Breakingviews

French investment banking has less than meets eye

April 23, 2015

Returns at BNP Paribas’ and Societe Generale’s trading and advisory businesses are better than peers. But the pair’s divisions carry less equity against gross assets than rivals. Before dashing in, investors should consider what the return would be with greater leverage restraint.

India’s poor state banks will test investor limits

April 22, 2015

State Bank of India is leading the rush to raise capital with a $2.4 bln share sale. A stronger economy makes bad debts look less bad. Investors will also have to believe a government pledge to meddle less in lending decisions. Even so, few banks look tempting.

Thiam needs to think big at Credit Suisse

April 21, 2015

Incoming CEO Tidjane Thiam is inheriting a mixed bag. First-quarter net profit surged 23 pct as trading and wealth management shone. But underwriting and M&A revenues fell, and risk-weighted assets remain high. The Swiss bank needs more capital and less investment banking.

Morgan Stanley Q1 rivals Goldman by different path

April 20, 2015

James Gorman’s firm had its best quarter in years. Its Wall Street competitor still has the edge with returns and book value growth. By one key metric, though, investors value Morgan Stanley more highly. Gorman’s strategy, which downplays volatile trading, is starting to pay off.

Deutsche should limit retail selloff to Postbank

April 20, 2015

The German lender’s strategy review has narrowed down to selling part or all of its retail business. A wholesale-only Goldman Sachs equivalent would be more profitable, but less stable. Deutsche would be better off staying a universal bank - but cutting a lot more cost.

Bernanke musters maximum revolving-door dignity

April 16, 2015

The Fed boss turned blogger will advise $25 bln hedge fund Citadel. Critics may object, and the move won’t help the U.S. central bank’s image of being above the fray. But former public servants deserve to work for pay. At least Bernanke waited over a year and didn’t join a bank.

Europe’s credit boom locks in mediocre returns

April 16, 2015

Investors are throwing money at European companies. Carrefour and Danone paid little over 1 pct a year to borrow for a decade; Novartis got 20-year funds at similar levels. A Breakingviews calculator shows how bond buyers’ generosity could backfire.

Shell-BG highlights rise of the micro-boutiques

April 8, 2015

The $70 bln deal needed just three advisers: Merrill, Goldman, and minnow Robey Warshaw. Rivals like Zaoui & Co have also won major mandates. For big M&A shops, two worrying trends are intersecting: CEOs seem ready to hire fewer banks per deal and to use much smaller outfits.

Deutsche Bank’s long round trip

By Edward Hadas
March 25, 2015

The German bank spent two decades expanding massively into the capital markets business. Along the way, it lost touch with its original mission of serving German businesses and their owners, without finding a viable new one. The crisis has spurred a return to traditional values.

ECB torn between two roles in Greek bank support

March 20, 2015

The central bank’s monetary policy wing has delayed a plan by its supervisory arm to legally stop Greek banks increasing their stocks of illiquid assets. The stability-searching supervisors have the right idea. But the policy group has an even higher political responsibility.