Shares in investment banks dive on junk bond fears

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The Independent Online

Shares in leading investment banks fell sharply yesterday amid concerns that turmoil in the debt markets could lead to substantial losses as telecoms junk bond issues were pulled.

Shares in leading investment banks fell sharply yesterday amid concerns that turmoil in the debt markets could lead to substantial losses as telecoms junk bond issues were pulled.

Deutsche Bank, which after its takeover of Bankers Trust last year holds a major slice of the high yield debt market, saw its stock fall 2.60 euros to 92.10 euros on concern about its involvement in the financing of a bond issue for MainStream PCS holdings, a US cellular phone company.

The jitters later spread to Wall Street where shares in Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, the investment bank fell $8.75 to $74.50. Goldman Sachs was also down $29?16 to $10111?16 although there were no specific rumours linked to the firm.

The latest concerns come amid signs of indigestion among buyers of corporate bonds, which is leading to high profile bond issues being scaled back or pulled.

Regulators in all the major industrialised countries have sounded a warning about the dangers being run by major banks who have lent aggressively to telecommunications companies in anticipation of the loans being repaid by issues of bonds or shares.

Market sources said that the Deutsche share price fall was sparked by concern surrounding $1.3bn worth of bridging finance that it had extended to Mainstream ahead of bond issue, which it was struggling to get away.

Deutsche Bank yesterday refused to comment on the specifics, although individuals familiar with the deal said the firm was confident about getting it away.

Morgan Stanley was forced late last week to deny rumours of a $1bn junk bond hit.

The rumours appear to have been linked to the departure of Dwight Sipprelle, Morgan Stanley's co-head of global high yield after 16 years with the firm.

Credit Suisse First Boston has also denied major losses in the high yield debt market either in its own operations or in those of Donaldson Lufkin Jenrette a big player in that market, which CSFB is in the process of acquiring.

Shares in all the big investment banks had fallen sharply on Friday. New York was closed on Monday for the Columbus Day holiday

Much of the debt is being used to finance a massive expansion in infrastructure at a time when the market is starting to voice concerns about over capacity.

The warnings from central bankers have coincided with a drying up of investor interest in taking high yield paper which has forced yields up to distress levels and led to several high profile issues being pulled or scaled back.

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