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The great league table debate

With banks increasingly consolidating or at least cross-linking their debt-arranger activities, Euromoney has concluded that its annual bond, loan and MTN rankings should appear as a single table. In this introduction to the results, Jennifer Morris looks at the ways in which boundaries between different areas of debt are becoming blurred and assesses the challenge to investment banks’ core business from commercial banks

Bankers can't make up their minds about league tables. Sometimes they don't seem to count for very much. It's common knowledge that lead arranger data can be sliced and diced in myriad ways depending on which version of the truth a particular sales pitch demands. In fact, manipulating the figures has become so widespread that those involved no longer bother to deny it. "There are ways around every league table rule," says the head of debt capital markets at one US bank. But try changing the ground rules - as Euromoney has this month by combining bond, loan and MTN tables into one all-encompassing debt-arranger ranking - and suddenly the league tables matter - and matter a lot. Bankers who have hitherto adopted a breezy disregard abruptly become fiercely possessive of their own position in the international bond table, or the European MTN table or whatever their specialist area happens to be. The suggestion that there might be another way to look at things provokes some heated responses, such as that of Manfred Schepers, global head of debt capital markets at UBS Warburg. "These tables are complete nonsense and I want my name in the magazine saying so," he fumes.

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