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Tales of the unexpected

Between sessions on liquidity, capital issues and the future of credit markets, the big issues of a conference near Malaga in Spain were played out around the poker table

Business, pleasure and chance were given their due weightings at last month's Sixth Annual Financial Institutions Conference in Mijas, Spain. Issuer choice was a central theme, but hosts UBS did not expect participants to devote all their time to such discussions. There was talk aplenty about the development of new investor bases or the creation of fresh product for banks and insurance companies in the face of changing regulations, but there were also other ways to stretch the brain and exercise the risk muscles. Glorious golfing was on offer each morning before the seminars and the last day was rounded off with go-karting.

At the opening session, David Soanes, head of debt capital markets at UBS, warned the potential borrowers and investors in the audience to expect the unexpected. As a case in point, he reminded us of the forecast made 12 months earlier by many analysts that interest rates would rise and credit spreads widen. On the contrary, he pointed out: "Yields fell and spreads went on an enormous bull run."

Night follows day

How so much of our everyday experience is unpredictable was confirmed for Soanes and the other participants when he accidentally stepped into a fountain in the courtyard of the house where dinner was served on the conference's final evening.

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