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A very pricey typo

The IPO of Dentsu, the world's fourth-largest advertising company, was supposed to mark UBS Warburg (Japan)'s entrance as a serious name in underwriting in the Japanese market.

Unfortunately within two minutes of Dentsu being floated on the Tokyo Stock Exchange it had turned into UBS's pre-Christmas nightmare. The bank's name had become a joke, it had lost a significant chunk of its profits for the year, and had a client that in the future was likely to strike it off a lot more than its Christmas card list.

Just before Dentsu was about to make its debut on the TSE, a trader or, according to rumours, a desk assistant, keyed in an order to sell 610,000 Dentsu shares at ¥16 ($0.12). The problem was that he was supposed to have sold 16 shares at ¥610,000 ($4,709). At 9am, when the market opened, the mistake was immediately noticed and, according to one source, UBS's trading floor went absolutely ballistic.

The order was cancelled by 9.02am, but not before the banks' computers had kicked in and sold 65,000 shares, or nearly half of all the stock sold in the IPO. Dentsu's price fell to ¥405,000, down from its opening price of ¥420,000.

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