Tuesday 13th October 2015
NEWS TICKER, OCTOBER 12TH 2015: Segulah IV LP has sold Etraveli Holding AB to ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG for some €235m. For ProSiebenSat.1, Etraveli represents its largest international investment in eCommerce to date and it complements its travel portfolio brand 7Travel. Etraveli is one of Europe’s largest Online Travel Agents and is headquartered in Uppsala, Sweden, and operates in 40 countries and four continents. In 2014, Etraveli generated around €900m in Total Transaction Value and €69m in net revenue. In the first six months of 2015, net revenue growth was 34% year on year. Arma Partners acted as exclusive financial advisor to Segulah IV - Joint venture partners Lionstone Investments (Lionstone), a privately owned, US-based real estate investment company, and Hermes Investment Management, the £29.8bn manager focused on delivering superior, sustainable, risk adjusted returns to its clients – responsibly, have acquired One Bunker Hill, a landmark Art Deco office building located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. Lionstone and Hermes Investment Management will renovate the 273,000 sq ft building, preserving its character while converting its more traditional offices into creative workspaces suitable for technology, media and entertainment companies desiring a downtown location. Jane Page, CEO at Lionstone, says, “The resurgence of the Downtown submarket of Los Angeles, along with the unique features of this historical property, make this investment very attractive. The partnership will embark on an extensive capital renovation program to reposition the building and transform conventional office space into a creative, amenity-rich environment.” - Morningstar has moved the Morningstar Analyst Rating™ for the Royal Corporate Bond fund to Silver. The fund’s rating was previously Under Review. Prior to being placed Under Review, the fund held a Gold rating. Ashis Dash, manager research analyst at Morningstar, says, “Following a recent Morningstar Analyst Ratings meeting, we have moved the Royal London Corporate Bond fund to a Morningstar Analyst Rating™ of Silver. The fund’s rating was previously Under Review following the announcement that manager Sajiv Vaid would be leaving Royal London Asset Management (RLAM). Prior to being placed Under Review, the fund held a Gold Rating. Jonathan Platt, the co-manager of the fund and head of fixed income at RLAM, took over sole managerial responsibility for the fund in May 2015. Platt joined RLAM in 1985 and has been instrumental in developing RLAM’s fixed income expertise and shaping the fund’s investment approach. While we view Vaid’s departure as a significant loss, the continuity to the investment process provided by a seasoned manager in Platt and the support he receives from a close-knit fixed income team at RLAM continue to drive our positive view on the fund.” - Fidessa group plc (LSE: FDSA) says it is providing CIMB Securities (CIMB), with its derivatives platform. Justin Llewellyn-Jones, Global Head of Derivatives at Fidessa, views the expanded partnership with CIMB as timely given the current trends in global derivatives. "Interest in Asian derivatives is on the rise with exchanges, clearing houses, brokers and vendors all making significant moves in the region," he said. "CIMB's implementation of an integrated system will enable their local, regional and global clients to participate fully in global markets in any way they choose, and take advantage of our real-time monitoring and reporting capabilities as well as our sophisticated algorithms and controls." With the futures and options platform co-located with SGX in Singapore, CIMB's clients will enjoy low-latency access to Asian derivatives markets. They will also be able to take advantage of Fidessa trading screens themselves, enabling them to both monitor order progress and execute their own DMA trades. David Polen, Global Head of Electronic Execution at Fidessa, adds: "Managing execution in Asia has always been a nuanced business. There is a tremendous velocity of regulatory and technical change across all jurisdictions. On top of this, buy-sides require flexibility in how their orders are handled.” – Emerging markets’ foreign exchange reserves have dropped about $650bn (7% of total reserves) since reaching a peak of $9.4trn in June 2014 says Jan Dehn, head of research at Ashmore. Emerging markets control nearly 80% of the world’s FX reserves. Currency movements are the big determinant of reserve levels. Huge shifts in exchange rates, particularly in the value of the USD have affected central bank reserves since mid-2014. Nonetheless, Dehn suggests that reserves in many emerging economies are of a level that any appreciation in the US dollar is unlikely to pose a major risk to their overall reserve position. Dehn says the dollar is now so strong that it is hurting US growth and its strength has become the most important factor influencing the Fed’s decisions on rates. “This means that the two most compelling reasons for the dollar to continue to rally – higher growth and higher rates – are losing steam,” he states - National wealth manager Bellpenny says it has completed two more transactions involving IFA businesses. The deals bring combined funds under management of over £150m and more than 500 active clients. This takes Bellpenny’s total number of acquisitions since launch to 32. The acquisition of Cambridge-based IFA, Ashton KCJ Financial Planning LLP, encompasses around £60m of funds under management. The business was jointly owned by Ashton KCJ Solicitors and Price Bailey LLP. The second purchase is that of Horsham-based IFA, Principals in Practice Limited (PIP) and involves £90m of funds under management - ETF Securities and ISE ETF Ventures have launched an equity index ETF, the ETFS ISE Cyber Security GO UCITS ETF from the ETF Securities product family, in partnership with ISE ETF Ventures on Xetra and Börse Frankfurt. The ETF’s ISIN is DE000A14ZT85. The ETFs’ total expense ratio is 0.75%, has an accumulating distribution and is benchmarked against the ISE Cyber Security UCITS Index. The ETF gives investors access to companies around the world whose business focuses on cyber security, including protecting websites and networks against unauthorised access, developing the requisite hardware and software as well as offering advisory services in this area. The new ETF only includes companies with a minimum market cap of $100m and a minimum daily value traded of $1m. ISE, which is part of Deutsche Börse Group, has calculated the underlying index since August 26, 2015 with a base date of December 31st 2009 - Stocks in China and Hong Kong rallied Monday on stimulus measures from Beijing and signals of reform in the country's telecommunications sector. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 3.3% while Chinese firms in Hong Kong led theHang Seng Index up 1.3%.China's central bank announced over the weekend that it would expand a pilot program that would boost banks' lending abilities. The plan, currently in place in Shandong and Guangdong, allows banks to pledge certain assets to secure loans from the central bank. It will be expanded to nine provinces including Shanghai and Beijing. The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 51.47 points or 1.75% higher to 2998.5, taking the year-to-date performance to -10.90%. The top active stocks today were DBS, which gained 1.55%, SingTel, which gained 2.12%, Noble, which gained16.05%, Keppel Corp, which gained3.91% and UOB, with a 1.84%advance. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained 1.32%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index rose 0.93%. - Glencore--the world's largest copper supplier and third-largest copper miner—is reported to have initiated the sale of its Cobar underground mine in Australia's New South Wales state and its Lomas Bayas open-pit operation in northern Chile. The company is reported to have begun the sales in response to a number of unsolicited expressions of interest from various potential buyers. Interested parties will be able to place an offer for one or both of the mines. Cobar was valued at $329m by Glencore at the end of 2013 following a $137m write-down on a revised mining plan, while Lomas Bayas mine, located in northern Chile's Atacama region is valued at $335m. Australian press reports say Bank of America Merrill Lynch and UBS are advising Glencore on the sale. - In Turkey, headline inflation accelerates to 7.9% year on year in September, due to a stronger FX pass-through and higher food prices, says National Bank of Greece. The country’s trade balance improved significantly in August, mainly on the back of a lower energy bill and weaker domestic demand, while core inflation rose to an 8-month high in September, reflecting a stronger pass-through from a weaker TRY (the depreciation of the TRY against the basket of “50%*TRY/EUR+50%*TRY/USD” accelerated to a 1½-year high of 20.9% year on year in September from 16.6% in August). The CBRT’s favourite core inflation measures, i.e., CPI-H (that excludes energy, unprocessed food, alcohol, tobacco and gold) and CPI-I (that also excludes processed food) rose to 8.3% year on year and 8.2% year on year, respectively, in September from 7.8% and 7.7% in August. Furthermore, food prices (comprising 24.2% of the CPI basket) increased by a 4-month high of 10.7% year on year in September against 9.7% year on year in August (adding 0.3 percentage points to headline inflation). – The European Investment Bank has filed a notice with the Luxembourg Stock Exchange that it will redeem all the outstanding notes of its $50m callable zero coupon bonds due October 31st 2042 (ISIN: XS0847990768) at a redemption price of 112.4864000% at the end of this month – Bulgaria reports that its consolidated budget recorded a surplus of 0.7% of GDP in the first eight months of 2015 compared with a deficit of 1.6% in the same period in 2014. This was the best performance since 2008, and was mainly driven by an across-the-board improvement in budget revenue (up 2.2 percentage points of GDP year on year in between January and the end of August). Specifically, tax revenue surged in 8M:15 (up 1.3 percentage points of GDP year on year), largely attributed to strong base effects.

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The European Review

By Patrick Artus, chief economist at Natixis

France’s industrial crisis: predictable and set to last

Friday, 03 August 2012 Written by 
France’s industrial crisis: predictable and set to last France’s industrial sector is in the midst of a steadily worsening crisis. There has been a decline in production, employment and productive investment, the external deficit remains significant, and export market shares are declining rapidly. We would argue that this situation was foreseeable, particularly if we add up issues with supply, domestic and external demand, and the impact of the eurozone crisis. Unfortunately, not a lot can be done about the weakness of demand, and the remedies to the supply problem are difficult to implement rapidly. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

France’s industrial sector is in the midst of a steadily worsening crisis. There has been a decline in production, employment and productive investment, the external deficit remains significant, and export market shares are declining rapidly.

We would argue that this situation was foreseeable, particularly if we add up issues with supply, domestic and external demand, and the impact of the eurozone crisis. Unfortunately, not a lot can be done about the weakness of demand, and the remedies to the supply problem are difficult to implement rapidly.

Let’s go through these issues, their causes and their implications.

Cause no. 1: The supply problem

Supply conditions for goods and services continue to deteriorate in France. The low profitability of companies discourages investment hence the production capacity of French industry is on the decline.

Since 2001, French industry sales prices have been falling relative to unit wage costs. Such falls reflect the excessive level of unit wage costs compared to the sophistication of industrial production in France. The downmarket nature of French industrial production prevents an increase in its selling prices, because of the high level of the price elasticity of demand for industrial products made in France: 0.9 versus 0.3 in Germany.

However, the rise in the unit wage cost – relative to selling prices – does not come as a result of the trend in productivity, but what has been happening to wages. This is because the level of costs is pushed up by the level of employers’ welfare contributions.

The subsequent fall in French industry’s profitability is substantial, reducing its capacity to invest and create jobs. This leads to the off-shoring of production capacity to countries where industrial profitability is higher, thereby weakening industry financially and threatening it with a serious crisis in the event of a recession and falling demand.

Cause no. 2: The demand problem

Between 2011 and 2012, French industry suffered from the weakness of both domestic and external demand. This resulted in a lower capacity utilisation rate than normal, which makes the problem of low profitability even more detrimental. And the decline in demand may deteriorate further if there is a fall in real wage incomes and government expenditure.

Cause no. 3: The euro-zone crisis

The eurozone crisis has two negative effects on French industry:

  1. it weakens demand and therefore imports in the eurozone countries that usually would have been France’s customers. This is significant because the eurozone accounts for 46% of French exports – the United Kingdom, which is also mired in a recession, accounts for 6%;
  2. it reduces domestic demand and capacity utilisation rates in Spain and Portugal and persuades industrial companies in these countries to turn to exports. As wage costs are lower in these countries, there is an increase in the competition that has a direct impact on French industry. France’s export market share tends to decline, whereas those of PortugalSpain and Ireland have recovered.

Remedies are very difficult to implement

Of the three issues mentioned, weakness of demand and the effects of the eurozone crisis cannot be controlled, particularly in a situation where there is private-sector deleveraging and a reduction in fiscal deficits. The question for French industry is therefore which remedies can be implemented on the supply side? We have put together the following list of possible measures:


  • an improvement in the sophistication of industrial production and in the differentiation of products, which will require innovation, investments, and marketing;
  • increased geographical diversification in companies' sales to increase the weight of emerging countries, which is currently quite low in France;
  • a major reform of the financing of social welfare in France to reduce the weight of welfare contributions paid by companies;
  • a fall in the hourly labour cost, either through a fall in the per capita wage, or through an increase in the number of hours worked (which is obviously a source of conflict).


However, these measures are all very difficult to implement rapidly.

It is also important to understand the major fragility of companies that are not very profitable (i.e. they have a shortfall in supply) when they are faced with a significant and lasting decline in demand.

Unfortunately, it looks as though this French industry crisis is not going to go away any time soon.

Patrick Artus

A graduate of Ecole Polytechnique, of Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Adminstration Economique and of Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, Patrick Artus is today the Chief Economist at Natixis. He began his career in 1975 where his work included economic forecasting and modelisation. He then worked at the Economics Department of the OECD (1980), before becoming Head of Research at the ENSAE. Thereafter, Patrick taught seminars on research at Paris Dauphine (1982) and was Professor at a number of Universities (including Dauphine, ENSAE, Centre des Hautes Etudes de l'Armement, Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées and HEC Lausanne).

Patrick is now Professor of Economics at University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. He combines these responsibilities with his research work at Natixis. Patrick was awarded "Best Economist of the year 1996" by the "Nouvel Economiste", and today is a member of the council of economic advisors to the French Prime Minister. He is also a board member at Total and Ipsos.

Website: cib.natixis.com/research/economic.aspx

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