Zentiva’s prescription for central European growth

A management buyout, a large merger, an IPO, regional acquisitions and investment by Europe’s largest pharmaceuticals player – the past eight years have been anything but dull for the Czech Republic’s Zentiva.

Leasing: The public sector catches on

The public sector is waking up to the advantages of leasing as budget-constrained public bodies from Sweden to Hungary and from town councils to hospitals seek out ways to take advantage of off-balance-sheet funding techniques.

Debt: What next for the public sector institutions?

Europe’s supranational and agency borrowers are becoming ever bigger issuers in the international capital markets even as their historical missions appear to have been met and the banking and financial market to have matured enough to finance at commercial rates most of the lending risks the agencies assume.

Corporate governance 2006: Caveat creditor

While the current stage in the leverage cycle benefits corporate borrowers, concern has been raised about the protection that bondholders receive against declining ratings and event risk.

Credit research: Do your homework

As credit research is increasingly geared towards short-term trading ideas rather than fundamentals, there could be a dangerous dearth of information when defaults begin to rise.

Compete or collaborate – or give up?

There has been no relief from the pressures that last year’s annual cash management poll detected – as the industry globalizes, margins decline and competition intensifies.

Special focus: Central and Eastern Europe

Central Europe and the euro; Which of Russia’s regions do you need to get to know better?; Meet the man who has been finding oil two feet underground in Kazakhstan; OTP’s CEO remains fiercely ambitious and stubbornly independent; Romania’s privatization is paying off; Balkan region.

Money Management: Eastern pull

Investors are pouring money into hedge funds that invest in Asia, hoping to capitalize on the region’s economic growth and capital markets expansion.

Corporate Finance: Credit Control

Despite the tremendous popularity of credit derivatives, corporations remain wary of tapping the market to allay the risk of suppliers’ or customers’ going bankrupt.

Why Brazil is all abuzz

Its capital markets are a hive of activity – with record levels of IPO activity, decreasing funding costs and a first hostile takeover attempt.

Europe’s real estate revolution

If things go according to plan, next January there could be a fundamental change to the rules under which more than 50% of Europe’s invested real estate is financed.

OTP: predator or prey?

Hungary’s OTP Bank dominates its domestic market, but can it compete with regional powerhouses such as Raiffeisen International and UniCredit, or is it in danger of being swallowed up itself? Kathryn Wells meets OTP’s long-serving chief executive, Sandor Csanyi, to find out.

Iran hangs on in financial markets

A few big foreign banks have recently suspended their activities, but they are far outweighed by institutions that intend to maintain a connection.

Mainstream Macedonia

With a successful Eurobond behind it, the republic is beginning to fulfil its promise as a strategic part of the Balkans.

The role of ‘Justice’ shares

Some 5% of shares of companies to be privatized are set aside for their workers and, to some extent, the lower echelons of the society, to help with equitable distribution of wealth.

Ignorant analysts

“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.

Iceland: Crisis? What crisis?

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.

MENA’s financial sector landscape: The shape of things to come

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.

How Ashmore became part of the EM establishment

The London-based asset management firm has taken the lead in persuading institutional investors worldwide, including central banks and pension funds, to go for long-term investment in emerging market assets.

Indonesia: The call to consolidate

Despite a cyclical downturn – which has itself prompted the country’s banks to sharpen up their operations – the sector is in unprecedented good shape.

Frequent borrowers look to euros

The recent dramatic widening of euro swap spreads means that euro-denominated debt is becoming cheaper for agencies and supranationals.

Microfinance institution deals: The rating game

With a relatively low credit risk, what holds institutional investors back from investing in microfinance institution deals? “If it’s not rated, that closes 90% of the doors,” says Lisa Sherk at BlueOrchard.

Sabanci redefines the family business

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.

Microfinance: Beyond philanthropy

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.

Gol’s high-flying borrower

Richard Lark, CFO of low-cost airline Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes, exemplifies the increasing sophistication that ex-bankers are bringing to Brazilian corporate finance.

Max Petroleum: To infinity and beyond?

Only incorporated in 2005, Almaty-based Max Petroleum shows that smaller, independent energy companies can still make their mark against the more powerful Russian and global firms.