Daily Archives: Sep 22, 2010

Jack Ma of Alibaba GroupAlibaba may be an e-commerce giant, but its chairman thinks “small is beautiful.” And, Jack Ma says, he should know: “I’m a small guy.”

“We are entering the century of the small”, Ma declared today at the Clinton Global Initiative. “Small people have a big heart, and small businesses have big potential.” Read more

Mexican workers outside the Volkswagen plant in PueblaVolkswagen, the German automobile manufacturer, clearly sees a large part of its future in Mexico. On Wednesday, the maker of the Beetle and Jetta, among other models, said that it would invest US$550m in a new engine plant in the central state of Guanajuato.

The company says that the idea is to produce 330,000 engines starting in 2013 that will supply vehicle production at its Mexican plant in Puebla, as well as to its US plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Read more

Brazil's BovespaBrazil’s Bovespa hit a seven-week high after bank lending rose at the fastest clip in over a year in August and consumer confidence ticked up in September. But stocks fell in Mexico and Chile as investors mulled the Fed’s hints of further quantitative easing in the US. Read more

Jeffrey Sachs is blogging for beyondbrics from the Millennium Development Goals summit this week.

  	 China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao addresses the Millennium Development Goals Summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York, September 22, 2010I am sitting at a special session of UNAIDS. Chinese premier Wen Jiabao is speaking. The speech is riveting. Premier Wen is speaking movingly, personally and directly to the challenge of AIDS in China and in the world.

He has described holding the hands of HIV-infected individuals in China, and explained the policy of China to spread awareness on HIV/AIDS prevention, ensuring clean blood supplies, access to testing and counseling, HIV surveillance to identify groups at risk and treatment of infected individuals with anti-retroviral medicines. Read more

Forget Bob Geldof and his private equity fund – Africa has a new cheerleader, with even more financial clout. Bob Diamond, the new head of Barclays, is calling the continent an “incredible” opportunity.

Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, Diamond (left in the picture) cited high growth rates and rapid expansion of consumer spending as driving Barclay’s presence in about a dozen African countries. Read more

Stocks in central and eastern Europe slipped on Wednesday, although Turkey’s main index set a new all-time high. Polish stocks were flat after the country’s 2009 growth was revised down slightly to 1.7 per cent.

Most of the region’s currencies extended their multi-month highs against the dollar, but the Russian rouble fell again and hit a new eight-month low against the euro (see graph). Read more

I find it hard to believe that, at this late stage, the organisers of the Commonwealth Games really will pull the plug on the plan to hold the games in Delhi next month. It is fairly routine to read panicky reports ahead of a major sporting event that the facilities are not ready – think of the Athens Olympics.

Still, the news coming out of Delhi does sound unusually damning. There were already fears about security and about an outbreak of dengue fever. Now the inspection committee has condemned the rooms for athletes as filthy and insanitary and a footbridge near the stadium has collapsed. Read more

Hungary may be able to celebrate a double-whammy of investment this week, with both General Motors and Audi set to increase car production in the country. That’s no small achievement, given competition from elsewhere in central and eastern Europe.

On Tuesday, General Motors said it will spend $670m to expand its Opel factory, creating 800 new jobs. Audi’s plans are still a mystery. A spokesman would only confirm that chairman Rupert Stadler will make an announcement on Thursday afternoon, accompanied by Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban. Read more

Russia’s rouble is on the slide. Last week it started falling against a basket of dollars and euros which the central bank uses to set currency rates. On Wednesday, it was trading at 35.73, a low not seen since January (see chart below).

Traders say they expect the central bank to defend the rouble with ad hoc sales of dollars, should the currency weaken to 36.40 against the basket, the upper bound of the allowed trading corridor. Meanwhile government officials are trying to talk the rouble up. Read more

By Oliver Adelman of mergermarket

In the new Brazil, the railway age often seems to have passed. The country has only as much track as it did in the 1920s, and a third of it lies unused.

But now a $670m deal has highlighted how some miners are still waiting for the train. Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation – a metals producer in the spotlight over its business in Africa – is increasing its stake in a Brazilian iron ore project, partly because a planned railway will help exports via Atlantic ports. Read more

Jeffrey Sachs is blogging for beyondbrics from the Millennium Development Goals summit this week.

One of the most riveting moments of the MDG summit came when a senior adviser of the China Development Bank set out some of today’s global realities. She explained on Tuesday that the Bank has $600bn of assets and plans to boost its Africa portfolio.

She noted China’s world-leading speed in building infrastructure, and its intention to help do so in Africa. And she expressed China’s intention to work not only with national governments but also with international institutions, including the World Bank and the African Development Bank, to get the job done. Read more

* Petropavlovsk to spin off iron ore business

* Dispute highlights India’s shortcomings

* China plans to boost digital publication industry

* India, US finalising $5.8bn Boeing aircraft deal

* Ebay founder to bridge digital chasm Read more

Indian stocks fell back on Wednesday, as investors responded cautiously to recent gains. The Sensex dropped below 20,000, while the region’s other indices were mixed.

After the US Federal Reserve pointed to another round of quantitative easing, the Thai baht (see graph) and the Malaysian ringgit extended their 13-year highs against the dollar. Read more

Vladimir Putin jumped to the rescue of Russian carmakers this summer, lashing out at metallurgical companies for a sharp rebound in metals prices and the harm it did to carmakers’ balance sheets. Now it seems price hikes have hit yet another victim: the Russian kopeck.

Russia’s Central Bank is urging the Duma to cut production of Russia’s smallest coin, and its big sister the 5-kopeck coin as the cost of producing the coins continues to balloon against their actual monetary value. Read more

The FT publishes a special report on Peru on Wednesday that charts the ongoing transformation of South America’s fastest growing big economy and its success in bringing down poverty. Peru, in that sense, is “a model for others”, as Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monertary Fund, said recently.

It has been a mining country since pre-Incan times, and much of the country’s transformation is due to the booming prices of its mineral exports, such as gold and copper. Sophisticated irrigation systems and international trade deals have created a thriving agricultural sector as well. Plus, for the time being, next April’s presidential election is not creating any great worries about political upheaval.

From the FT,

From elsewhere,

Whither the ambitious expansion programme of PTT, Thailand’s state-owned energy company?

The company’s retail arm has said PTT has pulled out of the crowded field of competitors bidding for the south-east Asian assets of Carrefour, with a spokeswoman saying the decision came “after our stakeholders announced that they didn’t agree with our competing in the auction”.  This followed critical comments from some government officials on Tuesday, suggesting it inappropriate for a state company to be competing in the retail sector. Read more

* Petropavlovsk to spin off iron ore business

* Dispute highlights India’s shortcomings

* China plans to boost digital publication industry

* India, US finalising $5.8bn Boeing aircraft deal

* Ebay founder to bridge digital chasm Read more

India exploded onto the global M&A scene in 2006 and 2007 with Tata Steel’s landmark £6.7bn bid for Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus, as well as other deals such as Hindalco’s $6bn acquisition of Novelis of Canada.

That quietened down a bit during the global economic downturn. But figures from Dealogic on loan volumes show the country’s conglomerates this year have been quietly climbing back up the global deal-making league. Read more

Muhammad Yunus, Founder and Managing Director of Grameen BankIs microfinance still microfinance if it involves outside shareholders and capital markets?

That question was the subject of a lively debate at the Clinton Global Initiative this afternoon as Grameen Bank founder and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus squared off against Vikram Akula, the founder and chair of SKS Microfinance, the recently listed microfinance lender. Read more