Rogue Trader: Investment in Serbia

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This report is based on the latest available US State Department official survey of trade and investment opportunities in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FYR).

GENERAL: "Principal Growth Sectors: infrastructure renewal projects including roads, railways, air transport, telecoms and power production. Even better opportunities now we've blown all these things up."

CHOOSING A BUSINESS PARTNER: "International consulting firms can help in establishing the credibility of a poten- tial local partner." Or cut out the middle man by dealing direct with the local CIA station chief and/or resident mafia-cum-ex-communist secret police bigwig.

SERVICE SECTOR/BANKS: "Financial services, advertising, retailing and other services are a growth industry in the FYR - which could allow for increased business for US firms."

ECONOMY: Inflation is down from 100 per cent per annum to around 5 per cent per month. Half the population is unemployed and public sector workers (most people) have not been paid for months. The Yugoslav dinar is now linked to the mark but membership of the euro is still some way off. Most transactions are done in cash and, preferably, in foreign currency or recently extracted gold teeth. Marks change hands on the black market at 10 times the official exchange rate. Opportunity to clean up in foreign currency retail banking. Minimal overheads - trestle table for kerbside bureau de change, flak jacket and hire of violent debt-collectors from local talent pool.

TELECOMS: Some 49 per cent of the national phone system was sold off last year to the Italians and Greeks; the remaining 51 per cent is not working. Huge untapped demand for mobile phones, especially low-energy models which do not act as microwave guidance beacons for incoming cruise missiles.

IMPORTANT TIP: "Sales techniques critical to success include close contact with buyers and aggressive market promotion." Only use fragmentation bombs and air strikes as a last resort.

Merger mania ...

BP-AMOCO and ATLANTIC RICHFIELD: Sir John Browne has created Britain's biggest company.

OLIVETTI and TELECOM ITALIA: Allowing Roberto Colaninno to corner the market in Italian-style bickering and create the world's biggest legal bill.

HOME SHOPPING NETWORK and LYCOS: Enabling Barry Diller to create the world's biggest waste of time.

SERBIA/KOSOVO: Hostile dawn-raider takeover bid by Slobodan Milosevic, fuelled by a (denial of human) Rights Issue (see RT's Serbian investment special).

Fashionable facts to drop into the conversation when hanging out with other business dudes. This week culled from Fortune magazine ...

On owning a Porsche: "It's great to see the world whizz by, but it's questionable whether you need all this horsepower just to get to the office."

"Don't waste your money on management consultants" (advert for a firm of management consultants).

"What in the world happened to economics? The answer is: `nothing'."

On a Very Important Problem: Nobody can agree on a title for the people who design company websites. They are now extremely rich and wear suits and so, obviously, can't be called "geeks" or "nerds". Fortune's suggestions include "Strategic Internet Service Providers", "Internet Professional Service Consultants", "i-builders" and "Transactive Content Managers".