ESG Archive

Feb 01, 1996
To hear one allusion to The Importance of Being Earnest can be amusing; to hear a dozen feels like tedium. Yet after the London Stock Exchange found itself without a chief executive for the second time in three years, almost everyone in the City with literary pretensions was citing Lady Bracknell. So it was no surprise that Jeremy said: 'To lose two might seem like carelessness,' when I raised the abrupt firing of the London exchange's CEO Michael Lawrence wit...
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Feb 01, 1996
In 1995, foreign issuers were faced with the difficult task of trying to distract US investors away from high-rolling domestic US stocks, particularly in the high tech sector, and towards their own ADRs. It's a far cry from a few years back, when Wall Street returns paled in comparison to those of the emerging markets. But this kind of volatility is part of the risk ADR issuers face in opening up a new universe. Faced with the challenge, they are relying on inv...
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Feb 01, 1996
If there's one time when companies should be producing decent corporate literature it's when they've got their backs against the wall in a defence situation,' says a London-based designer in an exasperated tone. 'Unfortunately, the process is so often driven by the conservative fears of lawyers and merchant bankers that the important messages get lost along the way.' He's got a point. Let's face it, to a non-lawyer, the bulk of corporate finance literature is ...
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Feb 01, 1996
New York arbs are assumed to be a steely breed, more concerned with the clinical pursuit of wealth than with high-minded ideology about the way companies should be governed. But for Guy Wyser-Pratte, the urbane and refreshingly irreverent Franco-American who runs the privately-owned Wall Street money management and risk arbitrage firm that bears his own name, these two endeavours are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, Wyser-Pratte claims that his governance activity is ...
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Feb 01, 1996
Every airline employee understands the ups and downs of the business. They know service and customer relations are key. Without employee and union support America's highest flyers could have trouble getting off the ground. In the past, major airlines have felt the brunt of employee anger. That's one reason why United Airlines sold a 55 per cent controlling stake to 59,000 of its 79,000 employees for wage concessions worth nearly $5 bn. This created the largest Employ...
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Feb 01, 1996
Like the Lord High Executioner in The Mikado, every crusty commentator has the Japanese on his little list. We all know the Japanese are derivative copycats, incapable of original discovery, who a century ago copied the patches on the boilers of steamships, and today still copy Western inventions in a sneakily profitable manner. We also know they are xenophobic, protectionist, unthinking robots with no sense of business ethics. And on our side, as the Noble Lord Pish...
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Feb 01, 1996
Investors worldwide waited by their screens for the results of the Quebec referendum on separation from Canada. With holdings in Canadian government and corporate debt surpassing the C$350 bn mark, billions of dollars in potential losses hung in the balance. For debt portfolio managers worldwide, it was as long a night as it was for the people of Canada. The final result (50.6 per cent voting to stay in Canada) came unusually late in the evening, but the numbers were...
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Dec 01, 1995
In general, speculators are not nice people. And that is as true of journalistic speculators as it is of those who gamble in commodities or money. We both ascribe various degrees of foolishness, avarice and gullibility to much of mankind. Perhaps that is why George Soros is such an intriguing figure. He not only speculates - with spectacular success - in the markets; he also speculates in print about how he does it. Soros On Soros1 has now, in a much mor...
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Dec 01, 1995
Investor relations officers are deeply caught up in the whirlwind of bank mergers that have been sweeping the US. They are in an awkward position, aware that what they do might make their organisation attractive as an acquirer or an acquiree. If it's the latter, there's a strong chance they'll find themselves out of a job. Lou Thompson, president of the National Investor Relations Institute, points out that in mergers, bank or non-bank, IR people from the dom...
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Dec 01, 1995
If there's no such thing as bad publicity, why do so many people take steps to avoid it? Expensive steps at that, sometimes. Or awkward steps, that engender tricky questions and even downright hostility. The exemplars of apparent sanity who are seeking to switch off the spotlights range far and wide. The Roddicks, the powers behind the UK's Body Shop, are said to be contemplating taking their company private: after courting publicity for their smelly shops and...
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