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April 1999

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  • If you were trying to scupper the career of an over-zealous colleague, this is the sort of financing mandate you might want to throw in their direction: first, make it a commodity deal (preferably not oil which is suddenly showing signs of revival); second, set the deal in a developing country, at a time when emerging markets are out of vogue, and local currency financing is scarce. Finally, throw in a little political difficulty, such as the arrest of a former president, which leads to fighting on the streets and the threat of trade sanctions.
  • The Nuovo Mercato is "a new market for small and medium-size companies [that] can help to develop a real market culture in our country." Thus Massimo Capuano, chief executive officer of Borsa Italiana - the company that runs the Italian stock exchange, introducing Italy's new equity market. The Nuovo Mercato - literally the New Market - will be the Italian equivalent of Germany's Neuer Markt and France's Nouveau Marché: a stock market especially designed to give high-growth companies access to funding.
  • Just got home from a hard day's work? Why not heat up some leftovers, make a cup of coffee and - during those few idle seconds - punch a few buttons on the microwave door and get your bills paid.
  • The problem with anything Japanese is that it all depends on your point of view. Three Japanese groups fail with more than $10.4 billion worth of debts. Tokai bank has just announced that it will forgive more than $3 billion worth of debts. Shareholders - other banks - in LTCB will get nothing from last year's forced nationalization. And Nomura - once the flagship of Japan's financial services industry - has recently announced losses of $4.6 billion, has been downgraded to junk status and has said goodbye to Max Chapman, the chairman and chief executive of Nomura Securities International.
  • As credit research burgeoned last year there probably were analysts who could command seven-figure salaries. Demand is still high but supply is catching up. The best research houses are formalizing their approaches and a pecking order is developing. Rebecca Bream looks at what's on offer.
  • After so many months of nervous promises that the euro would herald a new era of bond issuance and credit awareness, bankers can hardly believe it. Volumes in the first quarter have been huge. Europe's investors are forsaking the safety of government bonds and placing big orders for corporate paper. In this new market everything is up for grabs. Market practices are ill-defined, pricing is uncertain and the league table results are wide open. Peter Lee reports.
  • A new symbol for promoting shareholder rights has emerged in Russia - the toilet roll. The lavatorial necessity graced Russia's TV screens nearly everyday in the last week of March. It was part of an ad campaign by American investor Kenneth Dart in his battle against Russia's second-largest oil company, Yukos.
  • There aren't many real ex-rocket scientists for hire, but another area investment banks might look at is nuclear engineering - a skill that's becoming less sought after these days. Merrill Lynch's affable new hire Dante Roscini spent five years designing nuclear power plant before dwindling enthusiasm for the nuclear industry prompted a rethink. After business school he ended up at Goldman Sachs in 1988.
  • Euromoney has once again ranked the world's best hotels, airlines and airports according to the preferences of senior executives across the globe. Which are the world's favourite hotels for business travellers? And which airlines should you fly with and which should you avoid? Research and report by Carolyn Dowd.
  • To paraphrase American satirist PJ O'Rourke, if you buy yourself something with your own money, odds are that you'll spend time making sure you get exactly what you want. If you spend your own money on something for someone else, you won't be quite as careful. But if you're given money by one person and told to buy something for someone else, you're likely not to be careful at all.
  • Despite persistently high inflation and international financial turmoil, the Turkish economy continues to defy gravity. The country's banks lend to the treasury in lira at high interest rates. As a result, they can offer attractive interest rates on foreign currency deposits too. Armed with a fictitious $50,000, Metin Munir finds out just how good these rates can be and explores the role played by the banks in propping up Turkey's "unsustainable" economy. By Metin Munir.
  • The Philippines began to woo a new set of investors in February with the launch of a euro-denominated bond. The issue is not without its critics and it was made amid mixed reviews from bankers of the country's efforts to pull itself out of the Asian crisis. Gill Baker reports.
  • Public Pfandbriefe sold by German mortgage banks are a familiar sight in international capital markets. But less well-known is what's swimming around in the underlying pools of collateral - and how the issuers earn their money. Another Orange County in the making? Marcus Walker investigates.
  • What happens when you get Australian bankers on a beach for a barbecue? Euromoney invited five of Australia's top debt market professionals to Nielsen Park beach to find out. Steven Irvine put some prawns on the barbie.
  • So, the succession at Chase is decided. Bill Harrison will inherit a bank riding high in the league tables, doing deals in the darkest days of the crisis and basking in the respect of its peers. How did Tom Labrecque and Walter Shipley do it? By rethinking the bank's whole approach to risk management and being able to say no to marriage proposals. But if it is to continue on this roll and become a true one-stop shop, Chase needs to do a deal sooner or later. Michelle Celarier reports.
  • The IFC and World Bank have spent much of the last two decades at each other's throats. The appointment of Peter Woicke as head of the IFC and a managing director at the Bank should change that. It should also help increase emphasis on private-sector funding. James Smalhout reports.
  • Ex-JP Morgan banker Peter Woicke is the new chief at the International Finance Corporation. He will also be responsible for guiding the World Bank's work with the private sector. He talks to Euromoney's James Smalhout about his plans.
  • Operas at the Arena, day-trips on beautiful Lake Garda and romantic walks under Juliet's balcony. These could be the new pastimes for IMF staff and officers in a few years, if the mayor of Verona succeeds in getting the organization's HQ moved there from Washington.
  • Macquarie Bank is a rare type of investment bank. It has made returns on equity of over 20% for 10 years by constantly moving into new business areas such as property securitization. Steven Irvine meets its managing director Allen Moss - a man who eschews ostentation and wears pens in his pocket - and head of infrastructure and asset group Nicholas Moore.
  • Mix telephone evangelism with telephone banking and you have... Bank of Scotland's latest direct banking venture. The bank already has a UK operation in partnership with a supermarket chain, J Sainsbury, but it has chosen a more controversial partner for the US in the form of Marion "Pat" Robertson.
  • So farewell, then, Max Chapman, the banker who got closer to the top of a Japanese financial institution than any other westerner, and who resigned last month to spend more time enjoying his Arizona ranch and his personal fortune estimated to be $100 million.
  • Taiwan's stock market paused for breath when local finance house, Pan Asia Bank, released its grim 1998 financial results. Pan Asia is too small to affect the Taiwanese banking sector at large but investors and analysts are worried that the size of Pan Asia's losses, NT$6.2 billion ($194 million), combined with an 8% overdue loan ratio, indicate that the Taiwanese banking sector could become the next victim of the Asian downturn. A total collapse is not forecast but deterioration in the sector's overall health is on the cards.
  • When a Wall Street law firm was asked to advise on investing in Hungary in 1989, it fell to Douglas Rediker, then a 30-year-old attorney, to do the research. "When we asked the opinion of a Hungarian lawyer," Rediker remembers, "we'd get back a hand written note saying: 'Dear Mr Rediker, It is okay to do what you ask.' It didn't give us a whole lot of comfort. On the other hand it was quite intriguing."
  • Euroland's biggest banks? Assets (€bn)
  • Goldman Sachs has apparently managed to get itself out of a spot of hot water in Thailand after issuing a research report which dragged the finance minister into a row with a leading newspaper.
  • Talks on the restructuring of GKOs - Russian treasury bills on which the government defaulted last August - have once more been cast into disarray just days before a deadline imposed by the Russian finance ministry was due to expire.
  • Thailand's economy remains mired in recession and the banking sector is still groaning under the volume of bad debts. But the evidence of a turnround is growing. A new bankruptcy law should give banks confidence to extend new loans; foreign banks have injected new capital into the banking system; the best Thai borrowers are finding ways to issue new debt; and, perhaps most important of all, the Thai people's famous optimism is returning. Gill Baker reports.
  • Brazil's economy is weak but the banks are strong. That is the popular belief among investors. The banks are well-capitalized and liquid, with high profits. Brazil's banking sector has been restructured and balance sheets cleaned up. While investors fret over the government's failure to sort out public finances they can rest assured that the financial system is solid. Right?
  • Never one to rest too long on my posterior, I jet in from Hong Kong to Sydney, and arrive rather the worse for Qantas at the airport. A chirpy customs man asks my occupation. When told "journalist" he asks what I intend to write about in Australia. When I reply "financial markets" he says: "Well that'll be pretty dull for you." This does not bode well.