Edition:
United Kingdom

Christopher Thompson

Breakingviews - Swiss bank spy fiasco puts UBS succession in frame

04 Oct 2019

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Credit Suisse’s humiliating Spygate scandal has prompted another unforeseen question at its crosstown rival UBS: Who will succeed Sergio Ermotti as chief executive? As some internal contenders have left UBS over the past year, Credit Suisse’s tailing of former executive Iqbal Khan - who started as head of wealth management at UBS this week - has raised his profile as a potential successor to Ermotti. But Khan and others still need to prove their mettle. Ermotti may need to defer retirement altogether.

Breakingviews - Thiam absolved but not unscathed in spy scandal

01 Oct 2019

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Oscar Wilde once quipped that losing one family member could be regarded as unlucky, but losing two looked like carelessness. Credit Suisse boss Tidjane Thiam looks similarly hapless following the departure of his closest ally on Tuesday after the latter hired spies to tail an ex-employee. It’s the second key staff member to head out the door in three months.

Breakingviews - Lloyds’ PPI tragicomedy has suitably shambolic end

31 Jul 2019

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Oh dear. Lloyds Banking Group is ending its misssold payment protection insurance scandal as it began – with an almighty slap in shareholders’ faces. The UK’s largest domestic-focused bank on Wednesday revised down full-year returns on tangible equity after it posted a 7% decline in first-half pre-tax profits due to a higher than expected PPI charges. Such ‘one-off’ costs should roll off after an August deadline. But it’s still a dent to CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio’s credibility.

Breakingviews - Misfiring UBS traders are only part of the problem

23 Jul 2019

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - A misfiring investment bank could be the least of Sergio Ermotti’s problems. The UBS chief executive on Tuesday also reported a drop in wealth management profit during the second quarter. Overall, with revenue subdued, further cuts to high group costs may be Ermotti's only way to hit 2021 targets.

Breakingviews - Deutsche creditors give ECB charity short shrift

09 Jul 2019

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - When in need, help can come from unexpected places. Just ask Christian Sewing. As part of the Deutsche Bank chief executive’s bumper restructuring announced on Sunday, the European Central Bank allowed the lender to cut its common equity Tier 1 ratio target by 50 basis points. A sharp uptick in the yields of Deutsche’s equity-like debt instruments implies this is a mixed blessing. 

Breakingviews - Deutsche Bank retreat depends on uber optimism

07 Jul 2019

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Any cocksure child knows that owning up to mistakes is part of growing up. By that metric, Deutsche Bank is just beginning to mature. Boss Christian Sewing on Sunday effectively called time on the lender’s multi-decade attempt to create a global investment bank with a swingeing plan to shrink its trading unit and put 288 billion euros of assets into runoff. But the retreat depends on friendly markets and an absence of blunders.

Breakingviews - Now is the time to buy Deutsche Bank

17 Jun 2019

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Christian Sewing can’t catch a break. The Deutsche Bank boss has seen the German lender’s market value shrivel to just 13 billion euros. Now he is preparing to take the axe to its underperforming investment bank. Rock-bottom expectations give him scope to spring a positive surprise.

Breakingviews - HSBC’s rich valuation reflects spare buyback ammo

03 May 2019

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - HSBC’s first-quarter results shore up its rich valuation. The global bank reported a robust 10.6 percent return on tangible equity in the first three months of the year, buoyed by a lending spike. Investors were already assuming that the bank hits its 2020 return targets. Potential for more buybacks in the second half provide additional firepower.

Breakingviews - BNP requires more than one-off trading boost

02 May 2019

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Thank goodness for traders. Such gratitude is likely to be a novelty for BNP Paribas Chief Executive Jean-Laurent Bonnafé given how woeful these bankers’ performance was in some of the previous quarters. Still, a boost to volatile trading income reported on Thursday helped lift the French lender’s return closer to its 2020 target. Bonnafé will have to maintain the improvement in revenue growth if he is to hit that goal.

Breakingviews - Santander’s $2.9 bln Mexico bid is easy to refuse

12 Apr 2019

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Banco Santander has made shareholders in its Mexican unit a proposal they can refuse. The Spanish bank on Friday offered investors in Santander Mexico the chance to swap their shares for stock in the parent company. Despite a 14 percent premium, the deal is unenticing. Investors should hold out.

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