Peregrine's still flying
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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.

When the world started to melt

What will go wrong next?

Asian banks: Now comes the real crisis

Asian research: Worth the paper it's printed on?

Hedge funds: You can run but you can't hide

Country Risk December 1997: It could be worse

Global Economic Projections: Overall Rankings 

With friends like these...

"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."

The advertisement included near-up-to-the-minute figures for the firm's performance. It stated that its (unaudited) net profits in equity trading and derivatives were $16 million in the year to October 24 - a fall of $23 million from the first-half figure.

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