Monday, October 4, 2010

Ireland Finance minister ridiculed by bond investors

Mr Lenihan had been speaking for less than two minutes on Friday before a mistake by Citigroup meant that the bank's clients were all able to be heard on the line.

Between 200 and 500 investors are understood to have been on the call, and as they realised their lines were not muted many began to heckle Mr Lenihan.

Some traders began making what one banker on the call described as "chimp sounds", while another cried out "dive, dive". A third man said "short Ireland" before adding "why not short Citi too?"

The bungled call comes at a tense time for relations between the Irish government and investors, some of whom have been dismayed at what they see as the country's attempts to dodge its commitment to guarantee the debt of the country's banking system.

On Friday it emerged that a small group of hedge fund debt investors were threatening to take Ireland to court if it pushed ahead with moves to impose so-called "haircuts" – or writedowns – on the value of their holdings in Anglo debt.

The group, which is thought to number no more than six funds, say they could force a default of Anglo, which would have catastrophic consequences for Ireland's already hugely stretched public finances.

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