Skip to main content

London Calling

Another week and another shuttle trip to London. My purpose is to support the fundraising for a new investment vehicle for Central and Eastern Europe, and although slow, there is steady progress towards raising a fairly modest €100 million.

Yet London is not what it was as far as investment in CEE is concerned. The City is ruled by fashion as much as anywhere, and in the emerging markets world what's hot and what's not can change in a very quick order. Despite the generally impressive performance of the region over the past two decades, for all practical purposes CEE ceased to be of general interest after the August 1998 default of Russia. ironically it is now only Russia that seems to capture the imagination of those who are not specialists. Yet Russia remains incredibly challenging both as a market and as a place. Never mind that Poland or Estonia have turned in economic numbers that put Russia in the shade, the fashionable investors will track Moscow but not Warsaw. In fact the world of fashion, sorry I mean investment, finds more opportunity in Africa, and that is now where London emerging markets investors want to make their mark.

Partly, I suppose, there is some kind of folk memory of a time when British investors like Cecil Rhodes made their mark and their fortunes in the dark Continent and partly, I suppose there is no longer the resentment that one of another of Africa's "big man" leaders had towards the West. After the fall of the USSR, there is only the Chinese left to meddle and their attitude is -if anything- even more exploitative towards African resources than the West.

So as I- rather wearily- put myself onto yet another flight to visit investors, I reflect that the people I am talking to are generally expert specialists- it reduces the number of people I can talk to, but at least the conversations don't start with geographical explanations. On the other hand, the real money for the region has long since left the UK. The regional specialist development bank, the EBRD, retains its headquarters in the City, but private sector money returned to Germany or the Nordic states, or even settled in the region- especially Warsaw- a decade ago.

The caprices of fashion have not yet returned the City's gaze back onto Central Europe, and with so many rival centres, I wonder if it ever will.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Cicero ReDux

By Special Request of Baroness Scott and Mark Valladares... Cicero's Songs returns: bigger, longer and uncut.
October 1st marked the half way point of the Estonian Presidency of the European Union.  Perhaps for many people such an anniversary is of passing interest at best.  Yet the conduct of the Estonian Presidency is reinforcing just how forward looking and innovative the most northerly of the Baltic States has become.
Estonia is a country that wants to live in the future, and with its openness and innovation, that future seems a lot closer than almost anywhere else in Europe
It is not that Estonia does not “do” the past: the picturesque cobbled streets of old Tallinn have tourist crowds a-plenty enjoying the mediaeval architecture in an Indian summer of sunshine and blue skies.  The real point is that Estonia refuses to be a prisoner of its past. Lennart Meri, Estonia’s President in the 1990s- who spent years of his childhood in Siberia- once told me that the country had to conc…

Trump and Brexit are the Pearl Harbor and the Fall of Singapore in Russia's Hybrid war against the West.

In December 1941, Imperial Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor. After the subsequent declaration of war, within three days, the Japanese had sunk the British warships, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, and the rapid Japanese attack led to the surrender of Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941 and the fall of Singapore only two months after Pearl Harbor. These were the opening blows in the long war of the Pacific that cost over 30,000,000 lives and was only ended with the detonations above Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"History doesn't often repeat itself, but it rhymes" is an aphorism attributed to Mark Twain, and in a way it seems quite appropriate when we survey the current scene. 

In 1941, Imperial Japan, knowing its own weakness, chose a non-conventional form of war, the surprise attack. Since the end of his first Presidential term, Vladimir Putin, knowing Russia's weakness, has also chosen non-conventional ways to promote his domestic powe…

The American National nightmare becomes a global nightmare

It is a basic contention of this blog that Donald J Trump is not fit for office.

A crooked real estate developer with a dubious past and highly questionable finances. he has systematically lied his way into financial or other advantage. His personal qualities include vulgarity, sexual assault allegations and fraudulent statements on almost every subject. 

He lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes.

He has, of course, been under criminal investigation practically since before he took the oath of office. The indictment of some of closest advisers is just the beginning. His track record suggests that in due course there is no action he will not take, whether illegal or unconstitutional in order to derail his own inevitable impeachment and the indictments that must surely follow the successful investigation of Robert Mueller into his connections with Russia.

However, all of that is a matter for the American people. 

It is also a matter for the American people that Trump is cheating…