Thursday 11th February 2016
NEWS TICKER: Following a recent Morningstar Analyst Ratings meeting, the firm has downgraded the Morningstar Analyst Rating for the L&G All Stocks Index Linked Gilt Index fund to Bronze. The fund previously held a Silver rating. Jose Garcia Zarate, senior fund analyst at Morningstar says, “We continue to have a positive view on the fund’s price, its tracking accuracy, and the parent company’s commitment to the provision of passive investing solutions. However, we have concluded that the heavily long-dated nature of the underlying market exposes investors to a volatile return profile over a market cycle. In particular, a rules-based passive fund tracking this market is particularly vulnerable to the downside relative to category peers that have the discretion to tweak duration. As such, we feel a Bronze rating reflects more accurately our conviction in this fund’s ability to outperform its category peers over a full market cycle.” - The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) says it has rescheduled the Technology Advisory Committee (TAC) public meeting to Tuesday, February 23rd, from 9:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., at CFTC’s Washington, DC headquarters. The meeting was originally scheduled for January 26, but was cancelled because Federal Government offices in the Washington Metropolitan Area were closed due to inclement weather. The TAC will discuss: the CFTC’s proposed Regulation Automated Trading (Reg AT); swap data standardisation and harmonization; and blockchain and the potential application of distributed ledger technology to the derivatives market. The CFTC says members of the public who wish to submit written statements in connection with the meeting should submit them by Monday, February 22nd - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called a ministerial meeting this morning to discuss the latest key domestic developments including the open issues whose implementation is required for the completion of the 1st programme review as well as farmers’ escalating protests against the planned overhaul of the income tax and the social security pension system, says Eurobank in Athens. Minister of Finance Euclid Tsakalotos warned earlier this week that the programme review should conclude by the end of February noting that Greece will be “in trouble” if it carries on into May-June - India’s Power, coal and renewable energy minister Piyush Goyal yesterday offered a $1trn prize to Australian power and energy firms to come and invest in the country’s power sector. Goyal's pitch comes as the government is pegging economic growth at 7.3% for Q4 2015, marking a slight drop on previous quarters but still outpacing China. Goyal says India's power sector is at an inflection point as the Modi government is focusing on structural reforms with an integrated outlook for the energy sector – Tomorrow (February 11th), the Latvian parliament (Saeima) will hold a vote of confidence on the new composition of the Cabinet of Ministers set up by incoming premier Māris Kučinskis. The first ceremonial sitting of the new government will be held tomorrow at 15.00 in the Green Hall of the Cabinet of Ministers. Ināra Mūrniece, acting president and speaker of the Saeima will also participate in the sitting - freemarketFX, the currency exchange, has appointed services veteran Rich Ricci as Chairman. Formerly CEO of Barclays Corporate and Investment Banking - JP Morgan Asset Management has appointed Paul Farrell as head of UK Institutional Clients. Based in London, Farrell will join JPMAM in April and will report to Patrick Thomson, head of International Institutional Clients. Farrell will be responsible for leading the sales team that manages and builds client relationships with Institutional Pension Funds in the UK & Ireland. He will have responsibility for direct client relationship management in the defined benefit as well as business development in the defined contribution marketplace and will work closely with our consultant client team led by Karen Roberton. Farrell joins most recently from Dimensional Fund Advisors, where he served as Head of UK Institutional Clients and was responsible for new business development, client service and consultant relations. Before that he was head of UK Strategic Clients at BlackRock - Vistra Group, a provider of fund admin services, has bought UK-based business expansion services provider Nortons Group, the accounting and advisory service. The Nortons team, led by Andrew Norton and Pete Doyle, is joining the Vistra Group to boost their existing range of services and benefit from Vistra’s global reach. Martin Crawford, CEO of Vistra Group, says: “Offering support services to companies moving abroad is a core business for Vistra and of growing importance. Nortons has the expertise, the experienced staff, and the network to add significant value to this service line. We are very proud to welcome Andrew Norton, Pete Doyle, and their colleagues to our international team and look forward to expanding our global reach with their experience and leadership". The acquisition of Nortons is expected to complete by the end of February and will take the combined headcount of the Vistra Group, inclusive of the soon to be merged Orangefield Group, to over 2,200 staff in 39 countries - Asian markets had another tough day. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 2.3% to its lowest closing level since late 2014, and reaffirming a trend across the last few months the yen remained near its strongest level against the dollar in over a year. Despite the Bank of Japan's decision last month to introduce negative interest rates, a policy that tends to weaken the local currency, the yen has strengthened in recent sessions to levels not seen since 2014. The Japanese 10-year treasury yield traded shortly in negative territory, and touched -0.08%, before stabilising above the neutral mark. The dollar was last up 0.1% against the yen at ¥ 115.00. Australia's S&P ASX 200 fell 1.2%, the downward drift being led by energy stocks. The Australian Dollar consolidated yesterday’s gains and is currently testing the next resistance, which lies at $0.71. AUD/USD up 0.21 in local trading. Other Asian currencies did well today against the dollar. The South Korean won rose 0.74%, the Taiwanese dollar edged up 0.60%, while the Indian rupiah climbed 1.05%. That uptick was not reflected in equity markets. The Topix index slid 3.02%. In Singapore the STI slipped 2.14%, while New Zealand equities were down 0.85% respectively. China's markets are still closed for the Lunar New Year holidays – The story today is all about Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s testimony to the US Congress. Analysts say that the market is pricing in no further rate increases in the near future and given the volatility in the markets and the general air of panic right now among investors, it would be a catastrophic move for the Fed to raise interest rates even a quantum in coming months. Truth is that no matter how well Yellen paints the US economy is it a story of two halves: yes, job numbers are rising, but there looks to be a lot of slack in the overall economy and this is contributing to a gradual weakening of the US dollar (but not against the euro). In fact, Europe is making the US look good; hence the wild swings in investor sentiment. Still, bank stocks look to remain vulnerable for the remainder of the quarter. This week's economic calendar is light; hence the focus on the Fed. The other bit of advanced market news is that expectations are rising for a rate cut by Norges Bank. Emerging market currencies are broadly trading higher this morning. The South African rand rose 0.85% against the US dollar, with USD/ZAR back below the 16.0 mark at around 15.9350. The Russian ruble also took advantage of this respite and gained 0.65% versus the greenback, which helped USD/RUB to edge lower to 79.10. In terms of data, watch out for industrial and manufacturing production figures from France, the UK and Italy and CPI data from Denmark and Norway - In commodities, Brent crude oil was last up 2.4% at $31.05 a barrel in thin trade on speculation about possible production cuts, but remains down nearly 9% for the week and roughly 19% for the year. Peter Rosenstreich, head of market strategy at Swissquote Bank explains, "Crude oil has been able to rebound off the 12-year low ($27.78) after falling sharply by nearly 8% on Tuesday. The positive catalyst was the news that Iran has indicated that they would be willing to work with Saudi Arabia on production limits. However, markets remain sceptical of this or any coordinated production cuts. There seems to be no relief on selling pressure in sight as the US government released reports indicating that demand will remain soft by lower demand growth forecasts. In addition, the Paris based International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned that the supply glut will continue through 2016 as production cuts have been made at a slower pace than forecasted.” In other market news this morning, spot gold in London was down 0.2% at $1188.05 an ounce, while three-month copper futures on the London Metal Exchange fell 0.7% to $4,463 a ton.

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20-20: Ackermann looks to a new future

Thursday, 15 December 2011
20-20: Ackermann looks to a new future The internal structure of Deutsche Bank’s DNA “completely changed under chief executive Josef Ackermann,” says Konrad Becker, an analyst at private bank Merck Finck & Co. Ackermann not only extended the bank’s geographical reach and products but it also became much more client facing. He also introduced a more Anglo-American corporate governance framework with a clear hierarchy. This was revolutionary at the time. By Lynn Strongin Dodds. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

The internal structure of Deutsche Bank’s DNA “completely changed under chief executive Josef Ackermann,” says Konrad Becker, an analyst at private bank Merck Finck & Co. Ackermann not only extended the bank’s geographical reach and products but it also became much more client facing. He also introduced a more Anglo-American corporate governance framework with a clear hierarchy. This was revolutionary at the time. By Lynn Strongin Dodds.

The past few weeks have tested Deutsche Bank’s chief executive officer (CEO) Josef Ackermann. He unexpectedly withdrew his candidacy to become chairman of the supervisory board and police raided the bank’s Frankfurt offices and legal department. While headline grabbing, these glitches are not expected to diminish his legacy of transforming the one-time commercial bank into a global banking powerhouse and steering it through the market tumult of the last five years.

Historically, German corporate law shunned the idea of an American-style chief executive and an Anglo Saxon board where executives take responsibility for their own business lines. The preferred model was a Vorstand, a statutory managing board that promoted collective responsibility. Ackermann struck a compromise, although at the time it was considered groundbreaking. He became CEO, shrank the Vortsand and created a 12-man group executive committee, which he chaired. The new structure gave the Vorstand a strategy-making role, while the group executive committee, on which Vorstand members also sit, run the bank’s day-to-day operations.



He also severed long-held industrial ties, raising $5.3bn in the process, including the sale of a €1.6bn stake in Munich Re. He eliminated 14,470 jobs (18% of the workforce) and cut costs by one-third by closing retail branches and outsourcing management of the bank’s computer systems and real estate, and built out the bank’s US business. The Bankers Trust $10bn acquisition in 1999 was key in this regard. Although the purchase was not done on his watch (Rolf Breuer was chairman at the time), it provided a launch pad for Ackermann’s global investment banking ambitions.

“In the middle of the last decade, UBS was very profitable and it was the bank that Deutsche measured itself against, but then the financial crisis happened,” says Becker.  Deutsche Bank weathered the storm but did not escape unscathed. Ackermann often claims that the bank did not need a government injection  of capital, but critics note that in fact the bank (along with others) received the equivalent of a back-door bailout from American taxpayers when the US government intervened to prevent the insurer American International Group from collapsing.

Moreover, the bank faces litigation in the US tied to residential mortgages and in Germany regarding the mis-selling of complex financial products to municipalities. Separately, Ackermann himself is also embroiled in legal wranglings involving a former client, the late Leo Kirsch, and in early November 2011 prosecutors raided the bank’s offices looking for evidence of attempts to mislead the court.

Overall though, Ackermann has won plaudits for the way he has navigated the bank through extremely choppy waters over the past three years. Not everyone has been as happy. “The market capitalisation has more than halved since Ackermann and this has left a bitter taste in shareholder’s mouths,” says Michael Rohr, an analyst at Sylvia Quandt Research GmbH in Frankfurt, with the caveat:  “This has more to do with market conditions. Ackermann has had a strategic vision to transition the bank into a more stable business and has done a very good job with its risk management.”

Recent strategy involves a retreat from the investment banking business which contributes roughly 70% of the group’s total pre-tax profit and a return to commercial banking, retail and private banking. Strategic acquisitions are also on the agenda, among them Deutsche Postbank and Sal Oppenheim, Germany’s largest private bank. The bank is now expected to divest its asset management division— except for its profitable DWS retail franchise in Europe and Asia. A sale could raise $4.5bn which would improve the bank’s capital position in light of impending regulation.

The strategy is widely regarded as being driven by CEO-in-waiting Anshu Jain who, together with Jürgen Fitschen, will run the bank starting next May. Even so, Ackermann was not supposed to take a back seat in 2012; but now it looks as if he will retire. He was likely caught out by German law, which holds that  a chief executive of a listed company may not become its chairman without a two-year cooling-off period, unless 25% of shareholders endorse the move. In a fickle move of fate, Ackermann may not have received the support he anticipated and was put in an untenable position. Paul Achleitner, currently chief financial officer of insurer Allianz, is now mooted as the next chairman.

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