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January 2005

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LATEST ARTICLES

  • Revision of Greece's public finance accounts has underlined the need for a big effort to reduce budget deficits. However, the government seems unwilling to tackle crucial areas such as social security reform. Dimitris Kontogiannis reports
  • Two leading Russian investment banks, Troika Dialog and Trust Investment Bank, have both completed management buy-outs.
  • Deal: Apollo CCO
  • Head of UK institutional business, F&C Asset Management
  • An immensely complex cross-border insolvency is being worked out in US and UK courts. It pits a US billionaire investor against nearly 40,000 UK pension scheme members, UK insolvency procedures against the US's Chapter 11, and one legal system against the other. It could have long-term implications for any distressed debt investor that makes transatlantic investments. Mark Brown reports.
  • Credit Suisse Group is to restructure again. This time, the plan includes a closer integration of investment banking arm CSFB with the rest of the group. Antony Currie looks hard for changes in the revised strategy for CSFB itself and speaks to its CEO, Brady Dougan, about them. He seems to be reheating his predecessor's plans for the firm, which has spent months reviewing its business without making a great deal of progress.
  • Many companies still play the game of regularly guiding market expectations for earnings to a level that they then proceed to beat. They should watch their language
  • Research into broker execution quality in the US cash equities market by Celent, a technology research consultancy, has produced some damning results.
  • Hong Kong investors' addiction to the fast buck has often landed them in trouble. The latest preoccupation, the M share, entails feverish punting in listed stocks that are themselves punting on neighbouring territory Macau's gambling industry. As a clever few rapidly enrich themselves at the expense of the gullible masses, the inevitable result looms. Chris Leahy reports.
  • Investors like growth and they like dividends. So why isn't Vodafone on a premium rating?
  • Strong demand kept US high-yield new issues flowing fast through the usually quiet end-of-year period. But with the market open to issuers from all sectors with often untested track records, are buyers riding for a fall? Kathryn Tully reports.
  • Speculation about Instinet Group's future has heated up again recently. Equities trading has not been an easy business to make money in during the past three years as investors looked for ways to cut their costs. Independent specialist brokers such as Instinet found it particularly tough.
  • For all its increased transparency, standardization, and liquidity, investors should treat the credit derivatives market with caution in 2005.
  • The London Stock Exchange might be willing to countenance merger discussions once again with Deutsche Börse, but it is not content to stand idly by while the Swiss Exchange (SWX) tries to poach its lucrative Eurobond business.
  • HSBC is going ?carbon neutral.? It plans to plant trees, buy green electricity and trade emission allowances to abate its contribution to the release of greenhouse gas.
  • Hong Kong's LINK REIT juggernaut rolled into town last month. The $2.7 billion IPO of the local Housing Authority's portfolio of retail outlets and car parks, packaged as a real estate investment trust and lead managed by Goldman Sachs, HSBC and UBS, LINK was the world's largest REIT.
  • Congratulations to Tim Herrington on his appointment as chairman of the UK Financial Services Authority's regulatory decisions committee. As head of the global asset management group at international law firm Clifford Chance, he undoubtedly has the technical expertise needed for his new role.
  • Jacques Chirac, France's president, might have described his country's relationship with Britain as ?l'amour violent? ? a turbulent love affair ? but London is the place to be nowadays if you're French.
  • Could the euro overtake the dollar as the world's premier reserve currency soon? Yes, says Niall Ferguson, professor of international history at Harvard University. At Euromoney's Euro Fixed-Income Forum in Paris last month, Ferguson said that a growing US fiscal deficit in the short term, and the likely bankruptcy of the US social security system, could produce a crisis of confidence in the dollar.
  • If you want stock markets to rise, simply supply the City with more booze. Stocks and shares website ADVFN says that in 16 of the last 20 Decembers the FTSE 100 has gone up, and the month has been responsible for 25% of whatever rises there have been in the Dow Jones Industrial Average since 1930.
  • The equity market is dull and M&A patchy but private equity is on fire. Barely a week goes by without a landmark deal. What is especially striking is the amounts private-equity houses have been able to pay for their targets. And that is a function of how much they have been able to borrow.
  • Bullish predictions of the size of Caspian oil reserves made in the 1990s now look greatly exaggerated. With the BTC pipeline linking Azerbaijan to Turkey opening this year, Julian Evans asks just how much oil there is in the region, and whether there will be any more finance deals anything like the size of BTC.
  • Poland's once-beleaguered banks are posting profit growth for 2004 as high as 400% in some cases. Banks are now hungry to increase market share via acquisitions. But who at the table is prepared to cash in their chips? Julian Evans reports.
  • Austria's economy is in better shape than those of most of the states to its west and its companies already have a solid presence in the new EU states in central and eastern Europe. Now it is reforming its financial markets and encouraging foreign investors in order to take advantage of further gains. Ben Aris reports.
  • Inflation differentials between countries are returning and investment analysts will reinvent the technology for weighing them. First in the balance will be the US whose assets look set to weigh light against those of Europe and Japan
  • The advantages of sharing specialist industry sector information drawn from private companies, plus a desire to provide complementary asset allocation vehicles to end investors, are drawing private-equity firms and hedge funds into alliances. Private equity firms are hoping to capture some of the client money rushing into hedge funds a number of which are now bidding for whole companies. Julie Dalla-Costa reports.
  • In a bold but reckless ploy, for much of last year Russia's president Vladimir Putin sought to curb the appreciation of the rouble against the dollar by intervening in the market. But the strategy, designed to protect domestic producers against growing imports, backfired. Along with inflation, capital outflows revived, sparking off the mini liquidity crisis that hit several banks in the summer. Ben Aris reports.
  • In 2004 equity deals for smaller companies were much more lucrative for investment banks than large block trades, which were often disasters from a profit point of view. Heavy competition for deals, with league table positions strongly in mind, helped kept discounts tight. In volatile markets, banks proved willing to cut their own throats in pursuit of ill-paid privatization transactions. Peter Koh reports
  • Two recent deals for funding in the public-private partnership market use innovative structures. Banks and construction companies are starting to find funding advantages as the capital markets warm to project finance assets
  • After five consecutive 25-basis point interest rate increases by the US Federal Reserve in the second half of 2004 the year might have been expected to end with credit spreads lower, a sell-off in emerging-market debt and a slowdown of real-estate investments.