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Football’s the only game in town

Football teams and their supporters can expect a warm welcome this month from their World Cup hosts in Japan. Most foreign borrowers will find it hard to milk this enthusiasm – the Japanese have been too badly burnt in recent months to want to invest in run-of-the-mill foreign companies seeking yen funding.


IT'S AMAZING THE effect a World Cup can have. Suddenly borrowers from all points of the globe are deciding that there is only one place to be concentrating their investor marketing activities in June: Japan. "It's unreal," says a senior banker at a leading Japanese bank in London. "The number of borrowers saying they happen to be in Tokyo in June and could we fix up some meetings for them is just amazing."

It is doubtful that there will be enough seats in Japan's gleaming new sports stadiums to accommodate the demand for tickets from CFOs, treasurers, investor relations officers and all the attendant retinue of the capital markets roadshow circus. It is equally doubtful that the upshot of this marketing hubbub will be to encourage demand from Japanese investors for any but a handful of very highly rated foreign borrowers.

In the last year, Japanese investors have had a hat-trick of disasters in the shape of Xerox, Enron and Argentina, and countless credit shocks besides.

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