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.

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.

Investment banks within reach of adequate returns

April 9, 2015

Banks’ wholesale units are destroying value. To lift returns they must cut costs, raise revenue and boost capital – while avoiding big fines. If firms can do that, a Breakingviews calculator suggests the biggest ones could exceed a combined 12 percent return on equity by 2017.

Swiss say-on-pay bodes ill for rainmaker wallets

April 2, 2015

UBS and Credit Suisse face binding shareholder votes on executive compensation for the first time. These will judge aggregate, not individual awards. But Swiss banks must also disclose their top-paid executive. That makes it harder for dealmakers to out-earn their CEOs.

Bumper European share sales carry risk of excess

March 26, 2015

Banks have hawked big slugs of EU stock in overnight placings, with 5 bln euros worth offered in three days. For now, underwriters have support from QE-powered strong markets, so they’ll risk losses for the sake of league table kudos. But complacency seems to be creeping in.

Barclays’ trading woes offset pay restraint

March 3, 2015

The UK bank has cut investment bank bonuses by a quarter, atoning for a PR gaffe last year when pay rose despite a drop in profit. But 2014 results show returns in the unit are also lower. To maintain its turnaround, Barclays may have to shrink the misfiring division further

Credit Suisse earns the chance to be proactive

February 12, 2015

The Swiss bank has kept its full-year dividend and now aims to slash an extra $75 bln of assets in 2015. Private and investment banking are for once both doing well, and fallout from the rising Swiss franc looks bearable. That gives CS scope to tackle its weak capital position.

Deutsche Bank’s fixed income wager yet to pay off

October 29, 2014

The German group hasn’t yet paid all the high legal costs of past sins or satisfied future regulations. But its biggest bet is that investment banks are in a merely cyclical, not a structural, decline. Despite solid third quarter trading revenue, the case is far from proven.