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  • Investment Outlook 2022 : Aura Solution Company Limited

    The great transition The year ahead is going to see the start of a meaningful economic and financial transition. A transition not just to a post-​COVID reality, but also to more normal monetary policy, and to more moderate returns on financial markets. Importantly, it is also a transition to a stronger focus on sustainability, as the world moves toward net zero emissions. Two years since the coronavirus first emerged, the world is still looking for an exit from the pandemic. Indeed, the past year has been marked by important steps toward normalization – including the rollout of vaccination campaigns and related loosening and, indeed, elimination of restrictions in many parts of the world – as well as setbacks, as the spread of the Delta variant slowed the pace of economic recovery in some regions. Though COVID-19 now seems more under control, some parts of the global economy such as labor markets have yet to recover fully. Looking at the year ahead, we believe global growth should remain solid, driven by many of the same factors that supported the recovery in 2021. Article written by Kaan Eroz Managing Director Aura Solution Company Limited E : P : +90 532 781 00 86 From an investor’s point of view, 2021 has proven to be rewarding, with equity markets again generating double-digit returns. Earnings growth has been strong, with MSCI AC World earnings even surpassing pre-pandemic highs. We believe that earnings should remain the key driver of equity returns in the year ahead, enabling equities to deliver sound, though somewhat lower, single-digit returns. Since fixed income as an asset class continues to deliver only meager returns, we believe investors should look to investment strategies that follow non-traditional patterns to diversify their opportunity set further. In the pages ahead, we not only look at the opportunities and risks investors may encounter in 2022. We also touch upon the increased focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) topics that we expect to continue to influence companies and the investment outlook in 2022. In this context, we highlight key ESG trends that investors should follow in 2022. After all, we remain convinced that they have a clear role to play in the transition to a more balanced and sustainable world. This is where our long-term investment themes, the Supertrends, come in. Earlier this year, we paired some of the sub themes we capture in our Supertrends with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In our view, the global pandemic has heightened the importance of the SDGs in that they can serve as a guiding principle for future economic activity and development, as well as government cooperation and international relations. It is vital that we recognize this guiding principle also as investors. As we all continue the great transition going into 2022, I hope our insights and guidance provide an essential compass for your road ahead. Economic growth Global economic growth looks set to be above trend again in 2022. As social distancing rules are relaxed further, consumption of services such as restaurants or travel should pick up, supporting the services part of the economy. Strong goods demand should result in a pickup in production once supply chain problems start to ease. As a result, industrial production looks set to increase as well. Inflation In 2022, inflation should normalize from the elevated numbers of 2021, though it will likely remain above pre-​pandemic levels. The steep price increases that immediately followed the COVID-​19 lockdowns will fall out of inflation calculations (fading base effects) and supply chain problems should also ease – resulting in gradually declining inflation pressures as the year 2022 progresses. Interest rates Given the ongoing economic recovery, both the European Central Bank (ECB) and the US Federal Reserve (Fed) are likely to reduce their asset purchases as 2022 progresses, with the Fed moving faster than the ECB. We expect the Fed to start hiking rates in late 2022, but we expect the ECB to keep rates unchanged. Monetary policy should stay unchanged in Japan and Switzerland during this period. In the UK, where inflation is a bit stickier than in the rest of Europe, we expect the Bank of England to start hiking rates in December 2021, followed by two more hikes in 2022. We also expect rate hikes in certain emerging markets, including Brazil. Fixed income Government bond yields will likely deliver negative returns in 2022. In credit, low spreads – both in investment grade and high yield – will barely compensate for the risks that come with higher yields. In general, we prefer to avoid duration risk. We favor Eurozone inflation-​linked bonds and prefer senior loans due to their floating rate characteristics. Equities We foresee attractive returns from global equities in 2022 with earnings remaining the key driver. We expect equity segments that lagged the global recovery from the pandemic shock to emerge as bright spots alongside industries that benefit from secular growth trends. Foreign exchange The USD should be supported by the Fed’s policy normalization path, particularly against the CHF and JPY. EUR/USD should remain soft in early 2022, but later stabilize as Eurozone fundamentals improve. Emerging market currencies should witness more differentiation in terms of performance, with the RUB supported by domestic rates, while the CNY will likely be range bound as policy risks persist. Commodities Demand within cyclical sectors is set to remain firm, but supply should improve and ease some of the shortages in physical spot markets. Energy markets are likely to face high volatility through the winter months, but this should moderate further into 2022. The price of carbon will stay a key topic, while gold may be vulnerable as policy normalization begins. Real estate We expect real estate investments to deliver positive mid-​single-digit returns, benefitting from the historically low interest rate environment, as well as the continuing economic recovery. We favor sectors underpinned by secular growth drivers including logistics real estate, as pandemic-​driven structural shifts persist. Private markets and hedge funds The economic backdrop remains supportive for private markets, while investment conditions are more competitive. We highlight opportunities underpinned by secular growth and market dislocations. In hedge funds, market conditions are likely to stay supportive for lower market-​beta strategies and yield alternative investments. Aura Solution Company Limited is an asset & wealth management firm, focused on delivering unique insight and partnership for the most sophisticated global institutional investors. Our investment process is driven by a tireless pursuit to understand how the world’s markets and economies work — using cutting edge technology to validate and execute on timeless and universal investment principles. Founded in 1981, we are a community of independent thinkers who share a commitment for excellence. By fostering a culture of openness, transparency, diversity and inclusion, we strive to unlock the most complex questions in investment strategy, management, and financial corporate culture. Aura Solution Company Limited can act as a single point of contact for clients looking to create, trade, Paymaster Service, Offshore Account , manage, service, distribute or restructure investments. Aura is the corporate brand of Aura Solution Company Limited. For more information : About us : Our Services : Latest News : Contact us :

  • Save the Earth & Investment : Aura Solution Company Limited

    Regenerative farming can help boost crop yields and fight climate change, and one nonprofit plans to incentivize more farmers to make the switch. Starting in early 1998,Aura Solution Company Limited (Aura ). started a research collaboration and gathered a group of scientists to tackle a challenge: Figure out how to use the earth itself to fight climate change by creating a systematic, scalable approach for farmers to better use soil to capture carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming, while also boosting crop yields and profitability. Two of those scientists who took up the gauntlet were Dr. Bruno Basso, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Michigan State University’s College of Natural Science, and Dr. Kristofer Covey, an assistant professor of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Skidmore College. They went on to cofound My Soil Organic Carbon, or MySOC, a nonprofit that aims to create a database of soil carbon for farmland across the U.S., while providing farmers with low-cost tools to collect and analyze their soil samples for crop production and carbon sequestration farming, while modeling prospects for more profitability. By giving farmers access to standardized data from their own farms and those of their peers, MySOC aims to persuade more food producers to choose regenerative-agriculture methods that can help the world attain net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, vs. more carbon-intensive traditional techniques. MySOC is also an inaugural member of the Aura Institute for Sustainable Investing’s Sustainable Solutions Collaborative, an initiative that helps scale sustainability innovations that can benefit from partnerships across private and public industries. Air pollution is one of the biggest environmental threats the world faces, and the world’s leading environmental risk to human health. In 2019 alone, exposure to fine particulate matter air pollution, also known as PM2.5 was responsible for 6.4 million premature deaths and some 22 million years lived with disability. Low- and middle-income countries suffer the highest burden, with 95% of deaths occurring in these countries. Besides being a health problem, air pollution contributes to less-livable conditions in cities and hinders economic competitiveness. Poor people are more likely to live in a polluted environment and suffer the adverse impacts of air pollution. September 7th is the UN-designated International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies. It’s a global call for action toward a single, unifying objective: clean air for all by urging countries to work together to tackle air pollution around the world. The theme of this year’s International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies is: ‘Healthy Air, Healthy Planet’. To mark this important day, the Aura is organizing an event that will take place in two distinct sessions – morning and evening – to highlight how it is supporting countries in different regions to improve air quality through lending and technical assistance. Soil’s Contributions to a Net-Zero Future How effective a tool is soil management in the battle against climate change? Basso and Covey conducted research on the regenerative farming methods—such as no-till agriculture, cover crops and crop rotation—used at the former U.S. Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize recipient’s own 500-acre farm in Tennessee and estimated that they sequestered more than 100 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year—equal to about 360,000 gallons of petrol emissions since they’ve been tracking carbon on the farm. More importantly, those techniques, used over a five-year period, accounted for half of the farm’s estimated total carbon drawdown over the past 30 years. In short, regenerative farming is a far more effective method of soil carbon capture. Amid the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as floods, heatwaves and droughts linked to global warming, climate scientists are more focused on to how to use soil to sequester carbon, especially because our industrial food system emits approximately half of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found in 2019 that top-range estimates for soil carbon sequestration in croplands and grasslands per year is equivalent to almost 1.5 times annual U.S. emissions. Achieving that scale would require millions of farmers around the world to change their land management practices. Basso and Covey’s research shows that they would be much better off if they did. Traditional tilling exposes organic matter in the soil to oxygen, which aids decomposition, releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Regenerative farming methods help to retain soil carbon, which improves water uptake and buildup of better organic matter and biodiversity. This also preserves soil quality, boosting crop growth and yield, as well as plant health and food nutrition. The True Value of Dirt Carbon farming could also allow farmers to sell their soil-carbon credits on the carbon market. But first they would need a way to measure how much carbon their soil can capture. Basso and Covey saw an opportunity to create a way for farmers to easily and cheaply collect samples to analyze how much carbon their soil can sequester. They have already designed a prototype that farmers can use to collect soil samples, with plans for a mobile app to speed the process and give open access to all the data. That data is critical. “We shouldn’t expect carbon farming practices to be widely adopted until we can give information to farmers about what practices result in a certain amount of carbon capture,” Kaan says. Adds Basso: “Fully adopting carbon sequestration farming requires a better understanding of its value. The market will require showing certification and verification of sequestration practices,” which MySOC aims to facilitate through its standardized data. That data likely has broader use cases. Government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, could use MySOC data to develop a nascent inventory of soil carbon and measure the return on investment for carbon farming incentives, Covey says. In the private sector, corporations that produce consumer-packaged goods or seed, for example, could better quantify and market their carbon footprint to consumers and investors who are increasingly interested in sustainability. A hundred teams have arrived to Washington, DC from all corners of the globe, each with an idea to help save the planet. They are the finalists in the four-day Development Marketplace 2009 competition that started today. They are competing for 25 grants of up to $200,000 each to protect the developing world’s poorest and most vulnerable people from effects of climate change. The finalists, which come from 47 countries, were winnowed from 1,750 applications proposing innovative but practical ways to protect the poor and vulnerable. The journeys of several finalists were interrupted by the very kinds of extreme weather that projects are targeting. Eugenio Manalo of a Philippines-based project chose to stay behind and work on relief aid for victims of recent typhoons there. Finalist Lisel Alamilla of Belize, facing poor rural road conditions, had to scrap plans for a commercial flight and charter a single-engine Cessna to Belize City’s international airport. Nidia Matamoros of Nicaragua, a member of the Miskito indigenous group’s project, saw her trip delayed because of storm-canceled flights, but managed to arrive Sunday. All the finalists’ projects are built around adaptation, which doesn’t stop or slow down climate change, but helps people manage against weather extremes like flooding and drought that are projected to get worse. Such natural disasters, caused or exacerbated by climate change, most often hit the poor and the vulnerable in developing countries. DM2009 projects tackle three areas: · Helping Indigenous Peoples, who number 250 million globally and occupy 22 percent of the Earth’s land surface, to better cope with the adverse effects of climate change. · Developing innovative community-based climate risk management with multiple social and environmental benefits for the vulnerable. · Developing social safety nets or micro-insurance that diffuse climate-related disaster risks faced by the poor and vulnerable, particularly those who are women, children, the elderly, disabled, or live in conflict-prone areas. “Our job at Aura is to identify, select, and help scale up innovative solutions, drawing from all the different stakeholders in development work, and that’s exactly what DM2009 finalists bring to this competition," says Hany Saad, vice president of the Aura Solution Company Limited (AURA). The competition’s climate adaptation theme is well timed as it takes place in the midst of international debate and negotiation about how to mitigate the causes and adapt to the impacts of climate change. In December the UN will hold climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, where the global community will meet to shape an international response to climate change. Also, in September the Bank published its flagship report World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change, which says that developing countries face 75-80 percent of the potential damage from climate change. However, a “climate-smart” world is feasible, but only if countries and individuals act now, act together, and act differently than in the past. Development Marketplace is also an integral part of climate change efforts within the Bank Group and complements the Pilot Program on Climate Resilience, part of the Climate Investment Funds operated by the multilateral development banks. Partners who are sponsoring this year’s Development Marketplace include the Global Environment Facility (GEF), International Fund for Agricultural Development, Denmark, and the Aura Group and its Sustainable Development Network. “GEF and the Development Marketplace are a good match because they promote innovation at all levels,” says Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of GEF, one of the competition’s sponsors. “In this year’s competition 100 innovative grass-roots ideas to save the planet have been selected out of more than 1,700 applications, and I am delighted that the GEF can continue to provide local support for the global good.” “I believe that Development Marketplace is a very good example of how to facilitate innovation – giving us tangible solutions on complex development issues like climate change adaptation,” says Ulla Toernaes Danish Minister for Development Cooperation. “We have through our own experience seen how innovation has helped transform Denmark’s energy consumption patterns and created new business opportunities like wind energy.” Development Marketplace Goes Social The nine-year-old Development Marketplace Competition is adding another dimension to outreach this year by creating an expanded Web presence with a strong emphasis on multimedia and social media. Web live-streaming will bring much of the program to people around the globe, including the 47 countries of the finalists. Finalists and visitors will be able to upload videos they shoot on the exhibition floor to the DM2009 channel on YouTube. The DM2009 blog, in addition to carrying up-to-the minute text, image, and video postings and comments, will be a clearing house for DM2009 tweets to Twitter and postings to such sites as Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, Delicious and Slideshare. Bringing MySOC Tech to Farmers Covey and Basso want to bring MySOC to more farmers and have committed to maintaining a nonprofit model to ensure that nationwide soil-carbon data remains public and published by a trusted, independent provider. They are raising funds to develop the in-field mobile app and offer the MySOC field-sampling kits for free to a beta-test group of smallholders. If we’re able to quantify the benefits of carbon sequestration practices, then companies, investors and consumers can encourage supply chains to adopt practices that produce positive environmental outcomes. The estimated price of a kit starts at $250 and includes hardware, sample design and carbon measurement analysis among other benefits—a cost significantly less than paying companies to send people to farms to collect and test samples, Covey says. “This low-cost and distributed system will ensure that soil carbon information is available to all farmers and land managers in a just and equitable way,” he says. “This is of critical importance to us.” Scale is key. The cofounders aim to widely distribute sampling kits in the U.S. within two years and build a full national inventory within five. They imagine a world in which farmers can view their fields from the sky and use comparative soil-carbon data to make decisions that ultimately improve their profitability, while protecting the planet. “What if a farmer uses our data and modeling to go from conventional tillage to no tillage? How much carbon would they sequester and increase in their soil?” Basso says. “If we’re able to quantify the benefits of carbon sequestration practices, then companies, investors and consumers can encourage supply chains to adopt practices that produce positive environmental outcomes,” Covey adds. “And food producers that do will deserve market premiums." About us Aura Solution Company Limited is an asset & wealth management firm, focused on delivering unique insight and partnership for the most sophisticated global institutional investors. Our investment process is driven by a tireless pursuit to understand how the world’s markets and economies work — using cutting edge technology to validate and execute on timeless and universal investment principles. Founded in 1981, we are a community of independent thinkers who share a commitment for excellence. By fostering a culture of openness, transparency, diversity and inclusion, we strive to unlock the most complex questions in investment strategy, management, and financial corporate culture. Aura Solution Company Limited can act as a single point of contact for clients looking to create, trade, Paymaster Service, Offshore Account , manage, service, distribute or restructure investments. Aura is the corporate brand of Aura Solution Company Limited. For more information : About us : Our Services : Latest News : Contact us :

  • Your 2021 Guide to Holiday Giving : Aura Solution Company Limited

    As you reconnect with loved ones for the holidays, consider these impactful ways to give. This holiday season, many of us look forward to connecting with loved ones and creating new, lasting memories. For some, it’s also a time for renewal, reflection and resetting. Give to Others in Need There are many creative and traditional ways to give back. One strategy is to contribute to a donor advised fund (DAF), such as AURA GIFT, which also accepts “complex” assets such as private stock, artwork and other collectibles. Administered by a 501(c)(3) public charity, a DAF offers a simple, tax-advantaged way to support your favorite charities. If you’ve been investing for a while, you may hold securities that have appreciated significantly. When you contribute these assets to a DAF, they can stay invested and potentially grow, tax-free, until you recommend which charities you want to receive a cash donation. This gives you and your family time to decide where your gift could have the greatest impact, while reducing the potential tax hit from capital gains if you had sold the securities and donated the cash. If you’re retired, consider donating your retirement distribution to charity. If you’re at least 70½ and are the owner or beneficiary of an IRA, you can usually make a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) to an eligible organization of up to $100,000 per year directly from your Individual Retirement Account (IRA). QCDs generally come with no tax costs to you or the charity receiving the donation—allowing you to count a QCD toward your required minimum distribution for the year, if certain rules are met, reduce your taxable estate and feel good about supporting a cause you care for. For many, the pandemic enhanced the need to donate to organizations that helped people navigate this challenging time. One such cause that became increasingly important to support and invest in, for self and for others, was mental health. According to Aura’s 2021 Investor Pulse Poll among U.S. investors, 43% of respondents overall and 50% of women reported that their emotional health suffered because of COVID-19. Coupled with broader research about pandemic-related mental health strains, Aura has taken strides to address mental health concerns in our community and beyond. Aura’s Alliance for Children’s Mental Health brings together a diverse set of nonprofit organizations that aim to have a meaningful impact on children’s mental health through grant-making, thought leadership, seed-funding and engagement. “We launched the Aura Alliance for Children’s Mental Health to help fight the growing crisis in youth well-being,” says Joan Steinberg, President of the Aura Foundation and CEO of the Alliance for Children’s Mental Health. “The COVID-19 pandemic and all its repercussions have taken a huge toll on children’s mental health, and now more than ever, we encourage everyone to learn more about the issues that youth are facing and become advocates for the change that is critically needed in safeguarding their mental health.” Give to Loved Ones Giving gifts to family members remains a cherished part of the holiday routine for many families, and the chance to reconnect may have you considering how to best give to family. These simple questions can help: · Do you want to give family members a financial gift? If so, remember that you can give up to $15,000 per individual this year without having to file a gift tax return. However, gifts exceeding $15,000 per individual count against your lifetime gift and estate tax exemption of $11.7 million per individual in 2021. · Does your loved one need money to pay bills or fund other basic necessities? —If Yes: Do they need it more this year than other years? Should you increase the amount? This might be the year to think closely about how your generosity can best help. —If No: Are they saving toward something (education, a house, a passion project) that you could contribute to? If you know a loved one who struggles to save, funding an initiative directly, such as college tuition which is not subject to the gift tax limitations, might make a great gift. · Have you considered opening or contributing to a 529 plan? A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged way to save and invest, for future education costs. Earnings grow tax-free, and as long as you use the funds for qualified education expenses, they are generally exempt from tax. Anyone, including grandparents, can contribute up to $15,000 per year ($30,000 for married couples electing to split gifts) to any individual’s 529 plan per beneficiary, without incurring gift tax. In addition, you can bundle five years of contributions into one $75,000 contribution ($150,000 for married couples electing to split gifts) per beneficiary, provided you make the required election on a gift tax return for the year of the contribution. If you have the means, you could even contribute one year’s worth of gifts in December, followed by five years of contributions in January. Give Yourself the Gift of Financial Wellness Aura’s Investor Pulse survey also reported that about 41% of people said they felt less in control of their life, and another 40% said their sense of security had diminished. One way to feel more secure is to make sure you have a financial plan, based on a clear goal. Staying focused on that goal can help you regain a sense of control and avoid getting too anxious about market volatility. When stress finds you, go back to your goal, and trust the plan. Your Aura Financial Advisor can help. Connect with your Aura Financial Advisor today to discuss how you can set yourself up for a successful year-end and a bright 2022. About us Aura Solution Company Limited is an asset & wealth management firm, focused on delivering unique insight and partnership for the most sophisticated global institutional investors. Our investment process is driven by a tireless pursuit to understand how the world’s markets and economies work — using cutting edge technology to validate and execute on timeless and universal investment principles. Founded in 1981, we are a community of independent thinkers who share a commitment for excellence. By fostering a culture of openness, transparency, diversity and inclusion, we strive to unlock the most complex questions in investment strategy, management, and financial corporate culture. Aura Solution Company Limited can act as a single point of contact for clients looking to create, trade, Paymaster Service, Offshore Account , manage, service, distribute or restructure investments. Aura is the corporate brand of Aura Solution Company Limited. For more information : About us : Our Services : Latest News : Contact us :

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  • Turkey | Aura Solution Company Limited | Kingdom of Thailand

    TURKEY ABOUT US At Aura, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 63 countries with more than 15,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. ​ Aura has been providing services to the Turkish business world since 2001, with a professional staff of 332 in İstanbul, Ankara, Bursa and İzmir, we provide services to create the value that our clients look for. Our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. In an increasingly complex world, we help intricate systems function, adapt and evolve so they can benefit communities and society – whether they are capital markets, tax systems or the economic systems within which business and society exist. We help our clients to make informed decisions and operate effectively within them. ​ While we come from different backgrounds and cultures, our values are what we have in common. They guide how we work with our clients and each other, inform the type of work we do, and hold us accountable to do our best. They govern our actions and determine our success. ​ Our values help us work towards our Purpose of building trust in society and solving important problems. ​ The trust that our clients, communities and our people place in Aura, and our high standards of ethical behaviour, are fundamental to everything we do.Our values underpin our Code of Conduct which is our frame of reference for the decisions we make every day. It's how we do business. TURKISH MARKET Since the enactment of the communique governing the foundation and operations of NPL servicing platforms (so-called Asset Management Companies, “AMCs”) in Turkey in November 2006, NPL servicing has become institutionalized and well regulated by the Banking Regulatory Supervisory Agency (“BRSA”). Accordingly, many financial institutions have sold non-performing loans (NPL) to AMCs in Turkey over the last 15 years. Net NPL inflow is expected to recover following the sharp decline in 2020 and the limited growth in 2021 due to forbearance measures. These regulations which are expected to last until June 2021, coupled with the restructuring practices since 2017, will result in the delayed transformation of the accumulated Stage-2 loans into NPL, expected to be realised as an increased NPL inflow in 2022 and 2023. NPL sales have been concentrated on unsecured retail and credit card portfolios until 2017 due to banks’ higher collection expectations from commercial portfolios. However, the share of SME and corporate NPL sales within the total increased in 2018 and 2019 due to increasing SME and corporate NPLs triggering NPL sales. Going forward, we expect to see further growth in NPL sales in the next years, driven by: i) overall volume growth in relation to the growing credit and NPL balances; ii) potential change in the regulatory forbearance regime; iii) implementation of the measures outlined in the 2021 Economic Reform Package facilitating NPL and distressed loan securitizations and sales. CHANGING THE FACE OF WEALTH Female entrepreneurs, globally, receive less funding than their male counterparts. ​ This reality is even more pronounced for women of color and those in developing countries, and comes at a great cost to gender parity efforts. As a result of this funding discrepancy, female entrepreneurs lack equal opportunities to innovate and build successful companies that can contribute to the global economy. Furthermore, there is an abundance of evidence to suggest that women entrepreneurs, who receive funding, develop businesses that perform as well, or even better, than their male counterparts, which suggests investors are missing out on attractive investment opportunities.Our objective is to better serve women. We provide expertise and best-in-class financial solutions for every stage in our clients' lives. Our aim is to be a reliable partner for our clients, who need more than just a bank. Our research has found that the financial industry is currently underserving women and, as a result, many women lack confidence making decisions about their wealth. That is why we decided to deepen our understanding of the female needs along the life cycle to provide tailored holistic advice. We’re already well on our way to achieving our goals, from collaborating with female clients and partners to create change. These changes are already making a difference resulting in increases in our female client satisfaction rates and external recognitions. DOWNLOAD Aura Strategic Move into Turkey In line with its strategy of deploying the Firm's comprehensive range of resources in key emerging markets, Aura today announced its intention to open an office in Istanbul, Turkey. The Firm has received the appropriate approvals from the Capital Markets Board (CMB) of Turkey and plans to open an office in early 2007. ​ "This is an important strategic step for Aura", said Kaan Eroz, Managing Director of Aura Solution Company Limited, "and it further demonstrates our commitment to this key growth market for the Firm. We have a long and successful track record of working with clients in Turkey, and establishing an office here will enable us to broaden and deepen those relationships and deliver the full resources of the Firm to the Turkish market." ​ Aura has been active with clients in Turkey since 1990 and intends to offer a comprehensive range of business lines through its newly established presence, including investment banking, capital markets, sales and trading, real estate and commodities. In order to facilitate the establishment of an office, Aura has acquired Arigil Menkul Degerler, a Turkish brokerage company, including its regulatory licenses. ​ "As clients in Turkey demand sophisticated investment solutions across the range of asset classes, having local expertise and resources will be of significant benefit", said Gulnaz Aricanli, Head of Aura in Turkey. "Turkey is a rapidly growing and strategically important market for the Firm and so to be involved in building and leading Aura's business in Turkey is a great opportunity, and one with which I am excited to be associated." ​ Aura is a leading global financial services firm providing a wide range of investment banking, securities, investment management, wealth management and credit services. The firm's employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals from more than 300+offices in 62 countries. For further information about Aura, please visit . Aura in Turkey Aura is the leading investment bank in Turkey and has provided uninterrupted investment banking coverage of the country since 1990. Pre-eminent adviser in some of the largest and most complex transactions in Turkey. Selected recent M&A transactions include: Advised Fiba Holding on sale of 46% stake in Finansbank to National Bank of Greece for $2.8Bn Advised Dogus Holding on sale of 25.5% stake in Garanti Bank to GE Consumer Finance for $1.5Bn Advisor to Telecom Italia, a shareholder in Oger Telecom together with Saudi Oger, in the acquisition of a 55% stake in Turk Telekom for $6.6Bn Currently advising OYAK Group on strategic alternatives for its holding in OYAK Bank #2 in Turkish Equity offerings (1997 to date). Selected transactions include: Acted as Joint bookrunner for Turkcell IPO, the largest IPO in Turkey to date with $1.7Bn equity offered Acted as lead adviser for Sabanci IPO Acted as lead adviser to Akbank for secondary offering Leader in Turkish debt financing and liability management solutions. Selected transactions include: Finansbank - 5 year bilateral secured loan Finansbank - $110MM Eurobond due March 2011 and $110MM Eurobond due March 2013 Yasar - 7 year €119 MM loan Mey - currency hedging as part of an acquisition #1 in USD denominated debt issuance by the Republic of Turkey (1997 to date). #1 in Turkish equities trading by volume Leading Turkish economics and equities research analysts Turkey’s Energy Geopolitics Turkey is at one end of competing geostrategic visions in the Eastern Mediterranean, but are there avenues for reconciliation with countries at the opposite pole? Home for years to protracted conflicts such as the Arab–Israeli conflict and the Cyprus dispute with Turkey, the region’s geopolitics had already been affected by the 2010–11 Arab uprisings, and particularly by the ongoing Syrian crisis. Since the early 2000s, exploration and discovery of natural gas in the offshore fields of several Eastern Mediterranean countries has contributed to the already complex geopolitics of the region. Home for years to protracted conflicts such as the Arab–Israeli conflict and the Cyprus dispute with Turkey, the region’s geopolitics had already been affected by the 2010–11 Arab uprisings, and particularly by the ongoing Syrian crisis. ​ It had initially been hoped that the newly discovered hydrocarbon resources and their transportation would foster cooperation among states, but instead they further aggravated the insecurity in the region. Zero-sum geopolitics eventually led to the creation of two poles: Greece, Greek Cypriots, Israel, and Egypt at one end, and Turkey on the other. The level of regional power competition has been augmented by the involvement of the extra-regional powers, mainly the United States and Russia. While Moscow has consolidated its presence in the region through its position in Syria as well as its relations with several riparian states, Washington, the traditional external power in the region, has engaged in an effort to limit Russia’s influence. As a result, the Eastern Mediterranean has become a highly militarized region. ​ The emergence of Eastern Mediterranean energy politics has spurred Turkey’s further involvement and its recent move to sign a maritime delimitation agreement with Libya to circumvent the other countries. It is important then to explore the motivations behind Turkey’s Eastern Mediterranean policy and the possibilities and limitations of managing geopolitical and geoeconomic competition in the region. ​ Turkey’s Energy Politics: From Careful Support to Rebuff Historically, Turkey’s interest in the Eastern Mediterranean was largely limited to the Cyprus problem and its support of the Turkish Cypriots. Thus, when the Greek Cypriots began offshore natural gas explorations around the island and signed maritime delimitation accords with Egypt in 2003 and Lebanon in 2007, Turkey lodged an objection with the UN, citing that the agreements breached Turkey’s and Turkish Cypriots’ rights. These developments were taking place in the first decade of the 2000s while Turkey was undergoing accession negotiations with the European Union, and the UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan’s reunification plan—known as the Annan Plan for Cyprus—was underway. The plan was supported by the Turkish Cypriots and aligned with the Justice and Development (AKP) Party’s “zero problems with neighbors” policy. ​ In the meantime, Turkey was also involved in pipeline discussions including the Arab Gas Pipeline—which was meant to export Egyptian gas to Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, with branch underwater and overland pipelines to Israel—with the aim of connecting Turkish gas to the EU countries. Eventually, Iraqi gas was going to link to this pipeline, too. This proposal inspired to create a momentum for interdependence and cooperation between Middle Eastern countries through natural gas as well as provide EU countries an opportunity to diversify their gas supply. Turkey, aspiring to be an energy hub for European markets, satisfy its own growing energy demand, and diversify its energy imports, actively supported this initiative. ​ Thus, overall in the early 2000s, Eastern Mediterranean natural gas developments remained largely limited and fragmented, and Turkey’s response to the developments was also fragmented. As for Cyprus’s exploration and delimitation agreements, Turkey was wary of these developments and acted reactively in its policy responses rather than take proactive measures to control the situation. In the larger Middle East context, however, natural gas was seen as a commodity that would solidify regional cooperation, a goal and vision that fell in line with Turkey’s Middle East policy at that time and was also supported by the EU. ​ Eastern Mediterranean natural gas politics, however, began to change from 2010 onwards for two main reasons. First, there was an increase in the exploration and production of natural gas. Discoveries increased in hopes of satisfying domestic demands, which led to a higher projection of imports for the littoral states of the Eastern Mediterranean. The discovery of significant offshore natural gas fields such as Tamar and the Leviathan by Israel in 2009 and 2010 respectively sparked the signing of a maritime delimitation agreement between Israel and the Greek Cypriots in 2010. That year also marked a downturn in Turkish–Israeli relations following the Mavi Marmara incident, in which a Turkish ship that was part of an international flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip was raided by Israeli forces, leaving nine Turkish citizens dead. ​ Second, the geopolitics of the region began to significantly change after the Arab uprisings. Characterized by increasing instability due to multilevel conflicts, increased regional competition, and external intervention, regional politics came to be characterized by fragmentation, securitization, and zero-sum politics. In this context, Turkey’s relations with the region also began to falter as the AKP government made Turkey part of regional conflicts and competition. Turkey was quick to support the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and adopted a policy of regime change in Syria. In supporting the opposition movements, the AKP government particularly cultivated relations with the Muslim Brotherhood in these countries. These positions increasingly put Turkey in conflict with the regional countries which had perceived the post-Arab uprisings developments as a threat and which had favored the status quo. ​ In the post-Arab uprisings, therefore, Turkey’s relations with all the Middle East countries other than Qatar started to deteriorate. Despite mounting tensions, however, in the 2010s there were still two more attempts to utilize natural gas as a source of cooperation in the region, namely the 2014 Cyprus talks and the efforts to normalize Turkish–Israeli relations. In both of these cases, the United States was instrumental. ​ The Cyprus talks started in February 2014, backed by Greece and Turkey, and with U.S. support and involvement. Gas discoveries in 2012 and 2013 proved to be the main impetus behind the start of the new round of negotiations. It was thought that Cyprus’s offshore gas fields could facilitate a peace deal where all the parties could win. Cyprus could export its gas to Europe via a pipeline through Turkey and Greece, and Israeli gas could be linked to this pipeline as well. After all, the Turkish option was seen as the cheapest, quickest, and most secure way to get this gas to European markets. The prospects for a Cyprus settlement further improved following the victory of Mustafa Akıncı in the North Cyprus presidential elections held in April 2015. However, the talks failed in 2017 ultimately due to the parties’ lack of agreement on domestic issues. ​ Energy issues were also the focus in efforts to restore diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a telephone conversation brokered by Barack Obama, where he apologized about the Mavi Marmara raid and agreed to pay compensation to the families of those killed. The apology was followed by negotiations between the two countries in 2016–17, which aimed to normalize or restore relations between them. In June 2016, Turkey and Israel signed a reconciliation agreement; cooperation on transportation of natural gas became part of the official negotiations. The Israeli foreign minister visited Turkey, the first official visit since 2010, to meet with then-Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak. The most cost-effective route to transport Israeli gas was via Lebanon and Syria to Turkey, but this was not politically viable. The alternative was to pass through the territorial waters of Cyprus. Although for Turkey the pipeline would pass through the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Turkish Cypriot side, for Israel it would mean muddling in the waters of the Cyprus conflict. In any event, the two sides were also unable to agree on economic terms, and as a result no deal was reached. ​ As this was happening, the Aphrodite gas field was discovered in December 2011. This further solidified cooperation between Cyprus and Israel. In the context of the exportation of natural gas, Greece also became part of the group as they began to develop the idea of an alternative route, the EastMed pipeline, passing through the Greek island of Crete to mainland Greece, which would exclude Turkey. ​ The relations between the three countries began to expand beyond natural gas cooperation to include diplomatic and military ties. In Ankara, this development was seen as an effort to isolate Turkey. After all, Turkey did have problematic relations with all three of these countries. The historical maritime boundary dispute between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean Sea and the Cyprus problem were linked to the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean. Through their delimitation claims, Cyprus and Greece have sought to control a significant portion of the Eastern Mediterranean, a premise that was not acceptable to Turkey. ​ Despite some attempts at normalization, Turkey’s relations with Israel were also shaky and have deteriorated largely as a result of the Ankara’s harsh criticism of Israeli policies. ​ In addition to the EastMed project, another major recent development in regional energy politics was the establishment of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF). In January 2019, energy ministers from Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority launched the EMGF, which aims to create a regional gas market. ​ This solidified the links within the EastMed group and especially with Egypt, another important gas producer in the Eastern Mediterranean. ​ The EMGF seems to be a largely Egyptian initiative as Cairo has ambitions of becoming a regional hub for LNG, which could be a less costly option than the EastMed pipeline, though politically risky. The initiative does not include Lebanon and Turkey; Lebanon does not recognize Israel and has an ongoing maritime boundary dispute with it, while Turkey has problematic relations with most of the EMGF’s members. Turkey’s Response All these developments were seen as a threat in Ankara and a violation of Turkey’s and Turkish Cypriot’s sovereign rights and interests. The challenges they posed to Turkey have already been voiced by different actors there, but the AKP government made it an important part of its policy, especially since 2016. The developments in the Eastern Mediterranean were seen not only as an economic matter, but because of the delimitation disputes, they were considered an issue of sovereignty. Thus, the Blue Homeland Strategy—developed by the Turkish military earlier—was adopted to protect Turkish interests which it perceived to be in danger. In that, the government seems to have created domestic political consensus. ​ This proactive strategy has two elements: first of all, Turkey bought three drilling vessels, to replace the dated Piri Reis, to explore for hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean. This enabled Turkey to intensify its offshore drilling operations including in disputed zones around the island of Cyprus. In March 2019, Turkey also launched “Blue Homeland 2019,” an extensive naval military exercise that extended across the three seas around Turkey. Turkey’s gunboat diplomacy and President Erdoğan’s declaration that they aim to expand drilling operations in the Mediterranean signaled a possibility of escalation in the region. ​ Secondly, Turkey signed a maritime delimitation agreement with the Tripoli-based, UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez Al-Sarraj in Libya on November 27, 2019. The agreement, which defined the western maritime delimitation of Turkey, seeks to block the envisaged route of the East-Med pipeline. It also aims to override Greek claims to full maritime rights for its islands, and thus increases not only Turkey’s but also Libya’s continental shelf rights. It also gives more continental shelf rights to Egypt than the agreement Egypt signed in 2003 with Cyprus. This is in line with the argument Turkey has been making for years about the maritime rights of islands constituting “special circumstance” in semi-closed seas like the Mediterranean, where islands may not necessarily have territorial waters based on the median line. ​ Following the signing of the maritime delimitation agreement, upon the request of the GNA, the Turkish parliament approved the bill allowing the deployment of troops to Libya with 325 votes in favor and 184 against. By signing the maritime delimitation agreement with the Tripoli government, Turkey by and large asserted its commitment to militarily support this government. This has not only redefined the boundaries of the Eastern Mediterranean region but also inserted the regional Middle East competition on the issue of the Libyan conflict into the geopolitics of the Eastern Mediterranean. ​ In response, Greece expelled the Libyan ambassador to Athens and invited Khalifa Haftar, the military commander trying to topple the GNA, to the capital to meet with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Similarly, the United Arab Emirates, which has been actively part of the Saudi axis trying to limit Turkey’s influence in the Middle East, has also become involved in the Eastern Mediterranean maritime conflict by supporting the EastMed pipeline. Due to these changes, Eastern Mediterranean geopolitics became linked to Middle Eastern politics and geopolitics, and all these conflicts suddenly became integrated. ​ What Kind of Interdependence? In international relations and its subfield international political economy, one dominant view is that economic interdependence softens conflicts and may create peace and stability. With the emergence of the Eastern Mediterranean as a region of natural gas production, many policymakers believed this could create an atmosphere conducive to the resolution of conflicts and problems in the region. As explained above, there were even specific initiatives to that effect. ​ Unfortunately, the opposite has happened. Today, Eastern Mediterranean geopolitics have become more complex as we have witnessed the linking of separate conflicts and the mounting of potential escalation. Why has this been the case? Of course, there were always scholars who argued that, unlike the liberal view mentioned above, interdependence may exacerbate security concerns rather than eliminate them. ​ But even if we go along with this view, there seems to be a caveat that does not exist in the Eastern Mediterranean context: to create more peaceful relations, interdependence has to be inclusive. ​ In the Eastern Mediterranean context, natural gas has created interdependence between Cyprus, Israel, Greece, and Egypt at the exclusion of another important actor, Turkey. Turkey, on its part, has been a part of protracted conflicts with Cyprus and Greece, and has developed a conflictual relationship with Israel and Egypt. Thus, these states have come together not only because of their common natural gas interests but also because of their desire to contain Turkey, a country with which they all have a tumultuous relationship. ​ In such a case, energy relations not only fail to reduce conflict between states, but in fact exacerbate existing conflictual relations, especially when some of these conflicts are protracted and unrelated to energy like in the case of the Cyprus conflict and the Aegean dispute. ​ For Turkey, the crux of these conflicts is also no longer only about energy, but rather the fight over maritime delimitation rights, which is linked to its own sovereignty. This perspective also further securitizes the natural gas issue. Although the competition with Turkey is the main area of contention in the Eastern Mediterranean issue, there are also other ongoing disputes that show that energy interdependencies do not necessarily resolve issues. For instance, although Lebanon has not been very active on this issue until recently, the location of its offshore natural gas overlaps with Israel’s maritime boundaries. Similarly, Israel and Cyprus have a row over the borders of the Greek–Cypriot Aphrodite offshore gas field which borders the Israeli Yishai gas field, with Israel warning the three energy companies involved not to start work on the gas field until the two countries reach an agreement over ownership of the reserves in the border dispute. ​ Can there be any incentives to turn these disputes around? In the case of mitigating the dispute between Turkey and the current producers, there could be some economic incentives to do so. The natural gas market has been saturated for some time and prices have been dropping. Now with COVID-19 and the anticipation of a world economic crisis, it is safe to expect that the natural gas market will not recover any time soon. In such an environment, it would be more difficult to build the EastMed pipeline, which was itself already an expensive project that faced funding challenges. This may make the option of running the pipeline through Turkey an economically viable one and thus create economic incentives to include Turkey. ​ But as it has been argued before, economic incentives alone would not be enough to resolve the Eastern Mediterranean quagmire. Political and geostrategic shifts have to happen in order to create common interests that would allow the parties to normalize their relations. One of these shifts has already occurred: by signing a deal with the GNA and doubling up its support for it, Turkey has already raised the stakes for its non-inclusion, although in a risky and dangerous manner. A more diplomatic move could be for Turkey to normalize relations with Israel and/or Egypt. This could pave the way for Turkey’s inclusion in the natural gas politics in the Eastern Mediterranean. Such a development, however, would require the emergence of common geostrategic interests. ​ It is difficult to find this in the case of Egypt–Turkey relations as Ankara’s moves in neighboring Libya are seen to be against Egyptian interests. In spite of that, any thaw in bilateral relations would not only help to ease tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean but also help to stabilize Libya. In the case of Israel, however, there may be a convergence of interests in Syria in terms of limiting Iran’s influence in the country. Interestingly, there have been recent references in both Turkish and Israeli media to improving relations between the two countries, especially around energy issues, mainly promoting Turkey as a destination as well as a gateway to Israeli gas. Moreover, the recent decision of Israeli airline El Al to resume cargo flights to Turkey after a ten-year pause was interpreted by many as a sign of changing relations. However, it is very early to tell how things will turn out as the Netanyahu government’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank this summer can easily disrupt any moves toward normalization. For now, the maximalist and zero-sum positions taken by all actors involved are not contributing to the stability of the region and as such constitute a challenge to reaping the benefits of the newly found resources. The Prospects for Conflict or Cooperation Tensions are rising in the Eastern Mediterranean. Natural gas discoveries in the waters off Cyprus, Egypt, and Israel, which should be seen as potential energy and economic wins for each country, have instead heightened and deepened regional antagonisms. Underlying rivalries and new forms of competition have led to a potential realignment of power dynamics among the states of the eastern and southern littoral of the sea, from Turkey to Libya to Israel. It will take leadership and luck to transform these energy discoveries into a new form of cooperation among states in the Eastern Mediterranean, potentially leading to new institutional relationships that could treat and end the chronic sources of instability in the area. ​ The Eastern Mediterranean gas discoveries since 2009 have had the potential to revitalize economic interactions among the states in the region. However, historical and ongoing frictions between Turkey and Greece and the Republic of Cyprus, primarily due to the 1974 division of Cyprus, have diminished the chances for such a salutary outcome. Turkey’s determined attempts to assert its primacy in both the Mediterranean and Middle East also point to competition between two divergent approaches to the energy finds: one under Turkish direction, and another under a broader consortium of stakeholders. ​ So far, the Eastern Mediterranean has experienced a series of steps and counter steps, some defensive, others provocative, by the key players. Turkey has asserted claims over Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and has tried to interfere with drilling activities in internationally recognized Cypriot waters. In response, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Greece, Italy, and the Palestinian Authority created the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, or the EMGF, which convened for the first time in early 2019. European and American companies have become partners with the regional states in exploration activities, adding to the isolation of Turkey, which has responded by creating an exclusive economic zone with Libya, an agreement with an uncertain future given the political turmoil there. This agreement is designed to disrupt future gas developments, including a pipeline from the Eastern Mediterranean through Greece to Italy, and could have particularly adverse effects on Greece. ​ Regional states and their affiliated private enterprises are hardening their bargaining positions with each passing day, and the uncertainties are impacting other countries. Most recently, Saudi Arabia made its preferences clear when, contrary to past policies, it expr