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January 2002

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  • Issuer: Diversified Global Securities Limited (UBS Principal Finance)Type of deal: Cashflow arbitrage CDO of CDOsAmount: $236.95 millionDate: December 13 2001Underwriter: Société Générale
  • An overpromoted investment banker who should never have been doing the job in the first place? Or a gifted and articulate, internationally minded manager leading the drive for transparency and shareholder value?
  • The departure of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria's co-chairman Emilio Ybarra was half expected. But the resignation of CEO and vice-chairman Pedro Luis Uriarte, announced on the same day, shocked the market.
  • Unrest in Argentina lent a new urgency to preventing disruptive sovereign debt work-outs. But few experts yet accept IMF first deputy managing director Anne Krueger’s idea for legal protection for sovereign debtors.
  • In Bucharest, the government of former communists has made remarkable strides in pushing through economic reforms including privatization of Banca Agricola and ailing steel company Sidex. It has even made some progress on banking regulation. If sustained, this should help the country catch up with neighbours in attracting foreign direct investment and bring it closer to eventual EU accession.
  • The economy is booming, but Russia’s stellar growth rates of the past three years are already starting to slow. The impact of the cheap rouble and high international oil prices are beginning to wear off. President Putin must embark on painstaking structural reforms or the boom could peter out. But that means taking on powerful entrenched interests.
  • Barclays - The Business of Banking 1690-1996 may not be everyone's idea of a page-turner. On the surface it looks as if it might appeal to the select few for whom interim company reports are favoured leisure reading.
  • Back in January 1999 the euro was heralded as a strong currency that would soon outshine the dollar. Europe had a surplus on its external balance of payments and tight fiscal policies. The US had a huge current account deficit, net external liabilities and budget deficits. The dollar was bound to dive. How wrong the dollar bears have been.
  • The insurance industry is at a turning point. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, capacity shrank, rates rocketed, and losses mounted. Some cover is still hard to come by. Yet a dramatic resurgence is under way as new capital floods in and as insurers adopt alternative risk transfer, dubbed insurance-based investment banking. It's now evident that the terrorist crisis has not simply served to highlight the notoriously cyclical nature of the industry but has greatly accelerated long-term changes in the sector. So what role will the capital markets play in providing capacity? And how will the latest and largest calamity hasten the convergence between the distinct cultures of insurance and banking?
  • Convertibles
  • Telecoms service providers are still struggling to rebuild their balance sheets and avoid the worst consequences of overpaying for 3G licences but Finland's Nokia, which is hugely exposed to the mobile sector as a builder of mobile networks and seller of mobile phones, seems to be in robust good health.
  • Financial Security
  • Collateral
  • There were celebrations at the Spanish treasury last month. Two days after secretary of state for the economy José Folgado presented Spain's debt issuance plans for 2002 to investors in Madrid, Moody's upgraded it.
  • Co-chairmen, Eulia
  • Introduction of euro notes and coins involves complex decisions on the part of bankers on how to deal with legacy currencies in contracts.
  • The collapse of Enron has numerous implications for the insurance industry, not least on the credit risk side. But identifying them, let alone quantifying them, is not proving to be an easy task - either for the insurers themselves or for the analysts who cover them.
  • President, Tokyo Mitsubishi Securities
  • Walking around mid-town New York in December is always a chore. And the 15-block section of Fifth Avenue south of Central Park is the worst of the lot. Last year was no exception. Despite the creeping economic gloom of the past 15 months, despite the huge personal and economic costs to New York of the attacks on the World Trade Centre in September, there were still hordes of Christmas shoppers crowding the streets.
  • Argentine
  • Russia
  • International regulators are stepping up their oversight of the insurance industry for a multitude of reasons. The fear that life insurers are taking increasingly risky bets with long-term retail savings is high on the list. And so is the concern that the increasing convergence and risk transfer between the insurance and banking sectors may be creating unseen - and unforeseen - risks.
  • Argentina was brought down, ultimately, by the miscalculations of its own leaders. But others must share the blame, including the IMF. The international financial community, especially the large sell-side banks, do not come out of the debacle smelling of roses either.
  • The citizens of Hamilton, Bermuda, are well used to seeing expensively dressed business executives drifting in and out of their gleaming glass and metal towers. But they may not be aware that their small island in the mid-north Atlantic - 22 square miles in size with a population of just 65,000 people - is increasingly viewed as the capital of the global insurance industry. How has this happened?
  • There may only be two surviving Beatles, following the death of George Harrison, but their influence continues to stretch throughout the world, even into financial services.
  • The Enron saga showed vividly how credit rating agencies can be key players in the endgame facing a stricken corporation. That's a disquieting role for the agencies, which present themselves as mere observers. But downgrades, by setting off forced selling, can push troubled companies over the edge. How did investors come to rely so heavily on ratings and what do they intend to do about it?
  • Latin America
  • The happy solution to volatile equity markets or an accident waiting to happen? Hedge funds, long the darlings of super-wealthy individuals, are now attracting attention from institutions and even retail investors. Funds are pouring into the sector faster than ever. But though the salesmen say there is plenty more room for investors to fill their boots, some people fear that they could be the next investment bubble after dot coms and private equity.
  • With its economy already weakened by falling oil prices, Venezuela’s suffering is being intensified by the actions of president Hugo Chávez, whose populism is rapidly losing all support. More conflict is likely.