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December 1998

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  • The question of how the world's institutional investors will react to Emu and the changes in the European market over the next year is a much debated topic.
  • As events of the past year have shown, transparent and timely information is crucial in the financial markets. Lack of information can be a killer, or at the least a severe embarrassment. But ironically those very institutions that have been pushing most for greater transparency in emerging markets, the major US banks, are themselves guilty of hiding their own exposures from their shareholders.
  • Not long ago Deutsche Bank was reckoned among the dullest, slowest moving and most parochial of European universal banks. Trammelled by its corporate shareholdings, anxious about the conflicts between the equity business and traditional banking services and baffled by new risk management tools, Deutsche looked an also-ran. US institutions were invading its backyard. The large UK players were building high-profile investment banking arms and even the French and Dutch were moving faster.
  • The recent fall in oil prices might once have spelt disaster for the Saudi Arabia's banking sector - slashing government revenues and weakening banks' asset quality. But this time the authorities seem well prepared for the current wave of economic turbulence and the banks are optimistic of riding out the storm. Michael Peterson reports.
  • It must be perpetual but it doesn't have to be for ever. It has to feel like equity but look - to tax authorities - like debt. Defining banks' core capital is one of the thorniest issues facing bank regulators. Antony Currie reports on the squabbles over what fits in the tier-one category.
  • Not every Asian company is a sickly, debt-laden conglomerate. Well-managed businesses in sectors from food to electronics are positioning themselves to survive the region's recession. The success stories of the next decade might not be petroleum exporters and airlines, they might be glass makers, oil-palm growers or fast-food retailers. We pick out six of Asia's most promising companies.
  • Just a year ago, project finance was wallowing in liquidity. The Asian crisis has brought about a dramatic reversal. New and revived approaches ­ project bonds, club deals, indexation, hedging, more use of political risk insurance ­ have so far proved only partly successful in getting the business back on the road. James Featherstone reports.
  • What's the best way to promote an issue? Yesterday's world-touring roadshow is too slow and cumbersome in today's volatile markets. Latin borrowers are meeting investors one on one or holding non-deal roadshows to get the message out. They launch the deal when conditions are right. This and other features of the new capital-markets environment - reopenings, reverse enquiry, speedy execution - could be more than just a passing fad. Brian Caplen reports
  • Behind all the talk of Big Bang, bank recapitalization and tax cuts, Japan's real policymakers are following a path well trodden during the country's insular past. By Stephen Church.
  • Making a career in Brazilian equities in the City of London might seem a job for an inward-looking intellectual who likes reading and doesn't mind waiting for the telephone to ring. But Stephen Rose, a quintessential Englishman, is quite the opposite - he is outgoing, gregarious and more likely to be ringing you. These qualities enabled him to build his brokerage, Stephen Rose & Partners, to the point where it attracted interest from Brazil's third-largest private bank, Unibanco, which bought the business two years ago.
  • How well we remember those early days when we helped you to meet the Herculean characters of the discount market in El Vino's and how much we admired the speed with which you took into account the day's liquidity shortage in your consumption of gin and tonics before lunch.
  • Mindful of the nervousness of international markets the Brazilian central bank pulled out all the stops to ensure that the collapse of Banco Pontual was a controlled affair.
  • Ecuador's bankers are scratching their heads wondering how to design products to accommodate a radical new 1% tax on capital transactions, which from January will replace traditional income tax. The tax will be withheld from bank customers whenever a deposit is made into an account or for a fixed-term investment, or when a cheque is cashed. Customers will not be charged, however, when money is withdrawn from an ATM. It is feared that the tax will lead to further distortions - the financial system already has a huge quantity of transactions that don't always provide added value but which are operationally necessary - and to tax avoidance by conducting transactions outside the system, says analysts.
  • Romania has quietly slid into a debt trap and there are fears that it could be allowed to go under as the IMF and World Bank play hardball.
  • Internet IPOs were once regarded as highly risky. Now they rank among the best-received offerings in the global marketplace. The rapid rise in internet use has driven the perception that service providers will be worth a lot of money, and now everyone is trying to get a piece of the action. Yet the euphoria surrounding recent flotations of internet stocks may be hiding a less rosy picture for hi-tech issuers as a whole. Peter Lee reports.
  • The key to the gate of heaven, runs a Buddhist proverb, is also the key which could open the gate of hell. Buddha wasn't specifically talking about capital account convertibility when he made this statement. But he could have been.
  • Although the Greek government's macroeconomic policy continues to alienate the electorate, investors are being attracted in their droves to an economy now firmly on track for meeting the European Union's Maastricht criteria by 2001. International confidence is growing rapidly, evidenced not least by the performance of Greek equities and bonds. Philip Moore reports.
  • The December edition of Euromoney focuses on Asia - the best Asian companies, the most talented bankers and commercial figures and the best banks. These are the crisis busters, the people and institutions whose success or failure will spell not just a renaissance in their own countries but will also provide a spur to economic growth elsewhere in the emerging and developed markets.
  • When emerging markets go wobbly, strong, solidly performing companies are thrown into relief. Euromoney looks at nine of Latin America's best. They have in common steady demand for their products and services but also a determination to seek efficiency and financial soundness. Alex Mathias reports.
  • Continental European equity markets have rallied hugely since the US Federal Reserve began to cut interest rates. It's an opportunity to sell.
  • They are educated in the west. They are fluent in the language of reform, privatization and transparency. They are charming and open. The crisis in Asia has thrust forward a new generation of bureaucrats, regulators and ambassadors for the region. Is this a new approach to government in Asia or is the region simply becoming better at presenting itself?
  • Munich, Sunday November 15
  • Our annual ranking of the biggest banks in Asia outside Japan shows little change among the top 10. But further down the list, banks in countries such as Korea and Thailand have suffered sharp falls. Fitch IBCA supplied the data for the Asian 100 and the Japan 50.
  • Japan 50: Methodology
  • Which are Asia's best regarded companies? Our annual poll of analysts reveals a few surprises. Some Indonesian firms do well, but Hong Kong's banks and trading houses remain in a league of their own. Research by Alejandra Ruvalcaba.
  • The Asian meltdown has thrown up opportunity as well as crisis. For the region's big banks it is an unprecedented chance to grow into regional players as weak banks go bankrupt or are taken over. Several Asian banks have long expressed regional pretensions. But which of them stand a serious chance of becoming the pre-eminent Asian player? Steven Irvine reports.
  • Chinese premier Zhu Rongji had been slowly drawing the net around the country's second biggest investment and trust company long before the outside world or indeed the company's own executives knew what was happening. He sent trusted aides to Guangdong where they worked quietly for months to flush out financial irregularities and clean up the scandal-ridden province. Their investigations led to the shutdown of Guangdong International Trust and Investment Company (Gitic).
  • When three vulture funds voted down a settlement relating to bonds issued by failed bank Baring Brothers, it emerged that among their advisers was Wilbur Ross, senior managing director at Rothschild in New York.
  • Mohamed Taymour was in the top 0.1% of high-school students in Egypt the year he graduated. At the time, engineering was the fashionable next step up the educational ladder. So to please his father and gain useful mathematical skills Taymour opted to study industrial engineering instead of of commerce, already his true love.
  • Deutsche Bank buys Bankers Trust and pitches itself into yet another battle of cultures. Swallowing Morgan Grenfell has left bitter memories, but this time the German bank should be better equipped to control the Anglo-Saxons and the risks of the entire group. Bank strategies are changing in Germany, driven by intensifying competition, greater transparency and more advanced risk management. David Shirreff reports.