Attendees at SWIFT’s Sibos banking conference usually wind down after a week of vigorous discussions, networking and debate with the kind of soiree that would do Studio 54 proud. But alas, the economy has claimed the annual party, which last year was held at the Imperial Hofburg Palace in Vienna. Large enough to take up two floors of the 13th century Viennese estate, the gala featured ballroom dancing, disco, karaoke, live music and cabaret. But the party castle will be empty this year.

“In recognition of the current difficult market conditions, SWIFT has made some changes to Sibos 2009, including canceling the party,” says a SWIFT spokesperson in New York of this year’s SIBOS, scheduled for Hong Kong in September. The spokesperson says these changes have allowed the financial messaging network to lower the participant cost to EUR 2,000 instead of the EUR 2,200 announced earlier this year. And those who register before May 1 will pay EUR 1,800.

About 6,000 people and 200 vendors usually attend Sibos, and exhibition space usually goes fast. But this year has been reportedly been different; with press reports saying exhibition stand sales are down 25 percent from last year. The SWIFT spokesperson wouldn’t comment on registration or sales, saying it’s still too early.

“SIBOS continues to delivery unique value and we believe it will be the one event that people won’t want to miss in 2009,” the spokesperson says.

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