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May 1997

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  • Yet another trading scandal came very close to rocking a major financial institution in the City of London recently. This time it was Bankers Trust which had a nasty shock when it discovered that blatant rogue trading was going on in its midst. The perpetrators this time were children from a London secondary school attending a Bankers Trust maths weekend at the University of Warwick.
  • Issuer: Gazprom
  • Bankers like to wring their hands every time a competitor is forced to report a big loss caused by a rogue trader or poor controls.
  • Hillboot Intergalactic PLC,
  • With civil war and political manoeuvring giving way to economic reconstruction, Bosnia and Herzegovina is facing up to the need to attract foreign investment and trade finance. An innovative World Bank political risks guarantee facility announced in March should prove a useful element in this process.
  • Issuer: Republic of Ecuador
  • The world is all perversity. The worst that could happen to investors is stronger global growth, producing weak financial markets. That will happen if Japan picks up this year at the same time as core Europe, and there is a continued boom in the US.
  • The niceties of custody hardly apply in emerging markets. Clients care more about settling on time than they do about sophisticated services. Banks concentrate on the basics and the breakdown of the market into customer groups is a long way off. James Featherstone reports on the latest developments in Latin America.
  • The pressures of qualifying for Emu are forcing governments to privatize faster than they might otherwise think prudent. There's a convergence of issues as well as a convergence of currencies. Is it all more than the market can bear? Catherine Garner reports.
  • Issuer: Household International
  • When Australia's corporate bond market looked like taking off twice before, it soon fell flat on its face. Things are different this time, bankers argue. Government borrowing is being cut back and pension funds have increasing amounts to invest. So spreads are narrowing and smaller corporates at least are taking the hint. The blue chips still need some persuading. Albert Smith reports.
  • When Alan Smith returned to work he took no chances. The former head of Jardine Fleming finished his six months of gardening leave on April 1. Not wanting to look a fool he started a week later.
  • "It's turned out to be what we think is a perfect balance of our cultures and backgrounds - both China and Scotland," says Ian Wilson, Standard Chartered's general manager for Hong Kong, China and north-east Asia.
  • Bob Rubin could be the next president of the United States - and within a matter of months.
  • Are banks facing a rough ride on the information superhighway?
  • Almost no-one outside Japan has noticed, but an unprecedented wave of mergers in the financial sector is about to hit the headlines.
  • Officials from Brazil's national treasury are travelling nationwide singing the praises of federal domestic debt to pension fund managers. Later roadshows will sell the same story to insurance companies. They are stressing increased transparency, lower risk, higher earnings potential and a longer yield curve.
  • If you're still not ready for monetary union, Deutsche Bank might just have the answer.
  • For a year the US Justice Department has been investigating whether or not Citibank violated federal money-laundering statutes through its private banking relationship with Raul Salinas de Gortari. Now the big question is looming: will Citibank, the banking unit of Citicorp, be indicted or, at the very least, end up paying a big fine?
  • Banks are constantly exploring new and cheaper ways of raising and using capital. After Tier 1 (shareholders' funds) and Tier 2 (debt capital) comes Tier 3 to support short-term trading positions. But only the adventurous Dutch have put Tier 3 to use. There seems to be more mileage in clever structures such as callable perpetuals. Jules Stewart reports.
  • The hard lessons of recession mean that debt financing is going out of style in Finland, where an invigorated stock market and a brace of privatizations offer a boost for equities. William Essex reports.
  • Wall Street is competing with an 800-pound gorilla. That's the label attached to Chase as it wrestles investment banking mandates from traditional players. Even by US standards Chase is noted for being aggressive. And its great strength is the lending capability that helps it win both bond and M&A deals. Will it eventually be king? By Michelle Celarier.
  • Rarely has a deal triggered such animosity: joint lead managers who couldn't bear the bookrunner; unreturned telephone calls; alleged breaches of a gentleman's agreement. That's if you believe the members of the syndicate. But if you believe the bookrunner, the other banks are "squawking" in their own dream world. Amid such squabbling, the $1 billion debut by the central bank of the Philippines had to be pulled at the last moment - leaving behind recriminations that will sour the Asian capital markets for years. Steven Irvine reports.
  • News of a planned merger between Bankers Trust and broker Alex Brown came in a rush. In fact, though, the firms had long recognized their complementarities and had first started talking about a link-up in 1993. Peter Lee reports.
  • A change in the way US treasuries can be settled promises to inject liquidity into repo markets denominated in illiquid currencies or in markets that lack repo. It also has ramifications for the holding of US treasuries as reserve assets. By Christopher Stoakes
  • Two new European-currency corporate high-yield bonds appeared last month, opening what could soon become a thriving sector of the international bond markets. The welcome which supposedly credit-risk-averse European bond investors gave to the two deals was quite spectacular.
  • Investment in private equity markets in eastern Europe is hard work, but enthusiasts reckon it's worth the effort. "In private equity we're sweating a lot trying to turn a profit, and then we look next door and see those guys making a lot of money buying and selling in the public markets," says Philippe Belot, a senior banker at the EBRD. But "we'll be better off in the longer term. We're betting on an upturn in these economies."
  • JP Morgan won plaudits for altruism when it donated RiskMetrics, a market volatility matrix, to the financial world in 1994. RiskMetrics also proved a superb way of marketing the Morgan name. Now JPM is at it again with a release of CreditMetrics for global consumption.
  • If Arab states are to build industrialized trading economies on their oil wealth they will need internationally accessible capital markets trading a full range of financial instruments. Without these, Arab funds abroad - let alone foreign capital - are unlikely to flow in. Nigel Dudley reports.
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