Wednesday 23rd July 2014
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The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) has been transformed into a company from a mutual society, opening the way for a public listing on the bourse it operates. The ZSE has been owned and run by stock brokers since 1946, but after demutualisation the brokers now hold 68% while the government owns the remaining shares. The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) alerts the financial services community and members of the public to misuse of the DFSA's name. It has come to the DFSA's attention that a fraudulent email purporting to be from the DFSA has been sent to a number of firms both inside and outside the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). The false email: purports to be about a "DFSA Anti-Money Laundering Violation"; appears to come from "Amina Alshehi" from "Audit & Compliance"; attaches a "non-compliance notice"; and uses legitimate DFSA contact details. The email is fake, warns the DFSA. - Surecomp, the provider of trade finance solutions for banks and corporations, says Nordea has gone live in Frankfurt and London with the stand-alone version of allNETT, Surecomp's Web-based trade finance front-end solution – Saudi’s Kingdom Holding Company announced a net income for the second quarter this year of SAR211.7m up 16.8% on the previous quarter. The gross operating profit was SAR420.3m up 26.2% on the same quarter in 2013. Mohammed Fahmy CFO, says: “The second payment of dividends has been deposited in shareholders’ accounts. The outlook for the company’s profitability remains strong.” - Northern Trust has reported a 20 percent rise in assets under custody and a 15% rise in assets under management for Q2 2014 compared to Q2 2013.The Corporate and Institutional Services (C&IS) and wealth management businesses also report a 9% rise in custody and fund administration services, investment management and securities lending. Frederick Waddell, the bank’s chief executive officer, says, “Our business continued to expand in the second quarter as trust, investment and other servicing fees, which represent 65% of revenue, increased 8% compared to last year and assets under custody and under management increased 20% and 15%, respectively.” - In the latest Investment Quarterly for Q3 2014, Renee Chen, Macro and Investment Strategist at HSBC Global Asset Management, looks at the investment prospects throughout the Asia region. Chen identifies macro trends that are likely to shape investment themes in Asian markets, such as economic policy reforms, economic rebalancing and regional cooperation and integration that will provide a wide diversity of investment opportunities in relevant sectors. Financial deepening, in terms of financial system reform and deregulation and capital market developments, is another macro theme. HSBC continues to see opportunities in various sectors that could potentially benefit from structural reforms in several Asian countries. In particular, effective implementation of reforms could lead to a sustainable improvement in economic fundamentals and the growth prospects of China and India, prompting a reform-led re-rating of Chinese and Indian stocks. The continued search for yield resulted in decent H1 performance in Asian credit markets and there has been continued investor appetite for emerging Asian bonds, but Chen cautions that valuations could become a constraint, with limited room for further spread compression in some sectors and markets. However, the still-low default rates and overall healthy level of leverage among Asian companies on the back of overall sound Asian economic fundamentals provide a solid base for Asian credit market in the medium-to-long term.

Volcker Rule likely delayed until after US presidential elections

Monday, 16 April 2012
Volcker Rule likely delayed until after US presidential elections As mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act, the Volcker Rule—named for its author, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker—prohibits commercial banks from using their own capital to invest in hedge funds and private equity funds, unless such activity is deemed “systemically important” (that is, is related to market making, securitisation, hedging, and/or risk management) and is limited to a three-percent ownership stake. With nary a fan on either side of the pond, the much-maligned Volcker Rule could be ripe for modification—though any change is more likely to happen later than sooner. David Simons reports. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

As mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act, the Volcker Rule—named for its author, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker—prohibits commercial banks from using their own capital to invest in hedge funds and private equity funds, unless such activity is deemed “systemically important” (that is, is related to market making, securitisation, hedging, and/or risk management) and is limited to a three-percent ownership stake. With nary a fan on either side of the pond, the much-maligned Volcker Rule could be ripe for modification—though any change is more likely to happen later than sooner. David Simons reports.

Regulators had hoped to have the Volcker Rule finalised by mid-July. However, ironing out the increasingly complex proposal—which includes newly added exemptions needed to placate the bill’s many opponents—will likely take much longer.

Retiring Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank, head of the House Financial Services Committee and co-author of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, has suggested something of a compromise; that regulators work towards completing a simplified version of the law by early September. "The agencies [have] tried to accommodate a variety of views on the implementation,” says Frank, “but the results reflected in the proposed rule are far too complex, and the final rules should be simplified significantly.”

Financial institutions may be struggling to regain public trust in the wake of the 2008 credit meltdown; however that has not stopped officials from taking aim at the proposed Volcker legislation during the SEC’s comment period which closed on February 13th. Speaking on behalf of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), Tim Ryan, SIFMA’s president and chief executive officer called the proposed regulations “unworkable” and “not faithful to Congressional intent”. Moreover, Ryan says they will have negative consequences for US financial markets and the economy.

Echoing a common theme among Volcker critics, Ryan contends that the new law could result in drastically reduced market liquidity for investors, and make it more difficult for companies to raise capital. SIFMA’s five-part comment letter includes proposed modifications to proprietary trading restrictions and hedge fund/private-equity fund investment activity under Volcker, and expresses concern over Volcker’s impact on municipal securities and global securitisation.

Like almost everything else drafted by the Obama White House, the Volcker Rule has virtually no support in the GOP, and includes among its detractors Daniel Gallagher and Troy Paredes, the two Republican members of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Speaking at an Institute of International Bankers conference held in Washington last month, Gallagher suggested that regulators re-examine their initial efforts and, if necessary, “go back to the drawing board to make sure we regulate wisely, rather than just quickly.”

Not that all of the criticisms have had political overtones. An exception to the rule allowing US banks to continue trading treasuries and municipal bonds has drawn fire from state and local government agencies, which have demanded that they receive the same exemption. The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB), the US-based firm charged with protecting investor interest in the municipal-securities space, has urged regulators to expand the rule’s proprietary trading exemptions to include municipal-bond brokers. It’s an effort to avoid “bifurcation” within the municipal securities market, says MSRB, warning current exemptions “are not useful in the municipal securities market,” and unless modified will “prevent a free and open market from prevailing.”

Nor has Volcker venting been limited to the US. In a comment letter issued in February, the European Fund and Asset Management Association (EFAMA), the representative association for Europe’s investment-management community, argued that exemptions favouring US institutions pose a serious threat to European funds due to the potential shift in the balance of power. Accordingly, regulators should take the necessary steps to prevent any negative impact on liquidity and operational efficiency abroad, said the group.

Meanwhile, Oregon’s Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, who along with Senator Carl Levin of Michigan helped draft some of the Volcker provisions, bristled at suggestions that substantial modifications would be required. If anything, said Merkley, the rule needs to be tougher, though not “as vague or complex as regulators are making it.” Also in favour of a stronger Volcker is former Citigroup chief executive officer John S Reed, who has argued that in its present form the rule “does not offer bright enough lines or provide strong enough penalties for violation."

Having made regulatory reform one of its chief priorities, the Obama administration is unlikely to cede any ground in the months leading up to the US presidential elections in November. Hence, even the most vocal of Volcker opponents admit that change is unlikely to happen until after the new Congress convenes in January of next year.

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