Bigger role seen for emerging economies

Last Updated 11 July 2010, 14:00 IST

With developed economies struggling and emerging markets thriving, more and more financial deals are being cut well away from the traditional centers.

Rising trade between emerging economies, cross-border mergers, acquisitions by Indian and Chinese companies and moves by developing world businesses to raise capital in each other’s markets will spur growth of financial centres in the fastest growing economies, according to industry experts who addressed the Reuters ‘Emerging Markets Summit in Sao Paulo.’

For the bankers clustering in cities like Sao Paulo and Mumbai, the intra-emerging markets movement of funds represents an alluring chance to make money.

“We see flows between Africa and India, India and China, India and Korea being much bigger,” said Standard Chartered India CEO Neeraj Swaroop. “Not just big companies but also small and medium sized companies are making outbound investments. For banks like Standard Chartered, these are immense opportunities to pursue,” Moscow-based Renaissance Capital CEO Stephen Jennings, said he is already seeing a rapid integration of capital flows in emerging markets.

“In our M&A practice, 80 per cent of our deals don’t have a western face. And the same thing will happen with financial flows,” he told at the Reuters summit.

“London cannot possibly retain its role as a primary capital markets centre for emerging markets. I think it will be displaced totally over the next two to three years,” he said, adding that high taxes, intensifying regulation and unfavourable immigration policies all work against the City.

While other industry experts expect New York and London to remain dominant for years to come, examples of the world’s changing investment flows abound.

Chinese investment is surging in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. Russian and central Asian resources companies are lining up to list shares in Hong Kong.

Big deals

Chinese banks are also making big loans across the developing world, such as $1 billion in financing South Africa’s Standard Bank obtained from a consortium of Chinese lenders in 2009. And Brazilian companies will soon tap debt markets in South Africa and Russia, said Standard Bank Latin American operations CEO Eduardo Centola.

“There is interest in issuing bonds for Brazilian companies in rand, and there’s a huge appetite for rand bonds in Africa,” said Centola. “We also find there is an appetite for Brazilian companies to issue in rubles.” Both New York and London have a long list of advantages over emerging market rivals, ranging from loose capital controls and the strong rule of law to sound infrastructure and high quality schools and universities.
Goldman Sachs Head of global economic research Jim O’Neill,  said it will take many years before the traditional financial powerhouses are overtaken by emerging market rivals.

“For any of these emerging markets to truly be an international financial centre, they have to do something about the basic ingredients, including the use of English and adopting very credible and acceptable rules of business laws,” he said.

Nevertheless, some of the new centres may soon dominate lucrative niches. Singapore is challenging Switzerland for the world’s wealth management business, Hong Kong — which led the world in IPOs last year — is becoming an equity hub for Asia’s growing resources companies and Shanghai, not New York, is coordinating the financial resources driving China’s private sector. To Jennings, these are the seeds of a new model: one in which the savings of emerging markets no longer flow to the US and Europe, but rather to the areas with the highest growth rates.

“In the last 10 years, emerging markets savings have, through the dollar as the reserve currency, been intermediated through the West,” he said. “But that capital is much more efficiently deployed in emerging markets because returns are higher and in some cases risk is lower. So those connections, the new financial plumbing, are being built now.”

(Published 11 July 2010, 14:00 IST)

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