Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Audio – Meltdown Melodrama

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Hollywood and Bollywood screenwriters must beware. Their creativity stands no chance against the “cataclysmic” global financial crisis’ talent for script writing if Infosys BPO’s Anantha Radhakrishnan is to be believed.

 

In these “turbulent and tumultuous” times, the script being crafted by the crisis promises to “differentiate the men from the boys” in the business process outsourcing industry, with deep-pocketed firms expected to brace their way through the storm, according to Radhakrishnan, a vice president at the outsourcing firm.

 

But not before electric fluctuations in the currency market play their course, and bitter and desperate price battles are fought and won. Multi-stranded epics starring Amitabh Bachchan have to hang their heads in shame.

 

And all this amid heart-stopping uncertainty of the Hitchcockian variety.

 

“When you go to bed, you don’t know which is the next big guy on the block which is being taken into ICU or being salvaged or bailed out by the government,” Radhakrishnan said at the Reuters India Investment Summit. To hear his comment click here.

Audio – Still holding out

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One would expect a top executive of the world’s largest software services provider to hang out with the latest gadgets. Sandip Patel, Managing Partner for IBM Global Business Services in South Asia, seems to be quite the contrarian.

 

He is antagonized by even the most common gadget to adorn executive pockets in these times.

Audio – Bitter-sweet flavors

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As the global economic turmoil rages on and shows no sign of abating, Genpact Chief Executive Pramod Bhasin believes “wait and watch” is the flavour of the season for business process outsourcing firms.

 

The flavour seems bitter for now.

 

Over the past few years, BPO services firms armed with competitive, English-speaking professionals working for relatively cheap wages have cashed in on an outsourcing boom. But they are now experiencing a lull in growth as the U.S. economy faces one of the worst crises in history.

Audio – Opportunistic youth and the works

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It’s not just the global economic crisis that is weighing on Genpact Chief Executive Pramod Bhasin’s mind, but also several home-grown concerns.

 

Nothing works in India, Bhasin said, and rattled off a list of public utilities from water and power to security and transportation.

“Oil wells with taps”

U.S. companies who think they can command the prices of a
bygone era from Middle East investors need to think again, says
Zabeel Investment’s executive chairman.

Because of the hype surrounding sovereign wealth funds from
oil-rich Gulf Arab states, in particular, U.S. corporate players
seem to have visions of “oil wells with taps” when they see an
Arab investor, Mohammed Ali al-Hashimi said at the Reuters
Middle East Investment Summit.

It’s never easy keeping to times

The Reuters Middle East Investment Summit kicks off on Monday 3 November. With the world facing its worst economic downturn since the 1930s, the summit is set to provide a view from the world’s largest oil producing nation. Events organisation is never easy and in such turbulent times, the region is proving just as difficult. Five speaker cancellations just 12 hours before the summit highlighted just how diifficult keeping appointments is in the region. Emergency board meetings, sudden trips overseas or in one case “yes we confirm in the morning” to “we are not sure by lunch time” to “no, no the chairman has other engagements by the evening.” Anybody doing business in the region is acutely aware that appointments are never rigid, but when the world needs stability and not chaos it might be time to keep to those appointments to reassure the investment community. As one public relations executive noted “As they say in these parts In Sha’ Allah (God Willing) next time.”

Central Europeans frown at state bank ownership

Talk in western Europe of possibly nationalising private banks to save them from the credit crisis is sending shivers down the spine of policymakers in ex-communist central Europe.

They remember how their government controlled financial systems completely collapsed in the 1990s and threatened to take the countries’ economies along with them due to pouring money into firms with little prospect of returning it.

Hedge funds get that shrinking feeling

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rtr1yerw.jpgThere’s no shortage of commentators lining up to opine on how much the troubled hedge fund industry is likely to shrink as the credit crisis unfolds.

So when someone talks about the industry being in “meltdown”, it is good to see they are backing up their dramatic views with some dramatic actions.

Audio – Kuwait Finance House sees silver lining in downturn

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lim-boh-soon.jpg Lim Boh Soon, chief executive officer of Kuwait Finance House in Singapore said at the Reuters Wealth Management Summit that he sees the period of downturn in the global economy lasting 18-24 months.

However, he thinks the market sell-off over the past two weeks has thrown up good value and said the Middle Eastern bank will look to raise up to $600 million for three Asia-focused funds next year.  Kuwait Finance House is the Gulf third-largest lender.

A philosophical look at the habits of the super-rich

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rtx8vgi.jpgThe credit crisis may be hitting the man on the street hard, but spending by the “other half” on the latest super yacht or Damien Hirst work of art looks set to carry on relatively unaffected.

Super-wealthy individuals in commodity-rich areas such as Russia and the Middle East are reaping the benefits of a five-year boom in oil and other commodity prices.

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