Asian Markets Trade Weak

Asian stock markets are mostly trading lower on Friday, with investors treading cautiously amid worries about the global economy on the back of recent weak data out of eurozone and China. Fairly upbeat data out of the U.S. and a recovery in oil prices…

Reports: BNP Paribas Cuts U.S. Junk-bond Trading Team; Revamps Investment Bank

French lender BNP Paribas SA (BNPQY.PK,BNP.L) has cut most of its U.S. high-yield bond trading and sales team, according to media reports on Thursday. Meanwhile, the bank said Thursday that it has created a new global-markets unit amid a shake-up of its investment banking division.

BNP Paribas reportedly cut eight employees from the U.S. bond trading group, including Kevin Cook, who headed the region’s high-yield credit sales, and Michael Dowdell, who headed junk-bond trading.

BNP Paribas had expanded its junk-bond business in the U.S. after the financial crisis in 2008 so as to make profits from risky corporate debt. High-yield or “junk” bonds are issued by borrowers rated below investment grade.

BNP Paribas said Thursday that it has renamed its corporate and investment banking to corporate and institutional banking division or CIB, with BNP Paribas Securities Service coming under the governance of the new unit. The new CIB will be focused on two client franchises, corporates and institutionals.

This is the first major shake-up since Yann Gérardin was appointed head of corporate and investment banking in September 2014.

BNP Paribas said that the CIB unit will now be structured around a newly created global markets unit. Gérardin, in addition to his role as Head of BNP Paribas CIB, will manage directly Global Markets. Frédéric Janbon, who previously headed the company’s fixed-income trading unit, has been appointed special advisor to the group general management.

Gérardin said, “Our new CIB focusing on our two client franchises of corporates and institutionals will allow us to meet their expectations more simply and more efficiently. And it will also reinforce our capacity to achieve our development plans as announced earlier this year.”

In order to simplify the regional approach, the company said that the North and Latin America regions, and the Europe and MEA regions, will be combined to create two larger regions – Americas and EMEA. Meanwhile, the APAC region will remain unchanged.

Further, BNP Paribas said that effective January 5, 2015, it has made some appointments. The company named Jean-Yves Fillion as head of the Americas for CIB in addition to his current responsibilities.

In addition, the company named Thomas Mennicken as Head of Corporate Clients Financing and Advisory EMEA, under the supervision of Thierry Varène, who has been named Chairman of Corporate Clients Financing and Advisory EMEA.

Yannick Jung was appointed Head of Corporate Coverage EMEA, while Bruno Tassart was named Head of Financing Solutions EMEA, and Sophie Javary is Head of Corporate Finance EMEA. All the three will report to Mennicken.

Olivier Osty will become head of sales, structuring and trading. In the regions, Pascal Fischer was appointed head of capital markets for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Pierre Rousseau was named Head of APAC Capital Markets, and Bob Hawley was named Head of Americas Capital Markets. All the four will report to Gérardin.

Patrick Colle will continue as CEO of BNP Paribas Securities Services, but will now report to Gérardin.

French prosecutors have reportedly launched a preliminary probe into suspected insider-trading by officials at French lender BNP Paribas. Prosecutors are said to have opened the probe earlier in November and are trying to determine how much senior BNP Paribas managers knew about the bank’s exposure to litigation risks in the U.S. when they sold the company’s shares in 2013.

BNP Paribas, in late June, agreed to pay a record fine of $8.9 billion to U.S. federal and state authorities for conspiring with other entities to deliberately and repeatedly violate longstanding U.S. sanctions against Sudan, Cuba, and Iran.

BNPQY closed Thursday’s trading at $29.92, down $0.52 or 1.71 percent on a volume of 72,929 shares.

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JBS To Acquire Australia’s Primo Smallgoods Group In $1.25 Bln Deal

Brazilian meat giant JBS S.A. (JBSAY) agreed Thursday to acquire Australis’s Primo Smallgoods Group in an all-cash and debt free deal valued at A$1.45 billion or $1.25 billion. The business will be acquired through Australia’s largest fresh meats processor JBS Australia Pty Ltd., a subsidiary of JBS S.A.

The closure of the deal is subject to approval of the Australian regulatory authorities.

Founded in 1985, Primo is the largest ham, bacon and smallgoods producer in Australia and New Zealand. It owns leading brands such as Primo Smallgoods, Hans, Beehive Hunter Valley Quality Meats and Primo Quality Meats.

Primo has five key manufacturing plants operating across Australia as well as New Zealand, employing more than 4,000 people. It also has seven distribution centers and 30 retail shops.

JBS, the world’s largest processor of fresh meats, noted that the proposed deal is consistent with its global strategy of expanding its presence in value-added products category with well-known brands.

“Primo Group is the leading company in this segment with strong brands and represents an outstanding opportunity to grow our business in Australia and internationally. We are seeing strong annual growth in consumption of processed meat products with good prospects to increase exports of high quality convenience products from the Primo Group’s portfolio,” JBS CEO Wesley Batista said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the deal is also set to leverage the Primo Group’s growing export operations across Asia, including China.

JBS said it expects incremental annual revenue of about A$1.60 billion and EBITDA of A$150 million as a result of the deal. The company projects synergies from the deal of about A$30 million, which will boost projected EBITDA for 2015 to A$180 million.

Primo joined forces in October 2011 with Asia-Pacific based private equity firm Affinity Equity Partners, which acquired 70.1 percent of the company and are now a major shareholder alongside the founding family.

Brent Eastwood, CEO of JBS Australia added, “Primo Group has strong brands and a reputation for high quality products manufactured to the highest level of food safety. There is a great opportunity for JBS to invest in the ongoing growth of this business, both domestically in Australia and New Zealand, and through expanding the sales of Primo Group products into offshore

JBSAY closed Thursday’s regular trading session at $9.00, up $0.15 or 1.69% on a volume of 36,648 shares.

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