Category Archives: Emerging Markets

What Mohamed Amersi is saying about the Telia deal

Mohamed Amersi
Mohamed Amersi

Mohamed Amersi is generally unknown in Sweden, but in the 2010s he was a legendary dealmaker in the emerging markets of Eurasia. For several years, Telia hired Amersi and his company to facilitate the company’s investments in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Russia, and Uzbekistan. 

As background, Amersi says “I have a long experience of doing M&A business in emerging markets. In Latin America for Telefonica, in the Middle East for Etisalat, Oredoo and Zain, in Africa for Etisalat, MTN and Zain, in Russia for Veon to name a few clients. In total, I have participated in transactions corresponding to approximately 1,000 billion Swedish Kronas.” Within these deals, Amersi provided both legal expertise and input from his corporate, finance, private equity, and venture capital experience.

“At the time of Telia’s business in Eurasia, the company had ambitions to become a global player in telecoms, primarily through acquisitions in emerging markets. To succeed in this,” Amersi explains,  “a successful acquisition strategy was required. At that time, the two merging companies – Swedish Telia and Finnish Sonera – already had a presence in Eurasia through the operators Megafon, Turkcell, and Fintur. But the competence of the merged company needed to be strengthened to be able to continue to acquire and manage operators in Eurasia.” As Amersi attests, he is arguably the only person who could both handle the M&A directly, “and had insight into the local culture and could work both sustainably and profitably.”

Amersi reiterates that Telia Sonera was also interested in finding and acquiring operators in other emerging markets. That is why his company was hired for an ongoing role in advisement to merge Swedish-Finnish company. Ultimately, the merger was meant to bring Telia new operators outside of Eurasia, with expansions in emerging countries such as Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Iran, and Ethiopia.

It was precisely Amersi’s cultural litheness and familiarity that allowed him to make valuable contributions to the Telia merger process. To Amersi, his role was “about general advice, resolving ownership disputes, understanding local regulatory issues and not least evaluating and concluding agreements with local partners.” These local partners, says Amersi, are often quite powerful and wealthy; their support is key to making any deal.

“But unlike what has been described in the press, it is not about bribes at all. It is crucial that the deal is started in the right way. It must be made clear to the responsible authorities, regulatory units and other authorities and parties that there will be no bribes.” 

Mohamed Amersi

Toward that end, Amersi adds that the collaboration with prominent local partners must be fully established and clarified from the very beginning. This allows for clearly described roles and responsibilities,” as well as clear payment flows. Amersi also says that local partners must be required to co-own the merged entity, giving them a financial stake (and risk) that come with the co-ownership. Amersi’s insistence on the local partners is in fact built on the principle that “value creation in the merged business that profits and dividends can be made. Not through bribes. It is in collaboration with a weak partner that corruption most often occurs.”

Furthermore, Amersi insists that a culture of giving back must be inherent in any merger process. “It is about creating local jobs, education and skills development locally, and not trying to minimize taxes, but paying full local tax.”

Mohamed Amersi

As for his involvement with Telia, Amersi clarifies “My role in this transaction was of a technical nature…I was asked as an advisor to make a check of the valuation made of Telia’s finance function and to be helpful in developing an optimal structure for the transaction. In addition to my assignment, Telia had hired world-leading lawyers with recognized good competence and experience in negotiating and drafting agreements, as well as conducting audits and due diligence.  I, therefore, did not participate in the negotiations themselves or directly in the implementation of the deal or in any part of the review and due diligence.”

Ultimately, it is clear from the investigations and a conversation with Amersi that not a single error was found, or any remark made.  Telia’s auditors also reviewed the relationship between the companies.  Amersi is a man of truth, integrity, and respect; these are his keywords for trust and transactions of all kinds.

Money Management during dual crisis

How to Manage a Dual Crisis: Coronavirus and Market Meltdown

The CEO of Source Financial Advisors, Michelle Smith, has issued several suggestions for how the financial community can endure two conflating situations: the economic fallout of the coronavirus and market declines.

Be in Touch

Use technology to maintain contact with clients. Video platforms should be utilized as much as possible to offer a face-to-face personal interaction. While working remotely may mean that things are a bit more casual, it is important to keep things professional.

Be Authentic

The need to maintain decorum and professionalism notwithstanding, it is also important to be genuine with clients. They want to know that their money is in good hands, but they also want to have a sincere conversation about life. Start and end every conversation with a client by discussing their wellbeing. Ask how they are managing and feeling. Give them the assurance they need. Show them that you care about their physical, mental, and financial health.

Michelle Smith advises maintaining professionalism alongside authenticity during these trying times.

Be Pro-Active

When things are uncertain it is tempting to switch to preservation mode. We have a fiduciary responsibility to do our best for those who are already clients; we may not have the bandwidth to grow our business. But as we focus on the clients we have, we should also maintain business contacts and relationships that can help our business in the future. Look for opportunities in various sectors and actively pursue leads.

Be Thoughtful

Clients are worried about a lot of things right now. It is the job of financial planners and economic advisors to ensure that money is not an additional concern. The current health concerns coupled with economic uncertainties present people with two extremely basic fears: being alone and broke. Now is not the time to overwhelm clients with statistics and trends. Listen closely to what the clients are saying and what they feel most comfortable with at this time. This is unchartered territory for everyone. Every individual, business owner, team leader, and industry specialist is figuring out how to navigate these uncertain times. In the money management field, being attentive, genuine, forthcoming, and caring is the best business practice right now.

If It’s Tuesday It’s B2B Day

Last Tuesday was the first “B2B Tuesday,” an initiative sponsored by Alibaba.com to raise awareness about the contributions small and medium businesses make to the US economy and to help them get more market share in the global ecommerce community.
Alibaba.com is the B2B division of Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA).


B2B Tuesday will from now on be a regular event celebrated not only by Alibaba.com, but by other organizations that share similar goals. The 2B2 community will promote the successes of US 2B2 SMBs, share knowledge, resources, and other information that can help them grow. They hope to help SMBs to access the over $23.9 trillion global B2B eCommerce pie, an amount that is larger by a factor of six than the B2C eCommerce market. The event every Tuesday will feature B2B stories of success, face-to-face events, highlights of new offerings, educational content, and more.


An independent research company recently conducted a “US SMB Confidence Survey at the behest of Alibaba.com. They asked 5,000 US SMBs who engage in B2B business to relate to the following issues:


• The survey found that 62% of B2B businesses are feeling optimistic about the economy.
• A bit less than half (46%) said they expect their B2B business to improve.
• Substantially more than half (57%) hired new employees to support their online B2B buying and selling.


Other issues explored in the survey included globalization and digitalization.


“Strong SMB confidence among American business owners and entrepreneurs, plus the growth from digitizing of their business and doing business globally means the future is bright for U.S. SMBs,” said John Caplan, head of North America B2B at Alibaba Group. “Less than one third of businesses we surveyed have been doing business online for more than five years. That means there is an enormous opportunity for U.S. SMBs to digitize and grow their businesses globally with ease. And B2B Tuesday is one more example of how Alibaba.com is here to help.”

The Ultra-Orthodox World Hits Hollywood

It’s not every day that Israeli television makes it into the American news. But recently, Marta Kauffman, producer of the outrageously popular “Friends,” has announced that she will be producing a US remake of the Israel TV drama “Shtisel.” Certainly “Shtisel,” and its focus on the Ultra-Orthodox Shtisel family in Jerusalem, doesn’t seem like a theme that will grab America’s attention.

Hollywood seems to disagree. In 2003, Daniel Taub created and wrote “The Rebbe’s Court” which was a series focused on the lives of members of a Hassidic dynasty in Tel Aviv. Until Daniel Taub’s portrayal, most depictions of the ultra-orthodox were stereotypical and two-dimensional. Daniel Taub discussed the challenges that he faced when writing the show as he said,

“The producers wanted me to put some secular characters center stage for the largely secular audience to identify with. I insisted that the goal was to bring the viewers to connect emotionally with people from a very different world, and thankfully we were able to do this.”

Taub’s series was eventually bought and broadcast by Channel 10 and was a hit with both the secular public and the ultra-orthodox. As Daniel Taub explained, “In one episode of the series, a secular song is sung by one of the actors at a Shabbat meal. I was surprised to learn from one Hassid that this was now a regular Shabbat song in his community.”

Since this groundbreaking work, “Almost Touching,” “Kathmandu” and “Shtisel” have all become hits. Such hits, it seems, that America is now gearing up for their own “Shtisel” with a top Hollywood producer. Wonders never cease.

 

 

US Business Urging Obama and Congress to Engage PM Modi on Economic Issues

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi at Government Buildings, Dublin on September 23, 2015. Picture courtesy of Narendra Modi.

The Alliance for Fair Trade with India is pressing President Obama and Congress to move forward with the US economic relationship with India, taking advantage of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US scheduled for June.

The Alliance, which represents a broad rand of businesses from manufacturing to pharmaceuticals, has sent letters to the president and congressman saying that Modi’s visit is an important event which should include discussions about crucial commercial issues which are harming India’s ability to grow its trade economy.

“We hope you will use this visit to engage with the Prime Minister to advance both discussions and concrete action to produce a stronger and more-promising U.S.-India commercial relationship,” the Alliance wrote.

“A strong and vibrant U.S.-India relationship is beneficial not only to our two countries, but also to greater growth and opportunity throughout the world.”