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March 2005

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  • With tongue firmly in cheek, regional broker CLSA launched its annual Feng Shui Index report early in February, offering prognostications for the Chinese Year of the Rooster. Now in its 14th year, the report, this time entitled "Rooster Oracles", is a humorous look at what the year might hold for the market in Hong Kong, one of the world's most superstitious places.
  • A record start to the year in European equity capital markets has been helped by strong fund inflows from the US. The pipeline of potential deals is healthy, with government, private equity and corporate vendors all eager to sell.
  • Supporters of PFI note that more hospitals have been built in the UK in the last 10 years than in the previous 50. Detractors think the capital inflows are being spent on the wrong assets in the wrong places, leaving the future as uncertain as ever.
  • New approaches to managing currency funds have proliferated as demand holds up from investors disillusioned by poor performance in other asset classes. But could the market be getting saturated?
  • Virtually unknown outside its native Malaysia, investment bank Commerce International Merchant Bankers has rapidly consolidated its domestic dominance. Running out of room to grow, the firm is acquiring Singapore stockbroker GK Goh in its first big step to create a regional investment banking force. The ambition is evident and so are the challenges.
  • Contrary to a common market prediction, last month Fiat Auto walked away from an agreement signed in 2000 that allowed it to put the company to General Motors, with €1.55 billion in its pocket.
  • Chairman, CEO and CIO, US Global Investors
  • Single women interested in meeting "high adrenaline guys who thrive on excitement, adventure and the finer things the world has to offer" now need look no further than traderdater .com, the online dating site recently launched by Trader magazine, a lifestyle magazine aimed at traders and hedge fund managers.
  • While we're celebrating the best of the web in Euromoney's technology poll this month, mention must be made of Christian Mundigo, head of long-term interest rates trading, Europe, Japan & Asia, at BNP Paribas. Christian and his wife Braden's personal site ( is intuitive, user-friendly, and easily navigable.
  • Analysts were convinced of the inevitability of US telecoms consolidation but the recent flurry of M&A activity was a surprise. Many analysts are dubious about its timing and doubt that much shareholder value will be generated. What's certain is that the business has been a welcome boost for M&A advisers.
  • Many banks are avid collectors of modern art, but are their most treasured works appreciated? Hanging them in conference or board rooms, or the corridors on executive floors and the number of people who get to see them is limited. There's always the option of putting them in your lobby. Or you can go one step further, like UBS, and display them in one of the most celebrated modern art museums, the newly reopened MoMa in New York.
  • Kumho Tire's IPO was oversubscribed in both the London and Seoul markets when the tyre manufacturer launched the first simultaneous dual listing by a Korean company
  • Be careful when you write that email. It could come back to haunt you – as Henry Blodget and a growing number of corporates have painfully discovered
  • While France's 50-year OAT is creating a new segment on the euro yield curve, many other sovereigns are making the most of the clamour for long-dated bonds
  • Traditionally the backyard of the US, Latin America is fast becoming China's new best friend. Such is the apparent warmth of the relationship that Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez, recently declared that Mao Tse-tung and 19th-century independence leader Simon Bolivar would have been great friends had they met.
  • If you are passing the head office of the mighty Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt you might notice a red Opel Kadett parked outside. Scrawled along its sides in big bright letters is the slogan: "Never again, Deutsche Bank or its partners!"
  • German consumer spending remains lacklustre, so it's as well that the federal republic's exports are maintaining healthy growth. But what if foreigners start buying less and Germans fail to regain confidence?
  • The opening of German financial markets to true securitization looks set to relieve banks of badly performing loans, add new capital to the mortgage markets and revolutionize the financing of Mittelstand companies.
  • A BANK EXECUTIVE telling you he sees no prospect of his institution merging with another is a bit like a politician telling you he's quitting to spend more time with his family. Usually it's little more than bluster.
  • Can you trust your boss? Apparently more so in the US than in the UK and Asia. Research by consultants Watson Wyatt says 51% of US workers have trust and confidence in the job being done by senior management, compared with just 31% of UK workers.
  • India's capital markets have started the year on a high note. Despite worries about the weather and high oil prices, the economy is expected to have grown by 6.9% in the year ending this month. Small but significant steps have been taken towards economic reform in recent months.
  • As Uruguay and Colombia have shown, for the right country under the right circumstances local-currency bonds marketed globally can be a valuable addition to emerging market instruments, for both issuers and investors.
  • Having had serial relationships with three global investment banking houses, all of which deals unravelled, Thai investment bank Phatra Securities can be forgiven for wanting to go it alone. Although the firm still enjoys good relations with one ex-partner, the new-found independence clearly suits its style.
  • CEO, Greenpark Capital
  • Asia's banks have capitalized on better general economic conditions by cleaning up long-overdue problems. With a few exceptions this has meant the sector is stronger throughout the region.
  • A proposed expansion of Saudi Arabia's rail system is set to be one of the biggest construction projects in the Middle East and should revolutionize freight distribution in the region.
  • The SEC doesn't know how many hedge funds there are and distrusts their secretive ways. Its ruling that they should register with it has prompted claims that it is ultra vires, will raise costs to unsustainable levels and reduce the competitiveness of onshore US funds. Unsurprisingly some funds are seeking ways to sidestep the requirement.
  • Portugal's banks have got to grips with the pressures of EU membership much more effectively than the economy as a whole, which has depended on ad hoc measures rather than fundamental structural change to keep on course. But even the banks must expect more consolidation and rationalization.