World’s most 100 most powerful women include finance queens

August 28, 2008

sheilabiar.jpgForbes Magazine has released its list of the 100 most powerful women in the world today. Making the ranks?



And a number of women in finance. Women at banks. Women at the core of dealmaking.

Ranking #2 on the list is Sheila Bair: the head of the embattled FDIC, who has been trying to reassure an edgy American public that the country’s financial institutions are sound even as six banks have failed this year. Bair’s domain is the last stop for capital-starved banks (and their insured customers) before going under.

Coming in at #8 is Ho Ching, chief executive of Temasek Holdings — Singapore’s $130 billion soveriegn wealth fund. Ching has been credited with converting Temasek from a Singapore-focused firm to a leading investor in Asia. The fund is a top investor in Merrill Lynch, having bought a 15-percent stake in the wake of the bank’s write-downs.

In at #11 is Gail Kelly, who took over Westpac, Australia’s third-largest bank, last February. Kelly sparked controversy last May when she announced plans to merge the $37 billion bank with her former employer, St. George Bank. Government regulators spent three months scrutinizing the deal before giving it the green light in August.

#42 — Jane Mendillo, president and CEO of Harvard Management Co. The former chief investment officer for Wellesley College took over Harvard University’s $35 billion endowment in July. She follows in the footsteps of star managers including Mohammed El-Erian, who left Harvard for PIMCO last year.

At # 48 is Amy Woods Brinkley, Global risk executive, Bank of America.  It’s not the easiest time to be in risk management and Brinkley has been tested this year as her bank and its competitors deal with the worldwide credit crisis.

# 53 is held by Dominique Senequier, head of AXA Private Equity, the investment buyout arm of French insurer AXA Group. With $27 billion of assets under her watch, Senequier makes direct investments in companies and sprinkles capital among various AXA funds of funds that invest in other private equity vehicles.

Sallie Krawcheck, chairman and chief executive, Global Wealth Management, Citigroup, made the list at #64. Krawcheck heads the world’s second-largest wealth manager and runs $2 trillion in client assets.

Also on the list is Beth Brooke (#79), global vice chairman, Ernst & Young. Brooke oversees public policy and investor engagement for the accounting giant.

At #89 is Maha Al-Ghunaim, chairman, managing director, Global Investment House.  With a $5 billion market capitalization, Global Investment House is now the largest non-government-owned investment bank in the Middle East. It manages 38 funds, ranging from Islamic funds to hedge funds, and totals $9.5 billion in assets.

Other interesting names include Sharon Allen - Chair, Deloitte; Jing Ulrich – chairman and managing director JP Morgan Chase China Equities; Ellen Alemany - CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland Americas and Clara Fuse - CEO of the London Stock Exchange.

Conspicuously absent from the list? Former Morgan Stanley President Zoe Cruz, who ranked on the list last year but was ousted from her job in November and Credit Suisse banker Erin Callan, who was briefly Lehman Brothers’ chief financial officer until being demoted and subsequently leaving the firm earlier this year.

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Also conspicuously absent are Annika Falkengren (President, Director and CEO) of SEB Enskilda of Sweden, who has seen US$1billion in operating profit thus far in 2008. What about Kristin Halvorsen, the Minister of Finance of Norway, we all know the relative value of their Government Pension Fund. If assets under management = power, that would explain the marked US-centric nature of the list where 40% of the listees are Nationals.

Callan is off the list, because she is a hedge funder now, not a CFO; although “power” to me means a little more than just simply AUM, Callan was instrumental in changing the face of Wall Street, albeit only for a short while. Landing on her feet -I feel- speaks volume about her character, not just the amount of money manages.

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