Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Moscow: The least worst place for your money

   Russian investment bank Renaissance Capital was a big backer of Moscow’s ambition to become a major emerging-markets financial centre, a bridge between European and Asian capital, a rival to Dubai.

    It not only trumpeted the idea, but was one of the first big local firms to take out offices in a sleek glass skyscraper by the Moscow River, surrounded by foundation pits and towers of naked steel girders that were to become Moscow’s Canary Wharf.       Then the financial crisis hit in September 2008, knocking back the city’s ambitions.       Renaissance Capital President Ruben Aganbegyan said, however, that other world financial centres were inadvertently helping Moscow’s case despite its setbacks.       “A lot of people in the world are doing everything they can to help us,” Aganbegyan told the 2009 Reuters Russian Investment Summit. “Like the UK raising taxes.”     Russia instituted a 13 percent flat income tax rate in 2001 to stop rampant tax evasion. Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin told the summit that Russia would try to avoid raising taxes to cover budget deficits for at least three years

from Global Investing:

Clear road ahead for depressed Dubai

Dubai's deepening real estate slump has brought unexpected benefits to its time-poor urban residents.

Speaking at the Global Islamic Financing Summit, Dr. Humayon Dar, CEO of Shariah-compliant consultancy BMB Islamic, said Dubai was a much nicer place to live now that the immature infrastructure system was not overwhelmed with construction traffic and armies of property speculators.

Islamic finance just one more crisis victim?

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It’s not just traditional western banks that are hurting — the recession is hitting Islamic finance hard, too.

The industry, which operates according to Islamic law and hence has an in-built conservative investment strategy, is seen as relatively insulated from the financial crisis. But some executives at the Reuters Islamic Banking and Finance Summit are not so sure.

Is Dubai real estate downturn reason for sukuk slump?

This week we had the opportunity to speak with Mohsin Khan, Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and the former head of the Middle East department at the International Monetary Fund, ahead of the 2009 Reuters Islamic Banking and Finance Summit. I asked him why he thought that the once red-hot market for Islamic bonds had slowed to a trickle. Khan says some of the largest issuers of Islamic bonds, or sukuk, were real estate developers and the reason corporations are reluctant to buy or issue sukuk these days is due in large part to the continuing decline in the value of real estate in Dubai. Click below to listen:
Kahn on sukuk issues from Reuters TV on Vimeo.

Mr Prime Minister, you’re no President

The Reuters Middle East Investment Summit in Dubai was hit by the whirlwind visit of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown across the Gulf as he looked to drum up support for ailing British firms and convince Gulf investors the IMF’s bailout fund was a safe place to put their cash. After courting Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, it was a fleeting visit to the region’s commercial hub Dubai. As his motorcade flew passed the world’s tallest tower But hark…we have seen this before. President George Bush headed to the United Arab Emirates more than a year ago. But that’s where the similarities stop. For Mr Bush, Dubai ground to a halt. Chaos ensued. Streets were closed. Workers sent home. The President was in town, so that was that. Fast forward November 4, 2008. Mr Brown is here. Dubai is business as usual, although The Prime Minister’s motorcade did delay a speaker for the Reuters summit. Perhaps the credit crunch has meant random days off are no longer on the Dubai agenda……. unless you’re the President of course.

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