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Mega rounds keep rolling in amid IPO slump
Venture Capital
<p>It be might a lousy exit market right now but the big VC deals have still been coming through thick and fast these past three months with 68 startups globally each raising $100 million or more, according to a new report.</p> <p>The joint report by KPMG and CB Insights reveals there have been 170 of these so-called mega rounds for the first nine months of the year raising an aggregate $19 billion. In total VC-backed startups raised $37.6 billion worldwide during the three months and $98.4 billion for the year so far, already exceeding the 2014’s $88.7 billion total.  </p> <p>Asian mega deals in particular tipped the scales for the third quarter, with massive investments into the likes of Didi Kuaidi,, One97 Communication and Eleme. The top five deals in Asia accounted for $5.3 billion, or 39% of fundraising in the region. </p> <p>But the report also shows that while there are more late stage deals, there are fewer IPO exits than previous years, exacerbated by the fact that China suspended IPOs once again in July. The number of late-stage investments has affected the availability of cash for seed-stage investments. Despite more funds investing at the seed stage, seed investments have dropped to a five-quarter low of 28%, globally. </p> <p>In the short term at least it seems the gigantic late stage deals will continue to spur the rise of the unicorns - startups valued at $1 billion or more. There were 23 new unicorns in the quarter: 17 in the US, 3 in Asia and 3 in Europe.<br /> Photo: Maxwell Hamilton</p>
Can blockchain tech revolutionise IP and digital content ?
<p>When people talk about blockchain technology they invariably talk about bitcoin, but its applications go far beyond cryptocurrency. There is now a community of startups that are looking at how blockchain can be used to protect digital content and intellectual property.</p> <p>In a nutshell: just as blockchain is used as a virtual decentralised ledger to track bitcoin transactions, it can also be used as a tool to track the rights and transactions attached to all manner of digital creative works from music to artwork.</p> <p>To this end there are now platforms like Ethereum coming into existence that use blockchain tech to issue smart contracts: decentralised computer protocols used to verify contractual agreements. There is now an ecosystem of companies being built around platforms like Ethereum that focus on IP solutions and other alternative blockchain applications. </p> <p>Many of the leading lights of this nascent industry gathered at the "Smart Contracts for Smart Cities" conference in Hong Kong’s Cyberport this week to share their views in the future of blockchain technology. Trent McConaghy – the founder of Ascribe, a digital IP platform – is one of the people looking to solve the issues surrounding IP and digital content on the internet, he said:<br /> “A fundamental challenge of the internet is that if you are a creator you are getting a raw deal. When you put your stuff on the internet you are probably not going to get paid, or at best you are only getting a fraction of its value. Ads are a horrible solution to monetization.”<br /> A similar frustration was expressed by Juan Benet, the creator of  InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), a type of peer-to-peer protocol. Benet explains that blockchain and timestamping services can be used to create an auditable trail of content ownership from creation through to the transfer of rights and beyond.  He added that the democratization of the process could also address some imbalances in the patent system:<br /> “Currently the patent system in software is pretty broken, it allows for a lot of things that shouldn't be allowed as patents and excludes others things that should be. It is a very tricky situation when you have these massive companies  amassing these huge portfolios and only they get to wield patents.”<br /> Photo: Mattwalker69</p>
People Moves: Credit Suisse strengthens China research team; HSBC to relocate bankers to HK
Capital Markets
<p>Credit Suisse bolsters A-share research team. Li Chen, an Institutional Investor-ranked portfolio strategist, is among the six new hires Credit Suisse made to bolster it’s A-shares research team.</p> <p>Prior to joining Credit Suisse, Li spent five years at UBS, serving various key roles including head of China equity strategy. Before that, he was head of research for one of China’s largest mutual funds, the Harvest Fund. He will report to Vincent Chan, Credit Suisse’s head of China research, and he will continue to be based in Hong Kong. Finance Asia</p> <p>HSBC bankers move to Hong Kong. Agustin Gargallo, a New York-based director for HSBC’s emerging markets debt syndicate, is set to relocate to Hong Kong amid a massive reshuffle within the British firm’s debt syndicate unit. Also set to head to Hong Kong is Alison Chan, a London-based associate within the bank’s EMEA corporate and structured syndicate team.</p> <p>The two of them seem to have spent most of their careers at HSBC, although Gargallo joined the firm following a two-year stint at Goldman Sachs Asset Management. They will both report to Carla Goudge, head of debt syndicate, Asia Pacific. Reuters</p> <p>For Asset Management moves, click here.</p> <p>Photo: Wendy</p>
People Moves: JPAM CIO relocates to HK; Manulife AM adds CFO, CMO
Asset Management
<p>Carlyle names Southeast Asia chief. Sunil Kaul, a 30-year veteran of private equity and banking scene, has been appointed head of Southeast Asia of the Carlyle Asia buyout advisory team. Greg Zeluck, Managing Director and Co-Head of the Carlyle Asia buyout advisory team, had this to say:<br /> “Sunil is a Carlyle veteran with a wealth of experience in the private equity and financial services industries. With his deep industry expertise and strong networks, Sunil has significantly contributed to the success of many of our investments in Asia over the last seven years. In this newly created role, Sunil will lead our investment advisory activities in Southeast Asia as we continue to see great opportunities in this fast-growing region.”<br /> Before joining Carlyle in 2008, Kaul was president of Citibank Japan, a role he served concurrently with his chairmanship of Citi's credit card and consumer finance companies in Japan. He was also a member of the banking giant’s Global Management Committee and Global Consumer Planning Group. Carlyle</p> <p>JP Morgan AM CIO returns to Hong Kong. Richard Titherington, JP Morgan Asset Management’s London-based CIO for emerging market equities, will be returning to Hong Kong to lead the U.S. investment firm’s newly-merged emerging markets and Asia Pacific equity team. Titherington, who previously spent 14 years in the region, seems to be pretty stoked on the move:<br /> “For me, this move feels like coming home and I couldn’t be more pleased. The firm has a long and proud history in the region, backed by a very strong group of investment professionals. I am honoured to have been entrusted with this role and am very excited about the prospects for our team.”<br /> Despite the move, he will remain as portfolio manager for his UK and Luxembourg-domiciled portfolios. AsiaAssetManagement</p> <p>Manulife AM adds two key hires. Frederick Reidenbach, an old hand in the Japanese asset management space, has been named chief financial officer, wealth and asset management, Asia by Manulife Asset Management. Joining him at the firm will be Grace Ho, a ten-year veteran of the financial services marketing arena. She’ll be serving the firm as its chief marketing officer, wealth and asset management, Asia.</p> <p>Prior to joining Manulife, Reidenbach spent 10 years at Nikko Asset Management in Japan, working in various capacities including a dual role of CFO and COO. Ho meanwhile was the previous head of marketing, Asia Pacific for Schroders. Before that, she spent two years at JP Morgan as a VP in marketing following a four-year stint at AIG in a similar role. They will both be based in Hong Kong. FundSelectorAsia</p> <p>For Capital Markets moves, click here.<br /> Photo: Luke Ma</p>
Activist funds tank; down 10.3% in quarter 3; now -8.1% ytd
Hedge Funds
<p>Managed futures and quantitative equity funds excelled while activists’ pain continued.</p> <p>The hedge fund industry produced an aggregate return of -1.20% in September, dropping YTD returns further into negative territory for 2015, -2.35%. The industry’s last annual decline was 2011 when average returns were -4.99% and the S&amp;P rose +2.11%.</p> <p>For many in the hedge fund industry, 2015 is shaping up as the worst year since 2011, if not since 2008. One primary difference between 2015 and 2011 is many major markets produced positive returns in 2011, more so on the credit side, and the hedge fund industry was generally perceived to have lagged significantly. In 2015 the industry is mostly outperforming equity, multi-asset, commodity and regional/country specific indices.</p> <p>Systematic strategies performed well during September's global volatility<br /> Systematic, or quantitative strategies performed well during September’s global volatility. Most interesting was the performance of those focused on equity markets, given declines seen following the US Fed meeting mid-month. Quantitative equity strategies returned an average of 0.58% in September and were down only slightly in Q3, -0.39%, while the S&amp;P 500 and MSCI were -6.44% and -8.45% in Q3, respectively.</p> <p>After four down months in the last five, managed futures funds, heavily populated with systematic strategies, gained +1.01% in September, ending Q3 only -0.26%. The difference between large and smaller managed futures funds has been significant in 2015. Those with greater than $1 billion in AUM entering 2015 returned an average of +2.53% in September, +3.62% in Q3 and +4.40% YTD, while their smaller peers returned +0.80%. -0.54% and -1.59% in the same periods.</p> <p>Through the end of Q3, event driven returns are on pace for their worst year since 2008, having eclipsed 2011 losses of -3.90%. Event driven funds fell an additional -2.53% in September, bringing YTD returns to -4.15%. The group declined -20.48% in 2008, but bounced back with +30.35% in 2009 and +11.78% in 2010.</p> <p>Activist fund returns decline<br /> Activist fund returns have been increasingly negative in each of the last four months, having declined an average of -10.92% during this stretch. Losses in September of -5.06% are the largest since September 2011. Activist funds went on to return -4.26% in 2011, followed by 14% in 2012 and 20% in 2013.</p> <p>Credit strategies posted their fourth consecutive aggregate decline in September, with losses accelerating in each of the last two months. In the last twelve months, credit funds have declined -3.82% and experienced nine monthly declines. Larger funds continue to mitigate losses more effectively than their smaller peers, returning -2.60% in Q3 and -1.00% YTD compared to -3.34% and -2.64%, respectively. However, the securitized sector continues to be a standout in 2015.</p>
Millennials expect highest salaries in Australia, Emirates and US, according to survey
The results are in for the “cost of talent 2015” survey. The detailed report shows current trends in competitive wages across the globe for the next generation of employees, writes FinBuzz. The survey was conducted by Universum, a company engaged in employer branding and research. The data shows an abysmal gap between the salary expectations of the graduates in different
Gaps, growth and headwinds
Capital Markets
<p>Low rates and oil price fall are responses to output discrepancy</p> <p>Global growth is uninspiring. The global economy plods along with aggregate GDP growth of around 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent and similar levels of inflation. This has been true for the past several years and many expect it to continue for at least the next couple. This is partly because trend growth rates in major economies appear to have slowed from the pre-crisis pace. But slow growth is not just a supply-side condition. A gap between global aggregate demand and supply for goods and services persists, even though global interest rates - nominal and real, short and long maturity - remain at historic lows.</p> <p>Earlier this year, with oil prices falling, the global economy appeared poised to accelerate. While low oil prices represent a transfer of income from oil exporters to importers, conventional macroeconomic models predict they should boost global aggregate demand as long as the propensity to consume and invest by the importers exceeds the corresponding propensities by the exporters. Moreover, by reducing headline inflation, low oil prices provide central banks with room to ease monetary policy.</p> <p>This year, no fewer than 40 central banks have taken that opportunity, while among the major economies only three - Brazil, South Africa and the Philippines - have raised rates. In addition, the European Central Bank has embarked on a major quantitative easing programme, while the Bank of Japan has doubled down and greatly expanded the quantitative and qualitative easing programme it launched in 2013.</p> <p>And yet despite low oil prices, waves of QE and rate reductions by many central banks, world GDP growth in 2015 is expected to come in at a pedestrian 3 per cent, even though one year ago, when little of the stimulus from oil, rates and QE was factored in, the consensus projection for growth was 3.6 per cent. The same is true for the 2016 outlook: a year ago the consensus for 2016 was for 3.8 per cent growth, but now has been marked down to 3.5 per cent. And if history is any guide, it may only be a matter of time before the incoming data for 2016 again disappoint the more optimistic consensus from the prior year.</p> <p>So why isn’t growth accelerating? The simple answer is that falling oil prices, low interest rates and monetary accommodation are not random windfalls, but are instead responses to an excess of global supply relative to global aggregate demand.</p> <p>The decline in expectation for future productivity growth is a major source of the “new mediocre” of sluggish global demand falling short of ample global supply. The connection is as follows. Decisions by households and firms to invest or consume today depend in part on expectations for future income or profit growth, which in turn will be tied to future productivity growth. If workers expect modest or no pay increase in the future and firms scale back their views of future profits, they cut back today on consumption and investment.</p> <p>According to classical economics, the price level, bond yields, stock prices, exchange rates and commodity prices in theory should adjust even in a low productivity growth world to clear global markets at full employment. However, since Keynes, we have understood that the mechanism can break down, and when it does the global economy clears at a level of aggregate demand that falls short of supply. Monetary policy has adjusted to this reality. Monetary accommodation has boosted stock prices despite reduced prospects for productivity growth, while exchange rates reflect divergences - actual and prospective - among these accommodative national monetary policies.</p> <p>Yet while growth in demand has been dis</p>
Daily Scan: Asia caps the week on a high note; Europe continues gains
Capital Markets
<p>Updated throughout the day</p> <p>October 16</p> <p>Good evening everyone. With stimulus hopes at full tilt both in China and in Japan, Asian shares posted one of its best days today with the Hang Seng Index up 0.88%, the Shanghai Composite up 1.60%, and the Nikkei Average up 1.08%. Here’s how the region’s largest bourses did this week:</p> <p>Day<br /> Week</p> <p>Hang Seng Index<br /> +0.88%<br /> +0.69%</p> <p>Hang Seng China Enterprises Index<br /> +0.90%<br /> +2.23%</p> <p>Shanghai Composite<br /> +1.60%<br /> +6.13%</p> <p>Shenzhen Composite<br /> +1.28%<br /> +7.66%</p> <p>Nikkei 225<br /> +1.08%<br /> +3.14%</p> <p>Straits Times Index<br /> +0.42%<br /> +1.56%</p> <p>European indices meanwhile are looking to close on a high note too, though the U.K.’s FTSE 100 still seems to be on track for its first weekly loss in a month. Its currently up 0.76%, Germany’s DAX is up 0.75%, and France’s CAC is up 0.73%. As for Wall Street, S&amp;P minis are signaling a 0.12% pop at the open.</p> <p>Here’s what else you need to know:</p> <p>EU backs Turkey migrant action plan. EU states have backed an action plan with Turkey, which it is hoped will ease the flow of migrants to Europe. Nearly 600,000 migrants have reached the EU by sea so far this year, many of them travelling from Turkey. BBC</p> <p>Fears grow over increased antibiotic resistance.  More than 6,000 deaths a year could be caused by a 30% fall in the effectiveness of antibiotics in the US, a report in The Lancet suggests. It said most of the extra deaths would happen in patients having colorectal surgery, blood cancer chemotherapy and hip replacements. BBC</p> <p>Yuan heads to weekly low. With the PBOC fixing the yuan’s midpoint down 0.05% to 6.3436, both onshore (CNY) and offshore (CNH) yuan are heading to their weekly lows. CNY touched 6.3555 against the greenback today, just as the CNH dipped to 6.3583. SCMP (paywall)</p> <p>China Defence wants good ties with SE Asia, apparently. China's defence minister struck a conciliatory tone with Southeast Asia defence chiefs on Friday, saying that all needed to work hard to maintain peace and stability against threats. China is still pushing its claims in the disputed South China Sea. Channel News Asia</p> <p>Malaysia arrests Islamic State hacker. Authorities have arrested a Malaysia-based hacker who they accuse of stealing personal information of U.S. military members and giving it to ISIS. CNN</p> <p>China warns U.S. against South China Sea challenge. China’s military establishment has reacted angrily to a planned US naval mission to skirt artificial islands Beijing has constructed in the South China Sea, as the US gears up to challenge Chinese claims in the area. </p>
Daily Scan: US stocks jump; Trump threatens to boycott debate
Capital Markets
<p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Updated throughout the day</p> <p>October 15</p> <p>Good evening. Data aren't on the Fed's side.  U.S. stocks moved higher Thursday as a potential rate rise looks further out. The Dow was up 1.3%, the S&amp;P 500 gained 1.5%, and the Nasdaq rose 1.8%. Consumer prices for September fell 0.2%, as expected, down from -0.1% in August. European and Asian stocks rallied Thursday as well, with the Stoxx Europe 600 growing 1.5%. Crude oil dipped 0.6%, finishing just over $46/barrel. Bottomline: A rate hike in the U.S. this month as about as likely as a snowstorm.</p> <p>Here’s what else you need to know:</p> <p>The Donald threatens to boycott GOP debate. Presidential candidate Trump wants things his way or the highway, and right now the Oct. 28 GOP debate is not going his way. Trump's campaign manager told the RNC Thursday that Trump likely won't show if the CNBC debate doesn't include opening or closing statements, or if it is longer than two hours total. The other GOP candidates also expressed distaste at the lack of opening and closing remarks. A Rand Paul aide reportedly told the RNC officials that "CNBC can go f--- themselves" if the candidates weren't given the option for statements. Politico</p> <p>Goldman Sachs 3Q dips on weak bond trading; Citi beats expectations on lower costs. The investment bank posted EPS of $2.90/share on revenue of $6.86 billion. Analysts had expected earnings of $2.91 on revenue of $7.13 billion. Meanwhile, Citi put its legal costs behind it, and net income rose to $1.35/share vs predictions of $1.28. CNBC</p> <p>Blackstone posts first quarterly loss since 2011. The New York-based private equity firm fell 40 cents a share last quarter, down from 41 cents a share during the same time last year. The firm's net income dropped 35 cents a share, compared with a 66 cents a share gain last year.  Wall Street Journal (paywall)</p> <p>Jeb Bush raises $13.4 million. The former Florida governor's presidential campaign added $13.4 million in the third quarter, surpassing Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. CNN</p> <p>Former House Speaker pleads guilty. Dennis Hastert will plead guilty to charges that he paid $3.5 million to cover up decades-old wrongdoings while Hastert was a high school teacher in Illinois. Politico</p> <p>Suspects identified in Lockerbie bombing. After nearly three decades, Scottish and U.S. investigators have identified two Libyan suspects responsible for the airplane bombing that killed 270 people in 1988. Another Libyan, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, was the only person convicted for the bombing. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2001 and died in 2012 of cancer. Reuters</p> <p>Myanmar signs cease-fire with rebels. The Asian country agreed to a cease-fire with eight ethnic rebel groups Thursday. While the cease-fire is a huge step for the tumultuous country, seven of the initial 15 rebel groups in negotiations did not join the agreement. National elections in the country formerly known as Burma are just three weeks away. </p>
Paul Singer says developed countries are “utterly insolvent”, buy gold
Hedge Funds
<p>Billionaire Paul Singer, founder of hedge fund firm Elliott Management and one of the most disliked people in the world, hammered central bank monetary policy at a conference in Israel on Wednesday.</p> <p>Making his controversial comments at the first ever Tel Aviv Sohn Conference, Singer argued that since the financial crisis blew up in 2008, advanced nations have been propped up by a cult of central bankers. Paul Singer’s comments are courtesy of tweets from Bloomberg TV’s Elliott Gotkine, who is attending the conference.</p> <p>Singer is no stranger to controversy. A well-known and less-than popular “vulture investor”, Singer is known for figuratively going for the throat in many of his business dealings. His unrelenting pursuit of defaulted sovereign Argentina bonds through the U.S. court system, even though some note that he paid just pennies on the dollar for the bad debt, is one example of his “vulture” style of investing.</p> <p>According to the tweets from Gotkine, Singer commented that “the balance sheets of developed economies were hopelessly and utterly insolvent once long-term entitlements were added in”.</p> <p>Of note, Singer has previously argued that prices of stocks and bonds have been notably “distorted” by over-accommodative central-bank monetary policy. Singer has also gone on record as saying if central banks make the disastrous decision to “do more” (such as another round of QE) then a global recession or depression likely. Singer has echoed these themes in the past in his letters to investors.<br /> Gotkine also tweeted that Singer said “I like gold. I believe it’s underowned.”  Singer further noted “every institutional portfolio should be 5-10 percent invested in gold to protect against zero interest rates that are degrading the value of paper currency.”<br /> Singer also argued that gold was the one tradable asset that has been “treated unfairly”, and pointed out that his fund holds gold through options.</p> <p>“Gold is the only real money,” Singer claimed. “Gold would do well if people felt they needed some real asset to protect against inflation, government policy and/or diversification from stocks and bonds.”</p> <p>Singer also commented:</p> <p>“In a world where the value of paper money is affirmatively aimed at being degraded by central bank policy, it’s kind of surprising to me that gold can’t catch a bid.”</p> <p>This article was originally published by ValueWalk.</p> <p>Photo: Bullion Vault </p>