Latest articles from Brian Caplen

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.

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.

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.

Can-do attitude

June 2, 2004

Luiz Fernando Furlan, Brazil’s minister of state for development, industry and foreign trade, tells Brian Caplen that his country’s approach to trade is positive.

Cross-border pioneer fights on

February 3, 2004

Dexia is the result of a pioneering cross-border merger in Europe. Its experiences demonstrate the difficulties of executing an international strategy across a region within which regulations differ, writes Brian Caplen.

Bob Diamond

January 5, 2004

Barclays Capital’s CEO explains how proving itself in Europe is an ideal platform for building its US business. By Geraldine Lambe and Brian Caplen
When Barclays Capital CEO Bob Diamond was passed over for the top position at Barclays last October, there was a lot of media speculation that if a good offer came from another firm, he would be happy to jump ship. Mr Diamond’s rebuttal is adamant and he says his “enriched mandate” to combine the wholesale and institutional businesses gives him a good enough reason to stay.

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