Analysis: Euro woes tilt financial power in Asia's favor

Mon Aug 20, 2012 1:04am EDT
 
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By Alan Wheatley, Global Economics Correspondent

LONDON (Reuters) - As European banks retrench to recover from the global financial meltdown, they are finding ready buyers in Asia for everything from loans to entire insurance and broking operations.

There are other tell-tale signs of a shift in power: this year's two biggest initial public offerings after Facebook (FB.O: Quote) were launched not in the United States or Europe, but in Malaysia.

Yet perhaps what is more striking is that, with one or two exceptions, Asian financial firms are not doing more in Europe itself to capitalize on the euro zone's festering debt and banking crisis.

Take China. The economy has more than doubled in size in five years. It has some of the biggest banks in the world. And its appetite for snapping up natural resources is undiminished: witness last month's $15.1 billion agreement by state oil company CNOOC Ltd (0883.HK: Quote) to buy Canada's Nexen Inc NXY.TO, the biggest foreign acquisition to date by a Chinese company.

When it comes to the financial sector, however, the glass is half-empty, not half-full, said Andre Loesekrug-Pietri, chairman of A Capital, a China-Europe investment fund.

"There's a front-cover story every other month about China buying up the world, but China is still a very small player in international M&A," he said.

WAITING GAME

David Marsh, co-founder of a forum in London that connects central banks and sovereign wealth funds with banks and asset managers, said the West no longer had a monopoly on innovation and dynamism in financial services.   Continued...

 
A man walks past a euro symbol painted in red on a branch of Santander bank in central Madrid, September 13, 2011. REUTERS/Susana vera