Peregrine's still flying
When the Asian crisis struck this summer one investment bank was destined to appear more exposed than others - Peregrine. The Hong Kong-based firm employs 1,700 people in 15 Asian countries. After Asia's currencies began to slip in July so did Peregrine... at least if its rivals' rumours are to be believed. With confidence waning it looked as if the "fast and agile" bird had gone into a terminal tailspin. Then, as ever, its wily boss Philip Tose pulled something out of the bag. Steven Irvine reports on Peregrine's riposte to the gossip, interviews Tose about Zurich's new stake in the firm and looks into the unravelling of the firm's regional operations.
"The last time I saw something like that," commented one wry old hand, swigging a gin and tonic, "was when Drexel Burnham Lambert issued advertisements three days running denying they were insolvent. Of course, on the third day they went under..."
Hong Kong's business and banking elite were stunned by Peregrine's rearguard press action on October 27. Rumours about the firm were very bad indeed. But no-one expected the full-page advertisement in major newspapers denying them.
The ad, issued by order of the board, had a last paragraph printed entirely in capital letters. It stated: "Rumours of losses by Peregrine running into hundreds of millions of us dollars and of Peregrine's financial demise are completely false."