World’s 10 biggest banks

March 27, 2008

UBS AG , Zurich, Switzerland

UBS AG is the world’s biggest manager of other people’s money. The bank’s asset stood at $1,963.227 billion as in January 2008.

Present in major financial centres worldwide, UBS has offices in 50 countries. The bank had 81,557 employees on June 30, 2007. It originated in 1747, with its maiden branch coming up in the Swiss region of Valposchiavo.

The new UBS evolved out of a merger of the Union Bank of Switzerland and the Swiss Bank Corporation in June 1998. The merged bank’s new name was originally supposed to be the United Bank of Switzerland. But it had to be named UBS as the proposed name clashed with United Bank SwitzerlandBarclays PLC is a major bank operating in Europe, the United States, West Asia, Latin America, Australia, Asia and Africa. It operates through its subsidiary Barclays Bank PLC.

The bank has registered assets worth $1,951.041 billion. It is also the sponsor of the English Premier League. Forbes Global 2000 ranked Barclays PLC as the 18th largest company in the world in 2007.

The bank’s roots can be traced back to 1690 in London. It borrowed its name from Alexander and David Barclay, who provided credit to slave traders. The bank is headed by Marcus Agius, the group chairman.

BNP Paribas is a major European bank. It was created on May 23, 2000 through the merger of Banque Nationale de Paris and Paribas. As on January 31, the bank’s assets stood at $1,899.186 billion.

It’s history can be traced back to 1869, when a group of bankers and investors, including Adrien Delahante, Edmond Joubert and Henri Cernuschi, founded the Banque de Paris.

The bank employs 162,700 people and operates in 87 countries. The bank is active in the finance, investment and asset management markets.

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, Edinburgh, UK, is the largest banking group in Scotland and the fifth largest in the world by market capitalisation. As on January 31, the bank’s assets stood at $1,705.680 billion.

The bank originated from the Equivalent Society set up by investors in the bankrupt Company of Scotland. The Society was formed to protect the compensation the investors received as part of the arrangements of the 1707 Acts of Union.

Credit Agricole SA is the largest retail banking group in France and the eighth largest in the world, according to The Banker magazine. On January 31, the bank’s assets stood at $1,663.101 billion

Through its subsidiaries, Credit Agricole SA is involved in the following services:

  • Retail banking
  • International retail banking
  • Specialised financial services
  • Asset management, insurance and private banking
  • Corporate and investment Banking
  • Deutsche Bank AG is headquartered in Frankfurt. It employs more than 78,000 people in 76 countries. As on January 31, the bank’s asset stood at $1,485.008 billion.

    Deutsche Bank was founded in Germany in 1870 as a bank for foreign trade in Berlin by private banker Adelbert Delbruck and politician Ludwig Bamberger. Its chief executive officer today is Dr Josef Ackermann.The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd came into being with the merger of The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Limited and UFJ Bank Limited. As on January 31, the bank’s assets stood at $1,362.598 billion.

    The bank, through its several subsidiaries, performs the following activities: commercial banking, trust banking, securities dealing, leasing, venture capital deals, factoring, research and consulting, securities custody service, etc.

    ABN AMRO Holding NV, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, evolved from the amalgamation of AMRO and ABN. As on January 31, the bank’s assets stood at $1,301.508 billion.

    The bank created history when the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Fortis and Banco Santander announced on October 8, 2007, that an offer for 86 per cent of outstanding ABN AMRO stock had been accepted. This made way for the largest ever bank takeover in history. On November 1 2007, an extraordinary shareholder meeting changed the bank’s management.

    Societe Generale, one of the oldest banks in France, is also one of the main European financial services companies. As on January 31, 2008, its assets stood at $1,261.657 billion.

    It is headquartered in France with the main head office in Tours Societe Generale in the business district of La Defense west of Paris.

    Bank of America was formed after the consolidation of quite a few historical banks, the most prominent of those being the Bank of Italy. On January 31, the bank’s assets stood at $1,196.124 billion.

    In 1958, the bank introduced the BankAmericard, which changed its name to VISA in 1977. A consortium of other California banks came up with Master Charge (now MasterCard).

    Source: Rediff

    UK pharma industry set to lose business offshore

    March 26, 2008

    The pharmaceutical industry has lost confidence in the UK as a place to do business to an “alarming degree” and the situation is only set to deteriorate, reveals new research.

    As a result, the country is set to loose out to other locations, according to the research published by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

    Out of 100 UK-based pharmaceutical companies surveyed, three-quarters had “little confidence” in the current environment, with 83 per cent expecting the situation to worsen and only one per cent believing it will improve.

    Almost all the companies surveyed – 97 per cent – said there is now an increasing level of uncertainty within the UK pharmaceutical market environment.

    The UK government’s recent decision to abandon the pharmaceutical price regulation scheme (PPRS), which controlled drug prices in the country, has heightened the industry’s uncertainty.

    The pharmaceutical industry is a key strategic sector for the UK, being the country’s leading exporter, employing some 70,000 people, and accounting for a quarter of all UK industrial research and development, with £4bn a year being spent.

    However, the country now uses fewer innovative medicines than the rest of Europe over the last three years over 10 per cent of jobs (8,000) in this sector have been eroded.

    The industry’s propensity towards sending pharmaceutical work to offshore locations that can offer a cheaper and faster turnaround has not helped the situation.

    Source: Outsourcing Pharma

    About Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance Data Security Standards (DSS)

    March 26, 2008

    It was developed by the major credit card companies as a guideline to help organizations that process card payments prevent credit card fraud, hacking and various other security issues. A company processing card payments must be PCI compliant or they risk losing the ability to process credit card payments.

    Today, many employees are paid with payroll cards, a recent innovation that allows employees to access their paychecks from wherever they are.However, sophisticated thieves have been able to extract credit and debit card information from unsecured databases and other means.

    This has resulted in a higher incidence of identity theft, a crime that affects merchant companies, financial institutions, e-commerce companies and individuals.Because of these security breaches,the major credit card companies – American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa – decided to create regulations to help prevent theft of consumers’ data.

    The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards were created by MasterCard and agreed to in 2004 by the four major credit card companies. Each of the credit card companies has its own term for these standards. On June 30, 2005, the regulations took effect.


    Medical Device Reporting (MDR)

    March 26, 2008

    Medical Device Reporting (MDR) is the mechanism for the Food and Drug Administration to receive significant medical device adverse events from manufacturers, importers and user facilities, so they can be detected and corrected quickly.

    History of MDR Regulation

    Legislation requiring device user facility reporting was enacted by Congress to increase the amount of information the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and device manufacturers receive about problems with medical devices. Although manufacturers and importers of medical devices have been required since 1984 to report to FDA all device-related deaths, serious injuries, and certain malfunctions, numerous reports have shown there is widespread underreporting. A 1986 General Accounting Office (GAO) study showed that less than one percent of device problems occurring in hospitals are reported to FDA, and the more serious the problem with a device, the less likely it was to be reported. A GAO followup study in 1989 concluded that despite full implementation of the Medical Device Reporting (MDR) regulation, serious shortcomings still existed.

    Source: FDA

    History of 21 CFR Part 11

    March 25, 2008

    The FDA has required pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies to validate their computerized systems since the mid-1980’s under various current good manufacturing practice (“cGMP”) regulations.  The validation of computerized systems in FDA regulated industries has been evolving ever since.  However, technology was outgrowing the existing regulations. These regulations could not accommodate paperless record systems.  The old regulations kept industry from realizing the advances in efficiency, accuracy, and productivity that new technologies were allowing.  In 1991, members of the pharmaceutical industry met with the agency to determine how they could accommodate paperless record systems.  The ultimate result of this action was 21 CFR Part 11 (“Part 11”), which became effective on August 20, 1997.

    There was an official grace period of five months, and there are no grandfather provisions in the regulation.   The current regulatory environment is one of ever broadening interpretation of federal law and harsher penalties by the FDA.  On November 2, 1999, Abbott Laboratories announced it had reached an agreement with the FDA to enter into a consent decree.  Under the terms of the consent decree, Abbott Laboratories agreed to a $100 million payment to the U.S. Government.  This record FDA penalty seems to have signaled the start of increased regulatory pressure being applied by the FDA to the pharmaceutical industry.  Since the record Abbott fine, Schering-Plough, Eli Lilly, and Pharmacia & Upjohn have all recently been issued harsh warnings by the FDA.

    Source: FDA Validation


    About 21 CFR Part 11

    March 25, 2008

    The pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device industries have become dependent on computerized systems for every aspect of a drug’s lifecycle.  Clinical trials are managed using software; New Drug Applications are submitted to the FDA electronically; laboratory assays on a drug’s efficacy are performed using computerized instrumentation; and critical parameters in the drug’s manufacturing process such as temperature and pH are controlled using automated systems.  Labeling, adverse reaction reporting, consumer complaints, and pharmacy controls also depend on various computer systems working perfectly.  All these systems now fall under the jurisdiction of 21 CFR Part 11. Source: FDA Validation

    Sarbanes-Oxley Act

    March 20, 2008

    The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 also known as the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002 is mandatory. ALL organizations, large and small, MUST comply.

    The legislation came into force in 2002 and introduced major changes to the regulation of financial practice and corporate governance. Named after Senator Paul Sarbanes and Representative Michael Oxley, who were its main architects, it also set a number of deadlines for compliance.’

    The Sarbanes-Oxley Act is arranged into eleven titles. As far as compliance is concerned, the most important sections within these are often considered to be 302, 401, 404, 409, 802 and 906.
    Source: Complianceonline & SoxLaw

    Corporate Governance

    March 20, 2008

    Corporate Governance is defined as a structure for determining organizational objectives and monitoring performance to ensure that business objectives are attained. Corporate Governance became a dominant business topic in the wake of many corporate scandals – Enron, WorldCom and Tyco, and is becoming increasingly popular today in the wake of the TJX credit card breach case. Companies generating interest in corporate governance is not new, but the severity of the financial impacts of the many scandals undermined the confidence of the investment community and corporate stakeholders.

    Good corporate governance is important to investors and shareholders. As a matter of fact, many investors, before making an investment decision, validate and rank the company’s corporate governance on par with its financial indicators. As a matter of fact, some investment firms are prepared to pay large premiums for investments in companies with high governance standards.

    While there is no single model of good corporate governance, in many countries, corporate governance is vested in a supervisory board that is responsible for protecting the rights of the shareholders and stakeholders. The board, in turn, works with a senior management team to implement governance principles that ensure the effectiveness of organizational processes.


    Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)

    March 18, 2008

    The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government. It is divided into 50 titles that represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation. Each volume of the CFR is updated once each calendar year and is issued on a quarterly basis.

    ach title is divided into chapters, which usually bear the name of the issuing agency. Each chapter is further subdivided into parts that cover specific regulatory areas. Large parts may be subdivided into subparts. All parts are organized in sections, and most citations in the CFR are provided at the section level.

    Source: GPO Access

    What FDA Does Not Regulate!!

    March 18, 2008

    FDA’s responsibilities are closely related to those of several other government agencies. Often frustrating and confusing for consumers is determining the appropriate regulatory agency to contact. The following contact information is for government agencies that have functions related to that of FDA.


    The Federal Trade Commission is the federal agency, which regulates all advertising, excluding prescription drugs and medical devices. FTC ensures that advertisements are truthful and not misleading for consumers.


    The labeling and quality of alcoholic beverages are regulated by the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

    Consumer Products

    While FDA regulates a large portion of the products that consumers purchase, the agency has no jurisdiction over many household goods. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is responsible for ensuring the safety of consumer goods such as household appliances (excluding those that emit radiation), paint, child-resistant packages, and baby toys.

    Drugs of Abuse

    Illegal drugs with no approved medical use–such as heroin and marijuana–are under the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Administration. FDA assists DEA in deciding how stringent DEA controls should be on drugs that are medically accepted but that have a strong potential for abuse. DEA establishes limits on the amount of these prescription drugs that are permitted to be manufactured each year

    Health Insurance

    FDA does not regulate health insurance, the cost of health care products or procedures, or reimbursement for health and medical expenses. Questions about Medicare should be directed to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

    Meat and Poultry

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is responsible for the safety and labeling of traditional meats and poultry. (FDA regulates game meats, such as venison, ostrich and snake.)


    FDA, USDA, and the Environmental Protection Agency share the responsibility for regulating pesticides. EPA determines the safety and effectiveness of the chemicals and establishes tolerance levels for residues on feed crops, as well as for raw and processed foods. These tolerance levels (the amount of pesticide allowed to be present in a food product) are normally set 100 times below the level that might cause harm to people or the environment. FDA and USDA are responsible for monitoring the food supply to ensure that pesticide residues do not exceed the allowable levels in the products under their jurisdiction.

    Restaurants and Grocery Stores

    Local county health departments typically handle inspections and licensing of restaurants and grocery stores.


    The regulation of water is divided between the Environmental Protection Agency and FDA. EPA has the responsibility for developing national standards for drinking water from municipal water supplies. FDA regulates the labeling and safety of bottled water.

    Source: FDA