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Posts Tagged ‘JPMorgan’

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.

StanChart a takeover target?

In Banks, Emerging markets, Temasek on 22/09/2010 at 5:24 am

(Updated on 13 October)

No not Temasek as predator. Remember it has 18% of StanChart.

But what abt JP Morgan? Top FT reporter Francesco Guerrera analyses

The international conundrum is more complex. JPMorgan earns some 75 per cent of its revenues in the US, a slow-growing, developed country. By contrast, Citi derives some 40 per cent of its revenues from Latin America and Asia, emerging economies with a bright future that are also HSBC’s stomping ground.

Those lenders’ competitive advantage is their ability to offer boring-but-lucrative commercial banking and cash management services to thousands of companies.

JPMorgan has a deep commercial banking network in the US – its most profitable business – but lags overseas.

The bank already works with more than 2,000 foreign companies but Mr Dimon would love to get that number to nearer 4,000 and do more with each of them.

To this end, JPMorgan is adding 250 bankers and $50bn in extra lending to lure foreign companies. But that could take decades and the bank might want to shorten the wait with bolt-on acquisitions (as its investment bank did with Britain’s Cazenove and RBS Sempra).

The recent moves by Heidi Miller, a veteran executive, to lead the international effort, and Doug Braunstein, a takeover specialist, to the role of finance chief, certainly point in that direction.

But, as my GPS intones when I get lost, “there is a better way” – in theory at least – and it leads to Standard Chartered.

A well-run, commercial and retail bank with strongholds in Asia, Latin America and Africa, StanChart could be the answer to Mr Dimon’s problems.

It would not come cheap – its valuation is well above JPMorgan’s – and a bid by Mr Dimon would trigger a war with HSBC and China’s ICBC, among others.

But JPMorgan’s good health affords its chief the luxury of time.

On 12 October 2010, StanChart was up 2% on rumours that JP Chase would bid.

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