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NEWS TICKER, TUESDAY JUNE 30TH 2015: Pamplona Capital Management (“Pamplona”) has acquired Precyse, a health information manager in services, education and technology founded in 1999. Also, earlier this month, Pamplona sold the majority of its controlling stake in Alvogen, a high growth generic drugs company, to a consortium of investors. The Precyse investment has been made from Pamplona’s fourth private equity fund, Pamplona Capital Partners and was advised by Deutsche Bank Securities and received legal advice from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. Pamplona is a London and New York based specialist investment manager established in 2005. In addition to Precyse, Pamplona’s healthcare investment portfolio currently includes Spreemo, a company that is bringing to the workers compensation specialty benefits management industry with a focus on radiology; Intralign, which helps hospital and surgeons achieve a rep-less, optimised surgical episode by combining assessment with clinical support and operational tools; Magnacare, a healthcare administrative services company focused on self-insured employers and workers complains in the New York and New Jersey regions; and Privia Health, a physician practice management and population health technology company. - In line with its strategy to focus on packaging solutions for its pharmaceutical customers, Gerresheimer today announced that it will sell its glass tubing business to Corning Incorporated. The €196m ($219m) deal was advised by McDermott Will & Emery - GVQ Investment Management Limited (GVQIM), a specialist fund manager that applies private equity investment techniques to the public markets, has announced the appointment of Jane Tufnell as non-executive chairman. Tufnell co-founded Ruffer Investment Management Limited, a privately owned fund management group in 1994. She is an Independent Non-Executive Director of the Diverse Income Trust and of the JP Morgan Claverhouse Investment Trust. - Insurance broker and risk advisory firm Willis Group Holdings and professional services group Towers Watson on Tuesday said they had agreed to an all-stock merger that values the combined company at $18bn. Under the deal, which has been approved by both boards, Towers Watson shareholders will get 2.6490 Willis shares for each share held as well as a one-time cash dividend of $4.87 a share. Willis Group shareholders will own 50.1% of the combined group and Towers Watson shareholders will own the rest. The combined company, to be named Willis Towers Watson, will have 39,000 employees in more than 120 countries and revenue of about $8.2bn. Willis Chairman James McCann will be chairman of the combined company and Towers Watson Chairman and Chief Executive John Haley will be its CEO. Willis CEO Dominic Casserley will be president and deputy CEO of the combined company. Its board will consist of six directors from each company. Towers Watson’s chief financial officer, Roger Millay, will be CFO - According to BankingLaw 360, the US Supreme Court has granted an appeal from Merrill Lynch, UBS Securities LLC and other financial institutions over a shareholder suit alleging they engaged in illegal and manipulative “naked” short selling - Roxi Petroleum has reported progress at its flagship BNG asset as it posted an operational update. The Central Asian oil and gas company with a focus on Kazakhstan says that a gross oil-bearing interval of at least 105 metres, from 4,332 metres to 4,437 metres, was found at its Deep Well A5. The well, which was spudded in July 2013, will require specialist equipment for a more comprehensive 30-day core sampling test, but has already began preparatory extraction work Elsewhere, Deep Well 801, spudded in December 2014, is in the production test phase. "Progress at the BNG deep wells can best be described as steady," says chairman Clive Carver. "We look forward to reporting the results of our ongoing work in the near future – Advisory firm Hargreaves Landsdown has reportedly acquired a client book of 7,000 investors with a combined £370m of assets from JP Morgan Asset Management. The book accounts for 6% of JP Morgan’s direct client business and represents clients that hold or plan to continue to invest in non-JP Morgan funds or investment trusts in wrappers other than the JP Morgan ISA. This includes clients with direct equities, gilts or exchange-traded funds, who will be moved the brokers Vantage platform. The sale follows JP Morgan's announcement in January 2014 that it would no longer offer direct clients anything other than JP Morgan funds and investment trusts and that it would close its cash ISA and Sipp. There will be no transfer charge for clients moving to Hargreaves. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed - The OECD will publish Government at a Glance 2015 on Monday July 6th. The biannual report, now in its fourth edition, presents more than 50 indicators to compare governments’ performance in everything from public finances (including government spending per person), cuts to staffing and pay in central government and the level of private asset disclosure by government officials to access to and satisfaction with the healthcare, education and the justice systems This year’s report covers non-OECD countries for some indicators including Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Russia, South Africa and Ukraine and 36 country factsheets with infographics will be published alongside it. OECD Deputy Secretary-General Mari Kiviniemi will present the report at OECD Headquarters in Paris at 09:00am - Queensland diversified property group WA Stockwell has closed its $35m bond issue oversubscribed following a strong investor response to the offer, sole lead arranger FIIG Securities has announced. The six year senior secured amortising note issue will pay a fixed rate of interest of 7.75% pa. FIIG CEO Mark Paton says the success of the Stockwell issue confirmed the market appetite, especially among wholesale investors, for credit exposure to quality Australian companies. The Stockwell issue is the fourth that FIIG has sole-arranged for a company in the property and infrastructure sector, following successful issues by ASX-listed property developer Payce Consolidated, infrastructure operator Plenary Group, and ASX-listed property funds manager 360 Capital.

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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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