Global Investing

from Summit Notebook:

Blackrock sees opportunities in shrinking Japan

Japan's population has peaked and all the projections have it sliding sharply in coming decades, raising questions about investment opportunities when emerging markets, in particular, offer much more obvious growth opportunities.

By 2055 government researchers expect Japan's population to slide 30 percent to below 90 million from around 128 million with mushrooming numbers of retirees to be supported by a dwindling workforce.

Yet Japan will still be an important destination for world investors, argues Hiroyuki Arita, the Japan head of Blackrock, the world's largest money manager.

Women, having not made such a big move into jobs as elsewhere, will cushion the decline in the Japanese workforce by taking up more jobs, he says.

Arita also sees Japan as a continuing oasis of stability in an increasingly volatile world.

How green is your investment?

Is your investment green enough?

A survey by consultancy firm Mercer, carbon data provider Trucost and environmental organisation WWF finds that greenhouse gas emissions from 118 UK-based investment management firms, with 206 billion pounds in assets under management, range from 209 to 1,487 tonnes per million pounds invested.

The report showed that the funds hold investment to 1.4 percent of the market capitalisation of 2,380 companies, which accounts for approximately 134 million tonnes of carbon emissions. These equate to 22 percent of UK greenhouse gas emissions.

Nine of the 10 main contributors to the overall carbon footprint of the portfolios are in the utilities and oil and gas sectors. The research includes in-depth analysis of the increasingly negative effects that carbon costs could have on carbon-intensive utilities and oil and gas companies.

Rich people keep passion investing

The credit crisis has hit the world’s super rich, with their financial wealth shrinking by almost a fifth in 2008, but they are flocking to luxury goods and jewellery in a  flight-to-safety.

A survey by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and CapGemini found that the population of high net worth individuals (HNWI), with net assets of at least $1 million, fell 14.9 percent in 2008 from the year before. The population of ultra high net worth individuals, with net assets of at least $30 million, fell 24.6 percent.

Luxury collectibles, which include automobiles, boats and jets, remained the most preferred choice of “passion” investments, representing 27 percent of the portfolio last year, compared with 26 percent the year before.

from DealZone:

“Tourists” arrive in private equity

Opportunistic buyers, lovingly dubbed "tourists" by those in the industry, have moved into the secondary private equity market. They're looThe cruise ship from Mediterranean Shipping Company Musica dwarfs Via Garibald as it arrives in Veniceking for positions in brand-name private equity funds at knock-down prices. As I wrote in a DealTalk today:"Pension funds and wealthy middle-east sovereign wealth funds are buying up investments in private equity funds, pushing up prices and sidelining secondary firms that specialise in acquiring the assets."The market for second-hand private equity assets -- where private equity investors offload assets to specialist buyers -- has mushroomed as the credit crisis has intensified. And increasing numbers of cash-strapped investors are concerned about meeting their future commitments to buyout funds."New investors have been attracted to deals by steep discounts to net asset value, forcing up prices for specialist buyers, such as Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and HarbourVest Partners (HVPE.AS) that last month closed secondary funds after reaching their $5.5 billion and $2.9 billion targets respectively."Read the full piece here.

from MacroScope:

Gold to go

Automatic teller machines (ATMs) -- 500 of them -- dispensing pieces of gold will be available around Germany, Switzerland and Austria by the end of this year.

That at least is the plan of German precious metals online trading company TG-Gold-Super-Markt.de. The ATMs, to be located at airports, railway stations and shopping malls, are intended to accustom ordinary people to the idea of investing in a physical asset such as gold, the thinking goes.
 
Thomas Geissler, the company's chief executive, said the gold ATMs might even improve relations between the sexes.
 
"I have yet to meet a woman who does not like a gift of gold. It's better than flowers. Flowers are more expensive. They wilt and you (as a man) don't get as many points at home as if you bring gold," he said.
 
A prototype ATM on display for a one-day marketing test at the main railway station in Frankfurt, Germany's financial capital, did indeed reward your correspondent with a 1-gramme (0.0353 ounce) piece of gold.
 
It cost the equivalent of $42.25 -- a 30 percent premium over the spot market price.

Dubai dream over for western investors

Real estate prices are in freefall. Billions of dollars worth of projects have been cancelled or put on hold and expats are leaving in droves as they lose their jobs. Once a playground for the rich and super-rich, the seaside emirate — home to palm tree shaped islands, mega malls and luxury sky-rise hotels — has lost its lustre. And bargain-basement assets are not yet cheap enough to tempt buyers back. 

European investors, who once clamoured to Dubai, reckon they can land better deals closer to home or elsewhere in the Gulf. Some analysts are predicting that the more stable markets in Abu Dhabi, Doha and Saudi Arabia to recover faster than Dubai.

 “Dubai is not one for us. I prefer long-term established locations with underlying intrinsic attractions or clear, sustainable competitive advantages,” Bill Hughes, managing director, Legal & General Property, told Reuters.

from Commodity Corner:

Correlation Between Oil and Equities Markets

oil-vs-stock-market

Oil prices have been trading in an unusually strong positive correlation with equities markets over the past few months on hopes that signs of an economic recovery could mean a boost for energy demand.

But with oil and product inventories swelling and little sign of demand improving in the United States and other big developed economies, analysts warn that the linkage may be hard to maintain, especially if U.S. motorists cut back on vacations this summer.

from UK News:

Walking the risk-reward tightrope in Iraq

It's fair to say that investing in Iraq is not for the faint-hearted.

Just last week more than 200 people were killed in suicide bombings across the country, while kidnapping and armed assault remain commonplace.

That said, more than 600 delegates still turned up to the Invest Iraq 2009 conference held in London this week, eager to find out what opportunities there might be in the oil, construction, petrochemicals, engineering, agriculture, transport and tourism industries, to name a few.

From City of London bankers to executives from Shell and Chevron, bosses from energy service companies and airport construction firms, management training specialists and security advisers, they were all there, milling around a west London hotel in their smartest suits, seeing what business they might be able to do.

Gold offers double-edged shine

It was Goldman Sachs who famously predicted oil prices to reach $200 a barrel last year, but there are a school of bullish investors who forecast a substantial rally in gold.

Take Gold and Energy Advisor, which predicts gold will soon reach $2,500 an ounce (from today’s $895) then to $5,000. The Florida-based firm argues that gold is the only asset class that’s not only private (as opposed to state-owned), but also liquid, portable, fungible, divisible, and valuable enough that a small amount can store a massive amount of wealth.

It also argues that of $11.5 trillion stored in offshore accounts and other assets, if one percent were transferred into gold, that would be almost four times the entire annual investment demand for gold.

How to Spend It – for sovereign wealth funds

As dust settles and investor morale improves, sovereign wealth funds are slowly coming back to the market.


But they are not going to simply repeat what they’ve done in the past few years — hunting bargains in everything from property to banks. They are likely to carefully balance out the temptation for higher returns and the need to invest in strategic assets which benefit their own economies.

The so-called “south-south” trade is set to gather pace, providing much-needed capital inflows to emerging markets.