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Credit Suisse’s Asia decision making to stay in the region after overhaul

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November 8, 2021

By Scott Murdoch and Anshuman Daga

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Credit Suisse’s key decision making power for Asia Pacific will stay in the region despite the previously separate division being integrated into the bank’s broader structure as part of its new strategy, its regional chief executive said.

The Swiss-based bank last week said Asia Pacific would no longer be a stand alone division and its wealth management and investment banking units would be absorbed into global divisions as part of a paring back of the bank.

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The decision has stoked worries from local bankers who fear a loss of autonomy could contribute to the bank’s already declining market share in key investment banking divisions in Asia, two sources said.

“We have always worked together with our global colleagues, whether they are in Europe or the U.S., for example on deals that have required a global solution for clients, and the collaboration across APAC will also continue. Nothing will change on that front,” Helman Sitohang, Credit Suisse’s Asia Pacific chief executive told Reuters on Monday.

Sources said Credit Suisse’s standalone Asia private bank was a differentiator for both customers and bankers.

Under that structure, senior managers usually had leeway to take decisions such as balance sheet lending and staff promotions, unlike many private banks in the region that relied a lot on their headquarters for key approvals.

One source said that despite assurances by management, there were worries that risk taking would be curtailed and the speed of decision making might slow down.

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“As a region, we continue to be empowered to make decisions such as those related to market presence, key clients and HR-related matters, and at the same time maintain our speed of decision-making and connectivity to the global infrastructure that certain deals require,” Sitohang said.

For years, Credit Suisse has been one of the most active investment banks in developing markets such as Indonesia and Vietnam, as it won mandates from entrepreneurs and business families, often backed by financing.

Asia Pacific contributes about 20% of Credit Suisse’s global revenue, according to its most recent financial results. Its investment banking market share in Asia Pacific, including Japan, has fallen so far in 2021, according to Refinitiv data.

The bank sits tenth on the announced mergers and acquisition league table with a market share of 3.1%, down from 4.9% for the full year in 2020.

In equity capital markets – a key driver of fee revenue in Asia – it has a 2% market share, down from 3.1%, the figures showed.

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Sitohang said Credit Suisse’s Asian investment banking performance had been “difficult because of the various headwinds we have had as a firm globally”, pointing to scandals involving hedge fund Archegos and supply chain financier Greensill.

But he was confident the business could rebound.

“The intent is to come back strongly and regain our market position,” he said.

(Reporting by Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong and Anshuman Daga in Singapore; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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‘Flash mob’ thieves target U.S. retail stores on Black Friday

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November 28, 2021

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Black Friday shoppers weren’t the only ones out hunting for bargains on the day after Thanksgiving. Thieves were busy as well.

Police in Los Angeles and cities elsewhere across the country spent much of their holiday weekend patrols looking for suspects in a spate of “flash mob” robberies on Friday, part of a surging U.S. crime trend in which groups of thieves swarm a store, ransack the shelves and flee.

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Authorities also have used the term “smash-and-grab” to describe the trend.

At least two such robberies were reported on Saturday by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. A local television station, KCAL-TV, counted a total of six smash-and-grab heists on the city’s west side alone on Friday.

In one incident, a group of eight men entered a Home Depot outlet at a shopping mall in Lakewood, south of downtown Los Angeles, walked directly to the tool aisle and snatched a bunch of hammers, sledgehammers and crowbars valued at about $400 before making their getaway, the sheriff’s office said.

According to L.A. television station KTTV, the Home Depot robbery on Friday night involved up to 20 suspects who pulled up to the store in as many as 10 cars and donned ski masks before raiding the tool aisle.

“We tried to stop them,” store employee Luis Romo told KTTV. “We closed the front entrance, and they put their sledgehammers up and whoever got in the way, they were going to hurt them.”

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The Los Angeles City News Service said four suspects in that robbery were arrested on Saturday by Beverly Hills police.

In a similar incident Friday afternoon, a group of 10 men or more invaded a store in the city’s Fairfax district and started grabbing merchandise without paying for it, pushing employees out of the way before fleeing the scene, according to LAPD.

Police are investigating possible ties between that incident and a flurry of other robberies and retail thefts on Friday and earlier in the week, including two smash-and-grabs reported on Wednesday, an LAPD spokesperson said.

The rash of retail crime prompted the LAPD to place its officers on a citywide tactical alert on Friday afternoon.

Mass robberies also were reported on Friday at two Best Buy electronics stores in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, one of them involving as many as 30 suspects, while a spree of pre-dawn retail burglaries were under investigation in Chicago.

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In one of the biggest flash-mob robberies reported on the West Coast in recent days, police in the San Francisco suburb of Walnut Creek were seeking about 80 suspects who swarmed and ransacked a department store last Saturday.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Paul Simao)

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U.S. Black Friday shoppers tapered online splurge, as some returned to stores

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November 27, 2021

By Arriana McLymore and Richa Naidu

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) – U.S. shoppers spent slightly less online during Black Friday this year, with many venturing back to physical stores despite coronavirus fears, tight supplies, and retailers’ efforts to encourage earlier holiday purchases.

For the first time ever, spending online during Black Friday – traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year – fell, reversing the growth of recent years, according to data from Adobe Analytics, a wing of Adobe’s business that specializes in data insights and tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 U.S. retailers.

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Retailers lured shoppers to make holiday purchases online as early as September this year, because the supply-chain logjam has prevented them from quickly replenishing year-end merchandise. Shoppers’ total outlay online during Black Friday was roughly $8.9 billion, less than the $9 billion in 2020, Adobe said. Spending online during Thanksgiving Day was flat at $5.1 billion, Adobe said.

Many retailers closed physical stores on Thanksgiving this year, as they did in 2020, amid a labor shortage and the coronavirus pandemic. Stores reopened the day after Thanksgiving, and shopper visits increased by 47.5% compared to 2020, but fell by 28.3% when compared to 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, according to data from Sensormatic Solutions.

Supply-chain challenges and shipping delays may have prompted shoppers to visit stores in order to increase the chances of securing gifts in time for Christmas. More are making purchases online that they can pick up in-store, which keeps shipping costs down.

Macy’s, Walmart, Target and Kohl’s, for example, gave shoppers the flexibility to shop online, in stores or through hybrid methods, walked away as winners on Black Friday, said Louis Navellier, chairman of investor Navellier & Associates.

Of those purchasing online, slightly more used their smartphones. Canadian e-commerce company Shopify said the number of shoppers on its platform who used smartphones to make purchases increased this year to 72% from 67% last year.

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Retailers’ moves to encourage buying holiday gifts earlier could also lessen the importance of Cyber Monday, the first Monday after Thanksgiving.

(Reporting by Arriana McLymore and Richa Naidu, Aakriti Bhalla and Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Canada’s Shopify records Black Friday sales up 21%

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November 27, 2021

(Reuters) – Canadian e-commerce company Shopify Inc recorded worldwide sales of nearly $2.9 billion on Black Friday, an increase of about 21% in comparison to last year, the company said Saturday.

New York, London and Los Angeles were among the top-selling cities, the company said, while apparel and accessories was the top-selling product category.

Shopify also said it funded 23,000+ tonnes of carbon removal to counteract emissions from the delivery of every order placed on its platform on Black Friday.

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(Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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