It was the height of embarrassment for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter during the battle for C&W HKT. The top tier investment bank - Finance Asia's Best Investment Bank in Asia in 1998 and 1999 no less - had precisely no role to play in the deal. Arch-rivals Goldman Sachs were advising Singapore Telecom, WDR was advising PCCW, ING Barings and Flemings were advising C&W HKT. But where was Morgan Stanley Dean Witter?áOut to lunch?
But in a coup that shows the firm's tenacity, it has stolen a lead on all its rivals by putting together the first post-merger deal for the PCCW and C&W HKT people. By forging the deal between Telstra and PCCW, Morgan looks set to get a substantial slice of the fees involved in the carve up and re-positioning of HKT.
Firstly, there are the fees for the $1.5 billion convertible note that PCCW will issue to Telstra. Then there are potentially huge earnings from handling the spin-offs and IPOs of the merged companies' regional mobile phone company and IP backbone company - although there is no indication that it has officially won those mandates yet.
It was not surprising then that standing at the back of the room during the PCCW and Telstra analysts briefing, beaming from ear to ear, was the mighty Jack Wadsworth, chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia - not a usual attendee at a lowly analysts briefing.