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Banking, Featured Work, Libya, Politics, Sovereign Wealth Funds - Apr 30, 2014 22:24 - 0 Comments

Libya And Goldman: The Secret Memo

Euromoney, April 30 2014Nic6020924

There are recruitment ads out at the Libyan Investment Authority. Libya’s sovereign wealth fund, seeking to regain direction after the country’s revolution, has employed consultants for a few key roles. There’s the CEO. And the CFO. And the chief investment officer.

And the head of risk, the head of internal audit, and the chief operating officer.

Oh, and the deputy CEO. And the head of legal.

There are revamps, and then there’s the LIA. Founded by Colonel Gaddafi’s second son, Saif Al Islam Gaddafi, in 2006, the fund has already gone through more drama and upheaval than most of its sovereign wealth peers have endured in their combined history. Waves of executives and managers have come and gone, foreign banks and fund managers have sold it extraordinary duds that soured during the financial crisis, the country has undergone painful revolution which saw Saif jailed and his father killed, its funds have been frozen by the UN (and remain so, at the fund’s own insistence, today) and at the end of it all it finds itself with a glut of legacy headaches and an empty management bench.

And, as it seeks to move forward, it must also look back. This year it has launched a raft of litigation against some of the biggest names in global banking, seeking to recover billions of dollars for deals those banks put them into during the Gaddafi regime. And no matter how much any Libyan executive seeks to paint themselves as a breath of fresh air, correcting the sins of the past, they must inevitably face scrutiny for just what their role in the bad old days really was.

To see this article as it ran at Euromoney.com, click here, here, and for Palladyne’s denial, here

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Banking, Big Interviews, Middle East, United Arab Emirates - Jun 1, 2014 0:40 - 0 Comments

Thursby spins NBAD’s world view

Euromoney, June 2014

The last time Euromoney caught up with Alex Thursby, he was spearheading ANZ’s expansion into Asia and was in a strident frame of mind. “We’re noisy Alex-Thursby-Group-CEO-of-NBAD1people,” he said then. “Certainly a straight-shooting bunch.”

Four years on, we find Thursby in a quite different role and, if somewhat less noisy in a new environment, no less driven in ambition. As chief executive officer of National Bank of Abu Dhabi, he is in a role with different sensitivities – running a mainly state-owned bank, ultimately held by the Emirate’s royal family, in the politically nuanced world of the Gulf – but equally bold in what it wants to do regionally.

Along the way, his role models have changed. Back at ANZ, Thursby and his then-boss Mike Smith were great believers in the model exemplified by their former employers, Standard Chartered and HSBC respectively: on-the-ground presence, in-country, with a large part of the business based on transactional work which might not be as sexy as investment banking but which follows the patterns of emerging market trade.

Today, though, it’s Asian banks he wants to emulate. Joining NBAD, he says, is somewhat like joining Singapore’s DBS 15 years ago. And DBS now is among the names he wants to follow: he also names other Singaporean and Malaysian houses. You won’t hear a reference to Stanchart unless he’s specifically asked about it, and there is a sense that he believes that western institutions have had their time in the sun and, in some respects, blown it.

“My philosophy is very clear,” he says. “A lot of the failings that led up to 2008 were based on a product push from western banks. And what I learned about eastern banks – and we are in a new world where the eastern banks are getting stronger and stronger – is that they start with the client.”

Time and again during our interview, Thursby makes comparisons to western banks and finds them wanting. “I fear for the west a bit,” he says. “Western organisations, outside tech on the [US] west coast, have become incumbent models, and incumbency can lead to non-reactiveness to the market.”

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Big Interviews, Economics, Featured Work, Foreign Exchange, From the Vault, Malaysia, Politics - Oct 1, 2007 9:52 - 0 Comments

Mahathir Mohamed, Emerging Markets, October 2007

With MahathirEmerging Markets, October 2007

Putrajaya is a curious place. Though few outside of Malaysia have heard of it, it is the country’s federal administrative centre, founded in 1995 to take the government departments out of nearby Kuala Lumpur. It’s a place of resplendent architectural daring: mosques, palaces, convention centres, and five extraordinary bridges over a 650-hectare man-made lake. But the most striking thing about it is this: there’s no-one there.

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