Monthly Archives: October 2011

It’s the kind of project that takes guts.

TNK-BP, BP’s Russian oil venture, finally sealed a $1bn deal on Monday for a 45 per cent stake in 21 oil and gas exploration blocks deep in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.

Brazilian start-up HRT, which is selling the stake, will continue to operate the blocks for another 2 1/2 years but, after that, the Russians have the option to buy another 10 per cent and take over. Read more

The owners of three of Russia’s most liberal media outlets are attracting attention from an interesting suitor: Mikhail Prokhorov.

The tycoon and New Jersey Nets owner is currently in talks to take a stake in online TV channel TV Dozhd (Rain TV), news website and Moscovites’ beloved alternative newspaper Bolshoi Gorod (Big City). So is Russia’s third richest man becoming a bona fide liberal? Read more

Niira Radia, Indian corporate lobbyist,India’s top lobbyist Niira Radia, who represented the country’s two most powerful tycoons, Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani, has decided to exit the PR business a year after leaked tapes dragged her into the centre of the country’s multi-billion dollar telecoms scandal.

Her departure will rob Indian public life of a colourful character and reduce by one the myriad channels by which Indian business tries to influence Indian politics.  But her exit may be no bad thing for India’s scandal-tarnished democracy. Read more

Wipro, India’s third-largest software maker, on Monday released second quarter results that contained little surprises. But given the company’s recent performance, that might just be a good thing.

After a management shakeup earlier this year that saw Wipro’s ill-fated “power of two” CEO leadership structure shuttered, analysts told beyondbrics that Monday’s results, while in no way spectacular, seemed to signal that Wipro was finally past the structural issues that have kept the company from performing as well as its outsourcing peers, Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys. Read more

Aldar, the Abu Dhabi developer whose $5.2bn bailout became a signal of the outlandish UAE property bubble, has cut jobs again but remained stubbornly silent on how exactly it plans to end its woes.

A “strategic plan” announced by the company on Monday consisted of lay-offs of almost a quarter of its already pared-down 420 staff – but offered few other clues about what it would do to turn itself around. Read more

Russia has set many deadlines for joining the World Trade Organisation, having first applied to enter its precedessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt), as long ago as 1993. But early next year now looks on the cards. Arkady Dvorkovich, president Dmitry Medvedev’s economic adviser, said on Monday that Russia hoped to finish negotiations at a WTO ministerial conference on December 15.

While a mass of formalities will still need to be addressed, this should pave the way for membership in a few months. And not before time. Russia should have joined this particular club long ago. Read more

As consumers in the west grapple with the prospect of slowing salary increases over the next few years, western multinationals will be looking more than ever to Chinese shoppers for growth. The good news is that their optimism appears undimmed.

On Monday, McKinsey & Company, the consulting firm, released its annual survey of interviews with 15,000 middle-class consumers in China. The study found that not only are more Chinese consumers are trading up to more expensive goods despite inflation, but almost two thirds believed their “household income will significantly increase in the next five years.” Read more

* Russia on brink of WTO deal with Georgia

* Turkey in rare licence award to Bank Audi

* TNK-BP nears a deal in Brazil

* Japan intervenes to halt yen’s rise Read more

The first stray dog wasn’t too much of a problem. It was the second dog, who scurried around the Buddh International Circuit for a good five minutes during Friday’s practice session of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, that heralded Formula 1’s arrival in India. And, in its way, India’s arrival to F1. Read more

The signs for Taiwan experiencing slower economic growth were all already there: exports have been slowing, the central bank had decided to hold steady instead of hiking rates,  and even Apple had not helped by unveiling a refresh of the iPhone 4 rather than a revolutionary iPhone 5.

So it did not come as a huge shock when the government announced on Monday that third quarter GDP growth had come in lower than expected at 3.4 per cent, compared to a previous forecast of 3.5 per cent. Read more

Russia's President Dmitry MedvedevPlans for Bric support for the eurozone are moving forward, if comments from Moscow on Monday are any guide. Arkady Dvorkovich, president Dmitry Medvedev’s top economic adviser, told reporters Russia would be ready to provide support through the International Monetary Fund.

That’s a long way from putting money on the table, but it suggests that the talks – both EU-Bric and Bric-Bric -  are gaining momentum  in advance of this week’s G20 summit in Cannes. Read more

Monday’s top picks from the beyondbrics team: Lex on the sub-prime problems in China’s banks; the US-Haqqani problem in Afghanistan; the muted welcome for the world’s 7 billionth citizen; North Korea tells its citizens in Libya they are not welcome home; and India’s political posturing on food-inflation. Read more

China’s status as the workshop of the world is under threat. Rising wage demands are increasing costs and other Asian countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh are now cheaper. At the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, the FT’s Rahul Jacob talks to buyers and suppliers to find out whether China is now in decline as the epicentre of the world’s manufacturing (after the break). Read more

Colombians have installed an anti-corruption campaigner and former leftist rebel leader as mayor of Bogota after a peaceful end to the previously violent local and regional elections.

Gustavo Petro, a former leader of the M-19 movement that stormed the Palace of Justice in 1985, said his victory heralded the birth of a national movement of progressive independents “to build a more democratic Colombia”. Read more

Central European countries are taking advantage of the recent turn in sentiment towards emerging markets to lock in financing needs for this year and get a head start on 2012, when market conditions are expected to be worse.

Last week Poland offered $2bn in 10-year bonds priced at 280 basis points above the USD benchmark, attracting $8bn in total demand. Read more

* Russia on brink of WTO deal with Georgia

* Turkey in rare licence award to Bank Audi

* TNK-BP nears a deal in Brazil

* UralKali considers listing on LSE Read more

This week the G20 meet in France, Chinese president Hu Jintao, the subject of much eurozone courting, will be visiting Austria and Nato will declare the official end of its Libyan campaign. Elsewhere, the trial of Radovan Karadzic resumes at the Hague while, in South Africa, the disciplinary hearing of populist Julius Malema continues. Read more

This week on beyondbrics:

China was courted by a nervous eurozone but was less attractive at home. Of course, if India or Nouriel Roubini have their way, China might be old news (but at least the pork is getting cheaper).

Elsewhere, Poland defied the pessimists while India gambled its holiday away – some poor billionaires lost their cash faster than others – even when inflation wasn’t the issue. Brazil’s sport minister was in hot water and Google’s tactical retreat was exploitedRead more

For sale: Brazilian consumer finance asset called Losango (the ‘Lozenge’ in English). Forty years old, two loving foreign owners, and assets totalling R$3.5bn ($2.06). Comes with 3.5m private label credit cards and 22 per cent of Brazil’s direct consumer credit market. If interested, please contact JPMorgan.

The news that HSBC is selling Losango in Brazil raises two questions: Why get rid of anything in a fast-growing market like Brazil? And, secondly, who would want to buy it? Read more

Colombian soldiers rest before a military ceremonyJuan Manuel Santos, Colombia’s president, has a lot riding on the outcome of Sunday’s mass election of mayors and local councilors.

Up to 130,000 candidates are estimated to be vying for 13,000 posts, and 41 have already died during a bloody campaign. Read more