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March 1997

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  • Bonds are developing to suit the most sophisticated global investor. Sovereign debt issuance is increasing in emerging markets, European bond markets are diverging with the approach of monetary union, and the EIB's new further-issue clause could give debt-trading in euros huge liquidity. James Featherstone reports, starting with emerging markets
  • Environmental legislation is getting tougher and bankers need to study it carefully. The simple act of lending to a company in environmental trouble may make the bank liable. By Christopher Stoakes.
  • Last National Bank of Boot Hill,
  • Investors have piled into Czech koruna Eurobonds since they were first issued last year. Issuers too have continued to be attracted by favourable swap opportunities. Can the interest be sustained or is the vaunted model market for central and eastern Europe flashy but short of take-off power? Catherine Garner reports.
  • Issuer: Republic of Panama
    Amount: $500 million
    Launched: February 10
    Lead manager: BankBoston

  • Not only equity markets deserve the rough side of Alan Greenspan's tongue, say the market bears with increasing ferocity. Look at the debt markets. Fools are rushing into longer risk and less safe credits which should be the hunting-ground of specialists, warn the Cassandras of the capital market.
  • The drift from Frankfurt to London gets ever stronger at Deutsche Bank. The January issue of staff magazine International Forum chalked up one further milestone in the exodus when it announced it too has moved from the Finanzplatz.
  • In a few years the merger between Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter will appear epoch-making. It will mark a change in the trend of financial mergers away from flashy cross-border deals to more workaday domestic ones.
  • From Holland to Vienna, Ingersoll, Komarovsky and Iceberg are struggling with the new morality ­ ie, telling the truth.
  • In the first two months of 1997 an economic state of emergency was announced in Colombia and the currency tumbled. Then, barely a week after the emergency was over, a blow-out $1 billion global bond was issued that catapulted the country out of the second division of emerging markets into the ranks of investment-grade borrowers.
  • India's feeble coalition government is taking bold steps to reform its debt market. Just four months after opening up domestic corporate debt to foreign investors, it has let them into the government bond market.
  • January's dreadful German unemployment figure is the most politically significant euro event since the Dublin summit. Chancellor Kohl was always seen to be more powerful from abroad than he was in reality at home. He is now seen as a chancellor with a great plan for European integration and no strategy for German economic rejuvenation.
  • Hoping to increase the transparency and execution quality of a marketplace long shrouded in controversy and scandal, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) implemented several new rules in the over-the-counter equity market known as Nasdaq. Although the changes have been in the works for several years, last year's Justice Department price-fixing case against 24 major Nasdaq market makers pushed the SEC to act this January. Apparently unrepentant about the disrepute surrounding their market, leading firms are already grumbling about the new rules.
  • For many cynics in the securities industry, the upcoming introduction of the euro had only one real benefit. The enormous cost of converting systems to the new single European currency could be used as timely camouflage to correct the firm's information technology cock-ups of the past.
  • You won't see these options being traded on the floor at Liffe, but Shahram Nikpour at Bossard Consultants thinks that options on information technology firms are already hot property.
  • In his 18 months running the World Bank, James Wolfensohn has earned a reputation as something of a straight talker. Feeling the heat is Chilean electric utility Endesa. Wolfensohn has accused it of failing to fulfil environmental obligations that were part of an IFC loan for a hydroelectric plant on the Bio Bio river, 400 kilometres south of Santiago.
  • The European Monetary Institute has finally confirmed the worst fears of supporters of European monetary union. At the start of a meeting with clients, Paul Mercier, head of financial markets at the EMI, said to them: "I want to be as open as I possibly can there will be a delay in monetary union."
  • Something very strange is happening with the world economy.
  • The derivatives markets have reached a new peak of maturity. Digital and barrier products are commonplace; trades in unusual currency and asset markets are growing in size and volume; and vanilla instruments are being used in ever more sophisticated combinations. Mark Parsley reports.
  • Continental Europe makes way for Scandinavia and North America in Euromoney's biannual survey of country creditworthiness. Pressure to conform to Maastricht criteria on Emu has dampened growth, tightened budget deficits and weakened consumer demand. High unemployment and currency weaknesses have pushed countries such as Switzerland, France and Italy down the ranking. Rebecca Dobson reports.
  • Quality and quantity now characterize the Eurosterling marketplace. A growth in corporate paper and Fannie Mae's issue ­ the first sterling global ­ are factors attracting global investors. Katherine Baxendale reports on the forces behind the rise of the sterling bond.
  • Issuer: Canal+
    Amount: Ffr2 billion, exchangeable into shares of Mediaset
    Launched: February 12
    Lead manager: Lehman Brothers, UBS

  • February is the festive season for London's trading community; another record year for bonuses has the City festooned in bright new ties, sharply cut suits, and swaying to the sound of champagne corks. "You all look pretty well on it", commented Eddie George, governor of the Bank of England, in his opening address at the Euromoney international bond conference. That's hardly surprising when a top earner can have a bonus as high as eight times his salary. But the champagne-induced hangovers of celebrating traders are nothing compared with the headaches high bonuses are causing their managers.
  • Has spy novelist Len Deighton heard of the merger that the rest of us have missed? In his latest book, Charity, the main character, Bernard Samson, meets "a mergers and acquisitions man from Deutsche Morgan Stanley" in Berlin.
  • Is it accurate to refer to Simon Robertson as former executive chairman of DKB? Some newspapers did. However Robertson's resignation at the end of February is not the part which is inaccurate.
  • With interest rates so low and optimism for emerging markets so strong, investors are willing to take greater risks to achieve higher yields. So theoretically it's a good time for Côte d'Ivoire to unveil a plan to reschedule its debt via a Brady plan, only the second in Africa after Nigeria's. However, bullishness about emerging markets could be an obstacle to the Ivorian Brady plan, which is due to be implemented by the second quarter of 1997.
  • Why stay in Manhattan when taxes are lower and quality of life higher in nearby Greenwich? Financial institutions are overcoming their psychological bond with New York City and flooding into this leafy, wealthy suburb. Michelle Celarier reports on the burgeoning business community.
  • It was billed as Germans versus Brits: dull types from Deutsche clashing with wild City traders. But the DMG battle turned out differently. A hands-off approach has left transatlantic stars to build up the business. They get along fine, it's just that the Americans are winning. Steven Irvine reports.
  • It's not often that a league table for a major capital markets sector features firms like Wako Securities, Kokusai Securities and Caja de Madrid above Goldman Sachs. But the MTNWare bookrunner league table for the first two months of 1997 does. It's the league table, generated by Euromoney and Capital Data, that the whole market is arguing over: the table of MTN trades.
  • Istanbul Stock Exchange (ISE) has opened its offshore International Market with the launch of trading in Turkish Eurobonds.