Monday 6th July 2015
NEWS TICKER: FRIDAY, JULY 3rd: Euronext says trading volumes for June 2015 and enterprise-wide activity for the first half year. During the first six months of 2015, Euronext posted the strongest six-month performance since the end of 2011 supported by favourable economic conditions. June average daily transaction value on the Euronext cash order book stood at €9,202m (+54% compared with June 2014). Activity on ETFs remained particularly dynamic last month with an average daily transaction value at €587m, up 106% compared to June 2014. Cash markets saw a material increase in trading activity across the first half of 2015, with an average daily transaction value for the period up 35% vs 2014. During this period, Euronext experienced three of the ten highest volume traded days since January 2012, and on march 20th the strongest single day of trading cash products of €18bn since the same date. In the meantime, the continued focus on nurturing domestic market share meant it returned to 65% for the month of June in a highly competitive environment - Morningstar has placed the Morningstar Analyst Rating for the Mirabaud Equities Swiss Small and Mid-fund Under Review following the appointment of new portfolio manager, Paul Schibli. The fund previously held a Neutral rating. Morningstar manager research analysts will meet with the new manager soon to reassess Morningstar’s opinion on the fund - Moody’s has today changed the outlook on all ratings of Bridge Holdco 4 Ltd, the ultimate holding company for Bridon Group, to stable from positive. Concurrently, the group's B3 Corporate Family Rating (CFR), B3-PD Probability of Default Rating (PDR) as well as the B2 instrument rating on the USD286 million senior secured first lien term loan, $40m senior secured revolving credit facility and the Caa2 rating on the $111m senior secured second lien term loan borrowed by Bridge Finco LLC have been affirmed - Subsea 7 S.A. repurchase of convertible bonds has filed a notice with the Luxembourg stock exchange that it has repurchased convertible bonds worth $10m in nominal value at an average price of 91.5 of the $700m 1% Subsea 7 S.A. Convertible Bond Issue 2012/2017 (ISIN NO: 001066116.8). Following the purchase, the Company holds bonds with an aggregate nominal value of USD 91,800,000 representing approximately 13.1% of the 1.00% Subsea 7 S.A. Convertible Bond Issue 2012/2017 - Bellpenny says that its CEO, Kevin Ronaldson, will step down later this year to become ‘Founder Director’ of the business. Nigel Stockton, who has been a director of Bellpenny since inception, will, subject to FCA approval, become the new CEO. The changes are expected to take effect in September - The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 14.89 points or 0.45% higher to 3342.73, taking the year-to-date performance to -0.67%. The top active stocks today were DBS, which gained 2.00%, Singtel, which closed unchanged, Global Logistic, which declined 0.39%, Ascendas REIT, which gained 0.42% and UOB, with a 0.43% advance. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained 0.16%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index declined 0.30%. Outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Financials Index, which rose 0.69%. The two biggest stocks of the Index - DBS Group Holdings and OCBC- ended 2.00% higher and 0.79% higher respectively. The underperforming sector was the FTSE ST Basic Materials Index, which slipped 0.89%. Midas Holdings shares declined 1.56% and NSL increased 0.67%.

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20-20: Prime broking - balance sheet, funding strength now key

Thursday, 15 December 2011
20-20: Prime broking - balance sheet, funding strength now key Expanding Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s hedge-fund business ranks high on global head of prime brokerage Stuart Hendel’s agenda. “Clients want to do business with us in this area, and so that has been a key focus during these past few months,” he says. Stock prices in the banking sector have been pummelled of late, forcing players such as BofA (whose own shares are off two-thirds since the start of 2011) to address operational redundancies and affect changes where needed. Hendel, however, remains resolute. “At the end of the day, firms need to have a solid return on the assets they use to support these types of businesses. We believe our business is differentiated by the size and strength of our balance sheet—and how we can put it to work for our clients.” http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

Expanding Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s hedge-fund business ranks high on global head of prime brokerage Stuart Hendel’s agenda. “Clients want to do business with us in this area, and so that has been a key focus during these past few months,” he says. Stock prices in the banking sector have been pummelled of late, forcing players such as BofA (whose own shares are off two-thirds since the start of 2011) to address operational redundancies and affect changes where needed. Hendel, however, remains resolute. “At the end of the day, firms need to have a solid return on the assets they use to support these types of businesses. We believe our business is differentiated by the size and strength of our balance sheet—and how we can put it to work for our clients.”

Rapid response a keystone of Stuart Hendel, global head of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s (BoA’s) prime brokerage unit. When he signed on for the job, early in 2011, from two years as head of UBS AG’s prime brokerage division, he was certain that “anytime you join a new organisation, and particularly when it’s a global business and platform, you start by learning the landscape internally”. He adds: “You also want to ensure that you have the right people in the right seats and that they are supportive of the direction you want to take.” Most of all, says Hendel, you need to act quickly, as you don’t always have the luxury of time once you’ve taken the reins. “This is especially true on the sell side—I made a number of key decisions within the first 60 days.”

The ability to think on your feet in a highly-volatile market is a business imperative and a lifeline of sorts to clients under duress. Whether the news is good or bad is almost irrelevant, says Hendel, as there is only so much market turbulence that hedge fund managers can tolerate. “One day the news out of Europe is positive and the markets move accordingly, then the next it is negative and all bets are off. Therefore, the instinct is to just deleverage. Even funds focused on the macroenvironment can’t always handle being whipsawed like that.”



A cool head is equally vital; particularly as the constant need for hedge fund managers to address counterparty risk, though positive for the industry as a whole, has ultimately kept the sell side from focusing on the job at hand—that is, making money. “This is a sector that continues to deleverage, performance is down and prime brokers are fighting for market share,” says Hendel. “We have some considerable headwinds to contend with.”

Ambiguity surrounding political and regulatory solution—rather than the outcome of regulations themselves—only exacerbates the trend. Even then, there is some upside. “As strange as it may sound, hedge funds react better to negative news than uncertain news,” says Hendel.  “As long as this kind of climate persists, deleveraging will likely continue. In fact, market fundamentals appear to be the least important aspect in determining the health of companies, sectors or valuations.”

One downside of the current environment and inherent lack of investing conviction is the effect on market liquidity. Once clarity returns to the political, regulatory and economic landscape, the market should become more liquid, which will in turn benefit everyone. “Therefore, this is something that needs to be addressed in order to preserve the well-being of both the alternative space and the prime-brokerage industry over the long haul. We believe that once Europe gets its house in order and there is more clarity, that should help markets achieve some kind of foundation,” he says.

From his vantage point, Hendel sees a much greater likelihood of consolidation within the sell side than the buy side. “No matter what happens in Europe or with governments in general, we believe there is going to be a real need for the best and brightest to achieve superior returns on behalf of their clients,” he avers. “Certain investors are questioning the actively-managed, long-only business, but we are still bullish on the hedge fund space.”

Even then, Hendel says he is “flummoxed” by the perpetually thinning margins on banks’ leveraged-based book of business. “Pricing eventually has to go in the other direction,” says Hendel. “If it doesn’t, sell side firms may re-examine the returns being generated by the prime-brokerage business. In an environment where resources are scarce, all balance-sheet businesses may be vulnerable, not just prime brokerage.”

Hendel believes that market-exacerbated balance sheet weakness could ultimately threaten the existence of certain prime brokerage businesses over the near term. “Balance sheet and funding strength are areas that we believe will continue to be distinguishing factors for BofA—having a tremendous deposit base and excellent funding resources will allow us to properly service our clients going forward.”

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