Fortress, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, NatWest 3, UBS, Subprime Losses

Bloomberg reports that Fortress Investment Group is to start a commodities hedge fund, which will seek returns of 15-20% annually.

The news agency also reports that HSBC has succeeded in its court quest to stop Hong Kong banker Steven Wallace continuing for the time being to work at Citigroup. HSBC claimed that Wallace violated his contract by starting work at Citi 3 months after he left at the end of June this year, when, under the terms of his contract, he should have had a 6 month break. The judge ruled that Wallace must stop work at Citi, but that he could recommence there at the end of December. The banker will not, however, be actually able to take up his duties at the firm's Asian investment banking unit until the end of March 2008.

Associated Press reports that We Jin Shon, an analyst at Morgan Stanley who worked in the UK, has been jailed in the US for between one and a half and four an a half years for stealing over $572,000 from the New York state tax department. Shon, 25, also attempted to bag another $4.64m by filing bogus tax returns.

The Independent reports that the NatWest Three have now agreed to a plea bargain where, in exchange for a guilty plea in connection with alleged Enron-related crimes, they will serve up to 37 months in clink. The three, David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary Mulgrew, have also agreed to the return of  $7.3m, which they have now admitted to defrauding NatWest bank (now part of Royal Bank of Scotland).

Reuters reports that shares in UBS were up 5.1% at one point Wednesday, after Credit Suisse came out and raised its stock rating on the firm to 'buy', saying that the share price is now good value as the recent falls have been overdone. Credit Suisse said in its research note that 'we are also less than convinced that big further writedowns will actually be necessary. Unlike some of its peers, which have taken much bigger writedowns on CDO exposure, UBS has no material exposure to conduits'.

Finally, a quick round-up of the latest on the affects of the credit crunch. Bloomberg reports that KfW Group has set aside an additional $3.4bn to cover possible subprime-related losses at IBK Deutsche Industriebank, the bank it bailed out earlier this year. The Financial Times reports that LBBW, Germany's biggest public sector bank, is looking at possible write-downs of some $1.18bn on structured credit products. And The Wall Street Journal reports that Japan's Norinchukin Bank wrote off $355m on subprime lending-related investments for the 6 month period ending 30th September.

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