Bershidsky on Europe: ECB Regulator Named
Here's today's look at some of the top stories on markets and politics in Europe:
ECB appoints Frenchwoman as chief bank supervisor
Daniele Nouy, 62, an experienced French bank and insurance regulator who played a key role in the drafting of the Basel bank guidelines, has been selected by the European Central Bank to lead the unit that will take over the regulation of the euro area's 130 biggest banks next year. Nouy will be the first woman in the top ranks of ECB management, a nod to the European Parliament, which has to approve the appointment and has previously expressed concern about the ECB's all-male leadership. The Frenchwoman is reputed to be tough. In French banking circles she is feared as an extremely demanding regulator, an important quality in Nouy's new position: A year-long review of the big banks' balance sheets is already under way, and the new ECB official will have to persuade bankers and national regulators to take action once the results are in.
Putin's friend Russia'sbest-paidmanager
Igor Sechin, chief executive of state-owned oil company Rosneft, is Russia's highest-paid manager, according to a list compiled by the Russian edition of Forbes magazine. The magazine estimates that Sechin, formerly a close aide and still a good friend to President Vladimir Putin, made $50 million in 2012, his first full year as a business executive. The top brass at Russia's state-owned companies are making more than their private sector counterparts, and the public sector is growing faster. The heads of government-controlled bank VTB and natural gas monopoly Gazprom are second and third on Forbes' list. After a brief spell of chaotic capitalism, Russia is quickly moving back to a state-controlled economy, except now the people who run it are paid in the same range as Fortune 500 CEOs. There is no excuse for such payouts, except maybe the fact that Oracle's Larry Ellison made twice as much as Sechin in 2012.
BMW expects record sales in 2013
Ian Robertson, BMW management board member for sales and marketing, said the German luxury automaker will have a record year in 2013. Between January and October, BMW sold 1.6 million cars, 7.3 percent more than in the first 10 months of 2012. Sales are growing especially fast in Japan, South Korea and China, where BMW predicted a 10 percent increase this year but is likely to see 20 percent growth. The automaker will also set a new sales record in the U.S., though it has fallen behind rival Daimler in this market. As the Asian and North American economies return to healthier growth, it is the manufacturers of high-end products who benefit first: It takes time for prosperity to filter down to the mass market. In Europe, the economy is still too fragile even for this kind of limited pick-up: It is still budget car land.
Ireland leadsEurope in tech entrepreneurship
The Wall Street Journal analyzed data on venture capital attracted by tech startups in Europe since 2003 and arrived at the conclusion that Ireland leads the old continent in tech entrepreneurship. It attracted four times the European average in venture capital per capita. The economic crisis had little effect on the activity: 131 of Ireland's 311 tech VC-backed deals came after 2009. Sweden, the U.K., Finland and Denmark complete the top five of the ranking. Ireland is better known as a tax haven for global tech companies, which employ thousands of people there, but the ecosystem emerging around them spawns plenty of local projects to draw investors' attention. Even so, Ireland's startups still lag behind U.S. and Israel.
EADS plans thousands of job cuts in defense unit
The European aerospace company EADS, recently renamed Airbus, plans to cut about 20 percent of the workforce in three business units - Cassidian, Airbus Military and Astrium - as they are merged into a new division called Airbus Defense & Space. The approximately 8,000 cuts are necessitated by more than just the overlap between the units: EADS customers have cut their defense budgets, and the company has to adjust production. Tough times have arrived for Airbus chief executive Tom Enders: He will have to negotiate the layoffs with the strong labor unions in Germany and France. The success of the EADS reorganization hinges on the results of these talks.
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Leonid Bershidsky at email@example.com