Question for 10,000: How do you spice up a presentation about fixed-income investing?
Answer: You put on a game show.
That is exactly what the U.K. institutional investment team of Barclays Global Investors did during a regional client road show in Birmingham, England, this month.
"Who Wants to be a Corporate Bond Millionaire?" was hosted by Mike Rawson, BGI's head of fixed-income portfolios in the U.K. and Europe.
Sitting in the hot seat was lucky contestant Andrew Skirton, chief investment officer for BGI Europe and global chief investment officer of index management.
Mr. Skirton sailed through the initial questions, correctly estimating the size of corporate bond issuance in the United Kingdom and United States during 1999, and putting the right number to the minuscule amount of U.K. government bonds issued last year.
He used his 50/50 option to answer correctly the default probability of a non-government bond in the United Kingdom and asked the audience for help in calculating the spread needed over U.K. government bonds to make up for the default risk on corporate paper.
It was a nail-biting finish, with Mr. Skirton within a whisker of winning 1 million until he fluffed the answer to a question asking for the redemption date of Walt Disney Corp.'s 100-year corporate bond. Even an apparent call to a friend -- Lindsay Tomlinson, head of BGI Europe -- failed to bag the 1 million prize.
But Mr. Skirton walked away 32,000 "richer" and promising to buy a drink for everyone in the house.
Barclays' shareholders need not worry however, the check was fake and the whole thing scripted.
And July 2093 is the redemption date for the Disney bond. Everybody knows that.