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April 2003

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  • Equities
  • The Egyptian government has a chequered record in implementing economic reforms. Praise for the success of its major anti-corruption drive and its adoption of a free-floating exchange rate at the end of January has been tempered by the introduction of capital controls only two months later.
  • Is Kenneth Rogoff making an about-turn? The IMF research head's latest paper seems to back the views of fund critics.
  • "Guess who I had in the back of my cab," is a refrain familiar to Londoners. "Not an investment banker," might now be an appropriate response.
  • The strength of Islamists in the ruling AKP lay behind the Turkish legislature’s refusal to bend to US military strategy. The consequences may be dire for the Turkish economy and terminal for the AKP government.
  • South Korea
  • Mexico was the first emerging-market issuer to include collective action clauses in an SEC-registered bond. That gave it a one-off opportunity to write its own documentation unburdened by precedent. Now the CAC route looks like the clear way forward.
  • Grigori Marchenko, governor of the National Bank of Kazakhstan, talks to Euromoney’s Guy Norton about how the Kazakh banking sector became a model for its neighbours and his plans for the future.
  • Spain
  • It all sounds worryingly familiar. Mutual funds are experiencing record inflows, issuance is at record highs, prices of the securities concerned seem to be immune to bad news, and the investment banking divisions covering these popular products are going gangbusters.
  • The danger of accounting irregularities creeping up on them is the one gripe that pretty well all credit analysts have about their jobs at the moment. Post Enron, the idea of unwittingly recommending a company that turns out to have cooked its books is enough to bring on a cold sweat. "How do you predict problems such as Ahold's as an analyst? I think it's a ferociously difficult job," says Catherine Gronquist, director of international credit research at Morgan Stanley. "These demands on them have tested all credit analysts on the buy side and the sell side to practically their breaking point in some cases." This nightmare came true once again when multinational retail group Ahold admitted accounting irregularities. Standard&Poor's immediately downgraded Ahold's bonds to junk and they traded as low as 70 straight away. At press time, there was speculation that the bonds might fall even further to trade as distressed credits.
  • Issuer: Allianz Size: e3.5 billion to e4 billion Bookrunners: Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, UBS Warburg
  • Norway
  • Risk management
  • Roberto Junguito, finance minister of Colombia, had a good Inter-American Development Bank meeting in Milan. He secured hefty funding commitments from the IADB as well as from Andean development bank, Corporación Andina de Fomento. To top it off, he received the Euromoney award for economic achievement in the Andes from the president of CAF, Enrique García who says Hunguito is a determined negotiator. García should know: CAF has just promised Colombia $3.5 billion. Hunguito modestly shared his award with his young team. "When I was minister of finance in the 1980s, I worked with their parents," he joked.
  • With a large trade debt outstanding from Iraq and lucrative oil contracts there hanging fire, Russia’s reluctance to toe the US line is understandable, especially in the context of a broader desire to re-establish regional ties.
  • Turkish banks have become the debt-raising branch of the government. Estimates suggest that between 40% and 50% of the total assets of the banking system are treasury bonds denominated in Turkish lira or Eurobonds. This ratio is in reality larger than it appears because the bulk of banks' assets are not cash but real estate and shares in non-bank affiliates. Loans to businesses constitute no more than 15% to 20% of assets, according to Global, an Istanbul-based securities company.
  • Since taking over from Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar six months ago, the chairman of the Bank of Alexandria and of Egyptian American Bank (Bank of Alexandria's joint venture with American Express Bank), Mahmoud Abdel Latif, has been busy trying to get the bank in shape.
  • The lack of real-time information has always meant that trading CDOs has never been for the faint of heart. Goldman Sachs led the charge to improve the situation last summer by making data on all its deals available to investors on data service provider Intex. Three other underwriters have followed suit.
  • Fixed-income investing isn't an area normally associated with soul searching. can still wrongfoot us all, though. The Pimco managing director's March Investment Outlook takes a moment out from analysis of the bond markets to conduct a pensive and very personal meditation on religion, war and the author's mortality, with the help of a few carefully chosen quotations.
  • The new world order, established after the fall of communism in Russia and eastern Europe, is set to shatter. Global leadership by the US confronting the USSR was succeeded by US leadership flying solo. Now comes fragmentation. The US might be the most powerful nation but over the next few years its role will be contested by China, the EU, South Korea and even Japan. This implies a much higher risk premium for financial assets.
  • When Mexico issued its CAC-laden 12-year bond in February, it didn't offer investors a choice: anybody wanting new Mexican debt couldn't buy a bond without CACs instead. So there's no way of knowing for sure whether or not Mexico paid a premium for including CACs.
  • If there is one thing that emerging-market investors hate as much as SDRM, it is exit consents.
  • Serbia
  • People in finance aren't normally shy about winning prizes. But the inaugural Asian Brokers Awards dinner had many ducking for cover - such was the fear of being nominated for and winning gongs like the "Ted Turner Award for humility" - for the region's most arrogant fund manager - and the "Leaving Las Vegas Award" - for the broker most famed for being slumped over bars nursing double scotches in the name of strengthening client relationships.
  • With foreign companies eager to sew up deals in China’s mega market and Chinese corporates keen to expand abroad, M&A bankers expect growing business in the People’s Republic.
  • The hope is that the EBRD’s annual meeting in Tashkent in May will give a much-needed lift to Uzbekistan’s ailing economy. But relations with multilaterals have never been worse, and the country’s human rights record raises questions about why the meeting is taking place there at all.
  • Hungarian privatization has helped place the economy among the best emerging-market performers of the 1990s. However, questions about the transparency of deals reappeared this year.
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