The UK bank has been fined for cutting corners on a 1.9 bln stg deal for politically sensitive clients in 2011. The temptation for banks to bend the rules for VIPs is just as strong today. But more vigilant regulators are chipping away at the idea that this is business as usual.
Imposing a staggered penalty on banks that hoard cash is one of many ways to ease policy being discussed by the European Central Bank. Such levies have drawbacks. But at least a split-level charge would encourage the biggest hoarders to boost cross-border lending.
Angela Merkel has ignored domestic calls to shut out refugees. But she will find it harder to brush off French calls for the same. Alienating a key ally would undermine the union Merkel wants to save, and threaten economic integration.
Brookfield’s $6.5 bln agreed bid for Australia’s Asciano has hit serious opposition from competition regulators. The Canadian group could yet salvage its takeover. But interloper Qube, whose break-up consortium is already examining Asciano’s books, now looks like the favourite.
Britain is hoping its Help to Buy scheme will get more punters into the inflated housing market. That’s alongside 2.3 bln stg in subsidies to tempt private sector builders to sell at a discount. Even if this somehow creates 400,000 new homes, the rich gain more than the poor.
Latin America’s biggest economy will get worse before it gets better. The arrest of billionaire banker André Esteves suggests room for further nasty surprises from the Petrobras corruption probe. But feisty independent courts and stronger institutions point to a brighter future.
Capital levels, profitability and lending rose in the six months to June, the European Banking Authority says. Bad loan ratios are almost double those of U.S. banks, and more EU quantitative easing could be bad for business. Even so, lenders are proving surprisingly healthy.
Creating a 1 billion pound sovereign wealth fund to encourage shale gas drilling in the UK could fail on two fronts. It won’t sway opponents of fracking in the UK countryside, and a financial windfall is unlikely given a global gas glut and unattractive shale economics.
The Alibaba founder is interested in buying Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. The 112-year old title’s earnings are under pressure, and the financial logic looks thin. But as fellow e-commerce boss Jeff Bezos showed with the Washington Post, newspapers still have trophy value.
Finance minister George Osborne isn’t quite the budget zealot his Nov. 25 spending cuts suggest. The UK has run bigger deficits relative to GDP than France during his tenure. He has also executed tax and spending U-turns when required. It helps that gilt investors buy the hype.
The $160 bln mostly stock deal will create a combination gushing $25 bln of operating cash flow annually. An offshore tax address means there’s no reason to keep over $60 bln of cash on its balance sheet. That’s a lot of financial firepower to buy back shares and fuel more M&A.
Lenders’ capital ratios are higher than previously calculated, the European Banking Authority has said. The watchdog’s technocratic remit makes the error galling. Such confusion could deter investment just as the region’s financial institutions are doing more to deserve it.
Low-cost iron ore miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are accomplished experts digging for the ferro-raw material. They are much less good at consumption estimates. With the ore at 10-year lows, the companies’ investment cases depend on them getting ahead of China’s demand curve.