Credit Suisse wants to raise its China securities joint venture stake to 100 per cent and increase its market share after getting the regulatory green light to take a majority holding, the head of its Asia business said.
Switzerland’s second-largest bank is also looking to hire more staff and invest in China, the world’s second-biggest economy, as its most significant business opportunity in the world, its APAC boss, Helman Sitohang, told Reuters.
China has gained in relevance for Credit Suisse and other international banks after Beijing fast-tracked the opening of its financial markets to foreigner investors.
After gaining 51 per cent control of its securities joint venture in June and appointing Janice Hu as chairwoman, Credit Suisse aims to take on full ownership from Founder Securities as it seeks to build out its private and investment banking businesses.
Credit Suisse has placed great faith in Hu, a “veteran investment banker” who has been with it for almost two decades, to grow its business in China, where the timing of it gaining full ownership of the venture is in the hands of regulators.
The bank did not disclose the value of the joint venture.
While it does not break down its business by individual markets, Asia-Pacific accounted for roughly one-fifth of its overall pre-tax income in 2019, with Greater China its most important market in the region.
The bank ranks second in M&A advisory fees in Asia, excluding Japan, with a 9.3 per cent market share, and second in investment banking fees, with a 4.6 per cent share, Dealogic says.
In Asia-Pacific, Credit Suisse not only competes with larger Zurich rival UBS but also with other Swiss private banks including Geneva-based Pictet and listed lender Julius Baer for wealth management business.
Meanwhile, in investment banking, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan are both major competitors, while Chinese investment bank CITIC Securities counts as a key rival in Asia.
China is producing the newest billionaires and Credit Suisse last month hired a new head of wealth management for onshore China, Jing Wang, from China Merchants Bank.
This followed two senior appointments, this year for prime sales, and Credit Suisse is now looking to fill other key positions for its Chinese business over the next few months.
“We will continue to invest across our platforms in China and closely integrate our onshore operations with our businesses in Hong Kong and across the region.
“There will be more hires, some of which we will announce shortly,’’ Sitohang said.
“It is clearly about tactical hiring as we want to capture opportunities.
“We know exactly where these are, where we see the potential to improve and that is what we are focused on,’’ the Singaporean native said.
Hong Kong’s future as a global financial centre has been under scrutiny after the mainland Chinese government last month introduced tough new national security laws for the city.
Some analysts suggest investors could shift money to other offshore hubs, like Singapore, to cushion the impact of the growing political and economic uncertainty.
Sitohang reiterated Credit Suisse’s commitment to Hong Kong and said it had not registered any outflows.
“Hong Kong has been an important hub for Credit Suisse for decades … and there will be no changes to our presence,’’ Sitohang said.
“It is an integral part of our footprint for China overall.’’
As well as its role in the largest equity capital markets deals in Hong Kong last year with Alibaba’s secondary listing, Sitohang said Credit Suisse did another recently for Netease, which was about $2.8 billion, as well as “a couple of large bond deals’’.
Credit Suisse has increased the money it manages in the Asia-Pacific region by around a quarter over the last three years to 220 billion Swiss francs ($233 billion) at the end of 2019 before a drop to 197 billion francs in the first quarter due to the coronavirus crisis.
Although ties to Luckin Coffee – from whose chairman Credit Suisse is seeking to recoup a more than half-billion-dollar-loan along, with five other banks – increased the Swiss bank’s first-quarter provisioning for loan losses, Sitohang is not put off.
Credit Suisse would stick by its strategy of acting as a “bank for entrepreneurs”, managing both the private wealth of rising business people as well as benefiting from their corporate activities through its investment bank, he said. ($1 = 0.9434 Swiss francs)
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Nigeria’s candidate for WTO chief prioritizes fixing dispute settlement system if selected
Okonjo-Iweala, who is competing with seven other nominees for the position of director-general of the WTO, told Xinhua in a recent interview that her top priorities if selected, would be preparing for the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Kazakhstan in 2021.
She also hoped to work on restoring the dispute settlement system and updating the WTO’s rule book.
The WTO’s dispute settlement body is currently paralysed.
The Appellate Body, considered as the Supreme Court for global trade disputes, is supposed to have seven judges and needs a minimum of three judges to function.
The United States administration has been blocking new appointments for more than two years, with United States officials claiming that the court had gone beyond its remit.
“I would be focusing, if I get the job, on the dispute settlement system because this is the fundamental pillar of the WTO,’’ Okonjo-Iweala said.
“If you have a rules-based organisation, you must have a place where rules are arbitrated and that’s what happens with the dispute settlement system.
“So, restoring that will be a top priority as well.’’
She also had a 25-year career at the World Bank, including as a managing director.
The candidate, who also sits on the board of Twitter and the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, said she was confident to win the selection process and that she would be a listener-in-chief as well as a tough negotiator.
“I have strong political skills and negotiation skills.
“I think that’s very much needed; I am a consensus-builder and I’m a good listener too.’’
The candidate showed her confidence to “find a way to unlock the seeming division’’ on the trade side, between China and the United States, underlining that finding areas of mutual interest and to build trust within the WTO trading system would be important.
“Actually, if you listen to the two members, they have some things in common,’’ Okonjo-Iweala added.
“The dispute settlement system of the WTO is valued by both, they want it to reform, they don’t want it to disappear.’’
“I think the best thing China can do is to recover quickly.
“Because it’s one of the engines of growth in the world and it’s almost a quarter of world trade,’ she told Xinhua.
“So, if it recovers quickly, it means that it can help the rest of the world recover.
“So, that’s the role I would see for China.’’
Roberto Azevedo, the incumbent WTO chief, announced in May that he will officially leave his post on Aug. 31, a year before his term expires.
The second phase of the selection process, in which the candidates “make themselves known to members’’, will end on Sept. 7 and then the General Council chairperson will consult with all WTO members before making the final decision.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
We’re working to ensure Nigerians have access to COVID-19 vaccines when available – NCDC
Ihekweazu said that the centre was working with the global community to ensure this access.
He informed that data on research and development of a vaccine against COVID-19 by the global scientific community showed that results on a possible vaccine were expected in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The DG, while noting that a vaccine was the best weapon in taming the virus, however, stressed that equitable access was key.
He added that the health agency was working together with other colleagues around the continent, through the Africa CDC, to start advocating for some of the trials to be done with African institutions in the short term.
“To do this, we have to build capacity, gather sufficient data and include African institutions in these efforts.
“We have to start preparing Nigerian population for vaccine delivery when it becomes available.
“Access is a very key issue when it comes to vaccines; that a vaccine is developed do not necessarily translate to being available to those that need it the most.
“So, through the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is working with GAVI to ensure that vaccines are available to countries regardless of their ability to pay.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that GAVI is an international organisation – a global Vaccine Alliance, bringing together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries.
He also said that it was important to involve the private sector and academia in vaccination manufacturing.
Ihekweazu hinted that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) would lead the distribution and planning.
The DG pointed out that campaign to enlighten Nigerians on the benefit of the vaccine was important.
This, according to him, is because a small part of the population resisted vaccines for different reasons.
“So, the time to start the risk communication about the benefits of the vaccine is now.
“As soon as a vaccine becomes available, it’s our collective responsibility to prepare Nigerians for the implementation of the vaccination campaign for whatever form they take.
“So, it’s important that we start thinking about this,’’ the DG said.
Ihekweazu stressed that a vaccine was the biggest weapon to get the virus under control and by far the most important medical tool known in history.
“Vaccine development normally takes 10-20 years, but we’ve made incredible development in the last six months,’’ he said.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
School feeding programme gulps over N500m during Lockdown – Minister
The Federal Government expended about N523.3 million on school feeding programme during the lockdown against the coronavirus pandemic.
Farouk made the revelation against the rumours and speculations going around one of our key interventions of the government – the Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
She said that the programmed was modified and implemented in three states following a March 29th, Presidential directive.
“It is critical at this juncture to provide details that will help puncture the tissue of lies being peddled in the public space.
“The provision of ‘Take Home Rations’, under the modified Home Grown School Feeding programme, was not a sole initiative of the MHADMSD.
“The ministry, in obeying the Presidential directive, went into consultations with state governments through the state Governor’s Forum, following which it was resolved that ‘take-home rations’, remained the most viable option for feeding children during the lockdown.
“So, it was a joint resolution of the ministry and the state governments to give out take-home rations.
“The stakeholders also resolved that we would start with the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states, as pilot cases,’’ the minister said.
According to her, each takes home ration was valued at N4,200 and that the figure was arrived at with proper consultation.
“So, each household is assumed to have three children.
“Based on the original design of the Home Grown School Feeding programme, long before it was domiciled in the ministry, every child on the programme receives a meal a day.
“The meal costs N70 per child.
“When you take 20 school days per month, it means a child eats food worth N1,400 per month.
“Three children would then eat food worth N4,200 per month and that was how we arrived at the cost of the ‘take-home ration’.
“The agreement was that the federal government will provide the funding while the states will implement.
“To ensure transparency in the process, we partnered with the World Food Programme (WFP) as technical partners.’’
“TrackaNG monitored and gave daily updates validating the programme.
“In the FCT, 29,609 households were impacted, 37,589 households in Lagos and 60,391 in Ogun, making a total of 124,589 households impacted between May 14, and July 6.
“If 124,589 households received take-home rations valued at N4,200, the amount will be N523,273,800.
Edited By: Bola Akingbehin/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
COVID-19 vaccines now in phase 3 clinical trials– WHO
The director-general said: “ We all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection.
“However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be; for now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control.
“Testing, isolating and treating patients, tracing and quarantining their contacts. Do it all.
“Inform, empower and listen to communities. Do it all.
“For individuals, it’s about keeping physical distance, wearing a mask, cleaning hands regularly and coughing safely away from others. Do it all.’’
Ghebreyesus said the message to people and governments was clear: “Do it all, and when it’s under control, keep going! Keep strengthening the health system.
“Keep safeguards and monitoring in place, because lifting restrictions too quickly can lead to resurgence.
“Keep investing in the workforce and communicating and engaging communities.
“We have seen around the world, that it’s never too late to turn this pandemic around,’’ he said.
According to him, if we act together today, we can save lives, we can save livelihoods, if we do it all together.
He told journalists that the Emergency Committee on COVID-19 met on Friday and reviewed the current pandemic.
“It was a sobering moment coming six months on from when the committee advised.
“And, I agreed that the outbreak constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
“At the time, Jan. 30, there were fewer than 100 cases and no deaths outside of China.
“Since then, the number of cases has increased more than five-fold to 17.5 million, and the number of deaths has more than tripled to 680,000,’’ the director-general said.
In addition to the direct toll COVID-19 is having, Ghebreyesus said the committee noted the health impact that disrupted services were having on a range of other diseases.
“That compounds what we already know about reduced immunisation coverage, cancer screening and care, and mental health services.
“A survey of responses from 103 countries between mid-May and early July, found that 67 per cent of countries report disruption in family planning and contraception services.
“More than half of countries reported disruption in antenatal care services and more than a third of countries reported disruption in child birth services.
“On top of the health impact, we have seen the damage COVID-19 has caused socially, economically and politically.
“The committee put forward a number of recommendations for countries to continue to implement to bring the virus under control.
“These range from sharing best practice, to enhancing political commitment and leadership for national strategies and localised response activities driven by science, data and experience.’’
He said from serology studies that most people remained susceptible to this virus, even in areas that have experienced severe outbreaks.
“Over the past week we’ve seen several countries that appeared as though they were past the worst now, contending with fresh spikes in cases.
“However, we’ve also seen how some countries, regions or localities that had a high number of cases are now bringing the outbreak under control.
“It’s not easy, of course. Strict measures may cause their own problems for delivery of essential health services, the economy and societies overall.
“The committee acknowledged that Member States have tough choices to make to turn the epidemic around.
“But, they were also clear that when leaders step up and work intensely with their populations, this disease can be brought under control.’’
He further said we learnt everyday about this virus.
“ I’m pleased that the world has made progress in identifying treatments that can help people with the most serious forms of COVID-19 recover.
“The committee recommended that countries engage in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, participate in relevant clinical trials, and prepare for safe and effective therapeutics and vaccine introduction,’’ Ghebreyesus said.
Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)