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【东方宝石】当宝石遇见合适的皇冠(双语)

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JOHN VARLEY, the departing chief executive of Barclays, says his priority when he took over in 2004 was to end the British bank’s dependence on its stodgy home market. Along with dodging a bail-out in 2008, internationalising the firm ranks as his biggest achievement—today about two-thirds of its activity is abroad. But another kind of dependence has taken its place. The firm’s investment bank, Barclays Capital, which barely existed a decade ago and which hit the big league after buying the rump of Lehman Brothers’ American business, now contributes most of pre-tax profit (see chart).

即将离职的巴克莱银行首席执行官约翰•瓦利称,2004年他接管时首要任务便是结束这家伦敦银行对平庸国内市场的依赖。除了2008年避开了紧急援助外,银行走向国际化是他的最大成就—现在这家银行三分之二的业务是在国外。但是取而代之的是另一种依赖性。巴克莱集团的投资银行—巴克莱资本,十年前尚不存在,而在收购了雷曼兄弟美国的部分业务之后,发展壮大,现在贡献了集团大部分的税前利润(见图表).

BarCap’s reverse takeover of Barclays seems to have been confirmed by the appointment this week of Bob Diamond, its long-standing boss, as Mr Varley’s successor (pictured centre and left, respectively). For some the personnel change, which will take effect in March, is a metaphor for the firm: a talented American with dazzling teeth and a whiff of a personality cult takes over from the posh, self-deprecating Brit with a first from Oxford and a taste for fishing. Those worried about “casino banking” claim Mr Diamond’s arrival is a provocation, particularly since a government-appointed commission is due to examine whether to split up big banks.

巴克莱资本反向接管巴克莱似乎可由鲍勃•戴蒙德(长时间担任巴克莱资本的总裁)的任命得以证实,本周,鲍勃•戴蒙德成为瓦利先生的继任人(分别位于照片正中和左边)。一些人认为三月将生效的这场人事变动对银行来说是某种象征:一个有着洁白牙齿和一点个人崇拜的有才能的美国人从一个帅气、自谦、牛津大学一等荣誉学位获得者并喜爱钓鱼的英国人手中接过了总裁职位。那些担心“赌场银行”的人声称戴蒙德先生上任是一种挑衅,特别是由于一个政府任命的委员会在审视是否分拆大银行。

A few stock market analysts even reckon it is in shareholders’ interests that Barclays be broken up. An over-reliance on risky profits has depressed the shares, they say, and in any case the firm has evolved into a series of separately run silos. Splitting off the investment bank—even relocating it to New York—would let it grow unencumbered by parochial British politicians. The rest of the firm, which includes retail and corporate banking in Britain, Europe and Africa, a semi-detached South African business, ABSA, and a smallish wealth-management business, could plod along on its own, or even be split up too.

少数股市分析师甚至认为巴克莱被分拆有利于股东的利益。过度依赖风险利润已使股价下跌,他们声称,而且无论如何银行已经演变成一系列单独运行的部门。分拆投资银行—甚至搬至纽约—将会使其不受思想狭隘的伦敦政治家的阻碍而自由成长。银行的其他业务,包括在英国、欧洲和非洲的小额银行和企业银行业务,半独立的南非业务(南非联合银行),以及较小的财富管理业务,都可以独立地继续运作,或者也被分拆。

Mr Diamond, who is relocating back to London from New York, where he moved after the Lehman deal, rejects such hysterical talk. “There is no space between John and I and the board on strategy,” he says. Both he and Mr Varley argue that the change in business mix reflects the firm’s opportunism and is partly temporary. In 2007 it tried to buy ABN AMRO, which would have made it one of the world’s largest universal banks. In one of finance’s great escapes, Barclays was trumped by Royal Bank of Scotland, which subsequently needed to be bailed out largely due to the acquisition. By the dark days of 2008 it was the American arm of Lehman that was for sale, which Barclays bought out of bankruptcy for, in effect, nothing.

戴蒙德先生,在雷曼银行的收购交易之后搬到纽约,现在又从纽约搬回伦敦,他回绝了此类无稽之谈。“约翰和我以及董事会在战略上没有分歧”他这么说道。他和瓦利先生都声称业务组合的变化是银行的权宜之计,是暂时的。2007年巴克莱银行试图收购荷兰银行,这将使得它成为最大的全能制银行之一。但不敌苏格兰皇家银行,而后者很大程度上,由于这次并购不久之后接受紧急援助。时至2008年那段黑暗日子,雷曼银行的美国分支待售,巴克莱想买下尚未破产的雷曼,却未能如愿。

Whether that was by luck or design is debatable—the memoirs of Hank Paulson, America’s treasury secretary at the time, suggest Barclays tried to buy the bulk of Lehman, including some exposure to its toxic assets, and was, thankfully, blocked by British regulators. (“I could hear frustration, bordering on anger, in Diamond’s voice,” Mr Paulson reports.) But the revised deal has been an outstanding success, boosting BarCap’s profits dramatically.

这是运气还是人为颇具争议— 时任美国财政部长的汉克•鲍尔森在回忆录中写道,巴克莱试图收购雷曼的大部分业务,包括有毒资产,幸好被伦敦监管者阻挠。(“我可以从戴蒙德的声音中听出沮丧和愤怒,”鲍尔森先生说道。)但是修改后的交易却是巨大的成功,大幅增长了巴克莱资本的利润。

Housekeeping has pushed Barclays further towards investment banking. In June 2009 it reluctantly sold its asset-management arm for £8 billion ($13.1 billion), which, along with a £7 billion fund-raising from mainly Middle Eastern investors in October 2008, boosted capital ratios. In March 2010 it pared back its loss making consumer-banking activities in some far-flung markets, such as Indonesia.

内务处理将巴克莱进一步向投资银行推进。2009年6月,它不情愿地将资产管理部门以80亿英镑(131亿美元)出售,而这与2008年10月主要来自中东投资者的70亿英镑融资一同提高了资本比率。2010年3月,在一些遥远的市场(例如印度尼西亚),它削减了亏损的消费银行业务.

Yet for all this Mr Diamond is taking over a firm that is still a very long way from being a pure investment bank. In the first half of 2009 BarCap contributed 86% of underlying pre-tax profits. As bad-debt charges decline at the retail bank and interest rates rise, boosting net interest margins at the deposit-taking businesses, the firm should rebalance naturally. Measured by “operating profit”—ie, before bad-debt charges—or by risk-adjusted assets, BarCap accounts for only about half of the firm’s activity.

尽管如此,戴蒙德先生接管了一个与纯粹的投资银行依然相距甚远的银行。2009年上半年巴克莱资本贡献了86%的税前利润。随着零售银行的坏账费用下降以及利率上升,为了推高存款业务的净息差,巴克莱银行自然应该再平衡。以“经营利润”来衡量—例如,不包括坏账费用,或是由风险调整后的资产来衡量,巴克莱资产只占到了银行总额的一半左右。

Mr Varley has long said that the firm’s “aspirational” target should be that investment banking generates a third of profits. Mr Diamond seems less keen on this exact split—“let’s not get hung up on precise numbers,” he says. But he does reckon that for BarCap, “Lehman was four to five years’ worth of growth in one deal,” and that “we do need to get more balanced.”

瓦利先生长期以来一直表示银行“梦寐以求”的目标应是投资银行产生三分之一的利润。戴蒙德先生似乎对于确切的划分不感兴趣—“我们不要拘泥在精确的数字上,”他说。但他的确认为对于巴克莱资本来说,“雷曼的一单交易抵得上四至五年的增长”,而且“我们的确需要更平衡一些。”

The benefits to shareholders of an independent BarCap look overstated too. It gains from being part of a bigger, lower-risk firm. At a Lehman Brothers conference on September 8th 2008, days before the American broker collapsed, Mr Diamond emphasised just this, noting that universal banks were proving resilient. Looking back he says the crisis “reinforced” his belief in the universal-banking model.

巴克莱资本独立运作对于股东的好处似乎也被夸大了。作为一个大而低风险的银行的一部分,对其是有益处的。2008年9月8日(雷曼破产前数日),在雷曼兄弟的一次会议上,戴蒙德先生强调了这一点,提到全能制银行富有弹性。回首往事他说这次危机加深了他对全能制银行的信心。

Barclays does not use retail deposits to finance risky investment-banking activities—at the retail and corporate-banking units, loans already exceed deposits, meaning there is no big surplus of funds to lend to BarCap anyway. But by being part of Barclays, which is implicitly guaranteed by the government, BarCap can probably borrow more cheaply. It has some £220 billion of unsecured borrowings, the vast majority of the group’s total. Were BarCap independent, and forced to pay an interest rate of, say, half a percentage point more, that would wipe out a fifth of its profits.

巴克莱没有用小额零星存款来给充满风险的投资银行业务提供资金—在小额银行和企业银行单元,贷款额已经超过了存款额,意味着不管怎样没有多余的资金可以借给巴克莱资本。但是作为巴克莱的一部分,而且有政府暗中担保,巴克莱资本可能获得更便宜的贷款。它有着2200亿英镑无抵押贷款,占到了集团总数的绝大部分。如果巴克莱资本独立了,并且被迫支付大约0.5%及以上的利率,那它五分之一的利润将化为乌有。

Of course the idea of the utility subsidising the borrowing costs of the investment bank annoys politicians and regulators. Mr Diamond has two lines of defence. The first is to show that Barclays has got much safer. As well as bolstering its capital it has built up its pile of liquid assets to a massive £160 billion. These could be used to repay debt if borrowing markets froze. The second line of defence is cruder but probably more effective: to join Britain’s other two successful international banks, HSBC and Standard Chartered, in threatening to shift its headquarters from Britain if a break-up is mandated (see article).

当然,公共事业来补贴投资银行借贷成本的想法令政治家和监管者大为恼火。戴蒙德先生有两道防线。第一道防线是表明巴克莱已经变得更安全。除了进一步巩固其资本,它还积累了高达1600亿英镑的流动资产。如果借贷市场冻结的话,这些资本可以用来偿还债务。第二道防线更粗糙但也可能更有效:加入英国其他两大成功国际银行(汇丰和渣打)的行列:如果分拆被批准的话,则以将总部撤出伦敦作为威胁。(见文章)

Since the crisis Mr Varley has shown a deft political touch, with contrite interview performances on British television. Mr Diamond can electrify a room full of millionaires in Manhattan’s upper east side, but he must now become the banking equivalent of President Nixon in China. Having operated BarCap successfully as a fief, he needs to unite Barclays’ disparate operations—“there’s a lot more we can do to integrate this business,” he says. And having made his name, and a vast fortune, as an investment banker, he now must help persuade the British establishment and public that banks are a national asset, not a liability.

从金融危机发生以来,瓦利先生一直显示出了敏锐的政治触觉,但对英国电视台采访时的表现却充满懊悔。戴蒙德先生能把曼哈顿上东区满屋的百万富翁的情绪调动起来,但是他现在必须成为银行界的尼克松总统(尼克松成功地和中国恢复外交关系)。继巴克莱资本的成功运营之后,戴蒙德先生需要促使巴克莱不同的业务联合起来—“在整合业务方面我们还有很多事情要做,”他说道。作为投资银行家而成名并获得大笔财富之后的他,现在必须说服英国企业和民众——银行是一种国家资产而不是债务。

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