Daily Archives: Feb 8, 2012

These first two weeks of February are normally those during which the mood in Brazil picks up ahead of carnival.

But in the booming state of Bahia, in northeastern Brazil, the situation is anything but festive as gangsters have gone on the rampage in the capital Salvador amid a strike by police. Read more

Perhaps it wasn’t all that surprising that PDVSA, Venezuela’s state oil company, wanted to wash its hands of the affair after hundreds of millions of dollars went “missing” from one of its pension funds because of fraud and even Ponzi activity.

But a dogged receiver, John Carney, has filed a flurry of lawsuits (documented here) in a Connecticut-based court over the last couple of days in a bid to recover some of that money – and guess what, one of the people being sued is a former PDVSA executive. Read more

Tempers frayed and positions were decorously adjusted on Wednesday after beyondbrics reported on conflicting statements regarding Ryanair’s ability to operate planned new flights out of Budapest for which it was already selling tickets.

Ryanair demanded “a corrective measure” to what it called a “biased article”. And Budapest Airport said it would do whatever it could to get Ryanair flying. Read more

By Stefan Wagstyl and Kester Eddy

Nokia’s decision to include Hungary in its latest round of job cuts, announced on Wednesday, could not have come at a worse time for embattled prime minister Viktor Orbán.

A day after Orban praised the Finnish company in his annual state of the nation speech as a model investor for creating secure jobs, Nokia revealed plans to cut 2,300 posts in Hungary, among 4,000 going worldwide.

That’s a bit embarrassing, both for the Finns, who like to build good relations with host governments, and for Orbán, who is struggling to restore Hungary’s good name among international investors. More fundamentally, it’s also a sign of the growing difficulties faced by export-oriented east European economies in competing with east Asia. Read more

At first glance – but first glance only – the decision by Mexico’s competition authorities to reject the purchase of a small telecoms operator by the country’s largest broadcaster is bad news for the companies involved and for those wanting greater competition in the telecoms sector.

In its first public statement on the matter, Cofeco, as the anti-trust body is known, said on Tuesday that the April 2011 deal, under which Mexican broadcaster Televisa would acquire a 50 per-cent stake in mobile operator Iusacell for US$1.6bn, would be harmful for competitionRead more

Thomas Cook announced Wednesday that it planned to sell its India business – in which it owns a 77 per cent stake – in order to ease its mounting debt problems, sending shares in the Indian company up 19.9 per cent, compared to a 0.5 per cent gain in the Bombay Stock Exchange’s benchmark Sensex.

As the FT reported, the British company showed a £91m underlying operating loss in the quarter ending December 31, in line with analyst expectations but more than double the £37m loss a year earlier, having been hampered by depressed consumer spending in Europe and political unrest in the Middle East. Read more

President Traian Basescu is trying to put Romania’s new government rapidly into place. If all goes well, parliament should on Thursday approve the new team headed by the premier-designate Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu.

But, even if all goes to plan, that won’t be the end of political trouble for the Basescu and his allies in the ruling centre-right coalition. With local and parliamentary elections due this year, they will remain under intense pressure as they desperately try to rebuild their popularity whilst simultaneously ploughing on with an IMF-backed austerity programme. Read more

Nigeria is by far Africa’s most populous nation but in 2010 its GDP was less than two thirds that of South Africa, the continent’s richest country.

That, at least, is according to the IMF – but the figures don’t reveal the whole picture. This year, Nigeria will change the base year for its GDP to 2008 from 1990. This looks likely to revise the size of its economy dramatically upwards. Depending on the scale of the revision, Renaissance Capital says Nigeria could surpass South Africa as the continent’s largest economy as soon as 2014. Read more

By Enid Tsui in Hong Kong and Michiyo Nakamoto in Tokyo

Gourmet food tends to follow the money, as the Michelin Guide did when it dropped crisis-hit Las Vegas in 2009 and published its first handbook on Macao eateries the same year. The southern Chinese city has seen spectacular economic growth since it opened up its casino market to foreign operators in 2002 and relaxed entry rules for mainland Chinese tourists in 2003.

The expensive tastes of Macao’s gamblers have caught the attention of Japan’s struggling agriculture industry. What better place to sell the most expensive beef in the world than a place where the wealthy often bet more than $30,000 per visit? Read more

* Syria renews attack after Russian visit

* Argentina to protest U.K.’s military presence near Falklands to UN

* Canada, China tighten trade ties, sign beef deal

* Glencore and Xstrata face blocking threat

 Read more

Shares in Bharti Airtel, India’s biggest mobile carrier, closed down 6.58 per cent Wednesday – compared to a 0.48 per cent gain in the Bombay Stock Exchange’s benchmark Sensex – after the company released results for the quarter ending in December that revealed its eighth straight loss in quarterly profits.

The drop in the share price erased most of the gains the company had made after the licenses of some of its smaller rivals were pulled by the telecoms ministry last week. Read more

LG Electronics, the world’s third-largest mobile phone maker, is finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Its shares have risen nearly 20 per cent so far this year on its improved earnings outlook after the company’s handset business reported a small profit.

The company’s (A066570:KSE) shares closed up 2.41 per cent at Won89,100 on Wednesday, near an eight-month high of Won90,700 touched last Friday, as investors cheer LG’s turnaround. LG swung to an operating profit of Won23bn in the fourth quarter from a Won246bn loss a year earlier, helped by a turnaround in its handset business. Read more

Wednesday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: Martin Wolf on the dangers of India learning the wrong lessons from the financial crisis; why capitalism is not in crisis – but western capitalism is; pragmatism over ideology in the relationship between China and Germany; and the obsession of young Chinese consumers with luxury goods – even when they can’t afford them. Read more

According to the China Securities Journal, Chinese electricity use dropped 7.5 per cent year on year in January.

Sure, it was during Chinese New Year, but, according to Nomura, the statistic looks “alarming”. Read more

Tired of Brics? Looking for a new label for the emerging markets? How about Lapac and Rumea, the latest creations of consumer goods producer Reckitt Benckiser?

RB announced plans on Wednesday to reorganise its global operations to put more emphasis on EMs. Out goes the three-way division into Europe, North America and Australia, and developing markets. In come Ena (Europe and North America), Lapac (Latin America and Asia-Pacific) and Rumea  (Russia, the Middle East and Africa).  Will the new names catch on? We don’t think so.  But the message is clear – EMs matter. Read more

Vietnam needs to invest in infrastructure if it is to grow in a more balanced fashion. But potential funding sources have been drying up because of the global downturn, Vietnam’s own financial problems and its decreasing access to development bank loans now that it’s become a lower-middle income country.

Enter the Export-Import Bank of the United States (US Ex-Im Bank). The government agency, which provides credit to support American exports, is boosting efforts to help fill the gap and support business for US companies such as GE and Lockheed Martin, which are trying to sell to Vietnam. Read more

A troublesome state-owned bailed-out bank in Indonesia that has been the subject of two investigations. An acquisitive overseas private equity fund manager looking for a finance vehicle. Sounds like a perfect fit.

Chad Holm, a former M&A banker with Citigroup and Bank of America Merrill Lynch who now runs Yawadwipa (a merchant banking and investment advisory group paired with a private equity arm), wants to buy PT Bank Mutiara. It’s not a deal for the faint-hearted. Read more

* Glencore and Xstrata face blocking threat

* China may ‘move shortly’ on aid for Europe

* Itaú to buy out Redecard

* Syria intensifies attacks on Homs Read more

As business confidence in many western countries is once again being hammered, staying in work is the first thing on many managers’ and professionals’ minds.

But not so in Asia. As the regional economy remains resilient, employers will continue to hire, and the only question for executives and other white-collar staff , especially in China, is how much their salaries will rise, says Hays, the recruitment agency. Read more

Thailand’s corporate bond market is set for a surge of activity following recent interest rate cuts and amid growing appetite for mergers and acquisitions among Thai companies.

New corporate bond issues are likely to reach between Bt250bn ($8.1bn) and Bt300bn this year, up as much as 40 per cent from Bt212bn in 2011, according to the Thai Bond Market Association (ThaiBMA). Read more