Category: Markets

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.

Copper Slump as Price Plummets
CommoditiesMarkets

Copper Slump as Price Plummets

Title Here

The London Metal Exchange has reported a drop in the price of copper as Greek economy fears and lower than predicted purchases by the Chinese cause price crash. The speculation has left the price of the metal at 5723.00 US dollars per ton today, with the last month seeing a low of 5,642.50 US dollars per ton on Monday 22nd June.

Wood Mackenzie analysed the issue in February and cited numerous worldwide social and economic factors as key to the slump in price that has been taking place since the start of this year: ‘The fall in the oil price at the end of 2014 was clearly the initial trigger, compounded by the collapse of the Russian rouble, slowing growth in China, Japanese recession, the Greek elections and further signs of weakness within the European economy.’

Greece, a major importer of copper, has been holding tough negotiations on the repayment of their vast debts and faces problems with staying in the European Union, leaving them with an uncertain economic future. Another major factor could be the strike at Chile’s copper mine Collahuasi, with workers caught in a fierce dispute with the mine’s managers over working conditions.

 China, a global force in the imports market, reduced their importing of copper, with many speculating that this was due possibly to necessary smelting machinery maintenance. The acquisition of Las Bambas copper mine in Peru, which is held in majority by Chinese state owned firm Minmetals, highlights China’s commitment to the purchase of the metal and its use in construction, but recent predictions expect them to produce more copper than expected in a new contract with MMG.

 

 

NovaBay Announces $6.86 Million “At Market” Private Placement
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

NovaBay Announces $6.86 Million “At Market” Private Placement

Investors have agreed to purchase 10,893,648 units consisting of one share of NovaBay common stock and a warrant to purchase an additional one-half share of common stock. The cost per unit is $0.63. The warrants, totaling rights to 5,446,824 shares, exercisable beginning on the date six months after the date of issuance, entitle the holders to purchase one share of common stock at a price of $0.78 per share, and include a provision for forced conversion if the common stock trades at or above $1.00 for 10 out of 20 consecutive trading days. This warrant will expire, unless exercised, 18 months following the date of issuance. If fully exercised, these warrants would bring approximately $4.2 million of gross proceeds to NovaBay. The closing of the private placement is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions. The offering is expected to close on or about May 22, 2015, subject to customary closing conditions.

China Kington Investment Co Ltd acted as the sole placement agent of the offering, with Maxim Group LLC acting as financial advisor to NovaBay. Eric Wu, Executive Director of China Kington Investment, commented on the private placement by affirming his company’s support for NovaBay. “We are optimistic about NovaBay’s future prospects through its ability to establish a large sales network and grow its market share in the global eye care market. We also believe that NovaBay has the potential to become a leading pharmaceutical company in Asia with its partner China Pioneer Pharma. We plan to be the company’s long-term financial partner to support these goals.”

NovaBay intends to use the net proceeds from this offering for working capital and general corporate purposes, including research and development, clinical trials and selling, and general and administrative expenses, including sales and marketing expenses related to launching its Avenova™ product across the U.S.

The foregoing securities were offered in the private placement and have not been registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or under applicable state securities laws. Accordingly, these securities may not be offered or sold in the United States except pursuant to an effective registration statement or an applicable exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act and such applicable state securities laws. As part of the transaction, NovaBay has agreed to file a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for purposes of registering the resale of (i) the shares of common stock sold to the investors, and (ii) the common stock issuable upon the exercise of the warrants.

This notice is issued pursuant to Rule 135c under the Securities Act and does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy the securities, nor shall there be any sale of the securities in any state in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to the registration or qualification under the securities laws of such state. Any offering of the securities under the resale registration statement will only be by means of a prospectus.

Banks are to pay £3.6bn for Forex Rigging
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Banks are to pay £3.6bn for Forex Rigging

Four banks – JPMorgan, Barclays, Citigroup and RBS – have agreed to plead guilty to US criminal charges.

The fifth, UBS, will plead guilty to rigging benchmark interest rates.

Barclays was fined the most, $2.4bn, as it did not join other banks in November to settle investigations by UK, US and Swiss regulators.

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that “almost every day” for five years from 2007, currency traders used a private electronic chat room to manipulate exchange rates.

Phil Beckett, partner at Proven Legal Technologies – the corporate forensic investigation and e-disclosure experts, comments on the latest news that five banks are to pay a total of £3.6bn worth of fines for forex rigging.

He says “The Forex scandal brings to life the real need for effective communications monitoring. Serious employee malpractice could have been captured by a more thorough analysis of communications in a proactive context. Intelligent analysis of company data and communications – such as chat messages – on a regular basis can provide early warnings of issues such as those uncovered in the Forex scandal.

“Until now, audits of company data have primarily been used posthumously as way of finding out “what went wrong”. However, prevention is always better than cure, and the financial services sector needs to get much better at using technology to spot problems before they occur if we are to avoid future crises – and penalties – such as these.”

Demands of the  Digital Consumer
CommoditiesMarkets

Demands of the Digital Consumer


The evolution of consumer expectations as a result of the digital revolution has drastically altered their approach to financial services according to new research by IRESS, the leading supplier of wealth management, financial markets and mortgage systems.

IRESS’ report “Data, Disruption and the Digital Consumer” highlights the level of pre-purchase research undertaken by consumers. 80% of consumers surveyed online now conduct research before making a significant purchase or investment decision. This is largely due to the impact that price comparison sites have had, as 52% of consumers use them, 60% trust them and 33% say that they have had a positive impact on them personally. Company websites are the next most popular method (49%) to research products while 19% use peer review websites and 29% say that they use a specialist website.

• 80% of consumers now conduct research when making significant purchases or investments, with online crucial
• Despite this, consumers less likely to secure complex products unassisted online
• Consumers believe financial services lags behind other industries (retail and music lead) in technology adoption
• Consumers call for single view of all their financial information and improved security
• A quarter (25%) of consumers are willing to pay for professional financial advice

The Online Opportunity
Despite the research consumers are undertaking online, their comfort in making online unassisted decisions is inconsistent across financial services. While 56% of people in the online survey had carried out a bank account transaction online, consumers are less likely to implement more complex product decisions or make transactions with longer lasting impacts without using any other channels. For instance, just 2% have secured a retirement product solely via the internet, 3% have secured a mortgage while only 9% have invested in stocks, shares or funds. However, there is clearly appetite for greater online access, with almost one third of people saying they would feel comfortable securing a mortgage solely online (30%) or investing in stocks and shares or funds (31%). The gap to be filled here would seem to be providing some level of assistance or scaled advice.

More than two thirds of consumers (68%) were positive on the impact of technology in their interactions with financial services firms. However, it is clear that the industry has more progress to make. When asked which industry had embraced technology the most in the last five years, nearly a quarter (23%) stated retail, with music a distant second at 12%. Financial services scored lower, with 9%.

There are clearly innovations that consumers need and would like to see implemented. Nearly a quarter of people (23%) said they would like the ability to view their financial world – bank accounts, mortgages, investments, insurance – in one place. The joint most popular response was increased security through the use of biometrics, which 23% of people said was one of the innovations that they would most like to see. Fully integrated customer service options across phone, online, social media and text (18%) was the next most popular prospective advance.

The Future Shape of Advice
Financial advice remains an important service for many people. Overall, a quarter (25%) of consumers are willing to pay for professional financial advice, with this figure rising steeply for those with higher incomes (42% of respondents with a household income of more than £60,000). There are clearly online opportunities for efficiently delivering this advice to a wider audience. However, when it comes to planning how much to save for future retirement, almost half (44%) of consumers still prefer the reassurance of face to face advice with an adviser – clearly, digital is to form part of a ‘menu’ of advice options.

Simon Badley, Managing Director (UK), IRESS, commented: “Digitalisation has meant the needs and demands of consumers has undergone a seismic shift in the last decade. Financial Services companies need to do more to match the consumer experience and engagement expectation and build more trust from the digital consumer. Without innovation from established companies, the industry will be more prone to disruption.

“Regulatory change and in particular the pensions freedoms have highlighted a need for access to financial advice but the solution will not be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This research has shown that many consumers still want face to face advice when planning for retirement yet will happily make financial decisions online in other scenarios. The future is undoubtedly multi-channel.”

The report has also led IRESS to the development of five key foundations:
• Unify engagement via multiple financial advice options ranging from full advice, scaled or guided advice and self-service.
• Simple and secure multi-channel engagement and customer support will help consumers switch between channels based on advice need or assistance in real-time.
• Integration of research and advice functions into digital models to take advantage of the high level of online research already being conducted on financial decisions
• Provision of simple but detailed information and guidance online via semi-automated prompts for people to utilise when researching, selecting or altering products
• Leverage technology to provide consumers with a consolidated single view of their overall financial position, ensuring consistency between channels.

Toshiba Stocks Drop 17% After Accounting Probe - $2.5 Billion
MarketsStock Markets

Toshiba Stocks Drop 17% After Accounting Probe – $2.5 Billion

The stock closed 16.6 percent lower at 403.30 yen in Tokyo on Monday, giving the company an overall market value of about 1.7 trillion, close to 300 billion lower than Friday’s close.

In April Toshiba warned that it could have underestimated costs of their infrastructure prohects throughout 2012-2013. They reported that an internal probe found more irregularities, which includes a failure to records losses related to construction work. 

Investors Urged to Reviews Portfolios After Global Bond Market Sell-off
MarketsStock Markets

Investors Urged to Reviews Portfolios After Global Bond Market Sell-off

The message from Nigel Green, deVere Group’s founder and chief executive, comes as the woes surrounding government bonds prompt wider market volatility.

He says “It is still too soon to say if this is the start of the bear market in bonds that some analysts have been forecasting for the last couple of years.

“Unsure if this is a blip or not, now is not the time for hasty decisions. Now is the time for investors to review their portfolios, to be vigilant, and to seek out the potential opportunities with a good adviser.

“Whenever there is a fall-out, or periods of heightened market turmoil, there will always be opportunities for investors and it’s up to financial advisers to seek out the right ones for their clients.”

He continues: “Bonds have had an overdue correction in some countries, whilst other countries appear to have had a more knee-jerk reaction.

“We could indeed have reached a turning point for the bond market, but investors shouldn’t react with haste at this point.”

Global Bitcoin Exchange
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Global Bitcoin Exchange, itBit, Starts Accepting U.S. Customers Nationwide.

 Through a trust company charter, granted by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), itBit has established the itBit Trust Company, organized under New York State banking law. This makes itBit the only U.S.-chartered and supervised bitcoin exchange able to offer unique protection and security for customers in full compliance with New York and federal law.

“Our mission at itBit has always been to create a trusted, institutional-grade exchange and regulatory compliance is an important pillar of that mission”

“Our mission at itBit has always been to create a trusted, institutional-grade exchange and regulatory compliance is an important pillar of that mission,” said itBit CEO and co-founder Charles Cascarilla. “Regulatory approval from the NYDFS allows us to serve as a custodian for our clients’ assets and expand our services to U.S. customers – the largest market of bitcoin traders in the world – and allows us to do so with the highest standard of care afforded by any Bitcoin company.”

With oversight from the NYDFS, the itBit Trust Company provides unparalleled security and protection for all client deposits and assets. All client deposits and assets, including both bitcoin and fiat currency, are held for customers in secure custodial accounts in order to ensure the safe return of customer balances. In order to provide further heightened protection, itBit has partnered with an FDIC-insured and regulated U.S. banking institution to provide assurances to all U.S. clients that their fiat balances are held in the U.S. and with the benefit of FDIC-insurance (up to $250,000 per account).

Keurig Green Mountain Earnings Stock Fall
MarketsStock Markets

Keurig Green Mountain Earnings Stock Fall


The company had a number of excuses for the reasons why. However it is mainly due to the fact that there is just too much of it’s stock sitting in stores – unsold. Especially the new Keurig 2.0 Model. 

“We do have some headwinds,” said Chief Financial Officer Fran Rathke on a call with analysts.

Investors are withdrawing substantially. Stocks in Keurig (GMCR) fell 10% on thursday after the markets opened for trade. Overall this year their stocks are down by 25%. This must have come as a big shock for the company as it was previously one of the most desirable stocks in 2013 and 2014 with over $1 billion in sales. 

Brian Kelley, CEO, assures consumers that he is listening and promises that the changes will be made. One of the biggest problems consumers have is that the 2.0 model only allows branded coffee from Keurig to be brewed. He also said “Quite honestly, we were wrong. We underestimated the passion the consumer had for this,” on a call with analysts on Wednesday. 

For the future Keurig plans to bring back the ‘My K-Cup’ accessory that allows other brands to be brewed in the machine. It is also working to launch the Keurig KOLD system in the fall, which it hopes will drastically change how people consume cold beverages in the home. Still, the company lowered its financial projections for 2015, citing the challenges of the “complex product transition.”

Will China Become a Net Exporter of Sulphuric Acid?
MarketsStock Markets

Will China Become a Net Exporter of Sulphuric Acid?


Over the past four years, sulphuric acid production from smelters alone in China has ballooned by 6 million tonnes, while total supply from all forms of production is up by 16 million tonnes.

Despite the growth in domestic acid production, China remains a key market for global sulphuric acid trade. Imports total around 1 million tonnes of sulphuric acid each year for the fertilizer and industrial chemicals sectors, to meet growing domestic demand. Smelter acid from South Korea and Japan are the key sources of imports. Throughout the research for Integer Research’s new Sulphuric Acid Market Service, we delved into the impact of the future supply/demand acid balance in China on global trade.

Only around 7% of global sulphuric acid production is currently traded on an annual basis, with prices in the merchant market often fluctuating significantly based on smelter acid availability. Any drop in Chinese imports as a result of increased domestic supply and without an equivalent increase in demand could have a dramatic impact on the flow of trade to and from the country. At the same time, with the risk of Chinese acid imports of acid potentially reducing, we expect the same outlook for Chile, an even larger importer of acid. The potential drop in imports in these two countries begs the question over sulphuric acid pricing in the future, and what markets will absorb any diverted trade or trade reversals. Brazil had earlier been expected to increase its consumption of acid, but with key phosphate fertilizer projects shelved, the outlook is also stagnant in the coming years.

Sequa Petroleum N.V. Closes Convertible Bond Offering of U.S.$300 Million
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Sequa Petroleum N.V. Closes Convertible Bond Offering of U.S.$300 Million

Following the launch on 21 April 2015 of the offering of a convertible bond of up to U.S.$300 million maturing in April 2020, Sequa Petroleum N.V. announced that pricing of the Bonds took place on 24 April 2015 and settlement completed today.

The Bonds, which were issued at par in an initial aggregate principal amount of U.S.$300 million and will be convertible into approximately 85.7 million new Sequa Petroleum N.V. ordinary shares, representing up to approximately 30% of the ordinary shares of Sequa Petroleum N.V. following conversion in full of the Bonds.

Proceeds from the offering will allow the Sequa Petroleum group to finance its acquisition activities as well as being used for its general financing and corporate purposes.

The Bonds were issued with an annual coupon of 5.00% (which will be payable semi-annually in arrear). The initial conversion price is U.S.$3.50 per ordinary share. The conversion price is subject to customary adjustments pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Bonds. The Bonds were issued by Sequa Petroleum N.V. and are intended to be listed on the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange on or before the first interest payment date in respect of the Bonds.

The repayment obligation under a previously existing shareholder loan (drawn down in an amount of approximately U.S.$126 million with approximately U.S.$3 million of accrued interest) was settled by issuing Bonds in exchange for that loan on a dollar for dollar basis, free of payment.

In addition, U.S.$95.6 million in aggregate principal amount of the Bonds were issued and are held on behalf of the Issuer for the purposes of prospective sales to third party purchasers outside the United States. Any such Bonds which have not been sold during the period of six weeks immediately following today’s closing will be cancelled and holders of the Bonds will be notified of the final issue size following the expiry of the six week period referred to above.
U.S.$75 million of the proceeds from the issuance of the Bonds (less certain fees and expenses) were paid to Sequa Petroleum N.V. at closing.

Anoa Capital S.A. is acting as Sole Global Coordinator, and, together with ADS Securities LLC, Abu Dhabi, as Joint Bookrunner. In addition, Sapinda Asia Limited, an existing shareholder of Sequa Petroleum N.V. has entered into a commitment, subject to regulatory approvals, to subscribe for up to U.S.$62.5 million of additional ordinary shares in Sequa Petroleum N.V. during 2015.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Prices €1.15 Billion of Senior Notes
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Bristol-Myers Squibb Prices €1.15 Billion of Senior Notes

€575,000,000 in aggregate principal amount of 1.000% notes due 2025 and €575,000,000 in aggregate principal amount of 1.750% notes due 2035, in an underwritten public offering.BNP Paribas, Goldman, Sachs & Co., Merrill Lynch International and Morgan Stanley & Co. International plc are acting as joint book-running managers of the underwriters.

Bristol-Myers Squibb intends to use the net proceeds from the offering, together with cash on hand, to fund the redemption of €500 million aggregate principal amount of 4.375% Senior Notes due 2016 and €500 million aggregate principal amount of 4.625% Senior Notes due 2021. The offering is expected to close on May 5, 2015, subject to customary closing conditions.

The final prospectus supplement and accompanying prospectus, when available, may be accessed through the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. Alternatively, the issuer, the underwriters or any dealer participating in the offering will arrange to send you the prospectus and prospectus supplement if you request it by calling BNP Paribas at 1-800-854-5674, Goldman, Sachs & Co. at 1-866-471-2526, Merrill Lynch International at 1-800-294-1322 or Morgan Stanley & Co. International plc at 1-866-718-1649.

These securities are offered pursuant to a registration statement that has become effective under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. These securities are only offered by means of the prospectus supplement and prospectus relating to the offering. This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any offer or sale of these securities in any state or other jurisdiction, where the offer, solicitation or sale of these securities would be unlawful prior to the registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or other jurisdiction.

About Bristol-Myers Squibb

Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases.

Sequa Petroleum N.V. Launches Convertible Bond Offering of up to U.S.$300 Million
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Sequa Petroleum N.V. Launches Convertible Bond Offering of up to U.S.$300 Million

The Bonds, which will be issued at par, are expected to be convertible into up to approximately 85.7 million new Sequa Petroleum N.V. ordinary shares, representing up to approximately 30% of the ordinary shares of Sequa Petroleum N.V. following conversion in full of the Bonds.

Proceeds from the offering will allow the Sequa Petroleum group to finance its acquisition activities as well as being used for its general financing and corporate purposes.

The coupon (which will be payable semi-annually in arrear) will be determined via an accelerated bookbuilding process currently expected to take place on 21 and 22 April 2015, the results of which are expected to be announced on no later than 23 April 2015. The initial conversion price will be U.S.$3.50 per ordinary share. The conversion price will be subject to customary adjustments pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Bonds. The Bonds will be issued by Sequa Petroleum N.V. and are intended to be listed on the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange on or before the first interest payment date in respect of the Bonds.

The repayment obligation under an existing shareholder loan (drawn down in an amount of approximately U.S.$126 million with approximately U.S.$3 million of accrued interest) will be settled by issuing Bonds in exchange for that loan on a dollar for dollar basis, free of payment.

The remainder of the Bonds will be offered to third party investors outside the United States.
Anoa Capital S.A. is acting as Sole Global Coordinator, and, together with ADS Securities LLC, Abu Dhabi, as Joint Bookrunner.

In addition, Sapinda Asia Limited, an existing shareholder of Sequa Petroleum N.V. has entered into a commitment, subject to regulatory approvals, to subscribe for up to U.S.$62.5 million of additional ordinary shares in Sequa Petroleum N.V. during 2015.