Tuesday, July 8

Helsinki Bay

I am in cool Helsinki, arriving yesterday from Munich. 

Helsinki is becoming a favorite destination and I meet with a group of Finns who want money to invest in Russia and Eastern Europe. I learn about this region (there have been three wars between the states in modern times - but the young carry no baggage) and consider the private equity opportunities. 

I do recall that last year the Kremlin repatriated (stole) ownership of Royal Dutch Shell's Sakhalin-2 project following years of Western investment; today it is announced that the TNK-BP joint venture is under pressure as Board members denied visas. Not very subtle dude. Political risk to be weighted against today's energy pricing which converts Russia's resources to the high street: consumerism thrives and Russia retakes its place in the world - all very visible at the G8 (at least Bush does not have a cute nick name for Medvedev- remember Putey-Poot? - November cannot come fast enough, oh brother). 

Interestingly the majority of foreign, private capital into Russia arrived in the early 1990s from Americans - including foundations and endowments - to stamp out Communism for good. These funds disappeared forever in the 1997-98 Russian crisis. 

Now the Russians lecture America on its busted domestic policies that destabilise the world. Sigh. This evening I am greeted by the kids loud bath tub squeals and their demand for presents. Good to be home (photo from WWW).