Latest articles from Brian Caplen

Building blocks for leadership

August 1, 2005

Vneshtorgbank is using its acquisition of Guta Bank to build up its retail services, planning more branches and aiming for a leading role in the mortgage market. By Brian Caplen.
Russian state-owned Vneshtorgbank is pushing ahead on the retail front, aiming to claim an 8%-10% share of the market by 2010. During that period, total assets are expected to rise from $15bn to $35bn, including a forecast rise in mortgages from $150m to $2bn and in consumer lending from $300m to $3bn.

Santander spots an overlooked opportunity

August 1, 2005

When Santander bought Abbey, not everyone agreed it was a good idea. But its strategy for turning around the ailing bank has proved the doubters wrong, as Brian Caplen reports.

Asia hails arrival of the hybrids

May 2, 2005

As new frameworks such as Basel II are implemented by Asia’s regulators, the region’s banks will have to adopt innovative new ways of raising debt and capital.Brian Caplen explains.
In the grim days following the Asian financial crisis, efficient capital management was not a concept much in vogue with the region’s banks.
Staying alive in any shape or form was the focus, not fussing about different forms of capital. But now the onward march of regulation in Asia and new demands from shareholders are concentrating the minds of bank management.

Germany experiences a silent revolution

April 4, 2005

A lot of the groundwork for a German revival is complete. The news remains bad but then the darkest hour is often just before the dawn. Brian Caplen reports.
While the headline news about Germany’s economy remains dire and political battles continue to be fought over reforms and job losses, behind the scenes Europe’s largest economy is showing signs of restoration to at least some of its former glory.

Customers with clout

April 4, 2005

Germany’s medium-sized companies’ political clout has led to banks coming up with innovative capital-raising solutions for them, says Brian Caplen.
Refusing to lend to the Mittelstand in Germany is the fastest route to bad publicity and political outcry. These small and medium-sized enterprises account for three quarters of output in Germany, higher than in most other western European economies where large firms dominate. What’s more, they have a large political voice.
The fact remains, however, that lending to the Mittelstand at low margins does not make economic sense for banks, even if it makes good politics.

Lone Star sees the silver lining

April 4, 2005

A US fund is leading the way in dealing with Germany’s bad loan overload. Brian Caplen reports.
The great potential of German distressed debt may not be obvious to all but it is proving attractive to Lone Star, the US private equity fund that has purchased two-thirds of all the non-performing loans (NPLs) sold by German banks.
Yet with an estimated €300bn of bad loans in the German banking system and so far only €10bn sold, there is no danger of supplies evaporating.

Bid for investment grade

February 2, 2005

There are encouraging signs that the turnaround in the Brazilian economy is based on more sturdy underlyings than past upturns, but will it fuel enough growth to achieve an investment grade sovereign rating? Brian Caplen reports.

Two become one

October 4, 2004

The merger of Crédit Agricole and Crédit Lyonnais is proving more successful than some imagined. Chief executive Jean Laurent tells Brian Caplen how the two companies managed such a seamless integration.

Standard Chartered’s Asian vision

September 2, 2004

With a 52% increase in first half profits, Standard Chartered could hardly have done better. But on the acquisition front, it seems to have gone sideways, selling a 9.76% stake in South Korea’s KorAm and watching HSBC beat it for a stake in China’s Bank of Communications (BoCom). Group CEO Mervyn Davies explains the bank’s strategy to Brian Caplen.

Steady as she goes

July 2, 2004

Malaysia’s central bank governor Tan Sri Dato Zeti Akhtar Aziz tells Brian Caplen why she is focusing on economic stability, and discusses Islamic banking, keeping the dollar peg and relations with China.

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