Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

2010 Global Mining and Steel Outlook

This time last year, steel mills and base metal miners were in an unprecedented slump, with metal prices bouncing off multi-year lows amid steep economic downturn. Since then, the world economy has turned upwards and demand for metal is resurging. While many analysts have cited economic recovery for the price gains, they add that demand signals show only slow, choppy growth. Whether metal prices have gained as investors search for a place to put excess liquidity or are based in solid supply/demand fundamentals remains a question. Get exclusive insight into the sector from the Reuters Global Mining and Steel Summit taking place in New York, London and Sydney on Mar 8-11.

2010 Reuters Hedge Funds and Private Equity kicks off

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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.

Are the days of flying business and 4-star hotels over for biz travelers?

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Are flying coach and staying at budget hotels the “new normal” for businesspeople who travel for work? If so, what does it mean for airlines, hotels and casinos still trying to recover from the economic downturn? Chris Woronka, Senior Gaming, Lodging and Leisure Analyst at Deutsche Bank Securities shares his thoughts with us on what’s in store for the Travel and Leisure Industry in 2010. Will the industry once again be flying high? Or, will the prospects for a better year ahead get grounded?

2010 Travel and Leisure Industry Outlook

Will the travel & leisure industry bounce back in 2010?

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Be it through optional newspaper delivery, a fee for blankets, or shuttered restaurants, travel and leisure companies have had to trim costs creatively as the recession hurt revenues and profits.  The sector has recently been buoyed by expectations of recovery amid signs that business travel demand is starting to rebound.  But discounted airfares and hotel rates and volatile fuel prices pose challenges to profitability. Room rates at hotels remain under pressure, while casino operators are looking to Asia to spur growth as prime U.S. destinations such as Las Vegas struggle to rebound.  And airlines, which have cut jobs and reduced capacity in the past two years as the economic downturn battered demand, face new security concerns that also could slow recovery.  Executives of some of the world’s biggest and best-known airlines, hotel and casino companies will address these and other issues at the Reuters Travel and Leisure Summit, to be held in New York from Feb. 22-24.

Awaiting the alternative energy sukuk: Innovation vs conservatism

MANAMA, Feb 18 (Reuters) – Dubai’s debt fiasco and real estate bubble bust pushes investors to look out for alternative assets underlying Islamic finance products – could renewable energy provide a way-out?

Predominantly, Islamic finance and investment products have been backed by infrastructure or commodities assets. But executives at the 2010 Reuters Islamic Banking and Finance Summit said product diversification was needed to cut the over-reliance on real estate in the Gulf.

Is Islamic banking truly sharia-compliant?

Manama, Bahrain Feb. 16  - The Islamic finance industry has a problem. Its main selling point is that it is sharia-compliant, meaning it adheres to Islam’s prohibition of interest and avoids dealing with forbidden sectors such as alcohol and gambling.

But in the eyes of many, much of the industry is actually not sharia-compliant at all.

Islamic Banking & Finance to attract new attention in 2010

Islamic banking is one of the world’s fastest growing financial sectors, according to industry estimates. It has attracted more attention in the aftermath of the global financial crisis as investors are increasingly looking for alternative, ethical ways of investing. This has also intensified a debate within the industry on whether it should move further away from conventional banking, designing products based more directly on Islamic principles.

Global issuance of Islamic bonds, or sukuk, is expected to fall this year from 2009 levels, a recent Reuters poll showed, as the Dubai debt crisis and an expected rise in borrowing costs weigh on market sentiment. In the Gulf Arab region, a funding crunch at Bahrain-based Islamic investment house Gulf Finance House shows that the financial crisis is far from over in the region and that the industry urgently needs to develop new products and business lines to generate revenues.

A Barry Diller sampler from the Reuters Global Media Summit

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Interviewing IAC chief and media mogul Barry Diller nearly always means that you’ll get more quotable quotes than you can stuff into one article. He didn’t disappoint at this year’s Reuters Global Media Summit on Wednesday. Here are thoughts from Diller on a range of subjects from mergers and acquisitions and Comcast to AOL, MGM and marriage.

Q: What are you going to do with the cash on the balance sheet? What’s the focus? Are you still being cautious?

NHL commish: Bigger not always better

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If you want a new National Hockey League team, you’ll definitely need a spanking new arena, or at least one that’s been gussied up in a significant way. But that doesn’t mean it need be a super-sized arena,  Commissioner Gary Bettman said at the Reuters Global Media Summit.

“While we play to 93 to 94 percent capacity, we’d like to play to 100 percent capacity,” Bettman said. “A 15,000-16,000 seat arena might work better in some markets than a 19,000 seat arena.”

Electronic Arts CEO straightens mom out at Thanksgiving

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Restructuring: You shouldn’t be afraid to do it, even more than once if you have to, and even if your own family doesn’t understand it. Just ask John Riccitiello, chief executive of videogame publisher Electronic Arts. Here’s what he said at the Reuters Global Media Summit on Tuesday:

A company that doesn’t restructure in the face of that dramatic transformation, I don’t know what they’re doing. GM had a great decade in the ’70s building large cars… They didn’t restructure in the face of what was obvious. The music industry kept telling us they wanted to buy albums, and then they tried to sue us. It didn’t serve them well. … We look at the future and we are aggressively embracing it… .

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