There have been one or two merger or takeover rumours doing the rounds recently. Bear Stearns is said to be in play and HSBC was looked upon as a likely suitor. And that deal seemed like it made sense strategically. But HSBC has now come out and said that an acquisition to strengthen its investment banking business is not on the agenda.
Although HSBC CEO Stephen Green has admitted that the investment bank will need to beef up in certain areas, he has ruled out acquisition to increase market share. Speaking in San Paulo, Brazil, last week Green said that 'there's a lot we can do. Our whole thrust is on building on the strengths that we've already got.....We have needed to make some hiring decisions. We certainly did not need to make an investment banking acquisition to put ourselves into a highly competitive position with our clients'.
Green's statement, however, will surprise some folks. Although John Studzinski was hired early last year to revamp the equities and advisory business, HSBC doesn't appear to be having much impact on the global investment banking league tables.
HSBC Holdings doesn't feature in one of Thomson Financial's 15 Top 10 Global Capital Markets categories for the year to the end of September. And the bank is sitting in a lowly 17th place in the Worldwide Completed M&A Adviser league table for the same period. That's one place down from Australia's Macquarie Bank and one slot ahead of niche US firm Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin, an investment bank formed in 1970.
And finally, shares in Man Group, the world's largest publicly listed hedge fund, have been heading north again, after recent falls. Rumours abound that the firm might be in play and that Merrill Lynch could be considering making a bid for the business.