Korean investment trusts near judgement day

Korea''s de facto fund managers, the investment trust companies, will shortly mark their assets-to-market. The results could torpedo Korea''s fragile financial system.

KoreaÆs financial recovery is facing its toughest test yet. On 1 July 2000, the country's investment trust companies ITCs will have to mark their assets-to-market. Fears are growing that this could expose a gaping hole between their assets and liabilities, and unleash a wave of panic that will unhinge the rest of the financial system.

KoreaÆs ITCs are very similar to those in the UK, in that they are incorporated like a company an investor receives shares rather than units. Whereas the number of shares in unit trusts expands and contracts on demand for units, ITCs have a fixed number of shares in issue at any one time.

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