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Fast growing capital markets group BlueMount Capital has welcomed Melbourne-based corporate advisory and investment banking firm Kennedy Needham to the BlueMount Capital Group, establishing a presence in Melbourne to complement its Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Shanghai offices. As part of the merger, Kennedy Needham will rebrand as BlueMount Capital.

The Chairman of BlueMount Capital Dr Saliba Sassine said: “On behalf of the whole BlueMount Group, I take this opportunity to welcome Kennedy Needham into our Group and we look forward to driving our business nationally and internationally with the Melbourne office.”

Brent Needham, the executive Chairman of Kennedy Needham said “BlueMount Capital’s new combined offering will provide our clients with a stronger national presence and a global reach which Kennedy Needham could not go past.”

Co-Founder of BlueMount Capital, Mr Barry Palte, said the firm was attracted to Kennedy Needham because of its respected team of professionals, established relationships, 30 year successful transaction history and Melbourne base. Furthermore, the expanded network creates a major new player which is unique within Australia.

BlueMount Capital is the exclusive Australian member firm of the International Association of Investment Bankers (IAIB, an international affiliation of investment banks.

Barry Palte, who is also global co-Chairman of IAIB, said: “The combined Group will be able to draw on a truly national and international network to deliver globally relevant solutions to its clients. With 10 IAIB member firms in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, and current new member discussions in China, Japan, Korea and Brazil, our exclusive IAIB membership enables BlueMount Capital as a mid-sized national firm to provide agility and capability while offering genuine global reach and service to our clients.

“Melbourne plays an increasingly important role in a number of cross-border transactions we are working on and we needed the right partner to strengthen our leading market position. With this merger, BlueMount Capital will be able to offer Victorian businesses and investors more services, a stronger national presence, a truly global network and the rich experience of more than 40 experienced professionals operating in both Australia and China.”

BlueMount Capital was established in 2010 with Australian offices in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney. The Group has recently advised on transactions worth more than $1 billion. This includes China Dairy Corporation’s $300 million market capitalisation IPO; the sale of PinkBerry, one of the leading frozen yoghurt store chains in the world, together with a US based IAIB member; and the $69 million market capitalisation IPO of Boyuan, the first Chinese property developer to list on the Australian Stock Exchange. BlueMount Capital also advised one of China’s largest groups on its bids for State Super Financial Services and Greenstone Group, both of which had enterprise values in excess of $1billion.

Kennedy Needham is currently undertaking an equity raising of up to $200 million for Dairy Farm Investments. The firm recently acted as lead arranger in the corporate sale of Australian Wholefoods to Patties Foods/Pacific Equity Partners as well as the $35 million corporate sale of Popina Foods to ASX listed Freedom Foods Group.

Summerville was named to her current post in June 2015. Most recently, she served as Executive Director of CFO business support. She joined Ally in 2009 as Chief Administrative Officer for the company’s Treasury function. Prior to Ally, Summerville spent nearly nine years at Bank of America, most recently as the company’s Treasury business support executive. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Company Brief

Ally Financial Inc. ( is a leading digital financial services company and a top 25 U.S. financial holding company offering financial products for consumers, businesses, automotive dealers, and corporate clients. Ally has an award-winning online bank, one of the largest full-service auto finance operations in the country, a complementary auto-focused insurance business, a growing digital wealth management and online brokerage platform, and a trusted corporate finance business offering capital for equity sponsors and middle-market companies.

Alison Summerville (center) joins
Ally volunteers at a local house-building
event in Charlotte, North Carolina

What excited you about the opportunity to join Ally and made you feel it would be the right fit?

I came to Ally because of the people. The leadership team was composed of people I had worked with in the past, and I was loyal to them. I also saw the Ally brand starting to grow, and I knew there were exciting opportunities ahead for the company.

How do you define your role, and do all of your areas of focus interrelate?

My primary focus is to support our CEO, acting as his “COO” if you will, and ensuring a seamless flow of information to the executive team and among all of our leaders.

I’m also responsible for the things that don’t fit neatly into a business function but are critical to our company and to our culture. For example, I am responsible for the Corporate Workplace function, because our facilities are a very important part of our culture. I recently gained responsibility for Corporate Citizenship, which has become a key focus for Ally as we increase our financial education efforts and put greater emphasis on giving back to the communities where we live and work.

How are you able to make sure you’re effectively communicating with and working with the business function leaders and engaging them?

Our executive leadership team is very open with each other and engaged, which helps all of us to work together to accomplish our goals. In my role, effective communication requires trust, respect, honesty, and accountability in terms of following through on the commitments I make.

Will you talk about what corporate workplace means and what it entails?

Ally’s Corporate Workplace group oversees all of our facilities around the country. We have several corporate centers – Charlotte, Detroit, and New York. We also have regional offices and several servicing centers.

What we’ve realized over time is the importance of providing a work environment where people like to be and providing them with work spaces that allow them to collaborate with each other and interact with other groups that aren’t necessarily their teams.

When we invest in our workplace, we’re really investing in our people. We recently consolidated into a new office facility in downtown Detroit, and the modern, colorful, and collaborative space really reflects the revitalization of Detroit and the energy that exists there. We are finding that having a workplace that matches the energy of the city is attractive for recruiting talent and attracting young people, interns, and team members who prefer to work in a vibrant environment. We’ve also learned that by incorporating historical and cultural elements into the space, we have made it feel more personal to the team, and in turn they feel a greater sense of pride in the space and in the company.

For the culture of Ally, how critical is it to be engaged within the local communities where you’re operating?

Community engagement and giving back to the communities where we live and work is a big focus for Ally. Our employees love to go into our communities, and they actively organize and participate in many volunteer activities throughout the year.

We find that giving back is a point of pride for individuals, for teams, and for our entire company. Helping others allows us to connect with our customers, partners, colleagues, and neighbors on a deeper level. It feels great to be making an impact when it comes to important causes like fighting hunger, providing resources for those in need, and supporting financial education.

Inherently, we believe people want to do good, and Ally supports our team members by providing volunteer opportunities and paid volunteer time off. We also have programs that match financial donations from our employees to maximize giving.

Do you look to support causes that in some way align with Ally’s business?

From a corporate perspective, we focus on promoting financial literacy and education through our Ally Wallet Wise program. The program provides free tips, tools, and resources to help people learn important money skills like budgeting, saving, and credit. In addition, we support several national organizations that provide critical resources like food and shelter to the underserved, and we also support a variety of organizations and causes that are important to our employees at the local level.

How deeply ingrained is the focus around building a diverse and inclusive workforce?

We’ve placed increasing emphasis on our diversity and inclusion program in recent years, because we truly believe that bringing together individuals of different races, religions, backgrounds, ages, cultures, and sexual preferences gives us a broader range of viewpoints and perspectives that we can use to better navigate challenges and leverage opportunities. When different people come together at Ally with common goals, we believe there are exciting opportunities for deeper understanding, collaboration, and innovation. To this end, we are focused on continuing to support a culture and work environment that is open, inclusive, and respectful of all individuals.•

Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault expresses full support for expansion of economic relations with Iran. (Photo by AFP)

France is using a visit to Tehran by its Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to show its support for the expansion of economic relations with Iran in the face of growing tensions resulting from what many see as the unfolding anti-Iran approach by US President Donald Trump.        

Ayrault told a meeting of Iranian-French business leaders that last year’s nuclear deal with Iran had opened a new era that had already led to a major expansion of relations between the two countries.     

He said that protecting the Iran nuclear deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – was “extremely important” for Paris.

The French top diplomat emphasized that it was the JCPOA that opened the way for France to move ahead with the expansion of its relations with Iran in all areas.

Ayrault said the expansion of France’s economic ties with Iran would benefit both countries, adding that Paris had never been so eager to develop relations with any other country.

He further named the deals that Iran had already signed with companies Total, Renault and Airbus as examples of French determination to promote economic ties with the Islamic Republic.   

Nevertheless, Ayrault emphasized that the current banking hurdles remaining from the years that Iran was under sanctions still needed to be removed to further facilitate trade between the two countries.

The remarks by the French foreign minister came on the heels of a controversial decision by President Trump to ban Iranian nationals from entering the US.

Apart from Iran, citizens of Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen have also been banned from entering the US for a period of 90 days.

The move drew an immediate reaction from Iran with the country's Foreign Ministry pledging a response in kind.

Read more

    Iran vows to reciprocate US visa ban
    Iran summons Swiss envoy over US travel ban

Ayrault had criticized Trump’s move upon arrival in Tehran on Monday.  He had called for avoiding any move that he said would promote discrimination against nationals of other countries – what he suggested Trump’s order would lead to.   

The French foreign minister – who is heading a delegation of 100 businesspeople in his Tehran trip - had further announced that Paris would double visas for Iranians in 2017 in what was seen as a response to the US ban against Iranians.   

Many Iranians living in the US are already expressing shock at Trump’s decision. The worst affected appears to be a community of about half a million Iranians living in Los Angeles.   

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the same meeting of Iranian-French business leaders in which Ayrault was speaking that Tehran was determined to promote economic relations with the European countries, specifically France.

Zarif said the volume of Iran’s trade with France tripled after the implementation of the JCPOA and the subsequent removal of sanctions against Iran.  Nonetheless, he said there was still room for both countries to further increase their level of mutual trade.  

He further said Iran counted on France – as a party to the JCPOA – to help remove the banking obstacles that were blocking the full exploitation of trade opportunities with Iran.

کتاب عملیات بانکی در عرصه بین الملل -سرفصل ها،ضمائم ،توصیه صاحب‏نظران ارزی و مدیران ارشد بانکی

Investment Consulting &Project Finance


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