Tuesday 9th February 2016
NEWS TICKER: KPMG has appointed Adrian Stone as its UK head of audit with immediate effect, succeeding Tony Cates who now leads KPMG's international markets and government practice. Stone joined KPMG's Sheffield office in 1984 and has been an audit partner since 1997. He previously held several senior roles in KPMG's audit practice including head of audit for the north of England and Scotland, chief operating officer for the UK audit practice, head of internal audit and head of KPMG's department of professional practice. He has been KPMG's interim head of audit since November last year - Bridge Bank says it has provided faith based Spark Networks with a $10m revolving credit facility - BNP Paribas Securities Services has been appointed by Sampo Group, the Finnish financial services group, to provide global custody and settlement services for Sampo’s €25bn of insurance assets held globally - Saudi Arabia is reportedly reconsidering the requirement for foreign companies setting up in the country to have a local partner. A committee led by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Labour, will look at ways to spur additional inward investment into the realm, according to newspaper Asharq Al Awsat. The committee is expected to ease the bureaucratic barriers for foreign firms that want access to the Saudi Arabian economy. Foreign direct investment is vital as the kingdom looks to make up foreign exchange losses and balance its $98bn budget deficit – European president Donald Tusk met with Georgian premier Giorgi Kvirikashvili today. Discussion focused on continued reforms of the Georgian judiciary, rule of law and human rights are important priorities and I underlined the EU's readiness to assist. It is crucial that criminal investigations and prosecutions be evidence-based, transparent and impartial, in line with the commitments of the Association Agreement. “I share Georgia's concerns about the continued implementation of the so-called “treaties" between Russia and Abkhazia and South Ossetia. I saw for myself the situation at the administrative boundary line, including the "borderisation" [sic] process, during my last visit to Georgia,” said Tusk following the meeting. The European Union will continue to give its firm support for the territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders.” - February 9th 2016: The Polish Financial Supervision Authority (KNF) at its meeting today confirmed the appointment of Małgorzata Zaleska as President of the Management Board of the Warsaw Stock Exchange, following her appointment as president on January 12th. Zaleska is the director of the Institute of Banking, Warsaw School of Economics; the Chairperson of the Committee of Finance Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences; a member of the NBP Economic Research Committee; a member of the Central Commission for Degrees in Finance – Today’s equity markets tell a tale of fears of a global slowdown with even the US considered a candidate for recession. The US session yesterday was not pretty, with the S&P500 down 1.42%. The index has lost around 9% of its value this year and is now 13% below the nominal high that it reached last year. The DJIA was down 1.1% and Nasdaq100 fell 1.59%. The Nasdaq100 is now 17.92% below the nominal high that it reached last year. Swissquote says: “The sentiment is risk-off at the moment, with gold reaching $1,200 for the first time since June. Gold’s bullish momentum continues yet commodity linked currencies such as the AUD and NZD failed to gain the advantage as outside precious metals and other commodities broadly fell. In particular, WTI Crude is now back around below $30 a barrel over continued oversupply concerns. Markets are now fearing that this period of lingering low oil prices could last a long time”. – In the Asian session Japanese stocks fell more than 5% and the yield on the benchmark government bond dropped into negative territory for the first time. The decision by the Bank of Japan to introduce negative interest rates looks to have pushed down yields for both short and longer termed bonds. In afternoon trading in the Asian session, the benchmark 10-year government bond was yielding minus 0.025; in other words, investors were willing to lend the over-indebted Japanese government money for 10 years and get back less than they put in. Remember that Japanese sovereign debt is more than double the country’s GDP. The question is now, how far down can yields go? Moreover, when will central banks stop flirting with negative interest rates. It is a dangerous policy. The stock market took the brunt of investor fears today, as the Nikkei Stock Average closed y down 5.4%, falling 918.86 points to finish at 16,085.44. This is a sizeable drop and the largest one-day fall for about two and a half years. Yet again, the yen did well, rising against the US dollar to 114.80. Financial shares took the brunt of today’s pain with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. (MTU) shares closing down 8.7%, and Nomura Holdings losing 9.1%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 ended the session 2.9% lower, and New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 was down 1.3%. India's Sensex was 1.2% lower. Chinese, Singapore and Korean markets are closed today. In Europe, equity futures are mixed. The CAC40 has dropped 0.22%, the DAX is down 0.21% while the FTSE100 is unchanged, but there’s still half a day’s trading to go.

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20-20: The new world order in securities lending

Thursday, 15 December 2011
20-20: The new world order in securities lending During a FTSE Global Markets interview at the end of 2010, Brian Lamb, chief executive officer of New York-based EquiLend, a provider of trading and operations services for the securities finance industry, suggested that the most successful beneficial owners are the ones that consistently allocate resources and apply professional investment-management processes and approaches to their programmes—because, said Lamb, “as history has often shown, one can’t afford not to be educated”. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/media/k2/items/cache/9d8de7ef67b13c9c52fcfb74767a1564_XL.jpg

During a FTSE Global Markets interview at the end of 2010, Brian Lamb, chief executive officer of New York-based EquiLend, a provider of trading and operations services for the securities finance industry, suggested that the most successful beneficial owners are the ones that consistently allocate resources and apply professional investment-management processes and approaches to their programmes—because, said Lamb, “as history has often shown, one can’t afford not to be educated”.

For the better of the past decade, securities lending was a perpetual wellspring of revenue for beneficial owners and, not surprisingly, a sense of complacency ultimately took hold. Then came the fall of 2008 (literally), and owners quickly assumed a defensive posture, some exiting sec-lending altogether, others finding few plausible alternatives and ultimately returning, albeit with a renewed sense of urgency and a need for full transparency.

While the market psyche may have changed for good, EquiLend is seemingly none the worse for wear. It is ten years since its incorporation (the platform went live in 2002), and chief executive officer (CEO) Brian Lamb has watched EquiLend’s business grow out from an initial ten-member ownership group to a roster comprising 70 or so different global financial organisations. It has obviously been a source of satisfaction for Lamb. “It’s certainly a proud moment to reach this milestone and to have things going so well at the same time,” he remarks. “The fact that the business continues to grow at this pace is tremendously important to us, as we see ourselves as a cog in the wheel of the securities-finance business, one that can continually bring more efficiency to the entire marketplace.”



EquiLend’s operational model is such that if there’s big volume, business is good—no matter which way the markets are moving. Not surprisingly, the most recent round of high volatility is reflected in EquiLend’s year-to-date stat sheet; through September 2011, total borrowing and lending transactions were up 16%, and in 2011 the platform experienced its ten largest trading days ever, including 28,000 transactions processed during a single day in August 2011. Volume has only been part of the story. Through 2011 EquiLend added 15 clients, a record for a single year, including newcomers such as Prudential Investment Management, Kellner DiLeo & Co., and RBC Dexia Investor Services. Backing Equilend are some of the world’s top global financial institutions, among them BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Key to EquiLend’s recent spate of success is innovation wherever possible, says Lamb. EquiLend’s post-trade offerings are ripe for investors seeking plausible risk-mitigating strategies. Additionally, a new trading-optimisation programme enables clients to pool long and short assets and includes limits based on existing bilateral relationships. “Our goal is to optimise these securities transactions to the fullest extent,” says Lamb.

While the EquiLend platform has always been able to accommodate fixed-income securities, it wasn’t until recently that investors on the bond side began to truly embrace the EquiLend concept, he adds. The firm launched BondLend, a fixed-income and repo-trading/post-trade services platform designed to boost liquidity and reduce risk using a single point of entry to the non-equities sector. “Of the roughly 20,000 trades that we handle daily, roughly 2,000 come from the fixed-income side,” says Lamb. “We see that number growing pretty significantly over the near term. Let’s face it—the world as a whole has a lot of debt, and is in need of tremendous financing. So in terms of notional size, we’re looking at a market that is much bigger than equities.”

Initially used mainly for general-collateral or “low-touch” type transactions, over time investors have begun to reap the benefits of EquiLend’s automation processes for other kinds of trading. Today, some 20% of platform activity is specialist-based or otherwise non-GC— “which is a pretty significant number, and we expect that trend to continue, particularly as the markets fully embrace automated solutions in order to keep pace,” notes Lamb.

Given the uncertain nature of the financial landscape, Lamb is heartened by beneficial owners’ efforts to stay informed. He observes:  “Events like the demise of MF Global serve as a reminder to all financial institutions that no one can afford to be complacent—you have to be diligent, applying sound financial modelling and market-tested principles in order to run your business successfully. [And] with leveraging down, capital allocation has become paramount, requiring that balance sheets are maintained more efficiently than ever before.”

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