Thomson Reuters to buy FX option business from Tradeweb

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013 | Finance News

LONDON (Reuters) - Thomson Reuters Corp has agreed to buy the foreign exchange options business of Tradeweb Markets for an undisclosed amount, the company said on Tuesday.

Tradeweb Market's foreign exchange options business serves financial professionals such as pension fund managers and institutional investors who use the platform to trade options on major currencies.

The acquisition is part of a larger push by Thomson Reuters to expands its presence in foreign exchange. The global news and information company bought FX Alliance for $625 million last year.

Tradeweb's foreign exchange options clients will eventually migrate to the FXall and will have access to more liquidity and products.

FXall recorded 108 billion daily transactions in May.

Thomson Reuters tried to develop its own foreign exchange options platform in 2010 but abandoned those efforts in favor of acquisitions.

Thomson Reuters is the majority owner of Tradeweb; the other stakeholders are 10 banks including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse. Thomson Reuters and Tradeweb declined to disclose the amount of the ownership stakes in Tradeweb.

(Reporting Jennifer Saba in New York and Anirban Nag in London Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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Auto sales maintain momentum, led by pickups

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013 | Finance News

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. buyers snapped up new cars and trucks in June at a pace not seen since before the recession.

Continuing demand for big pickups helped boost sales for Detroit's automakers. Ford said Tuesday that its sales rose 14 percent, while Chrysler's gained 8 percent and General Motors' rose 6.5 percent.

Japanese automakers reported solid gains as well. Nissan's sales jumped 13 percent, while Toyota's were up 10 percent. But Volkswagen's sales dropped 3 percent, the third straight monthly decline for the German car company.

Other automakers will report sales later Tuesday.

Analysts say they don't see much that could slow the sales momentum of the first six months. The factors that juiced sales — low interest rates, wider credit availability, rising home construction and hot new vehicles — are likely to remain in place. So far, hiccups in the stock market, higher taxes and fluctuating gas prices haven't dampened demand.

"I think the fundamentals for continued growth in the new vehicle sales industry are intact," Chrysler's U.S. sales chief, Reid Bigland, said last week.

Analyst estimate that U.S. auto sales rose 6 percent to 8 percent in June compared with the same month last year. The auto pricing site TrueCar.com predicts that dealers sold cars and trucks at an annualized rate of 15.7 million last month, the best rate since December 2007.

Sales of pickups — which have been selling at a rate three times faster than the rest of the industry has — continued at a strong pace in June.

Ford sold just over 68,000 F-Series trucks, up 24 percent from last June and its best June for trucks since 2005. GM said sales of the Chevrolet Silverado jumped 29 percent to 43,259, while Chrysler Group sold nearly 30,000 full-size Ram pickups, up 24 percent from last June. Small businesses have been replacing their aging trucks as home construction has picked up.

Young graduates may have contributed to a rise in small car sales, said Kelley Blue Book analyst Alec Gutierrez. Gas prices, which averaged $3.60 a gallon nationwide in June and were higher than a year ago, may have steered some buyers to more fuel-efficient models, he said.

Sales of Ford's recently updated Fiesta subcompact more than doubled to 9,363, while Chrysler sold nearly 6,500 Dodge Dart small cars.

Consumer confidence hit a six-year high in June. And the Standard & Poor's 500 index had its best first half since 1998, up 12.6 percent, although there was some volatility late last month.

At the same time, auto loan rates remained near historic lows in June. The rate on a four-year new-car loan is averaging 2.7 percent, according to Bankrate.com.

Ford said two of its best sellers, the Fusion sedan and Escape SUV, were flat compared with last year, when Ford was discounting older models to make way for the updated ones that are now on sale. Ford's Lincoln luxury brand was down 1 percent.

Chrysler, majority-owned by Fiat SpA of Italy, also had some weak spots. Jeep sales were flat as the company halted production of the Liberty to get ready for the launch of the new Jeep Cherokee in August.

Jeep may also have been squeezed by Chrysler's public flap with the government last month over the safety of some older-model Jeeps. And sales for the Chrysler and Fiat brands both rose 1 percent.

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JP Morgan disciplined star banker in 2009: court documents

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013 | Finance News

By Clara Ferreira-Marques and Clare Hutchison

LONDON (Reuters) - Ian Hannam, one of London's most prominent bankers who is fighting to clear his name after a 2012 fine for market abuse, was disciplined by his bank four years ago over his working practices, according to court documents.

Hannam's employer at the time JP Morgan Cazenove, a JP Morgan joint-venture, imposed "very significant and extensive restrictions" on Hannam after a disciplinary inquiry in 2009, documents released by Britain's financial regulator showed.

The high-profile case, which began in a London court on Tuesday, tests the mettle of the three-month-old Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), a revamped regulator determined to hold to account senior bankers and their employers for market abuse or sloppy controls. It will also fuel a debate about what constitutes inside, or market-moving, information.

The FCA documents said Hannam was banned from December 2009 from initiating or soliciting new business or attending meetings without an "approved person."

He was forced to resign from the JP Morgan Cazenove board and had emails and phone calls monitored, according to the documents. JP Morgan declined to comment.

Hannam, an ex-special forces soldier known for multi-billion-dollar deals that transformed Britain's blue-chip share index, and links to U.S. generals and Iraqi ministers, wants to restore his reputation and overturn the 450,000 pound ($685,100) fine.

The FCA documents said that 57-year-old Hannam had a "relaxed" attitude to disclosure.

Richard Boulton, the leading lawyer for the FCA, told the court that inside information should be easy to spot. "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck."

CHINESE WALLS

Hannam, in court for the opening of his case a day before he takes the stand, said he did not believe he broke any rules.

"The case raises questions about the definition, and treatment of, inside information on the corporate finance side of the "Chinese Wall" and clarification by the Upper Tribunal is important for London as a global financial center," he said in a statement.

The Upper Tribunal hears appeals on cases brought by the regulator.

Hannam resigned from JP Morgan Cazenove last year, leaving his position as global chairman of equity capital markets after two decades at the firm, to pursue his appeal.

The FCA's predecessor, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), alleged Hannam sent two emails on behalf of a client, Heritage Oil , in September and October 2008, which included potential inside information.

Both emails were sent to Kurdish oil minister Ashti Hawrami. The first, which referred to a potential offer for Heritage and a price, did not name a buyer. The second mentioned an oil find.

The FCA documents alleged that Heritage was forced to issue an announcement about bid talks nine days after the September email because the UK Takeover Panel regulator noticed "untoward movement" in Heritage's share price.

It also noted that JP Morgan Cazenove told Hannam in 2009 that he had "conducted business communications with third parties in a manner falling below the standard expected of you."

Hannam has admitted that he made a mistake when he blind copied his October email, disclosing information about progress with Heritage's oil exploration program, to an advisor to companies with interests in Kurdistan.

But he has said his emails were too general to constitute inside information and that he was acting in his client's interests.

He also has said no one made any personal gain from the information in his emails and has noted that his honesty and integrity were not questioned by the regulator, who also did not remove his "fit and proper" status.

Rebuilding his reputation is critical for Hannam, who is building up a gold venture in Afghanistan and an advisory firm Strand Partners, which includes some of the JP Morgan team that were among the most influential in the sector.

($1 = 0.6568 British pounds)

(Writing by Kirstin Ridley. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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