HSBC’s slow road to China securities could pay off

November 3, 2015

The lender is setting up a mainland joint venture more than a decade after its first rivals. Foreign investment banks have struggled to make inroads in the People’s Republic. Unusually, however, HSBC will have majority control. That could more than make up for its slow start.

Why China’s graft probes don’t rattle investors

November 3, 2015

Corruption scandals would hammer shares in Western firms. Not so for those caught in China’s crackdown like Dongfeng and AgBank. That’s because the campaign is so sweeping, and targets people rather than companies. Besides, the whole market already suffers an integrity discount.

HSBC will probably stay put in London

October 23, 2015

Europe’s biggest bank is considering shifting its headquarters to the United States, a report says. That would be an odd move, given HSBC’s chequered past there and more viable Asian alternatives. As the backdrop improves in Britain, the likeliest outcome is no change at all.

Chinese banks get closer to losing training wheels

June 25, 2015

Removing an official cap on the ratio of loans to deposits should remove distortions and could boost credit. More importantly, it takes China a step nearer to freeing its domestic financial system. Then it will be up to regulators, not rules, to stop banks careering off the road.

Deutsche’s attitude problem compounds Libor hit

April 23, 2015

The German bank is paying a record $2.5 bln to settle rate-rigging charges. To make things worse Deutsche Bank misled the UK regulator and others. That’s not smart in a highly regulated industry. With a currency market fine also pending, the reputational damage could grow.

Good news: China’s bad debts are on the rise

March 25, 2015

Agricultural Bank’s 28 percent increase in duff loans over six months looks modest next to what’s happening at some lenders. Across the board, write-offs and overdue loans are ballooning. Still, China’s economic slowdown may be giving cover for some welcome honesty.

Activists take on passivists in HK share spat

February 12, 2015

Hedge fund Elliott has challenged Bank of East Asia’s plan to issue a slab of stock to a friendly shareholder. Investors can theoretically stop these kinds of deal, but often don’t. The activists’ chance of success is slight, but they raise some good questions.

RBS puts lipstick on Citizens for $14 bln IPO

September 8, 2014

The Scottish bank reckons cost cuts, rising interest rates, capital returns and more business will boost its poorly performing U.S. unit. Granted, all this might create decent enough returns to justify the price. But RBS is painting too pretty a picture of Citizens’ independence.

Bankia probe will help Spanish banking cleanup

July 6, 2012

The High Court has opened a case against 33 former board members of Bankia suspected of falsifying accounts and misleading investors. An investigation - which had been resisted by the current government - was long overdue. It may lead to more probes elsewhere.

BoE governor’s arm-twisting raises tricky issues

By Hugo Dixon
July 11, 2012

Barclays’ chairman says Mervyn King made it plain to him that Bob Diamond no longer enjoyed the support of regulators. While the bank should have got rid of its CEO, King had no official authority to tell it to do so. So what exactly happened?