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Archive for the ‘Banks’ Category

When will S’pore become part of the Silicon Valley ecosystem?

In Banks, Political economy on 15/06/2012 at 6:42 am

When SVB Financial Group’s banking unit Silicon Valley Bank opens a branch or office or j/v here, we will know that S’pore has made it into the Silicon Valley ecosystem. It has juz opened its first int’l branch: in London. It will target Britain’s technology, life science, private equity and venture capital sectors

Silicon Valley Bank counts Cisco Systems, Mozilla and Pinterest, among its US clients.

Silicon Valley Bank also has offices in Israel, India and is expected to open a joint venture bank in China with Shanghai Pundong Development Bank.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18368713

When it comes to town, bang balls KennethJ, TJS, TRE, TOC, E-Jay, SDP etc.  But don’t worry guys, it’ll be a long time, if ever, before the PAP government’s rhetoric becomes a reality*. In tomorrow’s post, I’ll link to stories which show how competitive Vietnam is becoming in software development to places like India, and that even Cambodia, with an American’s help, can use the internet get into a global biz competing with China and India.

*I mean juz see the BS around the comment made on LSD use, and on sex between adults juz because they are not married. So intolerant.

Why our banks will be issuing more perps

In Banks on 12/06/2012 at 5:03 am

(Or “Another reason why perps are so popular among coporates”)

As the sovereign debt crisis drags on, international lending by global banks in the fourth quarter last year fell by the largest amount since the Lehman Brothers crisis in 2008.

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/06/04/global-banks-cut-lending-in-response-to-economic-slowdown/?nl=business&emc=edit_dlbkpm_20120604

Gd news for our three local banks. They can expand their US$ lending activities (US$ is preferred currency of borrowers).

Expect them to raise more perps. They will be exploring the possibility of selling US$ perps to our local retailer investors to avoid having to swap the proceeds into US$. But retail investors don’t like foreign currency issues: juz look at Hutch Ports.

Filipino super bull

In Banks on 09/06/2012 at 6:01 am

BDO Unibank Inc., the Philippines largest lender on Tuesday priced the country’s largest share sale (US$1bn 1-for-3 rights offering at a 24.9% discount to its 15-day VWAP to give a total deal size of Ps43.5bn,US$1bn),  to give the bank funds to compete for infrastructure lending. Details.

Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairwoman of SM Investments Corp., said “Infrastructure is not our area of expertise, but we intend to join the government’s initiatives by providing funding for those who will take up those projects.” She is the daughteer of the controlling shareholder.

.The bank aims to reduce its dependence on consumer loans by tapping credit demand from the nation’s biggest companies, including Ayala Corp. (AC) and San Miguel Corp. (SMC), as they bid for $16 billion in infrastructure projects unveiled in 2010 by President Benigno Aquino. The fund infusion will also bolster Manila-based BDO’s risk buffers and spur overseas expansion, Sy-Coson said.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-03/billionaire-sy-plans-record-share-sale-for-bank-southeast-asia.html

The Philippines’ PSE Composite Index is up 15% since the start of the year.

BDO Unibank is not the only bank bullish on the Philippines. In early May, CIMB  agreed to buy just under 6o% of the Philippines’ Bank of Commerce (BOC) for 12.2 billion pesos (M$881 million) in cash, a move analysts said gives it early mover advantage in a market with high-growth banking potential.

Maybe if DBS can’t get its deal on Bank Danamon through or on acceptable terms, it should look North.

DBS has a 21.4% stake in BPI via its 40% stake in Ayala DBS where Ayala has the majority 60% stake. UOB seems to have a 2% stake in BDO Unibank. OCBC doesn’t seem to have a presence in the Philippines. All three local banks have subsidiaries in Indonesia.

Temasek is Filipino-lite. It doesn’t own anything direct in the Philippines: no banks, no telcos.

Its largest exposure is via Singtel which has a major investments in the Philippines (via Globe 47% which it controls together with Ayala 32%. Global is the second largest telco in the Philippines.

Keppel has some exposure via a shipyard but its not big.

If Temasek wants to go big in the Philippines, then DBS could be used.

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/philippines-reasons-for-optimism-and-scepticism/

Why our local banks shld stop wasting resources on China proper

In Banks, China, Investment banking, Temasek on 07/06/2012 at 5:14 am

(Or “Why Temasek’s big bet on Chinese banks makes sense“)

DBS is the 6th largest foreign bank in China proper. It has a strategy of expansion into China. So have UOB and OCBC.

Well, its a tough biz to be in. Non-Chinese banks have only 2% market share. Even HSBC, StanChart and Citi have problems http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-04/china-wall-hit-by-global-banks-with-2-market-share.html

DBS, OCBC and UOB shld juz not bother abt China.

Indonesia does DBS shareholders a favour

In Banks, Indonesia, Temasek on 01/06/2012 at 2:38 pm

By planning to allow financial institutions a maximum of 40% in an Indon bank (applicable only to new investors), the Indon central bank has blocked Temasek’s plan to sell its 67% stake in Bank Danamon to DBS Bank where it has a controlling stake.

On a day when banks (and other blue chips) are weak in local trading (UOB -1.5% and OCBC -0.5%) fact that DBS is only -o.6% shows that investors are not upset over the failure of the deal.

One reason is that institutional investors don’t like big “strategic” deals by their investments because they usually overpay and are prone to destroy shareholder value. Here while the price is decent, the issue of lots of new shares to Temasek is dilutive to earnings.

Ah well back to the drawing board DBS mgt to find a new driver for growth. Same too for Temasek’s financial enginners. The deal would have reduced Temasek’s direct exposure to Indonesia while increasing its exposure to DBS.

Euro crisis R perpetual securities & our local banks

In Banks, Financial competency on 22/05/2012 at 9:45 am

(or “The next, next disaster for retail investors & DBS”)

While reading this , I saw Calvin Yeo’s reply to a question on why corporates were issuing perps

 … one reason is to diversify the sources of funding. Another reason is that the market cannot withdraw the financing facility like the bank can in a credit crunch. Investors also have generally less bargaining power than the banks, so it is harder for them to take action against the issuer or place restrictive covenants. As you see, the terms of the bond are drawn up by the issuer rather than the lender. For most loans, banks tend to be the ones giving the terms of the loan.

Another main reason is that banks don’t normally issue perpetual loans, you would have to issue perpetual bonds or preferred stocks for that.

On the issue of diversification, most European banks have been cutting back their lending outside their home markets because they are shrinking their balance sheets to meet the new capital rules. No-one wants to invest in them (on terms acceptable to the banks) because of the Euro crisis.

In Asia, the French banks (like Soc Gen, BNP and Credit Agricole) were once very big USD lenders, the currency of choice, to corporates. They have now withdrawn*. So corporates that used them, now have to find other lenders. Seems to have found a new source of suckers in the retail mkt here.

See related post on central bank’s concerns.

Asian banks (including our DBS, OCBC and UOB) are increasing their USD lending to these corporates as the European withdrawal have improved USD lending margins (the Frogs were very, very aggressive) .

Let’s hope DBS doesn’t get too aggressive in USD lending. Not concerned by OCBC’s and UOB’s increased lending (I own Haw Par shares as partly as a play into UOB). They have conservative controlling shareholders and mgt (I’m assuming the newish CEO of OCBC is as conservative as O’Connor**). Can’t say the same abt the cowboys at DBS and Temasek, though DBS’s chairman and CEO have reputations as conservative bank executives. The Bank Danamon deal shows otherwise in my view.

——

*But European banks still have lots of exposure to S’pore or rather the other way round. See chart in http://www.zerohedge.com/news/why-stability-stalwart-singapore-should-be-scared-if-feta-truly-accompli. Nothing to worry abt as most of this exposure is not to locals because it’s offshored in turn. Do remember that S’pore is a major global financial market.

**Anyway someone in OCBC is a tough taskmaster. O’Connor earlier this yr said that working in OCBC for 10 yrs felt like 40 yrs. No wonder Tony Tan and Yong Pang How (remember him?) preferred to be cabinet minister and chief justice respectively. And remember O’Connor was from Citibank, not known for its relaxed style.

OCBC: KPI for new CEO?

In Banks, Corporate governance on 15/05/2012 at 8:33 am

OCBC Bank was recently named as the world’s strongest bank for the second straight year by Bloomberg Markets Magazine. (The ranking featured 78 global banks with at least US$100 billion in total assets.They were assessed based on factors such as their Tier 1 capital ratio, loan-to-deposit ratio, ratio of non-performing assets to total assets and their efficiency ratio, which compares costs with revenues.)

OCBC said the bank’s strength is partly built on its “disciplined credit management practices and robust risk management capabilities”.

If I were the controlling shareholder of OCBC, I’d be very upset at this ranking because what it means is that OCBC is not making its assets work: it has too much capital. I’d tell the board that the most impt KPI should be that OCBC drops out of the top 10 on the list.

It can be done. UOB was at seventh place, down from sixth last year, while DBS fell three spots to eighth this year.

UOB and DBS are doing the right thing. Their core market (like that of OCBC) is S’pore and it’s a safe, boring, stable market where margins are only so-so. So not much capital is needed, if one sticks to the basics of banking, and not try to be a hedgie.

As to the right amount of capital, look at StanChart at no.12. It operates in a wide range of emerging markets, some in unstable parts of the world like West Africa and so needs to have capital lying around. If S’porean banks have abt the same level of capital, they should still be safe.

Temasek: Rebalancing its Chinese bank portfolio

In Banks, China, Temasek on 03/05/2012 at 6:04 pm

Last month, Temasek bought US$2.3bn worth of shares in Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), taking its overall stake in the bank to 1.3%. I commented that it was increasing its bet on the big Chinese banks (it owned big stakes in three of them) when the mood on them was getting bearish.

Well it is now sell US$2.4bn worth of its shares in Bank of China and China Construction Bank.

So overall, it is reducing its stakes in BoC and CCB (locking in some profits: it got into these at very attractive prices as a cornerstone pre-IPO investor) while adding a stake in ICBC to the mix at a slight discount to the market.

Update on 4 May 2012 at 3.10pm: More details http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-02/temasek-selling-2-4-billion-in-boc-china-construction.html

Temasek’s Chinese banks have an unending appetite for capital

In Banks, China, Temasek on 27/04/2012 at 6:54 pm

Regular readers will know that Temasek’s investments in Bank of China and China Construction Bank are great investments. It came in as a pre-IPO cornerstone investor and unlike the Western banks that had similar status had not sold out. Gd friend of China. It trades out and in of these stocks to make realised profits. But these trading profits are peanuts as the trading positions are peanuts in relation to its holdings in these banks

And that it recently bot Goldman Sach’s remaining stake in ICBC, at a slight discount to its mkt price. 

As this article explains these banks have an unending appetite for capital because they are “squeezed for capital”. So Temasek has to be willing to cough up more of our money if it wants to avoid being diluted when rights issues are called.

ANZ Bank attractive to Chinese strategic buyer?

In Banks, China on 20/04/2012 at 7:24 pm

An Australian who recently retired as head of Standard Chartered’s business in China believes there’s a strong chance of a major Chinese lender picking up a cornerstone stake in one of Oz’s big four banks within a few years. The Age carried an interview with Mike Pratt, , who says it’s “highly possible” that a major Chinese player will take a stake of up to 15%  in a major Australian bank this decade”.

ANZ Bank would make the most sense, given its super-regional bank strategy. Commonwealth Bank is increasing its presence in Asia but is nowhere as regional as ANZ Bank.

Westpac (a portmanteau of “Western-Pacific”) despite its name, and National Australia Bank both focus on Oz after misadventures abroad.

Analysing Temasek’s investment in another Chinese bank

In Banks, China, Financial competency, Temasek on 16/04/2012 at 7:06 pm

Temasek has agreed to buy Goldman Sachs’s shares in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world’s largest bank. It will buy US$2.3bn worth of ICBC shares, taking its stake to 1.3% in the bank.

In an interview with Reuters at the end of March, Ho Ching’s presumed successor-in-training, Temasek’s head of portfolio management,acknowledged the heavy allocation to financials, but noted that it holds four very good banks: Bank of China, China Construction Bank, DBS Group and Standard Chartered. Well it has added ICBC to this list, and at a price close to the market price, unlike the stakes in the other two Chinese banks where it got a “special” price as a pre-IPO cornerstone investor.

But is it a wise move?

True, since the lows last October of the Chinese and HK stock markets, the shares of the four leading Chinese banks (including Bank of China, China Construction Bank and ICBC) have gone up by more than half, easily outperforming the broader market.

But since March, prices have been off (but masked by general market falls) because of concerns abt China’s growth, bad loans and comments by the  Chinese PM, Wen Jiabao, who hinted  of breaking the monopoly state-owned lenders have enjoyed in China’s banking sector. (The sector is dominated by four big state-owned banks and Temasek now has significant stakes in three of them.)

Mr Wen said that their monopoly was hurting businesses in the country, as they had few options to raise capital.

“Frankly, our banks make profits far too easily. Why? Because a small number of major banks occupy a monopoly position, meaning one can only go to them for loans and capital,” he was quoted as saying by China National Radio. “That’s why right now, as we’re dealing with the issue of getting private capital into the finance sector, essentially, that means we have to break up their monopoly.”

The lack of easy availability of capital has often been cited as threat to growth of small and medium-sized businesses in China. There have been fears that some of these businesses, seen as key to China’s growth, may turn to unofficial sectors for capital, increasing their borrowing costs substantially

But Temasek could be betting on, “Wen has one year left [in his term].” This was said by an unnamed Chinese state banker quoted by Reuters. “This is a task for the next generation of leaders. It cannot be accomplished within one year.”

But the banker could be wrong, Wen could be telling us what has been agreed upon between his generation and the next generation of leaders.

Remember, It took a beating on its finance industry holdings after the 2008 crisis, losing about $5 billion in stakes held in Barclays and Merrill Lynch, now part of Bank of America. It has since trimmed its financial holdings by 4 percentage points to 36 percent of the portfolio. Last month, it sold a 1.4 percent stake in India’s No.2 lender ICICI Bank. From said Reuters reported.

And of the remaining two “very good banks” where Temasek has significant stakes, DBS has juz decided to buy Temasek’s stake in Bank Danamon. Management will now be preoccupied with getting the deal approved by the Indonesian authorities, then integrating the bank into DBS. Before this deal, management had finally got to grips with DBS’s operational problems. The danger is that the focus on the Danamon deal may lead to backsliding in the area of operatons.

The genuine jewel is StanChart, but by global standards, it is “peanuts”.

Role Reversal for Bank of America and Citigroup

In Banks, GIC, Temasek on 11/04/2012 at 7:22 pm

Going into the earnings season, these two big banks have reversed roles: Bank of America, which last year faced concerns about its health, has rallied this year, while Citigroup now confronts doubts.

NEW YORK TIMES

For the record:

– Temasek dumped its stake in BoA in 2009 when hedgies were buying, losing, it is estimated US$4.6bn;

– GIC is now sitting on paper losses on its remaining stake in Citi (stake was profitable last July, see link below); and

– one LKY said in 2008 that these (and UBS, where GIC still has unrealised losses) were beyond long-term investments. There were 30-year investments.

Why UOB is “betterest”?

In Banks, Corporate governance on 06/04/2012 at 7:41 am

Bank results down 4%, CEO’s salary down 18%.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporebusinessnews/view/1193445/1/.html

Own shares in Haw Par which has stake in UOB.

DBS & UOB

In Banks on 04/04/2012 at 6:40 am

So investors sold DBS on news of its Bank Danamon purchase. It closed 0.39 lower (2.75%) to 13.79. About a quarter of the sellers seemed to have bot UOB which closed up o.36 (1.97%) to 18.64.

As to OCBC, it closed down 0.03 (o.33%) to 8.96. Unlike DBS and UOB, a large chunk of its profits comes from life insurance. Hence, it was of no interest to those who wanted out of DBS but wanted exposure to S’pore banks. And there is the uncertainity of what the new CEO will want to do. The retiring CEO did a good job: he stuck to the basics of banking and life insurance.

DBS: Investors don’t like the Indon deal

In Banks, Corporate governance, Indonesia, Temasek on 03/04/2012 at 11:34 am

Well DBS is down 0.44 to 13.74 some 3% from Friday’s close.

Despite all the propoganda from our constructive, nation-building mainstream media, aided and abetted by the wires and most brokers, investors don’t like the Bank Danamon deal. To be fair, investors nowadays don’t like their investee companies doing mega strategic deals (like Pru’s attempted purchase of AIA last year) because the historical numbers (still disputed) seem to show that strategic deals destroy shareholder value.

Well the non-Temasek shareholders of DBS will have an opportunity to reject the deal, if they think that Temasek benefits far more than DBS? BTW, did you know that when DBS bot PosBank from Temasek all that many years ago, it was a great deal for Temasek, not so gd for DBS .

Another Ang Mog bank retreats from Thailand

In Banks on 25/03/2012 at 4:10 pm

HSBC recently put put up a “For Sale” on its retail banking network in Thailand.

Now ING is doing the same for its stake in a Thai bank. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/23/us-ing-tmb-idUSBRE82M05520120323. ING has  put a US$775m price on its 31%  stake in TMB. It .bought the stake in Thailand’s seventh-largest lender in 2007 for US$607m. Nice profit if it gets its asking price.

 

Wall St’s finest after the collapse of Bear

In Banks, GIC on 19/03/2012 at 8:38 am

Citigroup’s down 82%

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/03/16/how-wall-street-has-fared-after-bears-fall/?nl=business&emc=edit_dlbkpm_20120316

Citi cont’d

In Banks, Financial competency, GIC on 15/03/2012 at 11:40 am

Citigroup’s CEO Vikram Pandit said the bank still has capacity to return more capital to shareholders and will seek clearance for a “meaningful” payout after the Federal Reserve rejected an initial plan, the wires report. The Fed allowed f\JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo to increase their payouts.

Despite this failure to payout more to shareholders, Vikram S. Pandit could see a total of US$53 million in compensation for 2011, from his yearly pay combined with a multi-year retention package, Bloomberg News reports, citing filings and an analyst’s estimate. Could remind TOC and TRE readers or their usual writers of the transport and HDB ministers who “retired” after failing to anticipate the problems that increased FTs would cause in their portfolios and of “50-year flood” Yacoob who got moved to MICA after Orchard Rd was hit by two such floods in two months in 2010.

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/citi-falls-fed-test-one-of-only-four-that-failed/

Citi falls Fed test: one of only four that failed

In Banks, Financial competency, GIC on 14/03/2012 at 1:41 pm

Four US financial institutions, including Citigroup, have failed stress tests designed to show they could withstand a financial shock. The Federal Reserve said Citi, SunTrust, Ally Financial and MetLife failed to show they have enough capital to survive another serious downturn.

Citigroup is the third-largest US bank. The majority of the 19 tested passed.

All those tested are in a much stronger position than they were after the 2008 financial crisis, the Fed added.The Fed tested the banks’ ability to withstand a similar crisis that triggered a rise in unemployment to 13%, a 50% fall in share prices and a 21% drop in house prices. Their strength is assessed by the amount of “buffer” best-quality assets, known as Tier 1 capital, they would hold if such conditions occurred. The regulator said Citigroup had a Tier 1 capital ratio of 4.9%.

Reminder, GIC still has a substantial stake in Citi. SIGH.

Update at 6.15pm on 14 March 2012: Despite failing the test, Vikram S. Pandit, Citigroup’s chief executive, could see a total of US$53 million in compensation for 2011, from his yearly pay combined with a multi-year retention package, Bloomberg News reports, citing filings and an analyst’s estimate.

Casinos: Good for our banks

In Banks, Casinos, Economy on 12/03/2012 at 4:48 am

No, not profits from lending to gamblers and loan sharks but from raising money for Sands.

Las Vegas Sands, controlled by Sheldon Anderson, hired DBS Bank, OCBC Bank and UOB to coordinate a S$4.6bn loan for Marina Bay Sands, Bloomberg News reports. The loan may be split into a S$4.1 billion term facility and a S$500 million revolving credit facility.

How to analyse a bank

In Banks, Financial competency on 03/03/2012 at 3:21 pm

Here’s a good report analysing why JPMorgan Chase should be broken up

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/02/27/dividing-dimon-analyst-presents-case-for-a-jpmorgan-split/?src=dlbksb

HSBC: Which number to focus on?

In Accounting, Banks, Financial competency on 01/03/2012 at 1:55 am

 (Or “HSBC: Glass half empty or half full?” or “The difficulty of analysing a company esp a bank”)

HSBC Holdings, one of Europe’s biggest banks, said on Monday that its profit rose 27 percent last year in part because of greater demand for loans in the developing world.

(“Profit” here means profit attributable to shareholders)

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/02/27/hsbc-profit-rises-on-demand-from-emerging-markets/?src=dlbksb

But FT preferred to focus on the 6% fall in pre-tax underlying profits to US$17.7 bn.

But pre-tax profits actually rose 15% to US$21.9bn. But FT, rightly in my view, took out the US$13.9bn gain in the value of the bank’s own credit. This is Alice-in-wonderland accounting that banks have to use (some happily, some reluctantly). The weaker banks love it.

HSBC is currently the most profitable Western bank, with its nearest rival, JP Morgan having profits 15% lower.

HSBC Asia Pacific posted profits before tax of US$13.3 billion – 15% more year on year. The region accounted for 61% of the group’s total pre-tax profit.

As regards HSBC S’pore, it posted a pre-tax profit of US$595 million for FY2011, up 14% from a year ago.  A lot better than OCBC’s and UOB’s S’pore operations. I plan to blog on how well Citi’s, HSBC’sand StanChart’s S’pore operations compare to our three local banks, one of these days. BTW StanChart juz reported that its pre-tax profit from it’s S’pore operations has hit US$1bn, up 40%.

Another reason not to buy a structured product

In Banks, Financial competency on 13/02/2012 at 7:13 am

(Or “Another reason not to trust yr bank”)

“Exactly how did Wall Street price the loans that it bundled into securities and sold to investors?”

Answer: There is evidence that “prices on some of the loans … were artificially inflated at the time of purchase”.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/business/an-investment-wipeout-that-didnt-have-to-happen.html?_r=1&ref=business&nl=business&emc=dlbka35

A worrying economic signal?

In Banks, Economy, Shipping on 10/02/2012 at 9:46 am

Investors are in the mood to take more risk in return for higher rewards. They are in “risk on” mode.

Recently, the Baltic Dry Index has fallen to a 25-year-low (since then it has risen by 1.9%) prompting concern that history is about to repeat itself. In the past, say 2008, a weak index foretold a recession, or at least an economic slowdown.But this time there been some special factors at play, according to conventional wisdom. The boom in the Baltic Dry seen before the financial crash and recession was in large part the result of a shortage of ships, which pushed up the cost of carrying freight. There are now far more ships with greater capacity and, because it has taken time for the vessels to be built, the extra capacity has become available when ship owners least want it. A, short-term factor, has been that the Chinese New Year holidays fell early this year, depressing trade in Asia.

Still a 2.9% fall in German industrial production in December suggests that the index might have collapsed due to both increased supply of shipping and weak demand. Germany is the world’s biggest exporter and the hefty slump in output at the tail end of 2011 coincided with the intensification of the crisis in the euro zone. Remember, too, that Germany exports machines to make goods to China.

Update on !0 februart 2012 at 7.05am:

Imports into China fell by 15.3% In January, and this cannot be all due to the Chinese New Year holiday factor. Exports dipped 0.5% from a year earlier hurt by sluggish demand and factories being shut during the Lunar New Year.

This resulted in a trade surplus of $27.3bn which was a six-month high.

More

DBS customers and investors: Be glad that hackers were only M’sian

In Banks on 08/02/2012 at 6:34 am

If I had an internet banking account with DBS, given its track record in IT , I would be afraid, very afraid. Read how smart hackers can be: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16812064

If you bank with HSBC, Citi, OCBC or UOB, relax. These banks have gd IT track records here, even though HSBC and Citi have a lot of FTs from India, more possibly than DBS. UOB and OCBC: true blue S’poreans in their IT departments (OK, more than in DBS).

If I had shares in DBS, I’d be afraid that another security problem could cause very serious damage to DBS’ reputation and pockets.

S’pore Property: But would banks be allowed to?

In Banks, Economy, Political economy, Political governance, Property on 27/01/2012 at 11:42 am

Mortgage rates make the difference

So what contributed to the recent decoupling of Singapore and Hong Kong home prices?

The simple answer is mortgage rates.

Driven by strong loan growth and rising loan-to-deposit ratios, Hong Kong banks have raised their mortgage rate spreads since early this year [2011]. This has resulted in higher mortgage rates and reduced demand for residential properties, which in turn led to the slide in private home prices since September.

On the other hand, the Government’s property cooling efforts have so far been thwarted by very low mortgage rates. With base interest rates remaining near record lows and Singapore banks charging very low mortgage spreads, affordability remains high.

However, there is a risk that Singapore mortgage rates would rise next year from their current low levels. Like their Hong Kong peers, Singapore banks have also experienced strong loan growth over the past year, which in turn has pushed up their loan-to-deposit ratios – although it must be said that ratios in Singapore dollars are generally still low.

Moreover, with the debt crisis that is plaguing the European Union, there has been anecdotal evidence that some European banks are pulling back their credit lines in Singapore to help boost capital ratios as required by the EU debt plan. If these banks continue to deleverage, it could result in less competition in the lending market for Singapore banks, which may then feel comfortable enough to raise their lending spreads, including mortgage spreads.

In fact, during the 2008/2009 global financial crisis, local banks such as UOB and OCBC were able to increase their net interest margins as foreign banks reduced their lending activities in Singapore.

Thus, while the recent decoupling in Singapore and Hong Kong residential property prices may make for an interesting read, we do not expect it to last for long, especially with the latest round of cooling measures introduced in Singapore.

http://www.todayonline.com/Commentary/EDC111223-0000039/A-tale-of-two-cities

Should happen as this UBS analyst postulated in late Dec 2011. But if the government thinks property prices will tank, not juz fall a little, the local banks will “do the right thing” by home owners, but not investors. It has happened before. In the crisis in the mid 80s, when many home owners had negative equity, the banks “did the right thing” and did not ask for more equity. Home owners had gd reason to vote PAP.  

 

 

OCBC: Standards even lower than PM?

In Banks, Political governance on 19/01/2012 at 5:42 am

PM said abt his ministers as reported in the media: Negligent or dishonest ministers will be sacked, but short of that, there is a need to handle exits decorously and with dignity – and not turn them into public spectacles that deter more good people from entering politics.

“If a minister doesn’t perform well despite his best efforts, then I will move him to a less demanding portfolio where he is able to perform or, if necessary, I may have to phase him out discreetly,” he said. “Not every person who comes into government will succeed as minister. It’s a difficult job.”

What the Fish? Where’s the accountability? Looks like once a minister, can skive or tuang, juz need to show trying. No wonder Lim Hng Kiang is still a minister. Bet you he is the MR3 minister who gets more than other ministers except PM and DPMs. He’s got the senority being a cabinet minister since 1994. Raymond Lim and Mah should cry,”Not fair, PM”, and “Why us, and not Yacoob?”.

But WTF? OCBC is going one step “betterest”.

“After the succession, OCBC’s corporate bank will be divided into corporate banking and commercial banking, which will be led by Mr George Lee, currently head of investment banking, and Mr Linus Goh, currently head of enterprise banking and financial Institutions”.

I mean OCBC’s investment bank is a complete failure and the guy running it will run the corporate bank? Albeit one that is less impt than the previous corporate bank. At least PM moves duds to portfolios where he thinks they can’t do much damage. OCBC moves an underperformer to where he can damage the brand seriously.

Think I’ll stick to UOB, that I hold via Haw Par.

Citigroup: Its day is coming

In Banks, GIC on 12/01/2012 at 5:15 am

 UBS and Citigroup are stocks that the SDP, and KennethJ use to beat up GIC (and its then executive director) regularly

This explains why Citigroup might be the stock to own.

 Citi’s a strange creature. It’s dysfunctional. Its never missed a major financial crisis (loans to the developing world and US property loans in the late 1970s and 1980s; LBO loans in the late 1980s; dotcom stock recommendations in the late 1990s; and sub-prime mortgages recently). But at the operational level, it produces good managers who are in demand when it comes to running medium-sized banks in developing countries. The CEOs of DBS and OCBC were from Citi, as was  the CEO of RHB Babk.

When SPH & DBS team up well, S’pore Inc can be Awesome

In Banks, Media, S'pore Inc on 10/01/2012 at 5:51 am

If anyone thinks that SPH’s publications have lost their clout because of new media, citing the bad reception that Pay Wayang, SMRTgate and PondingGate got from the public despite these publications spinning all the way for the White Side, the way that they covered DBS’s CloneGate shows their clout, even in the age of new media.

Customers were reassured, and the usual moaners were ignored by the public even though DBS is part of the Temasek Group (that S’poreans love to hate partly because its CEO is the wife of the PM), and the public and its customers often view DBS as dysfunctional.

SPH’s publications when combined with an effective public communications strategy is a fearsome tool.

DBS got its strategy right, moving “quickly to assure customers that their losses will be covered and investigations are underway. Experts were immediately put on air not to put a spin on why it’s not a big deal, but rather explain concisely how the scam probably occurred and is being carried out,” Words of the Cze. (If it had tried to weasel its way out, I for one would have asked how come the data theft could have occured at two high traffic ATMs, and why OCBC or UOB were not hit first? Why was DBS so dysfunctional?)

Don’t believe me? Reading ST (and MediaCorp’s freesheet) even I tot DBS was being generous in quickly compensating its customers until I read this in ST’s Forum. It reminded me (a trained lawyer who did a lot of banking legal work) that  it was DBS that lost money, not the affected customers, “When someone deposits money with a bank, he is in effect lending money to it. Property rights to the money pass to the bank. In return, the bank owes its customer a debt. At that point, any money stolen or pilfered from the bank is its money, not its customer’s,” SMU academic. (BTW, I get the impression that a very impt KPI for SMU academics is how often they are quoted in the local MSM. One wonders if they have time to do other things.)

The PAP, SMRT and PUB did not get their public communications strategy right (see the above link on what PUB and SMRT did wrong) and SPH could not play its traditional constructive, nation-building role in helping out the White Side.

Coming back to DBS. When its CEO early last week ( his second anniversary at DBS) came out boasting of his achievements, I tot, “Nemesis” and “What bad news is he foreshadowing?”. Well Nemesis has struck and DBS has reacted very, very well to what could have been a major public relations fiasco. As to the bad news, “Watch and wait”.

But DBS is no longer dysfunctional. Could it be a turnaround situation, worth investing in? In Q3 2011, DBS’s return on equity was ahead of OCBC and UOB. BTW I own Haw Par shares which is a play on UOB.

Ghosts haunting Citigroup this Christmas

In Banks, Financial competency on 27/12/2011 at 6:01 am

(Another piece in an occasional series wondering why anyone would want to be a Citi customer. No, never had any account with Citi, nor ever sought one.)

1. Another soured deal that it did with a wealthy client

Saudi businessman Ghazi Abbar, who claims in an affidavit he lost $383 million of his family’s fortune on investments with Citigroup Inc., was sold one of the transactions even though the bank questioned his ability to properly manage them, according to an internal memo.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-30/citigroup-saudi-deal-haunts-pandit-as-family-claims-383-million-wipeout.html

2. Bloomberg reports, Part of the New York-based bank’s retail business will be suspended for 30 days by the Japanese Financial Services Agency, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the matter isn’t yet public. Citigroup’s trading unit will be suspended from selling products tied to interest rates for 10 days and its head, Brian McCappin, may resign, the person said.

Citigroup Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit is trying to restore the bank’s reputation in Japan. Regulators punished the company twice in seven years after finding fault with its private-banking operation and a lack of internal controls.

The trading unit will be banned from selling certain products in Japan tied to the London and Tokyo interbank offered rates, or Libor and Tibor, the person said. These are rates at which banks are willing to lend money to each other. Citigroup employees tried to improperly influence Tibor to the firm’s advantage, two people familiar with the matter said earlier this month.

Related posts

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/behind-yr-payments-to-citi/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/citi-owe-it-money/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/citigroup-wins-life-or-death-fraud-case/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/why-do-people-like-being-citi-clients/

Banks can lose money on private banking business

In Banks on 17/12/2011 at 5:38 am

Our three local banks are targeting private banking because Asians are getting richer and richer, it’s a steady, cash generating business providing a great annuity revenue, and it allows them to take advantage of their large capital base (they are among the safest banks in the world) which is a drag on earnings. One report has DBS as the “strongest bank” in the world, while another has OCBC. Me, I say OCBC because less FTs there, even its ang moh CEO is more-or-less localised. And it has the Lee family as a contrilling shareholder. They are super conservative.

But Investec, a South African investment bank is a lesson for our local banks. In November 2011, it posted a 2% decline in first half earnings after recording a loss at its private banking business and a sharp drop in deal flow.

It had been reducing dependence on lending and deals, and asset and wealth management now account for 40% of operating income, compared with 29% a year ago.

But the private banking division lost £4.9m, hurt by real estate woes in Ireland and Australia. Operating profit before exceptional items totalled £223.63m in the six months to end September, compared to £228.16m in the same period last year.

So losing money in private banking is a possibility

Worse our banks have to spend a lot juz to be in the game. OCBC despite acquiring ING’s Asian private banking biz*, is still a midget even in regional terms when compared to Citi, HSBC, UBS and Credit Suisse. The Bank of Singapore (OCBC’s private bank) expanded its assets under management by 11% in the first nine months of 2011 to US$29 billion. Peanuts by int’l standards.

——

*It paid, in 2010, US$1.46bn which represents 5.8% of the unit’s assets under management, after adjusting for surplus capital of US$550m. This compares with the 2.3% measure paid by Julius Baer for ING’s Swiss assets which is in line with another European purchase by an American private equity group of a smallish private banking outfit — RHJI’s purchase of Kleinworth Benson from Commerzbank. To be fair to OCBC, it was rumoured that HSBC was willing to pay the same price, but lost out when it was unwilling to give promises that staff would not dismissed. OCBC was willing to give this promise.

EuroLand Trojan Horse in US financial system?

In Banks, Economy on 28/11/2011 at 6:00 am

Or how the Germans can force the US to bailout the Eurozone by allowing Deutsche Bank to  “fail”. Taunus Corp is the U.S.’s eighth-largest bank holding company. Taunus is the North American subsidiary of Germany’s Deutsche Bank.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-21/johnson-deutsche-bank-could-transfer-contagion.html

Think I’m looney?. The Germans are already playing one big game of “chicken” with investors and the people of  PIIGS (Not that these investors and people deserve our sympathy.) Waz another bloodless variation of this game to the nation whose leaders in the 20th century started two world wars in the hope of global domination, or at least European domination.

And the IMF has in what appeared to be an attempt to help countries such as France and Spain stave off the crisis, the IMF said that member countries with a track record of implementing “sound policies” could access up to 10 times their contributions to the fund. It did not say which countries it meant but said it was establishing a flexible liquidity line which would act as “insurance against future shocks and as a short-term liquidity window to address the needs of crisis bystanders”.

Banks’ Alice-in-Wonderland Accounting

In Accounting, Banks on 28/10/2011 at 7:02 am

The problem with a bank’s balance sheet is that on the left side nothing’s right and on the right side nothing’s left.

Think Lehman’s and Dexia’s balance sheets. One day AAA, six months’s later rubbish. That fast leh?

Profit and loss accounts are just as rubbishy. Recently UBS’s third quater profit fell to 1.02 billion Swiss francs (US$1.2 billion) in the three months ended Sept. 30 from 1.66 billion francs in the period a year earlier. The trading loss of  1.85bn Swiss francs (alleged caused by a rogue trader) and charges linked to a cost-cutting plan were partly offset by an accounting gain on the bank’s own credit of 1.8 billion francs and the sale of some investments.

Now this accounting treatment was not not only used by UBS. According to the FT’s Lex, four-fifths of the US$16bn net profits  in the latest announced results of (BoA, Citi, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs came from using used the same accounting treatment of the banks’ own debts.

Lex describes the accounting treament thus: ” Try this on your credit card company: your creditworthiness has weakened, so you write down the value of what you owe them to reflect the greater riskthat you will not pay it back and credit the difference to your personal account. That is what exactly accounting allows”.

UBS: What else can go wrong?

In Accounting, Banks, GIC on 27/10/2011 at 6:36 am

Readers will know by now that UBS, where GIC is a major long-term (and suffering)  investor, is planning to reduce the scale of its investment banking operations, the source of its on-going problems since 2007.

But they may not know “What they are trying to do has never been done before,” Christopher Wheeler, an analyst at Mediobanca, said. “They want to shrink the investment bank by choice, which means unwinding positions without loss and running down their books while keeping the morale among staff, and it’s unclear who’s running the shop.”

And don’t be fooled by its latest results. Despite being hit by a 1.85bn-franc loss from deals made by an alleged rogue trader, it just made  a better-than-expected third-quarter net profit of 1bn Swiss francs (US$1.1bn).

The loss was almost entirely offset by a 1.77bn-franc accounting gain that came from changes to the value of the bank’s own debt. One of these days, I’ll blog on the Alice-in-Wonderland accounting that allows this type of gain to materialise. According to the FT’s Lex, four-fifths of the US$16bn net profits  in the latest announced results of (BoA, Citi, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs came from using used the same accounting treatment of the banks’ own debts.

“Insufficient funds”

In Banks, Wit on 26/10/2011 at 6:49 am

What worries me most about the credit crunch, is that if one of my cheques is returned stamped ‘insufficient funds’. I won’t know whether that refers to mine or the bank’s.

Not true of our three local banks, they got lots of capital. They are using it to attract private banking clients. Even DBS, who blew up S’pore clients but compensated HK clients.

Temasek’s StanChart bonds: No losers?

In Banks, Temasek on 24/10/2011 at 6:59 am

Despite the following and other rants, ‘Temasek’s S$650m issue of bonds exchangeable into StanChart shares was oversubscribed.”The order was $1.25 bn,” it was reported. I was not surprised.

Singapore Notes ranted, Stanchart shares are currently trading at £13.73 (yesterday’s quote); the highest level reached during last year was £19.75. The British £ has also taken a pounding, diving from S$2.90 to S$2 yesterday, a stomach churning plunge of 30%. Yahoo! Finance indicates today’s range will be £1.9907 – £1.9937.

So what fool (as in “fool me, hah?’) would bet that the Stanchart share price would go up 27% in 3 years’ time? That’s a tantalising return of 9% per annum, assuming the pound-euro correlation doesn’t get any worse. Reuters is reporting a sterling drop, as latest UK data adds to the gloomy outlook.

Juz look at the volatility of the share price. In the last 12 months, it has been up to £19.75. More than 27% from current prices. And in November 2008 it was trading around £8. Investors buying the bonds are betting that StanChart’s share price recovers within three years. Not an unreasonable bet, given the volatility of StanChart’s (and other banks’) share price in recent years. Interesting chart.

At worse, they lose their funding costs (if they borrow money to buy the bond) or opportunity costs (if they invest in cash or bonds) for three years. Their upside is 27%++.

To quote Reuters Breakviews, One part would be a zero-yield bond, with a face value of S$36. Assume lenders to triple-A rated Temasek normally demand a 1.8 per cent annual return, and the bond is worth around S$34.50 today.

The other part is a call option on Stanchart shares.

Plug the lender’s current price, its forecast 3.5 per cent dividend yield, and the implied volatility of Stanchart’s stock into an options calculator, and it looks to be worth S$4.50.

Put together, the two bits of paper have a total value of S$39 – some 8 per cent more than investors paid. Taz why the issue was oversubscribed.

Unlike me, the writer thinks it ain’t such a gd deal, But it’s probably not such a sweet deal. The value of the call option is inflated because Stanchart’s shares are twice as volatile as they were before the summer.

If the shares return to their steadier state, the option is worth closer to S$1, leaving the value of the whole package a little below the sticker price. I think volatility will persist.

‘The writer goes on to talk about the deal’s advantages for Temasek, For Temasek, there are obvious attractions. Even if all the bonds are exchanged for shares, it will retain a 17 per cent stake in Stanchart.

And if the shares don’t rise much, the fund will have borrowed S$650 million interest free.

But for all that, the savings are small. Say Temasek had simply borrowed directly from the bond markets. Over three years, its total interest bill would be less than S$40 million.

Moreover, the bond issue triggered a mini-rout in Stanchart shares, leaving Temasek with a paper loss on its remaining stake 10 times the size of the interest costs it saved.

Other than demonstrating its financial prowess, Temasek doesn’t have much to show for its wizardry. True but given the jitteriness of the markets, the shares would have fallen for other reasons. Banks are not the flavour of the month.

Temasek’s StanChart Bond Issue

In Banks, Temasek on 19/10/2011 at 2:45 pm

I’m surprised that a blogger whom I respect could get it so wrong with his analysis of Temasek’s stake in StanChart and the share price that investors can buy into StanChart via Temasek’s latest bond issue.

Singapore Notes reports, “The zero coupon bonds which mature in 2014 can be exchanged for Stanchart shares at £36.29 per share during a 3 year holding period, a 27% premium over Monday’s price of £14.29 on the London Stock Exchange.” A 27% premium to £14.29 works out to £18.15. not £36.29.

As to the value of Temasek’s stake in S$, he used as his starting point, “the purchase of a 11.5 % stake from Khoo Teck Puat’s estate in 2006. Then Stanchart shares were trading at £15.24, when the exchange rate was S$2.90 to £1.”

Since then there have been two massive and deeply discounted rights issues. The one in November 2008 was done at  £3.90, a 48.7% discount to the last done share price before the rights issue announcement. The rights ratio was 30 new shares for 91 existing shares. In October 2010, it called for a 1 for 8 rights issue priced at £12.80, a 32% discount to the last done share price before the rights issue announcement.

Swings and roundabouts

In Banks on 13/10/2011 at 6:46 am

When the Americans and British saved their leading banks in 2008, the Europeans (especially the French) were sneering at them for allowing their banks to overlend or overinvest in AAA mortgage securities. The Europeans (read French) knew better.

Now the European banks, especially the French ones are in deep trouble, over lending to the PIIGS (five weak European countries). And the French government is afraid to help them because giving them state aid will threaten Frances’s AAA ratings.

Poetic justice.

Gets better still. The sub-prime crisis blew-out in 2007 because a French bank (can’t remember which one) stopped issuing the daily valuations of two of its mutual funds that invested in US sub-prime mortgages. It said it couldn’t establish a market value for these securities.

That forced other banks to revalue downwards their holdings of mortgage securities. This affected the Americans most.

S’pore banks: Is private banking the future?

In Banks on 07/10/2011 at 9:18 am

It has been a regular complaint of mine that our three local banks have too much capital for their own good. See this and this.

This excessive capital requirement is the reason why OCBC paid such a high price for the Asian private banking business of ING and why DBS and UOB are trying harder to build up decent private banking businesses, despite repeatedly failing to do so in the past.

While private banking itself does not use up much capital, clients and prospects want to put their money in banks that have plenty of capital. A very high capital  base is a great comfort blanket. As is the conservative nature of a bank. OCBC and UOB have both and while DBS’s FTs are more cowboyish, they have been kept in check, so far.

OCBC’S private bank claims that it is attracting assets from the Singapore branches of French banks as the euro region’s debt crisis frightens their local clients. Defections from French banks helped generate net new money of about US$4 billion for Bank of Singapore this year, the CEO said recently.

Private banking looks like a good use of the local banks’ capital, given that their conservatism and regulatory requirements require them to hold excessive amounts of capital.

But they are late in the game where economies of scale matter. Example: OCBC’s private bank (the biggest by far of the three local banks) had US$29.6 billion of assets under management at the end of June, less than 9% of the total at BNP Paribas’s wealth management unit. And this French bank is not a serious player in the either the Asian or international private banking industry.

Financial secrecy: S’pore is only 6th

In Banks on 04/10/2011 at 4:29 pm

In a new index on financial secrecy, S’pore is only ranked sixth. The Financial Secrecy Index 2011, puts Switzerland on top, followed by the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, Hong Kong and the USA.

The Tax Justice Network, the group behind the report, says, “[A] secrecy jurisdiction provides facilities that enable people or entities escape or undermine the laws, rules and regulations of other jurisdictions elsewhere, using secrecy as a prime tool.”

The government’s policy is to encourage the growth of wealth management here so that S’pore can be the Switzerland of the East. Well, the central bank and the Attorney-General’s Chambers have a lot of work to do to make S’pore a better secrecy jurisdiction. Hong Kong is a better secrecy juridiction than S’pore. And S’pore and Hong Kong are rivals in the race to be the leading wealth management centre in East Asia.

At least, this report shows S’pore is a better global citizen than Switzerland, Hong Kong and the USA. But where’s the money in being a responsible, decent chap?

UBS: And GIC wasn’t consulted?

In Banks, Corporate governance, GIC on 28/09/2011 at 6:52 am

I don’t know what shocked me most.

I read in Monday’s Today that despite being the largest single shareholder in UBS (6.4%), GIC was not consulted on the management change when the CEO resigned. He resigned over differences in strategy and corporate governance issues.

Yesterday evening Reuters reported that “GIC supported former chief executive Oswald Gruebel’s strategic plan for the bank and believed he could have stayed on to manage it through the latest crisis, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday … GIC’s support of Mr Gruebel until the very end also shows that while his leaving may have satisfied some shareholders, it hardly reassured the Singapore fund, which owns 6.4 per cent of the bank.” (Sorry I don’t have the link as I got the report via BT Online.)

Given that GIC is the single largest shareholder and supported his plan, and the board was meeting in S’pore, GIC should have been consulted. Would any company where Warren Buffett is the single largest shareholder dare sack a CEO that had his backing? Unlikely.

Time for GIC to gain some respect by flexing its financial muscles. No more Ang Moh Tua Kee pls.

UBS: Why GIC may have to take a loss

In Banks, GIC on 20/09/2011 at 7:31 am

The investment bank of UBS “now looks as likely to die as it is to live,” writes Felix Salmon of Reuters. Selling or spinning off the unit don’t look like great options in the current environment, he says.

So there goes GIC thesis of a unique franchise combining wealth mgt and investment banking.

Remember, GIC has a 6.4% interest in this dog with fleas and GIC is down around S$10bn as of Thursday last week. Since then the loss has reduced to S$9.75bn. Even Mrs Goh Chok Tong would not call this sum “peanuts”.

Sumething must be rotten with UBS’ mgt systems

In Banks, Corporate governance on 19/09/2011 at 9:49 am

Not easy to lose US$2bn. It takes a large amount of capital to be put at risk and one has to settle trades with real money. And one has to know how to fool the risk management system.As someone who has “arbitraged”, I know that if I can’t close positions on the same day, someone in the firm will know abt the trades as the firm has to borrow money to fund a trade, or expect payment from a counterparty.

As this article explains, it’s never a one- person show, no matter what mgt claims.

What’s yr advice on UBS, TT?

In Banks, GIC on 16/09/2011 at 7:31 am

GIC’s big loss-making investment in UBS happened on Tony Tan’s watch at GIC.

Given the latest problem at UBS, a US$2bn “unauthorized” loss (anyone ever heard of an “authorized” loss?”, and Tony Tan’s boasting of his expertise, PM should ask him for advice on what to do with this long-term investment?

Too bad, the president can only give advice and be a security guard. In investment management and investment banking, there is a school of thought that believes that those who created the shit, should clean up the mess themselves.

Update at 4.15pm on 16 September 2011

Local paper reported that the book loss on GIC’s 6.4% in UBS is S$10bn based on yesterday’s closing price of UBS shares.

Temasek the hedge fund?

In Banks, China, Temasek on 01/09/2011 at 8:29 am

A consortium that includes Temasek and its wholly owned hedge fund Seatown Holdings has acquired a 5% stake in China Construction Bank it was reported on 30 August 2011

It had unloaded a portion of its own stake in the Chinese lender about a month ago, when, by my calculations, the price of CCB shares was  abt 10% higher. And given that it bought the latest batch of shares at a discount, Temask could have made 20% on the sale and repurchase.

Gd trade.

Description of trades

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2011/08/30/business/business-us-bankofamerica-ccb.html?nl=business&emc=dlbka32

Masterclass in analysis: Buffett’s BOA deal

In Banks, Financial competency, Investments on 28/08/2011 at 8:08 am

When Warren E. Buffett invests in a troubled company, he gets a good deal. Dealbreaker’s Matt Levine crunched the numbers on Mr. Buffett’s Bank of America investment and estimates that the bank’s implied stock price in the $5 billion deal was $5.28 per share, more than $2 lower than where it currently trades. Note the way he uses less than precise assumptions to avoid getting into complications.

http://dealbreaker.com/2011/08/how-much-did-warren-buffett-pay-for-bofa-anyway/

Standard Chartered beats forecasts with 17% profit rise

In Banks, India, Temasek on 04/08/2011 at 7:51 am

London-based, Asia-focused Standard Chartered Bank (Temasek owns 19%) has reported that pre-tax profits for the first six months of the year were $3.6bn (£2.2bn), up 17% from last year.

Profits grew in all the regions where Standard Chartered operates, except for its biggest market, India, where profits fell by 5%.

Profits grew by 23% in Hong Kong, 34% in Singapore, 14%in South Korea and 19% in China.Income from the Middle East grew 4%, in Africa it grew 10% and in the Americas and Europe it grew 11%.

It blamed rising interest rates, growing competition and regulatory changes for falling profits in India.  It made a big bet in India financing takeover details. Will be interesting to see if these give the bank the same death-defying experiences as it gave some Wall Strret banks in the 1980s and 1990s. http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/stanchart-getting-too-aggressive/

HSBC: Cutting the fat

In Banks on 02/08/2011 at 9:42 am

HSBC has said it will cut 30,000 jobs by 2013 and exit operations in 20 countries as it looks to save billions of dollars.

The announcement came as the bank reported pre-tax profits for the first six months of the year of $11.5bn (£7bn), up 3% on the $11.1bn the bank made a year earlier. A very decent set of results.

As a shareholder, I can only say “about time”.

Gd analysis  http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/08/01/hsbc-to-cut-25000-more-jobs/?nl=business&emc=dlbka8

OCBC: look after yr shareholders, not yr creditors or regulators

In Banks on 30/06/2011 at 10:57 am

First, Banking 101. The more capital a bank is required to hold, the less it can lend. It will make smaller profits, compared to a bank that needs to hold less capital.

Next some definitions. DBS Group, United Overseas Bank (UOB), OCBC Bank are required to hold a minimum Tier 1 capital adequacy ratio (CAR) of 6% and a total CAR of 10%.

International rules will require banks to hold a minimum common equity Tier 1 (CET1) CAR of 4.5%. MAS has decided that locally incorporated banks meet this rule from Jan 1, 2013 – two years ahead of the international 2015 timeline.

MAS will raise the minimum CET1 CAR to 6.5% from Jan 1, 2015. It will also bring the minimum Tier 1 CAR to 8%. The total CAR will remain at 10%.

MAS will also introduce a capital conservation buffer of 2.5% above the CET1 CAR. This will be phased in from 2016 to 2019.

So by 2019  locally incorporated banks will have to maintain a CET1 CAR of at least 9%, Tier 1 CAR of 8%. and CAR at 10%.

But one OCBC estimates that  its CET1 CAR would be around 10.8% cent based on the bank’s financial position as at March 31, 2o11. Its Tier 1 and total CAR are estimated at 14.1% and 16.9% respectively.

It’s only 2011 but OCBC’s CET1CAR is 20% above 2019’s required  levels, while  Tier 1 and total CAR are 76% and 69% more than required.

This is a lot higher than needed for a bank whose main markets (S’pore, Malaysia and Hong Kong) are safe, mature and well regulated markets. True OCBC is also into “cowboy” countries like China and Indonesia but these countries contribute little to revenue.

Too much capital relative to assets and liabilities is unfair to shareholders, while not benefiiting depositors and other creditors. It only makes life easy for regulators.

So OCBC should return excess capital in the form of dividends (I’m not in favour of buy-backs, something I’ll explain one of these days). Of course OCBC could decide to increase its balance sheet, but that usually leads to tears for shareholders.

Related post

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/local-bank-investors-are-strange/

Local bank investors are strange

In Banks on 12/05/2011 at 11:23 am

Yesterday the three local banks did well with investors demanding their shares.

In a Bloomberg survey on the world’s strongest banks, S’pore banks occupied three of the top 10 positions. OCBC was number one, DBS was 5th and UOB was 6th.

If I were a shareholder in one of these three banks, I’d be upset that the banks were such inefficient users of capital because the stronger the bank is, the less its earnings potential.

Standard Chartered was ranked 15th. It needs to have plenty of capital around because it does business in some really difficult markets like places like the Ivory Coast where its operations were closed for several months.

It also does some risky business like lending for M&A transactions in India.

Our three local banks operate in safe markets. OCBC and UOB are heavily dependent on S’pore and M’sia while DBS is dependent on S’pore and HK. Yes they also do business in riskier places like Indonesia (all three), mainland China (again all three) and India (DBS). But these places contribute “peanuts” to earnings and assets.

They are also conservative in the businesses that they do.

So they don’t need to be such inefficient users of capital. They can easy operate safely with capital ratios similar to that of Standard Chartered. Thois would increase earnings.

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