equally clear. Despite the best efforts of Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley to get the deal away, the US$7 billion price offered by investors was simply too unpalatable for an investment that has cost Hutchison between US$8 billion and US$9 billion. The IPO was pulled.
  • The Lehman Bond Show will now be available via podcast.
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