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Oct 11, 2013
via Breakingviews

Lloyds can’t get too cocky after Royal Mail pop

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Lloyds Banking Group shouldn’t get too cocky following Royal Mail’s epic post-flotation pop. The state-backed British bank may be tempted to focus its next share sale entirely on retail punters after strong demand sent the postal service’s shares up 36 percent in their first few hours’ trading. But the differences between Lloyds’s secondary offering and Royal Mail’s primary one warrant a different approach.

Provided Royal Mail doesn’t tank any time soon, its listing clearly helps the government flog its remaining 32.7 percent stake in Lloyds. After September’s successful 3.2 billion pounds ($5.1 billion) sale to institutional investors, the bank could look at selling another 10 billion pounds ($15.9 billion) of shares when it returns to the market some time after March, bankers reckon. Proof that retail interest is there too – the retail portion of the Mail’s IPO was seven times oversubscribed – will help.

Oct 4, 2013

Breakingviews-Barclays’ investment bank still looks too big

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

By George Hay

LONDON, Oct 4 (Reuters Breakingviews) – The success of
Barclays’ (BARC.L: Quote, Profile, Research) 5.8 billion pound capital increase leaves a
big question unresolved – the size of the UK lender’s investment
bank. The fundraising means Barclays’ equity will constitute 3
percent of its total assets by mid-2014, as regulators now
require. But the new focus on so-called leverage ratios, as
opposed to capital versus risk-weighted assets, jars with Chief
Executive Antony Jenkins’ strategy.

Oct 3, 2013
via Breakingviews

UK’s Help to Buy scheme is a no-brainer for banks

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By George Hay

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

The UK’s Help to Buy scheme is a no-brainer for banks. On Oct. 8, the UK government is likely to disclose final details of its questionable policy encouraging homebuyers to take on large, taxpayer-backed debts at the bottom of the interest-rate cycle. There are good reasons for banks to feel wary. But there are hard financial reasons for them to sign up.

Sep 27, 2013

Intesa in self-made crisis after skirting big one

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

By George Hay

LONDON, Sept 27 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Intesa Sanpaolo
(ISP.MI: Quote, Profile, Research) appears to have found a way to shoot itself in the
foot. Italy’s largest retail bank has so far had a relatively
good euro zone crisis, raising capital early and keeping bad
debts below peers’. It needs to ensure that a boardroom scrap
doesn’t undo all that good work.

Sep 18, 2013

Breakingview- Santander gets “board diversity” all wrong

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

By George Hay

MADRID, Sept 18 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Companies can’t
get enough of “board diversity”. To show they want to reach that
lofty goal, they try to form an ideal roster of non-executives
comprised of big hitters with a broad range of “talents”. In
appointing ex-Bankia Chairman Rodrigo Rato, Santander (SAN.MC: Quote, Profile, Research)
has gone one step further: it has recruited an executive who
hasn’t shown any talent in the field of banking.

Sep 16, 2013
via Breakingviews

Lloyds’ shares look a better bet than Barclays’

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By George Hay

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

Investors looking for a cheap way into the UK banking sector are spoilt for choice. The government is preparing to sell down its 39 percent stake in Lloyds Banking Group, probably through a discounted share placing. Rival Barclays is about to launch a 5.8 billion pound rights issue. Barclays’ shares are cheaper, but Lloyds is the safer investment. On balance, Lloyds looks better value.

Sep 12, 2013
via Breakingviews

2008 retold: EU bank bail-in saves taxpayer bacon

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By George Hay and Neil Unmack
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Lehman as it might have been … The following  is part of a special feature package marking the fifth anniversary of the collapse of the Wall Street securities firm. Breakingviews writers imagine what might have happened if post-crisis reformers had acted pre-crisis. Herewith a column  from that alternative archive.

Sep 9, 2013

ECB needs to sort out euro banks’ bad debt mess

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

By George Hay

LONDON, Sept 9 (Reuters Breakingviews) – How big is the
capital problem of euro area banks? The European Banking
Authority – the pan-European banking regulator – will in 2014
try to gauge the balance-sheet strength of banks in the monetary
union for the fourth time in as many years. Unlike the past
three attempts, this one may finally address one of the biggest
problems – the impenetrable fog surrounding European banks’ bad
debt data.

Sep 6, 2013

Bank upstarts’ rapid growth needs careful policing

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

By Neil Unmack and George Hay

LONDON, Sept 6 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Peer-to-peer
lending is a rare thing in finance: an innovation that is
actually innovative. Internet lenders are faster, more
transparent and less systemically risky than traditional ones.
But when the Financial Conduct Authority starts to regulate the
sector next April, it needs to keep an eye on a disquieting new
trend: some so-called P2P lenders are beginning to act more like
banks.

Sep 2, 2013
via Breakingviews

Bale-in at Real Madrid won’t lead to bailout

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By George Hay

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

Real Madrid’s world-record signing of Gareth Bale will have UEFA mopping its brow. Soccer’s European governing body is currently ushering in so-called “financial fair play” guidelines designed to stamp out the gross commercial mismanagement that permeates the game. But even after splashing out 100 million euros on a single player, the Spanish club will probably stay on the right side of the referee.

    • 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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