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IX Almaty<br>Interbanking Conference

IX Almaty
Interbanking Conference
  Almaty recipe: how to make milk into butter  
Every year arrangers of Almaty Interbank Conference (AIC) are convinced that this kind of meeting of financial experts is vital. Judge for yourselves, just one year ago a financial turmoil hit the global economy. Several days before this year’s conference the world faced a financial meltdown which indicated a new coil of global crunch processes. And still irrespective of a lot of doubts that the traditional meeting of bankers would take place this year, AIC 2008 had a record high number of participants and journalists.

IX Almaty Interbanking Conference “World Crisis: CIS Banking Systems – New Game Rules” has gained a new feature when Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Karim Masimov welcomed delegates from more than 30 countries on-line from his office in Astana. A 30-minute interactive conversation seemed to set the pace of the entire conference.

- I think Kazakhstan is not exposed to a liquidity squeeze, the prime minister indicated. The National Bank successfully helped out second-tier banks providing them with cash last September when such need arose. The government was providing selective support to two sectors – construction and SMEs – in line with an instruction of the head of state. And we will continue these efforts. The economic growth continues approximately within the forecasted of more than 5%. I am sure that we will be able to convince rating agencies to adequately evaluate the situation in Kazakhstan although this process is not simple and the world picture puts pressure on them. But they must more accurately and closely study the situation inside the country.

In turn, chairman of BTA Bank’s board of directors Mukhtar Ablyazov is confident that it is necessary to look for opportunities even where others do not see them. He highlights that in such conditions it is vital to exhibit efforts similar to a struggle of an obstinate frog from a tale that kicked and squirmed, until at last, all his churning about in the milk had turned the milk into a big hunk of butter.

“The global financial community sets the clock to show Almaty time for two days” one may think the official slogan of the conference is too pompous. However, the participation of financial heavyweights has properly justified it. On September 24 and 25 The InterContinental Hotel – The Ankara in Kazakhstan hosted a dialogue platform for representative of the Russian president in the national banking sector Tatyana Paramonova, CEO of HSBC Bank Kazakhstan Simen Munter, Chairman of the National Bank of Kazakhstan Anvar Saidenov, General Director of the CIS Financial-Banking Council Pavel Nefidov, Executive Advisor of Japan Securities Toshihiko Sasaki, RBS Executive Director Tim Vieth, Director of UK Commercial Crime Services Michael Howlett and others.

Discussions of the focal point of the conference have expanded even into coffee breaks. When you are not a participant but an arranger you can notice a lot of interesting moments as the onlooker sees most of the game, for instance, how representatives of the financial community were vying with each other to discuss questions that Miss Paramonova put to the prime minister. Whereas local journalists were establishing contacts with foreign colleagues and lack of knowledge of a foreign language was not a problem, they were sincerely surprised to see a diversity of represented mass media: Institutional Investor, The Banker, Euroweek, Associated Press, Euromoney, Emerging Markets Report. Indeed, with the list of accredited mass media it is possible to trace the mass media of Kazakhstan and the global media market. Even such magazines that have noting to do with the banking industry as the Zerkalo and the New House and Everything In It wanted to have their journalists covering the event.

A rich program of the conference was unlikely to disappoint anyone. The two-day event has offered four panel discussions, six round-table discussions and five press briefings. Speakers, delegates and journalists have unanimously highlighted the urgency of covered subjects that ranged from the investment ratings and system risks of insurers on the global financial markets to the state regulation of the financial sector and alternative sources of funding. Discussions of the mortgage lending market and performance of the CIS banks amid the financial turmoil have kindled vivid interest.

One famous edition in Kazakhstan indicated, “in contrast to several recent Interbanking Conferences, this time market makers and regulators have shared similar opinions almost in every respect. Nearly all speakers deemed their duty to praise sound interaction with regulators as an advantage of the event.” Thus, economic expert from Russia Mikhail Khazin could not keep from lauding the Financial Supervision Agency of Kazakhstan saying that it is one of the best financial watchdogs.

Chairman of management board of BTA Bank Roman Solodchenko also cracked a joke in this regard saying that the U.S. banks would not have been hurt if they had stayed under the FSA supervision.

Journalists also heaped praises upon the organizing committee and delegates saying: “You have to give credit not only to the organizers but also to all participants who have resolved to meet once again in this difficult time for the financial community and not behind closed doors but before numerous journalists. By the way, this time a plenty of our colleagues from regional mass media have arrived to cover the event.” It is necessary to indicate that journalists of business editions from various regions of Kazakhstan were particularly active. Of course, unlike their counterparts from big central editions they are not got used to events of such scale.

At the last discussion panel financiers and journalists were ascertaining if they are allies or opponents. It was the first time when such topic was included into the agenda of the Interbanking Conference. Meanwhile, renowned political observer, winner of the ‘Gold Pen of Russia’ Mikhail Leontyev was an important person of the discussion. During the dialogue the parties have concurred that despite ambitions the fourth power has to provide an objective coverage of the global crisis since the mass media affects the situation in the world economy along with the financial institutions.

The bulk of the present had seen the anchor only in his own TV shows Odnako (However) and Bolshaya Igra (Big Game), therefore they were queuing to make a photo with him. The face of TV Channel One, pundit in real life has turned to be a rather shy man who agreed to make photos with everyone who had asked him and posed before cameras.

By the way, this year Almaty Interbanking Conference has gathered a record high number of mass media representatives – 130 journalists from 80 newspapers, magazines and broadcasters. Also for the first time the Financial Times was a general media partner of the event.

At the end of the global event participants have gladly changed their business suits for hunter and fisherman outfits and celebrated the closing of the conference in the outdoor recreation complex Altyn Kol. Participants of the “Features of National Hunting and Fishing” were able to face wild animals and boast marksmanship, spin yarns in a camp and taste dishes from caught poultry.

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