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April 2007

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  • The financial supply chain is an important concept for CFOs and treasurers to understand. However, it is one that they might be unfamiliar with, and certainly it is unlikely to be at the top of their agenda.
  • With gross public debt more than 170% of GDP and domestic investors increasingly diversifying overseas, the country is keen to attract foreign investors, even as it struggles to reduce government bond issuance and stave off roll-over risk. Hiroshi Watanabe, Japan’s vice-minister of finance for international affairs, speaks to Peter Lee about Japan’s funding policy and broader economic prospects.
  • Eisuke Sakakibara is known as Mr Yen for the influence of his pronouncements on Japan’s currency and was Japan’s vice-minister for finance for international affairs from 1997 to 1999. An internationalist famed for making key policy speeches in English, he argues in this interview with Tetsuya Shibata that Japanese companies must become more outward-looking to prosper.
  • According to a survey by Tiger 21, a US group for high net-worth investors, the wealthy wouldn’t have been too hard hit by the sharp slide in public equity markets last month as they had already cashed out and moved money to alternative investments. Tiger 21’s 115 members, who have $7 billion in assets, reduced their public equity exposure in 2006 by 30% in anticipation of a correction. They doubled their exposure to alternative assets to 9.5% over the year.
  • Despite encouraging news from Bank of America, most US mortgage providers have so far remained aloof despite investor enthusiasm for covered bonds. Jethro Wookey reports.
  • For most of this decade the majority of US investment banks have scorned covered bonds. Not any longer. So if it's true that they no longer believe it to be an unprofitable backwater of the European capital markets, what factors are at work? Philip Moore discovers.
  • Hats off to the financial institutions team at a US investment bank who made a highly amusing Bollywood movie using an online service.
  • Goldman Sachs has been fined what some might call a rather lenient amount, $2 million, for selling short an IPO pre-sale.
  • The Euromoney investment banking champions league game table is taking shape, and after a bloody back and forth at the top, Citi has put daylight between itself and its nearest competitor, BNP Paribas.
  • Bankers’ growing interest in environment-friendly financial opportunities can only be a good thing – whatever their motivation.
  • "He’d been my client for 30 years, and he invited me down to see him at his home in Florida. When I got there he had assembled his entire family – wife, children, grandkids, the lot. I sat down. He handed me a letter and asked me to read it out loud to the room. It said simply: ‘Dear Bob, In the event that I should pass away, please tell my wife exactly what she needs to do, and ensure that she does it’"
  • Recent setbacks will not hold back the world’s second-largest economy’s growing globalization.
  • Capitalizing on the surge of private equity funds to list on stock markets, in March Standard & Poor’s launched its S&P Listed Private Equity Index.
  • According to Highland Capital, there are at least 13 new managers poised to bring their first CLO deals in Europe this year. Twenty-two new managers joined the market last year, doubling the size of the market in just 12 months. If the market keeps growing at this pace there will inevitably be some form of consolidation since competition for assets is already acute. Spanish savings bank Caja Madrid is currently marketing its first self-managed CLO, Neptuno. The US market continues to boom – 16 deals a month closed last year and so far in 2007 17 have been announced and 44 are ramping.
  • The excitement of the inaugural Euromoney US covered bond conference clearly got to some delegates in New York last month. Not least Dr Louis Hagan, executive director of the VdP – otherwise known as the Association of German Pfandbrief Banks.
  • The bizarre decision by Moody’s to grant Aaa status to a rag-tag assortment of obscure Nordic credits has put the raters in the spotlight. The relationship between the rating agencies and the big investment banks should also come under scrutiny.
  • Too many banks are chasing too few fees.
  • Richard Price is moving from UBS to Dresdner Kleinwort to take on the role of head of equity sales, based in London. He has spent 18 years at UBS in a variety of roles including head of institutional sales for Australasia, head of pan-European equity sales North America and, most recently, head of pan-European sales into the UK.
  • The sub-prime mortgage crisis in the US will feed through to mortgage markets elsewhere as share prices plummet and borrowing costs soar.
  • More real estate companies have come to the market in the past two months than in the past two years.
  • "Japan’s companies had better make use of the advantage of being in the Asian region. The urgent task for them is to promote localization in Asia, in order to secure from European and US firms the fruits that this prospering economy brings forth"
  • Revenues at Instinet’s Asian business grew by an impressive 50% last year, double the growth in regional trading volumes. The electronic broker has ambitious plans to expand throughout the region this year, opening an office in Singapore, becoming the first remote member of the Australian Stock Exchange, and establishing a partnership in India to offer electronic direct market access. However, it is in its new adopted home of Japan that the broker is making its boldest moves.
  • Havens Advisors’ hedge funds focus on merger arbitrage, high-yield bonds and distressed debt. Helen Avery speaks to founder Nancy Havens about the opportunities in high-yield.
  • UK and continental European investors snapped up shares in Chagala Group, the leading property developer in oil-rich western Kazakhstan, enabling it to raise $120 million through an IPO on the main market in London last month.
  • The influence of Basle II is starting to be felt in UK mortgage lenders’ funding plans.
  • Moody’s efforts to sell a new methodology for rating banks met with a vitriolic chorus of disapproval from market participants and ended in a humiliating climb-down. Now that the agency has patched up its joint default analysis it faces another struggle – to regain its credibility. Alex Chambers reports.
  • Ukraine is the latest emerging market in which asset-backed securities are being issued, with both international and domestic transactions appearing in recent weeks.
  • Lebanese banks have maintained a comfortable financial position despite last year’s Israeli attack and a continuing stand-off between Hizbollah and the government. However, the macroeconomic situation is far from rosy, not least because the country has the world’s highest debt-to-GDP ratio. James Drummond reports from Beirut.
  • Asia’s debt markets have soared and spreads over US and European markets have all but disappeared. Meanwhile, risk appetite continues to rise as new products become increasingly marginal. Asia’s debt bankers have much to ponder. Chris Leahy reports.
  • Long overdue fiscal prudence and a rising economic tide have presented the Philippines with its best chance in decades for sustainable economic growth. Chris Leahy reports.
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