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November 1997

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LATEST ARTICLES

  • When the Soviet Union collapsed, skills were short and contacts were everything. Putting together what they could of both, two young Russians, Vladimir Potanin and Michail Prokhorov, built from scratch Unexim, the country's largest private bank, as well as Interros, a leading financial-industrial group. This rapid growth has led rivals to accuse Unexim of acting unfairly and to wage a propaganda war against the bank. Despite Unexim's success little is known about its inner workings or about the style and strategy of its founders. Recently the bank agreed to open its doors to Euromoney in a way it has never done before. Brian Caplen reports.
  • What do Dresdner Bank and the Republic of Romania have in common? Both are trying to enhance their public image, battered by recent reports of high-level infighting and financial impropriety by senior officials.
  • With the reliable income of a bond and the growth potential of an equity, convertibles appeal to a large set of investors. The only thing holding back the growth of Euroconvertibles has been the dearth of quality issuers. But now, as Nigel Dudley reports, new structures are bringing some major borrowers into the sector for the first time.
  • Two years ago, sitting in the traffic jams with their bmws and mobile phones, Bangkok's brokers knew which side their bread was buttered on. Now things are looking pretty grim for erstwhile brokers in the Land of Smiles, with sandwich-making and taxi-driving among the new-found occupations for former employees of the finance and securities companies, 58 of which have had their operations suspended by the Bank of Thailand.
  • Bathed in purple light at the official launch of the Financial Services Authority, Britain's new super-watchdog, its chairman, Howard Davies, proved to be a master of bureaucratic levity.
  • Equity markets have been booming and brokers are expanding. But it is no easy ride for Europe's stockbrokers: investors demand better research but use less of it, and most are cutting the number of firms they deal with. The Euromoney/Global Investor annual poll shows which European firms are rated best by their clients and Benjamin Ensor reports on the struggle to join the small elite of truly international brokers.
  • First the UK's new Labour government dropped hints that it was gearing up to join Europe's single currency earlier than expected, and before the full launch in 2002. Then it seemed to pull back and suggest that UK entry would not happen in the five-year life of the current parliament. That's made for continued uncertainty. Financial markets want to know when.
  • October's downturn in stock markets could be a blessing. Most markets haven't yet crashed in a way that is damaging to economies (except in Asia) but the falls were a timely reminder that prices go down as well as up. Barring a more severe shock, the effects of the volatility could be benign. A saner approach by investors and capital raisers is expected.
  • This month Bulgaria starts drafting plans to privatize Bulbank. This is the biggest and best of the six state-owned banks which the pro-market Union of Democratic Forces government slated for privatization when it took power earlier this year. The first to be sold was United Bulgarian Bank in July. Expressbank, Bulgarian Post Bank, Hebrosbank and Commercial Bank Biochim are next in line along with Bulbank. Together they account for some 84% of the banking market.
  • With anywhere between $2 billion and $5 billion of exposure to the 58 finance and securities companies recently suspended by the Thai government, foreign creditors are losing their chai yen(cool heart) and turning to the law courts to get their money back.
  • It is always with a dubious sense of national pride that you announce your capital city has the most expensive rents in the world. According to a recent survey by international estate agents Knight Frank & Rutley, Seoul now holds the honour.
  • When it comes to infrastructure projects, this is the big one - an engineering feat on a par with the Great Wall of China. But as well as flooding 600 kilometres of the Yangzi valley, the Three Gorges dam could cause a deluge of arguments among the foreign banks and contractors lining up to get involved. Jack Lowenstein reports on some early signs of trouble and picks out the project's likely backers.
  • Issuer: Natexis Banque
  • Investors have warmed to the planned merger between Bayerische Vereinsbank and Bayerische Hypo-Bank because it promises substantial cost reductions. But that's only half the story. Cost-cutting could take years and Albrecht Schmidt's grandiose expansion plans will soon demand ambitious new spending. Worse still, Germany's meticulous corporate law will take months to let the merger through. Can Schmidt keep the shareholders and staff on his side until next autumn? By Laura Covill.
  • At some stage, most EU countries will give up sovereignty over their own currency and will adopt the euro. So investors who have been buying European government debt will have a new decision to make: whose euro government bonds do they buy? Among the criteria will be spread margin, liquidity, flexibility and the less tangible measure: user-friendliness. Robert Minto reports.
  • Issuer: Capital One Bank
  • One thing stopping banks from trading loans in the secondary market is the lack of standardized documentation. But as Christopher Stoakes reports, this may be about to change.
  • Two years and that's your lot. At least that's the usual practice for heads of borrowing at Korea Development Bank (KDB). So Duck-Soo Kim's departure after three and half years in the job was  if anything  a bit overdue. The new man is Young-Jin Lee.
  • To say that Chip Kruger is not well known in London is an understatement. Few UK bank analysts have met him or know much about him except that he used to co-run Greenwich Capital Markets, a successful bond-trading business in Connecticut, that was acquired by NatWest.
  • Turkey's banks are among the most profitable in the world. Why? Because the government rewards them royally for getting Turkish citizens to pay for its debt. But this game is coming to an end. And the banks know they must sharpen up and do some real banking. David Shirreff reports
  • They couldn't have picked a better week to open. What else would a City trader want but a safe haven from the ravages of the stock market?
  • Last National Bank of Boot Hill
  • Issuing a Eurobond in an east European currency and swapping the proceeds into dollars can produce rock-bottom financing costs with minimal currency risk. The only problem? Most governments don't allow it yet. But as Theodore Kim reports, deregulation could open promising new currency sectors to issuers and investor demand is already growing.
  • Private equity, venture capital or merchant banking - whatever you call it - is a hot area that banks and investors are piling into in Europe, importing US-style aggression and leverage techniques. It's not quite the fear and greed of the 1980s, but a market correction could shake some of the less prudent off their perch. Peter Lee reports.
  • The newly formed Financial Services Authority will be the guardian of prudence and good conduct in the UK market, while the Bank of England will take care of liquidity and anything it sees as threatening the stability of the financial system.
  • Issuer: Telecom Italia
  • On October 3, Barclays chief executive Martin Taylor announced he was selling the equities and corporate finance divisions of his investment bank BZW. Only five weeks earlier he'd hired a high-profile banker to head BZW France. And only a year ago Taylor lured Bill Harrison from Robert Fleming to revamp the very divisions he's now put on the block. What went wrong? And what does it say about British banking's most celebrated chief executive? By Antony Currie.
  • Each time a financial institution is bailed out in Brazil it adds to the workload of the art curators at the Banco Central.
  • "I could spend half a million dollars on advertising," says Tony May, the owner of Gemelli, a new restaurant in New York's World Trade Centre. "I'd rather spend it on the customers."
  • A frenzy of deal-making has broken out in Indonesia as corporates rush to unload their stakes in everything from property and industrial subsidiaries to banks and finance companies in the wake of the currency and stock market crisis.