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Press release on the second day’s highlights. Modernization: The Human Factor

February 5, 2010

Changing Russia’s investment climate will require a broad public discussion, according to First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Igor Shuvalov, who spoke at The Russia Forum 2010. The Forum served as one of the platforms for such a discussion. Besides improving Russia’s investment image, Forum delegates and participants on February 4 spoke about the role of equity markets, the prospects of retail markets, the dynamic of the BRIC countries, the future of world energy and the state of the banking sector.

The second day of events at The Russia Forum 2010 opened with a panel discussion devoted to the role of equity markets in today’s world and the prospects for their development. Participating in the session were representatives of all the world’s major retail platforms. Konstantin Korishchenko, President of the MICEX Stock Exchange, dubbed it an “extraneous meeting of the stock market federation committee.” According to Vladimir Milovidov, Director of the Federal Service for the Financial Markets, Russia has already begun the crucially important process of modernizing its financial market infrastructure.

Among the central topics for discussion on the second day of the Forum was the investment climate in Russia, how best to improve it, and the government’s role in this process. To be sure, everyone gave their full attention to the speech delivered by Igor Shuvalov, whom President Dmitry Medvedev recently appointed to oversee improvements in the country’s investment climate. Mr. Shuvalov emphasized the need to broaden privatization, change the judicial system and migration laws, and continue lowering administrative barriers for business. The Vice Prime Minister added that modernization in Russia must begin with changing people’s behavior. Furthermore, he noted that Russians should learn to respect their fellow citizens who engage in business.

The global financial crisis changed the situation in the banking sector at its root. What are the long-term prospects for the sector, what lessons did the bankers learn after the crisis, what are the pluses and minuses in consolidating Russia’s banking system? These and many other important questions were the center of attention during the panel discussion titled “Banks: From crisis management to future growth?” Nick Tesseyman, Managing Director and Head of FIG at the EBRD, characterized the situation with Russian banks as stable, noting the need to develop profitable business models, as well as to concentrate on core products, client relations, and reducing expenses. Alexander Levkovsky, President of Promsvyazbank, believes that, even though more than a thousand financial organizations are registered in Russia, very few of them bear all the indications of a bank or could successfully pass an audit.

BRIC countries wield considerable influence over the world economy and are considered the most attractive region for investments, although the caliber of corporate management in these countries is quite low, while the political risks are very high. Therefore, many investors believe that the most lucrative timeframe for investing in the BRIC countries has passed. This important topic at The Russia Forum 2010 was addressed during the panel discussion titled “BRIC Growth: an Irreversible Trend?” Participants discussed such questions as whether or not the BRIC markets will maintain dynamic growth, the secret of rapid growth in the Asian economies and the state of affairs in Russia, which, according to several experts, is a possible candidate for “exclusion” from the BRIC grouping. Summarizing the discussion results, Xiang Lanxin, Professor of International History and Politics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, stated his belief that in the future the BRIC countries can consolidate and act as a single platform on the global market.

The emerging markets also served as the topic for discussion at the panel discussion titled “Investments: Where is the money in 2010 – What are the risks?” Its result – it’s both possible and imperative to earn money on emerging markets.

At the panel discussion devoted to Russia’s gas sector, speakers and audience members concentrated on a key question that everyone is asking, namely: will there be lower demand for Russian gas in Europe? Over the course of a spirited discussion, with speakers including representatives of Gazprom, NOVATEK and other industry experts, participants reached the common opinion that, in the long-term perspective, excessive gas supply constitutes a serious threat for Russia.

Businessmen from Russia, Brazil, the U.S. and other countries participated in the panel discussion titled “Entrepreneurship: Russia Reality and Foreign Flavor,” which endeavored to reach a formula for successful entrepreneurialism. Michael Milken, the legendary financier and philanthropist whom the Washington Post named as “the man responsible for a surge in wealth and development of the U.S. enterprising spirit,” expressed his confidence that the good businessman stands out for her passion, love for what he or she does, ability to see prospects, leadership, ability to take charge, and the scale of his or her actions.

Throughout the entire day at the Forum, the latest and most important topics were touched upon concerning the future of the private banking industry, the state of the currency market, and alternatives to traditional financial products. Discussion participants found a common language, exchanged opinions and searched for answers to acute, occasionally painful, questions. The amicable atmosphere that reigned over the event, as well as the sincere interest of the delegates representing more than 60 countries, attests to the fact that the world is undergoing changes for the better, and the grounds for optimism are plentiful.


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