Archive for May, 2007

A banking innovators forum

Just discovered James Gardner‘s latest idea of an innovators forum to help ideas sprout within financial organizations. As James noted, I think this could very well be complementary to what BarCampBank is trying to do.

In fact, BarCampBank is trying to incubate innovations from the outside of financial organizations. While some innovations may be smoothly re-integrated in time within current organizations, some could prove disruptive and create totally new organizations.

This innovators forum would aim at creating innovations from within. In my view, the unconference format could then prove very powerful to unleash innovative ideas and see the emergence of critical mass to change things rapidly.

The two are in fact very synergetic (a word M&A people like very much). I’m eager to see this forum start and look for opportunities of cooperation with BarCampBank.

Private Capital Markets

The Economist released this week an interesting article on the subject of financial exchanges. This gives a broad view of the sweeping changes currently taking place in the world of capital markets.

I’ve been thinking lately quite a lot on the more specific subject concerning private equity placements and ways to create liquidity. I’ve discovered in the process several places doing interesting things like Entrex or others.

What is striking is that the Market is creating many alternatives to the cumbersome machines that the public exchanges have become: selling shares under limited scrutinity, selling blocks of shares between big players,.. It should be remembered that some of these liberties have progressively and conciously been banned from the public markets to prevent small investors from being abused or having big players acting according their own set of rules. It is also interesting to see that a lot of these are genuine innovations made possible by the advent of new technologies,  better understanding of risks and the creation of clever mechanisms to handle complex contracts.

While the good old public capital markets are becoming more and more global, it should be noted that the population of capital markets at large may be becoming more and more distributed.

Virgin acquires majority stake in CircleLending

The announcement of Virgin’s acquisitive move is interesting on two fronts.

First, with a major household name like Virgin, peer-to-peer lending is gaining respectability (funny indeed).

Second, Richard Branson – even if categorize has a respectable lord – has always been a hell of a disruptor; so acquisition should be hinting the diehards that there’s definitely something cooking up.

BarCampBank in Seattle

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Jesse Robbins from Black Rock Federal Credit Union just announced here that there will be a BarCampBank in Seattle. That’s really  wonderful news!!!

You can start registering on the official BarCampBankSeattle wiki page. Please sign-up and spread the word, I think we have a lot to discuss on innovations in banking and finance and would love to meet you there.

Private Equiliquidity

Private Equities have received a lot of attention lately. Due to several reasons I won’t detail in this post, they have a clear advantage in term of costs compared to Public Equities. One thing they definitely miss is the liquidity their public siblings usually enjoy.

I’d like to present on this post an idea I’ve playing with for a while: securitizing pools of private equities to offer liquidity to their holders. The schema would go like this: You first create a vehicle on a pool of private companies within a specific sector, industry. The administrators of the vehicle then acts as market makers for the different companies, issueing shares of the vehicle in exchange of private shares on bids and asks terms. The vehicle itself is traded on a public market, offering the liquidity private investors are seeking after they exchanged their shares against securities of the vehicle, then sold these securities on the public market.

There are already funds that are floated on public markets. They offer to their investors the liquidity they would miss otherwise. They also offer a good mechanism to assess value of the funds’ portfiolios correcting awkward valuations that accouting principles can sometime  provide on the assets of these funds.

What would be rather novel I think is that people owning private shares would actually invest by providing their shares to the vehicle. With a continuous market making from the administrators of the vehicle, they would not only gain liquidity, but also a continuous valuation of their shares against the shares of the vehicle, and public market would provide valuation of the shares of the vehicle for the entire portfolio – something easier to do for public investors.

If you’d like to discuss the subject of private equity and liquidity, please join us within the BarCampBank where we exchange ideas on these topics and many others.