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March 2008

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  • Published in conjuction with: ABN Amro - BNP Paribas - Citi - Commerzbank - Deutsche Bank - Fortis - HSBC - ING - Rabobank - SEB - Société Générale - Standard Chartered
  • Marking everything that is complex down to zero, because markets are illiquid, does not seem to be a particularly equitable or sensible way of going about things. And that’s before you even consider the way the marking malaise is contributing to systemic risk.
  • Two SIVs endured very different fates in February. On February 21, Dresdner Bank announced plans to shore up its K2 vehicle, providing liquidity support to the $19 billion vehicle as it restructures. But parent company Allianz has confirmed its plans to wind the vehicle down by the year-end. K2 runs three portfolios, one of which has entered a restricted operating period. Standard Chartered, however, has walked away from its SIV, Whistlejacket, which entered receivership on February 11 and was teetering on the brink of default by February 21.
  • Tough talk by the regulators might bear fruit for the monolines.
  • Richard Herman has moved across from his role as European head of debt sales to become Deutsche Bank’s global head of sales following Jim Turley’s decision to take a sabbatical and focus on rugby coaching. The bank has also announced that Mark Carrodus has stepped down from his position as global head of FX spot and options at Deutsche Bank for personal reasons. Carrodus, who is returning with his family to New Zealand, will be replaced by Rob Mandeno, who coincidentally is at present based in New Zealand. Mandeno will move to London to take up his new role.
  • The UK government’s actions and intentions remain confused. It is time to end the uncertainty.
  • Since launching in 2007, Chi-X, the pan-European multilateral trading facility run by Nomura’s Instinet, has made notable inroads into the market for trading German stocks, regularly trading more than 15% of the daily turnover of blue-chip companies such as BASF. At the same time, however, Xetra, Deutsche Börse’s order book, has increased its market share of domestic trading to a record 99%.
  • Banker: "We looked at SG, but the integration would have been very difficult and, in any case, the French don’t like to sell to foreigners"
  • Fitch’s proposed new methodology will tighten CDO ratings, and Moody’s is considering abolishing its current ratings scale altogether.
  • Anticipation of the much-discussed but now postponed launch of the European residential mortgage-backed securities index (ERMBX) is behind violent swings in spread levels on single-name credit default swaps on RMBS tranches. Markit, ERMBX’s owner, announced that the index’s debut has been delayed because of market volatility. That volatility, in fact, has been caused by buyers of protection on single-name CDS referencing prime RMBS AAAs, say market participants.
  • The UK Financial Services Authority has questioned the spread of derivatives-based trading strategies, such as 130/30, by traditional long-only managers. The increasing use of derivatives poses a "range of risks", warns the FSA.
  • Anyone who follows the travails of England’s football, cricket and rugby teams should easily have predicted Northern Rock’s troubles.
  • Corporate earnings forecasts might still need to fall but the near 20% collapse in global equity markets since their 2007 peaks suggests that the worst might already be almost fully priced in.
  • Robert Palache has left Morgan Stanley after a little over 18 months in a role that involved the securitization of corporate, real estate and infrastructure assets. Palache was also the newly appointed chair of the European Securitization Forum.
  • Distressed seems the right route to take.
  • Icap has announced that it has upgraded its EBS spot FX platform, making it faster and adding enhancements. The company says that as a result, global deal times on the platform are now 75% faster than they were a year ago. Intra-regional deals are-now completed on average in five to eight milliseconds.
  • The precipitous fall in UK and continental European property values – in some cases 20% and higher – in the months since the sub-prime crisis began to bite has put pressure on a handful of commercial mortgage-backed securitizations. Refinancing risk is the greatest spectre in the CMBS market, with some deals facing dire consequences if banks remain tight-fisted with their cash in the next 12 to 18 months.
  • Funds that offer private banking clients’ portfolio returns are being launched in March by the creators of the FTSE Private Banking Index series.
  • When global events blew across the stock market, it sent Portugal’s smaller companies scurrying back into their shells just as they were being tempted out. That leaves only the biggest prepared to face the storm.
  • Volatility creates opportunities but, in the case of some strategies, high levels can be lethal. Helen Avery talks to the founder of CTA Pirates of Profit about how risks need to be fully understood.
  • The California Public Employees’ Retirement System is putting $350 million with smaller managers. The $240 billion fund is putting $150 million with emerging manager fund of funds FIS Group. It is the scheme’s first allocation to emerging long-only managers. FIS Group was set up in 1996, and its emerging manager fund of funds allocates to small investment management entrepreneurs that usually fall below the radar screens of large institutional investors. The maximum assets under management of managers will be $2 billion from around the world. Calpers will also be putting $200 million into Redwood Investment Management.
  • Understanding the mark-to-market meltdown
  • Saxo Bank has promoted Tobias Straessle, who was chief information officer, to chief operating officer. The bank has also promoted Claus Nielsen to the new role of chief operating officer for trading. Saxo says Nielsen’s promotion reflects a change in its structure and will help to ensure coordination between all of the bank’s growing list of services. As a replacement for Nielsen, Saxo has hired industry veteran Steve "Wham" Braithwaite as its director, global head of foreign exchange and fixed income. The bank has also appointed two new spot dealers, Steve Bellamy, who joins from JPMorgan, and Matt Strand, who was at Bank of America.
  • As an agreement between FXall and ITG shows, multi-asset platforms can be created virtually.
  • Inflation, far from being a thing of the past, is back in the forefront of investors’ and issuers’ minds. The increased use of innovations such as liability-driven investment means a rise in demand for inflation-linked products. How are the markets responding?
  • Julius Baer plans to undertake an IPO of its US asset management business later this year, aiming to raise $1 billion. According to filings with the SEC, the US arm also intends to launch hedge fund and private equity vehicles. Its private equity funds will focus on central and eastern Europe.
  • Understanding the mark-to-market meltdown
  • The main clearing houses in Europe have had a busy few years.
  • As their peers in Europe and the US struggle to adjust to the world post sub-prime, Japan’s megabanks find themselves in the glow of unaccustomed financial health. But how do they put their new-found advantage to best use? And can they ignore the demons that caused such huge mistakes in the past?
  • GSO Capital Partners intends to expand now it has the financial clout from its sale to Blackstone. The leveraged finance specialist has hired Najib Canaan, the head of asset-backed securities at Brevan Howard. Former colleagues of Canaan from his days at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette founded GSO.
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