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September 15, 2008

E&Y Central Asia leader plans ambitious growth

Ernst & Young (E&Y) has appointed Keith Gaebel as the new country managing partner for Central Asia and the Caucasus region.

Gaebel was previously the leader of E&Y’s financial reporting group in the Commonwealth of Independent States and has been advising clients on complex financial reporting issues for the past eight years. He has 20 years of public accounting experience and for the past 16 years has been working with clients reporting under IFRS.

“I’ve been working with capital markets and IFRS type issues for a long time now. I’ve supported clients through a number of their debut offerings on various markets.Being Canadian, when I first started up I was focused on Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting (GAAP),” Gaebel said.

“I then moved to Budapest at around 1992. Budapest at that time was doing IFRS and it was all new for me back then. Somehow, I seemed to have a knack for it. It wasn’t too far off from Canadian GAAP. Back then, there weren’t very many standards, probably only about 15. It was just a matter of reading and finding out how it was done in practice and asking questions. There weren’t too many firms doing IFRS then either so I soon became the one that people were coming and asking questions to,” he added.

Gaebel will primarily be responsible for managing and maintaining the growth of the network’s firms in the region, including those with an office presence such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Georgia, and others with no official presence, such as Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

According to Gaebel, E&Y’s Kazakhstan firm is one of the most dynamic with prospective growth of 40 to 50 percent over the next year. It was also the first professional services firm to establish an office in the country in 1992. The firm now has three offices in Astana, Almaty and Atyrau and has about 450 people, including 13 partners.

“Right now there is a lot of potential in Kazakhstan,” he said. “Even with the liquidity disruption that is happening around the world, the market is still growing and is very hot. I think that once the liquidity situation passes Kazakhstan will boom tremendously.”

During the past year, Gaebel noted, one of the biggest challenges facing the region was resourcing but the recent E&Y EMEIA merger in July 2008 has improved the situation.

“EMEIA has been great,” he explained. “It has really broken down the barriers. The big thing is being able to share resources. Being able to get the right person for the job at a phone call away. I’m in constant contact with the UK office now.”

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