FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen in St. Moritz, Switzerland, February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo
March 19, 2019
By Huw Jones
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s markets watchdog said on Tuesday it had fined Swiss bank UBS a record 27.6 million pounds for failing to report 136 million transactions properly for nearly a decade in a repeat offense.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said the failings cover reports between November 2007 and May 2017.
“If firms cannot report their transactions accurately, fundamental risks arise, including the risk that market abuse may be hidden,” said Mark Steward, the FCA’s executive director of enforcement.
The FCA had already fined UBS 100,000 pounds in November 2005 for transaction reporting failings.
UBS said on Tuesday it was pleased to have resolved what it called a “legacy matter”, which is was fully provisioned for.
“Although there was never any impact on clients, investors or market users the bank has made significant investments to enhance its transaction reporting systems and controls,” UBS said in a statement.
Under European Union securities law, banks must report transactions like stock and bond trades in a timely and accurate way so that regulators can spot any suspicious moves quickly.
The FCA said UBS failed to ensure it made proper reports on 86.67 million transactions that were required to be notified to the regulator. It also wrongly reported 49.1 million transactions to the FCA that did not require reporting.
By agreeing to a speedy settlement, UBS qualified for a 30 percent discount, thereby avoiding a bigger fine of 39.4 million pounds.
UBS is the 13th financial firm to be fined for transaction reporting failures under EU rules that came into force in 2007.
(Reporting by Huw Jones, editing by Sinead Cruise and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)
FILE PHOTO: Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
March 19, 2019
By Omar Mohammed
NAIROBI (Reuters) – Financiers, passengers and industry partners are, for now, still backing Ethiopian Airlines’ quest to become Africa’s dominant carrier, despite a March 10 crash that killed 157 people.
The causes of the Flight 302 tragedy will likely take months to establish. While much of the international focus has been on U.S. planemaker Boeing and its 737 MAX 8 jet, the airline’s reputation could also hinge on the results of the investigation.
Although crash inquiries focus on preventing future accidents rather than attributing liability, any findings that the carrier fell short in plane maintenance or piloting could be damaging.
For the present, however, passenger confidence in Ethiopian Airlines, long regarded as one of the most reliable in Africa, has remained steady, according to the company. Cancellation and booking rates are unchanged since the crash, said spokesman Asrat Begashaw.
“We are operating as normal,” he told Reuters. “Our brand is keeping its level, and we are okay.”
Two banking sources with knowledge of the matter said that, barring a major new twist in the investigation with long-term fallout, banks were still comfortable lending to Ethiopian Airlines.
“Ethiopian is a solid company,” said one, an official from an international bank that helped finance the acquisition of some Ethiopian Airlines planes. “No reason to change the way the bank sees its credit risk at this point.”
A vote of confidence from lenders is important for the airline because its years of rapid expansion have largely been financed by international borrowing.
The second source, a top European aviation banker, said Ethiopian Airlines was “a good airline, with a good reputation”.
“So unless it (the crash) is a major problem of piloting or maintenance – and it is far too early to talk about that – they will still have access to financing,” the source added.
The sources declined to be identified because the matters are confidential.
Ethiopian Airlines has borrowed from foreign banks including JP Morgan, ING Capital and Societe Generale over the past decade. It also has outstanding bonds worth $540 million, though none due until 2024, Refinitiv data shows.
The borrowing helped finance the acquisition of stakes in or establish partnerships with at least four African carriers, establishing hubs to feed traffic into Addis Ababa. Last year, the Ethiopian capital overtook Dubai as the main gateway for long-haul passengers into Africa.
The airline’s fleet grew from 35 planes in 2007 to 111 in 2019. It now flies to more than 119 international destinations, up from 52 a decade ago.
The expansion has made the state-owned carrier, founded in 1945, the most profitable major airline on the continent. Ethiopian’s net profit in the 2017/18 financial year rose to $233 million from $229 million the previous year; operating revenue jumped 43 percent to $3.7 billion.
Last year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced plans to sell a minority stake in the airline as part of a broad strategy to open up the country to foreign investors.
Industry analysts said it was too early to evaluate the impact of the crash on the airline’s long-term plans but said, for now, its reputation remained largely intact.
“It’s a very strong management team, with good vision,” said Nawal Taneja, an author and professor at Ohio State University’s Center for Aviation Studies. “We’ve got to look at the strength of the airline as a whole, not just this one incident.”
PARTNERS, BOEING BOOKINGS
Those who want to travel across Africa have few options other than flying. Conflict, poor roads, and limited cross-border train transport often make travel by land difficult.
Analysts said the crash was unlikely to damage Ethiopian’s partnerships with African carriers, key to a strategy that helped increase passenger numbers from 2.5 million a decade ago to 10.6 million last year, or with other industry players.
One such partner is ASKY, a Togo-based carrier which Ethiopian Airlines helped launch in 2010.
“Ethiopian’s accident has not affected our partnership in any way,” said Lionel Tsoto, the airline’s head of public relations. “We continue just as before.”
Global aviation leasing firm GECAS said the airline was a “close and valued partner who we look forward to working with in the future”.
The crash, which saw the Nairobi-bound flight go down minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa, triggered a global grounding of 737 MAX planes, wiping about 10 percent off Boeing’s share price. GRAPHIC: http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/testfiles/boeing737maxseries
Investigators have noted similarities with another deadly crash in Indonesia five months ago involving a plane of the same type owned by Lion Air, but safety officials stress the investigation is at an early stage.
Ethiopian Airlines, which grounded its handful of remaining 737 MAX planes, said it would decide whether to cancel orders for 29 others after a preliminary investigation.
Analysts said it was unlikely that the carrier would cancel the orders, worth $3.5 billion at the current list price, because Boeing would have to fix any problems before regulators permit the jet to fly again.
Boeing will be keen to retain the airline as a customer; more than half of Ethiopian’s fleet are Boeing jets.
“Ethiopian have been very loyal to Boeing in the past,” said Phil Seymour, chief executive of the IBA Group, a Surrey-based aviation consultancy.
“They will be in control of the conversation with Boeing now,” he added. “I would suspect that the business decision is to stick with the order.”
(Additional reporting by Tim Hepher and Inti Landauro in Paris, Rachel Armstrong in London, Maggie Fick in Addis Ababa and John Zodzi in Lome; Editing by Katharine Houreld, Alexandra Zavis and Pravin Char)
David Hookstead | Reporter
Philadelphia Phillies player Carlos Santana had an incredible reaction to his teammates playing video games.
During a poor part of last season for the Phillies, players were focused on video games during matchups taking place out on the field. How did Santana respond to that? He just smashed the TV with a baseball bat. (RELATED: Bryce Harper Signs With The Phillies)
When the Philadelphia Phillies lost their ninth consecutive game toward the end of last September, veteran first baseman Carlos Santana felt like he needed to send a message to his teammates who he said spent portions of the game against the Atlanta Braves playing video games in the clubhouse. Santana grabbed a bat, retreated to the room at Citizens Bank Park where the gaming took place and smashed the TV to ensure there would be no more Fortnite the final two days of the season.
“I see a couple players — I don’t want to say names — they play video games during the game,” Santana told ESPN. “We come and lose too many games, and I feel like they weren’t worried about it. Weren’t respecting their teammates or coaches or the staff or the [front] office. It’s not my personality. But I’m angry because I want to make it good.”
This is awesome. It’s almost straight out of the movie “Moneyball,” when players dance to music after losing.
If you’re a pro athlete and you’re playing video games during actual games, then you should be suspended immediately. It should be a zero-tolerance policy.
You’re getting paid a ton of money to win. If you can’t delay picking up a controller for the four or five hours you’re committed to playing, then you have no business in the sport. It’s that simple.
I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised if this ended in a fistfight. Imagine giving everything you have, and then finding out some players are busy with Fortnite. (RELATED: Philadelphia Phillies Sell $4 Million Worth Of Tickets After Signing Bryce Harper)
Smashing a TV seems like a very calm and measured response.
If you’re dumb enough to play video games during a matchup, then you’re dumb enough to get your TV smashed. Play stupid games and I promise you that you’ll win stupid prizes.
Major shoutout to Santana for showing the Phillies what leadership looks like.
Source: The Daily Caller
FILE PHOTO: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel pauses during a news conference after a monetary policy review in Mumbai, India, December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas
March 19, 2019
By Suvashree Choudhury
MUMBAI (Reuters) – Economists raised concerns over a sharp slowdown in Indian economy and pitched for a monetary policy boost to support growth at a meeting with the nation’s central bank chief on Tuesday, according to three participants.
Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das met more than a dozen economists to get their views on the economy ahead of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decision due on April 4.
Most economists expect the six-member MPC to cut the repo rate by 25 basis points for the second time in a row next month to 6.00 percent, a level last seen in August 2017.
While the economists did not specify the extent of rate cut that the RBI could consider, one of them called for a 50-basis- point reduction, one of the participants said.
“Most of the participants said that monetary policy needs to do the heavy lifting to boost growth as there was no space for fiscal expansion,” another participant said.
The meeting under Das, who took charge in December, was in sharp contrast to the previous ones under former governor Urjit Patel, who was slightly reclusive and preferred to meet a small group of 5-6 economists. Das’ style has, however, been more open and communicative.
India’s economy expanded by 6.6 percent during October-December, its slowest pace in five quarters, on weak consumer demand and investments, dealing a major blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he seeks a second term in office at a general election that kicks off next month.
Slowing growth has hit the federal government’s tax collections, constraining its ability to substantially boost spending ahead of elections.
However, neither Das nor any RBI official from the monetary policy department gave any indication of their thoughts or views, as is typical in such big-group meetings.
Economists and strategists spoke of several issues including drought, liquidity management, exchange rate, inflation, growth, bank credit growth, real interest rates and monetary policy transmission.
“The meeting went on for two-and-a-half hours as there were many participants,” said another economist who attended the meeting.
“But they didn’t say a single word on these topics.”
The RBI did not respond to an email seeking comment on the meeting with economists.
Some economists pointed out that food inflation could begin inching up after September if monsoon rains were not sufficient, but was unlikely to push retail inflation past the RBI’s 4 percent target.
Consumer inflation was at 2.57 percent on-year in February as food prices continued to fall for a fifth straight month.
The economists also raised concerns over a slowdown in global growth that has hurt India’s exports. India’s outbound shipments grew 2.4 percent annually in February, slower than 3.7 percent in January.
“Overall, the view was that the downside risks to growth have increased since the last policy while inflation risks have remained muted,” said a third participant.
“Not many of us clearly specified how much rate cut we wanted, but we presented the facts to make it clear to RBI that there was a need for a big boost to the economy.”
(Reporting by Suvashree Choudhury; Editing by Shreejay Sinha)
FILE PHOTO: Pumpjacks are seen against the setting sun at the Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang province, China December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Stringe
March 19, 2019
By Dmitry Zhdannikov
LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices rose to new 2019 highs on Tuesday, supported by supply cuts from OPEC and falling output from Iran and Venezuela due to U.S. sanctions.
Brent crude oil futures were up 55 cents at $68.09 per barrel at 1145 GMT, having earlier risen to a new 2019 high of $68.16 a barrel, their highest since November 2018.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were at $59.47 per barrel, up 38 cents from their last settlement. They have also risen on Tuesday to their highest since November 2019 of $59.57 a barrel.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Monday scrapped its planned meeting in April, effectively extending supply cuts that have been in place since January until its next regular meeting in June.
OPEC and a group of non-affiliated producers including Russia, known as OPEC+, cut supply in 2019 to halt a sharp price drop which began in the second-half of 2018 due to booming U.S. production and fears of a global economic slowdown.
Saudi Arabia has signaled that OPEC and its allies may continue to restrain oil output until the end of 2019.
“The OPEC+ deal has brought stability to crude prices and signs of an extension have taken crude higher,” said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at futures brokerage OANDA.
Prices have been further supported by U.S. sanctions against oil exports from Iran and Venezuela, traders said.
Venezuela has suspended its oil exports to India, one of its key export destinations, the Azeri energy ministry said on Tuesday, citing Venezuela’s oil minister.
Because of the tighter supply outlook for the coming months, the Brent forward curve has gone into backwardation since the start of the year, meaning that prices for immediate delivery are more expensive than those for dispatch in the future, with May Brent prices around $1.20 per barrel more expensive than December delivery Brent.
(GRAPHIC: Brent crude oil forward curves – https://tmsnrt.rs/2FlM7YZ)
Outside OPEC, analysts are watching U.S. crude oil production, which has risen by more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) since early 2018, to around 12 million bpd, making the United States the world’s biggest producer ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Weekly output and storage data will be published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note that economic “risks are skewed to the downside” and that “we forecast global demand growth of 1.2 million bpd year-on-year in 2019 and 1.15 million bpd during 2020”.
The bank said it expected “Brent and WTI to average $70 per barrel and $59 per barrel respectively in 2019, and $65 per barrel and $60 per barrel in 2020.”
(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing Joseph Radford and Louise Heavens)
FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Corniche Towers is seen in Doha, Qatar February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
March 19, 2019
DOHA (Reuters) – Qatar will launch an energy-focused Islamic lender later this year with a targeted capital of $10 billion to finance both domestic and global projects, an executive said on Tuesday.
Tiny but wealthy Qatar is one of the most influential players in the liquefied natural gas market with annual production of about 77 million tonnes, and it plans to increase this over 40 percent to 110 million by 2024.
Speaking at an Islamic Finance conference in Doha, executives launching Energy Bank said it would be the largest Islamic energy-focused lender in the world, and would target private sector and government energy projects, both at home and abroad.
Mohammed al-Marri, chairman of Energy Bank’s media committee, said operations would begin in the fourth quarter of 2019.
“With paid-up capital of $2.5 billion, the establishment of Energy Bank in Qatar comes in light of the incredible growth projected for Qatar’s energy sector,” Marri told a news conference.
Marri declined to specify how or when the bank planned to raise its capital to the $10 billion target. He said it would focus on financing oil and gas, petrochemicals, and renewable energy projects, but declined to specify how much would be allocated for lending outside the country.
(Reporting by Eric Knecht; Writing by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Louise Heavens and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)
FILE PHOTO: General view of the Danske Bank building in Copenhagen, Denmark, September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen/File Photo
March 19, 2019
COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Two U.S. law firms have filed a lawsuit on behalf of institutional investors against Danske Bank over a 200 billion euro ($227 billion) money laundering scandal.
Shareholder law firms Grant & Eisenhofer P.A. and DRRT filed the lawsuit in Copenhagen on behalf of investors from 19 countries, “asserting fraud claims stemming from a massive Russian money-laundering scheme and multi-year cover-up by Denmark’s largest bank and its senior leadership.”
The group seeks $475 million in damages, Grant & Eisenhofer said in a statement dated March 18.
Danske Bank was not immediately available for a comment
(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen, editing by Louise Heavens)
FILE PHOTO: The HSBC bank is seen in the financial district of Canary Wharf in London, Britain, July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs
March 19, 2019
By Sinead Cruise and Lawrence White
LONDON (Reuters) – HSBC is stepping up a root-and-branch overhaul of its global banking and markets division, naming 83 new managing directors in a 1,300-strong promotions spree aimed at revitalizing its investment banking franchise.
After another year of underwhelming performance in 2018, HSBC’s management team – bolstered by new finance chief and ex-investment banker Ewen Stevenson – are plotting a push to recover ground lost to rivals, with a revamp of its trading floor seen as top priority, sources close to HSBC said.
Samir Assaf, chief executive of global banking and markets, distributed a memo last Monday pointing out the significant rise in the number of women promoted this year.
HSBC is trying to close a gender pay gap of 61 percent, the worst among major British firms and largely caused by a lack of women in senior, higher paid roles.
Around a third of the 83 new managing directors are female, the memo seen by Reuters showed, a 13 percentage point rise from the previous year, according to a source at the bank with knowledge of the matter.
A spokesman for HSBC declined to comment.
The wave of promotions comes just weeks after the bank axed dozens of sales and advisory jobs in London following an extended period of turmoil in its investment banking operations.
Last year saw an exodus of high-profile dealmakers in Europe, with sources saying there was frustration at a lack of a clear strategy.
36 of the promotions are in HSBC’s global banking business, which includes its mergers and acquisitions and equity advisory bankers.
The bank has also poached senior hires from rivals, including former JPMorgan banker Greg Guyett as head of global banking and former Goldman Sachs banker Peter Enns as the global head of its financial institutions group.
HSBC tumbled further in investment banking league tables in some key market segments in 2018, with its fourth quarter performance in equities particularly weak.
Revenues there fell 20 percent from a year earlier, the second worst performance among major investment banks after France’s BNP Paribas.
HSBC slipped to 20th among global equity deal bookrunners in 2018 from 16th the previous year, according to Refinitiv data. It also fell to 24th from 19th in the rankings for advising on completed mergers and acquisitions.
The bank fared better in its traditional stronghold of debt underwriting, placing 6th according to Refinitiv data, with revenues growing 14 percent in its transaction banking business.
Investors are pinning their hopes on Georges Elhedery to improve productivity and lift the mood in the bank’s global markets business, after he took over the division from caretaker boss Thierry Roland on Friday.
Elhedery, who is relocating to London from Dubai to take up the role, is filling a position vacated by veteran HSBC banker Thibaut de Roux in September last year.
25 of the new promotions are in global markets, and other high-ranking appointments are in progress.
Nathalie Safar, one of the investment bank’s most senior women, is leaving her position as global equities chief operating officer after eight years in the role, a second staff memo seen by Reuters showed.
She will take up a newly-created position of head of front to back resource and cost management, focusing on making savings that will fund investments in the bank’s growth areas.
A search for her successor is underway, the memo said.
(Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
FILE PHOTO: The Swiss National Bank (SNB) is pictured next to the Swiss Federal Palace (Bundeshaus) in Bern, Switzerland December 7, 2018. Picture taken December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
March 19, 2019
ZURICH (Reuters) – The Swiss National Bank will leave its ultra-loose policy alone on Thursday, said all the economists polled by Reuters, and most don’t expect any change until at least 2021.
All 32 economists polled by Reuters expect SNB Chairman Thomas Jordan to maintain the bank’s negative interest rates and readiness to intervene in currency markets to restrain the safe-haven Swiss franc.
They expect the SNB to keep its target range for the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) locked at -1.25 to -0.25 percent, the same level since it ditched its minimum exchange rate of 1.20 Swiss francs to the euro four years ago.
None of the respondents expect any change until the end of this year, especially in view of the European Central Bank’s slowing of its own policy normalization. Most forecast it will come in 2021 at the earliest.
“We do not expect the SNB to change interest rates before the end of 2020. In fact, if we are correct in our assessment that the ECB will be forced to re-start QE next year, upward pressure on the franc – and SNB concerns about deflation – are likely to intensify into 2020,” said Jack Allen at Capital Economics.
“This means the SNB may have to delve into its toolbox to ease policy next year,” Allen said. He thinks the SNB might take rates even further into negative territory if necessary.
There was also no disagreement about the negative interest rate the SNB charges on sight deposits. All the economists expect -0.75 percent to be maintained this week.
All but one expected the bank to retain its description of the franc as “highly valued”. That one expected it will be described as “significantly overvalued”. The franc has gained 3 percent against the euro in the last 12 months to trade around 1.1360.
A strong franc weighs on Switzerland’s export-reliant economy and also adds deflationary pressure. The SNB is expected to cut its 2019 inflation forecast on Thursday from its current view of 1 percent.
The SNB will have to wait at least until the ECB starts its monetary policy tightening — now delayed to 2020 at the earliest — before it begins its own path to normalization, analysts said.
“Pressure on the SNB is mounting from two sides: on the one hand, the financial industry and pension funds are increasingly coming under pressure, which puts pressure on the SNB to end the negative interest rate phase as early as possible,” said Alessandro Bee at UBS.
“On the other hand, the weakness in European growth and the various political risks lead to a higher risk of a Swiss franc appreciation. The SNB is between a rock and a hard place.”
(Reporting by John Revill, polling by Manjul Paul and Richa Rebello, editing by Larry King)
FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Staff
March 19, 2019
By Sruthi Shankar and Agamoni Ghosh
(Reuters) – European shares were on course for a fifth day of gains on Tuesday, with retail and basic resources stocks particularly strong as investors anticipated a more accommodative policy stance from the U.S. Federal Reserve this week.
The benchmark STOXX 600 rose 0.5 percent by 0932 GMT, hitting a five-month peak in what would be its longest winning streak since mid September. Gains were broad-based although Germany’s DAX led the pack with a 0.6 percent rise.
The Fed’s two-day meeting starts on Tuesday, with financial markets expecting the U.S. central bank to reinforce a halt to further rises in interest rates while possibly going further on a plan to cease reductions in its balance sheet.
That would follow moves by the European Central Bank two weeks ago to reloosen policy and pump more money into the financial system, offering hope of a continuation of stock market gains.
“There is a slightly better sentiment about stabilization on the global economy compared to late last year,” said Geoffrey Yu, head of UK investment office at UBS Wealth Management.
“As long as we have this stabilization anchored by clear expectations of a dovish Fed, or at least a non-hawkish Fed, this will be enough to keep things going,” Yu said.
Bank stocks handed back early losses to trade up 0.4 percent, after jumping more than a full percentage point on Monday following confirmation of merger talks between Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank.
Scandal-hit Danske Bank fell more than 5.3 percent in the aftermath of a vote by shareholders against a proposal to break up the bank.
News on Brexit also pointed to a delay in efforts by British Prime Minister Theresa May to get her divorce deal through parliament.
The speaker of parliament on Monday ruled May could not put her deal to a new vote unless it was re-submitted in a fundamentally different form. May is due at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday at which she will ask for a delay to Britain’s planned departure from the bloc on March 29.
London’s FTSE 100, packed with international companies that benefit from a weaker British pound, rose 0.4 percent, boosted by oil majors and miners.
Online supermarket Ocado climbed to a record high after posting strong gains in first-quarter retail sales despite a fire at its flagship distribution center.
Luxury stocks got a lift from positive trade surplus data from Switzerland, with the retail index gaining nearly 1 percent.
Chilean copper miner Antofagasta advanced about 4 percent and was the top gainer on the STOXX 600, as a higher than expected dividend overshadowed a drop in core earnings.
French telecoms operator Iliad dropped more than 2 percent after the company cut its cashflow target for 2020 in France and added it was considering the sale of part of its mobile assets.
(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Catherine Evans and David Holmes)