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Bondholders fight back

August 2, 2004

Two and a half years after Argentina’s debt default, creditors are up in arms over the country’s offer to pay back only a quarter of the Ł82bn it owes. But the government has so far refused to budge. Sophie Roell reports.
It’s not a promising sign in any negotiations when one party is not willing to talk to the other and both sides seem as unreasonable as each other. Furious with the paltry amount the Argentine government is offering for the $82bn in debt it defaulted on in December 2001, the Global Committee of Argentina Bondholders (GCAB), grouping together holders of about $37bn in debt, is fighting back with its own idea of a fair settlement.

Banks battle for customers

August 2, 2004

Competition is heating up for a share of Brunei’s consumer finance market. Simon Montlake talks to local banks and foreign entrants about their strategies. Newcomers to Brunei might be surprised to find that its small but affluent population of 340,000 is serviced by no fewer than nine domestic and foreign banks. In a country roughly the size of the US state of Delaware, a branch is never too far away, with some staying open until 10pm on weekdays for late-night transactions.

Going offshore without baggage

August 2, 2004

Brunei’s relatively new status as an offshore financial centre has enabled officials to pass quickly the necessary legislation to make it a world-class location. Simon Montlake reports on the country’s attractions for foreign banks. Brunei is among the newest entrants to the competitive field of offshore financial services. In the last four years, it has introduced legislative and regulatory reforms to position the oil-rich sultanate as an attractive tax-free jurisdiction for international banks and other financial companies.

Economic evolution

August 2, 2004

The Brunei Economic Development Board is tasked with overseeing the diversification of the country’s economy and raising its international foreign direct investment profile. Restructured in 2001 as a corporate body, the BEDB is staffed by senior government officials and prominent business leaders and provides a one-stop shop for private investors in Brunei. The Banker spoke recently with its chairman, Pehin Dato Haji Mohammad Haji Daud.

Brunei diversifies to sustain growth

August 2, 2004

Oil has made Brunei a wealthy country. However, if the current economic growth is to be maintained, the tiny Asian sultanate requires a wider spread of industries contributing to its income. Simon Montlake reports.

UniCredit sets sights on ‘New Europe’ potential

August 2, 2004

UniCredit has its sights set on further expansion into central Europe. Paolo Fiorentino, deputy chief operating officer, head of New Europe, talks to Stephen Timewell about the bank’s developments in the region.

Grand Duchy strikes back

August 2, 2004

Facing competition from other centres, Luxembourg has found ways to innovate, writes Jan F Wagner.
Despite the perceptions of many in western Europe, Luxembourg’s success as a financial centre is not down to its private banking industry alone. In fact, it has more to do with a financial activity that is a lot more mundane: the domiciling and administering of investment funds.

Taxing times ahead for Luxembourg

August 2, 2004

Jan F Wagner examines Luxembourg’s options for maintaining a competitive edge as the end of its tax-free status looms.
In Germany, Luxembourg is known for one thing only: it’s where rich Germans put their savings to shelter them from tax. This may sound overly simplistic, but it’s easy to see why the tiny country has gained that reputation.

China takes first liberalisation step

August 2, 2004

New rules for trading in China’s derivatives market have provided a major attraction for foreign banks, which are preparing for the country to open up fully in 2007. Natasha de Teran reports.

Japan’s banks rebuilt

August 2, 2004

After more than a decade wallowing in debt and seemingly unable to turn themselves around, Japan’s banks appear to be looking to new products and client segments to rejuvenate their business models and spread risk throughout the system. Geraldine Lambe reports.
For more than a decade, the Japanese banking system has suffered from painful indigestion – burdened by crippling levels of debt that the banks and the government were unable or unwilling to work out of the system. Whether we blame government policy, overly-cosy relationships between banks and borrowers or a lost decade of recession and deflation, Japan’s banks have for years failed to find a way to make themselves more profitable.

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