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Reaching for the man on the street

Demand for structured medium-term notes, particularly equity linked, has exploded over the past two years. Yet it is retail buyers rather than sophisticated institutional investors who are purchasing these complex products. It’s not just the investor profile that has changed. The route map for the origination and distribution of structured debt is being redrawn too. In the heart of euroland some surprising new players and alliances have emerged to service structured debt’s most important new client: the man on the street. Mike Tims reports

If you had ventured into any of Banque Générale du Luxembourg's 40 branches across the Grand Duchy this summer, as likely as not a glossy poster featuring the symbols of power generation would have caught your eye. "Energize your portfolio!" it urges, with the purchase of Protected Sector Notes 10: Top 15 Utilities. This is the latest in a series of similarly branded and marketed issues that provide investors with principal-protected participation in the gains of an international basket of leading equities in particular sectors.

A few months ago a similar poster for Protected Sector Notes 9: Top 20 Biotech proposed that you "Participate in the biotechnology sector's genetic revolution!". Like their predecessors, Consumer products, Pharmaceuticals, High Tech, Bank Insurance, Retail, Multi-media, PSNs 9 and 10 provide retail investors with participation in the gains of a basket of leading international equities in each sector and at the very least the guarantee of getting your money back.

At the counter, leaflets promoting Banque Générale du Luxembourg's other carefully branded range of equity-linked retail products, including reverse convertibles, are available. Open a copy of the Luxembourg Wort and you will Find advertisements for equity-linked debt products being promoted by most European retail banks.

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