Avoiding another financial crisis

The Global Exchanges & Trading Summit takes place as lawmakers and regulators craft new rules to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis. The rising chorus for more transparency in capital markets could drive a host of new derivatives to exchanges and clearinghouses, propelling them out of the recession, but growing calls for a clampdown on speculation and automated trading could hit some of the world's most powerful dealers and investors, undercutting the exchanges that rely on them. High-frequency trading is behind much of the spike in volumes over the last year, but as volatility drops from crisis-era highs, traders of all kinds are forced to reevaluate strategies, and exchanges are maneuvering to attract that business. A couple years after a period of blockbuster mergers, investors wonder whether the heavyweight exchange operators are angling for another round. Join us March 29-31 as we ask some of the biggest players in the industry to share their insights and outlook for the industry at the Reuters Global Exchanges and Trading Summit which will take place in New York, London, Hong Kong.

Economic security or environmental destruction?

The Oil Sands, the world's second-largest proven reserves after Saudi Arabia, hold out the promise of energy security for the United States and economic security for Canada. But environmentalists fear the destructive, energy intensive process of extracting the oil will carry direct consequences for the planet. Despite the doubts, new oil sands projects are again springing up after the financial crisis halted development. How will oil companies balance the quest for more oil with environmental concerns? Mar. 22-23 we'll put those questions to the oil companies, environmental groups and government officals at the first Reuters Canadian Oil Sands Summit in Calgary.

Will growth in the food industry spur inflation?

Food and agriculture companies, having weathered the global economic meltdown, are now facing the prospects that renewed growth will spur renewed inflation.
With costs poised to rise for commodities like wheat and already high for items like sugar and cocoa, packaged foods makers face the task of trying to preserve profits at a time while retailers and consumers are balking at price increases.
Trade battles over U.S. meat and regulatory issues like a tax on soft drinks and push for more accurate disclosure of calories and fat on restaurant boards and food package are also concerns for the industry.

Would the last person to leave the smelter please turn out the lights?

For UC RUSAL, one simple act is crucial to reducing costs.
Bonuses for managers at the world's largest aluminium company
depend on the company's 75,000 workers heeding the message.
"We have to introduce a new culture: if you leave the
office, turn off the lights," Artyom Volynets, UC RUSAL's deputy
chief executive for strategy, said at Reuters Global Mining and
Steel Summit on Monday.
"We have 16 smelters, each with their own headquarters and
offices. We employ 75,000 people. If each one of them is
switching off the lights at the end of their shift, that would
help tremendously."
UC RUSAL embarked on a major drive to slash production costs
last year as part of an ultimately successful attempt to secure
Russia's largest ever private sector debt restructuring.
Easy access to Siberian hydroelectric power, compared with
relatively high-cost coal used to power smelters in other parts
of the world, affords UC RUSAL a distinct cost advantage when
making aluminium used in transport, construction and packaging.
In the first half of 2009, it cost UC RUSAL an average
$1,400 to produce a tonne of aluminium. The metal is now selling
at above $2,200 a tonne.
UC RUSAL has cut costs by sourcing cheaper raw materials of
better quality and improving throughput rates at its smelters in
Siberia, which account for about 80 percent of its total output.
But cheap power in Siberia had also led to complacency.
"Our smelters are located in probably the only remaining
major energy-long region in the world. Therefore, if you buy
power at 2 cents per kilowatt, you don't really care how much
you spend," Volynets said.
"For my colleagues on the operational side of the business,
their key performance indicators are 100 percent tied to cost
improvements," he said. "They will not be compensated if these
improvements are not implemented."
(Writing by Robin Paxton in Moscow)

2010 Reuters Hedge Funds and Private Equity kicks off

Some of the world's leading names in the hedge funds and private equity industries are visiting the Reuters bureaus in New York, London and Hong Kong this week to discuss the outlook for the sector in a series of exclusives interviews as part of the 2010 Reuters Hedge Funds and Private Equity Summit.

Private equity is still struggling with the triple problem of raising funds, exiting investments and striking deals -- although the last has become a little easier of late. M&A has picked up and there have been a few single-digit billion LBO deals struck in recent months. Still, volatile markets have been making for an uphill struggle to exit investments, and raising money for new funds is uphill. On top of that, executives are facing the possibility of higher tax and tougher scrutiny on their firms.

Investors whose portfolios were decimated during the financial crisis are searching for better returns and are now ready to send new money into hedge funds. However despite the industry's strong returns in 2009, investors are still asking managers for greater insight and transparency at a time regulators and legislators are also putting the industry under a new spotlight.

Will the industry continue to post high returns? Have expectations for performance changed?