Bernstein. In Spite The regulation event has proven to be so inordinately time-wasting and frustrating and dead-end that youre starting to see companies act, Bienenstock said at the event. The regulations are so lousy that people are starting to act in spite of it. Oranges Richard said that while he previously wouldnt pursue deals because he was convinced regulators would reject them, hes decided the best strategy is to test the market with deals to find out what regulators will tolerate. We cannot compete in our environment anymore, said Timotheus Hoettges, deputy CEO of Deutsche Telekom. Europe is at a scale too small to be relevant. Hoettges said that the major European carriers would all have to combine to have a market capitalization comparable to AT&T Inc., the biggest U.S. phone company. Dallas-based AT&T has a market value of about $175 billion. Weve Listened With antitrust scrutiny making consolidation tough, carriers are expanding services as a way to grow, with mobile operators adding television and fixed services to increase monthly bills and customer loyalty. Vodafone agreed to buy German cable company Kabel Deutschland Holding AG this year to add more services in its biggest market. Telefonica SA is testing competition regulators tolerance, attempting to take over Royal KPN NVs German unit to merger their local companies. The deal, which would cut the number of German carriers to three from four, is seen by Richard and others in the industry as a bellwether for consolidation.
“Deleveraging is continuing and there is a risk that it could accelerate again,” Roaf said, adding that countries in south east Europe were most at risk. Serbia laid out painful spending cuts on Tuesday, as it looks to a deal with the Fund early next year to reassure investors and cut borrowing costs. Roaf said the IMF was “ready to support (Serbia)… in any way that suits”. HIGHER FORECAST FOR POLAND On Poland, the region’s biggest economy, Roaf said the IMF would soon raise its 2014 economic growth forecast to about 2.5 percent from 2.2 percent now as investment was picking up and exports had been doing well. But the new forecast would already be close to the potential growth rate at which Poland’s economy can expand without creating imbalances. This is much lower than the 4-5 percent registered before 2008 and unlikely to be enough to bring down the 13 percent unemployment rate, denting 37-million-strong nation’s aspiration to quickly close the wealth gap with its Western counterparts. The IMF official said structural reforms to make the business environment more investment-friendly could help speed up growth, but this was something countries had to work on. The slower potential growth rates across the region were mainly a result of slower growth in western Europe and sharply reduced investment flows. “Slower growth points to more problems with employment going forward. Also fiscal problems”, Roaf said. In an effort to reduce its debt and close a budget gap, Poland is transferring to the state a large portion of the assets held by state-guaranteed private pension funds. Roaf said the overhaul, which provoked protests from some leading economists and players in the market, did not undermine the sustainability of public finances. “We are not taking a position whether this is the right thing to do or not. But we certainly do not see a concern,” he said.