International Wrap: News in Brief

International Wrap: News in Brief

International Wrap: News in Brief U.K. financial advisor gets six years in prison

A financial advisor who conned more than 50 people out of millions of dollars has been sentenced to six years jail time.

British adviser David Reid admitted to stealing generations of families’ inheritance as part of a long-term scam the police have labelled “disgusting."

The 50-year-old was charged with 23 offences of obtaining money transfer by deception, which spanned over a period of 12 years, The Northern Echo reported. The allegations amounted to almost CDN$6.5 million.

The Northumbria Police alleged that Reid advised his victims to put their money into an offshore account where it was to accrue a higher rate of interest, and payments would be deposited directly into clients’ bank accounts.

However in November 2012 the payments stopped, and it emerged that the account never existed and the supporting documentation was false.

Regulators warn investors of risky loans linked to financial crisis

European regulators are sending out warnings as the risky loans that fell out of favour during the financial crisis have now risen above the credit bubble peak.

The Financial Times reported that debt investors are abandoning normal creditor protections on European leveraged buyout loans as they snap up riskier loans at a faster rate.

European regulators are now increasing their monitoring of lenders’ behaviour after growing volumes of euro-denominated covenant light loans have emerged.

Nearly €8 billion of these ‘cov-lite’ loans were arranged last year, exceeding the €7.73 billion previous peak of 2007, according to data compiled by S&P Capital IQ.

Such loans remove the early warning signs that lenders would traditionally expect when extending credit.

The statistics have alarmed industry heavyweights, who fear a repeat of the risk-taking, which brought the global banking system to the brink of collapse.

Fund managers, keep your eyes on Africa: Seruma

It only took a look at financial statements of the world's largest maker of spirits to convince Larry Seruma that Africa was the next frontier for fund investors.

Reuters reported that Seruma, who was then running a long-short hedge fund, found his big break with Diageo Plc, the company behind the Johnnie Walker, Guinness and Captain Morgan brands.

Diageo's rapid expansion on the continent was such that by 2013, the region accounted for 13 per cent of global revenue.

“Africa accounted for its most profitable business lines and a high-growth, high-return opportunity," Seruma said.

In light of this, he wound down his hedge fund and launched the Nile Pan Africa Fund in November 2010.

The fund, which only invests in small to mid-cap African companies from Cairo to Cape Town, has returned an average of more than 9 per cent a year over the last three years through March 19, putting it in the top 5 per cent of emerging market funds tracked by Lipper.

And, although this approach is almost the inverse of the benchmark MSCI Frontier Market index, which has a 43 per cent weight in large companies and is made up chiefly of financial firms, it obviously works.

By comparison 46 per cent of Seruma’s portfolio is in small companies, and another 15 per cent in micro-caps, the smallest of all publicly traded stocks. Only about 12 per cent of the fund is invested in financials.

He focuses on countries such as Nigeria, whose population is expected to double by 2040, and on South Africa-based companies expanding in the sub-Sahara region.

The only downside, he said, is that investors who want to broaden their portfolios to include Africa should expect higher fees.

Seruma grew up in Uganda and now spends about half of the year in Africa and the rest at his headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey.