World finance :: Banking & Markets

Advisory Board, hedge fund Elliott enter standstill agreement

´╗┐Activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp said on Friday it had entered into a standstill agreement with U.S. healthcare services company Advisory Board Co. Elliott Associates, a unit of Elliott Management, disclosed an 8.3 percent stake in Advisory Board in January, calling the stock "undervalued". The stake makes Elliott the company's largest shareholder, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Advisory Board Co provides research and software tools as well as consulting services to healthcare and education companies.

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Deutsche Bank tests investor patience with $8.5 billion cash call

´╗┐Deutsche Bank's (DBKGn. DE) chief executive pledged on Monday to see through a strategic turnaround as he sought to persuade weary shareholders to sign an 8 billion euro ($8.5 billion) cheque to back his plans."I'm 100 percent or more committed to seeing through the plans" John Cryan told analysts, as the bank's shares sank and some expressed concerns the one proud flagship of the German economy on Wall Street had lost its way. Hefty legal penalties including for the sale of toxic U.S. mortgage debt have hit Deutsche Bank hard and even prompted speculation last year, which was denied by the bank, that it needed a government bailout. Germany's biggest lender had previously said it would wait until global bank capital rules were finalised before setting out how it intends to turn its business around, while Cryan had said a cash call was a last resort. But with regulators delaying the so-called Basel rules and markets buoyant, Deutsche opted on Sunday for a capital hike and also announced plans to float part of its asset management arm. While the German government welcomed the cash call, the fourth such request since 2010, it left some investors wondering whether this was the last time they would be tapped and shares in Deutsche Bank fell almost 8 percent. It puts Deutsche Bank on course to have raised more than its entire 26 billion euro market value in the past roughly seven years, according to Reuters' calculations."Deutsche Bank has a history of switching strategy and seldom delivered what they promised," one of the bank's top shareholders said, while another called the lender's strategy "confused". Both spoke on condition of anonymity. The bank presented the move as an attempt to put it on a stronger footing, after billions of euros of legal penalties and sinking profits.

And while a German finance ministry spokesman broadly welcomed Deutsche's move, saying stable lenders underpinned by strong capital were in Germany's best interests, investors took a more critical stance."This company won't be profitable overnight. The revenue must go up and costs down. And the markets have to play along, or else the bank again won't be able to hit its goals," said a third shareholder, who also asked not to be named. THE LAST CALL?

As part of the investment "story" backing the rights issue, Deutsche Bank said it is planning a stock market flotation of its asset management business, including its DWS retail asset management, which analysts have said is worth 8 billion euros. And in an about-face to its retail banking strategy, the bank scrapped plans to sell Postbank, which it now wants to reintegrate into its German retail bank. Deutsche Bank's investment banking activities will also revert to a structure it threw out less than two years ago by reuniting securities trading and corporate finance. It is also promoting retail head Christian Sewing and finance head Markus Schenck to deputy chief executives who will oversee the revamp alongside Cryan. While some saw this as Cryan preparing a successor, he said this was not the case.

The combined moves should take Deutsche Bank's core capital ratio - a key measure for regulators - above 13 percent from 11.9 percent at end-2016, but some questioned if this was it."The question is ... whether the bank will need more yet again in a few years. Until now, none of the restructuring measures have borne fruit," Stefan de Schutter, a trader at Frankfurt-based Alpha, said. Germany's biggest lender, weighed down by litigation costs and writedowns, has fallen behind Wall Street rivals. It has spent the last 18 months trimming its portfolio and jettisoning unwanted clients. The proposed issue of up to 688 million new shares represents a hike of about 50 percent to Deutsche Bank's current shares in issue. JP Morgan analyst Kian Abouhossein estimated the overall earnings dilution for existing shareholders would be around 11 percent in 2018, taking into account an expected earnings benefit from lower costs. Morgan Stanley analyst Magdalena Stoklosa said management now needed to address integrating Postbank and give "further clarity" on the restructuring of its investment bank.