A multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes.
Guiding principles: Legitimacy, impartiality, transparency, good faith and sustainability.
April 10, 2015, OECD Paris Headquaters
Conference session at Liberte, Egalite, Fragilite
Research Fellow, Columbia School of Business
Professor of Economics, Columbia University
Principal & Managing Partner, Eurasia Advisors LLC
by United States. Congress. House. Committee on Government Operations. Commerce, Consumer, and Monetary Affairs Subcommittee
'Statement of Richard A.Conn, Jr., Partner, Latham & Watkins, Before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Consumer, and Monetary Affairs, Committee on Government Operations, US House of Representatives'
What is the balance between advisory work and hands on investments?
Investment activity is our primary focus. There is, however, a legal advisory component that is often linked with our investment activities. I see the Russian equity markets as very attractive so we are active in raising capital for those opportunities. We help facilitate investment into that environment with individuals whom we view as the best managers. We follow a similar model regarding private equity and real estate opportunities in Russia. We often team with other groups to implement our strategies.
Additionally, there is a dimension of our work that has a public service component. As a Board Member of the U.S.-Russia Business Council, I Co-Chair the Joint Initiative to Facilitate Russian Accession to WTO. Working with our colleagues at the American Chamber of Commerce (Moscow), we focus upon steps that need to be taken after the bilateral agreements are in place. For example, one of the post-agreement challenges will be to help the U.S. get the benefit of its bargain by having Congress pass Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia and eliminate Jackson-Vanik. Both of these issues must be addressed to allow the United States to get the benefit of any bilateral agreement we negotiate with Russia.
What are the prospects for Russian accession to WTO before the G-8 summit?
Though few issues remain to be resolved in the bilateral negotiations between the U.S. and Russia, they are contentious, important issues such as IPR and agricultural matters. The timing of resolution depends mostly on the political climate. I think that at best we will have agreement on the bilateral which is only one step in the process and its completion is followed by the multilateral stage.
Respecting the likelihood of Congress granting Russia PNTR and eliminating Jackson-Vanik, Congress does not appear supportive at this time. Assuming the emergence of a solid bilateral agreement, we and many others will do all we can to provide support. Russia, for its part, does not seem particularly focused on facilitating passage. Each month another headline makes the task of garnering support more challenging. The U.S. administration also does not seem to have decided to expend political capital support Russia though only after the bilateral concludes will we see how this plays out. For these reasons, I doubt that anything more than an agreement on the bilateral will materialize before the G-8 summit.
How do you characterise the current mood in Washington towards Russia?
Washington is increasingly concerned about the direction of the Putin government but knows it is in a poor position to influence Russia right now. Washington has plenty of other problems to address and Russia is comparatively calm and amicable compared to many other regions of the world. We seem to be recognizing that the U.S. is not particularly well liked or respected in many parts of the world and that we have a lot of work to do in order to improve our image overseas. Nonetheless, I would expect that Washington will express its concerns in the areas of nuclear arms proliferation, energy policy, and free society issues albeit in a more limited fashion than we might have seen during periods when our "currency" was stronger.
Are there congressmen who think that the Cold War is still going on?
Washington is made up of many pockets of thought. There are very few Congressmen who seem to have the view that the Cold War is ongoing. Many others no doubt have very mixed feelings towards Russia-appreciative of Russia's support for the U.S. in combating terrorism but concerned that President Putin may become increasingly authoritarian. There is a spectrum in Congress in terms of the attitude towards Russia and we are going to see that play out in the WTO/Jackson-Vanik context when these issues will come to the forefront.
Is it fair to say that Europe is taking a more pragmatic approach to Russia than the U.S.?
That is fair as to business. Europeans and Asians seem to take a practical rather than doctrinal approach to business activities. Business outside of the U.S. is conducted differently. One could argue that Russia is a better fit for some of the European approaches. For example, the U.S. has had a history of viewing its government as legitimate. This means that we have had a history of very strong compliance with rule of law including tax regimes. In other parts of the world - including some European and Asian countries - that culture does not exist or is less firmly established. People have a different perception of what government is. Russia certainly has a past that is quite chequered in this area. That leads to better fit, in terms of how the Europeans or Asians see the issues, when doing business in Russia.
Would U.S. business like to see the administration be more pragmatic in its dealings with Russia?
I have not heard that complaint respecting the U.S.-Russian relationship. I have, however, observed a general sense of frustration with the current administration regarding the atmosphere that has been created throughout the world. Many people in the business world see U.S. policies and actions as not only creating greater threats to the U.S. and its interests but also needlessly undermining rule of law and, in turn, our reputation for fairness.
Do you agree that the current amount of American investment in Russia is minimal compared to the potential investment?
Yes. That presents an opportunity. There are still significant barriers to investment in Russia. That is demonstrated by the limited amount of investment. American investment is, however, increasing rapidly. I expect a significant increase in '06 for many reasons. In a nutshell though, the U.S. looks less attractive now while Russia and other developing countries are looking better. Absent domestic unrest, Russia is going to attract significant capital this year.
Many Russian businesses would like to make investments in the US. How are such potential investments viewed?
Russian capital still has a red flag attached to it. It is complicated and difficult for those seeking investment in the U.S. to perform due diligence and understand the source of capital. It creates a political issue within an organisation in the west, because of the high profile problems Russia has had in recent years. I foresee this red flag transforming to yellow overtime. People will become more comfortable as Russians become better integrated into the international community and as westerners become more familiar with Russian investors.
Russians are clearly looking to make investments. They value their reputations and, at least at the higher levels of Russian society, value having some level of western integration. The Lukoil gas station in Georgetown is a small example of this.
There is also a question of diversification. Russians understand the need to vary their investments both for economic and political reasons. It is wonderful to see the continuation of this type of economic integration.
Mr. Conn is frequently quoted as an expert on business, economic and political matters, particularly regarding Eurasia.
By USCF Executive Board
April 11, 2010
USCF is pleased to announce that former World Champion Anatoly Karpov, candidate for the office of FIDE President, has offered a spot on his ticket to the prominent international attorney Richard A. Conn, Jr. The Executive Board has unanimously endorsed the inclusion of Mr. Conn on the Karpov ticket and enthusiastically supports the ticket. Mr. Conn, a USCF member with a rating of 1943, will run for Deputy President of FIDE, a post exceeded in prominence only by the President. If elected, he will be the highest ranking American in FIDE history.
By MICHAEL SPECTER,
Published: July 8, 1994
"If there was ever a sense that we were to be left alone, it is clearly gone now," said Richard A. Conn Jr., a lawyer with Latham & Watkins, a firm here that represents several major international corporations doing business in Russia. "I still consider it safe for Westerners to work here, and I encourage them to do so all the time. But the growth of the mob has been dramatic, and there just isn't a pass for American businesses from the mafia anymore."
Mr. Conn and most other foreign executives interviewed say that official corruption, an irrational system of levying and collecting taxes, and a lasting mistrust of profit still hurt American businesses here far more than crime does. And the executives note that no representative of any American company is known to have been killed by the mob, although such killings occur almost weekly among Russian businessmen, especially bankers.
January 03, 1993 JAMES FLANIGAN
"The really big worry is Russia. In the former Soviet Union, "the economy is breaking down," says Richard Conn, a managing partner of the Moscow office of Latham & Watkins, a Los Angeles law firm.
Conn, who helped draw up plans for the economic reforms presented by Finance Minister Yegor Gaidar--whom the Russian parliament rejected as prime minister--says inflation now is 1,000%. The ruble has gone in one year from 60 for $1 to 450 for $1. These figures work out to an inflation rate of 650%.
Unless Russia can pull out of such difficulties, strong men--nationalists, old Communists--will take back power, Conn predicts. Economic and political reforms would be curbed.
Russia would present a tougher face to Europe--and a foreign policy problem that would divert President Clinton from plans for the U.S. economy."
By Fred Hiatt
May 25, 1993
For foreign investors, nothing is clear: whose laws to obey, which taxes to pay, whose claims of ownership to believe.
"You don't really know on any given day to what degree the laws of Russia are going to be honored," said Richard Conn, an American lawyer in Moscow who advises American firms and the Russian government. "It creates interesting legal issues."
But Conn and many others see the regional power grab as a generally healthy response to decades and even centuries of heavy-handed bureaucratic control from Moscow. "Our early history was a process of the states surrendering power to the central government," Conn said. "Here, because of this nation's strange history, regions are wresting power away from the center, as individuals wrest power from government."
Richard A. Conn, Jr.
by Jonti Small, Managing Editor for "Russian Investment Review"
Sponsor of the Russian Economic Forum in London
What is the best way of describing what Conn International does?
Conn International Group LLC is a financial and legal advisory firm that assists western companies operating in Russia and Russian companies seeking to do business internationally. It sources and develops U.S.-Russian projects, assists in raising capital, identifies and facilitates cross-border investments and strategic alliances, and enhances U.S.-Russian business relations.