"America Needs a Strong Russia"
Director of Equity Financing, FINAM Investment Company, Moscow
Former U.S. Secretary of Colin Powell delivering his keynote speech
(All photos by: Renaissance Capital)
Renaissance Capital, the leading global emerging markets investment bank headquartered in Russia, Is hosting its eleventh annual meeting this week with the theme "Russia: Investing in Prosperity". This event is by far the largest annual finance conference in the country -- with more than 1,000 leading investors, corporate executives and government officials attending.
Renaissance Capital is well known in Russia for meticulously planning high-quality events. This time it is being held in the famous Gostiny Dvor -- just a few steps from the Kremlin and Red Square. Everything at the conference was catered to investors' tastes - right down to the abundance of Internet workstations and Bloomberg terminals.
This year's speakers were also top notch:
- Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell (keynote)
- BP PLC's Group Chief Executive Tony Hayward
- Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Naryshkin
- Minister of Finance Alexei Kudrin
- Minister of Telecommunications and IT Leonid Reiman
- Minister of Energy Victor Khristenko
- Head of the Audit Chamber Sergei Stepashin
- Head of the Federal Financial Markets Service Vladimir Milovidov
Click on the extended post to read more.
Renaissance Capital's Robert Foresman and General Powell before the grand opening
Renaissance Capital treated investors to presentations from leading Russian executives representing, among others, Gazprom, Rosneft, Lukoil, Transneft, Surgutneftegaz, Novatek, RAO Unified Energy Systems, Norilsk Nickel, RUSAL, MMK, TMK, Polyus Gold, Severstal, SUEK, AFK Sistema, Prof-Media, MTS, Sitronics, Sberbank, VTB, Wimm Bill Dann and the X5 Retail Group. Renaissance Capital has organized more than 2,000 private, one-on-one meetings between investors and Russian corporate executives. Special roundtables on derivatives, real estate, the banking sector and endowments in Russia are also scheduled, as are regional site visits for investors to Sakhalin Island, Sochi and St. Petersburg.
The conference was opened with a speech by Stephen Jennings, CEO, Renaissance Group. "Russia is no longer a sideline observer at G8 summits. Nor is it kowtowing to the West. Russia isn't just an economic hub of the CIS. It is a global economic and financial center in its own right. These are the realities of Russia today. International and domestic political rhetoric, and less than stellar market performance, are making headlines. But they can't mask a fundamental truth. Russia today is a very different, and qualitatively stronger and more robust, global economic and political center of influence."
Mr. Jennings also said: "We are bullish on Russia, in spite of the weaker market conditions of late and the even more bearish political speak coming from London, Brussels and Washington, DC... Follow the money and you find a very different Russia compared to what emerges from pundits, naysayers and politicians... Not even rash statements by Western leaders, like Tony Blair's swansong warning that foreign investors will turn away from Russia because of concerns over democratic principles, can dampen the enthusiasm coming from foreign and domestic investors alike."
Powell recalled the years he spent training U.S. forces to fight the Red Army
Naturally the keynote speaker was former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell. When the chairperson introduced Mr. Powell he asked -- "What would be the best way to present you -- as 'former Secretary of State' or as 'former general' Colin Powell?" To this, the old soldier replied: "there may be former Secretaries of State, but there are no former generals."
In his eloquent 30 minute speech, Mr. Powell recalled the majority of his military career, when Russia was still an enemy and the Iron Curtain separated the world. He remembered his years commanding U.S. forces in West Germany, when the Russian General Vladislav Achalov was Commander in Chief of the Soviet 8th Army facing U.S. troops. Mr. Powell noted that he used to keep a small picture of General Achalov on his table, so that he could refer to him during numerous visits by U.S. Congressmen and Senators. When Powell finally met General Achalov in person, he found out that he had Powell's picture on his table for the same practical reason. (Immediately after General Powell's speech, I called General Achalov to confirm this story, and we agreed that I may interview him and write about those Cold War years later on).
During his remarks, General Powell vividly described his meetings with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, comparing him with Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, another 20th century reformer. In today's world he noted that instead of red and blue we see a mosaic of alliances and interests. Powell mentioned that Russia faced serious challenges during the transition to democracy under President Yeltsin, and he gave credit to President Putin for strengthening the rule of law as the basis for acceptable behavior. "In each society the basis of Law should exist -- that everybody has the ability to appeal to the Law".
Powell: "Russia needs America, America needs Russia"
"The world is flattening, information is moving around the world at the speed of light. The economy is getting more globalized". In these circumstances, Powell said, Russia is creating wealth for its people; and it now has the ability to trade globally, to move capital globally.
Regarding the recent rhetoric exchanged between Moscow and Washington, General Powell stated: "I'd rather have the challenges that exist between Russia and the U.S. now than the problems I faced when I was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when every morning I would check to see where Russian submarines were." Powell added, "Business moves forward often without looking into domestic political considerations".
"12-13 years ago I could never imagine the conference like this. Russia is really creating opportunities for people to come and do business here. This is a time for openness. This is a time for trading. Russian needs America, America needs Russia. We need Russia to be stable and confident."
The audience at the "Russia: Investing in Prosperity" conference
Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Naryshkin, General Colin Powell, Minister of Finance Alexei Kudrin
Powell discussing telecom and IT with Minister of Telecommunications and IT Leonid Reiman.
Mr. Reiman recently spoke at an event celebrating the opening bell of the MICEX Innovation and Growth Sector (IGS) index.
You can read the original post at Vladimir Kuznetsov's blog, Equity Financing in Russia. The views expressed in this post and on his blog are the personal opinions of Vladimir Kuznetsov, and are reproduced here solely for educational purposes. To read more Russia Blog posts about Russian capital markets, click on the finance section or type www.russiablog.org/finance in your web browser.