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Jun 4, 2012
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Activist flushes out Nomura and investor weakness

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Is there a better way to shame an investment bank than pointing to deficiencies in bathroom etiquette? That’s what an anonymous Nomura investor has done in one of 18 proposals he or she has got on the docket for a vote at the Japanese investment bank’s annual meeting of shareholders later this month. Installing Japanese-style toilets for employees to straddle to “strengthen their lower body” is just one of several peculiar proposals scattered in among more mainstream ones. There’s more to the unnamed investor’s submissions, though, than meets the eye.

May 21, 2012
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Nasdaq howler can’t explain Facebook flop for long

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Nasdaq OMX is rightly coming in for a bashing after a systems howler on its U.S. exchange left Facebook’s stock trading in the dark for much of its public market debut on Friday. Chief Executive Bob Greifeld has already fessed up that the stock exchange was at fault. But the blunder has a limited shelf life as an explanation for Facebook’s IPO flop.

May 11, 2012
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Jamie Dimon’s Ahab meets his Moby Dick

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By Antony Currie

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

JPMorgan’s Ahab has met his Moby Dick. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon has toiled at length to build a bank strong enough to withstand the greatest of storms. The $2 billion hedging hit the bank disclosed late on Thursday will put JPMorgan to the test. Its capital buffers may be safe for now, but the ramifications are apt to be broader.

Apr 27, 2012
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Review: Distilling Mulally’s managerial mojo

By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Just how did affable, aw-shucks mid-westerner Alan Mulally manage to turn around Ford Motor? There’s no doubt that he has been the driving force behind the transformation of an old wreck into one of the world’s most profitable auto companies. Witness the Motown manufacturer’s first-quarter results: $1.4 billion of net income globally while its North America auto business cranked out its best showing in over a decade, a pre-tax profit margin of 11.3 percent. Five years ago, such numbers would have been considered a pipe dream for any U.S. carmaker.

Apr 27, 2012
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Lazard investors getting two for the price of one

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Lazard shareholders are getting two businesses for the price of one. The first-quarter results unveiled on Friday confirm what has become increasingly evident: asset management is its quiet powerhouse. Yet investors either give Lazard virtually no credit for it – or else negatively assess its high-profile advisory and M&A business. A Breakingviews sum-of-the-parts analysis suggests Lazard may be worth double its current $3.5 billion market value.

Apr 24, 2012

JPMorgan sends big gun after small bounty

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are his own.)

By Antony Currie

NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters Breakingviews) – JPMorgan
(JPM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) is sending its big gun after small bounty. The U.S.
mega-bank is deploying global investment banking boss Jeff Urwin
to run things from Hong Kong, and with the extra title of chief
executive for Asia Pacific. Deploying such a senior banker there
may help CEO Jamie Dimon gain ground on regional leaders UBS
(UBSN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research) and Goldman Sachs (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research). But the payoff isn’t
entirely clear.

Apr 17, 2012
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Goldman should relish being lost in crowd for now

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions epxressed are his own.

For a firm like Goldman Sachs that is so used to standing out from the crowd, the prospect of being in the middle of the pack must grate beyond belief. But after a spate of governance and image problems, executives at the investment bank should relish its first-quarter results getting lost in the crowd.

Goldman managed an annualized return on equity of 12.2 percent. That’s bang in line with universal banking rivals JPMorgan and Wells Fargo – and with what Citi’s core business appears to have achieved. But its first quarter fell short of JPMorgan’s investment bank, which, after stripping out the accounting hit on its own debt, cranked out a 23 percent ROE.

Apr 5, 2012
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Jamie Dimon lets smaller rival grab his pulpit

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Step aside Jamie Dimon. The JPMorgan chief can usually be relied on for a feisty and fresh letter to his bank’s shareholders – one that has come to be more closely watched than others written by his peers. Even Warren Buffett has showered praise on Dimon’s epistles. This year, though, his efforts fall a bit flat. That clears the way for the pen of Robert Wilmers. The boss of regional bank M&T has a take on the state of financial markets that makes it the must-read missive of the season.

Apr 4, 2012
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Wall Street hangs in limbo despite market rebound

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By Antony Currie

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Wall Street shouldn’t get too excited about the latest recovery. Helped in part by a more stable Europe, investment banks have started 2012 far better than they ended 2011. They probably raked in more revenue in all areas but M&A and buying and selling equities in the first three months of the year. But false dawns have marked each of the past two years. And even if this comeback sticks, most firms will need considerably more trading and deal-making to earn decent returns.

Apr 2, 2012
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Goldman follows board stitch-up with smackdown

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By Antony Currie

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Goldman Sachs seems determined to ride roughshod over its shareholders. It’s true the bank’s stock is close to nudging back above book value – a sign that owners are getting more comfortable with the balance sheet and earnings power. But with its new appointment to lead director, Goldman’s management and board are showing a startling disregard for decent corporate governance.

    • About Antony

      "Antony Currie has more than a decade of experience as a financial journalist, having worked with Euromoney since 1996, most recently as a U.S. editor. He has worked on assignments in the major financial centers of Europe and the U.S. and written stories on capital markets, global economies and the investment banking industry. He holds a bachelor's degree in German language and literature and a master's degree in politics and international relations from the University of Bristol."
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