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East Capital holds live Q&A session online

The Eastern European-focused alternative asset manager gave its first live online question and answer session, with senior investment executives making predictions for 2009. Last week Apax for the first time used an online video to communicate with investors.

East Capital yesterday held its first live webcast, with co-founders Peter Elam Håkansson and Karine Hirn taking real time questions from online viewers and assessing the investor environment.

It is the second example in as many weeks of a firm going beyond standard communications practices to reassure investors; last week Apax chairman Martin Halusa gave limited partners an update on the firm and its portfolios via video.

The East Capital webcast enabled viewers to email questions to a live feed which the presenter then posed to Håkansson and Hirn.

Håkansson and Hirn answered questions about the effects of the credit crunch, the valuation of businesses in the Eastern European region, long term investment strategies and how to mitigate losses. They compared current economic situation to the late 1990s, when the company was established, and said that unlike in previous recessions the root of the collapse came from established economies rather than emerging ones.

They also highlighted potential geographies for deal flow.

“We like Russia a lot. It is less leveraged than other markets and there is still room for domestic growth. There has been increased political stability in Russia and the valuations are good,” Hirn said. “Russia is a totally different country from in 1998,” Hirn added later, referring to when East Capital began marketing its first open-ended Russian fund.

Last May the East Capital Russian Fund celebrated its 10th birthday having posted a gain of 1,578 percent during that time, according to research company Morningstar.

The firm was established in 1997, specifically to target Eastern Europe. It launched its first private equity fund in 2006, which closed on €500 million.

East Capital is planning to release the next live webcast during the next financial quarter.