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from Breakingviews:

Deutsche/UBS: there’s life in EU bond trading yet

By Dominic Elliott

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

Deutsche Bank and UBS have shown there is life in Europe’s bond traders yet. The two banks and Credit Suisse have been losing share to Wall Street since last year, but in the second quarter they hit back. Fixed-income revenue at Deutsche was flat year-on-year, and down just 2 percent at UBS – against a 9 percent average fall at American banks.

Deutsche is doing better because of favourable European credit conditions. The bank struggled in flow-based foreign-exchange and interest-rate trading – as peers did – but lively markets in Europe for distressed and commercial real-estate debt helped offset the pain. Swiss peer Credit Suisse recently benefitted from the same dynamics: its fixed-income top line jumped 4 percent year-on-year. Once U.S.-centric, it now derives a quarter of its credit revenue from Europe.

UBS, meanwhile, has avoided humdrum markets by changing the way it does flow business. Greater investment in electronic trading helped it to raise second-quarter FX revenue by 13 percent year-on-year, says a person familiar with the bank.

from Breakingviews:

Credit Suisse cost cuts mask uneven performance

By Dominic Elliott

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

Credit Suisse’s cost-cutting is masking uneven performance overall. The Swiss bank’s ugly second-quarter net loss was down to an already announced 1.6 billion Swiss franc charge: part of a mega-fine to U.S. authorities for helping American citizens evade taxes. But even after stripping that out, investors can’t sleep easy.

from Breakingviews:

Life’s like a box of chocolates for Lindt owners

By Quentin Webb

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

For Lindt shareholders, life is like a box of chocolates. They didn’t know they were going to get Russell Stover, the Midwest outfit whose gift box starred in Forrest Gump. They still don’t know what Lindt paid for the third-biggest U.S. candymaker. Or what it will get in terms of profitability.

from The Great Debate:

Secrecy’s out, so here’s what Swiss banks can still offer

brady555

If Swiss banks were to cast off their usual discretion and make a marketing pitch these days, it might start off something like this:

Dear Potential Client,

While we would be delighted to open an account and manage your money for you, once you’ve complied with our anti-money laundering provisions, please be advised that we will no longer be able to help you avoid taxes back home, and in fact may soon start providing account details to your national tax authorities. Moreover, if you are American, please stay away. We’ve been so beaten up by the Justice Department that we’d rather not take your money at all.

from MacroScope:

Why EU elections can matter

Some interesting action over the weekend: in a foretaste of this week’s EU elections, Greece's leftist, anti-bailout Syriza party performed strongly in the first round of local elections on Sunday, capitalizing on voter anger at ongoing government austerity policies.

If it did even better in the EU polls it could threaten the ruling coalition and tip Greece back into turmoil just as there are signs that it has turned the corner.

from Breakingviews:

Barclays shows why it needs to do a UBS

By George Hay

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

Barclays has shown why it needs to “do a UBS”. Both the UK bank and its Swiss peer had a rotten time in their fixed-income trading operations in the first quarter, numbers released on May 6 show. The difference is that Barclays is only just understanding a problem that UBS attacked 18 months ago.

from Breakingviews:

Credit Suisse still firing on one cylinder

By Dominic Elliott

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

Credit Suisse is firing on one cylinder. The Swiss lender’s reshaped private banking arm is pulling in more money. But an 11 percent year-on-year dip in quarterly investment banking revenue shows its other main unit is still sputtering.

from Breakingviews:

Lafarge-Holcim share jump has gone far enough

By Quentin Webb and Chris Hughes

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Lafarge and Holcim’s share rally has gone far enough. The Franco-Swiss duo’s planned 37 billion euro ($50 billion) mega-merger, which would create the world’s biggest cement maker, has already added 3.3 billion euros in combined market capitalisation since the deal leaked on Friday. Cost savings and revenue boosts could in time be worth a lot more. But the market’s caution is justifiable.

from Breakingviews:

JPMorgan commodities sale shows trading’s opacity

By Kevin Allison and Antony Currie

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

JPMorgan’s $3.5 billion sale of its physical commodities business is a perfect example of just how opaque trading is. The bank is selling what is probably a low-return business with regulatory headaches to Mercuria, a privately held firm that does not have to make its financials public. The dearth of details does make it hard to judge, but applying some statistics from both the industry and some rivals suggests Mercuria may be paying top whack.

from Edward Hadas:

The ongoing ethics struggle of banks

The Swiss Bank Employees Association has told an uncomfortable truth: it was “generally known” that for many years some of their employers profited from customers’ “tax evasion.” That is incontestable, as many of the banks’ managers concede. But the practice, supposedly now ended, raises an important question about ethics and business. Why were neither the managers of the Swiss banks nor their employees worried by this business model?

The hardly hidden truth was included in an Association press release which called on Brady Dougan, the chief executive of Credit Suisse, to apologize for insulting the Swiss bank’s employees.

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