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FCA Report on Fund Management

It is always reassuring that the cast of thousands employed in the recently-established regulatory silos are put to good use. Even if it is mostly confined to produce volumes of paper that unfortunates in the businesses that they are regulating are forced to plough through.
29-Nov-2016 ...

Another painful lesson from a disastrous Acquisition

News that Unicredit finally has extricated itself from its exposure in the Ukraine serves as a reminder that 'Strategic Transactions' (Acquisitions, Disposals and Mergers) need the utmost attention and best Advice. We are proud to document that we voiced serious doubts when similar acquisitions were conducted some years back (a close look at the 'Mergers and Deals' Blog entries offers a salutary lesson in Merger Hybris).
The usual suspects among the coterie of advisers (Investment Bankers, Lawyers and Accountants) may all be worth their money but they are not always on your side as they tend to have a financial incentive to make sure that a deal goes through, whatever the rationale behind it.

Illiquid Bond Markets? - Brace Yourself!

Not much has to be added to my post from October 2014. Maybe the move to automated bond trading has accelerated a bit, but I would not expect that to be of any help when markets become stressed. But the issue is not off the table, and given the voices of prominent market pundits it is obvious that no one really knows what will happen if a major bear market in bonds arrives. But investors should remember that bonds are a conservative investment, or at least they should be. That means investing with a view to hold to maturity, so there is no real need for liquidity.

Future of 'Universal' Banking Model in doubt

The sudden exit of another Bank CEO - now at Barclays Bank - is a stark reminder that managing a 'Universal' Bank requires near-superhuman skills, and a good portion of luck (or friends in high places as JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon or Lloyd Blankfein at Goldman Sachs would probably confirm).

The business model did work quite well in a period of slow technological change, markets that were quite insulated and regulation that kept unwanted competition out.

But a universal bank is basically nothing but a financial conglomerate and the conglomerate model - while offering certain advantages - is not one that has demonstrated that it is likely to be successful in the long run.

Who still remembers names such as LTV or Gulf+Western? Both were high-fliers on the stock market until they hit the buffers as they become unmanageable, their mastermind retired or they hit unfavourable economic headwinds.

QE - should you laugh or cry?

More and more desperate calls for all-out QE in the Eurozone make me laugh and cry at the same time. Laugh because it is not very likely that the hoped-for revival of the economies in the weak member states of the zone will happen. One has to look at the micro-economic aspect of the problem: why would any business invest/hire just because the rate of borrowing has declined by some small fraction? Given high tax rates - and they are going up all the time, openly or in stealth fashion (think 'fees' and 'charges' by public bodies) it should be expected that the entrepreneurial class will cut back on its work load. Why not take it easy if the larger part (60, 70pct if one adds in tax on taxed income, i.e. VAT, stamp duties etc etc) of additional income is confiscated by a parasitic caste of politicians, bureaucrats and their favoured beneficiaries? And why would I cry? Because the chances that the march into ever-higher control of our lives via the permanent avalanche of ill-thought-out legislation and higher taxation/spending is not going to be reversed anytime soon.


Succession planning at Santander - an example to follow

Yesterday's announcement of the death of Emilio Botin, the man behind the immense growth of Banco Santander over the past decades, highlights the need to prepare for the smooth handover of leadership. While Santander may appear to be a special case - the succession is clarified on the next day - every business should be able to replace key personnel without delay. This applies not only to CEO roles but all managerial positions in the organisation. Internal promotions should be the rule as they boost morale and team spirit and usually are cheaper and quicker to realise.






Scared about Brexit?

Top firms sign up to 'name-blinding' plan

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Investment Management
Mergers and Deals

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