Sun comes up, it's Monday morning

Welcome to another anxious Monday morning, wrote Robert Peston, the BBC’s business editor and a man who is rapidly rising to celebrity status here in the UK, in his blog on 6 October. And indeed, we were beset that morning by a whole new catalogue of woes. But, as Ma Ingalls used to say in Little House on the Prairie, “There’s no great loss without small gain”, and today some of the potential winners from the global banking crisis also started to emerge.

Here in Europe, the first clear winner in the asset management business appears to be BNP Paribas Asset Management (BNPP AM), which is to become a top five player in Europe and see its assets under management boosted to €549bn further to the acquisition of Fortis Investments.

Fortis’s investment management activities, including the former ABN Amro Asset Management, are to come into the BNP Paribas fold as part of a rescue deal for Fortis worked out over the weekend after the Dutch government’s shock decision to nationalise its part of pan-low-countries group. Under the terms of the deal, BNP Paribas will pay a total consideration of €14.5bn to acquire Fortis’s banking operations in Belgium and Luxembourg, its international banking franchises and the Belgian insurance arm.

The deal, which has been signed and will close later this year or first quarter 2009 subject to anti-trust and regulatory approvals, gives the BNP Paribas group two new domestic markets and makes it the largest deposit bank in the Eurozone.

The transaction also appears to make BNP Paribas one of the key survivors of the crisis, along with Spain’s Santander.

Elsewhere, however, it was frankly chaos. As the dust settled on the passed-at-last $700bn US bail-out plan, it was to reveal not a new calm, but a new turbulence. In Europe, bank shares plummeted in a haze of uncertainty as the German and Danish governments joined the Irish and Greek in underwriting bank deposits. Meanwhile, a scary new and bigger rescue package was agreed for the German mortgage lender Hypo Real Estate, Iceland took steps to shore up its entire financial system and question marks began to appear over as-yet-unscathed financial institutions such as Italy’s Unicredito.

Where will it all end? At this point, only a fool would claim to know.

But, hey, looking forward to next Monday already ... Fiona Rintoul, Editorial Director
© 2008 Funds Europe

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