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Banking

Plus ça change ...

Remember when Euromoney was an eight-page pamphlet? Remember what the financial markets looked like at the time? Those interested in the history of the markets will find the answers - along with much else - in the recently published memoirs of Peter Spira, whose successful banking career with SG Warburg, Goldman Sachs and County NatWest between 1957 and 1991 was no doubt spurred on by appearing in those first issues of Euromoney in the late 1960s.

Spira, whose language vividly recalls the age of the gentleman bankers he describes, joined Warburg when its market capitalization was £1 million, when Sigmund Warburg still stayed in the Imperial Hotel, Torquay, and when working till seven in the evening was considered a late night.

His recollections of early Eurobond deals show how much has changed, but also how little. Pricing may now be more science than art, but mandate fights have lost nothing of their intensity. Paribas' choice of White, Weld over Warburg (at that time in a "quasi-marriage" with Paribas) to lead a dollar Eurobond issue in 1972 left Spira as enraged as the losing bidder for any recent deal. The difference is that then, the European head of White, Weld, Robert Genillard, told Spira that he had been expecting him to call asking him to cede the mandate, which he would have done gladly.

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