London Metal Exchange’s Overhaul Meets Resistance

Mar 23, 2021

First Read


$32,426/$300,000 (10.8%)


Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

Don’t miss the Derivatives Forum Frankfurt 2021. It has a whole bunch of different speakers than last week’s FIA Boca and is a great perspective on European and global market issues. Here is the agenda. It is going on right now.

Do you need a reason to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Well, Krispy Kreme donuts has offered one free donut every single day of 2021 to people who get the vaccine. No purchase is necessary, but I dare anyone to try to walk out of the store without buying a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts.

Last weekend saw the greatest number of people flying since the pandemic hit a year ago. The Associated Press reported there were 1.5 million travelers around the world taking to the air. Just don’t go to the Philippines, where there was a record number of COVID-19 cases announced.

Facebook announced they only removed 1.3 billion fake accounts in the months surrounding the 2020 U.S. election. That is a lot of fake friends. My best friend is a bot.

Goldman’s David Solomon said junior bankers might be able to take Saturdays off. Citigroup’s Jane Fraser banned Zoom calls on Friday and set May 28 for a firmwide holiday to be known as “Citi Reset Day.” Take that Goldman!

So much for “banker’s hours.”

500 Startups is holding an online fireside chat with entrepreneur Jeremie Bacon where he will discuss why it’s essential startups focus on environmental stewardship from day one, where to get started and common pitfalls to avoid, advice for communicating on ESG with investors, customers and suppliers, and ensuring ESG compliance in your supply chain. The event is on Wednesday, March 24, at 6 p.m. CDT.

There were no new donations to the JLN MarketsWiki Education GoFundme campaign yesterday. We have had 138 online donations so far. Support our efforts to preserve industry history by giving to our GoFundme campaign.

I have never smoked or consumed cannabis, which makes me one of 12 people in the U.S. eligible to work in the White House.

Have a great day and stay safe and treat people the same way you want to be treated: with respect, equality and justice.~JJL


The Cboe Options Institute on Wednesday hosts industry pros Jon Havice and Eric Metz to talk about the use of cash-secured put writing of index options by money managers, pension funds and others. To join the discussion at 11 a.m. Chicago time, register


Goldman CEO Vows to Better Protect Junior Bankers’ Saturdays Off
Jennifer Surane – Bloomberg
Solomon says he’ll hire more, beef up staffing where needed; He praises analysts who alerted managers to hundred-hour weeks
Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s David Solomon vowed his firm would try harder to ensure junior bankers get at least one day off a week after a group of analysts raised an alarm about increasing burnout among the group.

*****I tell you, this Goldman CEO has the wisdom of Solomon.~JJL


How Chicago became the Silicon Valley of pot; For the first time in a generation, Chicago is the early leader in a fast-growing new industry that’s generating jobs and wealth.
John Pletz – Crain’s Chicago Business
Call Chicago the capital of Big Weed. The city is home to three of the five biggest public companies in the United States that grow and sell marijuana: Green Thumb Industries, Cresco Labs and Verano Holdings. “Chicago in a sense is Silicon Valley” for the pot business, says Kayvan Khalatbari, a cannabis consultant from Denver who advised Cresco on its original license application.

*****From stinky onion to big weed.~JJL


TD Ameritrade and Dash Financial Technologies Executives Join OCC Board of Directors
OCC, the world’s largest equity derivatives clearing organization, today announced two new members of its Board of Directors: JJ Kinahan, Chief Market Strategist and Managing Director of Trading and Education at TD Ameritrade, and Peter Maragos, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Dash Financial Technologies. “We are pleased that JJ and Peter are adding their expansive industry knowledge and experience to our Board of Directors,” said Craig Donohue, OCC Executive Chairman. “As veterans of the U.S. equity options industry, their expertise will support OCC’s continued resiliency and innovation as we work to fulfill our mission of ensuring confidence in the global financial markets.”

*****Two excellent choices.~JJL


Cboe Promotes Catherine Clay to Executive Vice President, Will Lead Newly Created Data and Access Solutions Division
Cboe Global Markets, Inc. (Cboe: CBOE), a market operator and global trading solutions provider, announced today the promotion of Catherine Clay to Executive Vice President, from Senior Vice President, Information Solutions, and the creation of a new Data and Access Solutions division within the company, which Clay will lead. She has also been appointed to Cboe’s Executive leadership team.

*****Nice to see women leaders at Cboe ascendant. They have a lot of talent there.~JJL


Trading Technologies Launches Connectivity to Athens Stock Exchange for Derivatives Trading Via the TT Platform
Trading Technologies
Trading Technologies International, Inc. (TT), a global provider of high-performance professional trading software, infrastructure and data solutions, and the Athens Stock Exchange (ATHEX), the national exchange of Greece, today announced that all derivative products listed on the ATHEX Derivatives Market are now available for trading through the TT platform and accessible to TT’s global user base.

*****Now we know why Tim Geannopulos was hired by TT to be the CEO, to get the Athens Stock Exchange deal done. Ooopa!


Krispy Kreme will offer free doughnuts—all year long—to people with COVID-19 vaccination cards
Chris Morris – Fortune
Krispy Kreme is upping the incentives for people to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
The chain says it will offer a free original glazed doughnut to anyone who shows their vaccination card for the rest of 2021, starting today. And the offer is not a one-time deal.

*****The thing is though, you have to leave your house.~JJL


How to use Zoom Escaper, a sneaky tool for sabotaging your own video calls
Alison DeNisco Rayome – CNET
Tired of the endless parade of Zoom meetings, and the anxiety they can cause? Enter Zoom Escaper, a tool that allows you to sabotage your own audio call with the urgent sounds of a barking dog, crying baby, construction noise or wind, giving you the perfect excuse to drop off a call.

*****I don’t need to fake the barking dog sound. Indy won’t shut up.~JJL


Monday’s Top Three
The top-read story on Monday was again the John Lothian News page of Jack Sandner Remembrances, which had new additions over the weekend. The second most popular was also from JLN, Thom Thompson’s story, Coinbase Hit With $6.5 Million Fine By CFTC; Market Debut Rumored to Be Delayed. And third most clicked story was Bloomberg’s Catastrope Debt Market Gets First Dedicated Volcano Bonds.


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Lead Stories

London Metal Exchange’s Overhaul Meets Resistance; Exchange is likely to pare proposed changes, after key traders say the plans would fray ties with metal producers and consumers
Joe Wallace – WSJ
Plans for the biggest overhaul of the London Metal Exchange in over 20 years are likely to be pared back following an outcry by an influential group of traders. The proposed changes, outlined by LME Chief Executive Matthew Chamberlain in January, aim to entice more money managers like hedge funds to speculate on prices for copper and aluminum on the exchange. He is trying to draw a new clientele and boost trading volumes in the face of intensifying competition from Comex in New York and the Shanghai Futures Exchange and Shanghai International Energy Exchange.

Libor’s End Leaves Nearly $2 Trillion of Debt Facing Legal Limbo
William Shaw and Alex Harris – Bloomberg
Tough legacy contracts will struggle to transition, ARRC says; Regulators phasing out final dollar Libor tenors in mid-2023
Almost $2 trillion of debt pegged to dollar Libor, much of which can’t easily be shifted to an alternative benchmark, won’t mature until after the discredited rate expires in mid-2023, according to the Federal Reserve-backed group guiding the transition.

Eurex introduces the first micro-futures on benchmark indices
New micro-futures contracts on DAX®, EURO STOXX® 50 and SMI®; Smaller contract sizes should give more investors access to liquid futures markets in the future.
With the introduction of microcontracts on three European benchmark indices, Eurex is expanding its strategically important segment for equity index derivatives. The new Micro-DAX, Micro-EURO STOXX 50 and Micro-SMI Futures will start trading on April 19. Worldwide, the demand from investors for futures with smaller contract sizes has increased significantly. Deutsche Börse Group’s derivatives exchange is addressing this trend with the new microcontracts. It also enables small and medium-sized investors to access transparent, price-efficient and liquid markets.

Jamie Dimon May Soon Turn Away Deposits, and He’s Not Happy; It’s a strange problem: JPMorgan Chase and other big banks are getting more assets than they even want.
Peter Coy – Bloomberg
You don’t need to feel too sorry for Jamie Dimon, the chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., the largest bank in the U.S. by assets and the largest in the world by trading and fee revenue. But it’s easy to see why he might be miffed at the Federal Reserve at the moment.

David Solomon commits to Saturdays off for Goldman Sachs bankers; CEO’s response comes after junior analysts complained about workload
Robert Armstrong – FT
The chief executive of Goldman Sachs has praised the group of disgruntled junior investment banking analysts who presented concerns about their workload to management last month, and committed to easing the strain on employees. “It’s great that this group of analysts went to their management,” David Solomon said in a voice memo sent to bank staff on Sunday evening. “We want a workplace where people can share concerns freely.”

Air travelers top 1.5 million for first time in over a year
The Associated Press
More than 1.5 million people streamed through U.S. airport security checkpoints on Sunday, the largest number since the pandemic tightened its grip on the United States more than a year ago.

Jerome Powell says the Fed won’t issue a digital currency without congressional approval.
Jeanna Smialek – NY Times
Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, said the Fed’s research into central bank-issued digital currencies is early and exploratory — and that U.S. officials would only consider issuing a digital dollar if they believed there was a clear use and if the idea had widespread public and political buy-in.

Banned From WallStreetBets, Reddit User Tired Of GameStop Talks Creates ‘WallStreetSilver’
Madhukumar Warrier – Benzinga
Ivan Bayoukhi, a banned member of the Reddit forum WallStreetBets, stated that members of the subreddit are “tired” of talking about GameStop Corp. (NYSE: GME) and at least up to 40% of the WSB forum loves silver. What Happened: Bayoukhi, the founder of the subreddit WallStreetSilver, told Kitco News that WSB users were behind the silver short-squeeze in January, despite the subreddit having earlier denied they were not the ones behind the metal’s rally. He claimed that one could find several silver-related posts if they just scrolled back five to six months on the WSB forum.

Judge in SEC Case Drops ‘Bombshells’ That Are Positive for Ripple, XRP, Says Lawyer
Jamie Crawley – Coindesk
A lawyer has pointed out two “bombshells” dropped by the magistrate judge in the ongoing lawsuit between the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and blockchain payments tech provider Ripple.

Palm Beach and Miami Get Ready to Feed Incoming Wall Street Analysts; Carbone’s Major Food Group and Buddakan’s Stephen Starr are scouting locations.
Amanda L Gordon and Kate Krader – Bloomberg
Raise your hand, New Yorkers, if you want to move to Florida. Dan Sundheim is opening a Miami office for his hedge fund, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is looking for volunteers to relocate from the Big Apple to West Palm Beach. For the finance types thinking about a jaunt to the Sunshine State, though, the news raises a question: Where would they eat?

Eviction of central bank boss shakes investor confidence in Turkey; Erdogan’s move to oust Agbal after rate hike is latest in series of worrying decisions
Jonathan Wheatley – FT
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s shock dismissal of Turkey’s central bank chief has eroded investor confidence in the country’s economic leadership that had just begun to rebound after successive waves of financial market tumult.

Flexible Offices Will Be Crowded After Covid; Co-working giants IWG and WeWork may see higher demand for short-term lets while businesses suss out their property needs, but competition from traditional landlords will grow too
Carol Ryan – WSJ
Co-working and flexible-office providers were hit hard and fast by last year’s shift to remote working. Their challenge as business recovers may be a more crowded market. Companies such as WeWork—which is in talks to go public, The Wall Street Journal reported in January—and Regus IWG 0.06% owner IWG had a harsher pandemic than regular office landlords. A risky business model where they sign long leases and sublet space on short-term contracts meant that many of their tenants bailed out quickly. WeWork’s global occupancy rate dropped to 47% at the end of 2020 and it lost $3.2 billion, according to an investor pitch seen by the Financial Times. IWG also racked up big losses.

The tragedy of Erdogan’s economic mismanagement; End of brief shift towards economic orthodoxy leaves Turkey vulnerable
The editorial board – FT
It is no surprise that a leopard cannot change its spots, it was only a shock that the reversion to type happened so quickly. Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has quashed the country’s brief attempts to move the economy towards an orthodox response — raising interest rates — to address its sizeable current account deficit and tame inflation. This erratic and heavy-handed leadership leaves the country even more vulnerable to a potential shift to higher global interest rates.

Citigroup CEO Bans Friday Zoom Calls, Encourages Vacations
Donal Griffin and Jennifer Surane – Bloomberg
Jane Fraser says no internal video meetings one day per week; Majority of Citigroup roles will be hybrid after pandemic
Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser has barred internal video calls on Fridays and encouraged vacations in an effort to combat workplace malaise brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Fraser, who replaced Michael Corbat earlier this year, said the final day of the working week shall be known as “Zoom-Free Fridays,” according to an internal memorandum obtained by Bloomberg. She also designated May 28 as a firmwide holiday to be known as “Citi Reset Day.”

Singapore publishes a playbook for bringing bankers back into the office
Chanyaporn Chanjaroen, Faris Mokhtar – Fortune
Less-crowded trading floors, facial recognition systems and split work areas could all become routine for bankers in Singapore as the Southeast Asian financial hub readies for office life in a post-COVID world.

Federal Reserve Payments to the Treasury Department Rose in 2020; The central bank sent 58% more in profits to the federal government’s coffers last year
Paul Kiernan – WSJ
The Federal Reserve sent more profits to the Treasury Department last year as the income from its swelling asset holdings offset the impact of lower interest rates. The Fed sent $86.89 billion to Treasury in 2020, up 58% from $54.89 billion in 2019, the central bank said Monday in an annual financial statement.

Fake Insider Trading Is Illegal Too; Also gut biomes and Citi’s $500 million.
Matt Levine – Bloomberg
Let’s say that you are on the dark web looking for material nonpublic information about public companies, as one does on the dark web. You encounter a guy. He tells you that his name is “MillionaireMike” and he has a hot tip about a company. “This is from my buddy on the inside,” he tells you. You are intrigued. You arrange a small test trade. It works; things look promising. “Okay,” you say, “I will trade on your inside information, and we’ll split the profits.” MillionaireMike comes to you with a can’t-miss tip. “This is totally 100% illegal inside information,” he assures you. You make the trade. It pays off handsomely. You are rich. You send him his share of the profits (in Bitcoin, because this is the dark web and you are doing crimes). You are a satisfied customer.

No, Bankers Shouldn’t Have to Work 100-Hour Weeks; Maybe investment-bank culture needs to change.
Mark Gongloff – Bloomberg
Working at a law firm for a few years convinced me to avoid a career in law because all the lawyers I met seemed miserable. Then I worked at an investment bank. Turns out divorce lawyers are the singing, dancing Lollipop Guild compared to junior bankers. That was 22 years ago, but none of the advances in work-life-balance technology since then seem to have reached banking culture. First-year Goldman Sachs bankers last week wrote a letter begging the firm to stop using them as one-person Amazon fulfillment centers or at least cut their weekly hours back to a leisurely 80.

How Europe Injected More Doubt Into a Vaccine the World Needs; The week started with Germany suspending AstraZeneca shots and ended with countries reinstating them. But the damage may be done.
Stephanie Baker, Ania Nussbaum, Arne Delfs, and Suzi Ring – Bloomberg
Sign up here for our daily coronavirus newsletter on what you need to know, and subscribe to our Covid-19 podcast for the latest news and analysis. Charles Michel sat in his office in Brussels on Monday afternoon busy preparing to host a summit of European leaders eager to know plans for accelerating the continent’s listless vaccination program. Then the media reports started coming in: Germany was suspending use of the AstraZeneca Plc shot over concerns it was linked to blood clots.


Variants Rise in Some States, Adding Urgency to Vaccine Push
Emma Court and Jonathan Levin – Bloomberg
Data suggests variants behind uptick in New Jersey, Michigan; Resurgence could diminish benefits of widespread vaccination
U.S. officials and public-health experts are again raising alarms about the resurgence of Covid-19 cases in some regions, and are particularly concerned about the role variants are playing in states including Michigan and New Jersey.

Merkel Agrees to Extend Lockdown in German Pandemic Setback
Arne Delfs – Bloomberg
Chancellery plan calls for curfew, quarantines to stem Covid; Germany’s move is the latest sign of Europe’s virus struggles
Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional leaders agreed to extend Germany’s lockdown until April 18 after Covid-19 contagion rates nearly doubled in a month, highlighting Europe’s struggles to contain the pandemic.

Philippines reports record 7,999 new COVID-19 infections
Reuters Staff
The Philippines on Saturday recorded 7,999 new coronavirus infections, the second straight day that the country posted a record high in daily cases.

AstraZeneca May Have Given Outdated Vaccine Data, U.S. Agency Says
Michelle Fay Cortez, Jason Gale, and Suzi Ring – Bloomberg
Independent data monitoring board expressed concerns; Company Monday said shot was 79% effective in U.S. trial
AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine encountered a fresh setback after health officials indicated that promising U.S. trial results may give an “incomplete” view of the shot’s efficacy. In a brief statement last night, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases said the independent panel charged with ensuring the safety and accuracy of the vaccine trial had expressed concern that results included outdated information.

US health agency raises questions about AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine trial; NIAID says outdated information may have provided ‘incomplete view’ of efficacy
Donato Paolo Mancini and George Russell – FT
AstraZeneca might have included outdated information from a clinical trial of the Covid-19 vaccine it has developed with Oxford university, a US federal health agency said on Tuesday, throwing previously published positive results into doubt.

Vaccine-friendly Britons puzzled by AstraZeneca jab’s EU troubles; Clouds over the Oxford-made jab and dispute over supplies leave Brexiters feeling vindicated and Europhiles confused
William Wallis – FT
Kathy Heffernan, a train driver, emerged from the vaccination centre in Brighton grateful to have received her first Oxford/AstraZeneca injection and grateful that — at least on this aspect of its handling of the coronavirus pandemic — the UK government has been on the front foot.

UK’s former top civil servant warns against vaccine protectionism; Mark Sedwill says nations should cooperate to build resilient supply lines, not retreat behind borders
George Parker – FT
Mark Sedwill, the former UK cabinet secretary, has warned the west against going down the “risky path” of protectionism, including in vaccines, as he draws up a G7 plan to boost economic resilience.

Vaccine woes and the perils of export controls; Three-way talks are needed between the EU, UK and AstraZeneca on a compromise
Editorial Board – FT
The hope sparked by the development of effective Covid-19 vaccines is in danger of dissolving into acrimony and protectionism. Even worse, the squabbling over supplies has broken out between the world’s wealthiest countries, when the far greater challenge of inoculating less well-off countries has scarcely begun. Potential export controls on EU-made vaccines — a move widely seen as targeting Britain because of a shortfall in EU supplies of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine — risk triggering an escalating spiral of tit-for-tat blocks that could be tricky to remove even when supplies improve.

Kremlin Touts Putin Vaccination Example, But No Cameras Please
Jake Rudnitsky and Ilya Arkhipov – Bloomberg
Russia has missed targets as people remain wary of vaccines; Putin to get first shot of Russian-made vaccine later Tuesday
Russian authorities hope that President Vladimir Putin’s long-awaited decision to get his first dose of a Russian Covid-19 vaccine Tuesday will help speed up the country’s inoculation rate, which has fallen short of initial targets.

Regeneron Covid-19 Antibody Drug Reduced Risk of Hospitalization, Death by 70% in Late-Stage Trial; The drug was effective at a higher dose already in use and a lower dose, which the company said it would seek permission to start selling
Joseph Walker – WSJ
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said its antibody drug reduced the risk of Covid-19 hospitalization or death by about 70% in a large clinical trial, the most definitive evidence yet that the medicine can aid recovery early in the course of disease.

Pfizer Goes It Alone to Expand Vaccine Business Beyond Covid-19 Pandemic; CEO Albert Bourla says company will use gene-based technology learned by working with Germany’s BioNTech to tackle other diseases
Jared S. Hopkins – WSJ
Pfizer Inc. PFE 1.32% aims to expand its vaccine business by becoming a leader in the new gene-based technology behind its successful Covid-19 shots. Pfizer will develop new shots using the technology, called mRNA, to target other viruses and pathogens beyond the coronavirus, Chief Executive Albert Bourla said in an interview. He said the company’s scientists and engineers gained a decade’s worth of experience in the past year working on the Covid-19 vaccine with Germany’s BioNTech SE, BNTX -0.55% and is ready to pursue mRNA on its own.

Where Europe Went Wrong in Its Vaccine Rollout, and Why; While Washington went into business with the drug companies, Europe was more fiscally conservative and trusted the free market.
Matt Apuzzo, Selam Gebrekidan and Monika Pronczuk – NY Times
The calls began in December, as the United States prepared to administer its first batches of Covid-19 vaccine. Even then, it was clear that the European Union was a few weeks behind, and its leaders wanted to know what they could learn from their American counterparts.

Vaccine Standout Chile Battles Virus Flare-Up With More Guarantines
Matthew Malinowski and Valentina Fuentes – Bloomberg
President Pinera unveils new emergency aid worth 2% of GDP; About 75% of all Chileans will be under strictest lockdown
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera unveiled emergency spending measures worth $6 billion, or 2% of gross domestic product, as the government expands quarantines aimed at slowing the nation’s most severe virus wave yet.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

LSE boss David Schwimmer receives bumper pay rise; CEO’s overall remuneration surged 176% last year amid exchange’s transformational acquisition of Refinitiv
Philip Stafford – FT
The chief executive of London Stock Exchange Group has been rewarded with a bumper pay rise after investors’ faith in the company’s $27bn takeover of financial data provider Refinitiv propelled its share price to a record high. Total remuneration for David Schwimmer last year totalled £6.9m, compared to £2.5m in 2019, according to the group’s annual report published on Monday.

Data Spotlight – US options volume nearly doubles over last 12 months; Nasdaq leads single stock options market share; MIAX growing fast
Chris Mendelson – FIA MarketVoice
In February 2021, single stock options on US options exchanges reached a total volume of 572.4 million contracts, an increase of 91.3% from February 2020. That growth comes after a significant increase in the prior year, too, with a 51.8% year-over-year increase between February 2020 and February 2019.

Eurex introduces first benchmark micro futures contracts; The Micro-DAX, Micro-EURO STOXX 50 and Micro-SMI futures will begin trading at Eurex on 19 April this year.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Derivatives exchange Eurex has launched a set of micro futures based on European benchmark indices, responding to increased demand for smaller derivatives contracts. The new micro contracts based on the DAX, EURO STOXX 50 and SMI European benchmarks will begin trading on 19 April, Eurex confirmed.

Green Minerals lists on Euronext Growth Oslo
The deep-sea mining company Green Minerals has today been admitted to trading on Euronext Growth (ticker code: GEM). Green Minerals is a pioneer in offshore mining of minerals and the first dedicated marine minerals company on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

Euronext launches new CAC 40 ESG Index to meet financial community’s sustainable investment needs
Euronext today announced the launch of the CAC 40 ESG index1 (gross return Bloomberg code: CACESGGR), designed to identify the 40 companies within the CAC Large 60 Index that demonstrate the best Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices. Responding to the growing demand for sustainable investment tools from investors and from the market, the CAC 40 ESG is Euronext’s first national ESG index and is derived from the CAC 40 index family.

Michael Peters and Erik Müller in Börsen-Zeitung: “Eurex stands for a successful growth story”; Eurex is confident about its growth prospects. Michel Peters and Erik Müller, CEOs of Eurex and Eurex Clearing, respectively, still see potential in many sectors.
Mr. Peters, you recently announced over-the-counter trades tracking Total Return Futures on the FTSE 100, plus Dividend Futures and classic futures and options contracts on the index. What is the background? Peters: With Total Return Futures, we are supporting the shift from over-the-counter business to regulated markets with central clearing, as desired by the regulators. We started in 2016 with Total Return Futures on the EURO STOXX 50®. If you look at the corresponding OTC instruments, such as equity index swaps, the shift has been successful. Total Return Futures traded and cleared on Eurex now account for more than 50% of the market.

London Stock Exchange Welcomes Global Online Review Platform Trustpilot To Main Market
Global online review platform, Trustpilot, opened London’s markets for trading today, celebrating its listing on London Stock Exchange’s Main Market. The Denmark headquartered company raised £473 million pre greenshoe, valuing the company at £1.08 billion on listing.

Cabinet Trading On The BOX Trading Floor
Effective April 5, 2021, BOX Options Market (“BOX”) will begin accepting opening cabinet orders on the BOX Trading Floor. Additionally, cabinet orders will now execute electronically pursuant to Rule 7600 series. The following terms and conditions apply:

DIFC Recognised By The World Alliance Of International Financial Centres
Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading global financial centre in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, has announced that its membership of the World Alliance of International Financial Centres (WAIFC) has been unanimously approved by its Board.

Shanghai International Energy Exchange Has Released Its Notice On Approving PetroChina Fuel Oil Co., Ltd. To Give Up The Qualification Of Crude Oil Futures Depot Of Ningbo Daxie Warehousing Branch
Shanghai International Energy Exchange has released its Notice on Approving PetroChina Fuel Oil Co., Ltd. to Give Up the Qualification of Crude Oil Futures Depot of Ningbo Daxie Warehousing Branch as follows:

ICE Launches Spark30S Atlantic and Spark25S Pacific LNG Freight Futures Contracts; First day trading from some of the LNG industry’s most active market participants demonstrating strong support for the new contracts
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc.
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of mortgage technology, data and listings services, today announced that the LNG freight futures contracts based on Spark Commodities’ (“Spark”) price assessments which launched on March 22, traded on the first day.


Finnish Software Firm Aiven Raises Cash at $800 Million Value
Ivan Levingston – Bloomberg
Company’s valuation jumps about fourfold from 2020 round; Investment round led by Atomico, joined by Salesforce Ventures
Aiven, a Finnish company that makes open-source software to manage databases, has raised funding at a valuation of more than $800 million, a roughly fourfold increase since its last round a year ago.

oneZero launches price creation tool based on broker data and algos; The oneZero Algorithmic Pricing Module allows brokers to construct a price using proprietary algorithms specific to them based on their market data and market risk positions.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Broker-dealer trading technology provider oneZero Financial Systems has launched a price creation tool for the buy-side that uses broker data constructs and algorithms. Known as Algorithmic Pricing Module, the tool allows brokers to formulate tailored pricing for clients using proprietary algorithms specific to them and constructed using their own data, including market data and market risk positions.

Former Bloomberg Tradebook chief joins BTON as non-exec director; Electronic trading expert and former Bloomberg Tradebook CEO, Ray Tierney, will help BTON as it plans to expand into the US.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
London-based outsourced trading provider BTON Financial has appointed the former CEO of Bloomberg Tradebook as a non-executive director. Ray Tierney will help shape the direction of the company as it looks to expand its operations to the UK and bring its technology and outsourced dealing desk to the wider buy-side community.

Wirecard fraud ‘started more than a decade ago’; Former executive has told prosecutors that from 2010 he set up shell companies used to siphon off funds
Olaf Storbeck – FT
Wirecard’s fraud started more than a decade before the German payments company imploded, as some senior managers began establishing a network of offshore companies that were used to siphon off millions, a former top executive has told prosecutors.

Jeff raises $1M to build alternative credit scoring and other fintech products for Southeast Asia
Catherine Shu – Tech Crunch
According to the World Bank, more than one billion people in South and East Asia lack access to a bank account. For many, this makes it difficult to secure loans and other services because they don’t have traditional financial records like a credit score. Jeff’s loan brokerage platform was created to make it easier for financial service providers to integrate alternative data scoring, allowing them to reach more potential borrowers.


Bank of America sees DeFi as potentially more disruptive than bitcoin. The bank breaks down why DeFi is a fundamental challenge to modern finance — and the 5 issues that stand in its path to domination
Kari McMahon – Business Insider
Decentralized finance (DeFi) is a radical challenge to modern finance, Bank of America analysts say in a new research report released on March 17. “DeFi is, we think, the most fundamental challenge to modern finance that we’ve encountered,” Bank of America analyst Francisco Blanch wrote.

Blockchain CEO Shells Out Millions for Dorsey’s First Tweet
Venus Feng and Yantoultra Ngui – Bloomberg
The chief executive officer of Malaysian blockchain service Bridge Oracle paid Twitter Inc.’s co-founder $2.9 million to buy his first tweet. Sina Estavi paid for the non-fungible token in cryptocurrency Ether, according to Cent, the operator of auction website Valuables where it was sold. Jack Dorsey, also Twitter’s CEO, announced the sale of the 15-year-old tweet — “just setting up my twttr” — on March 6.

Bitcoin Dubbed ‘Far Too Costly’ in Norway as Cashlessness Rules
Ott Ummelas – Bloomberg
Norway recently emerged as the world’s most cashless society, but its central bank governor says people shouldn’t start turning to Bitcoin as an alternative. Oystein Olsen, the governor of Norges Bank in Oslo, says it’s inconceivable that Bitcoin — the most popular cryptocurrency — will replace the money that’s currently controlled by central banks.

Bitcoin Rally Stirs BofA Alarm on ‘Enormous’ Surge in Energy Use
Vildana Hajric and Claire Ballentine – Bloomberg
Coin accounts for 0.4% of global energy consumption, BofA says; Consumption may rival that of some of the largest countries
Bitcoin’s massive rally over the past year means it’s only getting worse for the environment. The energy used by the network of computers that power the digital coin is comparable to that of many developed countries and rivals the emissions from major fossil-fuel users and producers such as American Airlines Group Inc. and ConocoPhillips, according to a report by Bank of America Corp. The level of emissions, which have risen alongside a spike in Bitcoin’s price, have grown by more than 40 million tons in the past two years. And when the digital asset is trading around $50,000 — which it’s done for much of this year — it uses about 0.4% of global energy consumption.

Fed’s Powell and Peers Aren’t Rushing Into Digital Currencies
Alexander Weber, Craig Torres, and Carolynn Look – Bloomberg
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell joined international peers in saying the launch of a digital currency would be a momentous step for the financial system that needs careful preparation. “We have an obligation to be on the cutting edge of understanding the technological challenges as well as potential the costs and benefits” of a digital dollar, Powell said at Bank for International Settlements event on Monday. “We don’t need to rush this project.”

Bitcoin mining boom adds to chip price inflation; Surging cryptocurrency demand worsens global shortages in semiconductors
June Yoon – FT
As the price of bitcoin has surged, the hidden costs of the cryptocurrency boom are becoming clearer. Awareness of the environmental consequences of using a vast array of computer equipment to produce bitcoins has been rising. Bill Gates has been among those to flag concerns, pointing out that so-called bitcoin mining uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind.

Wall Street banks diverge in views on bitcoin boom; Sharp price rise has prompted investment banks to weigh in on cryptocurrencies
Eva Szalay – FT
Bitcoin is dividing opinion on Wall Street, with a rush of investment banks expressing widely divergent views on the cryptocurrency boom. The digital currency soared 300 per cent last year, and has roughly doubled in the opening weeks of 2021, taking its value to about $60,000. With an estimated 18.7m coins in circulation, that takes the overall value of the market to roughly $1.1tn — too big for investment banks to ignore.

NFTs Are Music Industry’s Latest Big Hit; Musicians are connecting with fans and generating revenue by selling digital collectibles, even if they are hard to value
Anne Steele – WSJ
After a year with no live performances, musicians are hoping to connect with their fans on the blockchain and make up for lost revenue by selling them non-fungible tokens.

OKEx Korea is shutting down next month
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Crypto exchange OKEx Korea is shutting down on April 7. In a notice published Tuesday, the exchange said customers must withdraw their fiat and crypto holdings by the date. “After the end of the service, OKEx Korea will not be held liable for any losses arising from failure to withdrawal by customers,” said the exchange. OKEx Korea did not mention a reason for the closure, but it is likely because of a new law that is coming into effect on Thursday in South Korea. Per the law, Korean crypto exchanges will no longer be able to share their order books with other exchanges.

Boston Fed, MIT to release digital dollar prototypes as soon as July
Mike Orcutt – The Block
Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will unveil prototype central bank digital currency systems as early as July, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The researchers, whose collaboration was announced in August 2020, have been “developing prototypes for a digital dollar platform,” according to Bloomberg. James Cunha, who leads the project for the Boston Fed, said that the team will unveil at least two platforms capable of moving, storing, and settling digital dollar transactions. He declined to say whether any of them use blockchain technology.

Time Magazine Seeks New CFO, Lists ‘Comfort With Bitcoin’ as Qualification
Kevin Reynolds – Coindesk
A job listing for a chief financial officer at Time magazine lists “comfort with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies” as a qualification alongside all the other more traditional requirements one might expect for such a position. The LinkedIn job ad, posted Monday, shows that awareness of cryptocurrencies is penetrating the C-suite in a way that would have been unthinkable a year ago.

Bitfinex Seeks to Attract Institutional Investors With Off-Exchange Settlement; The integration will let investors make deposits and withdrawals more quickly, as well as mitigate counterparty risk.
Tanzeel Akhtar – Coindesk
Crypto exchange Bitfinex announced Tuesday it has partnered with digital asset infrastructure provider Copper to attract institutional investors with its off-exchange settlement service. Bitfinex said it has integrated Copper’s “ClearLoop” settlement and clearing network, which removes the need for institutional customers to move digital tokens from a secure cold wallet into an exchange’s hot wallet. The integration of the network will also reduce the time it takes for investors to make deposits and withdraw funds, as well as mitigate counterparty risk by holding funds in Copper’s segregated, institutional-grade custody accounts.

Former Top Japanese Regulator Joins Crypto Exchange DeCurret as Advisor; Toshihide Endo was commissioner of the Financial Services Agency (FSA) from 2018 to 2020,
Tanzeel Akhtar – Coindesk
Japanese cryptocurrency exchange DeCurret has appointed the nation’s former top financial regulator, Toshihide Endo, as a special advisor.


Tory MPs block Greensill inquiry by Treasury select committee; Labour wants probe into lobbying role of former UK prime minister David Cameron
Jim Pickard – FT
Conservative MPs on parliament’s Treasury select committee have thwarted calls by their Labour colleagues for an investigation into the collapse of finance group Greensill, which could have left David Cameron facing awkward questions about his former advisory role.

White House Teams With Groups on Vaccine-Hesitancy Campaign to Sway Conservatives; Christian Broadcasting Network, Nascar and the American Farm Bureau work to deliver message to people the Biden administration believes it can’t reach
Stephanie Armour and Sabrina Siddiqui – WSJ
The Biden administration is enlisting the help of groups including the Christian Broadcasting Network Inc. and Nascar to encourage more people to get the Covid-19 vaccine, particularly members of communities that have been the most skeptical.

SIFMA Statement on Board Diversity Bill
SIFMA today released the following statement from Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr., SIFMA president and CEO, supporting legislation introduced by Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) and co-sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) that would require public companies to disclose the race, ethnicity, gender, and veteran status of their board members, nominees and executive officers.

Oil Company Leaders Support Carbon Pricing Plan; White House environmental officials host videoconference meeting with executives from 10 of the industry’s biggest companies
Timothy Puko – WSJ
Top oil company executives, in a meeting with White House officials Monday, expressed support for putting a price on carbon emissions as a means to address greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Oil Industry Titans Vow Climate Collaboration With White House
Jennifer A Dlouhy – Bloomberg
Oil company executives met with Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy; Group pledged support for regulations throttling methane
Chief executives of some of the largest U.S. oil companies promised to collaborate with the Biden administration in its campaign against climate change during a meeting Monday with White House National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy.


Berlin hires Swiss FINMA chief to head up Germany’s finance watchdog
Mark Branson, the head of Switzerland’s financial markets regulator, is to become president of Germany’s finance watchdog BaFin, Germany’s finance ministry said on Monday, as part of a shake-up at the regulator after the Wirecard accounting scandal.

Germany poaches head of Swiss regulator to lead BaFin; Mark Branson’s appointment marks fundamental overhaul after Wirecard fraud
Olaf Storbeck, Guy Chazan – FT
Mark Branson, head of the Swiss finance watchdog Finma, is set to become president of BaFin as the German regulator looks to rebuild its reputation after the Wirecard scandal.

The CFPB’s New Team Has a Message for Banks It Regulates: We’re Back; With a new boss on the way, the consumer protection agency is knocking on doors and asking tough questions.
Jeff Kearns, Hannah Levitt – Bloomberg
America’s personal money watchdog is beginning to stir once again. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created in the wake of the 2008 mortgage crisis. Its mandate: to make sure financial products such as loans aren’t designed to trick people into onerous debt or high fees. The agency was hobbled by its own leaders during the Trump years, to the glee of many in the financial industry, who argued that the agency had been given too much unaccountable power.

Banks Should Seek ECB Nod Before Naming Executives, Enria Says
Nicholas Comfort – Bloomberg
Some countries allow banks to seek regulator approval later; Enria says banks are fixing governance problems slowly
The European Central Bank said lenders should ask for feedback before naming senior executives, as the region’s top regulator takes a tougher tack on how banks are run.

ASIC to adopt ‘no-action’ position for AGMs
ASIC will shortly adopt a temporary ‘no action’ position in relation to the convening and holding of virtual meetings. This position follows on from the Corporations (Coronavirus Economic Response) Determination (No. 3) 2020 (Determination No. 3) which expired on 21 March 2021. Determination No. 3 operated to facilitate the holding of meetings (including AGMs) by temporarily removing legal uncertainty around the validity of virtual meetings.

ASIC succeeds in Court action against Mayfair 101 for misleading and deceptive advertising
The Federal Court has found companies in the Mayfair 101 Group made statements that were false, misleading or deceptive in advertisements for its debenture products, following proceedings brought by ASIC in April 2020.

SEC Responds to Investor Demand by Bringing Together Agency Information About Climate and ESG Issues
The SEC today launched a new page on its website to bring together agency actions and the latest information about climate and environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing. In response to increased investor demand for this information, the page will appear on the front page of and will be updated as the agency continues to respond to investors.

New Research: Lonely Older Adults with Low Cognition at Greater Risk for Poor Financial And Healthcare Decision Making
The harmful consequences of Americans’ prolonged social isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic may be even greater for lonely older adults with low cognition. These individuals are at high risk for poor financial and healthcare decision making, according to new research from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

FCA warns that younger investors are taking on big financial risks
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published research findings into better understanding investors who engage in high-risk investments like cryptocurrencies and foreign exchange.

The implementation period for any rules arising from CP20/19
In our consultation on general insurance pricing practices, CP20/19, we proposed that firms would have 4 months to implement any rules that we might make. Following feedback, we propose to amend this timetable to give until the end of September 2021 for the systems and controls rules and the product governance rules and until the end of 2021 for the pricing, auto-renewal and reporting requirements. In reaching this decision, we have sought to balance ensuring firms have sufficient time to put the changes into effect and acting quickly to address consumer harm.

The EBA Takes Steps To Address ‘De-Risking’ Practices
The European Banking Authority (EBA) published this month three regulatory instruments to address de-risking practices based on evidence gathered in its call for input. The instruments clarify that compliance with anti-money and countering terrorist financing (AML/CTF) obligations in EU law does not require financial institutions to refuse, or terminate, business relationships with entire categories of customers that they consider to present a higher ML/TF risk. In these documents the EBA also set out steps that financial institutions and competent authorities should take to manage risks associated with individual business relationships in an effective manner.

Investing and Trading

Richest 1% of Americans Hide a Fifth of Their Income From the IRS; A new study found that the IRS can miss earnings hidden in sophisticated ways. It could support calls to give the agency more funding after years of budget cuts.
Ben Steverman – Bloomberg
More than 20% of the wealthiest Americans’ income isn’t being reported to the Internal Revenue Service, according to a new study that calculates U.S. tax evasion is far higher than previously estimated.

Risky oil companies snap up $20bn in junk bond record; Recovery from pandemic fires up oil prices and pulls producers back from the brink
Joe Rennison and Derek Brower – FT
Lowly rated US energy companies that struggled for survival last year are finding renewed optimism among investors after a surge in oil prices, helping them raise a record amount of debt to fend off bankruptcy.

Norway’s Central Bank Looks Beyond Covid-19; Oil-rich country’s currency is seen strengthening this year as Norges Bank looks to raise interest rates
Anna Hirtenstein – WSJ
Norway’s central bank has signaled that it plans to take the plunge by making the country the first developed nation to shift from pandemic-era policy and raise interest rates by the end of the year.

Rich people are dodging more taxes than the IRS realized, study finds
Noah Manskar – NY Post
The richest Americans use crafty methods to dodge taxes on far more income than the feds previously thought, a new study shows. The Internal Revenue Service tries to catch high-income tax evaders with random audits — but they often fail to spot complex schemes that the wealthy employ to hide income, such as offshore bank accounts and pass-through businesses, according to the paper published Monday.

Wall Street lender cuts payments in dispute over $12.5bn Spac deal; Fallout widens from Dyal Capital’s plan to create one of the biggest US investment groups
Sujeet Indap and Mark Vandevelde – FT
A contentious three-way merger to create one of the biggest investment groups in the US has hit new turbulence, after a big Wall Street lending company cut off payments to one of the groups in question. Dyal Capital, which specialises in buying minority stakes in privately held investment managers, is planning to merge with one of its portfolio companies and then to list the combined group via a deal with a special purpose acquisition company, or Spac.

Personal Finance Has Failed to Reckon With Inequality; Advisers have to be honest about what allows some people to build wealth while making it harder for others.
Erin Lowry – Bloomberg
When well-known personal finance author and personality, Dave Ramsey, said in an interview on Fox News that he didn’t believe in stimulus checks, because “if $600 or $1400 changes your life, you were pretty much screwed already,” social media erupted with responses of rage.

The federal government’s stimulus checks may also be propping up the stock market.
NY Times
For a decade before the pandemic, small investors accounted for roughly a tenth of trading activity in the stock market. But in the last year, they have become responsible for close to a quarter, according to Goldman Sachs analysts.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Matt Damon: Water should attract ‘heavy hitters’ of investing
Yahoo Finance
Actor and co-founder Matt Damon joins Influencers with Andy Serwer to talk about World Water Day and how investing in water where it is scarce is a legitimate investment.

Former BlackRock Executive Blows the Whistle on Greenwashing; Fear of missing out on fund flows gives asset managers a strong incentive to pretend all their offerings are green.
Mark Gilbert – Bloomberg
With so much money flowing into securities deemed compatible with environmental, social and governance standards, the risk of asset managers disingenuously promoting their offerings as being ESG compliant is high and rising. Unfortunately, new European Union rules designed to delineate the industry’s performance will likely lead to more greenwashing, not less.

India’s Carbon Neutral Aim Hinges on Top Emitters Using Hydrogen
Swansy Afonso – Bloomberg
Steel industry is the biggest carbon dioxide emitter in India; Emissions from the sector are set to triple by 2050: Report
India’s steel mills, the second-largest producers globally, expect hydrogen-based production to be key to cutting pollution as the nation comes under pressure to zero out greenhouse gas emissions.

What if the Perfect Climate Fix Can’t Arrive in Time? Even a surprise innovation tomorrow would require time to scale up. In the meantime, the emissions crisis would continue, according to a policy-simulating tool.
Eric Roston – Bloomberg
Congratulations, everybody. We did it. It’s March 24, 2021—tomorrow morning!—and we’ve woken up to discover just sitting there in the garage a boundless zero-carbon technology. What do you think it is? Nuclear fusion? Thorium-fueled reactors? Static generators powered by rubbing balloons on our hair? It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, we’re finally safe. Innovation works.

Powerful investor group finds net zero pledges distant and hollow; Berkshire Hathaway among companies that failed to make progress on any measure of climate action
Camilla Hodgson – FT
The deluge of corporate climate pledges are yet to translate to meaningful action, as only a handful of the 159 companies responsible for more than 80 percent of global industrial emissions have set adequate targets, the influential Climate Action 100+ investor group has reported.

EU considers labelling gas as sustainable in investor rule book; Fuel could be classified partially sustainable under Brussels’ landmark system
Mehreen Khan – FT
Brussels is considering classifying gas as a partially sustainable technology under its landmark green labelling system for investors who want to plough their money into sustainable finance.

The Fossil Fuel Industry Is Talking About ESG Like Never Before; Major U.S. oil and gas companies are discussing climate change and sustainability on their conference calls. That’s a big change from the recent past.
Gerson Freitas Jr – Bloomberg
The U.S. fossil fuels industry is still churning out emissions, but it’s talking more than ever about what to do about them. That, at least, is the conclusion of a Bloomberg analysis of conference calls involving the nation’s oil and gas behemoths, including Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Kinder Morgan Inc. A search of ESG-related terms reveals how in the space of just a few quarters, the management teams of the industry’s leading companies went from being almost able to avoid the topic entirely to devoting significant time discussing it.

Why the Hot New Shade for Green Bonds Could Be Blue
Rebecca Choong Wilkins and Todd Gillespie – Bloomberg
Few places in the world have greater need for financing to fund water projects and protect the oceans than the Indo-Pacific region, with its vast coastlines and countless islands, many at risk from rising sea levels due to climate change. Enter so-called blue bonds — similar to wildly popular green bonds but focused on such challenges as sustainable fishing and reducing plastic waste. Pioneered in 2018 by the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, the concept is still relatively rare but catching on as more nations set their sights on improving water resources and marine life. The initiatives add to an already dizzying array of ethically themed debt that’s kept growing.

The Fossil Fuel Industry Is Talking About ESG Like Never Before
Gerson Freitas Jr – Bloomberg
The U.S. fossil fuels industry is still churning out emissions, but it’s talking more than ever about what to do about them. That, at least, is the conclusion of a Bloomberg analysis of conference calls involving the nation’s oil and gas behemoths, including Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Kinder Morgan Inc. A search of ESG-related terms reveals how in the space of just a few quarters, the management teams of the industry’s leading companies went from being almost able to avoid the topic entirely to devoting significant time discussing it.

SEC puts climate, ESG on front page
Hazel Bradford – Pensions & Investments
The SEC is putting ESG issues on the front page — literally. The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday launched a new webpage making it easy to find all agency actions on ESG issues and information about ESG investing. “Our all-of-SEC approach looks at how climate and ESG intersect with our broader regulatory framework to get investors the information they need to plan for their financial future,” Acting Chairwoman Allison Herren Lee said in a statement. The SEC Response to Climate and ESG Risks and Opportunities page on will be updated as the SEC furthers responds to investor demands, the statement said.

Businesses Should Be Held Accountable For Their ESG Claims
Eric Reicin – Forbes
When Rachel Carson wrote her landmark book Silent Spring in 1962, she sparked the modern environmental movement. Her call for better corporate behavior when it comes to the environment took time to sink in, but there is no doubt that it stuck. Indeed, corporate environmental policies have become so ingrained in business practices that the problem Carson identified has shifted. The question “Will corporations ever do anything to protect the environment?” has been answered. Today, businesses’ strategies and tactics to prove they are good corporate citizens go beyond the environment to include social and governance practices. ESG has become the widely recognized moniker for these widespread efforts, with great attention paid by investors and to a lesser extent by regulators.


BlackRock’s Wiedman Apologizes for ‘Clumsy and Misguided’ Cracks
Annie Massa – Bloomberg
Asset manager retains Paul, Weiss law firm to conduct a review; CEO Fink says in memo that such incidents ‘should not happen’
Mark Wiedman, BlackRock Inc.’s head of international and corporate strategy, apologized Monday for inappropriate remarks at past work events, adding to a broader imbroglio over discrimination at the firm.

Hedge Fund Tries to Crash a $4 Billion Casino Game; A U.S. investor is challenging Caesars’ already approved takeover of William Hill. If it succeeds, expect plenty of aftershocks.
Chris Hughes – Bloomberg
When a hedge fund arbitrageur wants to force a bidder to pay more for a takeover, the standard tactic is to rally opposition before shareholders have their say on the deal. Fearful of losing its prey, the aspiring buyer might chuck in a sweetener to secure enough support. Once shareholders have approved a transaction, the opportunity to resist the bid is usually past. That isn’t stopping a U.S. investment firm from having a go.

UBS Faces $3.6 Billion Bill Even as French Must Ask Fine Cut
Gaspard Sebag – Bloomberg
UBS appealing 4.5 billion-euro French penalty from 2019; Prosecutors aim for smaller fine after top court guidance
French prosecutors and lawyers for the government said UBS Group AG should be ordered to pay 3 billion euros ($3.6 billion) — 33% less than the original judgment — for allegedly helping French clients hide money from the nation’s tax authorities.

Goldman CEO says he’ll try to get exhausted, 100-hour-a-week workers Saturdays off
Alexandra Steigrad – NY Post
Goldman Sachs boss David Solomon has heard the complaints from junior bankers about their 100-hour work weeks — and he promises he’ll try to give them Saturdays off. In a voice memo late Sunday, the hard-charging chief executive told employees he will “strengthen enforcement” of the Wall Street giant’s “Saturday rule” — which means that employees cannot work from 9 p.m. Friday to 9 a.m. Sunday except in certain circumstances — in a bid to make sure they have at least one day off each week.

BlackRock Cuts Fees on $7.6 Billion Style ETFs to Near Zero
Katherine Greifeld and Annie Massa – Bloomberg
Expense ratios of nine funds plunge to range of 0.03% to 0.06%; Competition has prompted big fund issuers to reduce costs
BlackRock Inc.’s revamped $7.6 billion lineup of style ETFs will feature new benchmarks, different tickers and a perk: rock-bottom fees.

Niche ETFs Are Winning Over Chinese Investors; There are more thematic exchange-traded funds than broad index ETFs for the first time since China’s ETF market started in 2003.
Jeanny Yu – Bloomberg
Chinese investors are souring on exchange-traded funds that track broad indexes, but they’re snapping up thematic—or ­sectoral—ETFs, such as those that invest in the nation’s Science and Technology Innovation Board.


IPO Mania Fizzles in Hong Kong as Mega First-Day Pops Fade
Moxy Ying and Julia Fioretti -Bloomberg
The days of the massive first-day pop in Hong Kong’s initial public offering frenzy may be nearing an end. Even as the pandemic spread for most of 2020, the offshore Chinese city’s IPOs and new listings were in hot demand from both institutional and mom-and-pop investors. With the bulk of new share sales posting large gains on their first-day of trading, investor euphoria was justified.

EU Speeds Up Landmark Social Bond Sales Amid Resilient Demand
John Ainger and James Hirai – Bloomberg
Bloc to sell five- and 25-year bonds via bank syndication; Demand for the securities has stayed robust even in debt rout
The European Union accelerated its funding of a regional jobs program via bond markets, tapping demand for the social issuance that remains undiminished despite a global debt selloff.

Hong Kong Dashes Business Leaders’ Hopes for Looser Covid Rules
Cathy Chan and Bruce Einhorn – Bloomberg
Policy makers held meeting with industry groups on Friday; Companies push for clearer road map as other cities reopen
Hong Kong’s government has dashed business leaders’ hopes for a near-term easing of the city’s Covid quarantine measures, signaling in a private meeting that any relaxation would require a dramatically higher vaccination rate and prolonged drop in local cases.

Kenya to Sell $1 Billion in Eurobonds, Followed by Euro Debt
David Herbling – Bloomberg
Plans additional 1 billion euros debt in year starting July; Treasury wants debt ceiling lifted to accommodate more loans
Kenya plans to raise $1 billion by the end of June and an additional 1 billion euros in the fiscal year starting July through Eurobond sales, according to Haron Sirima, director general of the nation’s Public Debt Management Office.

Turkey Isn’t the First Domino in an Emerging Markets Bust; Erdogan is a one-of-a-kind autocrat who doesn’t understand economics. That means contagion should be limited.
John Authers – Bloomberg
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s increasingly autocratic premier, inflicted a vintage emerging markets crisis on us over the weekend. Four months after ousting his previous central bank governor, he fired Naci Agbal, who had raised rates by 200 basis points last week, and replaced him with Sahap Kavcioglu, who apparently agrees with Erdogan’s novel theory that higher interest rates cause inflation. It’s plenty possible to be an effective political leader while having eccentric views about economics — but not if you are able to fire and replace central bankers at will.

Top Court Allows Indian Banks to Resume Classifying Bad Debt
Upmanyu Trivedi and Suvashree Ghosh – Bloomberg
Also waived accumulated interest on loans during moratorium; Bad loan classification will provide clarity on asset quality
India’s Supreme Court allowed lenders to resume classifying delinquent debt as bad loans, reversing a ruling that delayed disclosure of soured credit in an economy already saddled with stressed assets.

Bank of Japan backs away from ETF buying scheme; Move raises questions about the future direction of Japan’s exchange traded fund market
Rebecca Feng – FT
The Bank of Japan’s decision to abandon its ¥6tn ($55bn) annual target for exchange traded fund purchases and to cease buying those tracking the Nikkei 225 or Nikkei 400 raises questions about the future direction of Japan’s ETF market.

Israeli Bond Proposal Threatens to Curb Borrowing by U.S. Real-Estate Firms; Security authority may add new hurdle to a market where U.S. developers have raised billions of dollars
Peter Grant – WSJ
U.S. real-estate companies that have borrowed billions of dollars in the Israeli bond market in recent years are facing new rules proposed by the Israel Securities Authority that would tighten the spigot. The rules would change how bonds issued by many foreign companies are rated in a way that would discourage Israeli mutual funds, a dominant market player, from buying them, according to market participants.

China Faces Bond Market Test After Acting as Bastion in Rout
Bloomberg News
Record local government bond sales will pressure banks’ demand; 10-year sovereign yield could rise to 3.6% by end of June: ANZ
China’s $18 trillion bond market has proved remarkably stable in the face of rising yields around the world. A flood of issuance from the country’s local governments from April is about to put that resilience to the test.

China’s strict travel restrictions have hampered business and upended lives.
NY Times
For the past year, people trying to go to China have run into some of the world’s most formidable barriers to entry. To stop the coronavirus, China bans tourists and short-term business travelers outright, and it sets tough standards for all other foreigners, even those who have lived there for years.


Salmon, Beef, Whisky Exports From U.K. to EU Plunge After Brexit
Joe Mayes – Bloomberg
U.K. exports of salmon, beef and whisky to the European Union plunged in January as Brexit roiled the food industry. Salmon shipments declined 98% from the same period a year earlier, while sales of beef fell 92%, according to data compiled by the Food and Drink Federation, a lobby group. Food and drink exports to Germany, Ireland and Italy fell by more than 80%, the FDF said. The industry has been one of the worst-hit by Brexit, with companies having to file new documents such as export health certificates to ship goods across the English Channel. Small firms sending limited consignments have been unable to share space on the same lorry, while many shipments have faced lengthy delays, causing products to spoil.

Top Business Chief Accuses Brexit of Causing Major Harm to U.K.
Joe Mayes – Bloomberg
One of the most influential business groups in the U.K. is convinced that Brexit is causing “structural” damage to many U.K. companies by reducing trade and increasing costs. Adam Marshall, the outgoing director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, was blunt: “I push back pretty hard against anyone who says that all of the issues are simply around adjustment.” For some companies, the extra layers of red tape “may in fact influence whether that business keeps going or not,” he said.

Trustpilot Surges in Debut as London IPO Raises $655 Million
Swetha Gopinath – Bloomberg
Danish consumer-review site Trustpilot Group Plc jumped as shares started trading in London after its initial public offering raised 473 million pounds ($655 million), helping the City solidify its position as an attractive venue for continental companies after Brexit. The stock traded at 295 pence as of 8:13 a.m. in London, up 11% from the initial public offering price of 265 pence a share. This was the top end of an indicative price range. The IPO of the 44% stake gives the company a market value of 1.08 billion pounds, according to a statement Tuesday With the sale, companies now have raised 5.2 billion pounds via IPOs in the U.K. this year, bringing the market closer to a record first-quarter showing, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

EU keen to resume Brexit talks to end Northern Ireland row
Lisa O’Carroll – The Guardian
The EU is pressing to reopen Brexit talks with the UK in an effort to end the bitter row over Northern Ireland a week after it formally launched legal action against the government. Ireland’s foreign minister has indicated that the EU is willing to show some flexibility despite the UK’s recent decision to unilaterally delay implementation of the special arrangements for Northern Ireland, which led to the threat of court action. Simon Coveney told RTE there had been “some back and forth” between the two sides in recent weeks, and that if London provided a road map of how it planned to proceed, the EU could look at flexibilities, including extensions to grace periods. “I think certainly the EU side wants to get a process under way again, so that both sides are talking to each other,” he said.


Bosses Are Clueless That Workers Are Miserable and Looking to Leave; A Microsoft study finds 41% of workers may quit this year, while business leaders are “out of touch.”
Dina Bass – Bloomberg
A Microsoft Corp. survey of global workers found the majority feel they are struggling or just surviving in pandemic work conditions and a large percentage are considering leaving their employer this year. Meanwhile most business leaders polled said they are “thriving.”

‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Jordan Belfort to Host GameStop Documentary For Discovery Plus
Naman Ramachandran – Variety
Jordan Belfort, the original “Wolf of Wall Street,” will host a Discovery Plus documentary special on videogame retailer GameStop’s stock price rise. Produced by ITN Productions, the one-hour fast turnaround project, “GameStop: The Wall Street Hijack” (working title), explores how, in Jan. 2021, amid the political and pandemic news, a group of young, risk-embracing day traders caused the stock price of struggling videogame retailer GameStop to skyrocket in a play that shook the world’s financial markets.

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