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Week in review: Hooray for hedge funds, more cuts at investment banks

It was a good week for hedge funds – unless you were GLG. Banks were still busily lopping staff, although there were rays of hiring in commodities and – strangely enough – leveraged finance.

Hedge funds provided reasons to be cheerful.

Hedge Fund Research predicted investors plan to pour $200bn into hedge funds this year.

ICAP launched an African hedge fund.

It emerged that the replica hedge funds which threatened to undercut hedge fund fees are coming unstuck in the credit crisis.

The Wall Street Journal pointed out that several hedge funds that were losers last summer (including Bear Stearns’ macro hedge fund) are now winning again.

UK-based hedge fund GLG was a source of good and bad news. The good news was that its earnings rose 142% in Q1. The bad news was that it might lose $4bn of funds under management following the departure of star trader Greg Coffey. GLG’s boss said he never imagined a few $100m would be insufficient to retain someone.

Job cuts continued.

UBS announced 5,500 redundancies and a 5.5bn loss in the first quarter. Ominously, it also said clients had been deserting its wealth management arm. To cap a bad week off, one of its most senior bankers was then arrested in the US on suspicion of helping clients evade tax.

JPMorgan said it would be cutting jobs at JPMorgan and Bear Stearns.

Morgan Stanley was said to be slashing 1,500 securities staff.

Recruitment was in evidence too.

Morgan Stanley hired two private equity professionals for its own pe unit.

State Street hired three people for its London advanced quantitative research centre.

UBS hired some metals traders.

RBC hired for leveraged finance.

Merrill picked up Goldman veteran Peter Kraus to oversee its streamlining agenda.

Quarterly results were announced at Lazard, Dresdner, Commerzbank and Lloyds TSB.

Lazard profits were down 70%, due to debt related writedowns. This was a surprise, given Lazard is a corporate finance house.

Dresdner Kleinwort dragged Allianz into loss, thanks to a €513m hiccup involving asset backed securities.

Commerzbank said its profits fell 54% in Q1.

Lloyds TSB avoided heavy writedowns.

Citigroup, which only last week raised $4.5bn in a share offering, revealed plans to rustle up another $400bn through the sale of non-core assets. It also launched a new logo suggesting it’s peopled by insomniacs.

Subprime struggles were still in evidence. The Wall Street Journal said 7% of mortgage holders are now behind on repayments, and that 80% of rich Americans already think they’re in recession.

John Thain at Merrill Lynch said retail banks will be the next to feel the subprime pinch.

The New York Times predicted struggling companies will start sapping banks’ liquidity by calling on credit lines for corporate loans.

The Fed extended the collateral it will accept for its lending facility to include AAA rated ABS. But US banks are using the reserve window less anyway.

The Bank of England held rates steady.

And if you had the misfortune to lose your job this week? Do not fear.

You could keep coming to the office regardless, like Jimmy Cayne.

Alternatively, someone is setting up an all-new investment bank.

Or you could always take to the skies.

Comments (3)

Comments
  1. UBS hires some metal traders. Bring out the Bollinger. Maybe they’re looking for gold? They sure need to. How come the gruesome and painfully slow trickle of bad news ex-UBS HQ hasn’t become news itself? One minute it’s a $12-bn loss, then $25, then $37bn (I haven’t kept up with the numbers, a bit like the agonised shareholders). Should someone tell the Corp Comms people that bleeding out vein by vein doesn’t buy street cred? What we want is a nice arterial burst and some hero (Luqman Arnold?) to come and stem it. The waxworks on the UBS management board clearly can’t see the mess they’ve made. Time for a big bandages.

  2. Just like to rectify…ICAP did not launch an African hedge fund, its main shareholder (M.Spencer) did.

  3. Luqman Arnold–Very smart guy, UBS could do with getting him back

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