Tuesday 24th May 2016
News ticker: Monday, May 23rd: Morningstar has upgraded the Schroder Japan Growth investment trust to a Morningstar Analyst Rating™ of Gold. The investment trust previously held a Silver rating. Peter Brunt, senior manager research analyst at Morningstar, comments: “The fund previously held a Silver rating. We continue to hold fund manager Andrew Rose, the supporting team and the structured process in high regard. Our concerns over the use of gearing have decreased over time, and we no longer see a reason to hold this closed-end vehicle at a differentiated rating to the identically managed Schroder Tokyo OEIC. The fund is therefore upgraded to Gold.” - The SYRIZA/ANEL coalition government secured late yesterday parliamentary approval of a key multi-bill incorporating the legislation required for the implementation of the remaining prior actions attached to the 1st programme review - Turkey’s Halk Bank has partnered with: Intellect Design Arena Limited to automate their Debt Management processes. Intellect’s Debt Management System will enable the Bank to manage its collections and recoveries more effectively and efficiently. The global lending portfolio is expected to be $38trn by 2019, growing at an average of7.9% CAGR. With increasing loans and high expected levels of delinquency, there is an increasing emphasis on strong debt management processes to devise powerful strategies for timely collection. Banks are spending to acquire customers and retain them on the one side, and on the other, they are also spending on collecting owed debt - Following what the asset manager describes as steady growth in the assets of the Threadneedle UK Absolute Alpha Fund, Columbia Threadneedle says it is currently monitoring flows in the fund with the potential to apply further containment measures. The Threadneedle UK Absolute Alpha Fund is managed by Mark Westwood and Chris Kinder, the fund takes long and short positions to deliver an absolute return to clients. As of end April 2016 the fund was £988m, having grown from £373m a year ago. Gary Collins, head of Wholesale, EMEA, at Columbia Threadneedle Investments says. “Our priority is always to protect the interests of existing investors and we have ceased marketing activity and new client pitches over the past year to manage inflows into the Threadneedle UK Absolute Alpha Fund. We are now monitoring new flows with the potential to apply further measures to limit demand if necessary to ensure the investment integrity of the fund is retained.” - Moody's has today withdrawn the A3 issuer rating of BP Finance PLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BP plc (rated A2, positive outlook) for what it says are business reasons - Dragon Capital, says it will list its flagship fund, Vietnam Enterprise Investments Limited (VEIL), on the main market of the London Stock Exchange sometime in July this year. Launched in 1995, VEIL is the largest and longest-running fund focused on Vietnam with a Net Asset Value (NA) of approximately $850m. The London listing is expected to create a more transparent and liquid market in VEIL's shares, widening potential ownership, attracting greater analyst coverage, increasing VEIL's profile and narrowing the discount to NAV at which the shares currently trade. Approximately half of VEIL's NAV is represented by stocks which are at their foreign ownership limits and cannot otherwise be accessed by foreign investors. The move is timely: Vietnam’s GDP rose 6.7% last year – Guaranty Trust Bank plc (GTBank) says it has redeemed the outstanding portion of its $500m eurobond notes due on May 19th. The bank issued a cash tender offer back in February to repurchase all the outstanding eurobond notes (priced at 7.5%), which it says was well received by investors. The issue was the first involving a Nigerian issuer and was secured by its subsidiary GTB Finance, set against an irrevocable bank guarantee. A statement from the bank issued yesterday, an aggregate principal amount of $126,586,000 of the securities were successfully tendered. The outstanding was redeemed from the bank’s cash reserves – Elsewhere in Nigeria, the Federal High Court has ordered former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the federal government to give account of how NGN30trn that accrued to government during the last four years of the former President Goodluck Jonathan's administration was managed.‎ Presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba said in a statement that the former minister of finance and the government should have made the requested information available about the money or given reasons why it could not be obliged within the stipulated period in conformity with the Freedom of Information Act.‎ ‎The judgement was released in a formal statement by civil rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)‎ through the office of its deputy director, Olukayode Majekodunmi, saying it embarked on the suit, tagged: FHC/L/CS/196/2015, ‎following the allegations by the former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Charles Soludo, that at least NGN30trn "has either been stolen or unaccounted for, or grossly mismanaged over the last few years under the watch of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. At the same time, local press report that ex-President Jonathan Goodluck may have gone into exile in the Cote d’Ivoire. It seems that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is about to arrest him to face corruption charges, which would signal a total turnaround for the president whose administration was based on tackling graft in the country - US monetary policy continues to exert its influence on markets. Trading volumes are thin anyway, but clearly there is a risk off sentiment running through and this won’t change until the next FOMC meeting decision; it might be that the market has now factored in a rise in June despite mixed data emanating from the US. Right now, there are more pressing worries about the outcome of the upcoming G7 meeting, with expectations that the group will fall apart over the application of monetary policy. The outcome of the Ise-Shima G7 summit on May 26th and 27th will weigh on markets for most of this week as the US talks increasingly stridently about the ‘threat’ of competitive currency devaluation. What is a central bank with a rising currency such as the yen and declining exports (down 10.1% in April on a year on year basis) meant to do? The other worrying trend is the increasingly racist and toxic tone of the Leave camp in the Brexit campaign. How many insults can be directed at ‘foreigners’ in the UK without someone calling for restraint? - Asian markets had a mixed day. That inverse relationship between the yen and the Japanese stock market was still writ large today. The Nikkei 225 closed down 81.75 points, or 0.49 percent, at 16,654.60, retracing earlier losses of more than 1.5%, while the dollar-yen pair ultimately retreated to 109.75/$1.00. The Kospi rose 0.39% but the Hang Seng lost 0.38% over the day. The Shanghai Composite rose 0.66% while the Shenzhen Composite did better, rising 1.45%, across the water the ASX200 was down 0.6%. The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 3.11 points or 0.11% higher to 2766.93, taking the year-to-date performance to -4.02%. The top active stocks today were DBS, which gained 0.53%, Global Logistic, which declined 1.64%, SingTel, which gained 0.78%, OCBC Bank, which gained 0.36% and UOB, with a0.56% advance. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index declined 0.08%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index rose0.14% - Today, traders will be watching PMI data from France, Germany, and headline eurozone.

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North America

Mercer, a consulting firm in health, wealth and careers and a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), has announced the appointment of Simon O’Regan as president in North America.  Previously president of the Mercer EuroPac, region which includes Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand, he is succeeded by Martine Ferland, previously senior partner and leader of the retirement business for EuroPac. Pat Milligan will assume a newly created role focused on growth of the firm’s multinational clients.

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In a speech to the DerivOps North America 2015, CFTC chairman Timothy Massad highlighted market uncleared swaps – SEF confirmations and confirmation data reporting and error trades are now in CFTC sights. 

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State Street Global Exchange today released the results of the State Street Investor Confidence Index (ICI) for February 2015. The Global ICI decreased to 105.2, down 1.4 points from January’s revised reading of 106.6. Confidence among European investors declined the most, with the European ICI falling 8.2 points to 105.9, down from January’s revised reading of 114.1, while in Asia the ICI fell by 5.3 points to 93.8. However, the North American ICI rose by 3.1 points to 104.3.

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Fidessa group plc (LSE: FDSA) today announced a key appointment for its sell-side business, Jay Biancamano is now head of equities product marketing for the Americas. Based in New York and reporting to James Blackburn, global head of equities product marketing, Biancamano will focus on driving the strategic direction of Fidessa's sell-side equities products to provide new and innovative services to its clients which deliver them real business value.

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Apex Fund Services, the independent fund administrator, has appointed Dennis Westley as managing director, North America with immediate effect. Westley will have responsibility for growing Apex’s North American operations and integrating potential acquisitions. Reporting directly to Apex’s Global CEO, Bill Salus, Westley will also manage Apex’s offices in New York, New Jersey, Florida and Toronto.

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Fitch Ratings-New York-09 February 2015: North American Exploration and Production (E&P) companies continued to announce reductions to 2015 capital spending in Q4 earnings calls as a function of lower oil prices, according to Fitch Ratings. Capex cuts are ongoing as the price of West Texas Intermediate has dropped over 50% since July of last year, and now stands at just over $50/barrel.

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Kames Capital has added to its equity capabilities with the appointment of Matt Harding. Harding joins the team as an investment analyst focussing on North American equities, reporting to Marcus Chandler, Kames’ head of North American equities.

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Aviva Investors will manage a new global tactical asset allocation retail mutual fund which is intended to address demand for risk-managed options for equity allocations, and is the latest addition to Virtus’ portfolio of open-ended mutual funds.

The Aviva Investors Multi Strategy range, AIMS, launched in the UK on the 1st of July 2014 and has since gathered over £480 million in assets* from investors looking for products that clearly align with their investment goals. Aviva Investors’ Target Return Fund aims to provide a specified target return by investing in a globally-diversified multi strategy portfolio, while limiting the volatility of those returns compared with global equities.

Commenting on the strategic partnership, Euan Munro, chief executive officer of Aviva Investors says: “Key to our approach is a commitment to delivering outcomes central to investors’ financial well-being and clearly aligned to their investment goals. We believe that our range of solutions can appeal to a broad set of investors from around the world, who in the current low-yield environment are seeking to secure positive returns across various market conditions.

“We’re delighted to be working with Virtus, as not only will the partnership widen Aviva Investors global distribution footprint by providing access to Virtus’ strong product development and distribution capabilities, it will also provide US retail clients with access to Aviva Investors’ specific expertise in the management of outcome-oriented multi-strategy solutions.” 

George R Aylward, president and chief executive officer of Virtus, adds: "When we develop new investment solutions for the mutual fund market, we want to get the best strategies from high-quality investment managers, so we look forward to working with Aviva Investors to offer multi-strategy investment solutions and then adding Aviva Investors as a manager as we expand into other strategies.

"We are particularly pleased to work with Aviva Investors Chief Executive, Euan Munro, who has been a pioneer in the development of multi-strategy investment solutions.  His team has specialised in using a collaborative, disciplined, transparent approach that seeks to create consistent and explainable performance in up and down markets.” The fund is expected to be available to investors in the second quarter of 2015 subject to regulatory approval.

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