Thursday 5th March 2015
NEWS TICKER – THURSDAY, MARCH 5TH 2015: Following a recent Morningstar Analyst Ratings meeting, Morningstar has moved the Henderson Horizon Japanese Equity fund and the Henderson Japan Capital Growth fund to a Morningstar Analyst Rating™ of Neutral. Both funds were previously Under Review due to a change in the lead portfolio manager. Prior to being placed Under Review, both funds were rated Bronze. The funds were solely managed by Michael Wood-Martin, who took over in 2005. However, in October 2014 Henderson decided to adopt a team-based approach. They are now run by the Japanese Equities team consisting of four investment professionals, including William Garnett, Michael Wood-Martin, Jeremy Hall, and Yun-Young Lee. Given this change to the investment process, Morningstar says it has less clarity around the likely shape of the portfolios and little evidence that the strategy can be implemented effectively. Morningstar believes a Neutral rating is appropriate at the current time —Moody's Investors Service has today republished a number of asset-backed securities (ABS) and residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) rating methodology reports. The updated ABS and RMBS methodology reports consolidate the secondary rating methodology "Revising default/loss assumptions over the life of an EMEA ABS/RMBS transaction" and which the agency will now retire; for RMBS specifically sees updates to the surveillance section; and for Consumer Loan-Backed ABS specifically a new appendix describing how Moody's will tailor its approach to rating consumer loans for marketplace lending loans. The republications do not represent a change in methodology and will not result in any rating changes —BATS Chi-X Europe reports a 23.7% market share, with average notional value traded at €12.3bn up substantially from €8.9bn in February 2014. Market share rose in 14 of the 15 markets the firm covers. Its trade reporting facility, BXTR, had its second-most successful month ever with more than €369.3bn reported in total during the month; an average of €18.5bn each trading day. In total, BATS Chi-X systems touched €616.1bn of trades in February—The Straits Times Index (STI) ended -20.26 points lower or -0.59% to 3395.27, taking the year-to-date performance to +0.90%. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index declined -0.18% while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index declined -0.17%. The top active stocks were SingTel (-1.20%), DBS (+0.05%), Keppel Land (-0.44%), OCBC Bank (-0.48%) and Global Logistic (unchanged). The outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Utilities Index (+1.66%). The two biggest stocks of the FTSE ST Utilities Index are United Envirotech (unchanged) and Hyflux (+0.58%). The underperforming sector was the FTSE ST Consumer Goods Index, which declined -1.31% with Wilmar International’s share price declining -0.61% and Thai Beverage’s share price declining -2.06%.The three most active Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) by value today were the IS MSCI India (-1.22%), SPDR Gold Shares (-0.31%), DBXT MSCI Thailand TRN ETF (-0.38%). The three most active Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) by value were CapitaMall Trust (+0.94%), Ascendas REIT (+2.02%), CapitaCom Trust (+0.28%).The most active index warrants by value today were HSI25000MBeCW150429 (-14.16%), HSI24200MBePW150429 (+10.53%), HSI23800MBePW150330 (+16.92%)—Commerz Real and RFR Holding have signed an agreement to purchase the real estate Atlas Plaza in Miami/Florida for its open-ended real estate fund hausInvest. The retail trade complex, located in the burgeoning Design District and in part on two storeys, comprises two existing buildings and a new construction, scheduled to be completed by May 2015. Upon the completion of the building work the leasable area will total approximately 1,600 square metres. The total investment volume for the acquisition and extension of “Atlas Plaza” amounts to around 68 million US dollars (approximately €60m)—Malaysia’s corporate sukuk sales will rebound from the worst start to a year since 2010 as a recovery in oil prices spurs issuance before the US raises interest rates, according to investment bank CIMB. Islamic bond offerings to date are down MYR9.7bn on a year on year basis. Kuala Lumpur-based AmInvestment Bank Bhd predicts sales could surpass last year’s MYR62bn as more projects come on stream under the government’s 10-year development programme. A 34% rally in Brent crude from January’s six-year low will shore up the country’s finances after Fitch Ratings warned the loss of revenue for oil-exporting Malaysia puts its credit ranking at risk. The average yield on AAA rated Malaysian corporate securities has dropped to a three-month low, cutting costs for issuers involved in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s $444bn spending drive and those seeking to refinance debt—Bahrain’s BIBF has announced the launch of the region’s first Islamic Finance and Muslim Lifestyle Convergence Training programme, developed as part of the Waqf Fund’s initiatives to enhance Islamic Finance training in the region, in partnership with New York-based DinarStandard, at a press conference yesterday. The burgeoning Halal food and Muslim Lifestyle sectors is estimated to be worth $2trn in 2013, and is expected to reach $2.47trn by 2018, based on the State of the Global Islamic Economy 2014 report, produced by Thomson Reuters in collaboration with DinarStandard. This represents a huge opportunity for Islamic Finance, which has been for the most part, untapped—Kames Capital is to lower the annual management charge on the Kames Investment Grade Global Bond Fund following a review of the fund’s positioning in the European markets. The move will see the AMC on the Kames Investment Grade Global Bond Fund B share class fall to 0.65% from its current rate of 0.80%, while for the A share class the charge will drop to 1.15% from 1.30%. The changes will take effect from the 1st April 2015. As part of the review, Kames will also be changing the benchmark of the fund to the Barclays Global Aggregate Corporate Index from the Lipper Global Bond Global Corporate Median. The changes are intended to bring the fund into line with its peer group particularly in Continental Europe. Whilet there will be no change to the investment process of the fund, there will be a slight change to the fund’s duration. In order to maintain its index-neutral duration, the Fund will now be aligned to the Barclays Global Aggregate Corporate Index which has a duration of around 6.4 years. This compares to the existing Lipper peer group which has an estimated duration of 5 years.

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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