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INDUSTRY VETERANS LAUNCH OCA CONSULTING TO DELIVER SUPERIOR OPERATIONAL, COMPLIANCE, ACCOUNTING AND DUE DILIGENCE SOLUTIONS TO START-UP AND EMERGING PRIVATE FUNDS AND INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS

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INDUSTRY VETERANS LAUNCH OCA CONSULTING TO DELIVER SUPERIOR OPERATIONAL, COMPLIANCE, ACCOUNTING AND DUE DILIGENCE SOLUTIONS TO START-UP AND EMERGING PRIVATE FUNDS AND INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS

Industry luminaries Ken Glynn, Jon Bartner and Bob Beinish proudly announce the launch of OCA Consulting, a new professional services firm that empowers early-stage private funds and institutional investors with an outsourced executive suite of experienced personnel without the risk and long-term commitment of making multiple senior-level hires. The partners at OCA are all proven industry veterans and have served as both allocators and fund officers, affording them a deep understanding of the investment process and operational challenges facing managers today.

“Most private funds face a dilemma early in their growth cycle: commit time, money and resources in an attempt to generate alpha, or hire senior non-investment personnel to support the business and create an institutional infrastructure. OCA solves this problem and helps firms develop the necessary infrastructure to operate efficiently, compete for investor assets and meet critical regulatory requirements today and in the years ahead,” said Ken Glynn, CPA, CFA, and Finance Partner at OCA Consulting.

OCA’s Solutions include:

  • C-Suite Services: OCA provides institutional caliber solutions for small and emerging private funds seeking to outsource CFO, COO and CCO roles to tenured experts. OCA’s C-Suite services are tailored for each client and can fulfill the full spectrum of critical operational, compliance and accounting needs for all types of private funds. The OCA team provides high-touch services to handle all non-investment aspects of a private fund’s business, freeing the portfolio manager to concentrate on the generation of alpha.
  • General Consulting: With a strong understanding that new fund formation can be costly and complex OCA can assist new funds with all of aspects of building a high-quality compliance program, help structure entities, and identify, establish and maintain key relationships with service providers.
  • Due Diligence: OCA assists pensions, fund of funds, and family offices in performing thorough operational due diligence on proposed investments to assess operational risks. Investor clients can outsource the entire ODD process to OCA or utilize their experts in specific areas where additional expertise is needed.

Ken Glynn, CPA, CFA, is the Finance Partner for OCA Consulting where he supports private funds in efficiently managing accounting processes that touch on all areas necessary to support a fund’s growth. He has overseen relationships with administrators, prime brokers and audit teams ensuring effective interplay between funds and their service providers. Prior to OCA, Ken was the CFO for Saiers Capital, where he instituted processes to manage large-scale transactional flows and supported the fund’s auditors to prepare the annual audited financial statements. Before Saiers Capital, Ken served as the Director of the New York Fund Accounting and Client Service Groups at GlobeOp Financial Services and was the CFO of The Atlantic Advisors, a hedge fund acquired by HSBC Asset Management in 2005. He began his career as a flight officer in the U.S. Navy prior to entering the financial services industry. Ken earned an MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business and a B.S. in Computer Science from Lehigh University.

Jon Bartner is the Operations Partner for OCA Consulting and assists private funds in streamlining their processes through optimization of infrastructure and technology with an emphasis on cost reduction and personnel efficiency. He has managed all non-investment operations for hedge funds and has managerial experience across operations, accounting, technology, legal and compliance functions. Previously as the COO for Saiers Capital he was instrumental in building out all operational processes and managed a platform that allowed for the seamless execution and clearing of thousands of trades per day while minimizing operational risk. Under Jon’s guidance the firm routinely passed operational due diligence exams conducted by some of the industry’s largest investors. Prior to Saiers Jon was the COO at QRT Management and began his career as an equity derivatives market maker on the floor of the American Stock Exchange. Jon graduated with a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

Bob Beinish is the Compliance Partner for OCA Consulting where he assists private funds in creating and enforcing compliance policies and procedures designed to meet the demands of regulators. He has extensive experience in dealing with complex compliance obligations imposed by agencies overseeing a wide array of products in numerous countries. Previously, as the Chief Compliance & Risk Officer for Saiers Capital he led the firm through routine examinations conducted by the SEC, NFA and various self-regulatory organizations. He built the firm’s compliance program and was responsible for testing and enforcement of the program. Prior to joining Saiers, Bob was Director of Risk Management for a multi-family office and was responsible for operational due diligence and the selection of private funds for the firm’s clients.  He began his career in finance as the managing member and compliance officer for Red Rock Trading, an American Stock Exchange member firm. Bob graduated with a B.A. from the University of Michigan.

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Oil extends losses as Texas prepares to ramp up output

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Oil extends losses as Texas prepares to ramp up output 1

By Devika Krishna Kumar

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices fell for a second day on Friday, retreating further from recent highs as Texas energy companies began preparations to restart oil and gas fields shuttered by freezing weather.

Brent crude futures were down 33 cents, or 0.5%, at $63.60 a barrel by 11:06 a.m. (1606 GMT) U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 60 cents, or 1%, to $59.92.

This week, both benchmarks had climbed to the highest in more than a year.

“Price pullback thus far appears corrective and is slight within the context of this month’s major upside price acceleration,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates.

Unusually cold weather in Texas and the Plains states curtailed up to 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude production and 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas, analysts estimated.

Texas refiners halted about a fifth of the nation’s oil processing amid power outages and severe cold.

Companies were expected to prepare for production restarts on Friday as electric power and water services slowly resume, sources said.

“While much of the selling relates to a gradual resumption of power in the Gulf coast region ahead of a significant temperature warmup, the magnitude of this week’s loss of supply may require further discounting given much uncertainty regarding the extent and possible duration of lost output,” Ritterbusch said.

Oil fell despite a surprise drop in U.S. crude stockpiles in the week to Feb. 12, before the big freeze. Inventories fell by 7.3 million barrels to 461.8 million barrels, their lowest since March, the Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday. [EIA/S]

The United States on Thursday said it was ready to talk to Iran about returning to a 2015 agreement that aimed to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Still, analysts did not expect near-term reversal of sanctions on Iran that were imposed by the previous U.S. administration.

“This breakthrough increases the probability that we may see Iran returning to the oil market soon, although there is much to be discussed and a new deal will not be a carbon-copy of the 2015 nuclear deal,” said StoneX analyst Kevin Solomon.

(Additional reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar in London and Roslan Khasawneh in Singapore and Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Editing by Jason Neely, David Goodman and David Gregorio)

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Analysis: Carmakers wake up to new pecking order as chip crunch intensifies

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Analysis: Carmakers wake up to new pecking order as chip crunch intensifies 2

By Douglas Busvine and Christoph Steitz

BERLIN (Reuters) – The semiconductor crunch that has battered the auto sector leaves carmakers with a stark choice: pay up, stock up or risk getting stuck on the sidelines as chipmakers focus on more lucrative business elsewhere.

Car manufacturers including Volkswagen, Ford and General Motors have cut output as the chip market was swept clean by makers of consumer electronics such as smartphones – the chip industry’s preferred customers because they buy more advanced, higher-margin chips.

The semiconductor shortage – over $800 worth of silicon is packed into a modern electric vehicle – has exposed the disconnect between an auto industry spoilt by decades of just-in-time deliveries and an electronics industry supply chain it can no longer bend to its will.

“The car sector has been used to the fact that the whole supply chain is centred around cars,” said McKinsey partner Ondrej Burkacky. “What has been overlooked is that semiconductor makers actually do have an alternative.”

Automakers are responding to the shortage by lobbying governments to subsidize the construction of more chip-making capacity.

In Germany, Volkswagen has pointed the finger at suppliers, saying it gave them timely warning last April – when much global car production was idled due to the coronavirus pandemic – that it expected demand to recover strongly in the second half of the year.

That complaint by the world’s No.2 volume carmaker cuts little ice with chipmakers, who say the auto industry is both quick to cancel orders in a slump and to demand investment in new production in a recovery.

“Last year we had to furlough staff and bear the cost of carrying idle capacity,” said a source at one European semiconductor maker, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“If the carmakers are asking us to invest in new capacity, can they please tell us who will pay for that idle capacity in the next downturn?”

LOW-TECH CUSTOMER

The auto industry spends around $40 billion a year on chips – about a tenth of the global market. By comparison, Apple spends more on chips just to make its iPhones, Mirabaud tech analyst Neil Campling reckons.

Moreover, the chips used in cars tend to be basic products such as micro controllers made under contract at older foundries – hardly the leading-edge production technology in which chipmakers would be willing to invest.

“The suppliers are saying: ‘If we continue to produce this stuff there is nowhere else for it to go. Sony isn’t going to use it for a Playstation 5 or Apple for its next iPhone’,” said Asif Anwar at Strategy Analytics.

Chipmakers were surprised by the panicked reaction of the German car industry, which persuaded Economy Minister Peter Altmaier to write a letter in January to his counterpart in Taiwan to ask its semiconductor makers to supply more chips.

No extra supplies were forthcoming, with one German industry source joking that the Americans stood a better chance of getting more chips from Taiwan because they could at least park an aircraft carrier off the coast – referring to the ability of the United States to project power in Asia.

Closer to home, a source at another European chipmaker expressed disbelief at the poor understanding at one carmaker of how it operates.

“We got a call from one auto maker that was desperate for supply. They said: Why don’t you run a night shift to increase production?” this person said.

“What they didn’t understand is that we have been running a night shift since the beginning.”

NO QUICK FIX

While Infineon, the leading supplier of chips to the global auto industry, and Robert Bosch, the top ‘Tier 1’ parts supplier, both plan to commission new chip plants this year, there is little chance of supply shortages easing soon.

Specialist chipmakers like Infineon outsource some production of automotive chips to contract manufacturers led by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), but the Asian foundries are currently prioritising high-end electronics makers as they come up against capacity constraints.

Over the longer term, the relationship between chip makers and the car industry will become closer as electric vehicles are more widely adopted and features such as assisted and autonomous driving develop, requiring more advanced chips.

But, in the short term, there is no quick fix for the lack of chip supply: IHS Markit estimates that the time it takes to deliver a microcontroller has doubled to 26 weeks and shortages will only bottom out in March.

That puts the production of 1 million light vehicles at risk in the first quarter, says IHS Markit. European chip industry executives and analysts agree that supply will not catch up with demand until later in the year.

Chip shortages are having a “snowball effect” as auto makers idle some capacity to prioritize building profitable models, said Anwar at Strategy Analytics, who forecasts a drop in car production in Europe and North America of 5%-10% in 2021.

The head of Franco-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics, Jean-Marc Chery, forecasts capacity constraints will affect carmakers until mid-year.

“Up to the end of the second quarter, the industry will have to manage at the lean inventory level,” Chery told a recent Goldman Sachs conference.

(Douglas Busvine from Berlin and Christoph Steitz from Frankfurt; Additional reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Gilles Gillaume in Paris; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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Aussie and sterling hit multi-year highs on recovery bets

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Aussie and sterling hit multi-year highs on recovery bets 3

By Tommy Wilkes

LONDON (Reuters) – The Australian dollar rose to near a three-year high and the British pound scaled $1.40 for the first time since 2018 on optimism about economic rebounds in the two countries and after the U.S. dollar was knocked by disappointing jobs data.

The U.S. currency had been rising in recent days as a jump in Treasury yields on the back of the so-called reflation trade drew investors. But an unexpected increase in U.S. weekly jobless claims soured the economic outlook and sent the dollar lower overnight.

On Friday it traded down 0.3% against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index at 90.309.

The Aussie rose 0.8% to $0.784, its highest since March 2018. The currency, which is closely linked to commodity prices and the outlook for global growth, has been helped by a recent rally in commodity prices.

The New Zealand dollar also gained, and was not far off a more than two-year high, while the Canadian dollar rose too.

Sterling rose to $1.4009 on Friday, an almost three-year high amid Britain’s aggressive vaccination programme.

Given the size of Britain’s vital services sector, analysts say the faster it can reopen the economy, the better for the currency. Sterling was also helped by better-than-expected purchasing managers index flash survey data for February.

The U.S. dollar has been weighed down by a string of soft labour data, even as other indicators have shown resilience, and as President Joe Biden’s pandemic relief efforts take shape, including a proposed $1.9 trillion spending package.

Despite the recent rise in U.S. yields, many analysts think they won’t climb too much higher, limiting the benefit for the dollar.

“Our view remains that the Fed will hold the line and remain very cautious about tapering asset purchases. We think it will keep communicating that tightening is very far off, which should dampen pro-dollar sentiment,” said UBS Global Wealth Management strategist Gaétan Peroux and analyst Tilmann Kolb.

ING analysts said “the rise in rates will be self-regulating, meaning the dollar need not correct too much higher”.

They see the greenback index trading down to the 90.10 to 91.05 range.

U.S. dollar

Aussie and sterling hit multi-year highs on recovery bets 4

The euro rose 0.4% to $1.2134. The single currency showed little reaction to purchasing manager index data, which showed a slowdown in business activity in February. However, factories had their busiest month in three years, buoying sentiment.

The dollar bought 105.39 yen, down 0.3% and a continued retreat from the five-month high of 106.225 reached Wednesday.

(Editing by Hugh Lawson and Pravin Char)

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