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Maher Asal, University West, together with the biggest star of the conference, Ed Altman, Professor of Finance Emeritus, New York University, Stern School of Business.

University West and the University of Gothenburg (Center for Finance) hosted the conference with the theme of Sustainable finance. It all happened in the memory of Professor Clas Wihlborg who passed away just over a year ago. Wihlborg was a professor of economics and in recent years he worked at Chapman University in California but was also partially affiliated with University West.

- The purpose of the conference was to refine and develop ideas on how finance can be more sustainable. Hopefully, we will leave the conference with several concrete research proposals, commented Lars Oxelheim, professor of international business and finance who moderated the event.

Lars Oxelheim, was one of the creators of the conference. Here together with Mrs Lee Wohlfert, the widow of Mr Clas Wihlborg.

The conference attracted broad participation from both business and industry, such as banks, and representatives from international organizations such as the OECD's former Vice President, Professor Adrian Blundell Wignall.

The biggest star

The conference's biggest star - 81-year-old Ed Altman - is best known for the development of Altman's Z-score, which is used to predict bankruptcy, and whose model was first published in 1968. He recently published a new model for measuring and predicting the so-called Zombie. Companies. A phenomenon with companies that are close to bankruptcy but that survive thanks to an unhealthy financial market, for example through government support, financing from private individuals, or institutions outside the banking system. Altman's research shows that the number of Zombie companies has increased alarmingly over the past 30 years, including in welfare states such as the USA, Canada, and Australia. A wave of bankruptcies can be expected next year, due to many years of low-interest rates and high indebtedness, but also as an effect when the many corporate subsidies for the pandemic disappear.

Intensive program

The conference then offered an intensive program over two days where many different aspects of sustainable financing were addressed. One session, for example, was devoted to financial stability. Among the participants was Eugenia Kazamaki, from the European Investment Bank (Head of the Small Business and Innovation Advisory; Projects Directorate). Kazamaki pointed out that there is now a clear "road map" for sustainable investment in Europe, but that there are also many challenges, such as the need to work with the rest of the world to achieve sustainability goals. Other topics were trade, China's global investment in the so-called "Belt and Road Initiative", cryptocurrencies, and much more.

From the left Susanne Arvidsson, Lunds University and Eugenia Kazamaki, European Investment Bank.

Hopes for a new conference

There are high hopes that the conference will survive and continue in the coming years.

- Research is needed to implement the transformation towards a sustainable financial system that realizes the 2030 Agenda for sustainable finance development. Also, analyzing and managing climate-related financial risks and opportunities is becoming increasingly important to equip companies for the future and make them attractive to investors and customers, says Maher Asal, professor of economics at University West and one of the responsible organizers.

He continues:

- Therefore, we hope that this conference can continue to be arranged and that University West takes an active part in this important topic. Happily enough, Ed Altman has also accepted my invitation to visit University West in the future.