That Was The Year That Was - 2007 (September - October)

Here's a note of the stories that hit the headlines in September and October 2007.

SEPTEMBER

Investment banks were said to likely cut 10-15% of their staff 'across the board', as the turmoil in the financial markets began to take its toll on firm profits,  after rating agency Standard & Poor's said that the aggregate profits of the five biggest investment banks could fall by as much as 70% in the second half of the year from the first.  

Calyon, Credit Agricole's investment banking arm, announced that it would take a $347m trading loss in the third-quarter, after the firm took a hit because of unauthorised trading at one of its prop desks in New York.

Goldman Sachs analyst William Tanona estimated that Merrill Lynch could post a $1.5bn third-quarter loss on its fixed income businesses, after $4bn in asset write-downs connected to leveraged loans, collateralized debt obligations and mortgages.

Deutsche Bank's shares fell 3%, after CEO Josef Ackermann admitted that his bank had 'made mistakes in this (recent market) crisis' and confirmed that Deutsche's third-quarter profits would be hit harder than originally thought.

Credit Suisse fired around 150 staff in its New York securitized product group as a result of the market contraction caused by the US subprime lending crisis.

Barclays Capital said it would provide $1bn in rescue finance to bail out Mainsail II, a structured investment vehicle (SIV) managed by London-based hedge fund Solent Capital, a week after the firm said it would provide $1.6bn to Cairn High Grade Funding I, another SIV-lite vehicle. The firm confirmed that its losses from exposure to SIV-lites was likely to top out at $150m.

OCTOBER

UBS came out and said that it would post a loss of between $511m - $683m in the third-quarter following huge losses in fixed income, would cut 1,500 investment banking jobs before the end of the year, and announced a management shake-up over at the unit too

Bank of America (BofA) CEO Ken Lewis told analysts on a conference call that he had had just about as much 'fun' as he could stand in investment banking, after investment banking write-downs led to a 93% decline in unit earnings to just $100m in the third-quarter. BofA then announced 3,000 job cuts, and the majority would come from the investment banking division.

Morgan Stanley became the latest firm to wield the job axe in the wake of the recent market turmoil, confirming that 300 heads would roll, mainly in fixed income.

Citi came out and announced $5.9bn in asset write-downs for the third-quarter.

Deutsche Bank came out and announced the losses it made in the third-quarter due to the recent turmoil in the credit markets. The firm confirmed it would write-down a total of $3.09bn in the period on leveraged loans, mortgaged-backed securities and structured credit products. The investment bank itself was to post its first quarterly loss for five years as a result.

Merrill Lynch came out and admitted that it would take a $5.5bn write-down in the third-quarter on collateralized debt obligations, leverage finance-related transactions and US subprime mortages.

In perhaps the strangest story of the year, Ping Jiang, a SAC Capital trader who is said to have earned around $100m-a-year, is alleged to have thought that one of his team, 37-year-old Andrew Tong, would bring in more profit if he was generally less aggressive. Jiang is alleged to have demanded that Tong take female hormone tablets (tablets that Tong managed to find on the black market) to ensure that he was less macho. The end result, so Tong claims, was that he took the hormones, became impotent, went off his wife, started to wear ladies dresses and then embarked on a homosexual relationship with his boss! Tong claimed that he suffered emotional and physical distress, and lodged a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Shares in Citi were up at one stage on rumours that the company was holding an emergency board meeting to decide whether to ask for CEO Chuck Prince's resignation in the wake of subprime lending-related write-downs.

Merrill Lynch 'fired' Osman Semerci, its 39 year-old global head of fixed income and Dale Lattanzio, 43, the co-head of the division's Americas operation. Semerci was replaced by David Sobotka, who ran the firm's global commodities business, and the firm CEO Stan O'Neal was said to be in hot water with his board, after allegedly putting out unauthorized feelers earlier for a merger with Wachovia Corp. He soon stepped down.

Activist investor Knight Vinke suggested that HSBC might want to merge or ditch its investment banking division.

Barclays waved the white flag and accepted that the Royal Bank of Scotland consortium had run out winner in the battle for Dutch bank ABN AMRO.

Finally, Bear Stearns and China government-controlled Citic Securities announced a deal whereby they would each invest $1bn in each other, and would combine their operations in Asia.




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