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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.
  • The problems of open-ended real estate funds might pave the way for the rapid success of Reits.
  • Arcelor, the Luxembourg-based steel company that has in the past preferred not to use bank advisers, is wheeling out the big guns to defend it against the €18.6 billion ($22.1 billion) hostile bid from Mittal Steel. It has just hired Morgan Stanley, which will join BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, UBS and Merrill Lynch in advising it. Most of the main advisory firms are involved in the hostile bid on one side or the other. Mittal Steel is being advised by Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Société Générale and Citigroup.
  • 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.
  • The rapid influx of new managers to the CDO market is a staffing headache for established players.
  • 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.
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