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July 1998

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LATEST ARTICLES

  • Hong Kong's economy sank into recession in the first quarter and those who argue for a devaluation of the Hong Kong dollar are starting to be taken more seriously. This worries outsiders, particularly the US, who believe that devaluation would cause a crisis of confidence in Hong Kong itself and would spark a fresh round of currency crises in the region. This in turn would damage the global economy.
  • This autumn, after the annual IMF/World Bank meeting is over, the men and women responsible for raising money for six of the smaller states in the euro zone will hold a private meeting in Portugal to discuss ways of ensuring that their interests are given as much weight as those of the area's largest sovereign borrowers. They will try to build a coordinated approach on issues such as a euro-zone borrowing calendar and establishing common standards for primary dealers. In the longer term some bankers believe they will be able to plan joint bond issues for more than one country in the same way that German Länder have made joint borrowings.
  • Hotel Intercontinental Wien, Johannesgasse 28, Wien, Vienna, Austria
  • Can Europe produce a top-tier global investment bank? The British have proved they can't. BZW and NatWest Markets were disasters and though they have spawned successful offshoots, Barclays Capital and Greenwich NatWest are to British investment banking what Greg Rusedski is to British tennis - technically British, actually North American. Bob Diamond and Tom Kalaris are ex-CSFB and JP Morgan respectively, and NatWest bought Chip Kruger and Gary Holloway's Greenwich Capital whole.
  • If a major bank based in euroland, such as ING or Deutsche Bank, had liquidity problems, which central bank, if any, would help with temporary funding? Would it be the European Central Bank or one at the national level?
  • In these acquisitive times, a bank needs to find a cost-efficient means of funding its ambitions. In the recent takeover squabble for Belgium's Générale de Banque, ABN Amro suggested that it would issue $1 billion worth of preferred stock in order to help fund its, ultimately unsuccessful, bid.
  • Naming a woman to a senior management position of a Japanese brokerage would have been unthinkable in Japan's securities industry as recently as 10 years ago. Of course, back then Japanese brokerages were raking in commissions from Japan's overheating equities market.
  • It's a sign of the times when a bank gives up a banking licence to a department store and buys a life insurer. But that's what ING Barings has done in Chile. Focused on corporate finance, ING Barings decided it didn't need a banking licence and approached local retailer Falabella about a deal.
  • Ever felt that your local bank branch was a little dull? Are you spending time in the bank when you have other chores to do? Do banks make you feel hungry?
  • The emerging-market crisis will roll on, mutating like a virus as it kills investor dreams. Sure, Latin America's flaws are not those of Asia. But they're deep enough for the region to get whacked.
  • Issuer: Russian Federation
  • Captain Euro to rescue Europe's ailing identity! That's the hope anyway. Captain Euro, a euro-currency cartoon hero, and his attractive female partner Europa were launched by Twelve Stars Communications on the internet last month (www.captain-euro.com).
  • A wave of venture-capital deals financed byhigh-yield debt modelled on US practice has hit Europe. But as Christopher Stoakes explains, the legal intricacies of these dealsare often different in Europe and the US.
  • What will futures exchanges be like in the next millennium? As electronic markets bring end-users ever closer, will we need them at all? Exchanges could eventually be replaced by giant clearing houses. But traditionalists say there will always be a demand for the intensity of the trading pit, and none argue with more passion than Pat Catania. David Shirreff reports.
  • Ace Greenberg, the 70-year-old chairman of Bear Stearns, is one of the biggest of Wall Street's Big Swinging Dicks: his 1997 pay cheque was comfortably over the $20 million mark.
  • "I must confess to you that at times the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] is misunderstood, misreported and statements are quoted out of context," says India's new finance minister Yashwant Sinha.
  • The leveraged buy-out market in Europe has doubled every year since the mid-1990s. Some market participants doubt that resources and expertise are sufficient to maintain this heady pace. Nevertheless business should continue booming as European monetary union takes effect and US firms are beginning to take an interest. Rebecca Bream reports.
  • Was Goldman sleeping, did its client just not listen, or was Energy Group simply too clever? After a year of dithering, PacifiCorp let its UK target slip into Texan hands. The only thing that didn't fall through the cracks was the fees for Goldman and the other investment banks. Antony Currie reports.
  • The tequila crisis, Asian fallout, money laundering charges - Mexican bankers walk a tortured road. Nor is there any sign of reprieve. Fobaproa, the vehicle that bailed out the country's banks, is about to undergo a public audit. The political opposition is demanding blood for what they see as the mishandling of the crisis. Bankers are again in the firing line. Brian Caplen reports.
  • Is it time for foreigners to cut their losses and get out of the Thai securities business, or is it a unique buying opportunity while business is depressed? As part of a global retreat from equities Barclays Capital has sold its 49% stake in Bangkok Securities only 18 months after purchase. But Merrill Lynch executives are excited about its new venture Merrill Lynch Phatra Securities which links it with one of the country's leading institutions, Thai Farmers Bank.
  • Gardening leave for overworked bankers is perhaps one of the more agreeable spin-offs when one bank buys another. A recent beneficiary is Carol Barazzone, the former head of global equity syndicate at BZW, who quit in April four months after the sale to CSFB.
  • When investment bankers turn to writing, few professional scribes lose sleep over the competition. A banker's motivation for putting pen to paper is often either ego or epitaph. Neither makes for a gripping read. A book by Bruce Wasserstein, co-founder of New York M&A boutique Wasserstein Perella, might therefore be expected to be met with scepticism.
  • June 17 1998 is a date that will stick in the mind of Bob Diamond for a while. Not because his speech, '"Give me credit baby", A European bank's perspective on the importance of credit research', went down so well at Euromoney's latest Global Borrowers and Investors Forum - though his was one of the wittier and more provocative offerings. No, the chief executive of Barclays Capital is more likely to remember his debut as a catwalk model at his firm's well-attended party at London's trendiest new hotel, the Hempel.
  • Hans de Gier, chairman and chief executive of Warburg Dillon Read, didn't mince words at the grand opening of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in Canary Wharf on June 1. Batting third in an impressive line-up of speakers, he warned that the FSA's approach to regulation risked "embodying the worst of both worlds: high-level principles interpreted and applied separately from detailed rules designed on a one-size-fits-all basis".
  • The biggest money-laundering investigation ever carried out by the US authorities cast its net wide. Operation Casablanca uncovered trails in Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela and indicted some highly respectable banks. Some have now launched internal investigations into what went wrong. But how much are banks to blame when money laundering goes on under their roofs? Michelle Celarier reports.
  • Latin America is an unlikely safe haven. But as Asia melts down, the region's new foreign invaders are thankful that they spent their billions there. The acquisitions should be good for the local markets too. Jules Stewart reports.
  • As the largest and most sophisticated capital market, the US remains the breeding ground for new products. Borrowers are demanding ever more flexible approaches to capital raising. A new wave of hybrid securities is emerging. James Rutter reports.
  • The savage drop in oil prices and a populist presidential candidate have given investors in Venezuela the jitters. But, as Bill Hieronymus reports, the scaremongering might just be going too far.
  • "Caspian has never been in better shape to take advantage of market conditions in the whole of its history." So said Caspian Securities' founder, Christopher Heath, speaking to Euromoney in March of this year. Four months on and Caspian, the investment bank dedicated solely to emerging markets, is no more.
  • A reserved young man in a business better known for exuberant individuality, Nicolas Rohatyn perfectly embodies the JP Morgan of the late 1990s.
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