40 years in review
What better way to mark the 2,000th edition of IFR than to look back at some of the standout deals completed since our first issue was published on March 22 1974? Though the sharp-eyed will realise that there are still some months to go until our 40th anniversary (don’t worry, we won’t do this again at that point), we can claim that we are in our 40th year, so we highlight 40 deals.
All were outstanding in one way or another, but we make no pretence that these are the “best” capital markets offering in that time.
Rather, they are the ones that in our minds were most emblematic of their time and place (Drexel’s first junk bond, for instance, or the RJR Nabisco buyout financing); spawned a new market (the many World Bank offerings highlighted, Congoleum’s LBO); blazed a trail (Nat West’s perp, Caterpillar’s Dim Sum bond); or, for us, stand as examples of banking creativity at its most ambitious (Bowie bonds, or the Google IPO).
They are, in other words, our favourite deals. And such transactions are the reason why we come to work every morning.
Very few (if any) of the journalists at IFR wanted to become financial reporters (who does?). We all fell into it in one way or another. But once we started writing about deals such as the ones highlighted, we found ourselves intrigued, even fascinated. Not by the huge amounts of money being passed around, but by the skill and insight of those involved in the markets – not to mention the human drama.
We hope that our enthusiasm and knowledge (plus a healthy degree of scepticism) comes over in our reporting. If they do, that is because we are building on the work of previous generations of IFR journalists, dating back to the founder, Christian Hemain, and his confreres – two of whom tell stories here from the early days of the magazine.
We also hear from some of the pioneers of the Euromarkets, both in an interview with one of the greats – Hans-Joerg Rudloff – and in a Roundtable conducted by another old-timer, former IFR editor Keith Mullin – who casts his mind back to the 1980s when as a young reporter on the warrants beat he watched the rise of the Japanese banks to global dominance.
Another old market dog – his term, not mine – gets to tell tales of the structured credit boom – and bust. We also examine the development of CDS that made much of that boom possible.
Of course, great deals take creative issuers as well as creative banks, so we talk once again to the World Bank about its commitment to doing the right thing when it approaches the markets.
It is traditional at this point to thank our readers for making it all possible. But if there’s one thing we know about this industry, it is that it is hard-headed. You’re not reading IFR out of charity. You’re doing so because you need the information we provide.
Of course, without the industry for us to report on – and without a myriad market participants taking the trouble to help us – we’d be looking for work elsewhere.
So, perhaps we can agree we have the best kind of relationship – one built on a mutual self-interest (you see, we have learnt something from all these years reporting on banks). Such a relationship will hopefully sustain us for another 2,000 issues, or at least – as the march of technology makes the idea of an “issue” irrelevant – for another 40 years.
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