Now raising intellectual capital

Don’t mess with Goldman

Poor Sergey Aleynikov.

The former Goldman Sachs programmer who allegedly stole some of the Wall Street firm’s top secret proprietary trading code picked the wrong firm to mess with–really. If Aleynikov had been an employee of UBS, he might only be facing a civil lawsuit right now–not federal criminal charges.

In March, nearly four months before Goldman ran to federal prosecutors with their concerns about Aleynikov, UBS was in New York State Supreme Court filing a civil lawsuit against three former employees, charging them with doing much the same thing the ex-Goldman employee did. The only difference is no criminal charges have been filed against the three former UBS employees.

The UBS lawsuit was first reported in June by, after going unnoticed for several weeks. It’s getting more attention now in the wake of the Goldman case, which has begun to shed light on the importance of so-called high frequency trading strategies to Wall Street firms.

In the UBS lawsuit, which is still pending, UBS alleged that Jatin Suryawanashi, Partha Sarkar and Sanjay Girdhar took “source code for UBS’ trade secret algorithmic trading programs.” The Swiss-based investment bank further alleged the ex-employees intended to use the information in their new prop trading jobs at Jefferies & Company.

Credit Suisse pulls ahead of UBS

UBS has always looked down its nose at its cross-town rival, but Credit Suisse under Brady Dougan has turned the tables on the blue-bloods. As UBS remains mired in a potentially catastrophic legal tussle with America’s tax collectors, CS is winning market share across the board.

With its second quarter results, Dougan has shown that the storming first quarter was no flash-in-the pan. Stripping out various one-offs (including a counter-intuitive 1.1 billion Swiss franc loss thanks to an improvement in the value of its own debt), Credit Suisse’s net income increased 62 percent on the first quarter, to 2.5 billion Swiss francs. That is equivalent to a boom-like 27 percent-plus return on equity.

from Margaret Doyle:

COLUMN – Swiss guard bank secrecy: Margaret Doyle

Margaret Doyle is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own

By Margaret Doyle

LONDON, July 9 (Reuters) – The Americans are on a fishing trip. The fish they are after are big: 52,000 of their fattest fellow citizens, and they have invited the Swiss to land them. Understandably, the Swiss are not keen to haul in the net and hand over the source of much of their income.

The US demand that UBS <UBSN.VX> <UBS.N> disclose the names of 52,000 American citizens suspected of tax evasion has galvanised the Swiss government into threatening to bar the bank from doing anything of the sort.

from Alexander Smith:

Is Jefferies right to be bullish on M&A in AM?

A bull(ish) note from growing investment banking group Jefferies Putnam Lovell predicting "a steady flow of M&A activity in the global asset management industry" for the second half of 2009.

Jefferies is basing its view on the following factors:

    divestitures by larger financial groups shoring up their capital base  pure-play asset managers looking to bulk up private equity firms drawn not least by lower capital requirements

And the firm is putting its money where its mouth is. It has recently been hiring scores of senior bankers from rival firms as it seeks to build itself a major presence.

from Rolfe Winkler:

“There were no discussions on AIG”

I'm sorry I missed this CNBC interview last week with Robert Wolf, chief of UBS Investment Bank in the U.S.  There's a remarkably eye-opening sound bite.   (hat tip M. Mayer)

...there were no discussions on AIG during that three day period [the weekend Lehman failed].

Goldman fills the Lehman void

Lehman’s collapse left a big whole in the world of structured products–a largely unnecessary investment vehicle that’s been all too popular in Europe and Asia. But it seems Goldman Sachs is rushing in to fill the void.

A week ago, a three-month-old Goldman Sachs subsidiary filed a registration statement with Irish authorities for the future sale of structured notes in the UK and elsewhere–but not in the US. The so-called “base prospectus” filed by Goldman Sachs Financial Solutions PLC is the second structured note offering a Goldman subsidiary has filed this year with Irish regulators.

Et tu Schwab?

Discount brokerage Charles Schwab may be facing a Lehman-sized headache.

It appears some Schwab brokers were actively selling so-called structured notes–derivative-like investments–that were issued by the now bankrupt Lehman Brothers. The structured notes were pitched as principal protected, meaning investors might not make a lot of money if a strategy failed, but they wouldn’t lose their initial investment either.

The only problem with the sales is pitch that the Lehman issued structured notes were guaranteed by Lehman. The notion that an investors’ prinicipal investment was 100% protected went out the window when the Wall Street firm filed for bankrupty last fall.