Category: Markets

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TOP RANKINGS FOR ASHFORDS LLP IN PITCHBOOK’S GLOBAL LEAGUE TABLES

Ashfords has again been ranked as one of the most active law firms globally in venture capital. The firm has been ranked 2nd in Europe for 2018 by PitchBook, which provides a comprehensive ranking of private equity and venture capital activity worldwide.

Ashfords is the only independent UK law firm to appear in the top five most active firms in Europe and has been placed in the top 5 in each of the past eight quarters.

PitchBook’s global review details top investors by region, firm headquarters, as well as the most active advisers and acquirers of PE-backed and VC-backed companies.

Chris Dyson, Partner and Head of Ashfords’ technology sector, commented: “Ashfords’ recognition in this prestigious league table confirms the team’s position as a leading venture capital practice in Europe. The team has deep expertise in this area and are very proud to work alongside many leading investment funds and growth companies.”

Deals the firm completed globally in 2018 include advising:

Notion Capital, Eden Ventures and BGF Ventures on the $350m sale of NewVoiceMedia to Vonage

Form3 on its investment from Draper Esprit, Barclays and Angel CoFund

Fluidly on its investment from Nyca Partners and Octopus

Anthemis on its investment in Realyse

Simply Cook on its investment from Octopus

WhiteHat on its investment from Lightspeed, Village Global, Anil Aggarwal, and Wendy Tan White

Mobius Motors on its investment from Pan-African Investment Company, Playfair Capital, VestedWorld and others

Local Globe on its investment in StatusToday

Holtzbrinck Ventures and Notion Capital on the sale of Dealflo to OneSpan

BGF on its investment in Ruroc.


Ashfords LLP
ashfords.co.uk

ArticlesBankingMarketsRisk Management

The fragile line between financial returns and social good – how much can, and should, personal values influence a portfolio and asset allocation

By Charlotte Filsell – Head of Client Relationship Management at Sandaire.

In many industries no two clients are the same. In Family Offices this is particularly evident. Every family, and every individual within that family, is entirely unique and is continually growing, evolving and shifting their needs and priorities.

This is a fascinating and complex journey to help families navigate. Where this is especially pertinent, is finding the delicate balance between financial returns and social good. As such, it’s incredibly important that families have access to delicate guidance and careful stewardship, so they can find the right balance to match both their values and their long-term needs – and to match their individual and familial priorities.

As families navigate a generational wealth transfer to the younger generations, social good and impact investing becomes more apparent. There is undoubtedly an increasing trend from the younger generation, to go beyond a simple financial transaction or donation to worthy causes. When it comes to using their wealth, millennials tend to be more concerned about making their money go further, making a larger impact, and are interested in finding sustainable interventions and solutions. Differences certainly exist across generations, but what unites family members, is the motivation to make the world a better place.

In philanthropy, this can be reflected in a desire to learn about an issue and understand the nuances in order to direct effort and resources as effectively as possible. To achieve this effectively, it’s crucial to work closely with clients to assist with their philanthropic endeavours, including helping to find causes that are important to them and guiding on how they might be able to make a positive contribution. In addition to this, connecting clients to other families in the same situation, or perhaps further along the philanthropy journey, allows them to share ideas and experiences, and apply these to their own particular investment desires.

In no small part because this is such a personal yet complex issue, families are increasingly looking for advisers who not only understand the intricacies of the financial and investment landscape, but who have a thorough grasp on the values and philanthropic intentions of the client. This can make a huge difference. It’s incredibly important to provide thoughtful guidance and careful stewardship to help families strike the right balance. This can take many forms – an effective family office must shift with the needs of the families it serves and take on the role that’s required – whether that’s a leader, a partner, a facilitator, or a mediator.

The trend towards Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) has led to the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment decisions. The development of SRI and impact investment is offering the prospect of achieving returns measured in more than merely financial terms; it is embedding values and responsibility into investment decisions. While many businesses may have long been delivering more than financial returns, social and impact investing is bringing intention to the fore in investment selection and outcome measurement into the evaluation of success.

The crucial role of the family office is to help steer the families we serve through this fascinating and complex process, developing a successful wealth plan that futureproofs their wealth, whilst satisfying their philanthropic interests and passions. Although a fragile line, we believe that a portfolio can satisfy both financial return objectives and positive social impact that reflects a client’s personal values, acknowledging that a balance will need to be struck depending on the needs of each individual client.  

Cash ManagementMarketsRisk ManagementTax

Top tips when it comes to completing your self-assessment tax return

The time of year is almost upon us where millions will have to complete their self-assessment tax return. Whether that’s as a sole trader, a freelancer, a contractor or running your own businesses, anyone who works for themselves will have to complete their forms before the annual January 31 deadline. For many, it can seem like a daunting task, so is there anything you can do to make the process easier?

 

 

James Foster, Commercial Manager at specialist accountancy provider Nixon Williams

At Nixon Williams, we manage a large client base of small businesses, contractors and self-employed individuals, which means we complete thousands of tax returns each year. This experience has provided us with an in-depth knowledge of the process and how to maximise efficiency when it comes to completing a self-assessment tax return submission.

 

The majority of the working population have their tax deducted at source from the company that they work for, however, anyone that is self-employed has to complete a self-assessment tax return in order to be taxed appropriately on their earnings by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

 

When you start working for yourself, your workload includes everything that you might need to do to make your business a success – from marketing and advertising to admin and ordering stationery. You may find that managing your finances is more complex than you might have expected as you will need to keep records of all the money you spend in the running of your business, as well as how much you earn. Many people decide to use the services of a professional accountancy firm like ours to help them through the process, but some decide to manage everything themselves. Either way, there are some simple things you can do to make the process as straightforward as possible, so here are my top five tips:

 

  • Get organised – compiling all your invoices and receipts ahead of time is the best way to alleviate last minute stress when it comes to self-assessment forms. Ideally, you’ll have kept some form of spreadsheet or an online portal up to date throughout the year of your accounts, and you can use that to finalise your tax return. But if that’s not the case, don’t wait until the very end of January to get started. There are often missing pieces of information you’ll need to track down, so give yourself plenty of time to work through everything. And don’t forget – if it’s your first time completing your Self-Assessment Tax Return, make sure you’re registered with HMRC in time.    

 

  • Know the key dates for completion – If you decide to complete your tax return online then the deadline for this is any point up until the 31st January, whereas a paper tax return needs to arrive with HMRC by the 31st October the previous year. If you haven’t sent an online tax return before then you will need to register and HMRC advises you to do this no less than 20 working days before the deadline.

 

  • Separate your work and personal bank account – a number of self-employed people operate with just one bank account for personal and business use, but this can make it hard to separate out your business expenses from your personal expenses. It’s often easier to identify which costs are related to your business by having a separate business bank account. This will not only help you keep a track of your business expenditure throughout the year, but it will make your life a lot easier when it comes to your tax return.
  • Know the expenses and tax reliefs that you can claim – if you are a sole trader, for example, make sure that you know the expenses that you can claim in your tax return, as there may be some items you might forget about such as business mileage and expenses relating to working from home. It’s also beneficial to know about other tax reliefs that you are entitled to such as personal pension and gift aid payments.

 

  • Tax returns can be complex so use an accountant – having professional support can be really beneficial because an accountant should not only assist with the compliance side of things (i.e. helping you to file your tax return on time) but they will also give you pro-active advice where appropriate.  Tax returns are something most accountancy practices deal with on a daily basis from April to January, alleviating a lot of the financial stress away from clients and helping them to focus on what they do best – making a success of their business.

 

Running your own business and managing the many tasks that come with it can often push your tax return submission to the bottom of your ever-growing pile of work to do – but help is always available from professionals with the right experience and knowledge of the latest legislation. You can find further information on completing your self-assessment tax return on the Nixon Williams website here.

Cash ManagementForeign Direct InvestmentPrivate FundsStock MarketsTransactional and Investment Banking

Can You Predict The Future Price of Bitcoin?

You can’t spend five minutes reading about cryptocurrencies without stumbling across at least one prediction for the future price of Bitcoin.

Across forums, social media, newsletters, blogs, news sites and every other corner of the internet — financial analysts, expert investors, bankers, tech icons, and new enthusiasts offer up their views.

Some cite careful analysis, some base it on past trends. While others are guessing or acting on their ‘intuition.’ Their predictions are varied, ranging from a plummet to zero, to millions.

With all this noise surrounding the Bitcoin price, you might be wondering whom to believe. Or if you should believe anyone at all. Is it possible to predict the future?

Investing begins with education, not buying. So it’s important to think about the information you base your buying decisions on.

How do people make price predictions?

There are two types of analysis used for predictions: fundamental and technical.

They’re used for everything from the stock market to Bitcoin. While other types of analysis do exist, these are the main ones.

Fundamental analysis

Fundamental analysis is all about intrinsic value. You look at the factors that give something value, then decide if it’s under or overvalued. Publicly traded companies release lots of information to help with this. So, for a stock you might look at a company’s:

  • Revenue (how much money it’s making)
  • Profit margins (how much of the revenue is profit)
  • Growth potential (how much money it could make in the future)
  • Management (how competent the people in charge are)

Some of these factors can be defined in numbers. Others come down to the judgement of the analyst.

For a cryptocurrency, you might look at its:

  • Price growth (how the price has grown over time)
  • Scalability (if it has the potential to keep growing)
  • Security (if the network is secure and safe from attacks

​Technical analysis

Technical analysis is different as it focuses on an asset’s price, not the asset itself. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase ‘past performance is not an indicator of future performance.’ But technical analysis bases future predictions on the past. This can be based on a short time frame (hours or even minutes) or long (months or years.)

To do this, you look for patterns and trends in price charts, such as:

  • The average price over a chosen time span
  • The price at which a lot of investors start buying
  • The price at which a lot of investors start selling
  • The overall price trend

Do fundamental and technical analyses work?

There’s no straightforward answer to that question. Both techniques can be useful, but they also have their limitations for cryptocurrencies.

Fundamental analysis works when investors base their decisions on fundamentals. This isn’t always the case for Bitcoin. Many investors base their decisions on the decisions they expect others to make.

Technical analysis assumes that a market follows rational rules and patterns. It’s less useful for cryptocurrencies because the market is still young. There isn’t as much past data to analyse. Cryptocurrencies also have less liquidity than something like stocks.

Self-defeating and self-fulfilling prophecies

When we talk about price predictions, we run into an important concept: self-defeating and self-fulfilling prophecies.

Making a prediction about the future can end up changing what actually happens.

The prediction about the future creates the future.

This isn’t the case when we talk about a system like the weather because we can’t change it.

But when you make predictions for a system involving people, it’s different.

Hearing predictions can cause people to change their behaviour.

Sometimes this happens in a way that prevents the prediction from coming true — a self-defeating prophecy — or it can cause the prediction to come true — a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Predictions about cryptocurrency prices have the power to influence how investors act. If it’s predicted the Bitcoin price will increase, this encourages more people to buy. This can drive up the price, and vice versa.

That brings us to incentives.

The issue of intentions

Incentives are what motivate people to do what they do. It’s an important concept in investing. Financial gain is a powerful driving force.

Most investors understandably want to do whatever will make them the most money. This can include making predictions that benefit them.

Let’s say you come across an article where the author claims Bitcoin will be worth $100,000 by December 1st 2019. Rather than taking that at face value, it’s important to ask: why are they saying this? If they know for certain, why don’t they put all their money into Bitcoin, and make a huge profit? Why are they sharing that information?

Likewise, if someone claims Bitcoin will drop, you might wonder why they’re saying that. If they know for certain, why don’t they keep quiet, short it, and make a big profit?

In both cases, we need to consider the underlying incentives.

If someone stands to profit from the Bitcoin price increasing, it’s natural they’ll predict it’s going to do that. They’re hoping this will turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. If someone stands to benefit from it decreasing or to suffer if it increases, it’s not unexpected that they’ll predict it’s going to decrease.

Luck and probability

But if no one can predict the future, how come some people do make correct predictions?

Maybe you heard that your brother’s roommate’s cousin’s coworker’s uncle correctly predicted the price of Bitcoin. Or you’ve seen someone on Youtube who seems to always get it right.

The fact that no one can predict the future doesn’t mean no one can make correct predictions.

It comes down to luck, probabilities, and information asymmetries.

First, luck. Every day, thousands of people make predictions about Bitcoin prices. It’s inevitable that some of them will be correct by luck.

As they say, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. With so many people making predictions, it’s likely a percentage of them will be correct.

When professional forecasters make predictions, they usually base them on probabilities. What’s the most likely outcome? A weather forecaster might say it’s going to rain tomorrow because there’s a 62% probability. They don’t know it for sure. It’s just more likely than not.

Then there’s insider information. If you know something most investors don’t, you have a big advantage. For example, if you have insider information that Apple is about to release a new product, it’s reasonable to expect the stock will go up. But other investors buying Apple stock aren’t aware of that information, so they can’t predict it.

Insider information is less meaningful for cryptocurrencies. There’s a less direct link between fundamentals and prices. Events that seem like they should cause an increase or decrease can do the opposite or nothing.

Conclusion

The next time you look at a cryptocurrency price chart, imagine a crowd of people in a stadium, all moving at different times but appearing to create an organised rippling motion. Because that’s what you’re seeing: the combined actions of many people.

There’s no mystical, secret order to it. There’s just lots of people making decisions based on the information they receive.

FundsMarketsRegulationWealth Management

FTI Consulting Resilience Barometer Sheds Light on Lack of Business Preparedness

At this week’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, FTI Consulting launched their inaugural 2019 Resilience Barometer which explores how G20 companies are tackling an interconnected, technologically disrupted and increasingly regulated world. Astonishingly, the report has found that whilst companies anticipate challenges, such as cybersecurity and data, they remain largely unprepared.

 

In an age categorised by the WEF as “The Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution” (4IR), it is more important than ever for G20 companies to be instrumental in supporting societies and governments navigating unavoidable uncertainty and volatility. FTI Consulting’s new report outlines the key challenges we face as we move into 2019 by investigating company preparedness to 18 scenarios which could have a negative impact on turnover, value and reputation.

 

Highlights of the report include:

  • The resilience score for the G20 is only 40 points (out of a top score of 100 points) and turnover has been lowered by an average of 5.1% over the last 12 months, a major cause for concern in an environment that is growing more and more challenging.
  • We have found that the biggest threat to resilience in 2019 is that of ‘cyber-attacks stealing or compromising assets’ and 30% of companies we surveyed said this had happened to them in 2018. Yet whilst 28% of business leaders predict that this will occur to them over the next year, just 45% say that they are taking proactive steps to manage this risk.
  • 87% of companies expect a major crisis in 2019, yet only 4 in 10 are very confident in their ability to manage such a scenario.
  • One-third (1/3) of companies acknowledged that they are not doing enough to keep their data safe.

Kevin Hewitt, Chairman of FTI Consulting EMEA region explained that: “This report looks to identify and unpick the challenges, and opportunities, that companies are facing today as they manage risk and enhance their corporate value. More must be done to ensure sufficient infrastructure and processes are in place to proactively manage business threats in 2019. With significant expertise and experience, FTI Consulting is well placed to help businesses effectively respond in an effective and efficient way.”

 

Following the launch of the FTI 2019 Resilience Barometer, FTI Consulting will be attending the WEF in Davos this week and are available for more in-depth analysis of these results and how FTI Consulting can help your company build resilience and protect value in the face of challenges brought about by the 4IR.

BankingHedgeMarkets

Alternative SME finance provider Capify secures £75 million credit facility from Goldman Sachs

Capify, a leading alternative SME finance provider in the UK, has secured a £75 million credit facility from Goldman Sachs Private Capital (“Goldman Sachs”) to support its future growth plans and provide working capital to thousands of British SMEs over the coming years.

 

The Greater Manchester-based fintech company will use the new facility to accelerate the growth of its lending business to UK SMEs through its merchant cash advance (MCA) and business loan products. 

 

Capify has been active in the UK since 2008, executing over 9,000 transactions for UK SMEs seeking working capital for their business. Since inception, Capify has helped deliver £150 million in business loans and merchant cash advances in the UK.

 

“This is a landmark achievement for Capify and we are very pleased that we have secured this financing with Goldman Sachs, one of the premiere capital providers in the world,” said David Goldin, Founder and CEO of Capify.

 

“This new multi-year credit facility allows us to deliver on our own growth plans, whilst providing much needed access to capital for UK SMEs to help them to grow, to boost the economy and to create jobs.”

 

“The credit facility validates our company as a leader in the marketplace and underlines the strength of our business model to provide simple, affordable and smart financial options to UK SMEs.”

 

Pankaj Soni, Executive Director at Goldman Sachs Private Capital, said: “Capify is one of the leading SME finance providers in the UK. We have been impressed with the management team, business model and innovative finance solutions for SMEs. We look forward to supporting their growth in the years ahead.”

 

“We are extremely excited about our future relationship with Goldman Sachs,” added John Rozenbroek, Chief Financial Officer at Capify. “The credit facility will enable us to continue on our growth trajectory while offering even more attractive and innovative solutions to thousands of small businesses in need of capital.”

 

David Goldin, Founder and CEO of Capify.

Derivatives and Structured ProductsWealth Management

Ted Baker partners with Kickdynamic to drive customer engagement with live, automated and personalized email marketing content.

Global lifestyle brand, Ted Baker, has implemented Kickdynamic’s technology to transform its email marketing and achieve its goal to deliver true one-to-one personalization.

 

Ted Baker, the quintessentially British brand famed for its quirky yet commercial fashion offering and unique, playful storytelling, has partnered with Kickdynamic to offer live, automated and personalized email to their customers. Through this partnership, Ted Baker is reducing its internal manual email build processes, increasing customer engagement and enhancing the performance of its email marketing by delivering relevant content in real-time.

 

Ted Baker has grown steadily from its origins as a single shirt specialist store in Glasgow in 1988 to the global lifestyle brand it is today. It offers menswear, womenswear, accessories and more, and has a physical retail presence in 39 of the 50 countries in which it’s available.

 

The brand has embraced the power of digital marketing, putting the customer and brand experience first in everything it does and its creative freedom allows it to create content that sets it apart from its competitors.

 

 “Our partnership with Kickdynamic allows us to talk to our customers in a targeted, relevant and personal way, at scale and in real time. We have reduced the time it takes to design and build personalised email content, allowing my team to focus on delivering surprising and delightful customer experiences, instead of cumbersome, frustrating and restrictive processes.” Claire Holden, Head of Customer, Ted Baker.

 

“1-2-1 personalization in marketing and especially email has been talked about for a long time. It is not secret that it works, however the manual process of building email has been a long-standing barrier. We are excited that Ted Baker is embracing Kickdynamic technology to remove this manual barrier and move to automation to achieve their email personalization goals.” Matt Hayes, CEO, Kickdynamic.

BankingCash ManagementMarketsRisk Management

FISCAL TECHNOLOGIES LAUNCHES NEXT GENERATION PURCHASE-TO-PAY RISK MANAGEMENT PLATFORM

FISCAL Technologies, a world leading provider of forensic financial solutions and services, today announced the launch of NXG Forensics®, the next generation Purchase-to-Pay (P2P) risk management platform.

NXG Forensics is forged from FISCAL’s 15 years of experience protecting organisational spend and combines a comprehensive range of industry-recognised tests with Machine Learning to deliver unparalleled risk protection. It is designed specifically for Finance, P2P, Shared Services and AP teams and sits securely in the cloud, to reduce payment risks, fraud and compliances issues.

The powerful user interface and diagnostic reporting elevates finance teams away from transaction processing to strengthening internal controls that reduce costs, protect working capital and drive process improvements.

Protects organisational spend

NXG Forensics integrates into all major ERP systems and delivers constant protection and monitoring with the highest possible risk detection rate. By using a platform of continually evolving detection methods and machine learning, new fraud tests are regularly added to keep organisations ahead of emerging threats.

Delivers immediate and tangible cost savings

NXG Forensics provides unique daily forensic insights about payment risks before they impact working capital or damage reputation. The comprehensive reporting centre provides detailed and powerful diagnostics to quickly identify and understand exceptions and enable corrective actions to be taken.

Drives process improvement

The forensic analysis engine in NXG Forensics improves supplier risk profiling and identifies more high-risk transaction exceptions than ever before, whilst radically reducing the number of false positives. This generates actionable insights for root cause analysis, leading to faster resolution and creating time efficiencies.

David Griffiths, CEO at FISCAL Technologies comments “Organisations are facing an unprecedented rise in geo-political risks to their Purchase-to-Pay supply chains. Changing regulations along with the increasing speed and complexity of transaction processing all add to the challenge of protecting against payment risk, fraud and compliance breaches. NXG Forensics provides the most effective way to manage this risk and optimise financial performance both in the short and long-term.”

The next generation NXG Forensics platform is available immediately to empower finance teams to continually protect organisational spend with a continuous preventative approach. Implementation is fast and efficient, supported by a proactive customer success programme, built on strong relationships and a supportive knowledge-sharing environment to ensure maximum benefit is achieved.

Dr Alfred Pilgrim, CTO at FISCAL Technologies concludes “We are committed to making our forensic analysis platform the best-in-class and enabling our customers to protect effectively their Purchase-to-Pay cycle against risk and fraud. NXG Forensics demonstrates our continued focus on innovation and desire to offer the best risk prevention framework. It will empower organisations to be increasingly responsive to increasing complexity and changing regulations.”
For more information please visit www.fiscaltec.com

MarketsTransactional and Investment Banking

Luxury lifestyle title Tempus Magazine joins new publisher Vantage Media Group

Tempus will be the flagship title of newly formed publishing and content agency Vantage Media Group

Luxury lifestyle title Tempus has been acquired by newly formed Mayfair-based publisher and content agency Vantage Media Group, marking a new phase of growth for the award-nominated publication. Tempus undertook an extensive rebrand in 2017, transforming from a niche watch title to a coffee table book-style magazine specialising in luxury lifestyle and supported by the UK’s first dedicated daily luxury news website, tempusmagazine.co.uk.

Vantage Media Group will see core members of the brand’s editorial and events team continue to grow Tempus through 2019, while also offering its expertise to Vantage’s clients via contract publishing projects, digital content creation and luxury brand events.

“Team Tempus is delighted to join Vantage Media Group and launch this new company,” said editor Rachel Ingram. “It’s an exciting opportunity not just to continue creating this quality magazine for the luxury sector, but also to steer the creative vision of Vantage Media Group from the very beginning. We look forward to bringing our team’s expertise to our present and future clients.”

The move follows months of negotiation, with the deal closing just weeks after the publishing industry’s prestigious annual BSME Awards at which Tempus received two nominations – for Editor of the Year and Art Editor of the Year in the independent category – for the first time in its history.

“We’re delighted to have Tempus Magazine and its talented team on board to head up the launch of Vantage Media Group,” said chairman Floyd Woodrow. “We look forward to working on a range of projects that will benefit from their expert knowledge, rich industry contacts, attention to detail and creative flair.”

As part of Vantage Media Group’s portfolio, Tempus Magazine will publish six issues in 2019, starting with its annual Travel Edition in late January.

“It’s been a challenging year for the publishing industry as a whole but we’re confident that there is extraordinary potential in bespoke content creation, particularly in the luxury sector,” said Ingram. “With the support of our new parent company, Tempus will be able to maintain the exceptional quality of its print and digital products, while continuing to push the boundaries of our expert editorial focus.” https://www.tempusmagazine.co.uk/

ArticlesBankingFinanceFundsMarkets

Finding finance from start-up to listing

Mark Brownridge, Director General of the Enterprise Investment Scheme Association:

Securing funding as a start-up is often one of the biggest challenges that new businesses face in the primary stages of set-up. Not only is it often difficult to secure the funding itself, it is even more so when trying to get the right kind of funding for what the specific needs of the business are. Having structures in place to make it as easy as possible for innovative ideas to flourish and become fully-fledged is not only to the advantage of entrepreneurs and innovators.

 

One of the routes that allows this to happen in the UK is through the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme, which offers investors tax reliefs in order to offset the higher risks involved in investing capital into start-ups. SEIS represents an alternative to start-ups from traditional finance routes such as banks that may not be willing to lend. This is especially useful for those of the small businesses that base their proposition on intellectual property as opposed to physical assets or products. These IP rich companies often have trouble finding support without physical collateral to offer as security.

 

Individuals looking to invest through SEIS can then make decisions based upon individual cases and potential rather than being held back by regulation or corporate policy. Of course, the risk still exists but with tax and loss reliefs, it is much more likely that the risk will be seen to be worth it in the eyes of an investor. Getting ideas off the ground is arguably the most important part of encouraging new businesses and creating new jobs as they grow and expand.

Luke Davis, CEO and Founder of IW Capital: Growing a business from start-up to listing is a hugely challenging proposition at each and every stage of the process. One of the most important points of this is growing and scaling the business from start-up level into a more fully-fledged entity. This jump can seem daunting for even the most prepared of start-ups and this is in no small part due to the challenges in securing funding for expansion.

Knowledge-intensive SMEs that struggle to secure funding without assets to use as collateral for loans, can benefit from schemes such as SEIS and EIS. With an industrial focus on research and development this will be key moving forward with the Governments plans to grow the tech industry. This is reflected in the increased EIS limit for knowledge-intensive companies of £2 million per year, this change has been introduced to provide further encouragement to investors to support IP-rich businesses.

Clearly supporting SMEs is hugely important for the UK economy as they represent the employment of around 16 million people, depending on who you ask, in the UK with this number currently growing at a rate that is three times faster than for big corporations. Fuelling this growth will be key moving into a post-EU economic landscape that will rely even more heavily on domestic business and job creation.

Jonathan Schneider, Executive Chairman of Capital Step: According to a nationwide study titled – A State of the Nation – The UK Family Business Sector 2017-18- family-run businesses account for 88% of all UK firms. They operate in every industrial sector across all of the UK’s regions, employing almost half of the UK’s private-sector workforce. In no small part, the UK’s family and regional businesses represent a significant proportion of Britain’s bottom line.

Family-run and regional businesses form the life-blood of the UK’s entrepreneurial landscape, and to see so many believe that the Government is not looking after this vital sector of the UK’s business community is concerning. Equally – it is apparent that the funding options available to established family-run enterprise seem to be eclipsed – in local communities – by corporate entities who have greater exposure to the most appropriate funding options. The role of the family enterprise, community SMEs and bricks and mortar productivity across the length and breadth of the British Isles must be considered a firm priority for the UK government – deal or no deal.

As both investors and entrepreneurs, we have witnessed countless examples of business owners having to give up control of their companies in exchange for funding. In many instances, even successful founders end up with a disproportionately small reward for their hard work upon exit as a result of having sacrificed too much ownership and control along the way. The Capital Step model is specifically designed to address this issue, by providing flexible capital solutions without existing shareholders having to give up ownership or independence in exchange.

Jenny Tooth, CEO of the UK Business Angel Association: We as trade bodies, policy makers and commentators bear a significant responsibility to assist UK SMEs in what will be one of the most critical periods in their business life, ensuring contingency plans, scalability options, growth strategies and immediate resilience responses to ensure their successful navigation of the seismic impact of Brexit

The UK possesses multiple geographical regions that have blooming industries outside of the capital city, something which makes the UK incredibly unique. In spite of this, a lack of accessibility to and education surrounding finance and opportunities outside of London is creating a gap between what these regions are capable of and how much they’re utilised. As 63% of all Angel Investors within the UK are based in London and the South East, it is undeniable that there is a geographically skewed funding deficit that is hindering the growth of SMEs who are positioned outside of the capital. While potential investors of differing regional demographics may feel isolated from the investing arena, the repercussions for regional SMEs reliant on this kind of funding may limit innovation and employment growth outside of the capital.
 
The UKBAA has focused a significant amount of attention on increasing regional investment, with the implementation of many angel hubs throughout the UK, especially in Northern regions. However, there is still a long way to go to fully utilise the untapped potential found within these areas. This can only be done when it is popularly recognised that there are significant investment opportunities outside of London. 

ArticlesCash ManagementFX and PaymentLegalStock Markets

Keeping your Payment options open, by Anderson Zaks

EPOS, MobilePOS, Pin on Glass, Pin on Mobile – there’s a lot to choose from for today’s merchant. Adina Ahmed, Chief Technology Officer at Anderson Zaks explains some of the latest options.

“In many emerging economies, people are by-passing traditional bank and card accounts altogether and adopting mobile payments”

Mobile phones have revolutionalised the way we live today. The way we communicate, watch TV and other online entertainment, and, the way we shop. The next obvious step, is the way that we manage our money and pay for goods and services. But these days, it isn’t just settling the bill in a restaurant, or buying something enticing in the sales, with contactless people are paying for their morning coffee, and with PSD2 and the associated deregulation, they will soon be able to make direct payments to each other. In many emerging economies, people are by-passing traditional bank and card accounts altogether and adopting mobile payments in much the same way that they have missed out broadband landlines – it’s a whole layer of infrastructure that they simply don’t need. 

The payment market in China is a prime example where most people don’t have a credit or debit card, or plastic of any kind. They have leapfrogged straight to mobile apps and user friendly ecosystems that seamlessly blend social media, ecommerce, payment and other finance functions. Consumers in China now rarely carry a wallet or cash, and even buskers display a QR code so that people can leave tips. 

Consumers in the UK, particularly younger people that are now coming into the workplace (millennials) expect to pay for everything contactless, many don’t carry cash. This presents a problem for the smaller retailer or merchant. How do they take payments without a full blown EPOS system? There are a whole range of options now opening up to merchants in the UK, and as evidenced in China, they don’t need a heavy IT implementation with all its associated costs, nor are they tied into long contracts with banks or card providers. 

PIN on Glass (POG) solutions are already available in the UK. As the name suggests, PIN on Glass has evolved from the traditional PIN pad so that merchants can now use a touchscreen device to capture the PIN. There are a range of versatile devices, referred to as SmartPOS, that have been designed for this very purpose. Typically run on Android, they have additional security features baked in, a scanner for bar codes and QR codes, and can print receipts. The beauty of these devices is that they can run with a user-friendly app, enabling smaller merchants to operate using the device as a standalone solution, without the need to have a full blown EPOS solution.

These purpose built POG terminals connect directly to a bank, to accept payment. They are sleek and modern, and the apps that run on them are intuitive and easy to use for both staff and the consumer. The devices run with all current card technologies including swipe and contactless, providing an all in one solution so that the merchant doesn’t need a computer in the shop or at whatever location they need to take payments. 

For independent software vendors (ISV), POG devices enable them to migrate their existing POS solutions to a smaller, portable device, opening up the market to much smaller merchants than they might have otherwise targeted. 

At Anderson Zaks we are already working with several ISVs to incorporate our payment platform into their PIN on Glass solution. 

The Next Generation of Traders
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Stock Markets

The Next Generation of Traders

This new generation of traders is smart. Find out how traders have evolved with technology

James Mathews, CEO of Learn to Trade

The reality of trading taking place on the floor of the stock exchange, with traders shouting down telephones and punching in orders is long gone. As are the days of having to call your stockbroker and place an order. This perception might continue on TV, but the reality is that the modern trader is equipped with a mobile phone.

This new generation of traders is smart. Empowered by hyper-connectivity’s offer of unprecedented volumes of knowledge and 24/7 access to the market, they are tearing down societal constructs and preconceptions. This generation wants to be its own boss. Social media has become a platform to learn from, emulate and showcase success. Wealth creation has gone mainstream. With the millennial and Gen Z traders being some of the most enterprising members of our society, it’s little surprise that an entirely new generation of traders is now emerging. Characteristically, they are entrepreneurial and in many cases self-starters ready to follow their own paths. But, how has technology made trading and finance more mainstream to these generations?

Crypto as catalyst
The appeal of trading has in recent years been catalysed by the public’s fixation on cryptocurrency. With the allure of quick money, Bitcoin epitomised this fascination. Sage traders sceptically watched as this strange decentralised network of digital tokens became mainstream, while novices made their millions. Yet what goes up must come down, and once its value was done exploding, it started spectacularly falling. But with media hype and fabled success stories, the concept of crypto began to tempt casual observers. The ensuing rush to develop user friendly trading apps made the concept even more accessible to the everyday person.

Contributing to this has been the residual sour attitude toward the financial crisis. People have become more suspicious of and disillusioned with the “so called experts” entrusted with handling their hard-earned money. ‘They’ had nearly brought the global economy to its knees. Further backlash was also brought about from charging a lot of money to trade, whether it be pension funds or otherwise. This combination of discontent and new accessibility drove this new wave of do it yourself trading. 

Celebrity of social
Trading is complex. There’s jargon, complicated explanations, and understanding the thinking that went into a certain trading position can be almost impossible at times. Social media has changed all this too. Now there is an active, always online, accessible community of people to simplify, explain and advise. It’s easy to find out what’s going on in the market in seconds. And what’s more there is the celebrity, a new wave of Twitter traders, amateur and professional alike, who have established themselves as trading gurus to be followed, mimicked and aspired to.

The concept of “piggy backing” on other people’s trading is age old, but never before has it been so prolific. It’s proved to be extremely popular, both as a way of profiting from others’ expertise and as a way of learning. But new traders need to remember that sometimes you might be following a loser, and that making correct trades doesn’t always mean you’re being profitable overall.

Good bye 9 to 5
Trading’s popularity has risen along with the ‘side-hustle’, freelance, and sharing economy. Technology has without question been an enabling force behind all of these, as people strive for more reward and flexibility in their working lives. Indeed, there has been a concerted effort to break away from the traditional construct of 9 to 5. How trading maps to this is clear but it is not without risks. It can be seen to promise a lot, with some traders claiming to live off of one trade a day. However the reality the modern trader is facing is that it is just like any other employment in that it takes persistence, patience and grit. What it does offer though is autonomy and flexibility.

With the ever-increasing interest in the viability of pursuing a career in trading for the millennial and Z generations, an onus of responsibility has formed. We expect that in the next few years we will start to see the wider education focus shift, to start to cover money management and investment too. For far too many who missed out on this knowledge it seems like too little too late. Baby boomers now coming into retirement are left considering whether they have enough to see them through, or how they can manage their own account without having to pay people to do it for them. Increasingly, there will be more of a push from all demographics to have an entry point to the market. But with enough knowledge, experience and foresight to understand market volatility and risk anyone can trade with the technology out there and available to them.

Why Bitcoin will not kill PayPal
Derivatives and Structured ProductsMarkets

Why Bitcoin will not kill PayPal

Why Bitcoin will not kill PayPal

To a casual observer, PayPal might seem like a dying payment program. It was once the main pioneer in online cash sharing, either for business or peer-to-peer transactions. But in a way, it’s been outstripped by some more modern competitors. In this sense, it seems like the AOL of the mobile payment industry. Services like Venmo and Square have become sexier, much like alternative email providers and browsers have largely eclipsed AOL.

But the tech that seems to pose the main threat is Bitcoin. The leading cryptocurrency is growing at an astonishing pace, and because it’s meant to facilitate easy digital payments, it can be viewed by some as a sort of death sentence not just for PayPal but for all of the payment services mentioned above. We recently learned that Bitcoin will soon beat PayPal’s market cap, which could only further the perception that it’s going to lay waste to conventional payment apps. But this outlook doesn’t really take all of the factors into consideration. A more thorough look at where things stand indicates that PayPal probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

For one thing, PayPal actually owns much of its competition—a lot of people just don’t realize it. The company acquired Venmo some time ago, and just recently bought Swift. It’s a massive company that has managed to foster a sense of competition between its own assets. Square is a legitimate alternative that seems to have gained some ground, largely by being more intuitive and more pleasant to handle than Venmo. But don’t let the advent of newer or easier payments systems fool you into thinking PayPal is a relic. It’s a big business that has mostly stayed ahead of the curve thanks to savvy management.

Another misconception is that Bitcoin is useful for secure transactions in ways that PayPal is not. While cryptocurrency does offer unparalleled anonymity, however, this is simply not the case. Online casinos offer perhaps the clearest picture as to why, given that Bitcoin has recently emerged as a payment method at some platforms. Players like the idea of security and anonymity when playing real money games. And yet, PayPal has long been favored on the same platforms precisely because bank account details and card information are not shared. There’s already a degree of security with these and other forms of payment that can be enjoyed without the need to buy and store Bitcoin.

Most of all, the reason for PayPal’s likely survival, even in the face of the growing influence of cryptocurrency, is that it’s still the most familiar service. This could change over time, but Bitcoin is still viewed as a complex and unnecessary option by many people. In today’s society, you more or less have to have a credit card, and thus you can easily open a PayPal account. You don’t need Bitcoin at all, you can have it if you want it. As long as this remains the status quo, PayPal is going to be doing just fine, and may still be our most reliable means of transferring funds electronically.

Sustainability Gives UC David Strength for the Future
Derivatives and Structured ProductsMarkets

Sustainability Gives UC David Strength for the Future

Sustainability Gives UC David Strength for the Future

UC Davis is the top of the agricultural research charts yet again, so we looked into their beginnings and how they got to where they are today.

UC Davis is the home of the Aggies — go-getters, change makers and problem solvers who make their mark at one of the top public universities in the United States. 

Since they were founded in 1905, they have been recognized for standout academics, sustainability and pride, as well as valuing the Northern California lifestyle. These themes are woven into their 100-plus-year history and their reputation for solving problems related to food, health, the environment and society.

the 5,300-acre campus is in the city of Davis, a vibrant college town of about 68,000 located in Yolo County. The state capital is 20 minutes away, and world-class destinations such as the San Francisco Bay Area, Lake Tahoe and the Napa Valley are within a two-hour drive.

29 percent of food bought for the dining commons is sustainably grown. The university’s own invention, the bio digester, has a daily capacity to turn 50 tons of waste into energy for the campus. The Tercero Phase 3 student housing project received the highest possible rating of platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council and the West Village community is designed to generate all the energy the community needs, mostly through solar power.

UC Davis is highly ranked in the nation and the world, by influential university ranking publications like U.S. News & World Report (national and global), QS World University Rankings, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and The Princeton Review. The Wall Street Journal has recognized UC Davis as the sixth-best public university in the United States in its 2016 inaugural Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Ranking.

UC Davis opened in 1908 as the University Farm, the research and science-based instruction extension of UC Berkeley. As the century evolved, their mission expanded beyond agriculture to match a larger understanding of how research efforts could benefit the public. By 1959, UC Davis had grown into a general campus with its own personality and strengths.

Over the years, as the geographical footprint developed, each new UC Davis presence — in Tahoe, Sacramento, Bodega Bay, Tulare, San Diego, Madrid and China, among others — has strengthened their ability to serve the public through research, academics and public service. Even before the first buildings were finished — and more than a year before the first students would arrive — the University Farm began laying the groundwork for its first research projects.

UC scientists dug experimental irrigation ditches and planted varieties of wheat, oats, barley and tomatoes. Soon to follow would be test crops of sugar beets, legumes and an array of fruit and almond trees. It began with just a few shovels of dirt and ordinary seeds (though some new wheat varieties came from Russia). Yet, even with those uncere monious beginnings, the University Farm turned its attention — and scientific methods — to addressing a pressing agricultural problem with profound economic, environmental and social implications for the state.

A wheat boom of the late 1800s — “California’s second gold rush,” as David Vaught, Ph.D. ’97, an associate professor of history at Texas A&M University, calls it — had gone bust. California had been one of the nation’s leading wheat producers in the 1870s and 1880s, and dryland wheat farming made some growers wealthy. But by the turn of the century, prices had dropped so low that farmers lost money and began replanting their wheat fields with fruits, vegetables, nuts and other crops.
“Wheat is a crop that rapidly destroys the fertility of the soil, and much of the land in the Central Valley had produced so many crops of wheat by the 1890s that the soil was exhausted,” said Donald Pisani, Ph.D. ’75, Merrick Chair of Western American History at the University of Oklahoma.

“Virgin soil that produced as much as 50 bushels an acre in the 1870s produced 10 or 15 bushels after a decade or so.”

Once a major wheat exporter, California had become a net importer, and in 1905, the state Legislature passed a bill giving UC $10,000 over two years for research to improve production of wheat and other cereal crops.

At the University Farm, UC researchers worked in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in testing not only new varieties and best cultivation methods, but also ways to restore worn-out soil.

A 1911 report that grew out of the cereal research, “How to Increase the Yield of Wheat in California” by UC agronomist G.W. Shaw, documented the benefits of rotating crops and the use of “green manure” or cover crops, such as peas, rye and vetch, to restore humus, fix nitrogen and improve the moisture content of the soil.

Other research, also done in cooperation with the USDA, evaluated different lining materials for irrigation ditches to reduce seepage and conserve water.

The university continues to carry out important agricultural research and find new ways to make the U.S. food and living conditions more sustainable for future generations.


Company: UC Davis Medical Center
Name: Ramin Manshadi
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.ucdavis.edu
Address: 2633 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, CA 95204, USA
Telephone: 209-944-5530

Digital Odyssey
Derivatives and Structured ProductsMarkets

Digital Odyssey

Odyssey New Media is a digital marketing agency, based in Birmingham. Set up by Robert Stoubos in 2010, the firm has enjoyed success and has several high profile clients.

Established in Birmingham in 2010, Odyssey New Media is a leading digital marketing agency. With more than 10 years’ worth of experience, the firm knows how to tailor strategies which utilise the best digital marketing and media channels to help businesses develop, grow and succeed.

Odyssey New Media provides a full range of services to help businesses increase their revenue and achieve good return on their marketing spend, including:

• SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – gaining higher search natural search positions for keywords that convert into enquiries and sales. These positions are those below paid ads and therefore once achieved you don’t pay to continue to rank. Continued SEO maintenance is required to maintain positions.

• PPC, Paid Search and Placement Advertising – ensuring companies’ key messages are in front of the right audience at the right time.

• Social Media Management, Training & Optimisation – to integrate on and offline communications across different social networks to engage with all stakeholders.

• Conversion Enhancement Services

• Website Design & Website Development –helping businesses project manage and build websites with SEO and social features in mind.

• Mobile Website Design & Mobile Applications – Mobile search and usage is increasing. It’s therefore important to ensure websites have a mobile friendly version for mobile users as well as taking advantage of mobile applications which can help target and increase brand awareness in the ready-made market places for mobile apps.

Robert Stoubos is the owner and managing director of Odyssey New Media. Graduating from Aston University in June 2005 with a degree in Computer Science, he founded the company just five years later. He tells us more about his experience. “With more than 10 years’ experience in digital marketing I have become a results-driven marketer with the skills required to successfully implement cross-channel digital marketing campaigns that generate increased brand awareness, sales and ROI.”

Case Studies The firm has had great success so far to date, and we take a look at some of its most recent case studies.

Aura Natural Health Aura Natural Health specialises in health products that contain only natural ingredients.

The team at Odyssey New Media was tasked with conceptualising, designing and creating a logo that represented the use of ‘only natural products’ in the ingredients. The customer wanted elegant yet bold, decorative yet not too loud.

The designs were to be used on packaging products and around social media platforms.
“Neil designed my first product label so beautifully and it was exactly what I was looking for. He listened to what I wanted and replied to my requests quickly and accurately. I always come back to Neil at Odyssey now for all of my other product labels and I am hoping to use their web design services too in the very near future,” explained Aura Lakshmi of Aura Natural Health.

RPA UK Based in a railway arch in the West Midlands; RPA Ltd was formed by its director, Robert “Seth” Wilson, after he left the Royal Navy in 2011. Since formation the company has been involved in a multitude of projects, providing Radioactive Waste Management and Radiation Protection services to clients.

Odyssey New Media and the team were responsible for a complete website build, banners and creating a CMS system for the company.

“Tip-Top service guys, got a great website for the best price in town … can’t grumble at all!” states Robert Wilson, director of RPA UK.

Co-operative Online Doctor Co-operative Online Doctor is an online doctor service with a UK GMC qualified doctor for online medical consultation. It offers a professional, safe, discreet and fast way of seeking treatment for medical conditions, with services being particularly useful to patients who do not have time to visit a doctor or are seeking treatment for a condition they do not want to discuss face-to-face.

Odyssey New Media was commissioned by the company to build the website, design banners, create a CMS system and make a user-updateable blog site.

“Great work – the blog was built on budget, on time and to a very high standard. I always use Odyssey New Media now for any website jobs and image banners,” Chris Knight, Marketing Manager of Co-Operative Healthcare commented.

Likewise, Odyssey also worked on the Midcounties Co-operative travel website, the largest independent UK co-operative, with gross sales in excess of £738 million. They cover a wide range of areas including West Midlands, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire.

Odyssey New Media were asked to help Co-operative Travel to improve its SEO efforts in order to maximise the company’s organic search presence. A large part of these optimisation efforts involved completely re-writing and expanding Co-op’s existing content.
In addition, Odyssey has been involved in elements of social media, online PR, usability analysis and enhancement.

Company: Odyssey New Media
Name: Robert Stoubos
Email: [email protected]
Address: The Old Bus Garage, Harborne Lane Selly Oak, Birmingham B29 6SN UK
Telephone: +44 (0)794 042 0201

Benchmark of Success
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Benchmark of Success

Communications Strategy Group (CSG) creates targeted, measurable traditional and online influencer relations campaigns that tie directly to its clients overall marketing and strategic objectives.

Powerful and effective marketing communications is based on a content value exchange whereby organizations engage prospects, customers and influencers through relevant and purposeful content in exchange for their attention, engagement and patronage.

“At CSG, we leverage our deep understanding and network of influencers in the industries we serve to create, package, distribute and promote compelling and impactful content to and through influencers on behalf of our clients,” explains senior vice president and head of financial and professional services at CSG, Dan Mahoney.

Dan has a long track record of working with innovative FinTech companies and has also worked with more established global brands, such as Janus Capital, Farmers Insurance, Charles Schwab, Invesco PowerShares, The Bancorp, NACHA, Wolters Kluwer and the Financial Planning Association to achieve a wide variety of business goals through strategic communications.

“Public relations is not reserved for strict, traditional media relations anymore,” he states. “What PR encompasses is changing every day; but as it stands today, PR is everything from television, print, social media, online news sites, apps and more.”

Organizations gain a competitive advantage by leveraging and engaging with influencers and influential organizations, such as media, analysts, associations, non-profits, politicians, customers, social media communities and bloggers. This form of engagement is what CSG defines as influencer relations.

“Influencer relations focuses on deeply understanding an industry and effectively communicating with the right people in the right places at the right time, often at the ‘point of need,’” Dan embellishes. “We find stakeholders who can have impact; establish an authentic voice among champions who can help spread your message; build and maintain channels of communication; and engage your prospective and existing clients and customers. We help you establish a clear path and approach to influencers, exponentially driving sustainable and profitable longterm growth.”

CSG is composed of a team of people who take an unusual level of pride in their work and care deeply about their clients’ success.

“We describe ourselves as ‘work horses’ not ‘show horses,’ which is a significant distinction in the communications arena. We are determined, thoughtful, ingenious, passionate, hardworking, caring and talented professionals who serve as an extra set of arms, legs to help you get work done, and thoughtful minds and hearts with which to collaborate.

“Our team is further enhanced by our ability to tap our partners in the IPREX network of communications agencies around the globe. With more than 1,500 professionals in over 100 offices worldwide, IPREX affords CSG clients a global footprint of reliable and proven communications solutions providers that are equipped to achieve clients’ objectives.”

As the financial services practice director at CSG, Dan oversees all of the practice’s sectors, including banking, personal finance, payments, insurance, financial technology, legal, accounting and asset management, which allows him to share best practices and lessons learned among the various teams.

Previously, Dan provided strategic communications guidance to high-profile national, state and local political campaigns, and on behalf of issue advocacy organizations. Dan graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

“The most compelling ingredient of CSG’s success is our commitment to exceptional work. Our work is based upon creative approaches to challenges and opportunities, followed by good old-fashioned elbow grease to achieve intended outcomes. The culture and the company have been built upon this dedication and the delivery of meaningful, measurable work.

“Our content-based influencer relations philosophy allows us to deploy a broad spectrum of strategies and tactics that deliver the benefits of a well-constructed content value exchange. Whether it is a content audit, creation of highly compelling content, packaging it in various formats or promoting through traditional, online PR and social media, it’s all designed to achieve short- and long-term objectives.”

While there are vast opportunities within the communications realm, the strategic challenge is to identify the initiatives that will most effectively impact a clients’ bottom line, triple or otherwise.
“We work to direct efforts and dollars toward the areas that will most benefit your business, whether it is building thought leadership, lead acquisition, conversion, reputation management, crisis communications, loyalty and retention, or business-to-business versus business-to-consumer solutions. We offer you measurable outcomes, which keeps our course, expectations and deliverables in check.

“Success doesn’t always look how you thought it would. By measuring these different facets of impact, you can find ways to effectively measure how targeted audiences received and interacted with your campaign. But remember, it all starts with setting the proper benchmarks.”

An Alpine Luxury Resort of the Highest Calibre
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

An Alpine Luxury Resort of the Highest Calibre

An Alpine Luxury Resort of the Highest Calibre

On the flight there with Swiss International Air Lines AG, I will not forget my first glimpse of the snow covered mountains I spotted, and the thrill of seeing them for the first time. On the train ride from Zürich Airport, I could not keep my eyes away from the stunningly large lakes and the opportunity to see the snow covered mountains. I have never been to Switzerland, but fell in love with it straight away.

The journey to St. Moritz was very smooth indeed, with no delays, as the transport system in the country is remarkably efficient and organised in my opinion. Although most of my train journey to St. Moritz was in the dark, it was exciting to see the snow outside, and when I arrived there the drop in temperature was noticeable. Having said that, the quality of the air was remarkable and wonderfully fresh. An evening meal in the historic Kulm Country Club, in the grounds of the Kulm Hotel, was very welcome indeed after a day of travelling.

The Kulm Hotel

My welcome to St. Moritz was a remarkable one, with a Kulm Hotel taxi taking me from the train station to the hotel where I checked in and taken up to my room. As I walked into my room, most of the ceiling and walls were covered with local wood, which were visually stunning and boasted very fine craftsmanship, and emanated a very pleasant smell in the at all times. The room was the same size of my flat, possibly a bit bigger, so there was certainly no shortage of space.

By way of background, it is worth noting that the Kulm Hotel was the first hotel to be built in St. Moritz and opened in 1856. It was the stage for the first electric light in Switzerland and also hosted the 1928 and 1948 Olympic Winter Games in its grounds. Today, the hotel boasts 172 rooms and suites with stunning views of Lake St. Moritz and the formidable slopes of the Corviglia / Piz Nair mountain range. There are also five restaurants, an expensive spa and six conference rooms plus the 9-hole Kulm Golf Course, three tennis courts and a natural ice rink.

My hotel room featured an impressive array of lighting, and the incredibly tall windows really struck me, not to mention the many comforts the room offered. An area to relax in and wind down on a sofa with a coffee table was offered, as well as coffee making facilities and sparkling or still bottled water. The room also has the most comfortable and well made bed you have ever slept in, with beautifully soft and clean cotton sheets. There were an interesting assortment of pillows available to order, and I was intrigued by the heated cherry scented pillow, so I ordered this and it was delivered to my room very promptly. It felt marvellous on my neck and helped me to truly relax and get to sleep.

I cannot fault my hotel room in anyway. The size of the wardrobe was very generous indeed, and I was very easily able to hang my suit up. The bathroom has two sinks in it, and a mirror covering one of the entire walls on the side of the bath. An impressive array of Asprey shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner were on offer not to mention a very fine collection of high quality flannels and towels.
Waking up during the first morning there, I felt enormously privileged to enjoy a spectacular mountain view from my hotel room window. There was even a balcony with a table and chairs, so I was able to sit down there and enjoy the remarkable view of the snow covered and sun topped mountain ahead of me and the town of St. Moritz as well.

At the Kulm Hotel, the sumptuous breakfast buffet on offer at Le Grand Restaurant was fit for a king, with cooked breakfast items, cereals, yoghurts and fruit juices on offer, not to mention real coffee.
I was fortunate one day to have a professional spa treatment on a lower floor of the Kulm Hotel, overlooking the breathtaking mountains. The massage was totally relaxing and stress reliving for me and I would recommend it to anybody who wants to completely unwind.

The effect of the Kulm Hotel’s second to none facilities and the beauty of the surrounding area made me feel immensely refreshed and relaxed during my entire stay. The sheer wonder and beauty of the area will stay with me for all of my life. I would thoroughly recommend a visit to this region of Switzerland to anybody who wants to get away from the fast pace of life, and to basically enjoy a stress free holiday.

Skiing on Corviglia St. Moritz is the largest winter sports region in Switzerland, indeed winter tourism was born in the region in 1864, and the country’s first ski school was opened there in 1929. The town has also hosted the Alpine World Ski Championships many times and the region has four main peaks and 350 kilometres (93 miles) pistes and over 220 kilometres (136 miles) of cross-country ski trails, not to mention 350 kilometres (93 miles) of winter walking paths. It is no wonder that St. Moritz is one of the most varied winter sports regions in Switzerland and perhaps the most inspiring.

On the first morning of my visit, the skiing on Corviglia was a marvellous new experience for me, which started off with me being kitted out at the ski shop in the Kulm Hotel. The shop was superbly stocked and it was certainly an enjoyable challenge to get the hired ski boots on my feet! The boots were not easy to walk in and were very heavy, so whilst that was physically very challenging, I nevertheless relished the opportunity to take part in something I had never done previously.

A journey up in the ski lift brought me and one other member of the party to a beginner’s slope, overlooking stunning mountain scenes. I was given a skiing lesson by a professional instructor, who I must say totally put me at my ease. The instructions given on how to ski were very clear indeed, and what stuck in my brain was the wide ‘pizza shape’ one had to make when ‘braking’. The instructor said that I did superbly for somebody that hasn’t done skiing before, so this pleased me greatly.

Restaurants in the region The morning skiing on Corviglia was followed by a superb five-course lunch at the legendary Marmite, one of the best mountain restaurants in Switzerland, renowned for its truffle pizza. I must say that the truffle pizza was second to none and I could not have wished for a better view when eating it.

There are around 300 restaurants in the region, of which 30 have been awarded a total of 453 GaultMillau points and 8 Michelin stars between them. It struck me that there are an amazing collection of restaurants there are in the region, which were expensive in my eyes, but the quality of the food and the service provided reminds me of the adage that ‘you get what you pay for’.

One of the excursions I took part in was to the Kulm Hotel’s sister property, the Grand Hotel Kronenhof, which has been welcoming guests since 1848 and is today an outstanding example of 19th century Alpine hotel design. It is located in Pontresina, six miles away from St. Moritz. I enjoyed a formal dinner in the stunning Grand Restaurant, under the Neo-Baroque arches, indeed it is here that I enjoyed a five course meal that included deer. I also was given a tour of the hotel, which was upgraded in 2007 with 28 new guest rooms and a stunning spa complex covering more than 2000 metres.

Every meal I had during the visit was served with bread and butter, including the meal remarkable cheese fondue at the Chesa al Parc. One of my favourite meals during the stay was at the Kulm Hotel’s ‘The Pizzeria’, a typical Italian trattoria and the spaghetti Bolognese I had there was prepared, cooked and served to utter perfection. The cold coffee with ice cream in it after was cool and refreshing, and very welcome indeed after a satisfying meal.

Afternoon skijoring Afternoon skijoring on the first day of my visit to the region was very exciting, and started after a short journey out of St. Moritz, again this was a totally new experience for me but. I had got used to wearing skis in the morning, but this time a wild horse pulled me along a track of snow. The lady on the horse had a rope, which split into two, so a handle could be accommodated for me to hold on to.

The feeling of fresh air and sun on my face, whilst being pulled along by a horse is one I will never forget, and felt very exhilarating indeed. It was truly a joyous experience, and tremendous fun – even when I fell over (and very quickly let go of the rope when this happened).

Afternoon husky mushing The next day, the press party I was a part of returned to the same spot to be greeted by a large group of husky dogs. The opportunity here was to have a four of them pulling one person on a sled, which importantly had brakes on! There were three simple commands I was instructed to give to the obedient huskies, which were ‘okay’ (to go), ‘easy’ (to slow down) and ‘woah’ to stop! I was also able to brake using my feet, so knowing how to stop was definitely a comfort to me!

The dogs were very energetic to begin with on the sled ride, some of which was on a frozen lake. Thankfully I did not fall off, but there was one time when the sled went at quite an angle to the right and I thought that I might! Later into the journey, the dogs got tired and slowed down somewhat. I am not a dog person, but I must say these particular breeds totally won me over in their impressive efforts.

Muottas Mutragl sledding Sledding down Muottas Mutragl was much harder than I thought. The steep lift to the top of the mountain was the easy part as we ascended from an altitude of 1,738 metres to 2456 metres (5,702 – 8,058 ft) above sea level. Once we got to the top, we were on and overlooking many snow covered mountains.

It felt remarkable to be there and to briefly enjoy the magnificent views of the mountains and the surrounding area. You have to be there to capture the wonder and the awe of it. I believe it has for many years been a source of inspiration for poets, writers and artists and of sheer delight for guests. The sled track itself was excellent, but very icy higher up, so it was not easy to stop when pushing ones feet firmly to the ground!

Rhaetian Railway’s Albula and Bermina line The train journey on the Rhaetian Railway’s Albula and Bermina line from St. Moritz to Zürich was remarkable, as it all took place in daylight, so I was able to enjoy the many picturesque UNESCO protected sites not to mention the viaducts and tunnels though the many mountains.

The experience of the whole trip was a remarkable one, and I have nothing bad to say about it. My whole experience of visiting Switzerland was marvellous, and I certainly found a very warm welcome from all the people I came into contact with, when carrying out the aforementioned activities. For those who want to escape the stresses of this world, look no further than St. Moritz. Whilst you can take part in energetic activities, you have ample opportunity to rest and relax. You can truly get away from it all here.

Further sources of information Kulm Hotel St. Moritz Rates at the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz, which is open next winter season from 3 December 2017 to 2 April 2018, start from CHF 675 for two people sharing a double room on a half-board basis; book online at www.kulm.com.

Switzerland Tourism For more information on Switzerland visit www. MySwitzerland.com or call their Switzerland Travel Centre on the International freephone 00800 100 200 30 or e-mail, for information [email protected] myswitzerland.com; for packages, trains and air tickets [email protected].

Swiss International Air Lines UK & Ireland to Zurich: SWISS offers up to 119 weekly flights from London City, Heathrow, Gatwick (seasonal), Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh (seasonal) and Dublin to Zurich. All-inclusive fares start from £67 one-way*, including all airport taxes, one piece hold luggage and hand luggage, plus meal and drink. SWISS are also happy to transport your first set of ski or snowboard equipment and boots free of charge in addition to your standard free baggage allowance.

UK & Ireland to Switzerland: SWISS offers more than 180 weekly flights from London City, Heathrow, Gatwick (seasonal), Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh (seasonal) and Dublin to either Zurich or Geneva.

All-inclusive fares start from £54 one-way*, including all airport taxes, one piece hold luggage and hand luggage, plus meal and drink. SWISS are also happy to transport your first set of ski or snowboard equipment and boots free of charge in addition to your standard free baggage allowance.

For more information visit swiss.com or call 0345 601 0956

Swiss Travel System By road, rail and waterway throughout Switzerland: The Swiss Travel System provides a dedicated range of travel passes and tickets exclusively for visitors from abroad. The Swiss Transfer Ticket covers a round-trip between the airport/Swiss border and your destination. Prices are £116 in second class and £188 in first class.
For the ultimate Swiss rail specialist call Switzerland Travel Centre on 00800 100 200 30 or visit www. swisstravelsystem.co.uk

EBRD Launches Pioneering Index-Linked Eurobond in Kazakh Tenge
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

EBRD Launches Pioneering Index-Linked Eurobond in Kazakh Tenge

The Bank’s 34 billion tenge eurobond, issued this Monday, has a five-year maturity and pays a spread of 10 basis points per annum over the 3-month CPI rate. The issue will settle on 21 November 2016, and is lead managed by Citi Global Markets Limited. The bonds will be cleared through Euroclear and Clearstream in tenge and listed in London. The EBRD will also apply to the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange (KASE) to seek a domestic listing for the Notes, and subsequently will request the National Bank of Kazakhstan (NBK) accept them for their repurchase operations (REPO) with domestic banks, thereby increasing their liquidity.

Philip Brown, Managing Director & Head of SSA DCM at Citi said: “Citi was delighted to work with the EBRD on this ground-breaking transaction, it’s interesting to see demand for inflation protection from the increasingly sophisticated investor base in Kazakhstan. This trade highlights the useful rolem the EBRD can play in helping local investors meet their needs and in doing so, develop new markets.”

With the introduction of an inflation targeting regime in August 2015, the NBK is creating the conditions for sustainable economic growth in an environment of low interest rates – a policy very much supported by the EBRD. The NBK’s visible efforts to improve the monetary transmission mechanism, including through better inflation forecasting and efficiency in communicating its monetary policy, have encouraged the Bank to link both its tenge assets and liabilities to CPI.

Isabelle Laurent, Deputy Treasurer and Head of Funding at the EBRD said: “With our inaugural CPI-linked issue, Kazakh nstitutional investors, and pension funds in particular, will be better able to match their liability profile, while the EBRD’s Kazakh clients should benefit from long-term funding for their projects linked to a transparent and credible index”.

Given the importance of a credible instruments for capital market development, the EBRD, has for many years been actively promoting and participating in the creation of a competitive and transparent interest rate-setting mechanism in countries where it operates.

The EBRD is both a significant tenge lender and borrower and has taken an active part in developing local capital markets. It issued its first tenge-denominated bond in February 2009.

The EBRD’s triple-A rating has been confirmed by all three leading international rating agencies with stable outlook.

www.ebrd.com.


The Winds of Change
Derivatives and Structured ProductsMarkets

The Winds of Change

CHAVA Wind LLC is an innovator in the field of energy technologies and has developed a new business approach with a breakthrough product to succeed in the rapidly growing deployment of smaller-sized Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs) around the world.

Chief Executive Officer, Hagen Ruff, tells us more about the firm and its business approach.
“As many regions in the world lack the grid capacity for large wind farms, special incentives are provided for small distributed wind. The highest incentive is provided in Japan, where the central government mandates a Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) of ~50 US-cents/KWh.

“For this, and several other strategic reasons, we are starting the market roll-out in Japan, followed shortly thereafter by several other regions world-wide.”

The advantages of small-to-medium-sized wind turbines include not being in any competition with ‘big-wind’ high-voltage grid-tied wind farms. Large wind projects can only be fed in large-capacity transmission networks and are paid on the basis of wholesale prices.

Smaller wind farms can also focus on smaller and mid-scale applications between 20- 100KW/unit which allows direct use of power and therefore power is paid at retail pricing, (up to eight times higher in many parts of the world).

CHAVA Wind uses a different approach to other similar companies, in that its technology employs Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs) as opposed to Horizontal Axis wind Turbines (HAWTs). Using (VAWTs) has clear advantages over HAWTs – they take wind from all directions without the need for a yaw system; VAWT wind-farms will require up to eight times less land compared to HAWTs; and they are more aesthetic.

CHAVA’s technology is the result of a multi-year research and development project, however it faced several challenges, including VAWTs not receiving the same attention and funding thus far compared to ‘bigwind’ HAWTs; and many small group designs showed initial flaws and failures, with efficiency being sub-par.

“It required a focused effort by experts in the field of aerodynamics, engineering, and composite manufacturing to develop a robust design for a 20-year life-span with superior efficiency,” comments Hagen.

The goal of this focused “century project” of Vertical Axis Wind Technology was to develop the next generation of the most advanced small VAWTs, including the highest ever VAWT peak efficiency (43%); the most durable design through extensive modeling and testing and low noise; hydraulic tilt -tower for easy installations and maintenance; the best long-term Leveled Cost of Electricity; and mass-producible design at low cost.

Chava Wind is currently seeking a third and final round of funding in the amount of $2.5M and is expecting to complete the International IEC 61400-2 certification in summer of this year.
Hagen Ruff is Chief Executive Officer of CHAVA Wind. He earned his MS in Mechanical Engineering (Dipl. Ing. FH) from Fachhochschule Wiesbaden in Germany and is responsible for the overall CHAVA Wind offering from mechanical engineering through end-user systems integration as well as sales and marketing.

Hagen started his career at Accenture (previously Anderson Consulting) working on business process work flow challenges and opportunities for improved R.O.I. through process improvement for companies like Sempra Energy, Polaroid, the German Railway, Philip Morris, the Hong Kong Railway KCRC and CPS Energy.

Mr. Ruff started his own Business Intelligence management consulting firm, Business Information Solutions LLC (BIS), with a focus on management consulting, IT consulting, Executive Leadership, and SAP and Enterprise Software integration solutions for large-scale Enterprise Applications for Fortune 100 clients.

His firm, BIS, was acquired by Sapient Inc. (now PublicisSapient and Mr. Ruff was responsible for leading Sapient’s global SAP practice, with a particular focus on the Energy Services marketplace, where companies like Canadian electric utility Enbridge relied upon Mr. Ruff’s process improvement focused methodology for solving the type of energy demand challenges that are creating new opportunities to improve the world’s current energy systems. In addition to his hands on experience, Mr. Ruff has also served as a Board Member and Executive of the Energy Industry focused joint venture Soliance.

In co-founding CHAVA Wind, Hagen Ruff brings his strong passion for solving energy demand challenges and the associated economic, geopolitical, and environmental problems to his background in mechanical engineering as well as information infrastructure integration with a goal of disrupting the strategic delivery market for both enterprise and single user green wind power energy solutions.

Contact: Hagen Ruff – CEO [email protected] 26100 SW 162nd. Ave., Homestead, FL 33031 USA Phone: +1-619-227-3176 www.chavawind.com

Precious Metals Shine As Bonds Lose Their Lustre
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Precious Metals Shine As Bonds Lose Their Lustre

• Expansive QE alongside an absence of lower-bound limits to policy rates force markets to price-in a negative interest rate environment extending across the bond markets’ entire term structure.
• When real inflation adjusted yields turn negative income streams from traditional safe haven HY bonds are no longer.
• When returns are driven solely by price, high grade bonds become increasingly speculative assets to hold, elevating gold to an equally safe, if not safer asset.
• Asset allocation view: gold’s strong performance could add to diversification of multi-asset portfolios because of its negative correlation with equities and bonds.

Just when fears of China’s slowdown receded earlier in the year and commodities along with the broad equity market recovered globally, the “Brexit” vote short circuited market confidence anew. Risk amplified and safe haven asset prices look ever more dislocated, particularly in Europe. While dividend yields of equity markets are at a ‘post-financial crisis’ high, yields of high grade government debt have fallen to new all-time lows. To add insult to injury, sovereign bonds for indebted countries now look vulnerable amidst an exhaustive monetary stimulus playbook unable to stem the pressure of its deeply discounted banking sector, rekindling fears of systemic risks. 

Gold: the comeback king

Gold, a previously tarnished safe haven asset, has once again regained appeal. This year, precious metals have rebounded sharply, with gold and silver futures rising 29% and 46%. The upbeat sentiment is evident in this year’s strong inflows in gold ETPs: $21 billion in Gold ETCs this year, a marked reversal from the $3.4 billion redeemed in 2015.

2011-2015: “Real” interest rates environment drives sentiment to safe havens

The perception of precious metals has changed over the last year since the spectacular fall of 2011. Seen as a safe haven during times of heightened uncertainty and high inflation, investors bought into gold when central banks’ monetary policy became ultra-loose and commodity prices, led by oil, soared to feed inflation expectations. During and in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, this was clearly the case. However, since the gold bubble burst between 2011 and 2015, gold has remained largely despondent amidst some of the highest politically and economically uncertain times.

This was evident most notably during the failure of Congress to raise the debt ceiling and the subsequent “shutdown” of the US government in the Autumn of 2013. In this brief episode which effectively threatened the very existence of the bond market, initial reverberations in money markets were instantly violent, with yields on US T-Bills spiking multi-fold in the first two weeks of October. Yet during that period gold was fast asleep and contrary to what one would expect, gold and silver futures fell, helping precious metals to close 2013 deep in bear market territory.

What happened and why?

A key driver for gold’s failure to take off in 2013 was that the market “priced in” higher and positive long term interest rates when The Fed hinted its intentions to unwind its government bond buying programme, a.k.a. the “QE taper”. The signal for tightening was enough for investors to become more bearish on bonds, and in the process sharply reverse the trend of falling interest rates, both in nominal and real terms.

2016: Ultra-loose monetary policy stance and negative rates a boon for gold

Consider the US now and the picture for gold and bonds is the reverse: The appeal for gold will remain strong insofar as the macro backdrop continues to be disinflationary. Having fully unwound its QE program in early 2015 and instigated the first policy rate hike in more than a decade (to 25-50 bps in December that year), The Fed’s stance is still by any standard very loose: core inflation around 2% and recently climbing against a spending stimulus policy which remains largely in place.
In Japan, the economic situation is supportive of a pro-inflation biased monetary policy stance and has taught The Fed – along with Europe’s central banks – that it is easier to fight inflation than deflation. Japan’s move to lift sales tax from 5% to 8% in April 2014 (and to 10% in October 2015) sent consumer spending into reverse and destroyed the inflation momentum the BoJ’s QE programme had painstakingly worked to instil.

Consequently, future US rate hikes, if they occur at all this year, are expected to come in a slow, modest fashion. The Fed would need to see red-hot wage inflation to be convinced broader consumer prices can grow sustainably at around the 2% long term target. With an absence of demand-led forces spurring inflation on, a delayed rate hike cycle will mean that the yields on US Treasuries are unlikely to offer investors income that sufficiently compensates for inflation. In fact, much of the US Treasury yield curve – from maturities up to 5 years – is trading at yields below headline inflation. And, when volatile food and energy is excluded, even the 10Y US Treasuries Note is falling short, leaving investors no choice but to take on significant term or credit risk to earn any real income from US bonds.

Disinflation drives relentless bond yield suppression

The exceptional loose policies and a growing output gap have driven European bond yields to new negative extremes. Long term dated government bonds have recently gone into negative territory – not just in nominal terms, but also in real terms. As Chart 2 also shows, the market now expects long term real interest rates in Germany, France, Sweden and recently the UK to follow Japan’s, hovering around a negative 0.8-1.0%. If nominal bond yields were negative in a deflationary environment, it may still benefit to own bonds for example in scenarios where deflation is higher than the negative nominal yield. For instance, because real purchasing power was sustained, Japanese households have been allocating into cash and low-yielding bonds for decades. However in scenarios when the nominal yield falls below inflation and bonds are held to maturity, purchasing power is destroyed. The net present value of coupons and principle will be less than the initial investment, translating into a real total return loss for investors.

Europe following in Japan’s footsteps

ECB QE and zero/sub-zero policy rates of Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland are unlikely going to go away soon too, as most of Europe has yet close the output gap lost during the financial crisis, making these economies vulnerable to deflationary risks. These deflationary risks cannot be underestimated as seen in Chart 2: Consumer prices everywhere in Europe have struggled to grow to the 2% target followed by central banks since 2009, with most having seen either no consumer price inflation or, like Switzerland, have experienced outright deflation. A good gauge for how long the negative interest rates environment may last in Europe is to look at how long it took the US to close its own output gap. For instance, when loosely measuring the output gap as the number of jobs lost since the financial crisis, than the plus 4 million of net job creations in the US since 2008 coincided with multiple iterations of Fed QE, lasting nearly 40 months[1]. Over the same period the Eurozone lost 3.3 million jobs, yet the ECB’s QE programme is barely a year old. Hence, prolonging QE beyond 2017 is in all likelihood the default scenario to consider for the Eurozone, as is the spreading of the negative yields beyond Bunds, affecting most of the long-term structure of high-grade sovereign issues of likes of France, Austria, The Netherlands, Belgium and Finland.

Approximately 25% of outstanding Eurozone government debt is negative yielding. If issuers of debt get paid to borrow, buyers accept a haircut to the money they lend. Unless investors expect outright deflation, it makes little sense to hold negative yielding bonds to maturity. In that regard, fixed income investing becomes increasingly speculative, driven by expectations of price appreciation and credit spreads compression, rather than the purchasing power of coupons and principle. Against precious metals which have no income stream to account for, fixed income has started to look increasingly akin to gold.

Bullish on gold insofar there is a trend towards deflation.

The appeal for gold is fuelled on QE on the one hand and the still large output gap of the Eurozone that needs to be closed. Investors looking to diversify their portfolios may find that gold has become a more viable asset to hold.
Investors sharing this sentiment may consider the following:
• Boost Gold ETC (GLD)
• Boost Gold 2x Leverage Daily ETP (2GOL)
• Boost Gold 3x Leverage Daily ETP (3GOL)
• Boost Gold 3x Leverage Daily ETP (£) (3LGO)
• Boost Silver 2x Leverage Daily ETP (2SIL)
• Boost Silver 3x Leverage Daily ETP (3SIL)

For investment professionals only. This communication has been provided by WisdomTree Europe Ltd which is an appointed representative of Mirabella Advisers LLP which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Please view the full disclaimer.

Shenton International Asset-Backed Mini Bond Launches
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Shenton International Asset-Backed Mini Bond Launches

Today sees the launch of the Shenton International Asset-Backed Mini Bond, an opportunity for UK-based investors to potentially benefit from carefully selected real estate projects in Germany, North America and Brazil.

The mini bond, a form of corporate loan that pays ten per cent per annum gross interest for four years, is issued by Shenton Holdings, the Singapore-based alternative investment house. With more than 10,000 customers, Shenton has invested more than £390m into 51 international real estate projects in four years.

Launching today, the asset-backed mini bond will be open until 31st October 2016, allowing individuals to make minimum investments of £1,000 (multiples of £1,000 thereafter). Funds will then be invested by Shenton’s senior investment team into heritage real estate projects in Germany, residential developments in the US state of Iowa, and prime beachfront hotel refurbishments in the resort of Natal in Brazil.

Helen Chong, founder of the Shenton Group and CEO of Shenton Holdings, said: “We launched the Shenton Group in 2011 with the aim of giving Singaporeans access to international real estate investment opportunities. Today we’re excited to be offering UK investors the same opportunities to access international real estate investment, with the same types of returns. The Shenton International Mini Bond – our second mini bond – enables investors to access real estate markets in North America, South America, and Europe, with funds secured against tangible assets.”

“In the current financial climate, with investors facing uninspiringly low interest rates and having struggled to generate satisfactory returns, companies have found it hard to secure finance from traditional sources. Meanwhile, stock market volatility has reminded people that the value of their investments really can go down as well as up. In this testing financial climate, we believe that mini bonds represent a great opportunity to secure a strong fixed-rate return over a defined period – and with investments secured against assets, the ShentonInternational Mini Bond offers a level of security that we believe can normally only found with products paying a much lower rate.”

“We see mini bonds as an exciting alternative opportunity for individuals to invest directly into a business of their choice. We are working with Black Swan Edge, specialists in applying data analysis to finance marketing, to ensure we reach suitable investors.”

Paul Davis, managing director of Black Swan Edge, said: “Shenton International is an exciting company with ambitious plans, and we are excited to be working with the team to help this mini bond be successful. We will be augmenting their depth of understanding of the real estate market with data-driven insights into the investor community to ensure that the mini bond is being promoted to as many of the right people as possible.”

The value of these untradeable and non-transferable bonds, and any income from them, can fall as well as rise and as such, your capital is at risk if you invest. Shenton International Asset-Backed Mini Bonds is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

The content of this financial promotion has been approved, for the purposes of section 21 of the Financial Services & Market Act 2000 (FSMA) by Resolution Compliance Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN: 574048).

UK Investors Chase Tech Stocks While Tech Founders Shun Aim for Exits
MarketsStock Markets

UK Investors Chase Tech Stocks While Tech Founders Shun Aim for Exits

The performance of tech companies on the AIM market is historically strong, with analysis from Nabarro demonstrating that technology stocks held their own during the last downturn and have since outperformed the market, with particularly strong results over the last three to four years.

However, although 82% of tech entrepreneurs agreed or strongly agreed that the AIM market is the natural home for fast-growing UK technology companies, listing on other markets is a much more popular ambition (48%) and a trade sale to a bigger tech company (21%) is almost as popular as going for an AIM listing (23%). This reluctance to list on AIM may signal that founders are holding out for a bigger, more ambitious exit further down the line.

The main reasons the entrepreneurs cited for potentially selecting AIM as their exit strategy include realising value for some of their stock (38%); access to capital markets (31%); and being able to grow more quickly (14%). Their two biggest fears were more regulation (56%) and loss of control (22%).

Alasdair Steele, Corporate partner at Nabarro, said:

“Our research shows there is an appetite for investment across the tech industry, but lack of awareness of the benefits of an IPO on AIM could be stunting growth in the sector. Businesses need to consider floating on AIM as a stepping stone to raise capital and profile, rather than focusing solely on the London Stock Exchange’s main market, or pinning their hopes on a trade sale to one of the ‘Big Five’ technology brands.”

Nabarro also surveyed current AIM investors to assess their appetite for technology stocks coming to the market. 59% of investors had up to a third of their current AIM investments in tech, while another 25% of investors had one-third to 50% of their current AIM investments in tech. Just under half of AIM investors (49%) expect an increase in the number of AIM IPOs in 2016. Over half (53%) of investors are set to increase their own exposure to AIM tech stocks, while 35% plan to keep their current weighting in the sector. So, overall investor sentiment about AIM’s prospects and the prospects for tech stocks in particular is positive.

The report also looked specifically at Fintech and Medtech as potentially vibrant areas of the UK technology market. 37% of investors see Medtech as the most attractive AIM investment opportunity over the next 12-18 months with Fintech/insurance tech favoured by 27%.

Guy Heath, partner and head of Technology at Nabarro, commented:

“Investor demand for AIM technology stocks is high, and set to increase over the next five years. If the ambitions of founders meet the increasing appetite of investors for tech stocks, then AIM could become a breeding ground for a new generation of UK and European unicorns.”

European Broker of the Year 2016 & Best for Long-Term Investments 2016
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

European Broker of the Year 2016 & Best for Long-Term Investments 2016

In terms of our expertise, we are a universal broker and offer a broad spectrum of investment products and tools, such as the ability to trade in stocks, futures, foreign exchange (‘Forex’), contracts for difference (‘CFDs’), indices, options and many other financial derivatives.

Through building long-term relationships with our clients, we create a foundation of trust and a culture designed to promote on-going education and understanding of concepts that have traditionally been perceived as complex and intimidating. We strive to achieve excellence in investment results and client servicing through personal commitment, experience, and innovative thinking.

As you may already know, there are a lot of forex companies out there. However, we believe that there are a number of factors that help us stand out from the competitors. Our first differentiator lies in regulation. While being regulated by a high profile organisation such CySEC, we are also a member of the Investor Compensation Fund (ICF), which allows our clients to receive compensation for any successful claim subject to a maximum compensation of 20 000 Euro. All of our clients’ funds are kept in segregated accounts in order to maximise the security of funds. Additionally, we offer our clients superior customer support which is available 24 hours a day. Alongside this, we are also an ECN Broker and therefore are interested in successful trading from our clients, because we only receive our profit from the commissions generated by them. In this sense, we are unlike market maker companies, who receive their profits from the losses of their clients. Therefore, we do not have any trading restrictions for our clients, and we send all of our clients’ orders directly to the market.

Moreover, we are not limited to offer trading only in forex, and have access to almost any market available in the world, such as; CFDs, futures, options, stocks, ETFs and many more. Furthermore, we offer our clients a choice between there platforms for trading, where each platform has its own unique features, which in turn help our traders to maintain their trading environment.

Lastly, but certainly not least, the technology behind our investment platforms enables us to automatically submit your trade requests to our liquidity providers with the best bid/offer and wait for a confirmation prior to sending accept or reject message to our clients.

In terms of our approach towards dealing with clients, we believe that all of our clients are valuable assets of FXFINPRO Capital and as a result, we dedicate a sales manager to every client. As such, the managers can be contacted by any possible way, including Skype and Whatsapp. We offer individual consultations and advice on which account to open, which will be suitable for a particular trader. We also offer various trading accounts, with different trading specifications. As a result, we have trading accounts, which will be suitable for any strategy. As mentioned earlier, our dedicated support team will answer any question a client might have in a professional and formal manner, anytime of the day.

Once the client is on board, we make constant follow-ups in order to check whether the client requires any assistance or has any suggestions, regarding our company. Even if a client is new to the Forex industry, we will be more than happy to provide all the teaching material and assist to enrol for online education with our partners.

When it comes to large institutional clients, our senior members of the company are willing to travel anywhere in the world in order to greet the clients and introduce them to our products and services. We believe that such face-to-face meetings are very productive for the client, as he or she can receive detailed answers to any complex questions.

In order to prevail in our highly competitive industry, we are constantly improving the quality of our products and services. Among our future plans is to open company branches in major capitals worldwide, thus making it accessible for anyone to visit us face-to-face We believe it is very important for clients to know that they can visit our company branch, in case they require any further assistance.

We also plan to add another world class liquidity provider, and one of the key aspects of the brokerage services is the speed order execution. Thus, we are eager to work with large liquidity providers that will offer our clients the best trading environment. Moreover, we plan to add more payment systems for deposits/withdrawals. It is crucial to have as many methods as possible, in order to make it accessible for anyone in the world to work with FXFINPRO Capital and gain their financial freedom.

Likewise, we are also increasing the capacity of our sales team. Due to increased registrations from all over the world, we are planning to hire multicultural staff that will be able to assist our clients in different languages. As a result, the advantages and specifications of our services will be easier to understand.

Also in the pipeline is the development of our own trading platform. Our team of IT specialists, along with our marketing and risk managers will be able to create a modern, easy to use, universal trading platform that will make trading – even simpler.

With the demand for forex trading on the rise, we are establishing forex schools with trading rooms. We believe that our skilled and experienced lecturers will help anyone to learn the basics of trading and as a result, gain financial freedom. All of our schools will have trading rooms, where students and graduates will be able to trade and communicate between each other.

As for the award, we believe that it is a great achievement by our team to win such awards from such a prestigious publisher! We are proud that our efforts were noticed and awarded correspondingly, and we aim to continue improving the quality of our services and justify the trust put into our company by our current and potential clients.

Company: FXFINPRO Capital
Name: Georgy Agasandyan
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.fxfinpro.com
Address: Nikou Pattichi 82, Maritania court,
office 101, area code 3070 Limassol, Cyprus
Telephone: +357 2526 2102

Institutional Investors’ Exposure to Investment Grade Bonds Expected to Rise
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Institutional Investors’ Exposure to Investment Grade Bonds Expected to Rise

According to new research conducted by NN Investment Partners (NN IP)¹, more than twice as many institutional investors will increase their exposure to investment grade fixed income over the next three years compared with those who will decrease it. The study found nearly two in five (39%) of respondents believed institutional investors will increase exposure versus just 16% who believe it will be reduced.

The most common reason cited for this was the desire for – and the security of – the income (31%). One in four (26%) said it was because of the need to match liabilities while 22% said they expect market conditions to deteriorate and they provide a safe haven; another 17% said IG bonds generally have benefitted from enhanced liquidity.

Sylvain de Ruijter, Head of Global Fixed Income at NN Investment Partners, commented: “The anticipated rate rise in the US will be key for bond markets but our research shows that despite the low yield environment, the income from investment grade credit, as well as high yield credit, has again become attractive in the last few months, assuming the Western developed markets can avoid a sharp slowdown.

“However, markets can, and do, change rapidly. For many investors, the solution lies in partnering with managers of global fixed income strategies that have more flexibility than traditional bond funds and are managed by asset managers who have the ability to make active, high quality judgement calls.”

On average, respondents in the survey estimated that in three years’ time, inflation in the US will be 3.3%, 2.5% in the Eurozone and 3.0% in the UK. They said the US is currently at a recovery stage in its credit cycle (44%) while the EU and Japan were judged to be in a state of repair (63% and 51% respectively) and Emerging markets are in a downturn (44%).

Whilst yield challenges remain, NN Investment Partners believes that there are still fixed interest opportunities without investors having to ramp up risk levels. Institutional investors will benefit from a partnership with fixed income experts who have a proven track record of identifying opportunity in adversity and translating that into returns. Indeed, NN Investment Partners’ investment process is based on detailed analysis of long- and medium-term fundamentals,
aiming to provide its clients with consistently high yield.

NN Investment Partners’ fixed income boutiques have experienced management teams  consisting of portfolio managers, analysts and strategists. These dedicated teams have a global presence with locations in The Hague, New York, London, and Singapore. With a proven proprietary investment process that has been honed over more than 20 years, the award-winning investment team’s experience and expertise is combined with a client-centric process that forges a partnership with customers to help them meet their investment needs through a platform of innovative products.

Freedom Finance Becomes Zmarta Group and Enters the German Market
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Freedom Finance Becomes Zmarta Group and Enters the German Market

Zmarta Group also expand their operations to Germany, as well as broadening their service offer to include comparison and brokering services related to savings, credit cards and insurance.

In 2013, Zmarta Group, at the time called Freedom Finance, was acquired by H.I.G. Capital. In conjunction with the acquisition a new strategy was laid out with the aim of creating Northern Europe’s leading digital brokering service within consumer finance. In February earlier this year, as part of the new strategy, the consumer finance platform Zmarta was launched in Sweden. This was followed by launches in neighboring countries Finland and Norway where the company already had an established presence through Freedom Rahoitus and Centum respectively.

”The move towards greater digitalization is the biggest challenge for our industry. With the launch of Zmarta we not only meet this challenge, we take a leading position, both in Sweden and internationally. It only seems natural that the corporate name mirrors this investment”, says Björn Lander, CEO, Zmarta Group.

Zmarta Group now expand their operations further through the launch of Zmarta in Germany. With the digital platform the company hope to establish itself quickly on the German market.

”Zmarta has proved successful on our home market and we strongly believe in the concept. The German market is big, but it’s also very fragmented with many banks and extensive competition. As a broker of financial services, this is positive for us. In addition, the German market is very mature, with relatively few brokers active today”, says Björn Lander.

New Research Finds Investors Regaining Risk Appetite
CommoditiesMarkets

New Research Finds Investors Regaining Risk Appetite

With growth and inflation expectations notably higher after new U.S. payroll data, investors have cut cash holdings and increased exposure to equities, real estate and alternative investments.

The percentage of asset allocators overweight equities rose significantly by 17 points to a net 43%, while lowering cash overweights to their lowest level since July. Four-fifths of panelists now expect the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise rates during the current quarter.

Confidence in the global economy rebounds, with net expectations of it strengthening in the next 12 months up 22 percentage points from October. 

Concerns over a slowdown in China abate, as local fund managers turn neutral on the country’s growth outlook – their most positive reading in more than a year. 

Eurozone and Japan strengthen as the most favored equity markets globally, reflecting deeper consensus on the U.S. dollar. A net 67% now expect the currency to appreciate in the next year. 

Real estate and alternative investment overweights rise to their second-highest readings in the survey’s history. In contrast, aggressive underweights on commodities and Global Emerging Markets are maintained.

“With consensus very clustered in QE and strong dollar trades, asset price upside appears limited until an ‘event’ curtails the Fed hiking cycle, as in 1994,” said Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research.

“While European equities are loved by global investors and the ECB has created some excitement about growth, sector positioning shows local asset managers are lacking conviction and hugging their benchmarks,” said Manish Kabra, head of European quantitative strategy.

China Slowdown Hitting Business Growth Prospects
MarketsStock Markets

China Slowdown Hitting Business Growth Prospects

New research from Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR), a quarterly survey of 2,500+ business leaders in 36 economies, reveals the extent to which contagion caused by China’s economic slowdown is spreading to businesses around the world.

In China, optimism slipped 20 percentage points to net 26% in Q3-2015. The falls recorded in other economies are equally as striking. Many of China’s top trading partners including Germany (down 46pp to 46%), Japan (down 36pp to -28%), Australia (down 15pp to 39%) and the ASEAN nations (down 22pp to 18%) all report sharp dips in optimism. The global figure dropped 7pp to net 38%.

Francesca Lagerberg, global leader for tax services at Grant Thornton, said:
“The slowdown in China is a major concern for the global economy at a time of stuttering growth and heightened uncertainty. The past three months have shown how reliant global growth has become on China – 20 years ago it was the top export destination for just two countries. Today that figure is 43.

The IBR reveals that business growth prospects in major trading partners have also been hit. The proportion of ASEAN businesses expecting to increase revenues over in the next 12 months has fallen 21pp to 31%. And expectations for increasing exports have dropped to 0%.

In Germany, where China accounts for 6.5% of exports, both revenue (down 42pp) and exports (down 7pp) have been hit sharply as orders – particularly of machinery – have slowed this year. Australia, which counts on China for a third of export earnings, has seen export expectations slide further to just 5%, down 9pp from Q2. Japan and Brazil have also seen revenue prospects contract.

The depreciation of the yuan does seem to have improved export hopes of Chinese businesses (up 5pp to 14%). However this has also made imports to China more expensive with businesses in Brazil (up 9pp to 47%) and Russia (up 9% to 83%) increasingly concerned about the impact of exchange rate fluctuations on their ability to grow.

US Money Market Funds' Exposure to China Slowing
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

US Money Market Funds’ Exposure to China Slowing

As of the end of July, 16 of 125 US prime money funds had exposure to Chinese issuers, based on data from Crane Data LLC. The median exposure among the 16 was 2.9% of each respective fund’s total assets. The highest exposure among the 16 funds was 10.3% held by the $6.1 billion HSBC Prime Money Market Fund, which is not rated by Fitch.

So far, the short-term tenors of holdings help mitigate the risks US money funds take investing in China, with 63% of all Chinese securities in US prime money fund portfolios maturing within seven days and 96% maturing within two months (as of July 31). Only about 3% of securities mature in more than six months. The short maturities generally allow portfolio managers to respond to market developments quickly and limit the impact of volatility on funds. Indeed, a number of funds have reduced their exposure to Chinese issuers following the recent volatility, generally by allowing positions to mature or roll down the maturity curve.

Most of the Chinese short-term paper in US money funds is issued from major state-controlled or affiliated banks, such as China Construction Bank, whose credit strength is based on an assumption of support from the Chinese government. However, a few funds have recently invested in bank-guaranteed commercial paper issued by private industrial firms, such as Midea Group. The limited supply of short-term debt from US and European issuers in the US market, and the increasingly global reach of some large Chinese issuers, until recently made investments in Chinese paper attractive for certain money funds.

However, the recent volatility points to the risks inherent when investing in China and other emerging economies. These investments may be less liquid and more thinly traded, presenting heightened spread risk and making it harder to exit positions as credit conditions deteriorate.

The rise of US money fund exposures to China over the past three years may be seen here. The right axis of the chart shows the progression of internationally issued Chinese bonds over the same period, which stood at about $80 billion as of March 2015, up from $19 billion as of the end of September 2012. The Chinese bond market is now the third largest in the world, with about $4.4 trillion as of the end of September 2014. US money funds only invest in dollar-denominated paper, including from issuers whose home domicile is China.

Oilfield Services Market Worth $144 Billion by 2020
CommoditiesMarkets

Oilfield Services Market Worth $144 Billion by 2020

The market report defines and segments the oilfield services market with analysis and forecast of the global E&P revenue and applications. It also identifies driving and restraining factors for the oilfield services market, with a comprehensive analysis on trends, opportunities, burning issues, and winning imperatives.

The global oil and gas production has increased over the last five years from 81.149 Million barrels per day in 2009 to 88.673 Million barrels per day in 2014. This has led to the supply for oil & gas exceeding its demand which has ultimately caused a decline in the prices of crude oil during the last six months of 2014.

This reduction mainly impacted the upstream exploration and production (E&P) activities. Consequently, the oil and gas operators have reduced their capital expenditure outlook for 2015 citing concerns over low profit margins. However, the expected increase in production from petroleum rich nations such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the U.S. has resulted in higher demand for production based services.

The pressure pumping segment occupied the largest market share, by value, in 2014 owing to high usage of hydraulic fracturing in North America’s shale gas activities. Among application, onshore is used more as offshore applications are expensive. The cost factor is highly crucial in deciding the feasibility of any oilfield service activity, especially during a low crude oil price environment.

North America is the largest market for oilfield services. The region has been experiencing rapid increase in its oil and gas production levels since the last 10 years and accounted for more than 45% of the total market in 2014. This is largely due to two factors viz. the production from unconventional shale plays and the deep-water production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

The technological advancement along with the experience in producing from unconventional formations has boosted the domestic production in this region. The region is expected to grow further during the forecast period, which can be attributed to the continued production related activities within the region.

To find out more about this report, please click HERE.

Enterprises in EMEA Prefer Integrated Conferencing Solutions
Derivatives and Structured ProductsMarkets

Enterprises in EMEA Prefer Integrated Conferencing Solutions

The study covers audio, hosted web, hosted video and managed video conferencing services. The communications service providers that have a sizable presence across these segments in EMEA are Arkadin, BT Conferencing, Deutsche Telekom, InterCall, Interoute, Orange Business, PGi and Telefonica.

“Hosted/cloud video conferencing services that enable interoperability across endpoints appeal to a broader user base in EMEA owing to the rise in complexity and number of devices on networks,” said Frost & Sullivan Digital Transformation Practice Research Director Adrian Drozd. “Feature-rich solutions that support mobility and the bring-your-own-device trend are also popular among customers in these regions.”

Among the various market segments, audio conferencing services are experiencing low growth due to price compression and user migration to bundled packages. The gradual transition to Internet protocol (IP)-based conferencing, owing to the proliferation of IP private branch exchange (IP PBX), is also dampening the need for audio conferencing services in EMEA.

“As the lines between video-centric and content-centric Web conferencing solutions that include video continue to blur, the revenues of both segments will take a hit,” noted Frost & Sullivan Digital Transformation Practice Senior Director Ashwin Iyer. “Higher sales volumes of IP-based audio conferencing solutions as well as hosted and managed video conferencing services will, nevertheless, promote revenue growth in the market.”
Market penetration is the highest in the United Kingdom, France, Benelux and the Nordic countries due to increasing business-to-business and business-to-customer collaboration. Over the forecast period, Northern Europe is likely to see more demand for hosted video conferencing services, while Southern Europe experiences greater interest in managed video conferencing services.

To find out more about this report, click HERE.

PayPal to Trade on Nasdaq
MarketsStock Markets

PayPal to Trade on Nasdaq

Founded in 1998, PayPal continues to be at the forefront of the digital payments revolution. The company’s products give people better ways to connect to their money and to each other. With 169 million active customer accounts, PayPal has created an open and secure payments ecosystem people and businesses choose to securely transact with each
other online, in stores and on mobile devices. PayPal is a truly global payments platform that is available to people in 203 markets, allowing customers to get paid in more than 100 currencies, withdraw funds to their bank accounts in 57 currencies and hold balances in their PayPal accounts in 26 currencies.

“For almost two decades, PayPal has been a visionary and a leader in online payments,” said Nelson Griggs, Executive
Vice President, Listing Services at Nasdaq. “We are thrilled to welcome PayPal back to the Nasdaq family – under their original ticker symbol – and look forward to supporting the company as it continues to grow and provide digital payment solutions to their loyal customers worldwide.”

By listing on Nasdaq, PayPal joins many of the world’s largest and most revolutionary companies. Nasdaq is the exchange of choice for over 72 percent of technology companies listed on the U.S. markets and 71 percent of all public technology companies based in Silicon Valley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIER REIT to List on NY Stock Exchange
MarketsStock Markets

TIER REIT to List on NY Stock Exchange

Trading of TIER REIT’s shares of common stock began on 22nd July under the ticker symbol “TIER.”

In connection with the listing of its shares of common stock, members of TIER REIT’s management team rang The NYSE Opening Bell at 9:30 a.m. that morning to celebrate the first day of trading in TIER REIT’s shares of common stock on the NYSE.

In conjunction with the listing on the NYSE, TIER REIT has also commenced a modified “Dutch Auction” tender offer to purchase up to $50 million of its shares of common stock. In accordance with, and subject to, the terms of the tender offer, TIER REIT will select the lowest price, not greater than $21.00 nor less than $19.00 per share, net to the seller in cash, less any applicable withholding taxes and without interest, that will enable TIER REIT to purchase the maximum number of shares of common stock having an aggregate purchase price not exceeding $50 million (or such lesser number if less than $50 million of shares of common stock are tendered after giving effect to the any shares of common stock withdrawn). TIER REIT expects to fund the tender offer with available cash and/or borrowings available under its
existing credit facility.

The tender offer will expire at 11:59 p.m. EDT on August 19, 2015, unless the tender offer is extended or withdrawn. Stockholders may tender all or a portion of their shares of common stock (and may choose not to tender any of their shares of common stock) by following the procedures, including choosing the price or prices at which they wish to tender their shares of common stock, described in the Offer to Purchase, Letter of Transmittal, and other documents related to the tender offer.

Scott Fordham, Chief Executive Officer and President of TIER REIT, made it clear that the new offering of stock for sale was to part of the firm’s growth strategy.

‘This is a major milestone for our company. We would like to thank the many team members and stockholders that have supported us in reaching this goal. As a publicly listed company, we are better positioned to execute on our growth strategy, and we look forward to utilizing this platform to deliver greater total return potential to our stockholders.’

Fortex Moving into Chinese Market
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Fortex Moving into Chinese Market

The Shanghai office is focused on helping clients and investors capitalize on the opportunities in the high-growth FX investment sector.

Grand opening ceremonies were held at the Portman Ritz Carlton Hotel in the heart of Shanghai’s downtown. More than 80 local and foreign FX industry executives attended to celebrate this significant milestone with Fortex. Attendees also discussed the role of technology in advancing Asian FX firms, high-demand products for FX brokers, and the latest industry trends. Guests of honor included Alexander Braid, Chief Operating Officer at AdvancedMarkets; Simon Blyth, Senior Vice President at Sun Hung Kai Forex Limited, FX and commodities department; Xiaolong Chen, Founder of BestCNY; Yuyang Wang, President at GKFX China; Yubin Sheng, Chief Executive Officer at Currenstone; and Junjie Chen, Founder of Doo Holding Group Limited.

Simon Blyth stated that this was an important step forthe company.

‘I believe that Fortex technology will bring completely new execution standards to Chinese traders and elevate the whole
industry to the next level. Sun Hung Kai Financial is delighted to share its great experience of working with Fortex and its staff with the Asian market. Having a strong on-the-ground presence in Shanghai will strongly position Fortex to efficiently serve its client base in the region.’

Opening ceremonies included sessions on industry trends. Jake Zhi, Institutional Products Consultant at Fortex, shared his view of how to create a safe, transparent trading environment with top global banks using Fortex technology. A panel also discussed “How to Balance Risk Management and Clients’ Experience in Post-SNB Era.” In the Post-SNB Era, trading platform stability and risk management systems have become critically important. Guest panelists had a comprehensive and detailed discussion on the significance of risk management and innovative FX tools available in the
market. Panelists also acknowledged the stronger demand for pre- and post-trade transparency from their executing venues.

The Fortex ECN platform is designed for high-frequency, low-latency performance and optimized for buy-side and sell-side institutions. It offers direct access to Tier 1 liquidity from all major money center banks. The Fortex XCloud server grid offers dedicated dark fiber connections, eliminating the need to use the public Internet and delivering sub-1ms speed and 480-Gbps throughput. The powerful Fortex XBook matching engine represents each trader’s order in the interbank market to match with the best liquidity available, including hidden liquidity pools. Broker dealers and traders using MT4 can access the Fortex platform through Fortex MT4 Bridge middleware to gain unified global execution venues and aggregated segmented liquidity pools.

Saudi Stock Exchange Open to Foreign Investments
MarketsStock Markets

Saudi Stock Exchange Open to Foreign Investments

Increased participation from international financial institutions is primarily designed to help to enhance the sophistication and stability of the market.

The additional reforms to open the Exchange to QFIs aim to enhance corporate governance among firms by enabling international institutions to have an active voice as shareholders in listed businesses.

These investors are also expected to enhance research coverage and improve local knowledge and expertise, bringing benefits to all market stakeholders, listed companies, investors and financial intermediaries.

The introduction of direct investment by foreign institutions is predicted to improve stability in the market. This will come
alongside moves to encourage a rebalancing of current stock market participants from individual investors – who account for approximately 34% of market ownership and 90% of monthly trading activity – to institutional investors.

Since the introduction of the swap framework in 2008, non-resident foreign investors have been net buyers in the market, providing greater stability to prices at a time when local individual investors have been net sellers.

It is notable that the correlation in investment behaviour between these two investor classes has been negative over the last five years and nearly inverse over the last 3 months as local individual investors sold nearly SAR14bn worth of shares in the market whilst foreign investors did the reverse, buying SAR1.7bn of shares through the swap framework over the same period.

The impact of these foreign investors on the diversity and stability of the Saudi stock market is expected to grow as a consequence of the new QFI framework, which increases the degree of openness of the market to foreign investors.

The new rules ensure that only the largest and most experienced foreign investors are allowed to enter the stock market, with foreign institutional investors being forced to prove they have a recognized investment track record and assets under management of at least $5bn, amongst other conditions which will inhibit smaller investors. This reduces the risk of poor decisions being made by inexperienced foreign investors.

This was a big step forward for the Saudi shares market, according to Adel Al-Ghamdi, CEO of the Saudi Stock Exchange.

‘This is an important first step in a longer journey. Over the medium to long term, this journey will benefit all our stakeholders, from investors and listed companies, to authorized persons and qualified foreign investors. As the market landscape improves, not only can the Saudi Stock Exchange look to take its rightful position in global markets but also
act as a means to develop, promote and fuel the vibrant Saudi economy and its future prospects as a whole. Saudi is home to some world-leading businesses and many that have the potential to become world leading – the participation of
experienced international investors can play a role in helping these businesses reach their full potential.’

MTG Invests in Europe’s Online TV Market
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

MTG Invests in Europe’s Online TV Market

MTG has acquired 51% of Zoomin.TV, the online video entertainment network, content production and advertising sales house. This follows MTG’s announced investments in ESL, the world’s largest e-sports company and Splay, Scandinavia’s number one MCN and digital content creator in the last few weeks.

These new ventures reflects MTG’s strategy to invest in relevant, complementary and scalable digital brands, content and communities. MTG’s fast growing digital portfolio also includes the Viaplay Nordic subscription video on demand service, e-sports platform Viagame, and numerous advertising video on demand TV sites in 8 European countries.

Zoomin is the 5th largest MCN in the world, attracting more than two billion monthly video views and 100 million subscribers worldwide on YouTube. The online TV provider also has a network of 2,000 publishers, which
includes leading media brands such as Yahoo, AOL, Bild and Telegraaf. Their daily production includes more than 400 premium short video clips in 18 languages and 27 categories from video journalists all around the world.

In addition to this, the online network’s in-house sales team sells advertising solutions on Zoomin and third party channels in 45 territories to leading consumer brands including P&G, Philips, Volkswagen and Unilever. Zoomin has generated 36% average sales growth over the past 5 years, and 70% growth in 2014 alone, making it a wise investment for MTG and signifying their rapid growth strategy in the European online TV market.

The agreement sees MTG acquire the shares based on an Enterprise Value of €88 million. Zoomin’s two founders, Jan Riemens and Bram Bloemberg, who founded the firm in 2002 in Amsterdam, will continue to drive the company’s development.

Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, MTG President and CEO was keen to emphasise that moving forward the two firm’s hoped to expand on Zoomin’s expansion in the industry using MTG’s experience.

‘This combination of global web talent and content, massive reach amongst millennials, and proven monetization capabilities confirms our position as a leading player in the global online video entertainment space. It is now clear that we are creating an online video eco-system that is fully prepared to capitalise on the next steps in the evolution of social video. It will enable both Zoomin and our other market leading digital brands to expand even faster by leveraging our combined consumer insight, reach and cross-promotional potential. We will now operate right across the digital video entertainment spectrum, just as we have done so successfully with our TV content production studios, channel brands and distribution platforms. So…welcome to the Zoomin team, and we look forward to realising some big ambitions together.’

 

 

Poor Performance by Pound
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Poor Performance by Pound

The currency which outperformed the pound the best was the Trinidad and Tobago dollar which rose by nine point five percent over the last year against the pound.

Other high performing currencies included the Chinese renminbi, which increased by nine point one percent year on year; the Maldives rufiyaa increased by nine percent and the American dollar rose by eight point three percent.
There were countries whose currency depreciated in value compared to the pound over the last year, such as the Ukranian hryvnia which recorded the largest decline against the pound, falling by 62% over the past year. This was due to country’s ongoing economic crisis and political problems as fighting has continued in eastern Ukraine.

Richard Musty, International Private Bank Director at Lloyds Bank, commented that the results were mixed.
‘Sterling has had a very mixed performance over the past year. The pound has appreciated against those economies that are facing particularly severe problems such as Russia, Ukraine and Brazil. UK travellers going to much of Europe will have benefited from the further reduction in the euro’s value against the pound. Those going to the US or China, however, will find that their money goes less far.’

The pounds bad performance against foreign currencies will affect the investment markets, with funds which deal heavily in international currencies having seen a mixed result over the last twelve months. However, China’s current economic turmoil will doubtless see the renminbi lose its power against the pound, allowing British investors in that market some possible reprieve.