Monday 27th April 2015
NEWS TICKER: MONDAY, APRIL 27th 2015:Luc Luyet, CIIA – Senior Market Analyst AT Swissquote says that yesterday, “the SNB surprised the market by announcing that the number of sight deposit account holders that are exempt from negative interest has been reduced. This decision doesn’t change much the domestic banks’ situation as the “20 times the minimum reserve requirement” rule is still running. On the other side, the institutions associated with the Confederation, such as the pension fund of the Confederation or the pension fund of the SNB, are no longer exempt of negative interest. Consequently, only the account holders of the national social security system are still fully exempt.” - High yield debt issuance remains buoyant. Issuance volume for the week ending April 17, 2015, slowed down a bit from the previous week, but remained strong. Junk bond, or high-yield debt, issuers continued to issue bonds as yields remained favourable. High-yield debt is tracked by the SPDR Barclays Capital High Yield Bond ETF and the iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond Fund. According to data from S&P Capital IQ/LCD, dollar-denominated bonds amounting to $10.75bn were issued across 16 transactions in the week ending April 17th. The issuance volume fell by 3.2% from the week ending April 10. Pricing was evenly spread across the week. The number of transactions fell from 18 to 16 week-over-week. Last week brought the total US dollar issuance of high-yield debt to $115.8bn in 2015 YTD, up some 15% from the same period in 2014, the bulk of which is refinancing of older debt - Moody's says EMEA auto ABS performance remained stable during the three-month period ending February 2015. The sector's average performance trend was positive in terms of delinquency ratios and cumulative losses. The 60+ day delinquencies decreased to 0.66% in February 2015 from 0.77% in February 2014, while cumulative defaults decreased to 1.06% from 1.20% over the same period. This decrease was due mainly to the good performance of the German and Dutch markets. The prepayment rate increased slightly to 13.49% in February 2015 from 13.30% a year earlier. As of February 2015, the pool balance of all outstanding rated auto ABS transactions was €27.55bn - According to Sino specialists Red Pulse, China’s State Council is considering allowing daily repatriation for QFII. Currently, RQFII enjoys T+1 repatriation while QFII is restricted to T+5. QFII is the largest channel for foreign investment into China with quota of USD150bn, however, only half of the quota is in use, like at least partly due to the five-day repatriation stipulation - Malaysia’s state pension fund will offer a Shari’a-compliant investment option for its members by 2017, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today. Najib says it will create the largest Shari’a fund of its kind in the world. Malaysia has one of the world’s largest Islamic finance sectors and the authorities are keen to develop it further. They envision the industry accounting for 40% of the country’s total banking assets by 2020 compared with latest figures of around 23% released last year. The $160bn (MYR577.4bn) Employees Provident Fund (EPF) already invests about a third of its portfolio in stocks and bonds that comply with Islamic principles, which ban interest payments and pure monetary speculation. The fund reportedly hired consultants last year to study the feasibility of a state-backed pension fund focusing entirely on Shari’a-compliant investments. Additionally, local press reports says that Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional has received regulatory approval to issue a MYR1billion (around $275m) socially responsible Islamic bond - The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc has declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.25 per share on the company's outstanding common stock, an increase of 67% from the prior $0.15 per share quarterly dividend. The dividend is payable on June 26TH 2015, to shareowners of record at the close of business on June 12TH 2015 - Lazard Ltd today reported operating revenue1 of $581m for the quarter ended March 31st. Adjusted net income was $103m, or $0.77 (diluted) per share for the quarter. These results exclude a pre-tax charge of $63m relating to a debt refinancing2. Q1 2015 net income on a U.S. GAAP basis, including the pre-tax charge, was $56m, or $0.42 (diluted) per share. "Our Financial Advisory and Asset Management businesses continue their strong performance," says Kenneth M. Jacobs, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lazard. "In the first quarter, we refinanced and repaid a portion of Lazard's long-term debt, significantly reducing our interest costs," adds Matthieu Bucaille, chief financial officer of Lazard. "Consistent with our capital management objectives, we have increased the quarterly dividend by 17%, the fifth increase in as many years." -

A Clarion Call for Investors in Youth-led Enterprise

Tuesday, 01 July 2008
A Clarion Call for Investors in Youth-led Enterprise At the Doha Summit on young people and employment, held in February this year, the issues of chronic youth unemployment, discrimination against women in the job market, lack of skills required for particular jobs among university graduates and the negative perception about private sector jobs were key discussion topics. In a groundbreaking development, involving FTSE Group with youth initiative Silatech, established by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned of Qatar, is now leading a regional wide index project to support youth-led small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Middle East and North African region. Over the medium to long term, the project hopes to encourage sustained private sector institutional investment in seed companies in the region to facilitate equal opportunity and employment. Francesca Carnevale reports. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/
At the Doha Summit on young people and employment, held in February this year, the issues of chronic youth unemployment, discrimination against women in the job market, lack of skills required for particular jobs among university graduates and the negative perception about private sector jobs were key discussion topics. In a groundbreaking development, involving FTSE Group with youth initiative Silatech, established by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned of Qatar, is now leading a regional wide index project to support youth-led small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Middle East and North African region. Over the medium to long term, the project hopes to encourage sustained private sector institutional investment in seed companies in the region to facilitate equal opportunity and employment. Francesca Carnevale reports.
A 2007 report by the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) puts the scale of the problem in context. In the report, IBLF notes that over 290m people live in the Middle East and North African region (MENA) and the demographic is expected to double over the next thirty years. Out of today’s population, some 60% is under 24. That in turn means that 20m jobs have to be found right now to reduce current levels of unemployment, and over 100m new jobs have to come on stream in the next 20 years to meet supply.

Youth unemployment is chronic in emerging markets and for all its much vaunted riches and resources, the story is the same in the MENA region. Finding a job is the top priority for 68% of Arab youth and if the means to find work are not there, then the result could be very challenging indeed. The problem has been in mind for some time. A few years ago, at an International Fund for Agricultural Development meeting in Rome, Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) secretary-general Abdul Rahman al-Attiyah compared unemployment to a ticking bomb likely to cause a “revolt” should the region fail to act comprehensively and soon. His fears may be justified. IBLF’s report says that 80% of young Arabs do not believe they will find employment easily; while 70% of young Arabs think it is up to the government to solve the unemployment problem.



The private sector can play an important role in tackling the growing crisis of youth unemployment and perhaps for too long governments and aid agencies have been seen as the only solutions to what could be an impending crisis. However, businesses and pressure groups across the Middle East now appear to be picking up cudgels and instigating—albeit in a small way—initiatives to help create new employment and enterprise opportunities for young people. IBLF’s report was published, for instance, with the support of the Young Arab Leaders, Emirates Environmental Group, Young Entrepreneurs Association, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and a consortium of companies. Now comes a clarion call to action by FTSE Group and Silatech, which together are working to attract global investors into the process of change through the launch of a special index project to support youth led small businesses in the MENA region.

The initiative will promote the creation of small and medium sized enterprise (SME) markets and indices across the MENA region in order to “facilitate their growth and development and thereby increase youth employment opportunities,” notes Imogen Dillon-Hatcher, managing director of Europe, Middle East and Africa at FTSE Group. The initiative will encourage and support individual exchanges “in establishing their junior SME markets, that are lightly regulated and thereby encourage the development of smaller, entrepreneurial companies. We know that such companies are more likely to employ and even be run by the 18 to 30 age group,” she adds. The first initiative will be implemented in Qatar, where local regulator, the Qatar Financial Markets Authority (QFMA) is working with the Doha Securities Market to establish a ”younger market that will attract investors. The next stage is to establish credible investible indices supporting the junior markets that will attract institutional investment,” explains Dillon-Hatcher. Moreover, she adds, the World Bank and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) are also supporting the broader Silatech initiative.

“This initiative is about energising SMEs, which are critical to the creation of youth employment opportunities, [which is] our main goal,” says Rick Little, chief executive of Silatech. Silatech, is focused on connecting young people across MENA to encourage employment and provide new business development services, unlocking capital and encouraging new business start-ups. Moreover, other exchanges in the region have indicated their interest in the project. “We have already had the commitment of the QFMA and expect to make announcements related to other exchanges which are in accord with the project very soon,” adds Dillon Hatcher.

The initiative also has broader connotations. According to Dillon-Hatcher, “it also resonates in markets such as Syria and Yemen, for instance, where there is no formal exchange arrangement, but where we can encourage small firms to list on other exchanges in the wider region to get access to investor funds.” In Syria, for instance, the major issues are lack of skills among the youth and a high preference for the public sector; a common trend in most countries of the region. In Tunisia, unemployed youth from rural areas are increasingly migrating to the cities. In Yemen, unemployment among women is six times higher compared to that of men. These dissonances have economic consequences, and it is estimated that MENA countries are losing as much as $25bn in income every year due to unemployment.

Global firms are also investing in the initiative. Cisco Systems is in the process of creating “an incredible web based communications network supporting the project,” notes Dillon-Hatcher, “designed to appeal to 18 to 30 year olds, providing forums, chat rooms and providing advice and access to training and meeting facilities.”

It is important to remember, notes Dillon-Hatcher, that the project has sound business principles behind it. “Without that it simply would not work. Although our involvement fits neatly with our high standards of corporate citizenship driven by our relationship with UNICEF, we also have a business stake in the project. What we are creating here sits alongside our day job. That ensures its longevity and our commitment as a business. Unless it fitted in with our strategy, it could wither on the vine.” By way of explanation, she points to the perennial requirement of exchanges in the MENA region to establish national indices and pan regional indices. “Our job is to create appropriate indices for the junior markets, perhaps with different frameworks to suit local market conditions, but with a common methodology.”

Ultimately, “All exchanges in the region are keen to establish new products, such as exchange traded funds (ETFs) and this project should be seen in this regard, as a means of diversifying indices in the MENA region, and offering investors access to the growing prosperity of the region as a whole across the business spectrum. The youth opportunity project in this regard is a very exciting development, which also has significant repercussions for youth employment in the region over the longer term,” highlights Dillon-Hatcher. In other words, its business case is based on the fact that the overall success of the Middle East in increasing prosperity among its population, and in particular, younger members of that population, is of central importance to every business with long-term operations in the region.

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