Category: Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)

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.


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).

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
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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
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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.

US Money Market Funds' Exposure to China Slowing
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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.

Fortex Moving into Chinese Market
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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.

MTG Invests in Europe’s Online TV Market
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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
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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.

NovaBay Announces $6.86 Million “At Market” Private Placement
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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
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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.”

Global Bitcoin Exchange
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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).

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

FairFX - First FX Apple Watch App
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FairFX – First FX Apple Watch App

The free app will enable users to monitor online money transfer and currency exchange rates on the go, with the next iteration also allowing FAIRFX customers to check their prepaid card balances and monitor their spending wherever they are.

FAIRFX already offers an iOS and Android app to its customers, and this latest release for the Apple Watch meets demand for smart devices as customer preferences change and shift towards wearable tech.

Over the coming months, an updated version of the app for the Apple Watch with increased functionality will allow users to manage their prepaid currency card balance from the app.

CEO of FAIRFX Ian Strafford-Taylor, said: “FAIRFX customers use our mobile and web services to save money and hassle on foreign exchange, so it’s key to offer them a choice of the latest technologies that fit with their active and busy lifestyles. We are proud to offer an app which enables people to stay up to date with currency rates and make smart choices about when to transfer money internationally or order travel money.”

The app will be available to download from the iOS app store shortly after the Apple Watch is released on Friday (April 24th 2015).

Synergy FX Announces over 150 % Gain in First 19 Months for Funds Management
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Synergy FX Announces over 150 % Gain in First 19 Months for Funds Management

The extreme performance, along with the company’s varied innovative products, such as the Hybrid ECN account, are primary reasons Synergy FX is on the verge of dominating the Forex broker market.

CEO Christian Dove had this to say: “We are very pleased with the results of our Funds Management team. The gain for the first 19 months indicates an annualized return rate of over 95 percent, which is unheard of for fully regulated funds of this type, and displays a truly robust nature. Coupled with our new Hybrid ECN account, which offers a completely innovative approach to trading, our results show precisely why Synergy FX is a market leader. In the future the company will continue to innovate and surprise the market with additional high performance funds management products such as the upcoming “Arbidyne” equity based product, cementing our dominant position in the industry.”

Synergy FX recently launched the Hybrid ECN account as a result of Black Thursday, when many traders took a massive hit after the National Bank of Switzerland removed the ceiling on the Swiss franc, causing the currency to double in value almost overnight. Thousands of accounts were wiped out, with many going steeply into a negative balance. The market demanded a solution, which Synergy FX quickly offered.

“The Hybrid ECN account has been designed to offer traders protection from negative balances, which are automatically forgiven. This is a promise we make in writing and is guaranteed for every trader who holds a Hybrid ECN account. What makes this account unique in the marketplace is that it also offers excellent performance thanks to raw bank spreads and our low commissions,” Dove said of the Hybrid ECN account.

Synergy FX has seen a massive spike in new accounts after launching Hybrid ECN, and the company has expanded accordingly by taking on staff and investing in server and network capacity upgrades to make sure the increased load can easily be handled.

New Investment Platform Launches to Unlock the Potential of Frontier and Emerging Markets
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New Investment Platform Launches to Unlock the Potential of Frontier and Emerging Markets


The platform is the brainchild of Co-Founders Lucien Moolenaar and Will Tindall and aims to link ambitious, well-run companies seeking finance with international investors pursuing the potential of higher returns from some of the world’s fastest growing markets.

Many small and medium-sized businesses around the world find themselves in a ‘funding gap’, where banks and private equity firms have failed to provide much needed financing for growth. Emerging Crowd offers qualifying businesses an alternative financing solution using state of the art crowdfunding technology.
The first two companies to list on Emerging Crowd are Bozza and Neo:

• Bozza is an exciting new mobile and desktop platform for downloading and streaming music, video and spoken word content created by emerging and established artists from across Africa. “About 60% of Africa’s population is under 25, and they’re eager media consumers willing to pay for quality online content” says Bozza founder and CEO Emma Kaye, a veteran of several successful startups and a globally recognised leader in mobile innovation. The unique Bozza catalogue goes beyond platforms like iTunes, Spotify and Netflix, bringing a diverse range of new programming to a global audience while letting artists stay in control of their content. Bozza has set an initial funding target of £500,000 to scale its unique mobile-centric platform throughout the continent and the globe.

• Neo is an established and fast-growing chain of coffee shops in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy. Founded in Lagos in 2012 by two brothers, former bankers Ngozi and Chijioke Dozie, it already has the largest number of coffee shops of any chain in West Africa. Neo’s CEO, Ngozi Dozie, explains: “Nigeria’s consumers are only just discovering coffee shop culture — the growth potential is huge. To put this in context, South Africa, with a GDP of $350bn and a population of 50 million, has over 200 outlets owned by branded coffee chains. Nigeria has a GDP of $520bn, three times the population and a middle class that has grown by 600% over the past 15 years, and yet Neo, with just a handful of locations, is already the largest branded chain of coffee shops in Nigeria. Well executed coffee shop chains are a proven business model that has been hugely successful in the world’s richer countries, and the trend is now taking off among the millions of aspirational middle-class Nigerians.” Neo is looking to raise £500,000 of equity on Emerging Crowd to expand across Nigeria.

Interested investors can view detailed disclosure documents and financial information on the Emerging Crowd platform and can ask questions directly to Neo’s and Bozza’s management teams before deciding to invest. Emerging Crowd also offers a streamlined investor relations service so that investors in any deal can monitor their portfolio on the platform and see how their money is being put to work over the lifetime of their investment.

Emerging Crowd’s Co-Founder, Will Tindall, said: “Our aim is to build an online community of investors who are passionate about the exceptional growth opportunities available in frontier and emerging markets. Until now the vast majority of investors have had no way to reach these types of companies, let alone consider buying a stake in them.”
Neo and Bozza are the first of many promising companies to be successfully pre-screened and to be admitted to Emerging Crowd. “We’re committed to investor protection, and all companies on the platform are subjected to world-class legal and commercial due diligence, conducted by Emerging Crowd’s team of experienced investment analysts and external legal and due diligence specialists. The minimum investment in any opportunity is £500, and investors pay no fees to the Platform.

Emerging Crowd’s Co-Founder, Lucien Moolenaar added: “Frontier and emerging markets can offer investors significant growth and income as part of a diversified investment portfolio. Emerging Crowd allows investors to access individual growth-stage companies that would not otherwise be accessible. We combine best practices from private equity, capital markets and crowdfunding, including extensive background checks, thorough due diligence and unparalleled disclosure on every deal. We also require companies to provide quarterly and annual updates, allowing our members to monitor their investments and see the impact they are having in these rapidly growing markets.”

Emerging Crowd is secure and transparent, and the investment documents are governed by English law. Investors will nevertheless need to be comfortable with the higher risks associated with investing in unlisted companies in frontier and emerging market countries. In order to invest on the platform, Emerging Crowd investors will need to meet the eligibility requirements laid down by the Financial Conduct Authority for investment-based crowdfunding.
Emerging Crowd is an appointed representative of Resolution Compliance Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 574048).

Bluerock Residential Growth (BRG) Announces Second Quarter 2015 Common Stock Dividends
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Bluerock Residential Growth (BRG) Announces Second Quarter 2015 Common Stock Dividends

Bluerock Residential Growth today announced that its Board of Directors has authorized and the Company has declared monthly cash dividends for the second quarter of 2015 equal to a quarterly rate of $0.29 per share on the Company’s Class A common stock and $0.29 per share on the Company’s Class B common stock.

The monthly dividend on the Class A common stock and Class B common stock will be as follows: $0.096666 per share to be paid on May 5, 2015 to shareholders of record on April 25, 2015; $0.096667 per share to be paid on June 5, 2015 to shareholders of record on May 25, 2015; and $0.096667 per share to be paid on July 5, 2015 to shareholders of record on June 25, 2015.

LV= Comments on UK Inflation Rate
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LV= Comments on UK Inflation Rate

Steve Lewis, LV= Head of Retirement Distribution commented: “The current economic environment creates a real challenge for someone retiring today. The Governor of the Bank of England has clearly stated that the outlook for inflation in 2015 may well be negative and yet in the next few years inflation will return to target and then rise a little further. The impact on interest rates in the short term has been negative and the knock on effect to annuity rates has been inevitable. Some may therefore take the view that higher rates in 3 to 5 years’ time may provide more attractive conditions for locking into long term guaranteed returns.

“The retiree has to recognise that inflation is perhaps the biggest risk to their retirement income plans. Setting out for a lifetime in retirement based on an expectation that today’s environment will continue would just be wrong. Individuals and advisers need to understand and plan for inflation.

“Pension Freedom regulations coming into force on the 6th April do offer a helping hand to anyone looking to access their pension funds today. The ability to secure a baseline income to cover the household essentials and use the balance of the retirement savings to provide a fund for lifestyle expenditure is now possible. It is still of course essential for individuals to make sure they are underwritten before they look to secure any annuity. Identifying health issues, or lifestyle factors, is not only a good thing to do, but can also result in a significantly higher guaranteed income from an annuity.

“One of the most popular solutions in the LV= portfolio today is the guaranteed income drawdown, commonly referred to as a fixed term annuity, as this offers the individual a guaranteed income for an agreed period of time, with a guaranteed maturity value. It is of course not without risk. Inflation is a very important factor, but predicting inflation for the next 5 years is a lot easier than for the next 25 years.”

New Report Debunks the EU Jobs Myth
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New Report Debunks the EU Jobs Myth

Jobs are associated with trade, not membership of a political union, and there is little evidence to suggest that trade would substantially fall between British businesses and European consumers in the event the UK was outside the EU.

Politicians who continue to claim that three million jobs are linked to our EU membership should be publicly challenged over misuse of this assertion. Jobs are associated with trade, not membership of a political union, and there is little evidence to suggest that trade would substantially fall between British businesses and European consumers in the event the UK was outside the EU.

In a new report from the Institute of Economic Affairs, author Ryan Bourne calls for a rational debate, acknowledging how the structure of the UK labour market is fluctuating constantly; prior to the financial crisis, the UK saw on average 4 million jobs created and 3.7 million jobs lost every single year.

Leaving the EU would see a multitude of new policy decisions which would affect trade flows and the composition of the workforce, from trade arrangements through to the regulatory policies adopted. Whatever the policy climate, it can be said with certainty that three to four million jobs are not at risk if the UK leaves the EU. There may well be net job creation or a range of other possible outcomes which should be debated reasonably.

Five reasons why three million jobs are not dependent on our membership of the EU:

1. Import substitution
The three to four million number is calculated as the number of jobs linked – both directly and indirectly – to exports from the UK to customers and businesses in other EU countries. Even in a hypothetical world where trade completely broke down between the UK and EU, there would still not be the loss of this many jobs, as ‘import substitution’ would partially offset the fall in exports and trade would develop with other parts of the world.

2. Trade is more important than political union
The worst case scenario would be a failure to negotiate a free trade deal in the result of Brexit. If this were the case, both parties would be bound by the World Trade Organisation’s ‘most favoured nation’ tariffs paid by other developed countries, which would prevent the imposition of punitive tariffs by the EU following the UK’s exit. Job losses would not be significant.

3. The UK labour market is incredibly dynamic
It would adapt quickly to changed relationships with the EU. Prior to the financial crisis, the UK saw on average 4 million jobs created and 3.7 million jobs lost each year – showing how common substantial churn of jobs is at any given time. The annual creation and destruction of jobs is almost exactly the same scale as the estimated 3-4 million jobs that are associated with exports to the EU.

4. A move away from a customs union could boost free trade
The UK’s trade patterns shifted significantly after joining the EU, focusing on intra-EU trade at the expense of the rest of the world. Whilst not facing tariff barriers within the EU, the UK currently faces high external tariffs on importing goods from many other countries. In the event of a Brexit, Britain would be likely to divert more trade outside the EU. The overall economic impact would thus depend on what new trade relationships could be negotiated.

5. A changing policy framework
Ultimately, whether EU membership is a net positive or negative for jobs and prosperity in the UK depends on what policies the UK pursues outside of the EU in relation to employment regulation, welfare and tax, the way the UK decides to use its saved contribution to the EU budget, and the extent of new trade deals adopted with third parties. For a healthy labour market, liberal economic policies in each of these areas should be pursued.

Confidence and Competition Sees Investors Shift Strategy
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Confidence and Competition Sees Investors Shift Strategy

KPMG surveyed investors, who together control real estate assets in excess of €580 billion, about their investment strategies for 2015.

The results showed that competition over prime real estate has prompted investors to look further afield and diversify their portfolios. 64% of respondents are now targeting investments globally, rather than in just one continent, compared to just 39% in 2014.

Suburban offices and high street retail are also back on the acquisition agenda, with 44% and 68% of investors stating they planned to invest in these asset classes over the next 12 months.

However, competition is already pricing out some players from property hot spots in Western Europe. One in ten investors said they planned to reduce their holdings in the region this year.

“Western Europe is slowly heating up and investors are keen to realise their gains and free up capital to invest elsewhere,” said Richard White, UK head of real estate at KPMG. “Intense competition over prime assets has already forced some investors out of the market if they are unable to meet, or justify, the pricing levels.”

However, barriers to growth remain. 48% of investors surveyed said a sustainable supply of suitable stock is the main threat facing their business and this had the greatest potential to constrain growth. One in four also cited the performance of the global economy as an area of concern.

“The prolonged economic downturn caused a halt in speculative development and there are simply not enough finished assets to satisfy investor demand. This mismatch between demand and supply is prompting fears of a price bubble in certain markets, which are simply becoming overcrowded,” said White.

“While investor confidence has significantly improved, it remains vulnerable to shocks.The recent slowdown in GDP across a number of the key global real estate markets has caused understandable concern within the real estate industry. Poor economic performance could cause investors to suddenly retrench to perceived safe havens of Western Europe, rather than venture further afield.”

New Business Models Will Steer Revenues in Chinese Automotive Aftermarket
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New Business Models Will Steer Revenues in Chinese Automotive Aftermarket, Finds Frost & Sullivan

 The total number of passenger, light and mini commercial vehicles in China is likely to reach 282 million by 2021, opening up opportunities for the automotive aftermarket in the country. To tap into this potential, however, aftermarket participants must address the challenges stemming from fragmented distribution networks, regulatory uncertainty, and the presence of counterfeit parts.

“The increasing demand of end users and the enforcement of anti-monopoly policies are expected to strengthen the independent aftermarket channel in China,” said Frost & Sullivan Automotive and Transportation Research Analyst Will Wong. “Automakers are opening authorized workshops and fast-fit chains in order to compete with lower-priced independent workshops.”

Increasing competition and changing consumer behavior will steadily boost the sale volumes of vehicle parts and services. Intense competition will also create a wider range of product and service options for end users to choose from, requiring participants to deliver more than just basic services to consumers and installers.

While vehicle owners demand high-quality products and services, their limited product knowledge and low brand awareness inhibits market growth. In order to sustain profits, service providers and parts suppliers must train end users on the identification of counterfeit parts.

“Further, deploying business models such as ‘bricks and clicks’ will be vital to market success,” concluded Wong. “Foreign suppliers should also consider partnering with eCommerce channels such as Alibaba to develop brand loyalty with consumers in the Chinese market.”

Euro Suffers Further Losses against the US Dollar
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Euro Suffers Further Losses against the US Dollar

Sterling also suffered losses against the greenback but it is the euro that is always going to feel the brunt as today Mario Draghi will reveal the ECB’s plan to execute its €1 trillion quantitative easing program. Whilst debates have been raging about the hows and whens of the QE program, the most significant aspect is that it is due to carry on until late 2016, but is open-ended so it could go on well beyond then if inflation is not back near the 2% target. This element of the QE will be closely watched to see just how flexible the ECB will be when it comes to the amount, timing and duration of the program.

The ECB is also going to have to adjust lower its forecast for inflation in 2015, which currently sits at an unrealistic 0.7% and expectations are for an increase to the current growth forecast of 1%. These forecasts could also influence how EURUSD trades later today as a downward adjustment to inflation and no corresponding uplift in the growth forecast could lead to more downward pressure on the euro.

Either way the euro’s downward trend looks to be intact and weakness for EURUSD continues this morning with the rate trading at 1.1045 at the time of writing. Despite the usual spike in Eurozone bond yields one would expect ahead of the commencement of QE, yields are likely to remain at their historical lows, but with signs on the economic data front that indicate the worst is over for Europe, one can’t help feel this is all coming a little late.

London's Status as Leading Global City Under Threat
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London’s Status as Leading Global City Under Threat

AECOM, the global integrated infrastructure services company, today published its manifesto for the London City Region entitled “Big, Bold, Global, Connected-London 2065”, which sets out ideas for the long-term growth of the city and wider South East region, and contributes to the wider debate on housing, economy and infrastructure. The manifesto warns that London’s status as a leading global city is under threat and calls for a collaborative, region-wide approach to tackle major challenges in housing, infrastructure, transport and planning.

AECOM’s manifesto calls for a new vision of the city as the London City Region, which looks beyond the 50-year-old boundaries of Greater London to ensure that London and the UK retain their position as a global leader.
The London City Region, broadly an area within 90 kilometres, or one hour’s commute, of central London, is now home to more than 20 million people and is expected to grow to 30 million by 2065. AECOM calculates that the growth in the London Region’s population will lead to a shortfall of one million homes by 2036 unless new sites are found and building is accelerated.

With around one million people commuting into and out of London every day, strong economic links between industrial and learning ‘clusters’ both within and beyond the capital are essential. Jobs will be created in one area and homes needed in different and often distant districts. Addressing the housing shortfall therefore needs region-wide collaboration and vision.

The drivers affecting change are not just local. London is at risk of losing its competitive position within the next 50 years compared with Dubai, Shanghai and other emerging global mega-cities that, unlike London, are not burdened with ageing infrastructure, some of which dates back more than 150 years.

UK could lose out in global competition for talent

Many of the world’s emerging mega-cities that compete with London for talent have bold visions and buoyant economies that will entice leading global companies to relocate. Living standards and quality of life, as well as modern transport infrastructure, will tempt a mobile and highly skilled workforce from the UK.

By the mid-2020s, nearly half of the world’s leading companies will be based in emerging regions, compared to one-fifth today. In 10 years’ time, Asia will be home for nearly two-thirds of the global middle class, compared to one-third today. These mega-cities will compete with London for trade and talent, as the global map of influence shifts away from the London-New York City axis.

Looking to these diverse and long-term challenges, the manifesto calls for the creation of a wide-ranging London City Region Board – encompassing government, local authorities, developers, communities and infrastructure providers – to take a co-ordinated approach to address the multiple challenges in infrastructure, planning and transport, as well as a growing housing crisis.

Andrew Jones, who led the development of the manifesto and is AECOM’s UK leader for design, planning & economics, said:

“We need to think differently about London – not just as a city, but as a city region if we are to meet the multiple challenges to infrastructure, planning, transport and housing that are crucial to London’s competitiveness and quality of life.

“Over two centuries, the governance structure in London and South East England has adapted to the challenges of larger, more complex urbanisation. Today, a rethink is needed – it is time for a fresh vision and approach that goes beyond traditional boundaries. While many of the pressures on London have been actively debated and initiatives outlined, we believe there has been a lack of joined-up thinking.

“Today we are calling for the creation of a new body spanning the public and private sectors, which will create a coherent regional growth strategy. The future, long-term success of London and the wider London City Region depends on the decisions taken in the next Parliament.

“Our manifesto identifies 10 actions to meet the challenges, as there is no single solution to meeting housing demand and achieving balanced economic growth. It is critical that within the next five years real progress is made to deliver region-wide collaboration, planning and delivery.”

Recent plans don’t go far enough

The Mayor’s Infrastructure Plan to 2050 and London First/London LEP’s Economic Plan begin to frame the debate, but this picture needs to be combined with a complementary approach to planning that goes beyond the current boundaries of London. It also needs a long-term horizon – looking 50 years ahead to 2065. Whilst we welcome many of these proposals, including George Osborne and Boris Johnson’s recently announced long-term economic plan for London which demonstrates commitment both at city level and nationally, they do not adequately address the challenges in a broader context. For each of these initiatives, the scope stops at the edge of Greater London – a boundary conceived 50 years ago and no longer reflective of the scale and reach of the London economy.

Partnership approach and refreshed system of governance is needed

AECOM’s manifesto calls for a refreshed system of governance in which government, local authorities, developers, communities and infrastructure providers think at the scale and with the ambition that London needs. A bold, integrated approach to regional growth is required that recognises the interdependent relationship between London and its region.
The current ‘Duty to Co-operate’ across local authority boundaries does not work. Delivering growth in the London City Region requires a more joined-up approach to implementation, which involves the public and private sector working in partnership in order to manage the pace of change that is forecast.

The approach needs to balance local decision-making and influence within a framework capable of creating and implementing an integrated spatial London City Region plan. The forecast population and economic growth, together with a redefined position amongst global cities, provide the opportunity for London’s – and the UK’s – future success. But this will only be effective if stakeholders coordinate strategic planning and growth at the London City Region scale.
Boundary reform may play a part in the solution, particularly for those districts that are functionally and culturally connected to the capital, but the call is to join up more widely.

New Generation of Entrepreneurs Riding UK's Economic Recovery
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New Generation of Entrepreneurs Riding UK’s Economic Recovery


In 2014 one in five working age individuals in the UK were running their own business, were actively trying to start a business or intended to start a business within the next three years.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) UK 2014 report, written by a team of entrepreneurship researchers from Aston and Strathclyde Business Schools, compares entrepreneurial activity, attitudes and aspirations in the UK, France, Germany and the US, reveals that the UK has pulled ahead of France and Germany in the entrepreneurship stakes.
Figures show that the total early-stage entrepreneurial activity (TEA) rate now stands at 8.6 per cent in the UK in 2014, a significant increase in the 2013 figure of 7.3 per cent. This compares with 5 per cent in France and Germany where the TEA rate has not changed since 2011.

Professor Jonathan Levie, of the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at Strathclyde Business School, said: “Compared with the early 2000s, the UK now looks very different from other EU countries such as France and Germany in terms of early-stage entrepreneurship. For the last four years it has significantly outperformed both of these countries in the number of early-stage entrepreneurs.”

This growth in early-stage entrepreneurial activity in the UK is mainly because more men, especially those aged between 50 and 64 years old, are taking the first steps to running their own business.

Professor Levie added: “While this means that the ‘gender gap’ in early-stage entrepreneurship has risen this year, this is not due to any fall in the proportion of women starting their own business and a longer term view reveals that the TEA rate of 5.7 per cent for women in 2014 has almost doubled in ten years.”

The report identifies that the percentage of non-entrepreneurs of working-age in the UK who agreed there were good opportunities for starting a business in their local area in the next six months has now risen to 37 per cent in 2014. This marks a return to pre-recession levels of 2007 and suggests a growing sense of optimism among the wider population for business start-up.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) UK 2014 Report also reveals that a record number of people aged between 50 and 64 years are now starting their own business, with a highest ever recorded TEA rate of 7.1 per cent.
The GEM UK analysis has revealed the number of early-stage entrepreneurs aged between 50 and 64 years has grown steadily since the onset of the recession in 2008.

Professor Mark Hart, of Aston Business School, said: “This age group has historically had a TEA rate significantly lower than for those in the younger age groups but the recent recession seems to have changed that long-term trend. This is particularly the case for men and one possible interpretation is that older men find it difficult to get back into the labour market after the recession and some are now looking to start their own businesses as a result.”

A look at the sub-national picture of TEA rates in 2014 showed that the rate for Scotland at 5.4 per cent was significantly lower than the rate for England (9.1%). The rates for Wales and Northern Ireland were 7.1 per cent and 6.7 per cent.
Total early-stage entrepreneurial activity (TEA) is defined in the GEM UK report as a combination of nascent entrepreneurs – individuals who are committing resources, such as time or money, to starting a business – and new business owner-managers, whose business has been paying income, such as salaries or drawings, for more than three, but not more than forty-two, months.

Professor Mark Hart will be presenting the GEM UK analysis on 3 March at the BIS Small Business Research Conference 2015: Unlocking Greater Growth. At this event, BIS will also be presenting the latest findings from its Small Business Survey. This reveals confidence amongst existing small and medium-sized businesses is growing as more are achieving profits and many expect larger turnovers and workforces in the next 12 months.

A full copy of the GEM UK 2014 Monitoring Report will be uploaded at www.aston.ac.uk/gem.

£3.5bn Music Industry Can Be 'Poster Boy' for UK Exports
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£3.5bn Music Industry Can Be ‘Poster Boy’ for UK Exports

The UK’s creative industries are together worth £36bn in Gross Value Added and supports around 1.5 million jobs. With competition from abroad, to sell albums or producing new video-games, on the rise, the leading business organisations stresses that it has never been more important to set the foundations for future economic success in this sector.

Katja Hall, CBI Deputy Director-General, says: “The UK’s creative industries are global leaders, whether it is providing great film locations and production skills, or video game developers and fashion designers. It is essential to over one million jobs that this remains the case.

“As artists gathered for The Brits 2015, the music industry alone is worth £3.5 billion and with the right help can become the ‘poster boy’ for UK exports. With the likes of Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran riding high in charts around the world, the UK must keep thinking big to help even more of our music artists crack new markets.”

How the Rising Dollar Ripples Across the US Economy
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How the Rising Dollar Ripples Across the US Economy

The dollar has risen about 15 percent since its low of June 2011, allowing Americans to enjoy lower prices for imported goods, and helping keep inflation in check. It can also lead to lower commodity prices, allowing Americans to pay less for energy and food.

But it has made exports more expensive, reducing U.S. manufacturers’ competitive advantage abroad. As domestic manufacturers reduce expenses, that can lead to job losses and restrain economic growth. And it can hurt stock prices of U.S. companies that do business abroad, as sales of their products in weakening currencies fetch fewer dollars.

“Many U.S. Treasury secretaries, administration officials and financial pundits have touted a strong dollar policy, but the impacts of such a policy are a mixed bag,” said Bob Hughes, lead author of Business Conditions Monthly, an AIER report which provides an outlook for the U.S. economy, and a read on inflationary pressures. This month’s edition, which focuses on the impact of the rising dollar, suggests a slightly weaker economy than last month, but forecasts continued growth in the quarters ahead, as well as subdued inflationary pressures.

In addition to the impact on the economy and inflationary pressures, the report highlights the strong dollar’s potential impacts and risks for investors in global fixed income markets and commodities, as well as U.S. equities and global equities.

Hughes said the dollar is likely to head even higher, as this country’s economy gains strength, and U.S. interest rates begin to rise while foreign central banks ease their own monetary policies. Consequently, investors may still have time to review their portfolios and make appropriate adjustments to mitigate the risks from a stronger dollar, Hughes said. To read the full report, visit aier.org.

Deregulation
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Deregulation, Distributed Generation, and Environmental Concerns Are Expected to Shape the Smart Grid Industry in 2015 and Beyond, According to Navigant Research

With breakthroughs and innovation emerging on an almost daily basis, the smart grid technology industry is burgeoning. For the electric utilities expected to deliver reliable and efficient grid systems, however, the pace is considerably slower. Electric utilities worldwide are facing upheaval on a number of fronts, influencing industrywide trends. Click to tweet: According to a recent white paper from Navigant Research, a combination of factors that includes deregulation, the proliferation of distributed generation (DG) installations, and environmental concerns are expected to mold the smart grid industry in 2015 and beyond.

“Deregulation is occurring globally, even as distributed generation (DG) cuts into the utility’s core business of selling electricity to businesses and consumers,” says Richelle Elberg, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “Further, the increase in DG installations, along with electric vehicles (EVs), is changing the load profile of distribution circuits, often in concentrated neighborhoods, which can mean reduced grid stability and increased need for infrastructure upgrades.”

One way utilities are adapting to this changing landscape is by maximizing investment in advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) networks for a host of new applications, from consumer engagement to analytics, and from demand response (DR) to time-of-use (TOU) pricing. As utilities leverage this last mile of connectivity, and intelligence morphs and spreads across the grid, the need for increasingly complex and interoperable IT systems, more robust communications networks, and greater collaboration between formerly siloed teams, also grows.

The full white paper is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.

Where Next for Euro Government Bonds?
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Where Next for Euro Government Bonds?


 Tom Sartain, fixed income fund manager at Schroders, comments on what investors can expect from the euro government bond markets after the expanded QE begins:

“In January, the ECB announced a bold expansion of its asset purchase programme. Now that markets have had time to digest the news, investors want to know where eurozone government bonds will go next and where the opportunities lie in today’s low yield environment.

In summary, our views are that:

• The sheer size of the expanded stimulus plan and the quasi open-ended nature of the schedule came as a surprise to the market. We believe this will prove more impactful in raising inflation expectations than markets are anticipating.

• Markets are too pessimistic on the near-term growth outlook for the eurozone. Prior to January’s announcement data were already starting to turn. The asset purchases will act as a further boost to economic progress.

• The ECB’s decisive action could shift the supply-demand balance for certain parts of the European bond market; some assets will be clear beneficiaries from the programme.

• Although the monetary policies of the eurozone and stronger economies like the US and the UK are moving apart, key aspects of bond pricing will remain closely linked. Historically, inflation risk premium (the amount of return demanded by investors for offsetting inflation risk) and term premium (the return demanded for moving further along the yield curve) are highly correlated between these markets.

There remain many unanswered questions regarding the practicalities of the expanded asset purchases. Exactly how the purchases will be undertaken is not yet fully understood; it could be via reverse auction or directly in the secondary market. The split of the bonds to be bought in terms of maturity is also not clear. Finally, there is little detail on how the ECB will avoid causing dislocations in the yield curve. Some bonds will be easier to buy than others, and market participants are likely to try to capitalise on the ECB’s buying activity. This could lead to some significant distortions.

When the small print is digested, we think 2015 should present a number of opportunities for active managers. Long dated bonds in non-core economies, inflation linked euro bonds, bonds issued by government agencies and covered bonds are all on our radar as potential major beneficiaries from the presence of a large buyer in the market.

Against a backdrop of very low or even negative yields on many eurozone bonds, Italian and Spanish yields offer a positive yield and a steep curve. This is attractive when combined with a central bank which has committed to significant asset purchases in these markets. We expect yield spreads – the differential between a bond’s yield relative to Bunds – will continue to converge between eurozone countries, but will stay wider than the levels experienced in the years leading up to the financial crisis.

In the medium term, yields are likely to move higher, but will remain lower than historical standards. European yields will stay lower than those of faster growing economies such as the US, but if the market begins to demand higher yields from US Treasuries, because the Fed Funds rate is moving higher, then investors in European assets will demand the same.

The principal systemic risk from a euro perspective comes from Greece and its possible ‘Grexit’. The market remains nervous of the situation in Greece, and should events unfold in a disorderly fashion, any expanded asset purchases will not be enough to prevent investors seeking a meaningfully higher risk premium on euro area assets.”

Eurozone's GDP Boost Should Ease Negotiations
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Eurozone’s GDP Boost Should Ease Negotiations

A number of countries helped the Eurozone to beat forecasts this quarter. German output increased by 0.7% quarter-on-quarter over Q4, powered by exports and consumer spending. While exports have long been the engine of German growth, consumer spending had been out of line with other members. Spain and Portugal have returned to expansion and posted increases of 0.7% and 0.5% respectively. Italy and France continue to dampen the currency union’s overall reading with zero and 0.1% growth respectively, while Greece has shown again the mercurial nature of its recovery by contracting 0.2% over Q4.

It may be tempting to wonder why these small changes in output matter. Athens has only a fortnight until its next IMF payment is due and mere days to agree the conditions for a further line of credit to avoid outright default. Politics seem to have taken over, and the focus has moved away from GDP to wrangling over debts and austerity. But it matters because at root this crisis is about growth. The Eurozone has seen virtually no expansion in output since the recession, and some predict a “new normal” state of low growth where an ageing population and high debts cause virtual stagnation for decades as in Japan. Under such conditions, the currency union would remain under severe strain, with impoverished electorates unable to agree on the fiscal transfers that are needed to maintain balance in a group of economies with variance in competitiveness.

The recovery in growth should aid negotiations for Monday’s crucial showdown, where the sides need to find a compromise. It is easier to be generous when the pie is expanding. Perhaps Germany’s sizeable export boost will remind Merkel what Germany gains from the euro and why it has expended so much effort already in supporting weaker members. Certainly she would be unable to sell a more lenient deal to her own voters if their own standards of living were falling, no matter how parlous the situation further South. In addition, both parties appear to be making concessions since the disappointing Eurogroup meeting of Eurozone finance ministers on Wednesday, when negotiations broke down without even finding common starting ground.

Today’s figures give grounds for cautious optimism. They show that even amid great uncertainty and the deflation that prevailed in Q4, the Eurozone achieved growth and its largest underwriter also boosted output. The low oil price has helped bolster spending and the European Central Bank may even receive some credit for its various preliminary efforts in late 2014 before pulling the quantitative easing lever. Much more is needed to help Europe out of its stagnation, especially on fiscal policy where there remains untapped resource for stimulating demand. Tentative signs of growth make the potential for compromise stronger, though Europe is still some way from a mutually acceptable solution. The next Eurogroup meeting on Monday remains decisive.

 

Economist Keith Wade Gives Outlook on US Economy
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

Economist Keith Wade Gives Outlook on US Economy

“Recent robust US economic data has heightened the prospect of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates by mid-2015. The strength of the recovery in the jobs market has begun to add some inflationary pressures to the economy, which have offset the impact of lower energy prices. But while we put the probability of a rate rise in June at close to 60%, the market is pricing in just a 25% chance.”

In this 60 second video, Schroders economist Keith Wade gives his broad overview of the US economy: “The US has reached take-off velocity and is on a self-sustaining path. We are seeing jobs increase, we are seeing household incomes rise and that is supporting consumer spending, so we do believe the US is set fair for 2015.”

“If that scenario continues to play out then the odds of a rate hike in the US by mid-2015 could shorten further. So investors will keep a close eye on upcoming economic data out of the US including; retail sales figures out on Thursday and consumer confidence numbers due for release on Friday.”

UK Trade Deficit Reached Widest Last Year Since 2010
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

UK Trade Deficit Reached Widest Last Year Since 2010

The wider deficit for the year as a whole was largely attributed to exports falling more significantly than imports did. The sharp drop in the price of Brent crude oil, which began in September and continued into January, helped to strengthen the trade balance to some extent as oil imports fell by more than oil exports. However, this narrowing of the trade deficit in oil was not enough to offset sharp declines in exports of other manufactured goods.

The weak performance of exports was felt with trade partners around much of the globe. In the final quarter of 2014 the value of goods sales to Eurozone members fell back by 0.5% year on year, and by 1.9% to the rest of the world. Exports to the US, one of the UK’s largest trading partners, declined year on year by 6.3%. In addition, growth in sales to China has been slowing recently, to just 0.8% year on year in the final quarter of last year.

This trend of weak overall trade performance is likely to continue this year. The Eurozone remains unlikely to see much of an acceleration in growth in 2015, particularly given the uncertainty being generated by the prospect of a Greek exit from the single currency area. In addition, economic expansion is expected to continue cooling in China over the medium term, weighing down on export prospects there.

Although Cebr’s overall forecast for the UK in 2015 is for GDP growth to remain broadly steady, largely due to domestic demand growth. Workers are expected to see their first significant increases in wages in real terms this year, as inflation drops to historic lows. While this will help to sustain economic momentum in the short term, expansion over the longer term will need to come from more sustainable sources such as exports and business investment.