As we celebrate Labor Day in the Bay Area, it is clear that summer is coming to an end. I returned to Blackhawk from a week in London, where Gordon Brown and the Labour Party continue to surprise me by still surviving. It looks like Brown will make it until he must call for an election in the spring.
We are evaluating several acquisitions for further expansion in London. In addition, organic growth through global expansion is also a priority. Information needs around pensions are still significant, as plans continue to recover from last year’s stock market debacle. Under Nevin Adams’ editorial leadership we will launch the well-respected Plan Sponsor brand in the United Kingdom and continental Europe. I sense that New York and London will remain the primary global money centers and we need to have a significant presence in each market. Commercial real estate offers similar opportunities to New York and we plan to consolidate our presence in a new headquarters in The City.
Many of London’s private equity players and their bank sponsors are working on restructuring plans. I was interested to see that the Royal Bank of Scotland and Apax have reached an agreement to split Incisive Media. RBS will take a controlling interest in the UK assets of Incisive, while Apax will still control the U.S. based ALM, which was under a separate financial structure with very different covenant requirements. The media industry will continue to be deleveraged throughout the fall, particularly in the newspaper sector.
Mary Claire and I will enjoy several last rounds of summer golf this weekend, and then she will return to New York while I head to Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. In Hong Kong we will attend SWIFT’s Sibos 2009. It is a large conference and exhibition and for many it is one of the financial services industry’s major events. Last year in Vienna it drew over 8,000 attendees. We will be introducing Asset International’s growing portfolio of products and services, including our most recent acquisition, Strategic Insight. Charlie Ruffel and Dominic Hobson will host the event during this 20th anniversary year for Global Custodian. The Trade’s editorial team (we acquired The Trade in June) under John Lee’s leadership will be producing the show dailies, which they have done for close to 10 years. We will be looking for opportunities to further expand our footprint in this fast-growing region, which appears to be recovering at a faster pace than the west.
Fall has also given us the return of the football season in the U.S. The biggest upset of this inaugural weekend of college football was the #20 Brigham Young Cougars beating the #3 Oklahoma Sooners, who with their Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford had their eye on a national championship before last evening. Max Hall, the talented quarterback of BYU, clearly established the Cougars as a contender for a major BCS bowl game, in spite of playing in the Mountain West conference, one that is not insured of BCS Bowl representation.