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BANKING

Asian Bonds: That rare beast the Euro-Asian

Gimmick, party trick or great leap forward in the international capital markets? The Euro-Asian bond has no shortage of detractors. Those who have promoted its benefits ­ usually those who have lead managed the deals ­ maintain it has the best features of the Dragon bond, which was the first attempt to create a bond specifically for Asian investors.

Cynics respond that it is just a normal Eurobond. "Eurobonds since the year dot have been Euro-Asians," says the syndicate head of an Asian securities firm. "It's a marketing ploy, and I don't think there's much substance to it," adds a syndicate official at a US investment bank.

The initiator of the Euro-Asian, Toyota Motor Credit Corp (TMCC), is also its most active proponent. It has done four deals, the most recent a Euro-Asian Deutschmark in October.

"I'm almost dismayed at the controversy that has erupted over this," says Jerome Lienhard, corporate treasury manager at TMCC. The company has raised $2.6 billion of the $4.1 billion that has been taken out of the market with a Euro-Asian label.

Lienhard says the Euro-Asian grew out of its own funding strategy when during 1995 it realized its traditional Benelux and Swiss retail investor base would not suffice when it more than doubled its annual borrowing requirement to $7 billion.

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