BrokerDealer Legg Mason Acquires Global Equity Specialist Martin Currie

Brokerdealer Legg Mason has acquired Martin Currie Investment Management, a U.K.-based active global equity specialist, according to a press announcement by the firm.

The transaction is scheduled to close during the fourth quarter of 2014. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Martin Currie will become an independent investment affiliate of Legg Mason, along with Brandywine Global, ClearBridge Investments, The Permal Group, QS Investors, Royce & Associates and Western Asset Management.

Martin Currie has $9.8 billion in AUM, which would bring Legg Mason’s total to $713.8 billion.

Also as part of this transaction, Legg Mason Australian Equities, an active Australian equities manager, will become part of Martin Currie. LMAE’s strategies include small cap, property/infrastructure, income and large-cap value. LMAE’s investment teams will continue to manage these strategies.

More details to come.

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Biggest Swiss Bank/BrokerDealer UBS Busted For Money Laundering: Must Post $1bil Bond

Below blog post courtesy of extract from flash news story published 07.23 at NYT Deal Book

PARIS – UBS, the largest Swiss bank, was placed under formal investigation by the French authorities on Wednesday and ordered to post bail of more than $1 billion in the kind of tax-evasion case that ensnared it in the United States several years ago.

The bank, based in Zurich, faces charges of money laundering and tax fraud for helping French clients hide funds from the national tax administration from 2004 to 2012, an official in the Paris prosecutor’s office said. The official cannot be identified, in keeping with the rules of the office.

UBS has also been ordered to post bail of 1.1 billion euros (about $1.5 billion), the official said. The bank did not respond to requests for comment.

The news, first reported Wednesday by Agence France-Presse, was not entirely unexpected. A whistle-blower’s tip had led the authorities to the Swiss bank, and UBS was last year placed under formal investigation on suspicion that it illegally sold banking services to French citizens to enable them to move money offshore. It was ordered to pay a 10 million euro fine in that case over lax internal controls.

UBS has been entangled in tax cases with major governments for several years. Most notably, in 2009 it reached an agreement with the United States Justice Department to disclose client names and pay $780 million to avoid criminal prosecution. The bank acknowledged having defrauded the Internal Revenue Service by helping wealthy Americans evade taxes.

Credit Suisse, UBS’s cross-town rival, announced on Wednesday a second-quarter loss of $779 million after agreeing in May to plead guilty to conspiring to help Americans evade taxes and paying $2.6 billion in penalties.

UBS bankers in France used the same approach to tap wealthy investors that they used in the United States, according to French news reports, attending prestigious cultural and sporting events and seeking to mingle with high net-worth individuals through their social networks.

Bahrain Stock Exchange Embraces NASDAQ Trading Engine blog update courtesy of extract from Traders Magazine 07.23 story by John D’Antona


A Middle East stock exchange is tapping the knowledge of one of the Northeast’s bourses.

The Bahrain Bourse and NASDAQ OMX have joined forces with the former activating its newest trading engine, which is powered by NASDAQ OMX’s X-stream trading platform. The project went live on Monday, July 14, providing Bahrain Bourse with a multi-asset trading platform.

“Replacing our trading platform is a milestone in the history of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s capital market, and is one of the key projects of the Bourse’s strategy that was adopted in 2011 to develop all work aspects at Bahrain Bourse,” said The Shaikh Khalifa bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, chief executive at the Bahrain Bourse.

Bahrain’s new platform will enable it to provide more and advanced trading options for brokerdealers and investors and a variety of market participants, as well as create innovative products and services to match international demand. In addition to the new X-stream technology, the Middle East exchange will also continue to leverage the existing CSD technologies that have been provided and supported by NASDAQ OMX since 2000.

NASDAQ OMX’s exchange technology, including trading, clearing, CSD and market surveillance systems, is in operation in over 100 marketplaces across USA, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and Middle East.

The Bahrain Bourse was established as a shareholding company in 2010 to replace the Bahrain Stock Exchange that was established in 1987. There are 50 companies listed on the exchange, two mutual funds, and nine bonds/Islamic Sukuk. The three indices tracking the market’s performance are the Bahrain All Share Index, the Esterad Index (which consists of a basket of selected local-publicly listed companies), and the Dow Jones Bahrain Index.

Since its establishment, BHB has joined several regional and international organizations such as World Federation of Exchanges, Arab Federation of Exchanges, Federation of Euro-Asian Stock Exchanges and the Africa & Middle East Depositories Association.

Broker-Dealers Slated To Flock To Saudi Stock Exchange blog update courtesy of extract from July 22 coverage from Bloomberg LP

bloomberg saudi exchange storySaudi Arabia, the world’s biggest exporter of oil and de facto leader of OPEC, is removing barriers to one of the world’s most-restricted major stock exchanges as the government pursues a $130 billion spending plan to boost non-energy industries. King Abdullah, the 90-year-old monarch, has kept the economy expanding at an average rate of 6.4 percent in the past four years even as Middle Eastern neighbors from Egypt to Iraq grappled with political turmoil.

The Tadawul surged 2.8 percent to 10,025.14 at the close, the strongest level since May 2008.

“The big sleeping giant in the region is Saudi Arabia, a well-capitalized and large market that foreigners couldn’t get access to,” Gary Dugan, the chief investment officer at National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC, said by phone from Abu Dhabi. “It’s exciting. It gives greater credibility to the region.”

A listing of broker-dealers in the middle-east can be found via

“If you assume a neutral allocation to the market, and assuming the 4 percent that MSCI is guiding for, we will be talking about $40 billion” of foreign inflows in Saudi Arabia’s exchange, Dubai-based Rami Sidani, who oversees the $343 million Schroders International Selection Fund, said by telephone today.

“The move by Saudi Arabia helps accelerate efforts by the Gulf into becoming a more mainstream destination for international investors,” Ryan Huang, Singapore-based market strategist at IG Ltd., said by e-mail today. “Opening up the market will be a liquidity boost for Saudi corporations.”

At least three banks, including HSBC Holdings Plc and Deutsche Bank AG, have executed test trades, three people said, asking not to be identified as the plans are private. Access for money managers outside the GCC has so far been limited to indirect routes, including equity swaps and exchange-traded funds.

The full story from Bloomberg LP can be found via this link:

Taking a BrokerDealer to Arbitration: Is Finra Fair? blog update courtesy of extract from 07.19 NY Times “Your Money” column by Tara Siegel Bernard

Image courtesy of NY Times and Robert Neubecker

Image courtesy of NY Times and Robert Neubecker

While arbitration has its share of benefits — it’s much quicker and cheaper than litigation — some securities lawyers who represent investors argue that they would get better results before a jury of their peers. But other legal experts point out that many investors wouldn’t have a chance to be heard if it weren’t for arbitration; federal securities laws, along with some states’ laws, are not always investor-friendly.

“From the investor’s perspective, the great advantage of the Finra model is that arbitrators might be able to find a remedy for investors that is not supported by law,” said Barbara Black, a professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

But it doesn’t always work in investors’ favor, according to securities lawyers. And on Thursday, Finra acknowledged that its arbitration process, which has come under recent criticism, could be improved when it announced a 13-member task force to look into improving transparency, impartiality and efficiency.

So how do investors fare in arbitration right now? Last year, about 18 percent of customer cases, or 499 claims, were decided in arbitration. Customers received monetary or nonmonetary damages in 42 percent of those cases. But 77 percent of customer cases — including settlements between the parties and arbitration awards — resulted in some sort of monetary or nonmonetary relief (such as canceling a stock purchase and getting money back). Continue reading