In a year in which deals of all shapes and sizes were pulled, plaudits go to all equity and bond issuers who were able to complete their deals at all. Some stars of the past - Asian project deals, Latin American corporate bonds and eastern European privatizations - barely made it to the finishing line. But one muscle-clad team of super-athletes swept the board in 1998. This was the year of the telecoms industry: from the stodgiest emerging-market monopoly to the most glamourous builder of fibre-optic networks, telecoms operators were everybody's favourite performers.
They gave us some of the biggest equity deals ever. Swisscom, Endesa IV and DoCoMo, for example, between them raised $34 billion. And Brazil's privatization of Telebrás brought in a further $19 billion. In the debt markets it was also a year of heavy-weight deals: big, liquid bond issues for highly creditworthy borrowers such as Fannie Mae's Benchmark Notes programme and DePfa's jumbo Pfandbriefe. But there was also room for innovative deals: ABN Amro showing the way for European banks in raising tier-one capital; Colt's three-tier financing comprising equity, debt and convertibles; and Cecchi Gori's film-rights securitization to name but three. Some of last year's bravest finishers were the deals done amid the worst of Asia's crisis: Tri-Energy, a rare Asian project financing and Korea's determined $4 billion bond issue for example. Then there were the hardy pioneers who led the way out of the markets' Russian stupor: Royal KPN which opened the market for corporate borrowers, Thames Water which did the same for the sterling sector, Hermes, NTL and CalEnergy in the European high-yield markets; and Associates, with its $4.8 billion issue, the first true credit deal after the crisis. Over the next 30 pages we profile these and other transactions - our winning deals of 1998.