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Nov 26, 2012

UK should resist yet another bank levy hike

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

By George Hay

LONDON, Nov 26 (Reuters Breakingviews) – The UK should
resist yet another bank levy hike. When the coalition’s annual
tax on lenders’ balance sheets was announced in June 2010, it
looked a smart way to raise cash while encouraging banks to
slash risky short-term funding. But bankers now expect a third
hike in the levy’s rate. This sensible tax risks becoming a
joke.

Nov 23, 2012

Monte dei Paschi finds patriotism doesn’t pay

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

By George Hay

LONDON, Nov 23 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Monte dei Paschi
(BMPS.MI: Quote, Profile, Research) is about to find out that patriotism doesn’t pay. The
venerable Italian bank had hoped that the latest 1.5 billion
euros of bailout cash it received from the Italian government
wouldn’t end up diluting its existing shareholders too much. But
Brussels is likely to nip this in the bud.

Nov 6, 2012

Investment banks’ next challenge: cutting salaries

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

By Peter Thal Larsen and George Hay

HONG KONG/LONDON, Nov 6 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Investment
banks are facing a new conundrum: how to cut their employees’
salaries. The industry made a collective blunder when it
responded to the crisis by upping basic pay, particularly for
senior bankers. That has made it harder for banks to cut costs
as revenue withers. Reversing the hike won’t be easy, especially
as regulations remain uncertain. But if the alternative is to
chop a greater number of jobs, employees may reluctantly agree.

Oct 31, 2012
via Breakingviews

Barclays needs a decisive UBS-style strategy shift

Photo

By George Hay and Dominic Elliott

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

Barclays needs a decisive, UBS-style change of direction. While rivals like Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse saw revenue in fixed income, currencies and commodities spike in the third quarter, Barclays’ normally strong FICC business underperformed. Worse, the results also included two fresh regulatory probes. It shows why new chief executive Antony Jenkins should consider changes as radical in tone as UBS’s root-and-branch restructuring.

Oct 30, 2012

Spain needs to do more to tempt bad bank investors

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

By George Hay

LONDON, Oct 30 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Spain at last has
put a price on its banks’ stinky assets. The indebted euro zone
member said on Oct. 29 that toxic property loans belonging to
its most troubled lenders would be transferred to an “asset
management company” (Sareb in its Spanish acronym), at around
half their nominal value. But this may not prove enough to
entice the private investors needed to keep the entity off the
state’s books.

Oct 24, 2012

Breakingviews-Can Barclays old boys make the Irish play pay?

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

By George Hay

LONDON, Oct 24 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Barclays (BARC.L: Quote, Profile, Research)
former bankers like helping struggling institutions. Three years
ago a group of them enabled their ex-employer to tidy its
balance sheet when they acquired $12.3 billion of nasty
structured credit gunk through their controversial Protium fund.
Now the same team is offering assistance to Irish taxpayers,
taking a 17 percent stake in the National Asset Management
Agency, Ireland’s bad bank. Protium extracted a pound of flesh
from Barclays, and it’s not clear why Walbrook Capital, as the
latest venture is known, wouldn’t do the same.

Oct 19, 2012
via Breakingviews

RBS’s CEO succession gains urgency post Panditgate

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By George Hay

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

Royal Bank of Scotland’s succession planning is attaining greater urgency. After recent milestones, Chief Executive Stephen Hester is on track to achieve his five-year turnaround plan by its 2013 deadline. Meanwhile, Vikram Pandit’s unceremonious ouster from Citigroup on Oct. 16 shows the wisdom of quitting while ahead. RBS’s board should put two and two together and prepare for life after Hester.

Oct 8, 2012

Greek banks need more than a megadeal to be a buy

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

By George Hay

LONDON, Oct 8 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Colossal synergies,
unassailable market dominance and a cheap valuation. National
Bank of Greece’s (NBGr.AT: Quote, Profile, Research) megadeal with rival Eurobank EFG
(EFGr.AT: Quote, Profile, Research) has the ingredients that normally make investors
salivate. But this is Greece, and even this startling
combination doesn’t add up to a compelling equity story in the
Greek banking sector.

Oct 1, 2012
via Breakingviews

Spain adds bank stress tests to saga of missteps

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By George Hay

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

Spain is doing its Don Quixote impression again. The troubled euro state’s latest attempt at shoring up trust in its imploding banking system was supposed to be the final one. Madrid was expected to pump enough capital in its lenders to lay concerns to rest. But the rosy assumptions chosen by the government are still too close to Cervantes’ ever-dreaming literary character.

Sep 28, 2012
via Breakingviews

Review: The real way HBOS gave us extra

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

Anyone watching British TV in 2002 will probably remember Howard from the Sheldon branch. The bald, bespectacled bank teller at a new bank called HBOS tried to attract deposits by singing clumsily adapted pop songs. The nadir of this allegedly amusing commercial effort was undoubtedly “Who gives you extra?”, a parody of the Baha Men’s “Who let the dogs out?”. Like Howard, who rapidly became a star, HBOS was trying to be something it was not.
“Hubris: How HBOS Wrecked the Best Bank in Britain”, Ray Perman’s timely guide to the bank’s spectacular 2008 demise, gives a comprehensive insight into what HBOS “extra” ended up being: an extremely unamusing forced takeover, and an 11.5 billion pound state recapitalisation.

    • About George

      "George Hay writes about the banking and property sectors. He joined from Thomson Financial News, where he was a companies correspondent. Before that he worked at United Business Media, where he was news editor of Building Magazine. He has a first in English Literature from Edinburgh University, and was nominated in two categories at the 2009 Business Journalist of the Year Awards."
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