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April 1997

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LATEST ARTICLES

  • If the EU's single currency begins on schedule in 1999, further breaking down national boundaries, France's capital markets will be a major contender for a central role, squaring up to Germany in the fight for benchmark status. And what if Emu is postponed? Katrin Fhima reports.
  • "I was 100% an old-timer at Deutsche," says Roman Schmidt. So it surprised everyone when DMG's Frankfurt debt syndicate head announced his departure from the Deutsche twin towers to join BZW.
  • In an age of specialism corporate spin-offs have an inherent strategic logic. But they are also a potent way of unlocking equity value. Antony Currie reports on the spread of the technique from the US into increasingly equity conscious continental Europe.
  • What is the most nonsensical law covering the financial markets?
  • Many derivative exchanges have lost touch with what their customers want most. That is liquidity, but also cheap and efficient processing of trades. Ambitious schemes for linking exchanges over time zones haven't brought this, so over-the-counter business is booming. Andy Webb reports.
  • Issuer: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
  • Red-chip mania in Hong Kong reached new heights last month with the listing of Shum Yip Investment, the commercial investment arm of the Shenzhen municipal government.
  • Players in the yankee market heaved a collective sigh of relief when the fed funds rate was increased. Following a near-record year in 1996 there were just 11 public yankee issues in February and March. The reason they had been waiting for the Federal Open Market Committee move which came at last on March 25.
  • Core European growth is picking up. Late last year, I said growth disappointments would make the "Emu on time" outlook seem less probable by early 1997. Consumer spending would disappoint because of Maastricht masochism and the fiscal squeeze, and because of job losses and labour market deregulation.
  • In the time perspective of the bond markets, the European single currency is tomorrow, not some 20 months away. Issuers need to attract investors from a wider universe now. One approach is complex instruments that can eventually take on a euro denomination; another takes the plunge into a currency that doesn't yet exist. On the corporate front credit rather than currency is set to be the key determinant of performance. And that means European fund managers are likely to take an increasing interest in high-yield bonds. Peter Lee reports.
  • Following the announcement in February of a merger between Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter, investment bankers have been guessing about the shape of other such deals. Few would have predicted the strategic alliance unveiled in March between Bank of America, the US's third-largest commercial bank, and DE Shaw, a publicity-shy New York-based investment bank, run by computer scientists.
  • Ever had the feeling someone is watching you? You just might be right if you're a high-flier working in the City of London. Bosses are increasingly taking steps to ensure that employees intending to leave don't take valuable information, clients and colleagues with them.
  • Saying goodbye can be hard. But for globally focused Dan Tully it took the form of a world tour. The outgoing chairman and chief executive of Merrill Lynch went to New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo and London to meet clients and employees before his retirement this month.
  • It was a fierce contest between rival investment banks with only one winner and no room for the faint-hearted. It wasn't the battle to win the mandate for the next big Eurobond, but the Synergy City Ski-Run in aid of the British Ski Club for the Disabled.
  • London's cab drivers, long known for their forthright views, have recently turned their wrath on the financial markets. The problem is the plans of one black cab radio network, Computer Cab, to list 49% of its estimated value on London's Alternative Investment Market (Aim). At 80p a share, this should raise around £4 million to help pay for a new system called Mobistar, which uses a satellite to track the position of the cabs.
  • Monetary union without Germany, or more precisely without the Bundesbank: that's the prescription of Nobel laureate Franco Modigliani. The Bundesbank has already become the central bank of Europe, Modigliani argues, with its "miserable monetary policy" of high real interests in the face of low investment and rising unemployment. He would like to index central bankers' salaries to inflation and joblessness figures.
  • Attempts to establish standard terms and codes of practice for the trading of distressed corporate debt have been spurned so far by the London market. Buyers of loans who don't read the fine print can find themselves with unexpected legal obligations. By Christopher Stoakes.
  • Banks putting the wrong value on out-of-the-money options isn't a new phenomenon, but today's fat bonuses and fiercely competitive markets lead us into temptation, says David Clark.
  • The World Bank's decision to open up its 25-year Eurorand offering for the third time late last month and the EIB's R100 million ($23 million) five-year deal are signs of renewed confidence in this nascent market. The next step in the market's maturing must be its use by local issuers, which is expected soon.
  • Has the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development outgrown its usefulness in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic? Some financiers believe the EBRD should concentrate on less-advanced countries with less developed capital markets. In Hungary they see it as a rival ­ aggressive and deal-hungry as any merchant bank. David Shirreff reports.
  • Investors are awaiting the results of the British general election with mixed feelings. In political and financial circles it's generally forecast that on May 2 the Labour party will win a majority, ending the 18-year rule of the Conservatives. What remains in doubt is the size of the majority the party will command.
  • Western banks and money managers are battling for a share of the emerging markets as a provider of investment funds. One of the fiercest fights is for the short-term cash deposits of Muslim investors, whose volume worldwide is estimated at $50 billion. Despite setbacks and strict rules against investment in interest-bearing securities, Islamic funds are all the rage.
  • "10,000 by 2000!" That's the latest prediction for the millennium opening on the Dow Jones Industrial Average from Ed Yardeni, chief economist at Deutsche Morgan Grenfell (DMG). Yardeni who might be described as the most optimistic man in the world will surely see his prediction tested now that US interest rates have started to rise. If he is proved right, investors worldwide will rejoice except perhaps those in the UK.
  • Issuer: Abbey National
  • True to its reputation for intransigence, North Korea has made no signs of wishing to start repaying or rescheduling its debt. But such defiance hasn't prevented its debt prices rising by 15% on long-shot speculation that North and South Korea could reunite and as a result of generally positive sentiments on emerging markets.
  • Over the past three months Euromoney editor Garry Evans interviewed Ospel for a total of five hours, twice in Ospel's office in Basel and once last month, the day after the bank announced its 1996 results, by video link-up between London and Basel. The full 15,000-word text follows.
  • At least two years after the UK and most other good European states, Germany may finally implement two EU directives that are vital to safer, fairer and more harmonious European finance. Who has gained and who has lost from the delay? David Shirreff reports.
  • Ideal location or in-room modems, seat size or frequent-flier programmes: what do business travellers value highest in their trips around the world? Garry Marchant pins down the priorities of some top businessmen and asks which hotels and airlines measure up best to their demands.
  • The fear and loathing generated by Krupp's attempted takeover of Thyssen, a rival German steel company, has not only thwarted that particular deal but also put back the entire German M&A business by several years.
  • You're a first-time emerging market issuer in the bond market. Banks are desperate to win the mandate for your deal. But you want to make sure it flies. Do you, as Croatia did, put together two lead-managers? Or six leads, as in the forthcoming yankee for the Philippine central bank? No; if you're wise, you do the conventional thing and stick to one bank that you have a long-standing relationship with. Steven Irvine explains why.
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