Sunday 7th February 2016
NEWS TICKER: Friday, February 5th: According to Reuters, Venezuela's central bank has begun negotiations with Deutsche Bank AG to carry out gold swaps to improve the liquidity of its foreign reserves as it faces debt payments of some $9.5bn this year. Around 64% of Venezuela's $15.4bn reserves are held in gold bars, which in this fluid market impedes the central bank's ability to mobilise hard currency for imports or debt service. We called the central bank to confirm the story, but press spokesmen would not comment - The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) says official foreign currency reserves stood at $357bn (equivalent to seven times the currency in circulation or 48% of Hong Kong M3) as at the end of January, down compared with reserve assets of $358.8bn in December. There were no unsettled foreign exchange contracts at month end (end-December: $0.1bn) - BNP Paribas today set out plans to cut investment banking costs by 12% by 2019 to bolster profitability and reassure investors about the quality of its capital buffers. The bank is the latest in a line of leading financial institutions, including Credit Suisse, Barclays and Deutsche Bank which look to be moving away from capital intensive activities. BNP Paribas has been selling non-core assets and cutting back on operations including oil and gas financing for the last few years as it looks to achieve a target of 10% return on equity. Last year the bank announced a €900m write-down on its BNL unit in Italy, which pushed down Q4 net income down 51.7% to €665m - Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE)-listed tech company, Huge Group, will move its listing from the Alternative Exchange (AltX) to the JSE main board on March 1st - Moody's says it has assigned Aaa backed senior unsecured local-currency ratings to a drawdown under export credit provider Oesterreichische Kontrollbank's (OKB) (P)Aaa-rated backed senior unsecured MTN program. The outlook is negative in line with the negative outlook assigned to the Aaa ratings of the Republic of Austria, which guarantees OKB’s liabilities under the Austrian Export Financing Guarantees Act – As the first phase of talks between Greece and its creditors draws to an end, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde stressed to journalists in Greece that debt relief is as important as the reforms that creditors are demanding, notably of the pension system. "I have always said that the Greek program has to walk on two legs: one is significant reforms and one is debt relief. If the pension [system] cannot be as significantly and substantially reformed as needed, we could need more debt relief on the other side." Greece's pension system must become sustainable irrespective of any debt relief that creditors may decide to provide, Lagarde said, adding that 10% of gross domestic product into financing the pension system, compared to an average of 2.5% in the EU, is not sustainable. She called for "short-term measures that will make it sustainable in the long term,” but did not outline what those measures might be. According to Eurobank in Athens, IMF mission heads reportedly met this morning with the Minister of Labour, Social Insurance and Social Solidarity, Georgios Katrougalos, before the team is scheduled to leave Athens today. According to the local press, it appears that differences exist between the Greek government and official creditors on the planned overhaul of the social security pension system. Provided that things go as planned, the heads are reportedly expected to return by mid-February with a view to completing the review by month end, or at worst early March. In its Winter 2016 Economic Forecast published yesterday, the European Commission revised higher Greece’s GDP growth forecast for 2015 and 2016 to 0.0% and -0.7%, respectively, from -1.4% and 1.-3% previously - Fitch says that The Bank of Italy's (BoI) recent designation of three banks as 'other systemically important institutions' (O-SIIs) has no impact on its ratings of the relevant mortgage covered bond (Obbligazioni Bancarie Garantite or OBG) programmes. Last month, BoI identified UniCredit, Intesa Sanpaolo. and Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena as Italian O-SIIs. Banco Popolare and Mediobanca have not been designated O-SIIs. This status is the equivalent of domestic systemically important bank status under EU legislation. Fitch rates two OBG programmes issued by UC and one issued by BMPS, which incorporates a one-notch Issuer Default Rating (IDR) uplift above the banks' IDRs. The uplift can be assigned if covered bonds are exempt from bail-in, as is the case with OBG programmes under Italy's resolution regime and in this instance takes account of the issuers' importance in the Italian banking sector – Meantime, according to local press reports, Italian hotel group Bauer and special opportunity fund Blue Skye Investment Group report they have completed the rescheduling and refinancing of Bauer’s €110m debt through the issue of new bonds and the sale of non-core assets, such as the farming business Aziende Agricole Bennati, whose sale has already been agreed, the Palladio Hotel & Spa and a luxury residence Villa F in Venice’s Giudecca island – Meantime, Russian coal and steel producer Mechel has also agreed a restructuring of its debt with credits after two intense years of talks. The mining company, is controlled by businessman Igor Zyuzin - Asian markets had a mixed day, coming under pressure. Dollar strengthening worries investors in Asia; from today’s trading it looks like dollar weakening does as well. Actually, that’s not the issue, the dollar has appreciated steadily over the last year as buyers anticipated Fed tightening; but it has hurt US exports and that has contributed to investor nervousness over the past few weeks, which is why everyone is hanging on today’s The nonfarm payrolls report, a bellwether of change – good or bad in the American economic outlook. Back to Asia. The Nikkei 225 ended the day at 16819.15, down 225.40 points, or 1.32%; and as the stock market fell the yen continued to strengthen. The Nikkei has shed 5.85% this week. The dollar-yen pair fell to the 116-handle, at 116.82 in afternoon trade; earlier this week, the pair was trading above 120. It is a hard lesson for the central bank, whose efforts to take the heat out of the yen by introducing negative interest rates has done nothing of the sort. Australia's ASX 200 closed down 4.15 points, or 0.08% after something of a mixed week. The index closed at 4976.20, with the financial sector taking most of the heat today, with the sector down 0.7%. In contrast, energy and materials sectors finished in positive territory, buoyed by gains in commodities. The Hang Seng Index closed at 19288.17, up 105.08 points (or 0.55%) while the Shanghai Composite was down 0.61%. down 17.07 points to 2763.95. The Shenzhen composite dropped 20.36 points (1.15%) to 1750.70, while the Kospi rose marginally by 0.08% to 1917.79. Today is the last day of trading on the Chinese exchanges for a week.

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Russia's new trading infrastructure takes shape

Friday, 03 February 2012
Russia's new trading infrastructure takes shape The Russian trading market is in flux as its key institutions reform and work to improve market efficiencies. In late January MICEX-RTS stock exchange reported that it intends to amend the procedure for delisting of securities, while late last year, President Dmitry Medvedev enacted the Central Securities Depository law, which had been approved by the Duma in mid-November 2011. The signing of the law was a watershed in the evolution of the Russian securities market and helps describe the country’s re-emerging trading infrastructure. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

The Russian trading market is in flux as its key institutions reform and work to improve market efficiencies. In late January MICEX-RTS stock exchange reported that it intends to amend the procedure for delisting of securities, while late last year, President Dmitry Medvedev enacted the Central Securities Depository law, which had been approved by the Duma in mid-November 2011. The signing of the law was a watershed in the evolution of the Russian securities market and helps describe the country’s re-emerging trading infrastructure.

Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev signed the country’s so-called CSD law into being in early December last year. The law establishes the particular legal status of the central securities depositary. According to the law the CSD may be any joint stock company which is a non-banking credit organisation appropriately authorised to conduct depositary activities in the securities market and has been acting as a settlement depositary for at least three years. Any entity wishing to become a CSD in the country will have to submit an application to the ministry of finance, a process which is expected to take approximately four months. Interestingly however, it is also prescribed in law that there can only be one CSD in the country. It is expected that there will be at least a full year transition period before the new CSD is fully operational and active.
The next Russian government is expected to adopt a much more proactive strategy to try and attract greater international corporate involvement and more investment in the economy.  As well, it looks likely to continue with internal reforms to encourage the evolution of Moscow as an international financial centre. While reform is high on the government’s agenda right now, anti-Putin demonstrations late last year will ensure that for the first half of 2012 at least, politics and the pace of economic liberalisation will remain at the forefront of assessments of the attractiveness of the Russian equity markets.
Many local brokers view the prospect with optimism. According to a broker the government's response to the recent protests offers encouragement that there will be political reform, while WTO membership at least provides a timeline for companies to become more efficient and competitive”.
Among the plethora of rules in the CSD law, it seems accounts can be opened at the registrars either by the CSD or by beneficial owners. Additionally mandatory reconciliation of the CSD’s records with those of the registrar should be undertaken each time that securities transactions are conducted over the nominee holder account of the CSD; to ensure finality of settlement at the CSD.
The nominee concept for foreign entities is also part of the CSD law and will come into force from the beginning of July this year. ICSDs and foreign CSDs will be able to open accounts directly with the national CSD. Other foreign entities wishing to be nominees will be able to do so via their accounts with local custodians.  
The president also signed another mouthwateringly titled law, Amending Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation in Connection with the Adoption of the Federal Law on the Central Securities Depository.  In more straightforward parlance, this is now referred to as The Satellite Law. This particular law regulates the activities of the professional securities market and ensures compliance with the CSD Law. It covers the types of accounts that can be opened by local depositaries and registrars as well describing some record-keeping features for the safe-keeping of securities of foreign companies operating on behalf of third parties.
This was followed in late January as the newly-merged MICEX-RTS stock exchange reported that it intends to amend its procedures for the delisting of securities. Currently, the removal of securities from the exchange may be initiated by the issuer. Going forward, it looks like the stock exchange will be able to suspend or even forbid a delisting procedure during meetings of its securities markets committee. If a suspension is recommended, investors will be able to leverage a special trading window, for as much as three months, to sell off their securities.  Up to now investors had no such protection.
Additionally a working group on the establishment of the country’s so-called International Financial Centre (IFC) is reportedly considering a number of draft amendments to local regulations covering the listing of securities and additional requirements for delisting.  According to a release issued by Deutsche Bank.:“  The amendments envisage that the delisting of securities undertaken by a stock exchange due to violations by an issuer or issuer’s agent will result in the introduction of a special six month trading window for these securities and their admission to a ‘non-listed’ securities list.  Significantly for investors, shareholders will be able to claim against the issuer’s management team for losses resulting from the de-listing.

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