Stocks and Funds
The buyout firm generated record quarterly earnings, in stark contrast to Wall Street’s slog. It’s the latest sign of a power shift from banks to shadow banks, broadly defined. Having confined big lenders, watchdogs could pick up the scent on Steve Schwarzman and his ilk.
James Gorman presided over a far better Q1 than in 2013 – including bucking the Wall Street trend in fixed-income trading. Goldman posted stronger numbers, though investment gains helped. More importantly, Gorman is closer to hitting targets than other rivals like Citi and BofA.
David Walker always envisaged he would step down in August 2015. The current lack of clarity over who will be running the board wouldn’t matter if things were going well. But with Barclays at a strategic crossroads, it needs solid and sustained leadership as soon as possible.
The $100 bln German software group is the latest big tech firm to disappoint investors. Shares fell after currency moves hit Q1 results. Yet the investment case is improving. The stock has cheapened this year, and SAP’s shift to cloud-based databases seems to be working.
Bids and Buyouts
From China’s CITIC to Singapore’s Temasek, Asian acquirers are increasingly relying on in-house talent to get deals done. The loss of potential deal flow in an already tough market means big banks will have to work harder to prove their worth.
A potential $11 bln tie-up of booking sites Ctrip and Qunar sounds dandy. But the real break may be for search engine Baidu. As Qunar’s biggest shareholder, it could get a first-class seat in the merged duo, with room to take a bigger stake when valuations come back to earth.
The union of the Chinese giant with its Hong Kong-listed subsidiary offers rare visibility into China’s sprawling state conglomerates. CITIC Pacific shareholders get mostly listed assets at a discount – and if all goes well, a potentially profitable ringside seat in the cleanup.
The UK distiller is again trying to tighten its grip on India’s United Spirits. It’s offering $1.9 bln to nearly double its stake to 54.8 pct. A sky-high multiple of 38 times EBITDA gives this offer better odds than the last. And there’s industrial logic to offset the huge price.
Money and Markets
A new leverage limit requires the eight largest to add another $68 bln in padding, on top of other rules on capital and liquidity. Janet Yellen still isn’t certain that’s enough. Sure, it’s the Fed’s job to worry. But big banks and their investors are already feeling the pinch.
Sterling and gilt yields have risen as traders put the best possible gloss on recent economic snapshots and bet on an early 2015 rate rise. Market optimism could well persist, pushing the pound even higher. But there are good reasons for the Bank of England to be less sanguine.
Two cases challenge the hedge fund’s ability to work around U.S. laws that shield the country’s assets. The court is hearing one of them as it mulls another on paying debt-swap holdouts. Upcoming arguments in the first may reveal how creative collection plans fare in the second.
Dayo Olopade’s “The Bright Continent” describes “kanju,” the hustling, striving and rule-breaking that make modern Africa work. The canny invisible hand can outwit the dead hand of corrupt bureaucracy. Sadly kanju makes the continent a tough place to do fully organized business.