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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 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.
  • “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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In an investment banking world dominated by US bulge-bracket operations, UBS has muscled its way into the global league. Success has come despite its singular provenance, say critics, and, argues CEO Peter Wuffli, because of it. The Swiss bank’s head explains this reasoning to Chris Leahy and discusses developments on banking’s latest battlefront.
  • 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.
  • Ebrahim Sheibany is governor of Iran’s central bank, a position he has held for three years. He tells Eric Ellis in Tehran that as far as economic policy is concerned, little has changed, despite the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Big banks are beginning to look beyond the kudos that socially responsible investment brings and are introducing microfinance to the capital markets as a viable, profitable business. Zach Fuchs 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.
  • French bank BNP Paribas is being sued in the US federal courts by a hedge fund over the financing of contracts for oil from Congo-Brazzaville. Rather than settling out of court, BNP says it will fight the lawsuit all the way. Felix Salmon reports on a grey area of black gold.
  • Bank TuranAlem is growing fast and has set its sights on toppling the largest bank in the country, Kazkommertsbank. The next stage in its growth strategy could involve an IPO to attract international investors.
  • 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.
  • Kazakh investment banking boutique Visor Capital believes it can offer clients a bridge between local and international markets. It is looking to open up new avenues for corporates and international investors alike. Can it compete with the more established competition?
  • Árni Mathiesen, Iceland’s finance minister, speaks to Laurence Neville about this year’s economic troubles and the economy’s prospects.
  • When Fitch put Iceland on a negative rating outlook in February the country was facing a heavy current account deficit as well as an asset price and credit bubble. But the banks and politicians think that it was all a misunderstanding. Laurence Neville 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.
  • As an investor dedicated to the region, East Capital Asset Management is in the vanguard of a growing breed. Oonagh Leighton reports.
  • It offers double-digit yields, is not correlated with the equity market and provides secure, long-term returns. Allocations of investment capital to real estate have therefore ballooned – and look set to keep on growing. Louise Bowman reports.
  • 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.
  • The recent explosive growth in European CMBS is the fruit of years of investment in the product by many banks. But do these institutions now find their hands tied by the need to feed the machine that they have created? Louise Bowman reports.
  • Richard Lark, CFO of low-cost airline Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes, exemplifies the increasing sophistication that ex-bankers are bringing to Brazilian corporate finance. He is a qualified pilot, was formerly a vice-president at Morgan Stanley and is a borrower whose company’s stock value has doubled since its IPO. Lawrence White spoke to him in São Paulo.