Wednesday 1st July 2015
NEWS TICKER, TUESDAY JUNE 30TH 2015: Pamplona Capital Management (“Pamplona”) has acquired Precyse, a health information manager in services, education and technology founded in 1999. Also, earlier this month, Pamplona sold the majority of its controlling stake in Alvogen, a high growth generic drugs company, to a consortium of investors. The Precyse investment has been made from Pamplona’s fourth private equity fund, Pamplona Capital Partners and was advised by Deutsche Bank Securities and received legal advice from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. Pamplona is a London and New York based specialist investment manager established in 2005. In addition to Precyse, Pamplona’s healthcare investment portfolio currently includes Spreemo, a company that is bringing to the workers compensation specialty benefits management industry with a focus on radiology; Intralign, which helps hospital and surgeons achieve a rep-less, optimised surgical episode by combining assessment with clinical support and operational tools; Magnacare, a healthcare administrative services company focused on self-insured employers and workers complains in the New York and New Jersey regions; and Privia Health, a physician practice management and population health technology company. - In line with its strategy to focus on packaging solutions for its pharmaceutical customers, Gerresheimer today announced that it will sell its glass tubing business to Corning Incorporated. The €196m ($219m) deal was advised by McDermott Will & Emery - GVQ Investment Management Limited (GVQIM), a specialist fund manager that applies private equity investment techniques to the public markets, has announced the appointment of Jane Tufnell as non-executive chairman. Tufnell co-founded Ruffer Investment Management Limited, a privately owned fund management group in 1994. She is an Independent Non-Executive Director of the Diverse Income Trust and of the JP Morgan Claverhouse Investment Trust. - Insurance broker and risk advisory firm Willis Group Holdings and professional services group Towers Watson on Tuesday said they had agreed to an all-stock merger that values the combined company at $18bn. Under the deal, which has been approved by both boards, Towers Watson shareholders will get 2.6490 Willis shares for each share held as well as a one-time cash dividend of $4.87 a share. Willis Group shareholders will own 50.1% of the combined group and Towers Watson shareholders will own the rest. The combined company, to be named Willis Towers Watson, will have 39,000 employees in more than 120 countries and revenue of about $8.2bn. Willis Chairman James McCann will be chairman of the combined company and Towers Watson Chairman and Chief Executive John Haley will be its CEO. Willis CEO Dominic Casserley will be president and deputy CEO of the combined company. Its board will consist of six directors from each company. Towers Watson’s chief financial officer, Roger Millay, will be CFO - According to BankingLaw 360, the US Supreme Court has granted an appeal from Merrill Lynch, UBS Securities LLC and other financial institutions over a shareholder suit alleging they engaged in illegal and manipulative “naked” short selling - Roxi Petroleum has reported progress at its flagship BNG asset as it posted an operational update. The Central Asian oil and gas company with a focus on Kazakhstan says that a gross oil-bearing interval of at least 105 metres, from 4,332 metres to 4,437 metres, was found at its Deep Well A5. The well, which was spudded in July 2013, will require specialist equipment for a more comprehensive 30-day core sampling test, but has already began preparatory extraction work Elsewhere, Deep Well 801, spudded in December 2014, is in the production test phase. "Progress at the BNG deep wells can best be described as steady," says chairman Clive Carver. "We look forward to reporting the results of our ongoing work in the near future – Advisory firm Hargreaves Landsdown has reportedly acquired a client book of 7,000 investors with a combined £370m of assets from JP Morgan Asset Management. The book accounts for 6% of JP Morgan’s direct client business and represents clients that hold or plan to continue to invest in non-JP Morgan funds or investment trusts in wrappers other than the JP Morgan ISA. This includes clients with direct equities, gilts or exchange-traded funds, who will be moved the brokers Vantage platform. The sale follows JP Morgan's announcement in January 2014 that it would no longer offer direct clients anything other than JP Morgan funds and investment trusts and that it would close its cash ISA and Sipp. There will be no transfer charge for clients moving to Hargreaves. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed - The OECD will publish Government at a Glance 2015 on Monday July 6th. The biannual report, now in its fourth edition, presents more than 50 indicators to compare governments’ performance in everything from public finances (including government spending per person), cuts to staffing and pay in central government and the level of private asset disclosure by government officials to access to and satisfaction with the healthcare, education and the justice systems This year’s report covers non-OECD countries for some indicators including Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Russia, South Africa and Ukraine and 36 country factsheets with infographics will be published alongside it. OECD Deputy Secretary-General Mari Kiviniemi will present the report at OECD Headquarters in Paris at 09:00am - Queensland diversified property group WA Stockwell has closed its $35m bond issue oversubscribed following a strong investor response to the offer, sole lead arranger FIIG Securities has announced. The six year senior secured amortising note issue will pay a fixed rate of interest of 7.75% pa. FIIG CEO Mark Paton says the success of the Stockwell issue confirmed the market appetite, especially among wholesale investors, for credit exposure to quality Australian companies. The Stockwell issue is the fourth that FIIG has sole-arranged for a company in the property and infrastructure sector, following successful issues by ASX-listed property developer Payce Consolidated, infrastructure operator Plenary Group, and ASX-listed property funds manager 360 Capital.

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Raising the stakes in fund administration

Wednesday, 08 February 2012
Raising the stakes in fund administration The financial crisis has created new business opportunities for European fund administrators, the green eye-shade bean counters who crank out valuations and account balances for everything from UCITS-qualified mutual funds to hedge funds and private equity vehicles. Lower market values have clipped asset managers’ revenue, forcing them to re-examine costs and focus on their highest value-added skills in research, trading and portfolio management. They are hiring fund administrators to take over middle office tasks, including risk management reporting and compliance, which used to be handled in-house but were never the managers’ core competency. It’s a win for both sides: the managers get an essential service at lower cost thanks to the administrators’ economies of scale, while the administrators book incremental revenue at higher margins than their core business, reports Neil O'Hara. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/media/k2/items/cache/1fcc20496540a7e06827d47c4b246d7d_XL.jpg

The financial crisis has created new business opportunities for European fund administrators, the green eye-shade bean counters who crank out valuations and account balances for everything from UCITS-qualified mutual funds to hedge funds and private equity vehicles. Lower market values have clipped asset managers’ revenue, forcing them to re-examine costs and focus on their highest value-added skills in research, trading and portfolio management. They are hiring fund administrators to take over middle office tasks, including risk management reporting and compliance, which used to be handled in-house but were never the managers’ core competency. It’s a win for both sides: the managers get an essential service at lower cost thanks to the administrators’ economies of scale, while the administrators book incremental revenue at higher margins than their core business, reports Neil O'Hara.

Clients are demanding more from administrators in their traditional role. Philippe Ricard, head of asset and fund services at BNP Paribas Securities Services, says investors and managers now insist on independent pricing of OTC derivatives and other illiquid securities. Valuations have become more frequent, particularly for managers that have launched UCITS-qualified funds employing investment strategies similar to their principal hedge funds.
As a result, BNP Paribas built ample processing capacity and has long been able to handle short positions as well as long.  “The incremental cost of higher volume is very limited because of our design,” says Ricard, who notes that other fund administrators may not be so fortunate.
The cost varies among clients depending on their own systems capabilities, too. If a manager uses a distributor that cannot send subscription and redemption information electronically, or the client does not use BNP Paribas’s tools for work flow, then the administrator bears higher costs for which it will charge—provided the market is receptive. “It is important to create incentives for efficiency,” says Ricard.  “I will offer the best rate for an efficient client, one willing to improve with us. For a less efficient client, I will provide a fee structure that shows the difference between what it pays now and what it could pay if it were more efficient.”
Administrators are no longer prepared to absorb the incremental costs of more frequent valuations, greater transparency, independent pricing verification and other services that have increased their workload. The bundled pricing of yore has given way to a menu of services from which clients can choose what meets their particular needs.
“When a client says it wants to go from weekly to daily pricing, the answer is, ‘Of course, but there is a cost implication’,” says Hans Hufschmid, chief executive officer of GlobeOp, a fund administrator that handles $173bn of fund assets worldwide.  “All the administrators are becoming more disciplined about pricing.”
While clients and investors have driven most recent changes, the European fund management industry also faces a slew of new regulations that will take effect over the next few years. The new rules typically do not apply to administrators per se, but the proposed rules will affect their clients. In early January, for example, BNY Mellon hosted a workshop on the EU Solvency II insurance regulations in London—and found the session jammed with fund managers, who do not normally attend such events.
“Managers want to understand what data the insurance companies will demand from them,” says Frank Froud, head of EMEA, BNY Mellon Asset Servicing in London.  At the time of going to press, Froud was in the last stages of his tenure in this role at the bank. His role has now been assumed by Hani Kablawi, the bank’s Middle East expert.
“When the companies have worked out what they need, the managers will ask us for detailed solutions,” says Froud. The job is tailor-made for fund administrators, who have enormous capacity to manage and massage wholesale data and deliver the results in whatever format their clients, or regulators, require.
The regulatory onslaught includes UCITS IV and the proposed Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD), which Anne Deegan, managing director of SEI Investments Trustee & Custodial Services (Ireland), expects to ramp-up demand for risk management reporting. SEI, which has $250bn under administration worldwide including $60bn in Dublin, has a deep commitment to technology that gives the firm a competitive edge. “We need to offer clients timely risk–management reporting so that they can comply with AIFMD,” says Deegan. “We are keeping a close watch on that.” UCITS IV tightened up corporate governance for funds, including a requirement for close monitoring of OTC derivatives—and managers have asked their administrators to generate those risk reports, too.
Administrators are paying more attention to corporate governance in the aftermath of a recent Cayman Islands judgement that held two fund directors personally liable for $111m of losses at the Weavering Macro Fixed Income Fund. The case highlighted the risk for directors who serve in name only on multiple funds and routinely rubber-stamp fund documents presented to them without review. It emphasised the importance of maintaining proper books and records, too. “Administrators will have conversations with fund boards of directors to ensure there is clarity about what services are and are not being provided,” says Deegan. “It will require more monitoring of governance on our part.”
AIFMD as currently proposed would also impose a fiduciary duty on custodians to supervise not only their sub-custodians but even the types of instruments and markets in which their clients invest, a requirement that could extend to regulated funds under UCITS V. In effect, the rule would import the European depot bank model into the Anglo-Saxon world—and pricing would have to reflect the enhanced business risk.  “On a day-to-day, transaction-by-transaction basis, we will have to exercise oversight,” Froud says. “If that risk is transferred to the investment services organisations instead of the fund managers, we have to tool up for that and be rewarded for it.”
Like all EU directives, UCITS V and the AIFMD will be subject to local interpretation when each member state enacts legislation to implement the directive. The directive language could change, too—the custody banks are lobbying hard to eliminate or water down the fiduciary obligations—but William Slattery, head of European offshore domiciles at State Street Corporation, worries that in its current form the directive could ratchet-up systemic risk.
Slattery is responsible for a business that administers $600bn—half in regulated funds and half hedge funds—in Dublin, and another $350bn of regulated funds in Luxembourg. He points out that if depositaries are held liable they may feel compelled to require clients to abandon a particular market at the first sign of trouble, whether it is the financial distress of a local sub-custodian or a political threat to the legal environment. The herd mentality almost guarantees that if one leading player pulls the plug, others will follow—triggering a stampede for the exits.
“It could create serious systemic instability in either individual or multiple markets,” says Slattery. “Almost no economy is spared the potential threat.”
The markets have a poor track record of evaluating events that are highly improbable but devastating, which are almost always underpriced relative to the havoc they cause. Black Swan events occur in the financial markets with a frequency that belies their statistical probability, too. “They are only supposed to happen once in 1,000 years,” observes Slattery, “but we have had 1987, 1994, 1998, 2000 and 2008.”
Unlike State Street and BNY Mellon, GlobeOp is not a custodian and would not be directly affected by the proposed fiduciary liability. Nevertheless, the firm has a well-deserved reputation for being able to handle OTC derivatives and other complex investment products, a skill that has attracted sophisticated clients whose investment strategies rely on these esoteric instruments. Hufschmid dismisses the very notion that custodians could take fiduciary responsibility for hedge funds. “Administrators can perhaps ensure that instruments and assets are priced independently, that reconciliations are independent and so on,” he says. “It is one thing to take on fiduciary responsibility if you can monitor it completely, but it is naïve to think a custodian bank can supervise a hedge fund.”
The ability to handle anything a hedge fund wants to trade comes at a price to the client: GlobeOp fees run about 12basis points (bps) on average, compared to the industry norm of 6bps-7bps. Net margins are nowhere near double those of its competitors, however; the cost of administering complex instruments is higher than average and Hufschmid says the firm’s clients are “very demanding—the most demanding set of clients you can imagine in any industry anywhere.” The forthcoming shift to central clearing of most OTC derivatives will have a disproportionate impact on GlobeOp relative to its competitors but Hufschmid does not foresee any difficulty in making the transition. GlobeOp already uses DTCC’s matching service for credit derivatives trades, which operates like a clearing house but without the central counterparty guarantee. “One of our core competencies is fully functioning data pipes to all the different service providers: data vendors, exchanges and other trading venues,” says Hufschmid. “It will be just another pipe for us.”
All the major players are preparing for central clearing of OTC derivatives, of course. Clive Bellows, country head, Ireland, at Northern Trust, which administers about $300bn in assets in Europe, has clients who expect clearing to go live during the fourth quarter of 2012—and he will be ready to support them. It requires a significant incremental investment in technology to handle the substitution of a central counterparty, but it also simplifies valuation and improves transparency. “It’s a fantastic idea. It will solve a lot of the issues surrounding OTC derivatives,” says Bellows. “It will go a long way to commoditising the funds that invest in derivatives and make it easier for fund administrators to move up the value chain.”

The ever-increasing demands for technology capacity and capability tilt the playing field in favour of large administrators who already operate on a global basis. The required investment is driving industry consolidation, too. For example, Northern Trust bought Bank of Ireland’s security services business last year, which added $100bn in assets and the ability to service exchange-traded funds. The business was sound—clients have begged Northern Trust not to alter the legacy client service ethos—but lacked scale, and the Bank of Ireland no longer had the balance sheet strength to support it.
Northern Trust also bolstered its ability to service hedge funds when it picked up Omnium, a $70bn administrator that was sold by Citadel, a Chicago-based hedge fund. “The bigger providers who already have good technology in place, the resources to continue to invest and a strong balance sheet, will be the winners,” says Bellows.
Acquisitions have become the easiest way to bring in new clients in the current environment. The more middle office functions fund administrators perform, the deeper they are embedded in clients’ infrastructure and the harder it is for clients to contemplate a change. “A huge amount of our growth does come from our existing clients,” says Bellows. “Without a doubt, the number of managers looking to change providers has decreased. It is done only as a matter of last resort.” In fact, the best new client opportunities do not even originate in Europe: they are non-EU fund managers seeking to set up UCITS funds in Europe—which is why Bellows’ sales team now pitches primarily to managers in the United States and Asia.
In today’s European fund administration market, the global leaders stand to inherit the earth—and the meek to be swallowed whole.

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