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It was only an April Fool’s day joke – but when an Ulaanbaatar website suggested that Mongolia go on a Genghis Khan-style “investor roadshow” across several continents on horseback to win back international investors, it hinted at the size of the image deficit the north Asian nation faces.

In Mongolia, the 13th century great Khan is thought to have mythic powers “to make the difficult easy and the distant closer by”. So channelling his spirit to serve investor relations seems natural enough – especially when the task at hand is significant. Continue reading »

A tussle between Mongolia’s authorities and some 60,000 “ninja miners” for control over the country’s gold industry captures in microcosm the broader battles that Ulaanbaatar is waging to shore up its slumping tugrik currency and central bank reserves.

The ninja miners – so named for the green bowls they carry on their backs that resemble the shells of cartoon characters from the 1990s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie – have been wreaking havoc with the nation’s gold production, thus reducing the amount of gold the central bank can buy to bolster its reserves. Continue reading »

“Made in Mongolia” trolleybuses bump along Peace Avenue, Ulan Bator’s main east-west axis, alternating lousy braking with sudden acceleration. Most of their major components have been imported from abroad and the buses are only assembled locally. Still, they embody the ambition of local authorities to develop Mongolian industry.

“Before, we were thinking of importing everything. But things have been changing and today Mongolians can produce themselves, even buses,” said president Tsakhia Elbegdorj during the inauguration of a new bus assembly line in Ulan Bator few weeks ago. Continue reading »

Resouce-rich Mongolia is going back to the international bond market in a push to offset a weakening economic cycle.

Government-backed Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM) has placed a ¥30bn ($290m), 10-year samurai bond to invest in much needed infrastructure projects. But the deal is stretching the country’s borrowing rules to the limit. Continue reading »

Remember those Genghis bonds?

Back in November, eyebrows were raised in the emerging markets debt investment community when Mongolia – a country that has been rescued five times in the past 22 years by the International Monetary Fund – managed to raise $1.5bn at a price below Spain’s borrowing costs.

At the time, many took the sale – equal to nearly one-fifth of the size of Mongolia’s economy and akin to the US borrowing $2.5tn in one go – as yet another sign that investors, flushed with cash and desperate for yields, were jumping into markets that they don’t fully understand.

Fast forward eight months and the skeptics appeared to have been proved right. Continue reading »

By Marius Toime of Berwin Leighton Paisner

After months of anticipation, Rio Tinto was given the green light last week to begin exporting its first copper shipments from the giant Oyu Tolgoi mine. This colossal project is predicted to boost Mongolia’s GDP by a third in the coming years, giving it one of the highest per capita GDPs in the world.

Mongolia’s mining sector presents a tantalising set of opportunities, yet one that leaves a complex web of issues in its wake. Continue reading »

The incumbent vs the wrestling champion vs the first female candidate: Mongolia’s presidential election is being fought against a backdrop of rapid economic expansion. But there is rising voter discontent with the lack of benefit from the country’s mineral resources and from corruption. The FT’s Leslie Hook reports.

 Continue reading »

By Julian Dierkes of the University of British Columbia

As Mongolia gears up for its presidential election on June 26, wrestlers have increasingly become part of the political landscape. Both main parties in Mongolia now count sporting heroes among their prominent members. The Mongolian People’s Party has even nominated a former wrestling champion, B Bat-Erdene as its candidate in the election.

Has Mongolian politics become a grappling sport? Continue reading »

With so much uncertainty permeating the financial markets, not least emerging markets, it’s heartening to see a big, solid multinational making a big, solid €10bn bet on EM growth.

On Tuesday, German chemicals group BASF announced plans to double annual sales in the Asia-Pacific region to €25bn by 2020, including €2bn to come from new businesses and acquisitions.In a decisive shift away from Germany-centred thinking, it will raise local content from around 60 per cent now to 75 per cent, and base 25 per cent of research and development in the region. Continue reading »

By Julian Dierkes of the University of British Colombia

With three candidates declared for Mongolia’s presidential election a month from now, one of the issues that will be watched most closely from abroad is the candidates’ positions on large-scale mining projects. Much (foreign) ink will be spilled describing all three candidates as “resource nationalists” of various stripes. Continue reading »

By Julian Dierkes of the University of British Colombia

Over the weekend Mongolia will host the seventh ministerial conference of the Community of Democracies, a global caucus of democratic nations formed with the intention of fostering democracy around the world. For Mongolia, holding the chairmanship and hosting the ministerial conference are confirmation of its achievements in democratic development. Continue reading »

Sometimes an abundance of riches can be a headache.

That has been the problem facing Mongolia as it sorts out what to do with a huge coal deposit in the middle of the Gobi Desert. Continue reading »

By Terrence Edwards of bne in Ulan Bator

Mongolia’s parliament passed an amendment on Friday to its controversial foreign investment law of last year, which should allow over 100 pending investment deals in the country to now progress.

The Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law (SEFIL) was rushed through parliament in May 2012 as protests grew about the increasing foreign (ie Chinese) control over the country’s vast mineral wealth. But the wide-ranging nature of the law caused foreign investment to fall through the floor. Continue reading »

Mongolia is one of the brightest hopes among the world’s frontier markets: a fast-growing economy with a vibrant democracy and a young population. So it’s salutary to be reminded that not all is necessarily well.

On Thursday, Moody’s Investors Service published its first report on the country’s banking sector, giving it a negative outlook. The reason, writes Hyun Hee Park, Moody’s analyst in Hong Kong, is “rapid loan growth in an economy that is increasingly exposed to commodity-driven boom-bust cycles,” exacerbated by “high loan concentrations, weak risk-monitoring systems, and the developing nature of the regulatory framework.” Ouch. Continue reading »

By Julian Dierkes of the University of British Colombia

Rio Tinto and the government of Mongolia are committed to ramping up production at the Oyu Tolgoi gold and copper mine, one of the world’s largest. The recent turmoil between the two partners should push them to clarify their roles and help create more solid support for the project from the Mongolian public. Continue reading »