Posts Tagged ‘goldman sachs’

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The deal between Vodafone and Verizon announced earlier this month is, in fact, the third largest corporate deal in history. In comparison the deal between Microsoft and Nokia is small beer, but it is still a massive arrangement by any normal yardstick. Interest rates are low, but they may not be low for much longer. Is now, and pretty much right now, the time for a new M&A boom?

Let’s look at some of the reasons why the two mega deals of this month have happened. Okay, there is good strategic fit. Verizon and Vodafone both see new opportunities, particularly thanks to 4G in their domestic markets. In the case of Microsoft and Nokia the rationale for the arrangement is pretty obvious and has been discussed to death elsewhere.

But consider two other factors less commonly discussed. In the case of Vodafone and Verizon the factor is low interest rates. Fears that rates may rise soon, was possibly the main rationale for the timing of their deal – indeed Verizon referred to this very point. In the case of Microsoft, the software giant is one of the companies with a massive cash pile. There are many of them. Corporate cash piles have been a particularly notable phenomenon of recent years. Market bulls have been predicting the release of this cash mountain for some time. In the case of Microsoft, its partial release has been triggered by desperation – fear of Google, Samsung, and Apple, even Amazon. Other companies may start spending because they see signs of an economic pick-up. The reason may not matter. It was surely inconceivable that companies were going to sit on all that cash for much longer, but a trigger was required to release it.

Look further down the corporate league and other evidence of new M&A activity emerges. David Lloyd Leisure has been bought by private equity firm TDR Capital – and its new owners have plans for expansion.

The ‘Telegraph’ recently quoted Greg Lemkau, who is the co-head of M&A at Goldman Sachs, as saying: “Within two or three years from now, people will be looking back on this time as a golden opportunity.”

But the overriding point is this. The economy both here and in the US seems to be improving, and pretty significantly too. M&A is always popular during an economic upturn. But because interest rates are set to rise, the ideal timing for such activity is now.

Not everyone in the corporate world has cottoned on to the recovery; they were likewise slow to spot the seriousness of the crisis five years ago, but as the recovery gatherers momentum, the penny will drop, and then we will see a rush for leveraged deals before rates rise much further.

What are the implications? AS M&A activities rise, so too will equities. The FTSE 100, the S&P 500 and the Dow will all pass new highs – probably.

Is it all a good thing in the long run? Well that will be the subject of another article.

© Investment & Business News 2013

And so the Bank of England gets a new boss. Or at least it will get a new boss later next year, when Mervyn King steps down.

It’s interesting that the Bank of E has does the equivalent of hiring Sven Goran Eriksson or Fabio Capello and looked outside these shores for its next appointment. I’m not sure what the anti-immigration lobby will think of that. Maybe they are just anti-immigration when it involves everyone except bankers and footballers.

So the new governor will be Mark Carney, who is currently the top man at Canada’s Central bank. Mr Carney received praise for cutting interest rates in 2008 more aggressively than his peers at other central banks. More recently, he has been talking about tightening monetary policy in Canada.

But just because he has gone hawkish on interest rates in Canada does not make him a North American hawk, swooping over the hapless UK financial scene.

What is right for Canada is not necessarily right for the UK, and the fact is that Canada’s economy is very different. By the same token, just because Canada’s economy has performed better than the UK’s over the last half a decade, it does not necessarily mean Mark Carney is a better central banker.

He may simply have been lucky that his tenure overlapped with a period in which Canada outperformed the rest of the G7.

It seems a part of George Osborne’s rationale for appointing Mr Carney was over fears that the Bank of England has become too incestuous, and was becoming a victim of group think.

That may be right, but then again, Mr Carney along with Mario Draghi at the ECB, Tim Geithner – US treasury secretary, and Hank Paulson, Geithner’s predecessor are all ex Goldman Sachs. That is not to say that there is some kind of vampire squid conspiracy, but there is a danger of another type of group think permeating economic thinking at the top.

What is also interesting about Mr Carney is that he is very much in favour of making banks tighten up on their capital. He is an arch supporter of the new Basel III regulations, calling for higher capital ratios at banks.

And one banker he has crossed swords is Jamie Dimon, boss at JP Morgan Chase. At one meeting in which both Carney and Dimon were present, the JP Morgan man called ideas for upping banks’ capital ratio “cockamamie nonsense.” Press reports suggest that Carney was furious, and left the meeting visibly angry.

Why is that significant? Many think that Dimon may be the next chairman of the Fed. In fact, Warren Buffett recently said he was his choice. This suggests that in a few years’ time we may see a kind of British/US clash, centred on the differences of a Canadian ex-Goldman Sachs man and a US ex-JP Morgan man.

Still, at least that will hit the Goldman Sachs conspiracy theory pretty hard.

©2012 Investment and Business News.

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