March 2005

Cover story

Internet awards 2005: Why biggest isn't always smartest

Close to 1,800 vote in our Internet technology awards. End users tell us which banks' and other providers' internet and electronic systems they rate highest across a range of equity, fixed-income, foreign exchange and derivatives markets as well as investor and corporate services.

Fund management

Hedge funds register scorn at SEC ruling

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.

Foreign Exchange

Currency funds maintain momentum

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?

Equity markets

US bid boosts Europe

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.

North America

Telecoms fuel a new M&A boom

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.

Emerging markets

Towards a local currency revolution

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.

Western Europe

Export growth fails to spark confidence

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 securitization revolution

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.

Landesbanken face up to a harder life

The EU-induced removal of state guarantees to the Landesbanken has prompted mergers and other inter-bank arrangements. But competition remains a burning issue in Germany's overbanked market and there is room and a need for much more consolidation.

A measured revival for equities

After a totally barren 2003 and a hesitant 2004, Germany's primary equity market looks to be reviving. Bad memories of the dot-com crash and the generally weak equity culture mean there's no rush to market but much is expected of private-equity exits.

Wake-up time for Portugal

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.

Roundtable

Has PFI changed healthcare?

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.

Asia Pacific

Yet another gold rush

A handful of high-yield bond deals from Chinese issuers in the past six months seems to presage vast hitherto untapped issuance. But although investment banks are keen to tap demand, insiders warn that real Chinese exposure remains scarce and that risks are high.

Phatra Securities takes its own path

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.

CIMB looks to regional expansion

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.

Country risk

Editorial

Streetwise

Front End

Breakingviews

Market Monitor

Deal Insider

People