30 MAY 1925, Page 29



SOMEWHAT to the surprise of the Market, underwriters of the Niger Company's 5} per cent. Guaranteed Debenture Stock for £4,000,000 received about 55 per cent. of the issue. The Bonds had been offered at 97, and with the full guarantee of Lever Brothers behind them it was thought that there would be a fairly keen demand for them. To some extent, no doubt, the success of the issue was impeded by the fact that one or two big gilt-edged issues had gone badly, so that there was a good deal of market congestion, but, all the same, it is felt that the volume of investment resources in the hands of the public has become almost absorbed for the moment by the steady stream of capital creations. I emphasize the expression resources " in the hands of the public " because there is no doubt that Insurance and Trust Companies have huge sums awaiting investment, but these concerns, being experts in the matter of investing to the best advantage, are keenly alive to • any flagging interest on the part of the investor in new capital- issues, and immediately tend to hold back from applying publicly for the loans, pre- ferring to acquire the stock at a discount in the Market. This explains why, in the case of so many issues which go to a discount because of a poor response from the public, there is almost immediately a steady absorption afterwards through Market purchases. Thus, in the case of the New Zealand loan for 17,000,000, over 85- per cent. Went to the underwriters, and the scrip fell to nearly 2 discount, but purchases in the market have since -occasioned a recovery to about 1 discount.


There was a general feeling of thankfulness not only amongst holders of Japanese securities, but in business circles generally, that the latest earthquake disaster in Japan, although sufficiently serious, turned out to be not quite so terrible as was indicated by the first cables. That there has been a sad loss of life and property is quite evident, but on the other hand, the area which experienced the severest shock is not wide, and has no important industries. Consequently, the material damage occasioned, from an economic point of view, is comparatively small. Nevertheless, that Japan should so soon after the appalling calamity of two years ago have been again visited by so severe a shock has naturally occa- sioned some temporary weakening of Japanese securities, though it has also once again called forth both sympathy with Japan in her misfortunes and admiration for the manner in which they are borne by the Japanese nation.


At the recent Annual Meeting of Hambros Bank a tribute was paid to the late Chairman, Sir Everard Hambro, whose position has now been filled by his son, Sir Eric Hambro. The Balance Sheet presented to the directors showed a strong position, and after paying the substantial dividend of 18 per cent. for the year the sum of £18,000 is carried forward. The profits themselves are shown by the Report to have increased by £80,000, and not less than £150,000 is now placed to Contingency Reserve and £50,000 to Premises Reserve, the latter allocation being, no doubt, in connexion with the present rebuilding of the Head Office. The Balance Sheet also showed a considerable expansion in Deposits, which now stand at nearly £16,000,000.


The latest Report of the Equitable Life Assurance Society is a good one, the new life business for the year consisting of 770 policies assuring a capital sum of £604,710, while claims by death, after deducting reassurances, amounted to £239,400. As regards Whole Life With-profit policies the Report shows that the original sum assured under such policies, namely, £115,850, was increased by bonus additions to £222,345 so that on the average every £1,000 of original assurance paid out during the year has been increased to £1,919 5s. The rate of interest earned on the funds of the Society (excluding reversions and investments in the Reversionary and Equitable Reversionary Interest Societies and any interest received therefrom) was £5 8s. 2d. per cent. before and £4 7s. 6d. after deduction of Income Tax. The Society's total funds now stand at £5,752,353. * * * *


I referred a week ago in these columns to the satisfactory character of the Annual Report of the Liverpool and London and Globe Insurance Company, and the good impression created by the Report was amply confirmed by the statements made at the recent Meeting. In the Life Department in par- ticular the Chairman was able to report very satisfactory progress, and his suggestion that the increase in Death Duties in the Budget should be covered by life assurance, thereby avoiding the necessity for sales of securities or mortgaging of estates, is one which deserves to be emphasized. * * * *


I must congratulate the Financial News upon its new Editor in Chief. No small amount of interest has been taken in the City in the report to the effect that the Rt. Hon. E. Hilton Young, M.P., is accepting that position, though, as might be supposed, Mr. W. A. Doman and Mr. W. Lang, who have ably conducted the paper as Joint Editors for the past four years, will continue in their present office. Mr. Hilton Young, however, combines in so exceptional a manner the gifts of the better-class politician and those pertaining to the experienced economist and journalist that the Financial News has done well to secure his services. Before Mr. Hilton Young attained honour and- distinction in the late War, lie was responsible for a period for the conduct Of the financial columns of the Morning'Posl, while his abilities as a rising politician were quickly recognized by his party, and for nearly two years Mr. Young acted as Financial A. W. K.

Secretary to the Treasury. ,