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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Hedge Fund Association asks SEC for clearer rules on vetting investors; supports hedge fund advertising in comment letter

Wednesday, 06 June 2012
Hedge Fund Association asks SEC for clearer rules on vetting investors; supports hedge fund advertising in comment letter The Hedge Fund Association (HFA), an international organisation that represents hedge funds, service providers and investors, says liberalised advertising and solicitations rules contained in the new Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act could help hedge funds raise assets and “encourage emerging managers to continue to enter the industry.”  The HFA has also asked the SEC for clearer rules to verify that potential investors are indeed accredited as a way to “add further stability to the industry.” http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

The Hedge Fund Association (HFA), an international organisation that represents hedge funds, service providers and investors, says liberalised advertising and solicitations rules contained in the new Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act could help hedge funds raise assets and “encourage emerging managers to continue to enter the industry.”  The HFA has also asked the SEC for clearer rules to verify that potential investors are indeed accredited as a way to “add further stability to the industry.”

The HFA’s position is outlined in a comment letter submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission on June 6th.  The SEC is soliciting comments before implementing regulations, scheduled to be published July 5th this year, which are expected to allow hedge fund management companies to communicate directly with potential investors for the first time in their history. Hedge funds would still be restricted to selling their securities to accredited investors such as individuals with a minimum $1m net worth and qualified institutional investors.

Hedge funds have been banned from soliciting or advertising their private offerings to the general public in exchange for being exempt from having to register their interests or shares with the SEC under Rule 506 of Regulation D. The lack of a clear definition of a solicitation has created confusion about what hedge fund managers can disclose in their marketing materials, at conferences or in the media.



Richard Heller, chairman of the HFA’s Regulatory and Government Advisory Board and author of the letter on behalf of the HFA, says the JOBS Act provision lifting the advertising ban does not weaken existing anti-fraud provisions forbidding people from using false or misleading statements to induce investors to invest in hedge funds. If anything, he wrote, “providing rules to strengthen a manager's decision to accept a subscriber's investment by following the rules to be drafted by the SEC that will for the first time provide a road map for managers to rely upon will, we believe, add further levels of compliance that the Dodd-Frank Act initiated.” 

The HFA’s comment letter comes two months after the historic signing of the JOBS Act, which the association praised at the time as being a boon to emerging hedge fund managers.  The HFA’s comment letter, says the association’s President, Mitch Ackles, ensures that regulators are able to consider the views of the whole industry, including its service providers, investors and those smaller managers which represent a majority of hedge fund firms.

“In addition to promoting a better understanding of and education about hedge funds, our association’s mission is to give a voice to the concerns of industry participants who may not otherwise have been heard,” says Ackles.  “That’s why we include all of our members in developing policy initiatives,” he adds.

A transcript of the letter, addressed to Elizabeth M Murphy at the SEC is provided below:


The HFA believes that amending the rules that relate to capital formation is fundamental to the continued growth of the hedge fund industry and that allowing general solicitations to further that outcome will encourage emerging managers to continue to enter the industry. Further, providing rules to strengthen a manager's decision to accept a subscriber's investment by following the rules to be drafted by the SEC that will, for the first time, provide a road map for Managers to rely upon will, we believe, add further levels of compliance that the Dodd-Frank Act initiated. While Managers have had subscription agreements in place (and internal policies to provide checks and balances for the manager), having rules in place to verify that potential investors are indeed accredited will add further stability to the industry.

The HFA recognises that the SEC may be concerned that opening the door to general solicitation may, to some degree, open the door to people who wish to perpetrate fraud in connection with false or misleading statements to induce investors to invest in hedge funds. We would remind the SEC that the JOBS Act in no way limits Section 10b-5 promulgated under Section 10 of the Exchange Act, nor does it limit Section 17(a)0 of the Securities Act. All of the state securities or "Blue Sky" rules relating to fraud remain unaffected by the JOBS Act and hedge fund managers continue to be subject to the anti-fraud provisions of the Investment Advisers Act.

Lastly, we note and support the changes to Section 3(c)(7) and would hope that the SEC will amend the language of the Investment Company Act as being available only to offerings not involving a public offering to be consistent with the JOBS Act.

The letter is signed by Mitch Ackles, president of the Hedge Fund Association and
Richard Heller,  chairman, Regulatory & Government Advisory Board, at the Hedge Fund Association.

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