Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

from Clare Baldwin:

Nomura banker says singing for karaoke only

Takeo Sumino, chief operating officer of Nomura Holding America Inc, wants to make one thing clear: neither he nor his Tokyo colleagues are into the habit of breaking into song first thing in the morning at the office.

A Wall Street Journal story in July said that one group of Nomura traders sang a company song in morning meetings.

“Japan created the video game, Japan has created the karaoke culture, but that does not necessarily mean that Nomura as a company will ask people to sing a song every day,” he said, trying to debunk reports of culture clashes between Nomura bankers and their new colleagues at the former Lehman Brothers empire in Asia and Europe.

“I worked in Nomura for 22 years. I never sang a song in the morning,” he said. “If you want to sing a song or listen to my song I can take you to karaoke, but you don’t need to come to my office because I don’t sing a song.”

AUDIO – Mornings with Ron: A Reuters Autos Summit tradition

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A few years ago, there was a book out called “Tuesdays with Morrie.” At Reuters, though, we spend our Tuesday mornings during Auto Summits with Ron.

It wouldn’t be a Reuters Autos Summit without our yearly visit from United Auto Workers head Ron Gettelfinger … at the crack of dawn.

Upstarts!

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The U.S. government has pumped more than $100 billion into Detroit over the past year to keep automakers General Motors and Chrysler alive. But some of the sector’s remaining capitalists are having a hard time stomaching a $25 billion Department of Energy loan program intended to spark new developments in electric cars. 

Start-ups Fisker Automotive and Tesla Motors have won about $1 billion in combined funding, while longtime players Ford and Nissan have received substantially larger loans from Washington to work on vehicle electrification — a technology the White House and many in the industry hope will reduce the United States’ dependence on imported oil and lower emissions of carbon dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas. 

AUDIO – Commercial real estate: The auto industry’s next big (bad) thing

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The U.S. auto industry has had one heck of a year.Sales have fallen off, credit has been pretty much nonexistant and two of the major U.S. automakers were bankrupt. Other that all that, things were fine.But Bill Diehl, chief executive of advisory firm BBK, said at the first day of this year’s Reuters Autos Summit, that one of the main concerns for 2010 (if it’s not THE main concern) is the industry’s overall exposure to commercial real estate.We have been hearing about the problems with commercial real estate in many other sectors of the U.S. economy and Diehl gave the strongest statement so far about the auto side.(To hear Diehl\’s comments, please click here)The Reuters Autos Summit continues through Thursday in Detroit and Paris.

AUDIO – The ‘new normal’ for the U.S. auto industry

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A few years ago, one of the guests at our annual Reuters Autos Summit — Tom Stallkamp from Ripplewood — pretty much stopped everyone dead in their tracks by predicting that auto sales in the United States was likely to fall to an obscenely low level of 14.5 million.

Those were the days.

Of course, Stallkamp was making that prediction at a time when U.S. car manufacturers were selling in the neighborhood of 16 to 17 million a year. If the number hits 14.5 million in 2010, people will be wild with enthusiasm as most now expect something in a range of 10 to 11 million.

Restructuring calls heat up

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After a cool few months, the phones are heating up again for restructuring advisors. 

Michael Kramer, head of restructuring at Perella Weinberg Partners, told the Reuters Restructuring Summit that the calls he gets from possible clients aren’t quite as panicked as early this year. 

Debt collecting gets…er, sexy?

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Bank employees working in call centers and reminding clients of their overdue loans used to be as far to the bottom of the banking food chain as you could be. Not any more.

Raiffeisen International, the second-biggest lender in eastern Europe, has ramped up staff in its collections and risk management departments.

from Funds Hub:

The morgue after Christmas

Around this Christmastide banks will begin to take a strict approach to companies running out of money, according to Simon Davies, managing director of The Blackstone Group.  

 

 

He said at the Reuters Restructuring Summit in London that by the end of the year banks will issue "in patient", "out patient" or "morgue" judgements as they go about the business to decide who gets much needed loans and who does not.

Investing Japan, as Japan invests offshore

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Even in the best of times, Japan has never been a cakewalk for foreign investors. But in the wake of the global credit crisis, the world’s second-largest economy can be downright baffling.

The recession has wiped out overseas demand for electronics and automobiles and sent a rush of mid-sized firms into bankruptcy.

AUDIO – Real estate’s ugly confluence

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All week, we have been meeting real estate executives at Reuters Global Real Estate Summit who have discussed the many different areas of concern that have spread throughout the sector.

Some have spoken about deleveraging. Some have told us about the shrinking of values. Others have said it’s a confidence game — as in, there isn’t any.

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