17 Jun 2013

Co-op Bank: Slaughter of the Innocents?

Talk of bailing-in holders of certain bonds demonstrates that investors and depositors in European Banks are well-advised to be ultra cautious and not rely too much on reassurances uttered by regulators and their political paymasters. It beggars belief that after the chaotic 'resolution' of the debt crisis in Cyprus there is even talk of applying a hair-cut to the value of certain bonds issued by the Co-op bank. Most of those looking at losses would be retail investors, the most vulnerable and least sophisticated participants in the financial markets. Before their investments are impaired it would be appropriate to seize the full equity value of the bank - and one would hope that there is one.

Apart from this glaring injustice this episode is another sad illustration about the danger inherent in Merger transactions. The list of desasters is a long one, Bankamerica/Countrywide and Merrill Lynch, Commerzbank/Dresdner Bank, Lloyds TSB'HBOS to name the most prominent one

13 Jun 2013

Hester to leave RBS by 'mutual agreement'

Replacing the CEO? No problem, George Osborne can try his hand on running a real business, and his friend/buddy Cameron can fill the role of Investor Relations/Press chief. At least they will provide good entertainment on the SS Royal Bank of Scotland (soon to be England?). And no, we take no placement fee as we want to help the taxpayer - on second thought, did Hester not have five years to groom a successor? Any properly run organisation should have at least one credible replacement for each senior executive position. After all, that should be the priority of the CEO and a functioning board.

10 Jun 2013

Bureaucrats to run UK Financial Sector

The Great, the Good and the Not-so-Good are slowly taking over the running of the UK Financial Sector. After all, it the Establishment managed to run the UK Automobile Industry into the ground, why not give it a try in another sector that (still) is a leading participant in a global industry? I warned some time ago that to give regulators (and indirectly politicians who pull the strings in our cherished pseudo-democracy) unfettered control over senior appointments in Banking, Insurance and Fund Management would make it very difficult - and certainly frustrating - to manage any of these businesses. An recent illustration is provided by the fact that two candidates for the position of Chief Financial Offices at Legal & General were rejected by the Commissariat, formerly known as FSA, now split into two units, presumably to provide more jobs for second-rate pen pushers. The explanation, that candidates did not show sufficient familiarity with insurance, does not convince. Since when did a CFO of an engineering company have to show familiarity with the intricacies of machinery design? This is just another drop on the stone of bad news that will lead to a mass exodus of financial service firms once a certain pain threshold is passed.