Tuesday 27th January 2015
NEWS TICKER, JANUARY 27TH: Latvia’s prime minister’s office, has issued a statement about events in the Ukraine. "We express our concern about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine. We condemn the killing of civilians during the indiscriminate shelling of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on 24 January 2015. We note evidence of continued and growing support given to the separatists by Russia, which underlines Russia's responsibility. We urge Russia to condemn the separatists' actions and to implement the Minsk agreements. We recall the European Council conclusions of 18 December 2014, where we said that "the EU will stay the course" and that we are "ready to take further steps if necessary." In view of the worsening situation the office asks “the upcoming Foreign Affairs Council to assess the situation and to consider any appropriate action, in particular on further restrictive measures, aiming at a swift and comprehensive implementation of Minsk agreements,” says the statement. Latvia has assumed the presidency of the EU for the six months to June. - Data from the IMF suggests that The Netherlands has raised its gold holdings, having bought 9.61 tonnes in December last year. Russia too continues to build its gold reserves and has increased stock for the ninth consecutive month, buying 20.73 tonnes last month. The purchases by the Dutch central bank follows its move in November to repatriate more than 120 tonnes of gold from vaults in the United States - UK GDP looks to be weaker than expected but remains good news for investors. “The first estimates of the Q4 GDP numbers came in slightly below expectations at 0.5% and markedly slower than the previous three quarters of 2014. The primary driver of the reduced growth rate was the construction sector, which saw output fall by 1.8%. However, the slowdown was not enough to prevent the fastest full year growth rate of 2.7% since the financial crisis,” says Helal Miah, investment research analyst at The Share Centre. “Despite numbers being slightly weaker than expected, we believe the UK economy remains relatively robust. After a fantastic few years in the construction sector it is quite natural to see a return to normal markets conditions. The services element of the UK economy remains healthy and the full benefits of the plunge in the price of oil are still to come. Low inflation will hold back interest rate rises and we therefore believe that for investors the equity market remains the asset class of choice.” - Societe Generale Securities Services (SGSS) has launched a new website, Sharinbox, for corporations and their registered shareholders and employees who benefit from free share plans, stock options plans and other incentive schemes. Operational since December 13th last year, the website, www.sharinbox.societegenerale.com, provides users with direct, multilingual access to an online resource with information regarding their share and employee ownership plans in order to manage their personal data and transactions – According to Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, “Given the headwinds being felt by major oil companies around the world, the share price performance since the beginning of last year, while uninspiring, has still out performed the oil price which given the macro economic back drop is all the more surprising … We’ve already seen the effects that the slump in the oil price is having on the oilfield service providers in the US, with both Baker Hughes and Halliburton announcing job losses as the companies see rig counts drop, and margins decline. We’ve also seen WBH Energy, a Texas based shale producer file for bankruptcy. Despite all these concerns the shares have outperformed, though that probably has more to do with the buyback program the company has been doing than anything to do with outperformance relative to its peers. The company has been buying back shares on a fairly steady basis over the past 12 months and this undoubtedly will have accounted for the relative outperformance”.The FSCS has started paying compensation in respect of 13 firms, including seven investment advice firms and three life and pension advice firms that have gone into default. The financial advice firms which have entered default, according to the scheme are: Barry Norris & Associates, Premier Financial Advice, The Financial Consultancy (UK), True Financial Management (formerly HNL Financial Services), Unleash Advice Partnership, and AJ Buckley Financial Management formerly AJ Buckley Overseas, City Insurance Consultants. Last week, the FSCS published its plan and budget for the coming year, which revealed investment advisers would be paying £125m towards the FSCS annual levy for 2015/16. Life and pension intermediaries are paying a £57m levy, an increase of £24m compared to the £33m the FSCS levied against the funding sub-class for 2014/15. Since it was set up in 2001, the FSCS has paid out more than£975 million in compensation to customers of defaulted advice firms. In November 2014, the FSCS said it had dealt with the default of 2,391 independent advice firms since it was set up. - Retail Sales in the United Kingdom unexpectedly increased in December, as the drop in oil prices boosted the country’s spending power. The increase came from a 5.2% gain in computers, telecoms, toys, and sporting goods sales, while food sales alone contributed 1.3%. There was a decline in sales of some items, such as clothing and household goods, reflecting a boost from Black Friday discounts the previous month - The Source Goldman Sachs Equity Factor Index Europe UCITS ETF has been launched, the second Source ETF to be launched that provides access to Goldman Sachs’ multi-factor indices. “Smart beta funds have proven successful in certain markets, providing investors with the potential to generate better returns than the more common market-cap weighted benchmarks, particularly on a risk-adjusted basis,” says Michael John Lytle, chief development officer at Source. “The Goldman Sachs series of factor-based indices offer exposure to multiple factors, rather than just the one or two that are applied to many other funds on the market.” – Mixed news from the US over the weekend. Housing starts in the US surged, as builders broke ground in December on the most houses in almost seven years. Work began on 728,000 houses at an annual rate, a 7.2% increase from November and the most since March 2008. On the other hand, building permits, a representation for future construction declined 1.9% in December to a 1.03m pace, however more Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, signaling that the holiday employment turnover is taking its toll on the jobs market. Jobless claims dropped by 10,000 to 307,000 in the week ending January 17th down from a revised rate of 317,000 in the prior week, a Labor department report shows. Applications for jobless benefits were expected to decline to 300,000, according to market surveys by economists - German ZEW Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim said its index of investor and analyst expectations, which aims to predict economic developments six months in advance, climbed for a third consecutive month in January to 48.4 from 34.9 in December. Economists forecast an increase to 40, according to the median of 37 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. The sentiment index jumped to the highest level in 11 months - Singapore Exchange is partnering Clearbridge Accelerator to address financing gaps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs face by providing the investing community with greater transparency. SGX said on Monday (Jan 26) it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with CBA, a Singapore venture capital and incubation firm specialising in early-stage investments. Under the agreement, both parties will form a joint-venture (JV) company to develop the fund-raising platform, which aims to address financing gaps SMEs and entrepreneurs face by providing the investing community with greater transparency. The JV will identify and form a strategic equity partnership with an experienced platform operator and industry stakeholders such as financial institutions to operate the new capital-raising platform. It will also identify other partners and collaborators to create demand among investors for the offerings on the platform, according to the press release. The move to help smaller firms raise funding marks the entry of SGX into a new business area. Besides operating the stock market, which caters to the equity needs of more to established firms, SGX also offers a platform for bonds as well as derivatives and commodities. Enterprise development agency SPRING Singapore will play a supporting role in the formation of the JV, as part of its ongoing efforts to make the financing environment more conducive to SMEs and entrepreneurs, the statement added. - Hedge funds swung to betting on price falls in cotton, soybeans and wheat, amid ideas of easier supplies, as they cut bullish positioning in agricultural commodities to the weakest in three months Managed money, a proxy for speculators, cut its net long position in futures and options in the top 13 US-traded agricultural commodities, from coffee to cattle, by more than 43,000 contracts in the week to last Tuesday, according to data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission regulator - Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, today announced that the Viagogo Group, which operates www.viagogo.com, the ticket marketplace, intends to double its workforce in Ireland over the next three years, taking it from 100 to over 200 employees. The jobs are supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through IDA Ireland -

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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