Archive for the ‘Banks’ Category

HoHoHo: StanChart’s capital shortfall

In Banks, China, Emerging markets, Temasek on 09/10/2015 at 1:08 pm

FT reported earlier today:

Goldman Sachs analysts predicted on Thursday that StanChart would face an estimated capital shortfall of $4bn in the Bank of England’s stress tests, which measure how the lender would fare in an emerging markets crisis.
But Goldman estimated that StanChart could cover this shortfall by selling its stakes in several Asian lenders and exiting low-returning clients and businesses, such as its smaller retail branch networks.

Related post: Why Little India now includes Marina Bay

But let’s be fair: When emerging mkts and commodities (StanChart has high levels of lending to the crumbling commodities sector) were fashionable 9lucrative) it was the right bank to be invested in. FYI according to Nomura 50% of its revenue is related to China.

Given  the exposure to China by HoHo Ho and GIC, ttme for Ah Loong to call Xi and offer him advice on how to fix the Chinese economy? Can lend him Tharman who is lauded in int’l circles.

HSBC: Dividends/ StanChart is “Little India”

In Banks, India on 07/10/2015 at 10:01 am

From NYT Dealbook:

Skeptics of HSBC Dividend Are in for a Surprise The bank’s prospective dividend yield of about 6.5 percent is high, but investors worried about its payout shouldn’t fret much, Paul J. Davies writes in the Heard on the Street column.

FT reported that India is so impt to StanChart that it’s planning to set up a subsidiary so that it can expand its branch network there. A wag commented: “In Singapore there is an area known as “Little India” (I had lunch in the area yesterday). Go into the offices of StanChart’s regional office here and any S’porean would think that “Little India” has expanded into the Marina Bay area.”

StanChart: Did you know?/ Glencore: Sinking fast

In Banks, China, Commodities, GIC, Temasek on 29/09/2015 at 1:06 pm

It was reported last week in the FT that Standard Chartered awarded Bill Winters, its CEO, shares worth more than 6 million pounds, or about $9 million, to compensate the bank’s new CEO for income he forfeited by leaving the hedge fund he founded. The upfront payment comes as the shares have hit new six-year lows.

Meanwhile GIC must be ruing not selling out of Glencore because on Monday in London

Shares in commodity giant Glencore plunged 30% after analysts raised fears about lower metal prices.

The company’s shares dropped to a new record low of 69p on Monday, helping push the FTSE 100 down 2%.

Analysts warned slumping metal prices could leave Glencore shares almost worthless because of its heavy debts.

Why did everything go wrong for Glencore? 

Whatever both StanChart and Glencore are suffering from China’s slowdown. And HoHOHO is still betting big on China (see previous story)?

Temasek, DBS buying into Chinese PosBank?

In Banks, China, Temasek on 29/09/2015 at 4:32 am

China’s Postal Savings Bank Said to Be Near $6.5 Billion Sale. Postal Savings Bank of China, which has the most outlets of any lender in the nation, is nearing an agreement to raise more than $6.5 billion from investors including UBS Group and Temasek Holdings ahead of a planned initial public offering, Bloomberg News reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

(NYT Dealbook last Thursday)

The story also says that DBS will buy a stake.

HohoHo still bullish on China it seems and doubling her bets down. The problem for us is that these stakes cannot be divested completely without upsetting the Chinese. The ang moh banks were able to divest their cornerstone stakes in Chinese banks. They like Temasek got their stakes at “special” prices, but unlike them Temasek is stuck with these stakes, only able to add or decrease at the margins.

Meanwhile rights issues are expected necause of expected bad loans.

China Contrarians

In Banks, China, Private Equity, Property on 24/09/2015 at 3:20 pm

HSBC to Add 4,000 Jobs in 4 Years in China HSBC is planning a 30 percent increase from 13,000 employees in the Pearl River Delta in spite of the bank’s three-year plan to cut global headcount by 50,000 and reduce annual costs by up to $5 billion. (NYT Dealbook)

HSBC has been given permission to issue a Panda bond (a first foe a foreign bank). The greater ability  to access to local fundraising bodes well for the bank’s Pearl Delta plans.

What is most striking about George Osborne’s Chinese tour is he is doubling his political and economic bet on the world’s number two economy at a time when that economy is looking its most fragile for 30 years.

His calculation is that China’s economy will slow in a relatively contained way to a more sustainable rate – perhaps 4% or 5% a year compared with the official target of 7% – without a devastating crash that would damage a large number of client economies and engender social unrest in China itself (in employing the great Goldman bull of China Jim O’Neill as his commercial minister, Osborne could hardly wager otherwise).

The chancellor’s calculation is that the Chinese will remember who stuck by them when the going got tougher.

And he is also presuming that as the returns from investing in China itself diminish, Chinese institutions – many of them still loaded – will increasingly think owning a bit of Britain isn’t such a crazy idea after all.

Blackstone Hunts for Property Opportunities in China “Volatility can be your friend if you have a medium-to long-term perspective,” said Christopher Heady, head of the private equity firm’s Asia real-estate business.

(NYT Dealbook)

HoHoHO: StanChart upsets US again

In Banks, Temasek on 22/09/2015 at 1:40 pm

Documents seen by the FT suggest that the bank continued to seek new business from Iranian and Iran-connected companies after it had committed to stop working with such clients in 2007.

The US authorities are looking into the matter.

Rogue bank strikes again? Think got Temasek as major shareholder can be as yaya papaya as Amos Yee?

HoHoHo: Temasek & GIC China plays

In Banks, China, Commodities, Emerging markets, GIC, Temasek on 14/09/2015 at 11:03 am

Reason for Glencore (GIC) and StanChart (HoHoHo back at work at Temasek soon) on the chart


Even small changes in demand from China’s vast economy can have a knock-on effect on prices.

As Glencore has found out to its cost.


FT reports that according to Nomura, half of StanChart’s Asian revenue in the first half of 2015. More

NYT Dealbook last Tuesday.

MORE SIGNS OF A SHARPER SLOWDOWN IN CHINA Once the world’s workshop, China’s exports are facing their most protracted declines since the global financial crisis, Neil Gough writes in The New York Times. China’s trade slump deepened in August – an indication of a sharper industrial slowdown at home and weaker demand from overseas. Exports fell 5.5 percent in August and 1.4 percent in dollar terms in the first eight months of the year.

The country’s manufacturing sector is losing competitiveness as labor costs rise and the renminbi remains relatively strong despite its devaluation, making Chinese goods more expensive for foreign buyers.

Imports are falling even more steeply. They fell for the 10th month in a row in August, recording a drop of 14 percent by value. Economists blame the rout in commodity prices, but imports have fallen in volume too. The falling imports of industrial raw materials point to weakening domestic demand, driven by a slump in manufacturing and new housing construction.

The weak trade data weighed on markets, with Japan’s main index, the Nikkei 225, closing 2.4 percent lower. In Shanghai, stocks initially fell when the trade figures were released, but heavy buying in the afternoon set off a rally. Shares closed 2.9 percent higher – a pattern seen often in recent weeks, as China’s government appears to continue its efforts to support the slumping stock markets.

China’s leadership made the surprise decision last month to devalue the currency by about 3 percent, the renminbi’s sharpest drop in two decades. But the central bank has since intervened in the markets on a massive scale, fighting pressure to weaken the currency further by selling dollars and buying renminbi.

As a result, China is burning through foreign exchange reserves at the fastest pace yet. Reserves fell by nearly $100 billion in August alone, though they are still huge at $3.56 trillion.

Still, analysts say that the recent devaluation was most likely too modest to give China’s exports much of a boost, and that the exchange rate is still stronger than China’s slowing economic growth would otherwise support.

HoHoHo: StanChart has another problem

In Banks, China, Emerging markets, Temasek on 27/08/2015 at 1:42 pm

StanChart is expected to call for a rights issue by yr end. But mkt turmoil will make this difficult and expensive.

FT reports

“StanChart has been one of the hardest hit by the market turmoil. Shares in the bank, which is listed in London but specialises in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, have fallen a quarter this month and are down two-thirds in the past two years.

‘One investment banker said worries about slowing Asian growth and falling commodity prices risked creating “a perfect storm” for StanChart that would make it “much tougher to sell new shares” to investors.”

Note that FT reports that according to Nomura, half of StanChart’s Asian revenue in the first half of 2015 and less than 10% of HSBC’s came from China proper.

And that “from trading at more than double its tangible book value, its market value is now a third less than its assets, a discount even to big victims of the financial crisis, such as Royal Bank of Scotland.”


HSBC shareholders juz got lucky/ China blues

In Banks, China on 25/08/2015 at 1:42 pm

Bozo Gulliver earlier this yr decided to pivot towards the Pearl Delta estuary, cutting fat from other places to build muscle here. The collapse in July in the Chinese stock markets had him back-pedalling about becoming big in China.

Now with China in retreat, he’d be a real Bozo to put money into China.

We shareholders had a narrow escape. Thanks to luck rather than good management.

But we will still suffer

FT reports that according to Nomura, less than 10 per cent of HSBC’s came from China proper.

… could be in for a rough ride if the swing in China’s currency is the start of a prolonged devaluation

The most obvious effect of a weaker currency is valuation losses on banks’ loans and trading assets in China, which many have used as a bridgehead in the world’s second-largest economy. A lower currency could also spell trouble for customers in China who have borrowed US dollars or euros but are earning renminbi — the “classic FX mismatch,” in the words of Keith Pogson, senior partner of EY’s Asia-Pacific financial services team.

Western banks also face risks from domestic Chinese counterparts which have borrowed dollars to lend to their own clients. “Asian banks are extremely used to borrowing cheap dollars through interbank markets and then relending it,” said one London-based banker. “In the next couple of years there could be bigger problems if China’s going to carry on devaluing.”

And let’s hope the cash from Brazil will not be squandered by Bozo.


Commentary at

Not HoHoHo’s kind of banks

In Banks on 19/08/2015 at 1:42 pm

BRAZIL BANKS BOOM IN GOOD TIMES AND BAD Although Brazil’s economy has been bumped by the ups and downs of global commodity prices and the manufacturing sector has stagnated, the nation’sbanking industry has been making impressive gains, Dan Horch writes in DealBook. The combined annual profits of Brazil’s four biggest banks have grown more than 850 percent to just more than $20 billion, from $2.1 billion, in the 12 years of Workers’ Party rule.

Brazil’s largest and third-largest banks, Banco do Brasil and Caixa Econômica Federal, do not even have profit as their sole mandate. The government controls both and obliges them to engage in less profitable operations as a public service.

The two giant private sector banks, Itaú and Bradesco, consistently earnreturns on equity – a measure of how much a company can earn out of each dollar invested – of about 20 percent. Big banks in the United States usually manage only about half as much.

The banks face little competition. A banking crisis in the 1990s threatened scores of financial institutions with insolvency and the authorities have encouraged a string of mergers and acquisitions. The four biggest banks have more than 70 percent of the banking system’s total assets. Bradesco’s deal to acquire HSBC’s operations in Brazil for $5.2 billion will bringalmost 75 percent of total assets under the control of the top four banks – near the maximum that the central bank established in 2012.

They have been helped by government policies and economic trends. Interest rates are high: In the free credit market, which excludes government subsidized loans for housing and infrastructure, Brazilian consumers pay on average 58.6 percent interest, and businesses pay 27.5 percent to borrow money.

A history of high inflation, sharp currency fluctuations and large government budget deficits makes it expensive for the government to borrow money. The central bank’s basic rate, which it pays on the local equivalent of Treasury bills, is 14.25 percent.

The average spread – the difference between what banks pay to gain access to capital and what they charge to lend it out – is 30.7 percent in the free credit market.

Not all of that is profit. Taxes and regulatory cost are high and about to get higher – the government just announced a plan to further increase taxes on bank profits. Default is also a serious risk. Nearly 56 million Brazilians, more than a quarter of the country’s population, have missed enough debt payments to be on the blacklist of Serasa Experian, a credit reporting bureau. The spreads are easily wide enough to compensate for that.

When times are bad, the banks can also get support from the government. The Treasury sells bonds that protect investors against inflation, as certain United States Treasury bonds do. It also offers bonds that increase their payouts when interest rates rise or the currency devalues.

When banks sense a deterioration in the economy, they can scale back on loans and move toward these government-backed investments. As a result, the recent inflation of nearly 9 percent, the plunging currency and the rise in interest rates have all helped bolster bottom lines at banks. As Luiz Fernando de Paula, an economics professor at Rio de Janeiro State University, says, “The government pays the price instead.”

NYT Dealbook

HoHoHo StanChart goes on a wild sled ride

In Banks, China, Currencies, Temasek on 18/08/2015 at 1:31 pm

FT reports that according to Nomura, half of StanChart’s Asian revenue in the first half of 2015 and less than 10 per cent of HSBC’s came from China proper.

Both “could be in for a rough ride if the swing in China’s currency is the start of a prolonged devaluation

The most obvious effect of a weaker currency is valuation losses on banks’ loans and trading assets in China, which many have used as a bridgehead in the world’s second-largest economy. A lower currency could also spell trouble for customers in China who have borrowed US dollars or euros but are earning renminbi — the “classic FX mismatch,” in the words of Keith Pogson, senior partner of EY’s Asia-Pacific financial services team.”

Western banks also face risks from domestic Chinese counterparts which have borrowed dollars to lend to their own clients. “Asian banks are extremely used to borrowing cheap dollars through interbank markets and then relending it,” said one London-based banker. “In the next couple of years there could be bigger problems if China’s going to carry on devaluing.”

HSBC and karma

In Banks, China on 31/07/2015 at 12:51 pm
When I read in FT “Corporate giants sound profits alarm over China slowdown”, I tot of Gulliver’s plans to expand in the Canton region

HSBC needs a new CEO.

But maybe after that glorious era of three great executive chairmen Sandberg, Purvis and Bond, we got to go thru Greens and Gulliver. That gut in between  the two G’s wasn’t too bad.

Which reminded me of this from NYT’s Dealbook:

WHY BARCLAYS C.E.O. WAS OUSTED In his three years as chief executive of Barclays, Antony Jenkins worked to change the bank’s culture to make it more risk-averse and to improve the bank’s capital, but that wasn’t enough for the bank’s directors, Chad Bray writes in DealBook. John McFarlane, the Barclays chairman, noted on Wednesday that the stock price was still around the same level it was six years ago and that the company’s dividend remained flat. Management’s plans to reward shareholders were “too far out in the future,” he said. Mr. Jenkins also differed with Thomas King, the head of the investment banking business, over the unit’s strategic direction, people with knowledge of the discussions told Mr. Bray.


HoHoHo, StanChart got wrong CEO?

In Banks, Emerging markets, Temasek on 24/07/2015 at 1:04 pm

But first, shumething from the respected Terry Xu of TOC

Standard Chartered Shakes Up Management Structure The British bank will be organized around three business lines, and top managers will report directly to the new chief executive, William T. Winters.

Did the recruiters at Standard Chartered and Credit Suisse get their dossiers mixed up?

Bill Winters is beginning his tenure as the new boss of the London-based emerging market lender at around the same time that Tidjane Thiam takes charge of the Swiss bank. Both are capable financial executives, but their experiences seem uncannily to better suit the other’s job. That they’ve wound up where they did, rather than where their resumes would suggest they should have, may say more about where the institutions they lead are headed.

Winters, who on July 19 reshaped StanChart’s management structure so that the heads of its major business units now report to him directly rather than to deputy Mike Rees, made his career leading JPMorgan’s investment bank in London … This would appear to eminently qualify him to run Credit Suisse. Its investment bank – stronger in the United States than elsewhere – competes directly with JPMorgan. And its private bank needs to more aggressively poach the very rich folks that Renshaw Bay, the firm he founded, calls customers.

Instead, $48 billion Credit Suisse got an insurance executive, French-educated Ivorian Thiam. True, he showed an affinity for deals as chief executive of Prudential, the UK insurer: an aborted attempt to snatch American International Group’s Asian operations was particularly bold. Private banking arguably should be run more like insurance than investment banking or trading.

Similar thinking prevailed when Barclays named a retail banker to the helm three years ago. But the British lender let Antony Jenkins go on July 8 partly because it needs someone capable of making an investment bank hum.

Though Credit Suisse may not be pre-eminent in Asia, Thiam’s experience there could help rectify that. Of course, that’s the region where $39 billion StanChart is strongest. And Africa, where Thiam was born, is one of StanChart’s prime growth areas. By contrast, Winters’ orientation has been to developed markets – places his bank shows zero interest in pursuing.

HSBC’s 1979 gift keeps paying for itself

In Banks, China, Emerging markets, Hong Kong, Uncategorized on 01/07/2015 at 1:33 pm

Li ka-shing accounted for 70% of HSBC’s global M&A advisory work in 2015 according to the FT.

HSBC sold him its stake in Hutchison Whampoa at a very special “For you only” price in 1979. This gave him face and showed that HSBC was aligning itself with the Chinese tycoons not the ang moh houses like Jardines. The then Oz CEO of Hutch said he could have gotten a better price for the stake. He was told by HSBC to mind his own business because he was an employee. HSBC had hired him to turn round Hutch which he.

Long term greed.

Shareholders need to find a new Sandberg and Purvis combination, with John Bond assisting. We know the damage (think sub-prime and Safra) that Bond can do when not supervised by adults. But I’m to harsh. During his tenure, HSBC had a one-for-one bonus and the ex-bonus share price almost reached the cum price. And there was a deeply discounted share issue to pay for the losses in the US.

But at the very least we need a  home-grown John Cryan*. Off with Gulliver’s head.

Gulliver sucks, like Anshu Jain and has to go. Capital markets investment bankers are not usually rational, cold and deep thinkers

As Lex rightly pointed out a few weeks ago, Hongkong Bank is trying to cut fat and grow muscle. Us sporty fatties know that this is real hard work and often fails. Taz why we are still fatties. Gulliver failed to trim fat and is lousy at PR (When Blatter said he couldn’t be expected to know everything at FIFA, I tot of Gulliver’s remarks on managing HSBC.). And now he wants to cut fat and grow muscle?

Failed in cutting costs and now wants to do something even hardEer? Pigs are likely to fly first. Or i’ll lose some serious fat and put some muscle.

He’d likely cut muscle and grow fat. Maybe expansion into the industrial heartland that is the Pearl Delta estuary isn’t the greatest idea? “Poll shows 25% of foreign businesses plan China job cuts,” is the top FT headline on my PC screen.


*And if there’s no-one homegrown do what the Germans did, go find someone and put the chap in charge of the board’s audit committee. Great hands-on experience and sreep learning curve.

I always believe that in most cases there is always someone inhouse in a company with a strong corporate culture who can do the CEO’s job: the problem is finding the guy and the board having the balls to appoint the “unknown”.

US Marshalls make Christ’s vicar bow down

In Banks on 16/06/2015 at 1:35 pm

Vatican to Comply With U.S. Tax Evasion Law. The Vatican has agreed to comply with Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which means banks operating there will have to transmit information on accounts held by American taxpayers to American authorities,

NYT Dealbook

HSBC: Desperately seeking home-grown John Cryan

In Banks, China, Corporate governance, Emerging markets, Hong Kong on 11/06/2015 at 10:19 am

As a long suffering Hongkong Bank shareholder (But to be fair, I was there when John Bond called a bonus issue and the share price post bonus issue almost reached the pre bonus share price and I was there when the bank called for a massive deeply discounted during the crisis rights issue), who is the inhouse John Cryan*?

John Cryan the incoming UBS boss is rational, cold, deep thinker and no show-off(NYT Dealbook).

Hongkong Bank needs a rational, cold, deep thinker who is not accident-prone.

Gulliver sucks, like Anshu Jain and has to go. Capital markets investment bankers are not usually rational, cold and deep thinkers

As Lex rightly points out, Hongkong Bank is trying to cut fat and grow muscle. Us sporty fatties know that this is real hard work and often fails. Taz why we are still fatties. Gulliver failed to trim fat and is lousy at PR (When Blatter said he couldn’t be expected to know everything at FIFA, I tot of Gulliver’s remarks on managing HSBC.). And now he wants to cut fat and grow muscle?

Failed in cutting costs and now wants to do something EVEN hardER? Pigs are likely to fly first.

He’d likely cut muscle and grow fat. Maybe expansion into the industrial heartland that is the Pearl Delta estuary isn’t the greatest idea? “Poll shows 25% of foreign businesses plan China job cuts,” is the top FT headline on my PC screen.


*And if there’s no-one homegrown do what the Germans did, go find someone and put the chap in charge of the board’s audit committee. Great hands-on experience and sreep learning curve.

I always believe that in most cases there is always someone inhouse in a company with a strong corporate culture who can do the CEO’s job: the problem is finding the guy and the board having the balls to appoint the “unknown”.

HSBC should return to its roots

In Banks, China, Emerging markets, Hong Kong on 09/06/2015 at 1:28 pm

No not as a narco-bank for the modern day equvalent of the Jardines, Mathesons and Sassons who were the drug barons of the early 19th century smuggling opium into China

It should remember that the HS stands for Hongkong and Shanghai and that it was once known as Hongkong Bank (when it was kicked out of China)

HSBC should focus on its jewel in the East

Here’s a good idea that (almost certainly) will not be announced by HSBC at its big strategy day on Tuesday: split the bank in two, and let only the Asian business base itself in Hong Kong.

UBS analyst John-Paul Crutchley is the author of the inspired demerger idea, which starts by arguing that “taking the accumulated baggage of the last three decades home may not be the best course of action”.

Baggage may seem a harsh description of the non-Asian parts of HSBC, including its UK retail banking operation, but Crutchley reckons the Hong Kong Asia-Pacific bank accounts for 80% of HSBC’s market valuation while deploying less than half the equity. It is the jewel. Indeed, the analyst reckons HSBC’s share price could be twice the current 619p if the group had decided in the 1980s to stick with its Asian franchise and not pursue all the deals and acquisitions elsewhere.

That observation illustrates the fact that HSBC management’s head-scratching over where to base the bank is something of a sideshow. Dodging the full impact of the UK bank levy by redomiciling the whole shebang to Hong Kong might save $1bn a year. But, even if one assumes such a saving is worth $12bn in today’s money, that’s only the equivalent of 44p on the share price. The bigger question is: what’s the best way to manage this vast sprawling group?

A demerger is not a cure-all but it would deliver a few advantages. The Hong Kong end could concentrate on combating increased competition from Chinese banks. Rump HSBC could be more vigorous in allocating capital to the parts of the business generating better returns. And, since regulators are piling heavier capital and compliance costs on very big global banks, both bits might benefit from being part of smaller organisations.

It’s an idea HSBC is highly unlikely to adopt. But a dose of bold thinking is arguably exactly what it needs to awaken a slumbering share price. Flogging the Brazilian and Turkish operations – Tuesday’s likely highlights – probably won’t be enough to excite shareholders.

From Guardian

StanChart has Middle Eastern personnel problems

In Banks, Emerging markets, Temasek on 04/06/2015 at 12:04 pm

Standard Chartered Said to See Exodus in Mideast Operations The high-profile departures at Standard Chartered include the global head of Islamic banking, the chief executive for the United Arab Emirates and the chief executive for Bahrain, Bloomberg News reports, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

(From over a week ago)

Ho, Ho, Ho, StanChart should do this too

In Banks, Emerging markets, Temasek on 03/06/2015 at 2:10 pm

Up to 20,000 people (8% of current work force) could be sacked at HSBC as the chief executive attempts to pacify investors by reducing costs to improve profits (see below): Us shareholders getting shirty.

Temasek, Aberdeen and other major shareholders should tell StanChart to cut its headcount. Although an ang moh bank, many of its senior and middle managers are “countrymen”, especially here in S’pore (Brits and Hongkies don’t love FTs that much). Ask presedential candidate Tan Jee Say and PAP FT MP Ms Foo: They had Indian FTs ahead, behind and beside them. Rumour has it that Indian FTs sacked both for non-performance, replacing them with less experienced and qualified “countrymen”.

The chief executive of HSBC, Stuart Gulliver, is expected to signal next week that thousands of jobs are to be cut when he outlines his latest strategy for the global banking business, according to reports.

After he took the helm in 2011, Gulliver outlined the need for 25,000 job cuts from a global workforce that then stood at 296,000. The annual report for 2014 puts the current number of employees at 266,000, or 257,600 full-time equivalents.

Another 10,000-20,000 cuts are reported to be on the cards as Gulliver attempts to pacify investors by reducing costs in an effort to bolster profitability. He is also expected to use the strategy day on 9 June to provide an update on plans to further retrench internationally, including from Brazil and Turkey.

What Citi and UBS pleaded guilty to

In Banks, GIC on 26/05/2015 at 1:12 pm

Below is a summary of what Citi and UBS (Harry’s “forever” investments) pleaded guilty to from NYT’s Dealbook

HEAVY FINES FOR FOREIGN EXCHANGE COLLUSION At big banks, foreign exchange trading seemed like the ideal business – relatively low risk for solid revenues. But “what seemed like the perfect business turned out to be the perfect breeding ground for crime,” Michael Corkery and Ben Protess write in DealBook. Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland pleaded guilty to a series of federal crimes over a scheme to manipulate the value of the world’s currencies, the Justice Department said Wednesday. A fifth bank, UBS, was also accused of foreign currency manipulation but was not criminally charged because it had alerted the Justice Department to possible misconduct. However, the accusations cost the bank an earlier nonprosecution agreement related to the manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor.

Prosecutors said traders at the five banks colluded from at least 2007 to 2013. “To carry out the scheme, one trader would typically build a huge position in a currency, then unload it at a crucial moment, hoping to move prices. Traders at the other banks would play along, coordinating their actions in online chat rooms,” Mr. Corkery and Mr. Protess write. The foreign exchange business may have been particularly susceptible to manipulation because it can be less profitable than other forms of trading, which increases the pressure for the traders to look for alternative ways to pad their returns, analysts said. Also, no one government agency is responsible for policing the currency market, creating a regulatory void.

The five banks, which also struck civil settlements with the Federal Reserve, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a British regulator and New York’s financial regulator, agreed to pay $5.6 billion in penalties. That is in addition to the $4.25 billion that some of these banks agreed to pay in November to many regulators. Together, the amount nearly equalsthe foreign exchange revenue generated at 10 of the world’s largest banks last year, which was $11.6 billion, according to Coalition, a financial analytics provider.

WILL PENALTIES CHANGE BANKS’ BEHAVIOR? What’s notable in the currency manipulation case is the ethos articulated by the traders involved. They called themselves “the mafia” and “the cartel,” and one Barclays trader wrote in an online chat room, “If you aint cheating, you aint trying.” In the White Collar Watch column, Peter J. Henning asks whether the guilty pleas and penalties will make a difference in how banks do business, noting that “even as penalty after penalty is paid by big banks in various cases, it seems as though the same cast of corporate characters keeps reappearing.”

He notes that guilty pleas from the big banks are “noticeably tougher” than the enforcement actions of the past, when violations drew only deferred or nonprosecution agreements. Yet the act of pleading guilty doesn’t carry the same stigma as it did in the past, Mr. Henning writes, because the government has tried to keep a guilty plea from hindering a bank’s operations. The Justice Department has also been demanding the identities of the employees behind the violations, but it’s unclear whether it will actually prosecute those people. “To change corporate culture and prevent violations from happening in the future, prosecutors may have to go beyond just demanding cooperation and threatening ever larger fines,” Mr. Henning contends.

Two of LKY’s “forever” banks are criminals

In Banks, GIC on 25/05/2015 at 1:02 pm

Shortly before Temasek sold, MM had said that S’pore Inc’s investments in Citi, UBS, and Merill Lynch had a time-frame of 30 yrs. Temasek held its ML investment for over a yr. GIC still owns shares in Citi (profitable), and UBS (big loss).

UBS and Citi are still owned by GIC are now big time crooks. Recently, JP Morgan, Barclays, Citigroup and Royal Bank of Scotland – pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the US relating to the rigging of currency markets.

The four, and Switzerland’s UBS, which pleaded guilty to a different charge, agreed to pay $5.7bn (£3.6bn) in fines.


StanChart: Ho, Ho, Ho on a wing and a prayer

In Banks, Emerging markets, Temasek on 20/05/2015 at 1:21 pm

Last yr when Temasek gave a media presentation on its results, the question on StanChart elicited a BS reply but which when viewed today tells a lot about Temasek’s strategy in dealing with dogs with fleas: “Everything will be alright in the long term”. Err remember Keynes said in the long run, we are all dead.

QUESTION: Could you give us some comments on how do you see StanChart performing in your portfolio because over the last few years, especially in the last year and a half and looking at the outlook as well, they seem to be finding it quite challenging and there was a profit warning as well. What is your plan for StanChart? Do you think that… is that something that you would like to exit in the long term or you would treat StanChart as another Olam where you could actually try to take over?

RS: So look, it’s obviously not fair for us to comment on individual companies but all I would say is that yes, a lot of our stocks go through volatility. Standard Chartered is an emerging markets bank and like all emerging markets banks, the stock over the last year has been quite volatile. We, however, see ourselves as long term investors, short term volatility doesn’t concern us. We look at our investments over a longer term and use our value test to decide whether what we do with those stocks and we remain as an active investor always engaged with the companies.

S’poreans hanna do NS for China: Ho Ho Ho

In Banks, China, Temasek on 18/05/2015 at 2:05 pm

We (or rather Temask but then even Ho Ching has said Temasek’s money is our money, something Roy and his fellow cybernuts pretend she never said) have a big bet on Chinese banks.

And recently I reported some bad news:

More bad news:

Chinese policymakers have ordered banks to keep lending to local government projects under construction, in a sign of concern that a crackdown on shadow financing has reduced municipalities’ spending and is hurting the economy.

Financial institutions which signed legally binding contracts before the end of 2014 to loan to money to construction projects backed by local government financing vehicles (LGFVs) must not stop lending or reduce the loan size, a document posted on the State Council website Friday said.

“It is necessary to support the financing needs of LGFV projects under construction and ensure an orderly continuation,” the regulators said in the document.

“This will help meet reasonable funding demand of the real economy, as well as effectively prevent and resolve fiscal and financial risk.”

LKY: Hegemon’s pet?/ How China treats a really old friend?

In Banks, China on 13/05/2015 at 4:20 am

This is what his pal, Henry Kissinger (US Secretary of State, National Security Adviser) said in tribute to LKY: “His theme was the indispensable U.S. contribution to the defense and growth of a peaceful world.”

Doesn’t the Kissinger comment sound like a pat on the head for the US’s pet? Remember, even a “weak” president like Obama believes that the US is the world’s “indispensable power”.

And even LKY’s own words show that he can sound like a cheer leader for the US: that the US really won the Vietnam war. The Economist recently wrote:

After the [Vietnam] war, the region boomed. American intervention in Vietnam no longer looked such an unmitigated disaster. Lee Kuan Yew portrayed it almost as a triumph: without it, South-East Asia would probably have fallen to the communists. America bought the region time and, by 1975, its countries were “in better shape” to stand up to them. The prosperous emerging-market economies they have become “were nurtured during the Vietnam war years”.

No wonder the US delegation was led by an ex-US president while China sent an unranked portlibtro member, showing how important LKY was to China and the respect it accorded him

If you want to see how China treats ‘lau peng youu”, think about this.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority says that it “takes a positive attitude should HSBC consider relocating its headquarters back to Hong Kong”, where it is the largest bank. HK is willing to be lender-of-last-resort to HSBC a bank with US$2,6 trillion in assets, despite HSBC being almost 9 times bigger than HK’s GDP.(More background:

To do such a thing Peking must have given its chop.

This reminded me that many years ago I read “Wayfoong” (The Chinese name for Hongkong Bank and the title of a book on HSBC’s 100 yrs of existence: this yr it’s 150). A fair chunk of the book (which interesting I borrowed from a public library in Sydney) was devoted on how it was a good friend of China in the late 19th century and early 20th century: it raised foreign loans for building the railway system and stabilising the currency. I tot, “What a lot of bull. Hongkong Bank was an exploiter of China and the Chinese. It was founded to finance the opium trade.

Well we know that the CCP has a long memory and an even longer grievance lis: witness Japan.

At least to me now the book is more believable than what the PAP and LKY said about his ties with the Chinese leaders.



Robin Hoods? Our private bankers/Why ministers may need a pay rise after GE?

In Banks, Energy on 11/05/2015 at 1:24 pm

They make rich S’porean clients poorer, taking from the rich to give to their even richer employers? They are really the “Princes of Thieves”, better than “Robin Hood “Prince of Thieves”.

Remember these bond deals pay good commissions to the private banks (and their private bankers): they get fees from their clients (for giving them access to these now toxic products), and the issuing companies (for stuffing their mullets with junk).

Go KPKB to CASE, CAD and the central bank. Hehehe. Wonder if millionaire ministers kannsa burnt? They’ll need a pay increase.

Remember DBS’ Indian FT blowing up its Treasured clients with credit notes? This could be alot worse for the private clients.

Singapore’s richest investors are hoping that “never” means about three years in the bond market.

Holders of perpetual notes with no set maturity face the island’s first redemption options in September, when three companies including oil services firms Ezra Holdings Ltd. and Swiber Holdings Ltd. can choose to repay securities sold in 2012. While Ezra says it plans to pay off the notes and refinance, their yield has surged more than 200 basis points over the last year to 14.2 percent, suggesting it may be costlier to replace them. Swiber faces the same test after saying it plans to redeem its bonds, which have added more than 230 basis points.

Private banks have snapped up the bulk of Singapore’s S$9.5 billion ($7.1 billion) of corporate perpetuals on behalf of wealthy clients, reckoning the companies would repay the notes at their soonest chance rather than incur higher interest rates when a so-called step-up coupon takes effect. While that would offer some compensation if the debt stays alive, any mishaps could shake faith in securities that have funded about 15 percent of the island’s corporate debt over the last four years.

If any issuers choose not to pay in September, “there would be some discomfort among investors when they realize that what they’ve been holding is not necessarily going to be paid off at the time they expected,” said Vishal Goenka, the Singapore-based head of local currency credit trading at Deutsche Bank AG. “There is nothing right or wrong, issuers have already told them from the beginning the option was there, but there would be some confusion.”
Demand for higher returns in Singapore bonds from the city’s swelling private banking industry has brought with it greater risks.

Three out of every 10 notes sold last year are yielding more than 6 percent. Halcyon Agri Corp. went to debtholders last month asking them to waive interest cover requirements before it’s even had to stump up a coupon payment. Bloomberg’s default model shows that VTB Capital SA has an almost 50 percent chance of reneging on its debt.

“The recent swings have been a good wake-up call,” said Vishal Goenka, the Singapore-based head of local currency trading in Asia for Deutsche Bank AG. “Investors need to analyze the credit quality of issuers more thoroughly.”

Junk-rated companies in Singapore must find funds to repay $2.1 billion of debt this year, up from $1.7 billion in 2014 and $1.1 billion in 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That accounts for 35 percent of all bonds maturing in Singapore in 2015. Wealthy clients of the island’s private banks snapped up 86 percent of the highest-yielding
And then there is the probability of a rise in US rates in September.

Temasek: If only chose Apple, not StanChart

In Banks, China, Temasek on 04/05/2015 at 1:48 pm

The big concentration on financials is to play the rising Asian middle class theme. A lot of the exposure goes into China banks (not looking good going forward) and StanChart.

Err should have juz bot Apple leh? Look at its price since 2005 when Jobs returned Ho Ching became CEO of Temasek in 2004, and Temasek started buying StanChart in 2006. She should have bot Apple.

Here’s why based on her thinking of riding the expansion of the Asian middle class (Not Italic bits below are my tots, snide comments).

What do two big American and European multinational corporations have in common? Not much on the surface when comparing consumer giant Apple to the FTSE-listed Standard Chartered bank.

However, both have been significantly affected by emerging markets in their first-quarter earnings. And how they’ve been affected is revealing of the way emerging economies have matured, particularly in Asia.

The emerging markets-focused bank, Standard Chartered, reported a big fall in pre-tax profits of more than one-fifth in the first quarter (22% to $1.47bn) as revenues fell by 4% and costs rose by 1%.

By contrast, Apple had a strong quarter where revenues rose by 27% to $58bn, driven by a 40% increase in sales of iPhones. More than 61 million were sold globally, and notably, the biggest market was China for the first time and no longer the US. [Demand from China’s middle classes, iPhone sales leapt 40% to 61.2m units.]

But iPad sales fell sharply by 29%, reflecting a weak spot in their figures. [Apple fixing this introducing new model for Jap aging market. If works in Jap, another big global winner.]

So, it’s a really tale of two emerging markets. [Ho, Ho, Ho]

One side of emerging economies is a concern over their slowdown in growth, which raises risks over loan repayments, not just in Asia but also commodity exporters in Africa and the Middle East.

These are Standard Chartered’s key markets. Indeed, Standard Chartered took a $476m charge on bad loans, which is 80% higher than the first quarter of last year, although loan impairments were lower than in the previous six months.

[Ho, Ho, Ho]

However, there’s also the consumer side of emerging markets to consider.

For Apple, China’s rapidly growing middle class generated an impressive 72% increase in sales of iPhones. And Greater China has even overtaken Europe to become Apple’s second largest market for the first time with revenues rising by 71% in that region to $16.8bn, which accounts for much of Apple’s strong performance. Net profit was a third higher at $13.6bn for the quarter.

So, as emerging markets, particularly in Asia, become middle income countries, companies that sell to those emerging consumers are well-positioned to benefit.

But the period of rapid economic growth, particularly via debt-heavy investment, of key emerging markets is seemingly over. And companies, particularly banks, are liable to struggle as those economies restructure toward being increasingly driven by consumption.

[Ho Ho Ho: so waz Temasek doing to get into the consumption plays? Olam? Asians eating more peanuts?]

My serious point that by focusing so much on financial services (30% of portfolio and not on consumer plays (outside of the Telecoms, Media & Technology sector: 24%), Temasek has for the last few years been betting on a three-legged horse. Other consumer plays are only a subset of Life Sciences, Consumer & Real Estate: 14%)

Temasek’s China banks: Strong headwinds

In Banks, China, Temasek on 03/05/2015 at 4:36 am

Temasek has stakes in three of the five major Chinese banks. See details here

An FT working for Reuters recently wrote

The biggest five banks reported a miserable sub-2 percent increase in earnings for the quarter, year on year. Two rate cuts have pressured their lending rates, and fees from other lines of business have slowed. A bigger drag is borrowers who can’t or won’t pay up. While bad debt levels are still low, charges for credit that hasn’t yet gone bad but might are leaping. These items increased by 73 percent year on year at China Minsheng Bank, and more than 50 percent at Agricultural Bank and Industrial Bank of China.

The valuations of big banks like ICBC, China Construction Bank and Bank of China are also burdened by the lenders’ role in big government schemes that are still not properly sketched out. Take the plan to reform local government finances by swapping some of the estimated 16 trillion yuan ($2.6 trillion) borrowed by regional authorities into new bonds. The new securities could leave banks holding the same credit risk in a different form, at deceptively low rates of interest.

China’s ambitions for global greatness also raises questions. Plans to roll out infrastructure under the clunkily named “one belt, one road” strategy are likely to involve hefty lending commitments. That may bring glory, but also pressure on banks to lend to projects that may take years to generate cash flows. In the meantime, if growth slows more at home, further rate cuts will add pressure to lenders’ margins.

Below is a Q&A from reported on Temasek’s website. It was asked, last yr,  at a media conference on Temasek’s 2014 Review

QUESTION: Can you confirm if the Chinese banks are the major drag on your relative underperformance last year and then what are your views and plans for them? Thanks.

WYB: The banking stock has been volatile. I would not say the Chinese banks are the major drag on our performance. They do fluctuate from time to time. Chinese economy – we remain very optimistic over the long term. The financial institutions we believe have ample capability to weather the current storm and be able to adjust to the risks they’re facing. So, we remain comfortable with our stakes and we will continue to invest in the financial institutions because they are good proxy for the long term growth for Chinese economy.

RS: If I could just add to that, as you would have seen in our presentation, we had mentioned that about half our portfolio consists of listed stocks in Singapore and stocks that are listed on the H-share in Hong Kong and you saw even the Straits Times Index over the last year had negative returns, so it was not any one set of stocks, it’s just that some of the areas that we had invested in had weak market performance. And again, you know, these are results as of a particular date, March 31st. You mentioned the Chinese banks. Since March 31st, they rebounded by 10 to 12% or even if you look at the Straits Times Index, that’s up about 4%. So, you know, we really look at long term returns and look at investments over the long term horizon and are fairly comfortable with short term market volatility.

Derivatives: where the next crisis is coming?

In Banks, Financial competency on 30/04/2015 at 5:12 pm

Citi and Merrill Lynch used to be known as the the banks that always joined a party when it was just about to go wrong. The sub-prime crisis proved the point.

Well Merrill Lynch no longer exists but Citi survived, just. Now it’s big in derivatives, very big and GIC still has a stake in it (It’s one of LKY’s forever investments). Let’s hope it’s not curtains Citi when derivatives tank.)

CITIGROUP’S RESURGENCE Seven years after Citigroup teetered on the brink, the bank’s traders and investment bankers have come roaring back,Peter Eavis writes in DealBook. The bank’s resurgence on Wall Street, which has involved acquiring huge amounts of derivatives, comes as many of its rivals pull back in the face of new regulations intended to make the financial system safer. But even as the bank has surged ahead, it has not trumpeted its comeback. Instead, its most senior executives have largely emphasized streamlining operations that have little to do with Wall Street, like agreeing to sell a unit that focuses on subprime loans.

Citigroup’s investment bank is no longer involved in the toxic activities that were most dangerous to the bank’s health, Mr. Eavis writes. The bank also has higher levels of capital, the financial buffer that reflects a bank’s ability to absorb losses. Such steps have helped it slowly regain favor with regulators. “Still, figures for Citigroup’s Wall Street operations show a bank that is on something of a tear,” Mr. Eavis adds. The unit that encompasses the firm’s investment bank, for instance, had $1.06 trillion of assets at the end of last year, a 12 percent increase from the level in 2010.

“Perhaps most astonishing is Citigroup’s meteoric growth in derivatives, the financial contracts that allow banks and investors to place bets without actually owning an underlying stock, bond or currency,” even as new rules have persuaded many banks to cut back on the amount of derivatives they hold,” Mr. Eavis writes. Citigroup has flexed its muscles behind the scenes to protect its derivatives business from certain new rules. But the growth of Citigroup’s investment bank and its derivatives business has raised concerns among financial specialists who support tougher regulations.

(NYT’s Dealbook some months back)

Temasek bidding for China’s POSB?

In Banks, China, Temasek on 27/04/2015 at 11:33 am

Bidders Seen for Stake in Postal Savings Bank of China UBS, BNP Paribas and Temasek of Singapore are said to be among the preliminary bidders seeking to buy 10 percent of Postal Savings Bank of China ahead of an expected initial public offering next year that could raise $25 billion.

NYT Dealbook

Ho Ching has a problem; so have our local banks

In Banks, China, Temasek on 09/04/2015 at 6:54 am

As readers will know Ho Ching has big markers on StanChart and Chinese banks.

Once regarded as a proxy for the growth of Asian markets in commodity-rich nations like Indonesia, StanChart has today become a victim of the reversal of fortune suffered by many emerging markets and their heavily indebted corporate borrowers …

Much of the lending to Asia outside of China assumed the region would grow on the back of insatiable demand from China. Much of the lending to China itself was based on that same expectation. That faulty thinking was then compounded by assuming that the value of the Chinese property used to back the loans would also continue to rise. But local banks in China, such as Agricultural Bank of China, are beginning to report that their bad loans have doubled — although officially they remain under 3 per cent. (Excerpt from recent FT article)

Ho Ho HO.

But it’s our problem too now that Tharman is now using projected long term returns from Temasek to spend our money on ourselves. Cybernuts might want to note that their heloo, Ong Teng Cheong, wanted to lock-up all the returns from the reserves (more LKY and Dr Goh). It was Ah Loong that fought him. Ah loong is the real people’s hero. if Ong had his way, we’d be pressing our noses on the iron bars guarding our reserves: Money, money everywhere/ Not a cent to spend/ Give thanks to Ong Teng Cheong

But the pix’s not that great for our local banks either: what with DBS’s exposure to Greater China and Indonesia, OCBC’s exposure to Greater China, and UOB’s and OCBC’s exposure to M’sia. Btw, OCBC has FTs as its Chairman and CEO, while DBS and UOB have true blue S’porans (Yes, I’m counting Gupta as a local. He’s a real talent.)

And if property prices tank here …

Serious instability at StanChart?

In Banks, Temasek, Uncategorized on 06/04/2015 at 1:42 pm

Following the coming change in CEOs, the resignation of a very senior manager and a planned change of chairman, Viswanathan Shankar (new citizen and a real talent like DBS’s Gupta), head of the bank’s Europe, Middle East, Africa and Americas business, is said to be planning to start a private equity fund. The bank it seems wanted to give him additional responsibilities. This not not good as the deputy CEO (passed over for the job) is also expected to leave.

Temasek and other major shareholders wanted change. May be they’ll end up with serious instability.

Public service indeed

In Banks, Insurance on 01/04/2015 at 2:20 pm

No not LKY but Tidjane Thiam who FT reports got a 36% pay rise to £11.8m in his previous job at Prudential.

Thiam was born in Ivory Coast in 1962. His mother was the niece of Ivory Coast’s first president, while his uncle on his father side is Habib Thiam, who was president of Senegal for 10 years.

Thiam himself worked in the Ivorian government from 1994 to 1999, working as the head of the National Bureau of the Technical Studies and Development and a personal economic adviser to Ivorian president Henri Bédié.

When he became minister he was not paid for six months (as was everyone else in the ministry: there was a financial crisis) and a military coup meant he wasn’t paid. He ended up in prison for a few months He left his country with nothing except his brains and a good name: for example the World Economic Forum named him one of the 100 Global Leaders for Tomorrow.

More on him from sometime back

RISK EXPERT TO LEAD CREDIT SUISSE Shareholders responded positively on Tuesday after Credit Suisse announced that Tidjane Thiam, the chief executive of the British insurer Prudential, would succeed Brady W. Dougan as chief executive, Jenny Anderson reports in DealBook. Shares of Prudential slumped 2.6 percent, while shares of Credit Suisse closed up 6.7 percent. The positive reaction reflects the rise of Mr. Thiam’s reputation in London financial circles and expectations that he will change the course of the Swiss bank, which in recent years has had large legal expenses, largely as a result of its role in helping Americans evade taxes.

Mr. Thiam, an African francophone, has never worked for an investment bank, though he has completed stints at McKinsey, the World Bank and two insurance companies since 2009. And while it remains to be seen whether someone with virtually no banking experience can turn around one of the world’s biggest banks, the need for a leader with Mr. Thiam’s skills and knowledge “speaks volumes about the state of global banking today,” Ms. Anderson writes. “More and more, regulation is pushing banking to be more like insurance: cautious and focused on costs and the allocation of capital.”

In interviews on Tuesday, Mr. Thiam played down his lack of experiencein investment banking. “If you talk about investment banking, Prudential has an $800 billion balance sheet, and we deal with exactly the same issues, whether it’s interest rates or markets,” he was quoted as saying on Bloomberg Television. “There is a lot of overlap.” Still, his lack of ties to the investment bank could mean he will be able to make cuts that Mr. Dougan may have been reluctant to make, Ms. Anderson writes. The change at Credit Suisse will be effective in June.

NYT Dealbook

StanChart: Broker Upgrade to “Overwight”

In Banks, Temasek on 24/03/2015 at 1:45 pm

Yesterday, StanChart was the top performer in the FTSE 100, adding 7% thanks to JP Morgan upgrading its rating on the bank’s shares to “overweight” from “neutral”.in a note to clients.

StandChart’s 3 new advisers to Financial Crime Panel

In Banks, Temasek, Uncategorized on 18/03/2015 at 11:13 am

The British bank added the former leaders of Interpol (a S’porean) and the Swift bank messaging network and a former counterterrorism adviser to President George W. Bush.

StanChart: New CEO (“inspired choice”*) lacks Asian experience

In Banks, Emerging markets, Telecoms on 03/03/2015 at 1:14 pm

But this lack of Asian experience shows that the directors think that the main priorities for the bank are to shore up capital (rights issue coming) and mending ties with US regulators. He has great credentials for these tasks. Temasek seems to agree. it welcomed Mr. Winters, who “brings with him considerable experience, as well as an excellent reputation for building good teams.”

(*Btw, “inspired choice” is FT’s description)

Still the lack of Asian experience could become a major issue because there is expected to be an exodus of experienced managers. He may find replacements but changes will be disruptive if not problematic.

STANDARD CHARTERED OVERHAULS LEADERSHIP The British bank Standard Chartered responded on Thursday to shareholders’ calls for change, announcing a sweeping management overhaul including the departure of its chief executive, its chairman, the head of Asian markets and several directors, Jenny Anderson and Chad Bray write in DealBook. In a move that surprised many, it named William T. Winters, the 53-year-old former head of JPMorgan Chase’s investment bank ‒ who was once seen as a candidate to succeed Jamie Dimon ‒ to take the helm.

Mr. Winters, who will join the bank on May 1 and become chief executive in June, will succeed Peter Sands, one of the longest-serving chief executives in British finance. He will receive a base salary of 1.15 million pounds, or about $1.8 million, as well as a pension and other benefits. As the bank’s leader, Mr. Winters will not have it easy. The bank has been hurt in recent years by regulatory fines and investigations and by its focus on emerging markets. It has slashed thousands of jobs, closed its stock trading and underwriting unit and is looking to cut $400 million in costs. Impairments for bad loans, including in the mining sector, have soared.

But Mr. Winters, an American, appears up to the task. In a call with reporters, John W. Peace, the chairman, said that Mr. Winters had “great respect among regulators, clients and the market” and a solid understanding of the global regulatory environment. Temasek Holdings, which owns almost 18 percent of Standard Chartered, declined to comment on whether it had pressed for management changes. But it said that it welcomed Mr. Winters, who “brings with him considerable experience, as well as an excellent reputation for building good teams.”

NYT’s Dealbook

Related article:



In Banks on 25/02/2015 at 6:03 pm

The British bank HSBC is facing battles on multiple fronts. Already forced to apologize for helping clients hide their income from tax authorities, the bank also had to explain on Monday why its chief executive, Stuart Gulliver, went to lengths for years to hide his bonus, at least from his co-workers, Jenny Anderson writes in DealBook. On top of all that, HSBC, which generates much of its income from Asia, reported abysmal results for 2014, saying that its profit fell 15 percent, to $13.7 billion, compared with $16.2 billion in 2013.

The Guardian newspaper reported late Sunday that Mr. Gulliver held at least 5 million pounds, or $7.7 million, in a Swiss account through a Panamanian company until 2003. Mr. Gulliver said on Monday that the account was legal and that he had paid all the required taxes, but his maneuvers nevertheless compound a problem for the bank’s reputation, which is still dealing with the fallout from efforts by its Swiss private banking arm to help wealthy clients evade taxes, Ms. Anderson writes.

Mark Gilbert of Bloomberg View writes: “The cascade of recent revelations suggests HSBC still hasn’t learned its lesson and is more of a social menace than a social good. Mr. Gulliver’s personal tax arrangements may not be illegal, but they are surely ill-advised and inappropriate.” Unless Douglas Flint, HSBC’s chairman, “pulls off an Oscar-worthy performance at Wednesday’s parliamentary hearing, HSBC will only have itself to blame if the authorities decide the bank is too big to regulate and respond by seeking its dismemberment.”

NYT Dealbook

Update on 26 Feb 2015 at 6.30 am

More than a tax problem :

Major shareholders getting cranky:

How a SME bank could successfully operate

In Banks, Economy on 12/02/2015 at 2:08 pm

The u/m aricle in early Feb reminded me of something I read last yr about an SME bank in the UK

DBS Bank has launched a programme to provide financing to technology start-ups and expand capital-raising options for technopreneurs.

Tech start-ups can tap the new DBS venture debt programme for working capital, buying fixed assets and even project financing*.

Our SMEs (small and medium enterprises) are always KPKBing money not enough. Govt says got plenty of schemes. Why no use? SMEs reply that terms too stringent, and the people administering the schemes are clueless about their businesses. .

Well the UK, where SMEs too are cocal in complaining about funding, has the British Business Bank. It does things differently

BBB devolves responsibility for choosing its investments to private-sector expertise by allowing the Angel CoFund board, composed of independent bankers and investors, to make the investment decisions. “This is a financial strategy to complement the government’s industrial strategy”, says Mr Morgan. It also uses the expertise of peer-to-peer lenders like Funding Circle, to which it has given £40m. Mr Morgan says the bank can thereby avoid crowding out the private sector. Its investments are always in the equity of a business, but it never takes a majority share.

*To qualify, tech start-ups must be backed by DBS’s partner venture capitalists, who include Vertex Venture, Monk’s Hill Ventures and Golden Gate Ventures. They should have raised at least $1 million of Series A funding, been in operation for at least a year, been incorporated for at least two years and have demonstrated that their business model is commercially viable.

“Start-ups in Singapore primarily rely on venture capital to fund their operations,” DBS said in a statement on Thursday.

– See more at:

HSBC, Superman and another Cina superhero

In Banks, Emerging markets, Hong Kong on 04/02/2015 at 2:10 pm

(Or “HSBC and the right Chinese tycoons”)

HSBC is traditionally Li’s go-to bank for financing deals with its dominant local presence and a dedicated team to cover Li’s companies earned US$136 million in fees.Goldman Sachs has emerged as Li’s favored bank, pulling in an estimated $220 million in fees from Li’s two main companies Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong Holdings since 2000.

Do remember that HSBC’s fees are on top of the interest it gets on its loans to these cos.

HSBC sold him Wharf once upon a time (the ang moh MD of wharf was angry as he said he could have arranged a better price) and both never looked back.

Which reminds me of the man who laid the foundation that made HSBC a global bank. Lee Quo-wei, the former chairman of Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Bank Ltd died on 12th August 2013, age 95

After joining Hang Seng Bank in 1946, Mr Lee was among those who transformed Hang Seng into the second-largest Hong Kong-based lender from a money-changing shop founded 13 years earlier. He helped Hang Seng end a bank run in 1965 with a capital injection from Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corp, now HSBC. Four years later he was part of the team that created the Hang Seng Index.

Mr Lee was appointed executive chairman of Hang Seng Bank in 1983, according to a statement from current chairman Raymond Ch’ien. He retired in 1998, becoming honorary chairman and later honorary senior adviser.

If Hongkong Bank did not buy Hang Seng (at a good price from Hongkong Bank’s perspective, Mr Lee used to say to HSBC’s ang moh executives), HSBC, would not have become so entrenched into the HK economy. Look at StanChart and taz the best HSBC would have become.

As a shareholder of HSBC, I thank him.

Btw, It may be hard to imagine but once upon a time Bangkok Bank, OCBC were the rising banks while StanChart and HSBC were seen as the relics (albeit still powerful and rich) of colonialism.

StanChart: Gay Portuguese in running to be CEO

In Banks, Corporate governance, Temasek on 03/02/2015 at 1:34 pm

The CEOs of Llyods and HSBC UK are reported to be hot favourites according to Bloomberg Both are Portuguese. And the latter is gay .

Wespac’s CEO is also in the frame.

Another report says that our very own Gupta (FT turned new citizen) is also a possible candidate.

Given that StanChart is big in M’sia, Hk, India and Indonesia, and wants to be big in China, I somehow don’t think appointing a gay is on the cards

FT’s Lombard thinks that “ex-StanChart guy Alex Thursby” will get the nod.

Alex Thursby, who went on to run ANZ’s Asian businesses and is now the CEO of National Bank of Abu Dhabi. In his current role, he is trying to drive a bank that will become multinational by following trade within the emerging world – what he calls the West-East corridor. But when asked if this looks a lot like a StanChart model, he says: “I think this has similarities with the Standard Chartered of old. The Stanchart model has changed over the years since I was there, and whether it’s changed for better or worse is for others to make a judgment on.”

Thursby’s words are carefully chosen but he’s clearly referring to StanChart’s ventures into financial markets businesses that it used to leave to the pure-play investment banks. And it is notable that the financial markets business is the one that is causing the problems in the bank today; the warning today says that division is the “main challenge” facing the bank and that everything else is in line with expectations. The head of that business, Lenny Feder, is to take a 12 month sabbatical for personal reasons, the bank says, and will not return to that role afterwards.

The financial markets business in StanChart parlance includes some things that others might consider mainstream, like foreign exchange, but it also houses equities and commodities, among other things. Peter Sands, speaking about the reduced performance, said today that the business was being hit by falling volumes in rates, squeezed margins, regulatory changes, and the fact that less business is done in a low-rate environment.

None of which would have had much impact on the Standard Chartered model of old. Which raises a further question: perhaps this most storied and reliable of institutions should get back to doing what it’s good at. It might be boring. But it works.

It jus shuttered its cash equity biz, if you must know.

Banksters live up to their name/ Finance start-ups courting anti-fat cat crowd

In Banks on 29/01/2015 at 1:26 pm

“They rigged the money market, they rigged the mortgage market, they rigged the precious metals market, they rigged the foreign exchange market. Only a couple more markets to go and we’re in danger someone might have to ask if these banks are fit for purpose,” FT reader.

“Industries tend to attract people who have personalities that fit the industry norm. For decades petroleum engineers were alcoholics; police officers were people who needed the imprimatur of authority over others; and bankers were basically con artists making their living through deceit.”—on “Lying, cheating bankers”, November 22nd 2014

So not surprising

FINANCE START-UPS COURTING AN ANTI-FINANCE CROWD: Profit is usually a top priority on Wall Street, but some of the latest ventures into finance by start-ups seem to be inspired more by Karl Marx than John Pierpont Morgan. A number of new financial start-ups are trying to reach younger and middle-class Americans by upending the customary fee structure of traditional brokerage firms and money managers. They are backed by deep-pocketed venture capital investors – and even celebrities like the rapper Snoop Dogg – who are wagering that these upstarts can challenge the Wall Street establishment.

Aspiration, a start-up wealth manager in Los Angeles, which had its official debut last month, is asking customers to pay whatever they think is “fair.” That can be as much as 2 percent of their assets, or as low as zero. Reflecting its high-minded goals, the company has also pledged to donate 10 percent of its revenue to charity. Robinhood, a new brokerage firm based in Palo Alto, Calif., whose founders were inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, introduced an app this month that lets customers trade stocks without paying commissions. But for all their slick technology and fresh ideas, start-ups like Aspiration and Robinhood face considerable challenges, not least of which is figuring out how to turn a profit.

NYT Dealbook

The big picture: Two things to worry about in 2015

In Banks, Emerging markets on 19/12/2014 at 1:26 pm

TEST FOR POST-CRISIS BANKING SYSTEM The market turmoil this week will test Washington’s efforts over the last five years to bolster the financial system, Peter Eavis reports in DealBook. Investors are stampeding out of risky markets, dumping junk bonds issued by American energy companies that have borrowed heavily to exploit the shale oil boom. A steep slide in the price of oil could now cause some of the companies to default, analysts say. But the most dangerous pain is occurring abroad, particularly in Russia, which is dealing with a currency crisis.

“Such difficulties echo the crisis that buffeted markets in the developing world in 1998, when Russia actually defaulted on debt denominated in rubles,” Mr. Eavis writes. Back then, contagion made its way onto Wall Street through an enormous hedge fund called Long-Term Capital Management that nearly collapsed after making bets way beyond its means. “The parallels with 1998 have led investors and regulators to ask if any similarly dangerous weak points exist today. And if they do, the question is whether the big banks are sturdy enough to bear the shocks,” Mr. Eavis writes.

For the moment, many specialists say the system is sufficiently girded. For one, the big banks today rely less on borrowed money to finance their trading and lending. And the Wall Street banks are not lending as much money to hedge funds and other investors to make highly speculative bets. Still, the big banks continue to rely on billions of dollars in short-term loans that could dry up in a panic. And some investors are concerned about geopolitical risks undermining economic confidence. The plunging oil price, for instance, could create even harder economic times for countries like Russia and Iran. But low oil prices might also constrain governments that have stoked instability.


BOND INVESTORS SKITTISH OVER EMERGING MARKETS The biggest energy companies in some of the biggest emerging markets ‒ Petrobras in Brazil, Pemex in Mexico, Gazprom in Russia ‒ sold billions of dollars of bonds to investors eager to capitalize on the high interest rates. But as the price of oil tumbles and local currencies plunge in value, those bonds are looking shaky, Landon Thomas Jr. writes in DealBook. Concerns are now mounting that their troubles will unleash a new wave of market contagion as big funds unload their stocks, bonds and other investments in these countries, Mr. Thomas writes.

The steep slide in the Russian ruble ‒ and the collapse of the country’s bond and stock markets ‒ has already rattled investors, driving a sell-off in Mexico and Brazil. Like Russia, these countries also relied on cheap money to bankroll their energy investments and fund their growth. Economists have also warned of broader economic ripples if big, state-run companies like Petrobras and Gazprom are cut off from the bond market and lack alternative financing options. The bond yields of all three companies, which move in the opposite direction of their underlying price, have surged in recent days.

The debt issued by Petrobras, Pemex and Gazprom can be found in the portfolios of bond investors worldwide, including BlackRock, Pimco and Franklin Templeton. Now investors are realizing just how risky these bonds are. Pimco’s Emerging Market Corporate Bond Fund, for instance, has seen its performance sag and investors withdraw their cash. The fund’s assets now stand at $496 million, compared with $1.5 billion in late 2013, suggesting it can’t weather too much more.


Local banks interested in Queen’s bank

In Banks on 13/12/2014 at 4:47 am

DBS, UOB and MayBank are reported as interested in the intl side of Coutts Bank, while is for sale.

Hope they realise that the Queen of England banks with Coutts Bank, UK, which is not for sale.

Interesting that OCBC is not interested. Regretting it overpaid for ING’s Asian private bank? Unlike DBS which got a great deal for SOCGen’s Asian private bank. 


Double confirm StanChart’s rogue bank & PAP apologist is a fool

In Banks, Hong Kong, Temasek on 10/12/2014 at 11:10 am

Remember a “PAP is always right” man KPKBing when StanChart was charged that the reulator was a “rogue regulator”. StanChart then made the dean of LKY School look dumb, really dumb, by pleading guiltyy

Double confirm that StanChart is a rogue bank and the PAP apologist is a fool because now: The management of Standard Chartered is facing renewed pressure after being placed under fresh scrutiny by US regulators.

Two years after being fined more than £400m for breaching US sanctions towards Iran, the bank revealed that a two-year deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) that was imposed at the time was being extended for three years.

The US authorities are now investigating whether Standard Chartered breached its sanctions rules beyond 2007, the period when the previous offences for which the bank was penalised took place.

Looks like Santa didn’t bring Ho a nice Christmas present, giving her a turd instead. Juz look at share price chart from FT. [Chart added at 11.30 am]

Standard Chartered share price

Big StanChart shareholder still likes stock

In Banks, Emerging markets, Temasek on 02/12/2014 at 4:17 pm

The second biggest shareholder in Standard Chartered (after Temasek with around 27%) is standing by the embattled Asia-focused bank, continuing to buy the stock and insisting that nothing is “fundamentally wrong” with the company.

Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management PLC, said that funds run by his company have been “buyers of the stock in a fairly modest way,” despite a series of profit warnings that have sent Standard Chartered’s share price down 33% this year.

“We do not think there is anything fundamentally wrong with the bank,” said Mr. Gilbert, during a call to discuss Aberdeen’s results. He said that revenue growth had slowed but added that he would prefer the bank’s existing management team, headed by chief executive Peter Sands, to “sort it out” rather than looking for a replacement: “They have to really get on with it, I would say, and have a look at the costs.”

Aberdeen owns 7% of the bank, according to Factset, and, as of Oct. 31 2014, that had not changed since last year. Some Aberdeen funds have “topped up” their positions this month however, according to an Aberdeen spokesman.

The value of Standard Chartered shares held by the emerging markets-focused fund manager slid from a peak of $5.1 billion in February last year to $2.6 billion in October, according to Factset data. Part of that was due to an 8% reduction in the size of Aberdeen’s stake at the end of last year, but most was due to the bank’s falling share price.

Temasek is one of the shareholders pressing for a change of mgt, other reports claim.


StanChart credit rating downgraded! First time in 20 years!

In Banks, India, Indonesia, Temasek on 29/11/2014 at 10:20 am

But no need to panic or curse Temasek*: Standard & Poor’s says bank is going through times but it still among world’s most creditworthy commercial lenders.

It has some big exposures to heavily indebted clients, such as India’s Ruia brothers, who control the Essar Group, and Indonesian billionaire Samin Tan.

Honest mistakes.


But the facts won’t stop Philip Ang, TOC’s and TRE’s star analyst, from cursing and ranting: he’s so bad that in a piece on a GIC, London investment, he left out the rental yields out of his calculation because he said that the income was “peanuts” (my word, not his). Well commercial property yields are a gd 6%, and have been as high as 8% in some yrs recently.


StanChart bosses apologise to shareholders

In Banks, Temasek on 13/11/2014 at 1:48 pm

Top bosses at Standard Chartered admitted the bank’s performance had been disappointing as they announced plans to close 100 branches in a $400m (£250m) cost-cutting drive to win back support from disgruntled investors.

The admission was made as the bank’s top management team began three days of presentations to investors, who have endured a 30% drop in share values. There are also concerns about whether the bank has enough capital.

At the start of the three-day presentation, the new finance director, Andy Halford, said: “We recognise our recent performance has been disappointing and are determined to get back on to a trajectory of sustainable, profitable growth, delivering returns above our cost of capital.”

StanChart directors to push for chief’s succession plan

In Banks, China, Corporate governance, Emerging markets, Hong Kong, Temasek on 01/11/2014 at 11:06 am

Above is FT’s headline for today.

Ho, Aberdeen, Blackrock and L&G baring their fangs? TRE ranters and other anti-PAP paper activists, pls note that Temasek has been pushing for a succession plan for some time.

Standard Chartered data

But they can rejoice ’cause  sharesclosed at £9.39 on Friday – down from £18 less than two years ago.

They will be celebrating.



StanChart gives Ho more problems

In Banks, China, Corporate governance, Hong Kong, Temasek on 31/10/2014 at 10:12 am

Is StanChart a rogue bank?

Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) fell for a fourth consecutive day in London after U.S. prosecutors reopened investigations to determine whether the bank, which entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in 2012, withheld evidence of Iran sanctions violations.

The U.S. Justice Department, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services, are all reopening their original inquiries into the London-based lender to determine whether it intentionally withheld information from regulators before the 2012 settlements, according to two people briefed on the matter, who asked not to be identified because the probes are confidential.

Temasek wants clear succession plan at StanChart

Lousy set of results from StanChart

In Banks, China, Corporate governance, Emerging markets, Hong Kong, Temasek on 29/10/2014 at 2:23 pm

Standard Chartered has announced a 16% fall in operating profit because of a restructuring of its South Korean business and an increase in bad loans.

The Asia-focused lender said pre-tax profits fell to $1.5bn (£930m) in the July-to-September quarter compared to the same period a year ago.

Standard Chartered also warned full-year earnings would fall because of weak trading activity.

FT reports that some of the major shareholders have been pressing for the CEO to be sacked if things don’t improve soon. It also reports that Temasek  is “pressing for a clear plan of succession”.

Standard Chartered data



Giants that will slay Jack (Ma)?

In Banks, China, Internet on 23/09/2014 at 4:25 am

Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder, is a hero. He slew eBay in China. Now he is going up against new giants by shaking up China’s state-dominated finance industry. His business, the Zhejiang Ant Small and Micro Financial Services Group, processes payments, sells insurance and runs one of the world’s largest money market funds, placing it in competition with banks controlled by the Chinese government. It is a precarious position.

StanChart’s looking dysfunctional/ Problem for ang moh banks

In Banks on 04/09/2014 at 4:41 am

One problem after another. Can’t do anything right. Please American regulators, upset an Arab one.

Standard Chartered Could Face U.A.E. Legal Action Standard Chartered’s unit in the United Arab Emirates may face legal challenges after the British bank agreed to close some accounts as part of a deal with New York State’s banking regulator. Standard Chartered agreed on Tuesday to pay a $300 million fine for running afoul of a 2012 settlement to resolve accusations that the bank processed transactions for Iran and other countries blacklisted by the United States.

Fine inflation

Star British fund manager Neil Woodford sold his fund’s stake in HSBC (HSBA.L) last month, citing concerns about the impact of potential fines from several industry-wide investigations on the banking group.

Banks in Europe and the United States have been fined for a variety of transgressions as regulators increase their scrutiny of financial institutions

“I am worried that the ongoing investigation into the historic manipulation of Libor and foreign exchange markets could expose HSBC to significant financial penalties,” Woodford said in a blog posting on his fund’s website.

“Not only are these potentially serious offences in the eyes of the regulator, but HSBC is very able to pay a substantial fine,”

For Woodford, who began building a stake in the UK’s biggest lender in 2013 after avoiding the sector since 2002, HSBC was “a different beast” to its peers, many of which still had problems over the quality of their loan books, capital adequacy and high leverage ratios.

In spite of the fact he considered HSBC a “conservatively-managed, well-capitalised business with a good spread of international assets”, Woodford said he had become concerned in recent weeks about the threat of “fine inflation”.

From the $1.9 billion paid by HSBC in 2012 over money laundering to the $16.7 billion set to be paid by Bank of America over its role in selling toxic mortgages, fines were increasing, Woodford said, and looked to be based on a company’s ability to pay “rather than the scale of the transgression”.

With the size of any potential fine “unquantifiable”, Woodford said he was concerned about HSBC’s dividend payouts. The stock currently yields 4.8 percent, against a FTSE100 average of 3.8 percent.

“A substantial fine could hamper HSBC’s ability to grow its dividend, in my view. I have therefore sold the fund’s position in HSBC, reinvesting the proceeds into parts of the portfolio in which I have greater conviction,” he said. Reuters

For the record, HSBC is trading at 1.1x book, its European peers are at 0.9, while StanChart is at 1.03. Our banks are at 1.3.

Problems at Temasek’s StanChart & DBS/ OCBC ovepaid for HK bank?

In Banks, China, Emerging markets, Hong Kong, Temasek on 30/06/2014 at 4:50 am

Standard Chartered has said first-half operating profits will be 20% lower than a year earlier, blaming a slump in income from its financial markets business.

The warning comes only three months after the Asia-focused lender reported its first fall in annual profits for a decade.

The UK bank had been expected to show a modest bounce-back this year.

But it said tougher regulations and low market volatility had hurt revenues.

Standard Chartered said its interest rate and foreign exchange trading had been particularly hit.

Chirantan Barua, an analyst at Bernsteinm said: “Cyclical headwinds are yet to arrive in full force in the bank’s two key markets – Hong Kong and Singapore. Not that Korea or India is out of the woods either.

“Pack that in with a challenging and uncertain capital regime that won’t be resolved until the end of the year and you have a great deal of uncertainty around the stock.”

StanChart shows the peril of investing in a stock listed overseas overseas that operates internationally. When profits were gd, sterling was weak against all major currencies. When sterling is strong, profits no gd. Note the value of sterling is irrelevant to the underlying profits or losses of  most of bank’s international operations.


ON AN afternoon in early summer a prospective customer walked into the gleaming new branch established in Shanghai’s free-trade zone by DBS, a Singaporean bank that, like many of its international rivals, has long touted China’s great promise for its business. The lobby was empty, save for a guard playing a video game. A log showed that the branch was attracting just two or three visitors a day. DBS remains optimistic about China and says that most of its free-trade-zone transactions are routed through other locations. But the torpid atmosphere at the branch points to foreign banks’ struggle to crack open the Chinese market.


To be fair to DBS its New Citizen CEO is not like the FT CEO of OCBC who may have blundered.

OCBC is offering to buy Wing Hang Bank’s shares for 125 Hong Kong dollars (US$16.12) each, in a big bet on China’s sustained economic growth. OCBC hopes the deal will springboard its growth into mainland China through the Hong Kong bank’s cross-border operations, and give it a foothold in Macau.

OCBC and Wing Hang Bank, one of Hong Kong’s last remaining family-owned lenders, began discussions on a possible deal late last year, and in January entered exclusive talks (after ANZ and UOB balked at the family’s asking price), which were extended twice as they argued over price.

The most recent comparable transaction (and bargaining benchmark for the family), the 2013 sale of Chong Hing Bank, went for 2.35 times book value including the value of a special dividend related to Chong Hing’s real estate. Accounting for the increase Wing Hang ascribes to the value of its property, the OCBC offer is closer to 2 times book value, a discount, compared to the Chong Hing deal, considering Wing Hang’s return on equity averaged 11.3% for the past three years, versus 7.8% for Chong Hing, according to Capital IQ.

Still OCBC shareholders were not that happy and its share price suffered.

What is unknown is the value of Wing Hang’s Hong Kong real estate, on some of the busiest shopping streets in the world. These could be worth even more than the bank says. A government index of Hong Kong retail properties has risen 400% over the past decade. Yet the company’s revaluation over the acquisition cost of the property is less than 100%.

If enough of Wing Hang’s minority shareholders refuse the price on offer, however, OCBC might prefer to raise it or offer* or bear the cost of maintaining the Wing Hang listing, and the cost of failing to fully integrate the bank.

Update at 6’00am: Here’s someone who thinks OCBC got sold a dog.

Wing Hang gives it greater opportunity to finance trade between China and other parts of Asia such as Malaysia and Indonesia, where it already has a foothold. Wing Hang’s strong funding base – loans were just 73 percent of deposits at the end of last year – is another advantage, as is its ability to capitalise on the yuan’s growing international popularity. About 17 percent of Wing Hang’s deposits are currently in the Chinese currency.

Nevertheless, the purchase brings risks to OCBC investors. China’s economic slowdown is creating credit wobbles, while Hong Kong’s property boom is bound to have led to some lending excesses. Meanwhile, rising interest rates in the United States could reverse the cheap deposits that have flowed into both Hong Kong and Singapore in recent years. Shareholders, who will probably be asked to help finance the purchase, may pay a high short-term price for OCBC’s long-term China ambition.


*OCBC has said the bid, a 50% premium to the then stock price, is generous.

DBS CEO proves worth of FT where “T” stands for Talent

In Banks on 25/03/2014 at 4:50 am

DBS Bank yesterday said that it will buy the Asian private banking business of Societe Generale for US$220 million, accelerating its ambition of becoming a leading wealth manager in Asia.

The deal will also widen the gap with DBS’s closest rival, the Bank of Singapore, a unit of OCBC Bank.

The price represents about 1.75 per cent of assets under management (AUM), based on the AUM of Societe Generale Private Banking Asia (SGPB Asia) of US$12.6 billion as at last Dec 31. This is a steal: OCBC in 2oio paid US$1.46bn which represents 5.8% of the unit’s assets under management, after adjusting for surplus capital of US$550m*.

Last Tuesday’s BT went on: DBS’s AUM will go up by about 23 per cent to S$85 billion from the current S$69 billion with the purchase, seven months after it was reported the French lender wanted to divest the business to redeploy capital into its core markets.

Swiss bank UBS is the largest private bank in Asia-Pacific, followed by Citi Private Bank and Credit Suisse, in that order according to trade journal Private Banker International in a 2012 survey.

That survey ranked DBS and Bank of Singapore ninth and 10th, respectively.

DBS is onto a winner with this FT and his FT COO. Well DBS deserves it, given the FTs it has had where “T” stands for Trash. SGX needs that kind of luck where both its CEO and COO are FTs where “T” certainly doesn’t stand for Talent. They did Temasek no favours by saying everything was kosher about the share price movements of Olam (More on this next week).

Coming back to OCBC. Its CEO is a Hongkie FT with great credentials. But he hasn’t shown whether the “T” is for Talent or Trash. So far the mkt inclines to the latter. OCBC’s share price crashed (and have yet to recover) when OCBC annced purchase of Hong Kong’s Wing Hang Bank few months ago. Deal is still pending. Hopefully, it dies a natural death.

My fav bank is still UOB where the chairman and CEO are true blue S’poreans. But UOB has limited visions which suits my taste here. DBS is for those who want to own a bank can be the leading regional bank in place of CIMB. It always had the vision but the FTs leading it let it down. Gupta has the talent (and luck) to make it the leading regional bank despite DBS not having significant presences in Indonesia and M’sia. It’s expansion plans in Indonesia were thwarted. S’pore has to play ball with Indonesia (allowing Indonesian banks more privileges here) for DBS to be able to buy Temasek’s Bank Danamon stake.

Finally, yesterday’s BT had a story about the difficulties our three banks were facing. UOB’s finance director said “Funding pressures will serve as a growth constraint for mid-sized banks like us outside of Singapore, particularly amid a backdrop of tightened liquidity conditions in the region. UOB has always emphasised funding stability. We must also be selective in the customer segment we engage in and avoid large concentration risks.” Taz straight talk.

So is [C]ompetition in US-dollar funding is likely to intensify, given the anticipated growth in trade financing, and the liquidity requirements of Basel III, says OCBC’s Mr Tan. Trade financing is still mostly greenback-denominated.

DBS’s Ms Chng says: “The so-called ‘balkani-sation’ of the financial landscape is an emerging risk, potentially resulting in captive capital and liquidity pools within each jurisdiction and impacting the pursuit of synergies across regional operations.”

But  sadly they couldn’t resist sprouting PR rubbish

“From a capital perspective,” says Darren Tan, chief financial officer of OCBC Bank, which is negotiating to buy Hong Kong’s Wing Hang Bank, “we prefer to acquire majority stakes where possible. However, in instances where a majority stake is not immediately available, we will still give the opportunity due consideration if there is strategic value in the acquisition.”

United Overseas Bank’s approach to overseas growth is to expand the platform for customers to tap trade flows within the region, says its CFO, Lee Wai Fai.

DBS puts priority on pursuing organic growth, and adopts “a disciplined approach” to M&A, says Chng Sok Hui, its CFO … She adds that DBS is adopting a digital strategy to expand its footprint in growth markets.

What do they mean?


*My 2010 analysis: But maybe OCBC shld have waited. The purchase of ING’s Asian private banking business could come to haunt OCBC. A few days before this deal was annced, ING sold its European biz, at a fraction of the multiple that it got for Asia. Only time will tell if the growth in Asian wealth and OCBC’s ability to grow the private banking biz will justify the hefty premium that OCBC paid.

It paid 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.

Trumpets pls. BTW, I don’t blame the previous FT CEO of OCBC, Richard O’Connor. He was retiring. In such circumstances, usually the CEO would not take the lead in such a move: he’d go with the flow. Rightly, as he wouldn’t be the person running the show.. This is what happened here, I’m reliably informed. BTW too, he did a great job. Ngiam Tong Dow (remember him) called him an honorary S’porean, I think.

S&P: Tough year for S’pore and regional banks

In Banks, Economy, Property on 20/02/2014 at 4:14 am

Lower economic growth prospects and tighter credit conditions could create a tougher operating environment for the banking sector here and in the region, said a report by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) late last week.

S&P expects S’pore’s GDP) growth to fall to 3.4 % this year, from 3.7% last year.

The report also notes that corporate and household indebtedness has been on the rise here. The situation could worsen this year, in anticipation of interest rates rising; higher borrowing costs amid rising. See DBS’s CEO’s tots below* and related post

Related articles: The three local banks posted their reports last week too and for quick snap-shots (not the usual ST or BT fluff)

Charts on banks’ loans etc

Cheap way of owning UOB shares

Update at 6.ooam:

South-east Asia’s three biggest lenders, DBS, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and United Overseas Bank, have seen their share prices rise this week after posting solid results last Friday. Common trends in the fourth quarter were better margins, trade finance-driven loan growth, seasonally softer treasury earnings and no asset quality weakness, CIMB noted.

UOB has been the star performer this week, gaining 3.5 per cent, while OCBC has risen 2.3 per cent and DBS 0.4 per cent.

UOB, despite being the smallest of the trio, has been particularly impressive with its fee income and regional strategies, CMC Markets Analyst Desmond Chua told TODAY.

“In terms of fee income, it has performed relatively well while the market has been lacklustre, in part due to a higher interest outlook. Its diversification to grow in regional emerging markets has also helped it maintain loan growth despite weaker mortgage demand in Singapore,” he said.

“On the other hand, OCBC’s share price might have been affected by the prospect of its overpriced acquisition of Wing Hang Bank in Hong Kong while DBS hasn’t been able to impress with its fee-based revenue in recent times despite aggressively attacking this space,” he added.

UOB’s net interest margin, which is the highest among local banks at 1.72 per cent full-year, is another advantage for the lender, Voyage Research’s Deputy Research Head Ng Kian Teck added. “UOB has historically been good on this front, and it means the bank can churn the most value out of every dollar loaned — that’s what’s attracting the investors,” he said.

All three banks ended last year on a positive note, with their fourth-quarter net profit rising between 6 and 11 per cent on the back of strong growth in net interest income.

The banks have also continued to solidify their regional presence, drawing more revenue from overseas than before.


“Their return on equity is healthier vis-a-vis the other industries, which are facing greater margin pressure due to higher wages. But the banks have been able to control this issue better.”

CMC Markets’ Mr Chua is also bullish, saying: “I’m looking at the banking space being an outperformer this year even though interest rates are bound to rise. Their tactical diversification across this region allows them to tap into Indonesia’s emerging affluent segment, for example.

Update at 5.15pm:Can Singapore safely deflate its property market?


*DBS Bank chief executive Piyush Gupta expects home prices to fall by 10-15 per cent this year – more than the 10 per cent forecast by property consultants – but says that this decline would not make a material impact on the bank’s loan book. Speaking at DBS’s Q4 results briefing, he said it is likely that the prices of high-end homes will slide 15 per cent, and that for lower-end ones, by 10 per cent.

As for the higher interest rates expected with the shrinking of monetary stimulus policy by the US, he said he was not expecting it to have any effect on DBS. “The Singapore portfolio is really driven on income considerations . . . As I’ve said before, the pressure will likely start coming when unemployment rises – more than when property prices change.” Singapore’s unemployment rate is now at a low 1.8 per cent.

Mr Gupta said: “All our stress tests in the past have shown that we can easily withstand a 20 per cent reduction in Singapore property prices without material impact on our portfolio. We stress-test (for a) 20 (per cent fall in property prices), but don’t expect it to happen; our stress tests are always calibrated to go off the charts. My own sense is that there will be a correction of 10-15 per cent.”

He noted that the market was already stabilising and that the froth was running off, but that if this continued, the government would roll back some of the macro prudential measures. Sales of new mortgages have plunged 30-35 per cent at DBS, and by 40-50 per cent at OCBC Bank as a result of the stricter loan rules.

Mr Gupta likened the Singapore property market to that of New York and London, where prices held up even during the financial crisis between 2008 and 2012. While prices in the rest of the US fell by about a third, prices in New York slipped by only 10 per cent. It was a similar situation in London, another city where the demand is not dependent on the state of the domestic economy.

Mr Gupta said he expects regional money buying properties here to also put a floor under prices. With the slower sales, DBS’s $49.1 billion mortgage book is likely to grow by $2 billion to $2.5 billion this year, down from $3.5 billion last year and $5 billion the year before that, said Mr Gupta.

OCBC Bank chief operating officer Ching Wei Hong said of the new mortgage sales having declined across the board: “That’s expected, given all the cooling measures that have been imposed. We’ve built up a healthy inventory level. The inventory drives the growth of (the loan) book, going into 2014 and 2015. Beyond 2015 H2 and 2016, if conditions remain the same, we’ll see a bit of tapering in that period.”

(BT article last Saturday)

Open letter to HSBC S’pore on Anton Casey

In Banks on 22/01/2014 at 6:58 am

(Update on 23 January 2014: TOC has confirmed that his present employer is Crossinvest*: Mr Casey’s firm Crossinvest Asia is investigating his comments and is set to take “appropriate action” once the review is completed, British newspaper, The Independent reported.

In a statement, Managing director Christophe Audergon said: “Crossinvest does not condone the comments. We believe they were made in poor taste.”

I’m very certain, he will be moving on from Crossinvest given that: The Company was created out of a Swiss single family office with almost three decades of leading experience and presence in Switzerland. We operate based on the finest Swiss Private banking traditions. 

Well among the finest Swiss Private banking traditions are

— discretion; and.

— operating in the shadows, leaving no fingerprints behind.

Don’t see Casey meeting these standards.

As to my thinking he worked at HSBC, it was an honest mistake.)

Dear Sirs,

I am a long-time shareholder (since 1984) and a client (since 1981), and am someone who has had friends working there: locals and international officers, and am writing this letter more in sorrow than anger.

I hope HSBC does the right thing by S’poreans especially its local customers, and moves on the FT (where T stands for Trash not Talent) by the name of Anton Casey out of the bank. His so-called attempt at humour does not reflect well on the bank because he is holding a senior position in wealth management.

One would be reasonable in wondering of the quality and discretion of HSBC’s management when such a senior executive exercises such an appalling lack of judgement and sensitivity.  Especially since HSBC prides itself on being the “global local bank”.

His behaviour also insults the international officers. I knew and worked with a few of them in the early 1980s on various projects. They were all minor public school boys who would never ever stoop to such insulting behaviour which they would have rightly called ‘hooliganish” and “racist”.

HSBC has always had a tradition of good customer service: it even built larger-than-usual cashier windows in Mexican branches to get more notes through, making it easier for the drug barons to deposit cash.

So in the spirit of serving the customer and being the “global local bank”, move him out of the bank. His apology should not excuse his most unbecoming behaviour.

Yours faithfully,

CI aka E.K. Tan

RHB Capital says S’pore is gd place to expand

In Banks, Economy, Malaysia on 22/01/2014 at 4:40 am

So gd, that RHB Bank S’pore expects to triple profit by 2016.

RHB Bank will aggressively expand its Singapore business by three-fold within the next two years, by focusing on the small and medium enterprise business, wealth management as well as corporate and investment banking.

To meet the increased business needs, RHB Bank Singapore will be doubling its staff strength from the current 500 to 1000, the bank said Thursday.

The aggressive expansion in Singapore is part of the group’s regional strategy, said to U Chen Hock, director of group international business at RHB Banking Grou… the official opening of RHB’s latest branch in Westgate Mall in East Jurong. . (Last week’s BT)

Maybe RHB’s mgt doesn’t read a certain Forbes contributor (no not refering to one LKY), or TRE readers’ comments on S’pore’s prospects or that  more than 90% of the Marina Bay Suites are unoccupied: only 20 of the 221 units at the 66-storey tower are occupied. . But I do know that the RHB research institute has a well respected economist.

StanChart losing its shine

In Banks, Emerging markets, Temasek on 22/12/2013 at 7:08 am

Standard Chartered had a bad start to the hols. Last Monday, its shares fell sharply on the possibility that it might call for a rights issue in the wake of weakish results. They’ve since recovered but there was another sharp fall on Fridaty, albeit from a much recovered position.

It has also been forced to strip its finance boss of his responsibilities to oversee the lender’s risk division following pressure from the Bank of England.

Richard Meddings, who has been group finance director of Standard Chartered since November 2006, had to hand over governance responsibility of risk to Peter Sands after the Prudential Regulation Authority said it was concerned with Meddings holding two conflicting roles, according to news reports.

In particular, the PRA, the Bank of England’s financial watchdog, was concerned with the potential conflict between Meddings’ finance responsibility and his duty to oversee risk operations.

All this against the background that it is no longer  an ang moh favourite because emerging markets are no longer in fashion. Their economies are slowing while the Western economies are recovering. And the wall of money is returning to the West.

BTW, those readers of TRE who bitch that Temasek lost money on StanChart and say that I didn’t know this fact are daft: all they needed to do is to google up StanChart’s 10 yr price. But if anyone wants to see the numbers: here’s why.


Temasek’s right on ICBC, BoC & CCB

In Banks, China, Temasek on 07/11/2013 at 4:52 am

I’ve blogged before that Temasek loves China banks while ang mohs were running away.

Well since late June, Chinese bank shares have been on a roll, example  ICBC (where Temasek had been picking up shares this yr) is up more than 22%. Recent Chinese economic data has got investors buying the banks again, ang mohs included. So much so that some smaller Chinese banks are planning IPOs in HK.

Anyway,Jack, the usual suspects, and the readers of TRE, TOC and TRS needn’t yet bang their [ ] in frustration. Firstly, Temasek can never ever exit these investments given that S’pore wants to be China’s friend. Temasek got big chunks of BoC and CCB at a “special” price.. It can only play around the margins, reducing its cost of these investments.

Then are there two more reasons why we should be worried about Temasek’s punt:-

The biggest threat to Chinese banks’ cozy oligopoly … Online groups Alibaba and Tencent are making incursions into the country’s financial services market, providing an alternative to the capped deposit rates and sluggish service offered by the country’s big lenders. The disruptors are taking on risks, and savers should be glad.

Alibaba, the e-commerce group that just bought a 51 percent stake in asset manager Tianhong for $193 million, is the banks’ main foe. By July it had made over $16 billion in short-term loans to companies who sell goods on its sites. Its real-time records of borrowers’ cashflows and counterparties aid lending decisions.

Banks’ deposits are also under threat. WeChat, the mobile chat app that clocked up over 300 million users within two years of being launched by gaming group Tencent, is working on distributing wealth products via smartphones, and offering payment for fund managers, according to Chinese media. Alibaba lets users reinvest surplus balances in their online payment accounts into money market funds. That gives savers a better return than the 3 percent capped rate they get on bank deposits.

Tech companies’ desire to disrupt the financial services sector is understandable. China’s big banks make returns on equity in excess of 20 percent.

Add to that, an attempt to shake up the country’s slow-moving financial industry and create more investment opportunities for the private sector, Chinese regulators have invited companies from across the spectrum to apply for banking licences.
And here’s the latest on bad debt write-offs (something I had talked about)
So Jack, etc can relax. Time enough for their curses on Ho Ching to take effect. I hope they remember that returns from the reserves are used to make life more comfortable for ourselves.

Our world class Chinese banks need US$50-500bn more in capital

In Banks, China, Temasek on 12/09/2013 at 4:56 am

This blog has been pointing out why ang mohs don’t like Chinese banks, while Temasek loves them.

This short video shows the strengths of Chinese banks in size and income from interest (Big 4 in global top 10). The latter must surely be a consideration in why Temasek invests in three of them.

Now back to the worrying analysis:

— With bad loans and competition rising, China’s largest banks face tougher times ahead. ChinaScope Financial, a research firm partly owned by Moody’s, a ratings agency, has analysed how declining net interest margins will affect China’s banks. It estimates that the sector will need an injection of $50 billion-100 billion over the next two years just to keep its capital ratios at today’s level. The managements of the Big Four realise this, and have won approval from their boards to raise over $40 billion in fresh capital over the next two years. But Andrew Sheng of the Fung Global Institute, a think-tank, reckons the sector will need to raise even more later: up to $300 billion over the next five years.

— China’s bad debts could blow a $500 billion hole in bank balance sheets. That’s roughly how much extra equity the eleven biggest lenders might need if 10 percent of their loans went sour, according to a Breakingviews calculator.

Monkeys eating golden peanuts remain monkeys

In Banks on 10/09/2013 at 5:07 am

They don’t morph into geniuses, contrary to what the PAP implies.

Yesterday, I opined that Yaacob and Mah disprove the PAP Hard Truth reasoning that ministers must get paid very well. Well here’s evidence that high pay doesn’t result in gd returns for investors because bank executives get paid plenty of money but investors don’t benefit.

[I]f there might be a justification for high bank salaries, it is that they have delivered high rewards for investors, and that is clearly not the case. This seems to be a classic case of an inside job – of executives benefiting at the expense of shareholders.

What is … striking is the contrast with the performance of bank shares (see chart), with that of the salaries of bank executives. The inflection point in bank salaries goes back to the early 1980s and we could only get data for the chart back to 1994. But I suspect the longer-term trend would be the same as the 1980s was marked by the third world debt crisis that damaged so many bank balance sheets. As a humourist once wrote of British films

Isn’t it funny/

How they never make any money/

When everyone in the racket/

Cleans up a packet


Related posts:

Temasek’s Chinese banks pay great dividends but there’s a catch

In Banks, Financial competency, Temasek on 20/08/2013 at 5:01 am

ICBC pays 6.1%, while CCB and BoC pay 6%. If it had AgBank, it would get 6.4%.

Contrast this with the dividend yield it gets from

— DBS: 4.4% (UOB’s yield is 2.9% and OCBC’s is 3.2%)

— Bank Danamon: 2.4%

— StanChart: 3.5% (BTW,  earlier this month the bank said  that it was no longer targeting double digit revenue growth this year. Year-on-year revenue growth in the first six months was less than 5% for the first time in 10 yrs.)

But Chinese bank yields are so gd largely because Chinese banks are not popular with ang mohs: one-tenth share price falls this yr helped produce these yields.

And there are gd reasons to be fearful. One is concern that there could be more bad debts building up in the system as the economy slows/

Another: ChinaScope Financial, a research firm, has analysed how increased competition and declining net interest margins will affect banks operating in China. The boffins conclude that the smallest local outfits, known as city commercial banks, and the middling private-sector banks will be hit hardest, but that returns on equity at the big five state banks will also be squeezed (see chart). They think the industry will need $50 billion-100 billion in extra capital over the next two years to keep its capital ratios stable.

The bigger worry for China’s state banks is the signal sent by the PBOC’s move. The central bank has affirmed its commitment to reform. If those reforms include the liberalisation of deposit rates, then something far more serious than a minor profit squeeze will befall China’s banks. Guaranteed profitability would end; banks would have to compete for customers; and risk management would suddenly matter. In short, Chinese bankers would have to start working for a living.

And two of China’s four “bad’ banks (they bot portfolios of dud loans from Chinese banks, the last time the Chinese cleaned up their banks in the late 1990s and early noughtie), are planning to raise capital via IPOs. They have impressive returns. But maybe China is preparing for the day it has to recapitalise the banks again. In such a case, the UK and US experience is that the other shareholders get diluted, and can lose serious money. Think UBS and RBS.

Even if there is no recapitalisation, there are likely to be rights issues, something that ang moh fund mgrs don’t like.

But to be fair, this big chart shows a possible reason why Temask is optimistic. Despite loan growth, bad loans are falling. But the economy was growing rapidly. And sceptics point out that the numbers may be flakey. In the 1990s, the real bad loan position was 20%, not the lowish figures reported at the time. Investors forget this ’cause banks were 100% govt owned.

Related (sort of) link:

Graphics from FT.

PM’s right on the Swiss remaining No 1 in wealth mgt

In Banks, Economy on 01/08/2013 at 6:11 am

A recent Pricewaterhouse Coopers report said the S’pore could overtake Switzerland as the top wealth centre in the world by 2015.  Another report says that Singapore is tipped to overtake Switzerland to become the largest global offshore wealth center in terms of assets by 2020, according to London research firm, WealthInsight, in may

Our constructive, nation-building media was triumphalist.

But our PM is more realistic. He said S’pore is unlikely to overtake Switzerland as the biggest wealth centre in the world any time soon, “I read somewhere that we might overtake Switzerland. I don’t think that’s true. I don’t want that to be my marketing line,” the FT had him saying.

One advantage S’pore has is tax. Deloitte ranks Switzerland only in fifth place for tax competitiveness, behind Bahrain, Singapore, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. S’pore also has an advantage in attracting Asian wealth, like not being part or near of China, while being in Asia.

But I think the PM is right (even though he cannot even get the haze issue right: he talked of the haze coming back “for weeks” about a month ago, but since then the reading was “moderate”, now “good”),

Two reasons

Private banks in the Asian financial hub, Singapore, are the next target of tighter regulations after the crackdown in the U.S. and Europe on tax cheats. From July 1, any banks believed to be abetting tax evasion or having inadequate controls in place may face a heavy fine, criminal charges and possibly the loss of their license to operate in the city state.

— The G8 countries are getting more aggressive in making sure that places like Switzerland and S’pore cannot hide behind secrecy laws to avoid sharing info. In short, all offshore havens will have to be more transparent, and none will have an advantage over the others. Money moved from Switzerland to S’pore in the noughties because it was tot S’pore would not be forced to be more open; not true anymore.

The only adv that S’pore has over Switzerland, is that Asia is getting richer, esp China, and Asean; the latter with a population of over 620m, would be “the 21st century’s champion in fostering the vast middle class consumer market”, according to the Japanese PM. Asean is in our immediate neighbourhood, a great advantage. And S’pore has been a traditional regional financial, commercial and services centre.

Interestingly, not reported here, Deloitte says Hong Kong could overtake Switzerland as the world’s top wealth manager as early as 2019 if current asset growth rates are maintained. Being part of China has its advantages esp in attracting non-Chinese money that wants a piece of the action in China. And HK’s reputation for financial innovation doesn’t hinder.

Time to worry about Temasek’s strategy on Chinese banks

In Banks, China, Temasek on 02/07/2013 at 5:07 am

Temasek owns big chunks in three out of four China’s major banks

— 2% of Bank of China

— 8% of China Construction Bank

8% of Industrial & Commercial Bank of China,

Temasek has accumulated more than [US]$17 billion of holdings in Beijing-based ICBC, China Construction Bank Corp. (939) and Bank of China Ltd. over the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Global firms including Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Corp. have divested holdings as new capital rules known as Basel III make it more expensive to hold minority stakes in banks. (Bloomberg few days ago)

S’poreans have to keep a beady eye on developments in the Chinese economy particularly in the financial sector.

Well things don’t look that rosy:

There is of course a second and much more disturbing possible implication of spiking lending rates in China – which is that the slowdown in credit creation will lead to tumbling asset prices, widespread bankruptcies and the crippling of the banking and wider financial system …

According to a recent and influential report by Fitch, outstanding loans by Chinese banks and shadow financial institutions were equivalent to 200% of GDP at the end of 2012, up from around 125% of GDP in 2008.

 As quantum, domestic business and household debt at two times GDP is high – pretty similar, for example, to a debt burden on the UK private sector which has hobbled our [UK] economy.

 But it is the stunning and unsustainably rapid rate of growth in Chinese credit creation, and who has borrowed the money, that are the main sources of concern.

 Unless China is re-writing financial history, much of that money will have been lent without due care to businesses and individuals, and many of them will never be able to repay much of it.

 As and when that is too conspicuous to ignore, banks and financial institutions will go bust – unless bailed out by central bank and government.*

Well in the case of the UK, two major banks were effectively nationalised, and the existing shareholders were left with “peanuts”. And UBS and Citi received injections of cash from their central banks in exchange for securities, exchanges that diluted their other shareholders, including GIC.

In 2007/2008, our SWFs’ bot into UBS (GIC), Citi (GIC) and Merrill Lynch (Temasek) in a big way that ST characterised then as showing S’pore was a tua kee investor.

We lost serious money in two of the 30-yr investments by 2009.

— Estimate of Temasek’s losses on ML and Barclays:

— Estimate of GIC’s loss on UBS:

(BTW, Temasek’s 2012 purchase of Credit Suisse mandatory bonds:

Hopefully Superwoman Lina Chiam will raise the issue of Temasek’s strategy doubling up on Chinese banks in parly so that the finance minister’s rebuttal of her concern, will be a matter of public record,  come the next GE.

*And not only ang mohs are worried about China and its financial system:

Asean round-up

In Banks, Indonesia, Temasek on 25/05/2013 at 6:20 am

Growing faster than Greater China

South East Asia is expected to drive growth in the luxury market in Asia this year. Analysts at Bain and Co predict that luxury goods sales will grow by 20% in 2013: Greater China only 6%

How Myanmar will connect up Asia

Great graphics: explains how the opening up of Burma will allow ships to by-pass the Malacca Straits.

DBS’ woes

DBS Group Holdings is hoping it will have to settle for the minority stake (40%) it has been offered in Indonesia’s Bank Danamon. It hopes that talks between the central banks of Indonesia and Singapore will clear the way for a majority takeover. Pending these, it may ask for an extension from seller Temasek Holdings.

Note that because UOB and OCBC have a bigger regional presence (thks to legacy branches in M’sia), they trade at a 25% to DBS in terms of book value.

Failed at Olam, now trying luck at StanChart

In Banks, China, Temasek on 14/05/2013 at 6:55 pm


Carson Block Is Shorting Debt of Standard Chartered



Carson Block, the short-seller who runs Muddy Waters LLC, said he’s betting against the debt of Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) (STAN) because of “deteriorating” loan quality, triggering a 13.5 percent jump in the cost of insuring against losses on the debt of the British lender.

Somehow I don’t expect StanChart to go berserk like Olam, “Carson Block is outside of the bank and does not have access to the bank’s loan files,” said Jim Antos, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. “He has very little ammunition in his gun to shoot at Standard Chartered at this point. He’s got one example of a large loan that appears to be something that possibly would not have been prudent to book.”

Local banks

In Banks on 11/04/2013 at 6:18 am

Finally DBS has a FT CEO where the “T” stands for “Talent” not “Trash”. He had a bad start when its consumer banking IT systems failed at the beginning of tenure, for which he can’t be blamed. An earlier FT CEO where the “T” stood for “Trash” outsourced its  IT systems, only for the process to be reversed by another FT(rash).

(Gupta, who oversaw a 29% jump in DBS shares last year, was awarded a S$3.5 million cash bonus and company stock valued at S$4.6 million as part of total compensation, according to the annual report. His base salary totalled S$1.2 million.)

In the early noughties, OCBC was the bank that never failed to screw-up. It had an FT (Still has one as CEO). Fortunately his replacement was a Talent (can’t call him Foreign, as he has been in and out of S’pore for decades). DBS became the “go to” bank for mess-ups. Now Gupta has got DBS into a “stable” state: gd for him and Temasek must be grateful.

And UOB’s true blue hereditary banker got a 30% pay rise last yr. Well those of us who hold UOB shares (indirectly in my case via Haw Par) can’t complain. UOB has avoided the “Trash” risk by keeping things local. And avoided problems.

Coming back to OCBC, pls send yr COO to PR class. OCBC’s  COO said its differentiation strategy has been to re-orientate the consumer finance business from being product-centric to one centred on the customer. BT’s headline rightly screamed “OCBC shifts strategy to focus on the customer”, but this sadly sells OCBC short: it never was into product pushing like DBS where FD customers were targeted for HN5 Notes and were then left to swing in the wind, when Hongkies were compensated for similar notes.

As my mum still has her OCBC fixed deposits, I’m grateful. If she had been a DBS customer, she’d have been targeted by Team HN5, and lost her money.

HSBC: London & Greater China Bank

In Banks on 02/04/2013 at 5:16 pm

The map shows HSBC’s biz in terms of loans made as of 2010. S’pore is up there with China, Brazil, Oz and UAE. After the UK, Greater China (HK, China and S’pore) comes second. The bank is running down its US loan portfolio with continuing sales and write-downs.

BTW, the Argies are trying to shake down HSBC, accusing it of money laundering.

Chinese financial sector: there be storms and shaols

In Banks, China, Temasek on 31/03/2013 at 7:06 am

(Backgrounder: Temasek has biggish stakes in three out of the four major  Chinese banks: doesn’t have shares in Agricultural Bank and CapLand is big and bullish on China).

Credit issues in Pearl Estuary region:

And New rules will force mainstream lenders to cap their exposure to some of the riskier off-balance sheet products they have sold to customers – in particular, those that are effectively repackaged corporate debt. That limits a big source of risk for banks, but creates a new one for the Chinese economy.

The junk bond market in China took off this year. Although the deals still account for a small share of the global total, Chinese companies have sold $8 billion of high-yield bonds to overseas investors since January. That’s up from $2.3 billion during the same period a year earlier, according to figures from Dealogic … the Chinese market has its own set of potential problems, and some analysts worry that investors aren’t being properly compensated for the added layer of risks.

he bulk of the high-yield bonds in Asia this year — roughly half — come from Chinese real estate companies. The fear is that the housing market, which has been booming, is a bubble that will eventually burst.

Mainland China’s domestic bond market remains largely off limits to foreign buyers. So most investors buy offshore Chinese bonds, which are issued through holding companies headquartered in places like the Cayman Islands.

The bonds tend not to be backed by the actual businesses and underlying assets in mainland China. That means foreign bondholders may have little legal recourse if a company defaults on its debt, especially if local banks or other Chinese creditors make claims.

Bondholders are now facing such difficulties with the bankruptcy of Suntech Power.

Toxic product makes return

In Banks on 28/03/2013 at 6:16 am

And Citi leads the way.

Derivatives that pool credit- default swaps to make magnified bets on corporate debt, popularized in the last credit bubble, are making a comeback as investors search farther afield for alternatives to bonds at record-low yields.

Citigroup Inc. (C) is among banks that have sold as much as $1 billion of synthetic collateralized debt obligations this year, following $2 billion in all of 2012, according to estimates from the New York-based lender. Trading in so-called tranches of indexes that use a similar strategy to juice yields rose 61 percent in the past month.

I’m waiting for DBS to sell HN5 Notes again to blow up its Treasured customers again. Note the head of Consumer Banking ywas then an Indian FT. Now the head is a ex-PAP member, now NMP. .

Cyprus’ “unique service”

In Banks on 25/03/2013 at 4:40 am

“Cyprus is not just an island in the sun. We have developed a unique service sector which was based on confidence in the banking system,” George Vassiliou, a former prime minister, told the Guardian recently.

The “unique service” was laundering “dirty” money from Russia.

HSBC lords it over its peers in Asia

In Banks, Uncategorized on 14/03/2013 at 3:01 pm

StanChart also does well in Asia (wholesale banking profits in Asia rose 10% over 2010-12). but it is a minnow compared to these banks.

And investment banks are looking increasingly for deals in Asean region. In the IPO league table in 2012with KL at 5th place and HK at 4th. SGX with two FTs leading it was nowhere.

M’sia: Banking & politics

In Banks, Malaysia on 11/03/2013 at 2:49 pm

CIMB has a very gd CEO who made the bank a regional player bigger than DBS by managing to pick-up a controlling stake in an Indon bank during the 2007 financial crisis at a song (usually foreigners get screwed in Indonesia), and the rest is history. Everyone else is now playing catch-up including MayBank.

Sadly, if BN does not win a two-thirds majority in the coming general elections, he will out on the street. As the election result is expected to be close, CIMB executives are assuming whoever wins, he will go. He is the younger brudder of the PM, and if BN does not win a two-thirds majority, he will be defenestrated, and younger brudder will follow.

But it’s always like that in M’sia. The CEOs, and controlling shareholder (unless it is a govt agency) are always vulnerable when there is a change of PM, or when there is an unsuccessful attempt to replace a PM.

Contrast HSBC with StanChart

In Banks, Uncategorized on 10/03/2013 at 6:16 am

Both were narco banks. They were founded in the 19th century to finance the trade in opium between British India and Manchu China. They moved on with HSBC becoming one of the biggest banks in the world while StanChart remained like HSBC, once was, a an emerging markets bank. But HSBC returned to its roots: HSBC was fined for providing help to the Mexican drug cartels (bank counters were made bigger to facilitate the handing over of bank notes). StanChart was fined for a technical offence.

HSBC’s Profit Fell 17% in 2012 on Money Laundering Fine. HSBC has since hired the former chief of the US Treasury department’s sanction unit to assist with compliance.



Asean round-up

In Airlines, Banks, India, Indonesia on 09/03/2013 at 7:09 am

The Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group “is among banks considering a purchase of TPG Capital’s $1.6 billion stake in Indonesia’s PT Bank Tabungan Pensiunan Nasional, two people with knowledge of the matter said,” Bloomberg News reports.

A bid by Malaysian low-cost carrier, AirAsia, to set up an airline in India has won approval from the Indian government.

It would be the first foreign company to try to capture the rising demand in India’s aviation sector.

AirAsia India would be a joint venture with the well-known Tata Group, based in Chennai in South India.

India’s aviation industry, which has suffered major losses, was opened to foreign investment last year.

The government now allows foreign companies to own up to 49% of a local airline.

AirAsia, which is Asia’s largest low-cost carrier, will make an initial investment of 800m rupees ($15m; £10m) and will own 49% of the new airline, while Tata Sons will have a 30% stake. Part of BBC report

Citi sees shareholders* no ak, ignores their wishes

In Banks, Corporate governance, Temasek on 07/03/2013 at 5:37 am

Citigroup Makes Preparations for Profit-Sharing Plans Executives of Citigroup “stand to collect $579 million under profit-sharing plans that include the one shareholders voted against last year. The lender booked a $246 million expense in 2012 tied to the plans, adding to $285 million for the previous year and $48 million in 2010, according to regulatory filings,” Bloomberg News reports.

Charles Peabody, an analyst with Portales Partners LLC in New York, said the payouts are difficult to justify given last year’s shareholder rejection. Peabody, who told clients in a 2011 note that he was “dismayed” by the lack of stringent financial thresholds in that year’s plan, said today that Citigroup hasn’t done enough to tie pay to performance.

“The compensation plan was a travesty,” said Peabody, who has an underperform rating on the shares. “Citi’s board and management team continue to make a mockery of shareholder, political and regulatory demands that compensation reflect performance.” …The profit-sharing payouts are on top of annual salaries and bonuses granted to senior executives …

… Citigroup’s use of pretax profit to grant awards “sets the bar too low,” said Hodgson, the compensation analyst. “They’re not looking at anything else apart from pretax income, which is just not a good enough measure of a bank’s performance.”

*GIC still has a slug of Citi

Bang balls Temasek haters: Standard Chartered’s Profit Rises Despite U.S. Fine

In Banks, Temasek on 06/03/2013 at 10:07 am

Standard Chartered posted a slight increase in annual net profit in 2012. Its businesses in emerging economies offset a US$667 million fine in the United States connected to illegal money income rose less than 1, to US$4.8 billion, compared with 2011, while revenue rose 8%, to US$19.1 billion. It was the 10th consecutive year that Standard Chartered had reported a yearly increase in its profit. Its vast operations across Asia, Africa and the Middle East helped protect the bank from many of the problems affecting developed economies like the United States and Europe … Standard Chartered has continued to expand in emerging markets by taking advantage of growing demand for financial services from both local companies and international entities looking to invest.

The bank said its operating income in China grew 21 percent last year, to $1 billion, as it benefited from expanding its local branch network sixfold since 2003. Standard Charted said it was now active in 25 emerging economies where its annual growth was in double digits.

DBS: Why it needs to buy Temasek’s stake in Danamon

In Banks, Indonesia, Uncategorized on 14/02/2013 at 9:30 am

Indonesian lenders the most profitable among the 20 biggest economies in the world, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The average return on equity, a measure of how well shareholder money is reinvested, is 23 percent for the country’s five banks with a market value more than $5 billion … Returns in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, are driven by net interest margins, the difference between what banks charge for loans — an average of 12 percent, according to the central bank — and what they pay for deposits. The average margin for the country’s big banks is 7 percentage points, the highest of the 20 economies … Indonesia’s high net interest margins have prompted banks such as DBS Group Holdings Ltd. in Singapore, where the figure averages 2 percent, to look at acquisitions. DBS, Southeast Asia’s biggest lender, made a $6.8 billion bid in April for 99 percent of Bank Danamon and is awaiting regulatory clearance.

UOB and OCBC have an easier time because of their relatively large M’sian contributions to earnings. Malaysia is generous to its banks.

DBS’s core markets of S’pore and HK are very competitive and mature markets.

Asean round-up

In Banks, Telecoms, Temasek, Vietnam on 02/02/2013 at 7:08 am

In Vietnam, the government’s planned sale of a 20% in Sabeco, a brewery,  is expected this year, according to bankers.

Wilmar, one of Asia’s largest agribusinesses, and Cargill, the commodities’ trader are setting up in Burma.

18 companies, including Malaysia’s Axiata, Norway’s Telenor Group, parent of the Thai mobile operator DTAC, Digicel, the Caribbean based operator, and two Singaporean companies, Singapore Telecommunications, one of southeast Asia’s biggest telephone companies, and ST Telemedia, a unit of Temasek Holdings, have submitted proposals for the two telecoms licences

The Burma has abolished a 25-year-old ban on public gatherings of more than five people: more liberal than S’pore.

Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) has made a US$100 million capital injection into its Philippines operations.The banking group, the fourth largest in the region, on the previous Friday launched a new corporate head office in Manila and announced plans to double its number of branches in that country to 100 by 2014, and thereafter to 200 by 2018, Malaysia’s Business Times said.

It currently has 54 branches there, with another expected to open in the city of Davao by the end of this month.

Maybank Philippines Inc (MPI), which has been operating since 1997 and is now the 24th largest bank by assets, may eventually go for a listing there. The Philippine central bank had last year issued a directive, requiring banks controlled by their foreign counterparts to go for a listing on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

SMEs: Problems getting finance, but govt U-turn on FTs?

In Banks, Economy on 31/01/2013 at 4:53 am

And wonder if the SME financing target mentioned in this BT report from sometime in the middle of 2012, was met. As not heard any more, I suspect not.

UP to $175 million of the $250 million the government has earmarked for investment in small- and medium-sized enterprises under the first phase of its public-private co-investment funding programme for local SMEs will be seeded with private equity funds by year-end.

The programme includes a fund-of-funds called the SME Catalyst Fund, which the $175 million investment falls under, and a direct co-investment fund called the SME Co-Investment Fund.

This means that some $350 million will be placed with the PE funds by the end of this year for investment in SMEs, as the private sector has to match dollar-for-dollar what the government is putting with the PE funds.

The $350 million is part of the first phase of the co-investment fund that is expected to come up to $500 million – $250 million from the government, and the other half from private sector capital.

As to whether the White paper on population reflects a U-turn on the policy of starving SMEs of cheap FTs, only time will tell. Watch and wait. Remember the WP was bitching in parly about the shortage of labour among SMEs. Chinese-owned SMEs fund the WP.

Jappo banks step up presence in ASEAN region

In Banks, Japan, Vietnam on 29/12/2012 at 10:09 am

This week:

— Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFJ), Japan’s biggest bank, bought a 20%  stake worth US$743m  in state-owned VietinBank, the largest-ever merger or acquisition deal in Vietnam’s banking sector. The deal aims to boost “support for Japanese companies operating in Vietnam”, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ president Nobuyuki Hirano said, and to tap South-east Asian markets; after seeing its profits tumble this year, like other Jappo banks.

The Japanese bank last month reported profit in the six months to September dived 58 per cent year on year to US$3.6 billion, due partly to declines in stock holdings.

VietinBank, or Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade, said State Bank of Vietnam will still own the majority of its shares. For the record, it is Vietnam’s second largest bank by asseys.

— SMFG said it plans to expand its consumer finance business to target the growing middle classes in South-east Asia.

The new Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere?


No ASEAN round-up this hols week.

HSBC: great customer & shareholder service

In Banks on 23/12/2012 at 10:12 am

Among the details to emerge in the US investigation of HSBC as the narco barons banker of choice were the larger-than-usual cashier windows in Mexican branches to get more notes through. Nice to see that the bank that I use and invest in is so customer-friendly.

And its continuing to try to improve investor returns:

— The selling selling of its entire 15.6% stake in Ping An Insurance, the big insurer based in Shenzhen, to Charoen Pokphand Group* means HSBC has sold more than 40 noncore assets since the beginning of 2011 and booked about $4 billion in gains on those sales this year alone, DealBook reports.  HSBC expects to book an after-tax gain of US$2.6 bn on the Ping An sale (more than enough to pay the US$1.9bn US fine).

— In October, it announced that it will close its Islamic finance operations in six markets, maintaining its presence only in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and a scaled-down operation in Indonesia.

*controlled by the Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont. The deal is to be financed partly by the state lender China Development Bank,

StanChart not looking too gd

In Banks, Temasek on 15/11/2012 at 6:33 am

Standard Chartered graphic
“Analysts at Barclays recently highlighted concern over StanChart’s bad debt trends, evident in a 42 per cent increase in loan impairments in the first half of the year, compared with pre-tax profit growth of only 9 per cent,” reports FT. The growth is fastest since 2002.

So as StanChart still trades at a 25% to HSBC (1.5x book value versus 1.2X), this may account for the stories that Temasek wants out of its stake.

HSBC: Better than the average bank

In Banks on 06/11/2012 at 6:14 pm

While many bank chiefs have scaled back their financial ambitions, HSBC’s chief executive is persisting with the goals he set for the lender 18 months ago.



Reasons why Cina banks deserve their deratings

In Banks, Temasek on 31/10/2012 at 10:18 am

For the record, Temasek has big stakes in three of the four biggest banks. Cheong all the way?

Citi: Last dog in the race

In Banks, Corporate governance, GIC on 23/10/2012 at 5:15 am

And we own a big chunk of it still. ((((((

FT’s banking editor suggested that it could be split five ways: “into an equity and fixed-income trading entity; an advisory platform; a US retail bank network; a global trade finance shop; and an emerging markets retail bank.” [This para added at 6.07am on day of publication.]

CIMB, OCBC interested in stake in Thai bank

In Banks on 09/10/2012 at 5:32 am

OCBC and CIMB have signed non-disclosure agreements as they consider bidding for General Electric’s stake in Bank of Ayudhya, Bloomberg News reports. MayBank is interested as usual, but doing nothing, as usual. I’m surprised that OCBC is interested.  

Bank of Ayudhya is Thailand’s top or second-ranked provider of credit cards, car loans and personal finance, having bot businesses from HSBC, GE and AIG, among others.

StanChart: Troubles never come singlely

In Banks, Indonesia, Temasek on 02/10/2012 at 6:44 am

The British bank where Temasek has a controlling stake of 19%, which agreed in August to pay the New York state’s top banking regulator US$340 million to settle money-laundering allegations (and in the process making a PAP apologist look even more stupid: he attacked the NY regulator as a “rogue prosecutor”), may be at risk of losing money on a US$1 billion loan to an Indonesian tycoon to buy shares in an Indon mining company*controlled by the family of an indon presidential candidate. He bought the shares at abt 11 sterling last yr. Now under 150 pence.

In the 70s and 80s, StanChart was the go-to bank for goofs but in the 1990s and noughties (aside from employing one TJS) it gained a reputation as a bank that didn’t do silly things: not anymore.

So far in the scheme of things, the losses are “peanuts”. Let’s hope there is no mega encore.


*Related post:

Time for a SME bank?

In Banks on 22/09/2012 at 5:58 am

Even the  govt in UK is setting one up to bring together ‘alphabet soup of existing schemes’

We too have  ‘alphabet soup of existing financing schemes’ to help SMEs. But SMEs are always asking for more for whatever reason.

And this. A new institute has been set up to offer subsidised business consulting for SMEs. United Overseas Bank (UOB) and the Singapore Management University (SMU have set up the UOB-SMU Asian Enterprise Institute,  which aims to equip local firms with information and expertise to help their regional expansion.

MayBank touted as buyer of Thai bank stake

In Banks, Malaysia on 14/09/2012 at 6:43 am

General Electric is analysing options for its US$2.1 bn stake (33%) in Bank of Ayudhya. MayBank touted as possible buyer.

Buying this stake would add one more piece to the jigsaw being built after the purchase of Kim Eng (has big presence in Thai stk mkt). As usual MayBank is playing catch up to CIMB.

Update on Citi: New Citi, old Citi

In Banks, GIC on 02/09/2012 at 7:09 am

As GIC still has a loss position in Citi (though it has realised profits to offset the loss, unlike in UBS), tot I’d update readers

DBS screws its customers again, and again?

In Banks on 27/08/2012 at 7:26 am

A few years ago, DBS sold HN5 Notes to its valued Treasure customers, blowing the buyers to kingdom come and discriminated against locals when it came to compensation.

So when early in 2011, when it started pushing yuan deposits and other investments linked to the yuan to its customers, I tot “No, not again”. By early May 2011, it had sold more than 27 billion yuan (S$5.2 billion) of investments linked to the Chinese currency to wealthy investors here it boasted.

Well 2011 wasa not a gd year for the yuan, and 2012 has been a disaster. 

While most economists expect the renminbi will stay flat or rise slightly over the next year, financial markets tell a different story.

In the non-deliverable forward market, where traders place bets on the future exchange rate, the yuan or renminbi is priced to fall 1.3 per cent against the dollar over the next 12 months.

Some experts say the decline will be much more substantial. Jim Walker, an economist who predicted the 1997 Asian financial crisis, forecasts a 5 per cent depreciation over the next year because “corporate financials in China are deteriorating dramatically. Extract from last week’s FT.

And we know S$ has been appreciating vis-a-vis the US$.

 Interestingly OCBC, Singapore’s second-biggest bank, was not aggressively promoting offshore yuan deposits to Singapore customers due to the risk of near-term losses as the local currency is likely to appreciate at a faster pace.

“We’re pretty cautious with regard to offshore RMB business in terms of deposits. For a Singaporean, we think it is not very wise,” CEO David Conner said at an earnings briefing in May 2011.  

“Our forecast has always been that the Singapore dollar will appreciate faster than the renminbi so we are not pushing that hard with our customers.”
OCBC’s comments came shortly after aforesaid boast by DBS. So it looks like although Rajan the FT Indian who blew up the “treasured’ clients moved on, the culture of screwing clients still remains?
(BTW, O’Connor is the kind of ang moh FT, we don’t get enough of. We get trashy FTs like SGX’s CEO (ang moh) and president (Indian Indian) who talk the talk of attracting IPOs but who underperform.)
And DBS is now using rocket science to make customers spend and spend More “treasures’ getting shafted?

Bank run in Vietnam UPDATE

In Banks, Vietnam on 24/08/2012 at 9:16 am

Depositors in Vietnam have withdrawn hundreds of millions of US dollars from one of the country’s largest banks after the arrest of one of its founders. StanChart has a 15% stake in this bank.

The CEO of Asia Commercial Bank, Ly Xuan Hai, has been arrested on suspicion of committing economic crimes.

What this run shows is that:

— Doing biz in Vietnam can be dangerous if the authorities don’t like you.

— Banks like StanChart and HSBC do biz in some dangerous places and their high capital ratios and conservative loan to deposit ratio have a purpose.  But really do all three S’pore banks need to be among the 10 safest banks in the world?

Three cheers for CJ

In Banks, Financial competency on 19/08/2012 at 5:57 am

Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong said in a written judgment: “In the light of the many allegations made against many financial institutions for ‘mis-selling’ complex financial products to linguistically and financially illiterate and unwary customers during the financial crisis in 2008, it may be desirable for the courts to reconsider whether financial institutions should be accorded full immunity for such ‘misconduct’ by relying on non-reliance clauses which unsophisticated customers might have been induced or persuaded to sign without truly understanding their potential legal effect on any form of misconduct or negligence on the part of the relevant officers in relation to the investment recommended by them.”–Time-to-reconsider?

Related posts:

Wonder if Bank of S’pore provides this kind of service?

In Banks on 04/08/2012 at 7:15 am

Or if DBS’s and UOB’s private banks are even trying?

Coutts recalls a story when a client dropped his wallet over the side of his yacht. One satellite-phone call later and the bank couriered out cards and cash to the next port he was going to. Then there was the diabetic client who got straight off an aircraft and into back-to-back meetings. When he finally checked into his hotel, there was nothing on the menu he could eat, so he called his bank – obviously – which duly sent a taxi there, complete with restaurant recommendations.

Private banks even send their clients’ children on boot camps for offspring of the ultra-rich. AH Loder Advisers has an annual dog sled expedition across the Arctic. While billed as leadership training, these trips are as much about ensuring the children stay with the bank when they inherit.

HSBC: Doing God’s Work?

In Banks, Humour on 29/07/2012 at 6:51 am

On 25 July, Mexican regulators have imposed a fine of  US$27.5m on HSBC for its failure to comply with money-laundering regulations. The fine is the highest ever imposed by Mexican regulators. It constitutes 51.5% of the 2011 annual profit of HSBC’s Mexican subsidiary.

The week before, a United States Senate committee found that HSBC had provided a conduit for “drug kingpins and rogue nations”. HSBC’s head of compliance, David Bagley, resigned at the Senate committee hearing over allegations that the bank ignored warnings that Mexican drug money was being allowed to pass through the bank.

The US department of justice is conducting a criminal investigation into HSBC’s operations.

HSBS is expected to be fined heavily by the US.

So as a shareholder, I was upset that it didn’t use the defence that it was doing God’s work by laundering narco money. As the latest issue of the Economist writes: A gleaming chapel in Hidalgo state recently put up a bronze plaque thanking Heriberto Lazcano, head of the Zetas, for a donation. When the pope raised an eyebrow about such “narco alms”, a Mexican bishop, Ramón Godínez, replied that when Mary Magdalene washed Jesus’s feet with expensive perfume, he didn’t ask her how she paid for it. “There is no reason to burn money just because its origin is evil. You have to transform it. All money can be transformed, just as corrupted people can be transformed,” he said. With God as its money launderer, Mexico’s dirtiest industry should stay on a high.

HSBC: Being the drug barons banker of choice has its privileges

In Banks, Humour on 25/07/2012 at 10:04 am

If HSBC can surmount its current troubles, it has extraordinary opportunities. The year-long investigation was cited by the Senate as a test case. There is abundant evidence of other global banks having similar problems. Creating a compliance system that can satisfy regulation will not be cheap or simple. Companies in poor countries may find that their costs for routine transactions soar. But the rare banks that have the scale and the resources to operate in this environment will have a business niche to themselves.

As a shareholder with a barbed sense of humour, I can laugh all the way to the bank.

Earlier post:

Third time lucky, Temasek?

In Banks, Temasek on 22/07/2012 at 5:10 am

But if investment is another Merrill Lynch or Barclays or like GIC’s UBS nightmare, amount lost will be “peanuts”. Still.

Credit Suisse initiated a series of measures on July 18 to boost its capital position, including a 3.8 billion Swiss franc issue of mandatory convertible securities to new and existing investors.

The securities will pay an annual coupon of 4% until they convert into 234 million ordinary shares in March 2013. Half the issue will be taken up by strategic investors including Qatar Holding, Saudi Arabia’s Olayan Group, BlackRock Investment, Capital Research Global Investors, Norway’s Norges Bank and Temasek. Some of the strategic investors have also underwritten the other half of the issue, which will be offered to existing Credit Suisse shareholders.

Related posts

Estimate of Temasek’s losses on ML and Barclays

Estimate of GIC’s loss on UBS:

HSBC: Returned to roots

In Banks, Humour on 18/07/2012 at 1:32 pm

As a shareholder of HSBC and shumeone with a barbed sense of humour, don’t know whether to cry, or laugh and commend HSBC.

The present CEO is trying to get HSBC back to its Asian (i.e Chinese) roots, out of adventures in the US and Latin America. Funny thing is that in these places it was returning to its roots. 

HSBC was used by “drug kingpins”, says the US Senate, something the bank agreed with. It will be fined heavily. But in the 19th century it was banker to Jardine Matheson and the other British and Indian drug lords who were selling opium into China.

Great ad slogan, “Trust us.  The Mexican and Columbian drug cartens trusted us”. Or “Banker of choice to the drag barons of East & West throughout the ages”.

F&N: ThaiBev the bidder?

In Banks on 18/07/2012 at 5:36 am

As you will know, OCBC and its Great Eastern Holdings insurance unit said they had been approached with an offer to buy their combined 18.2% stake in F&N as well as their 7.9% cent holding in Asia Pacific Breweries.

FT reports that the bidder is “a unit of ThaiBev”.  It is Thailand’s largest and one of the largest beverage alcohol companies in South East Asia. Listed on SGX. Interestingly it has distilleries or breweries  in Scotland, Poland, Ireland and France, in addition to Thailand and China. Makes Chang Beer.

Serious money

In Banks on 17/07/2012 at 9:52 am

Will never hear of this in our MSM, only why the Swiss bankers are rushing to Asia (and S’pore).

Geneva, which became a refuge in the 1960s for Egyptian cotton merchants fleeing President Gamal Abdel Nasser, developed as a Middle East banking center after King Fahd constructed a palace in the lakeside suburb of Collonge-Bellerive, where he held councils on summer evenings

Middle East has an estimated US$4.5 trillion of private wealth.

Too bad abt the investment banks though


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