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September 2006

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  • Indonesia’s young finance minister has made some key decisions since her appointment, winning many friends abroad. Some tough challenges lie ahead; to meet them, Mulyani will need to win more friends at home. Chris Leahy reports.
  • Riad Salamé faces yet another test of his skills following the outbreak of war between Israel and Hizbullah. He has dealt with previous challenges with flying colours. There’s little to suggest it will be different this time. Sudip Roy reports.
  • Delegates are warmly welcomed while protesters' placards are policed.
  • The latest country risk poll reflects a global economy in good health, despite a period of stock market volatility and the prospect of a slowdown. But the Middle East and the high price of oil could have far-reaching implications, writes Florian Neuhof. Research by Paul Pedzinski.
  • The hedge fund industry has exploded; conservative estimates suggest there are almost 500 funds based in the region. Most have ridden the wave of Asia’s rising markets. Now those returns are getting harder to come by. But, as Helen Avery reports, increased opportunities to take short positions offer managers hope of generating new, enhanced returns.
  • The unbundling of execution and research costs will dramatically accelerate the global consolidation of equity broking firms. But it also raises questions about the quality and efficiency of the buy side.
  • Companies with optimized financial supply chains have 30% to 35% better market capitalization than companies that haven’t. However, forging the links between treasury and operational departments is hard, particularly as supply chains enlarge and globalize.
  • Compass Asset Management’s chief investment officer expects his funds under management to grow from $20 million to $100 million in the next 12 months. Is Kazakhstan the next great emerging Europe play?
  • In less than two years the Philippines has transformed its sovereign debt programme from laggard to leader in emerging markets. The work of the republic’s treasurer, Omar Cruz, lies behind much of the change. Euromoney talks to the Philippines’ market man about the changes and the challenges ahead.
  • Iceland’s financial supervisory authority, the FME, has kept a close eye on the health of Iceland’s big three banks, says Jonas Fridrik Jónsson, director general.
  • The recent dramatic widening of euro swap spreads means that euro-denominated debt is becoming cheaper for agencies and supranationals. Could this signal the start of a fundamental shift away from dollar bonds for these issuers? Lawrence White reports.
  • With a successful Eurobond behind it, the republic is beginning to fulfil its promise as a strategic part of the Balkans. Oonagh Leighton reports.
  • As an investor dedicated to the region, East Capital Asset Management is in the vanguard of a growing breed. Oonagh Leighton reports.
  • For many years the accepted wisdom in global banking has been that bigger is better. The full-service banks dismiss smaller competitors, saying that to succeed in modern finance you need to offer all things to all clients. And yet a number of European banks continue to demonstrate success in their chosen specialist fields. Peter Koh profiles the financial institutions that prove you don’t have to be everywhere and everything in the world to be a world-class operation.
  • “The events of February and March can be blamed in part on the relative lack of knowledge about the Icelandic economy and its peculiarities, which was reflected in some reports,” says prime minister Geir Haarde.
  • After EU accession in 2004, the next target for central Europe’s governments is the euro. In the scramble to comply with the Maastricht criteria, have they started to borrow techniques, invented by their western European counterparts, for massaging the numbers? Kathryn Wells reports, with research by Pauline Thomas.
  • Foreign investors have made fortunes investing in Russia. But now they are looking to go deeper, and are packing their bags to discover Russia’s regions. Julian Evans reports from three of Russia’s developing regions.
  • Increasingly sophisticated Russian retail investors are seeking new products to beat interest rate returns. Patrick Gill reports.
  • Foreign banks are pushing the sector forward even as the rewards come in. The capital market is also showing signs of life but would benefit from more determined decision-making. Florian Neuhof reports.
  • Güler Sabanci, who chairs Turkey’s Sabanci Group, talks to Peter Koh about foreign partnerships, international expansion, the group’s strategic direction and the difficulties of running a family business.
  • Lebanon’s finance minister, Jihad Azour, told Sudip Roy in early August how his country is coping with conflict.
  • Iran’s authorities are looking to invigorate the country’s private sector with plans to sell up to $110 billion-worth of state assets over the next 10 years. Can the programme attract the foreign investors it needs to succeed? And can Iran’s government learn from past mistakes? Euromoney reports.
  • A few big foreign banks have recently suspended their activities, but they are far outweighed by institutions that intend to maintain a connection. And Iran’s prominence as an oil producer means that it sustains substantial economic relations with foreign export credit agencies and governments. Philip Moore reports.
  • Despite Gulf coffers brimming with oil cash and aggressive expansion by some of the region’s banks, inherent barriers to regional consolidation are set to limit fundamental change in the Middle East and North Africa’s financial sector landscape over the next five years. Alex Warren reports.
  • CDS trading volumes in Latin America are growing fast as credit derivatives become an increasingly important investment tool. Leticia Lozano reports on the impact on the region’s capital markets.
  • Despite a cyclical downturn – which has itself prompted the country’s banks to sharpen up their operations – the sector is in unprecedented good shape. But the banks need to be encouraged to lend more, and this is in part dependent on the consolidation a newly powerful central bank is keen to promote. Nick Parsons reports from Jakarta.
  • Japanese outbound M&A is reaching levels not seen since the 1980s as corporates seek to consolidate their newly strengthened positions. Chris Wright reports.
  • The Republic of Indonesia’s successful $2 billion issue this March has given an impetus to the revival of the country’s corporate bond issuance. Nick Parsons reports.
  • Oji Paper’s bid for rival Hokuetsu breaches a Japanese taboo on hostile takeovers. It has also prompted some extraordinary, perhaps illogical, defence tactics. Is this the shape of things to come in Japanese M&A? Chris Wright reports.
  • Israel’s conflict with Hizbullah began just as Lebanon was finding its feet again following the assassination last year of former prime minister Rafik Hariri. The government was in the middle of a series of reforms that it hoped would provide the capital markets with a bigger role in the country’s economic story. Those reforms are now on hold but it is imperative that they are implemented as soon as circumstances allow. Sudip Roy reports from Beirut.