Unstructured Finance

Deals wrap: Blockbuster year for M&A?

March 25, 2011

A man and child look out over destroyed homes after a tsunami and earthquake in Sendai, northeastern Japan March 12, 2011. REUTERS/KyodoDespite upheaval in the Middle East and Japan, worldwide M&A have risen 58 percent to $717 billion so far this year, according to preliminary data from Thomson Reuters, marking the best start to a year since 2007 and building on last year’s tentative recovery. Analysts expect to see continued strong activity in mining and energy, but some warned it’s still too early to see the full implications of the recent crises.

Real estate companies end higher

March 24, 2011

INDIA

Shares of real estate companies closed higher on Thursday as investors started accumulating some sector-specific beaten down stocks.

Deals wrap: Walgreen prescribes drugstore.com buy

March 24, 2011

A sign for a Walgreens store is seen in Belle Glade, Florida January 6, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos BarriaWalgreen plans to buy drugstore.com for $429 million, expanding the online presence of the world’s largest drugstore chain.  Drugstore.com shareholders will receive $3.80 a share, which is more than double the company’s closing stock price on Wednesday.

Deals wrap: Conoco may double assets sale

March 23, 2011

ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, said it might double its planned sale of less-desirable assets to $20 billion, with proceeds going to buy back stock.

Sugar companies end higher

March 22, 2011
A worker carries a sack of sugar at a food warehouse in Mumbai July 11, 2008. REUTERS/Arko Datta/Files

A worker carries a sack of sugar at a food warehouse in Mumbai July 11, 2008. REUTERS/Arko Datta/Files

Deals wrap: Who will Sprint call?

March 22, 2011

A woman talks on her phone as she walks past T-mobile and Sprint wireless stores in New York July 30, 2009. REUTERS/Brendan McDermidBankers said Sprint had a handful of options after AT&T swooped in to buy T-Mobile USA for $39 billion, but none of them would give it the clout to compete in a market dominated by AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which would collectively hold an almost 80 percent market share. Verizon Wireless CEO Daniel Mead said he had no interest in buying Sprint.

SRI can find strength through unity

March 22, 2011
14:13 21Mar11 -COLUMN-SRI: From fashion accessory to industry staple By Detlef Glow, Head of EMEA Research at Lipper. The views expressed are his own. FRANKFURT, March 21 (Reuters) – Sustainable investment, socially-responsible investment (SRI) and environmental, social, governance (ESG) approaches have been hot topics in the funds industry for what seems like a very long time. Hot, but not boiling. One aspect which serves to cool it all down is that the steadily increasing popularity of such investments has prompted portfolio managers to try and differentiate themselves by applying a host of slightly different parameters for their analysis or using different names for their investment approach. It doesn’t help that the broad sector itself can be referred to in a host of ways too: Ethical? ESG? SRI? Sustainable? This has created an expanding jungle of acronyms and names used within the industry, as well as an expanding collection of confused private investors, portfolio manager, analysts, journalists and other professionals. A number of studies have confirmed that investors are struggling to make informed decisions as they attempt to build a coherent sustainable investment strategy. In February 2009, a study by Union Investment asked 256 professional investors about their knowledge, preferences and perspectives regarding this arm of the industry. The main outcome was this: “Everyone is talking about sustainable asset management but as of yet it has not become firmly anchored in many portfolios of institutional investors such as banks, insurance companies and major corporations.” Nevertheless, the European investment industry has tried in the recent past to attract fresh money by launching new active managed sustainability funds in emerging markets or linked to hot topics like green energy. There are also new exchange traded funds (ETFs) which track indices based on sustainable or ethical selection criteria. Even if some of these developments have been driven by fashions in investment trends, these new products are in general a move in the right direction; investors do now have more choices to integrate SRI/ESG strategies into their portfolios. However, it will take more than just a few new funds to drive the development of sustainable investments further. MAINSTREAM From my point of view, one of the most interesting questions to ponder is why, if everybody wants to invest in a more sustainable way, do the vast majority of asset managers not use sustainable selection criteria within their mainstream investment processes? One reason could be the relative lack of information on the impact of these strategies in terms of performance and costs to their portfolios. On the other hand, there are a number of SRI/ESG strategies which have proven their ability to add value to regular investment management approaches. Asset managers also raise the point that they don’t want to lose investment opportunities by placing restrictions on industry sectors which may impact their ability to generate alpha. This issue could be fixed by using a best-in-class approach which allows the portfolio manager to invest in the most sustainable companies from all industry sectors. But from my perspective, it does not make sense to implement a sustainable investment approach which allows the fund manager to invest in harmful or unsustainable industry sectors. There are already a number of asset managers, after all, who have successfully integrated sustainability selection criteria into their mainstream portfolios, and which do not look like they are facing issues on this. There are obstacles, certainly, but there is also a clear route to take sustainable investment strategies from a periodically fashionable niche into a broad and commonly-used investment strategy — and it involves tackling that jungle of divergent approaches which has marked the industry’s evolution. Most studies looking at investors’ views on socially- responsible investment indicate that there is a lack of transparency which stops institutional as well as private investors from implementing SRI criteria in their portfolios. That implies that the biggest challenges for the industry are to educate clients and prospective clients, and also to focus on the development of common standards for SRI/ESG through associations like social investment forums (SIF) or multinational organizations like the UN-PRI. See http://www.unpri.org/ Combine this commonality of approach with transparent products and you will attract new assets from investors who are still sceptical of the setup and selection criteria used for funds and uncertain about the evaluation methods which are applied to allocations in their portfolios. (Editing by Joel Dimmock) ((detlef.glow@thomsonreuters.com; +49-69-7565-3518)) Keywords: COLUMN/LIPPER Monday, 21 March 2011 14:13:41RTRS [nLDE72K0EU] {C}ENDS

By Detlef Glow, Head of EMEA Research at Lipper. The views expressed are his own.