DealZone

from Global Investing:

Do southern Europeans know something?

Slightly strange data from Deutsche Börse. Its latest survey of what top European executives have been doing shows increasing signs of optimism.  That is, management board and supervisory board members and their families have been buying shares in their own companies.

All well and good. But the strangeness kicks in when it becomes apparent that a lot of this buying has been done by the top people in the south.  Of 10 companies listed for the largest insider buying, seven were from southern Europe. Of the top sells,  seven were from more northern climes.

Deutsche Börse notes this -- "After Spain posted high purchase volumes last month (January), Italy has now awakened from hibernation" -- but gives no particular guidance.

There are plenty of reasons when top executives by and sell their firms, some due to M&A or simply personal need. But overall the Deutsche Börse report does point to a  more confident managerium. The February insider buy-sell ratio was 1.29, the highest since January 2009 just before  the global stock market rally took off.

Energy asset on block at Blackstone?

USAOne intriguing remark that Blackstone COO Tony James let slip on today’s earnings call is that it could be gearing up to sell an energy asset. 
James explained that while opportunities to exit investments weren’t numerous, it had succeeded making a profit on the sale of pharmaceutical company Stiefel. 
“We have another company in our portfolio… in the energy sector, which had some very, very exciting results finding unbelievable amounts of hydrocarbons and… that might be something we’d look to exit,” James said on a call to the media. 
He didn’t identify the company so we’re doing the guessing ourselves — out of the current energy investments Blackstone lists on its website, we reckon Kosmos Energy, which has a significant oil field in Ghana, could fit the bill.

(Additional reporting by Mike Erman)

Customer to Venture Capitalists: Please, go out of business

rebecca-s-connollyEven in the depths of a recession, venture capitalists are relentlessly upbeat, but one of their big customers poured cold water on that Thursday, asking some members gathered in Boston for the annual meeting of the National Venture Capital Association to go out of business.

“I hope some of you go out of business. I hope that does happen,” Rebecca Connolly, a partner in Fairview Capital, said on a panel. Her West Hartford, Connecticut, firm has about $3 billion under management, 70 percent of it in venture capital funds and the rest with private equity.  Fairview, a fund of funds, manages money for pension funds and endowments

Connolly said that until 2000, venture capital provided good returns but since the dotcom bubble burst in 2001 returns have been very disappointing, hardly justifying the investment. Venture capitalists are supposed to find small companies with big potential and help them grow into big companies, like Microsoft, Starbucks or Intel.