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Financing: The balance of power

Orascom’s fund-raising shows that no matter where business comes from, financing power and expertise is still in the developed world.

Premature declarations of death are not uncommon in society. So it was for transatlantic banking, the primacy of western financial centres and the world as one knew it after the sub-prime cancer of 2008. This would be the time when such centres as Shanghai, Hong Kong, even Dubai, stood up to claim the global leadership that was rightfully theirs: the globe’s financial axis – not just its reservoirs of cash but the mechanics of where and how it was transacted internationally – would tilt.

But reports of Atlantic banking’s death, and of the eclipse of traditional financial centres, seem to have been greatly exaggerated.

Witness the recent refinancing of Naguib Sawiris’s Orascom Telecom mobile phone empire (see Orascom: A very modern tale of corporate finance, Euromoney, February 2011). Based in Cairo, it is one of the developing world’s most substantial enterprises, spanning Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Sawiris is now trying to sell out to an enterprise owned by a billionaire from Russia. The only western country where Sawiris operates a business of any importance is wobbly Italy.

If there was a poster child for a banking client in the booming emerging markets, it would be Orascom.

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