Into Africa

Conseco Inc. will report second-quarter earnings a little past schedule because its chief executive will be on vacation in Africa.

In his 12th memo to shareholders since taking over the struggling insurance and consumer finance company in June of last year (see article starting on page 1), Gary Wendt said the second-quarter results would be posted Aug. 6.

"I promised my wife's grandchildren a year ago that I would take them to Africa the last two weeks of July of this year," he wrote. "I'm sure you will understand why that's an important commitment for me to keep, as is the commitment to provide you with our earnings progress but, this time, a few days later than usual."

If analyst estimates are correct, Mr. Wendt should have nothing to worry about while on holiday - apart from the odd rogue elephant of course. A consensus of analysts gathered by First Call/Thomson projects earnings per share of 20 cents for the three months.

But it's been a tough journey for Conseco. After showing a profit of $77.4 million in first-quarter 2000, the Carmel, Ind., company lost close to $1.15 billion in the subsequent nine months.

Mr. Wendt managed to stanch the bleeding in the first quarter of this year, when the company made just over $84 million, or 16 cents a share.

Sell-Side, Stateside

Eight years and four companies later, U.S.-based bank analyst Andrew Collins is finally planting his feet at a stateside institution.

The sell-side analyst recently joined the equity capital markets division of U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, a unit of Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, as a senior financial institutions research analyst and managing director, according to Mr. Collins. He will be covering large- and mid-cap commercial and investment banks, he said.

Though he has worked out of New York his entire career, Mr. Collins has always been with European-based firms: Credit Suisse First Boston, UBS Securities - both Swiss companies - and most recently Dutch bank ING Barings, which fellow NetherlanderABN Amro bought in April.

Mr. Collins was not specifically looking to join a U.S. bank. "It just worked out that way … but I'm glad to be coming home," he said.

Before entering the sell-side business, Mr. Collins was a bank examiner at the Federal Reserve.

Steven Truong, a former associate of Mr. Collins at ING, has also joined U.S. Bancorp. The two will work together in a "small but growing" New York office that opened about a year and a half ago, Mr. Collins said.

Right to Work

Takahiro Moriguchi, the outgoing president and chief executive of San Francisco's UnionBancal Corp., won't have much time to revisit old Tokyo haunts before starting his new job at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, a majority shareholder in UnionBanCal.

"The plane lands on the 10th and I start on the 11th" of July, he said last week, anticipating his first day at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi's Tokyo headquarters (see article on page 3).

The source of this unforgiving timetable: an assistant and calendar put in place long before he leaves San Francisco, Mr. Moriguchi said.

In an interview, he said that he had mixed feelings about packing up and heading back to Japan. During his eight years at UnionBanCal and its predecessors, he enjoyed the California lifestyle, particularly the golf.

In addition, Mr. Moriguchi expects that he will need some time to get used to working in Japan. "The business environment of the two countries is very different. I have to adapt or adjust myself to the Japanese climate."

But, he quipped, "I should be OK because I am Japanese."

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