Structured products professionals are never shy of trying something new. This month we report on how UBS, in partnership with Standard & Poor's (S&P), has created a new global index series comprising 84 global indexes to provide price and accumulation data for listed infrastructure and utilities companies around the world, based on their free-float market capitalisation (see page 32). The index could serve as the underlying for a new series of structured products based on the emerging asset class, some market participants say.
Structured products specialists should also be smiling this month with the news that Merrill Lynch is set to distribute its products via Fixed Income Securities, a US-based broker-dealer and registered investment adviser (see page 35). Finally, it seems, the distribution landscape for structured products in the US is changing. Investment banks are offering their products to external securities brokers and dealers, paving the way towards the Holy Grail of open architecture.
In fact, the Americas are enjoying healthy sales of structured products. In this issue we honour the best in the Americas with our inaugural awards for the region. These were particularly competitive awards and Structured Products was impressed by the breadth of innovative structures that have been brought to market during the past year.
One thing worth noting, however, is that despite the opportunities for structurers and distributors in the region, European banks are arguably just as dominant there as they are in their own countries. BNP Paribas picks up our innovation of the year award for its $1.7 billion equity transaction with computer giant Hewlett-Packard, while SG claims structurer of the year, North America, and ABN Amro scoops the distributor of the year award for Latin America.
Maybe American banks will see business prosper and innovation thrive as a result of open archirecture. If this proves to be the case, next year's awards could tell a very different story.
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PS: Structured Products magazine has launched a daily online news service, 'Structured Products Extra,' on our home page at www.structuredproductsonline.com. If you haven't had a look so far, I would strongly encourage you to do so.