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March 2006

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  • International cash management meets the global challenge
  • Jorge Maortua, deputy head of global wholesale banking for Grupo Santander and the group’s head of treasury services, is running a fast-growing business. Perhaps more important, his division, while finding alternatives to traditional low-margin lending, is building key relationships with the bank’s clients, including small and medium-size enterprises.
  • Lawyers are cashing in by advising managements of public companies in ways to ward off evil hedge fund activists. But activism, handled with decorum, can be positive for management and investors. And who better to be an activist than a hedge fund manager? Helen Avery reports.
  • US state’s decision to pass a law protecting a bank from shareholder activists is seen as a setback for investors.
  • Brazil’s biggest private sector bank has announced the creation of a new subsidiary, Bradesco Investment Bank. This will focus on all aspects of the local and international capital markets business as well as asset management. Bradesco is a retail powerhouse but the bank’s CEO, Marcio Cypriano, is keen to take advantage of growing capital markets activity from Brazilian entities. Cypriano told Euromoney last year: “In general, we should be bigger and better in capital markets. That business should closely match Bradesco’s retail performance.” [See Euromoney December 2005, “Bradesco's plan of attack”.]
  • With the notable exception of Deutsche Bank, German investment banks’ performance has lagged their French peers for most of the decade. But the German sector is picking up on new market possibilities, with Commerzbank in particular looking to rebuild its business after a dramatic recovery. Philip Moore reports.
  • 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.
  • “We’ve made $100 billion of investments in the past few years. We have to be number one in every product, in every market. We have no choice. There’s no other way to go.”
  • “Citigroup should wipe the floor with everyone in credit derivatives. What happened?”
  • Acquired asset managers often fail to fulfil their promise, as Deutsche Bank has found more than once. But Deutsche’s parachuting of Axel Schwarzer into US firm DWS Scudder looks set to be a success story.
  • Manic demand for returns is putting Latin American issuers in the driving seat, calling the shots on subjects such as length of maturity, target investor base and restructuring opportunities. Theodore Kim reports.
  • Latin America’s local-currency markets are no longer a sideshow for esoteric investors. Today, many emerging market portfolio managers have exposure. But, as Felix Salmon reports, the growth of domestic supply and demand will drive these markets forward.
  • Further consolidation in Latin America’s banking industry is expected on the back of strong economic growth and financial stability. Foreign banks, which were active acquirers in the 1990s, are expected to play a big part in this. Leticia Lozano reports.
  • Latin American companies are shedding reputations for irresponsible management to become competitors, and even leaders, in the global markets. So much so that some don’t even want to be considered Latin any more. Lawrence White analyses the results of Euromoney’s first survey of the best-managed companies in the region.
  • 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.
  • Conflict over oil and gas supplies is set to fuel tension between western Europe and Russia in coming years.
  • The organizers of Rosneft’s IPO, tentatively scheduled for October or November, are considering placing the shares in Tokyo as well as in Russia and London, according to Valery Nazarov, head of the Federal Property Management Agency. However, he has so far ruled out a simultaneous flotation.
  • Italy’s Intesa has won the battle to acquire an 85.42% stake in Ukrsotsbank, Ukraine’s fourth-largest bank. The bank has 527 branches and serves more than 660,000 customers. Banca Intesa says that it values the bank at $1.3 billion and that its total investment will amount to $1.61 billion, including the share capital increase. Intesa already owns banks in Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia and Serbia & Montenegro.
  • Kazkommertsbank sold a S$100 million ($61 million) bond last month, the first ever Singapore dollar-denominated issue from a Kazakh issuer. European investors bought 65% of the three-year paper, with the rest divided between Asian and offshore US accounts. Singapore government securities offer very low absolute rates, and the deal’s success was attributed to the pick-up and currency diversification that it offered.
  • Fitch and S&P put Nigeria’s risk of default on the same level as Brazil and Turkey.
  • Flushed with the success of its 2005 activities, with more than $20 billion raised through privatizations for the Turkish treasury, the country’s privatization administration wants to reattempt the sale of tobacco firm Tekel. The government’s latest attempt to sell the firm was just last year, but no bids were received. This was blamed on an increase in tax on tobacco products. It also tried, but failed, to sell the company in 2003. Other entities slated for privatization this year include Halkbank, petrochemicals firm Petkim and Turkish Airlines.
  • The market is attractive to potential foreign acquirers, but the process of acquisition is proving far from easy. Patrick Gill reports.
  • How will money be made in emerging markets debt when bid-ask margins are anorexic and expected returns uncompetitive?
  • Foreign investors are back in Thailand to scoop up bargains. The timing couldn’t be better for a new drive to develop the capital markets but politics could get in the way of some important deals. Peter Koh reports.
  • 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.
  • A US Federal court case may force Congress to consider amendments to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
  • The problems of open-ended real estate funds might pave the way for the rapid success of Reits.
  • 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.
  • The number of Middle East-based hedge funds is set to increase. In January, Abu Dhabi headquartered First Gulf Bank launched the first hedge fund of significance in the region. The fund, Al Saqer (“the Falcon”), is a macro-strategy hedge fund and has a capitalization of Dh3 billion ($817 million).