Two thousand years ago an aggressive, confident predator named Julius Caesar took only two-weeks rations for his troops on one North African campaign. Failure in battle would have spelt disaster because fresh rations from Rome would have been weeks away. The likely disappearance of the Finance One name after it had been built up into Thailand's most vigorous investment house appears to have been caused by much the same arrogance that buoyed Caesar. Finance One was a classic bull-market vehicle for the predatory ambitions of its creator Pin Chakkaphak who may now have to accept a subservient role under Thai Danu Bank. Nothing is certain, since no details of the deal, which is due to be sealed by the end of the month, have as yet been released. What seems clear is that officials' efforts to put a positive spin on the news by claiming it will strengthen both institutions does not tell the whole story: it is hard to imagine Mr Pin giving up even partial control of his empire without it facing serious difficulties. A near-terminal liquidity squeeze caused by high interest rates, the economic slowdown and the devastation of the Thai stock market may have caused Finance One to swoon into the arms of the reputedly much more conservative bank. But its problems are likely to have been essentially of its own making: something worth bearing in mind since it is being billed as 'the first big victim of Thailand's banking crisis'. The US-educated Mr Pin turned a sleepy family firm into a slick US-style investment bank that cut a swath through Bangkok's friction-shy financial community by snapping up and turning around ventures from securities houses to niche manufacturers. But, as discovered by the deal-makers in 1980s US that he copied, this strategy of seizing assets to 'discover' their value can whiplash on the predator in a bear market. The beginning of Finance One's decline might be traced to its purchase of Thana One Finance & Securities six years ago for what even at the time was thought a wildly generous price. Last year, when the stock market briefly spiked upwards on expectations of a decline in interest rates, the Finance One group gambled that it could expand dramatically its hire purchase and leasing business. However, interest rates did not come down because the central bank needed to defend the baht and its cocky self-belief in its financing ability was exposed as more efficient foreign leasing companies were allowed to enter the market. The cash squeeze brought the Thai financial community's most spectacular operator to its knees. The rise and fall of Finance One underlines that protected markets do not create lean and mean fighting machines. The years of easy profits produced not a bare-knuckle fighter but a puffed up brawler that eventually succumbed to financial pneumonia.