From: Alejandro Valle Baeza (valle@SERVIDOR.UNAM.MX)
Date: Tue Mar 15 2005 - 15:17:12 EST
A few days ago Jerry pointed out problems with GM bonds. This seems more worrying, is not? Saludos Alejandro Financial Times By Dan Roberts and David Wighton in New York and Peter Thal Larsen in London >Published: March 13 2005 21:42 | Last updated: March 13 2005 21:42 >> Bankruptcy advisers are hiring extra staff amid fears that an end to the global credit boom could spark a surge in business failures in the US and Europe. Unusually loose lending conditions have encouraged record borrowing by speculative-grade companies, with leveraged buy-outs and debt refinancing on both sides of the Atlantic generating more than $100bn of deals in the past eight months. But last week's fall in the price of US Treasury bonds, coinciding with signs that bankers are struggling to complete riskier corporate bond issues, has added to a sense of nervousness in some quarters. Although corporate default rates remain low, some fear the legacy of recent private equity buy-outs and hedge fund investments in distressed debt will be a swath of over-leveraged companies ill-equipped to survive in less benign conditions. PwC, the largest corporate recovery adviser, said it was hiring insolvency specialists in sectors such as retailing, utilities and telecommunications in preparation for the expected fall-out. Scott Bok, president of Greenhill & Co, an investment bank specialising in merger advice and restructuring, also predicts the cycle will end with a lot of companies in trouble. "In many of the deals being done today you can foresee the debt restructurings to come in a year or two," he said. Last week, the Financial Stability Forum, a group of national and international central banks and regulators, pointed to the levels of liquidity as one of the main risks to the stability of the global financial system. Following a meeting in Tokyo, the FSF said that, according to some of its members, tight credit spreads and low long-term interest rates suggested some in the market might be underpricing risks. It urged banks and investors to monitor their exposures by stress-testing what would happen in the event of a market shock. Chuck Prince, chief executive of Citigroup, said: "The possibility of a liquidity bubble around the world concerns me. A very cautionary thing is that it feels like the world is changing and traditional indices may not give a complete picture." Some say markets are becoming more nervous. Paul Hsi, a senior analyst at Moody's, said: "There is a little bit more caution in the market right now as some of the weaker credits come up with 'me-too' offerings and investors take a harder look." Ian Powell, head of European business recovery for PWC, added: "You only need one of these really big financing deals to go sour and confidence will evaporate very quickly." However, investors say the market is more aware of the risks than in previous credit cycles and that funds are managing their exposure accordingly. "People are on 'bubblewatch' since almost every market got burnt in the last five years," said Stephen Peacher, head of high-yield investment at Putnam, the fund manager. "We know that bond prices are certainly not cheap but, given that default rates are so very low, we feel comfortable that spreads are in a fair value range."
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