Daily Archives: Mar 13, 2012

No one is revelling more in Hugo Chavez’s struggle with cancer than investors in Venezuelan bonds, which have rallied a remarkable 35 per cent in the past four months.

This may seem morbid, but never let it be said that Venezuela’s canny leader doesn’t know how to make the best out of a bad situation.

 Read more

Import substitution. If you’re the Argentine government, this means substituting locally-made things for imports. If you’re a foreign exporter, this means substituting countries where it’s easier to do business for Argentina.

Chilean forestry company CMPC is one. Read more

Poland’s centre-right government and right-wing opposition usually find very little to agree on, which is what makes this week’s race to deregulate the economy noteworthy.

The first shot was fired by Jaroslaw Gowin, the justice minister, who has embarked on a crusade to slash the number of regulated professions in Poland. The 380 protected trades is the highest number of such jobs in the EU. Read more

Cameras set up at polling booths provided endless hours of amusement on Russian election day earlier this month. Now Rostelecom, the Russian phone company, is looking to get more mileage out of the video surveillance system it helped install.

As Rostelecom announced today, the Rb13bn ($440m) video surveillance project will live on, helping to transmit classroom lessons via the web and provide more security in schools. Read more

Football is normally a source of great pride for most Brazilians but the events of the past few weeks have made the sporting industry look more like one of the country’s farcical ‘telenovelas’.

On Monday, Ricardo Teixeira, the boss of Brazil’s Football Confederation and the man in charge of preparations to host the 2014 World Cup, quit. It brings a rather colourful tenure to an untimely end. Read more

Tourism in Egypt and Tunisia was battered by last year’s Arab Spring: but could the North African countries’ loss be Oman’s gain?

It seems so, according to a report released on Tuesday by Hotels.com. A survey of more than 140,000 properties worldwide found that Luxor and Sharm El Sheikh, the popular Egyptian destinations, and Tunis, the Tunisan Capital, were the regions in which hotel prices fell the most over 2011. Oman, however, was an altogether different story. Prices there rose by nearly a fifth – thanks largely to a growing number of visitors. Read more

The OECD published a 150-page report on Hungary on Tuesday, part wish-list, part gripe. The country must take “swift action” to stabilise its economy and put growth on a sound footing.

This on the same day that the EU suspended some of Hungary’s infrastructure subsidies unless the deficit isn’t cut by June 22. But will the Orbán government take heed? Read more

A wake-up call for complacent corporate India from The Children’s Investment Fund, the UK-based activist hedge fund. It sent a letter on Monday to Coal India – in which TCI’s 2 per cent stake makes it the biggest shareholder after the Indian government, with 90 per cent – accusing it of committing a “breach of fiduciary duties” to minority shareholders by reversing an earlier steep increase in the price it charges for coal. Read more

Shares in SKS Microfinance, India’s only listed microfinance company, rose 10 per cent on Tuesday to Rs143 ($2.86) as investors bet new regulations would help it build business.

But the price rise doesn’t do enough to recover steep losses over the past month, after a widely-distributed Associated Press story revived accusations of involvement of SKS employees in a wave of suicides among insolvent borrowers. And the shares are at barely more than a tenth of the Rs1,400 they hit on a wave of investor confidence that followed the company’s IPO in 2010. SKS said the AP story was “baseless”. Read more

China is understandably proud of Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, its imposing parliament building. But there’s one rather embarrassing problem with the magnificent structure’s interior. Its two 108-inch LCD screens, pictured after the break, were not made in China – but in Japan.

Not for much longer, though. According to Reuters, two new screens, made by Chinese electronics brand TCL, are set to replace the current ones. And naturally, they’re bigger than the outdated Toshiba models. By two inches. Read more

* US, EU, Japan battle China on rare earths

* Nigeria economy picks up on non-oil sector growth

* China hints at halt to renminbi rise

* Brazil extends tax on foreign loans Read more

Russian oligarchs make uneasy partners – both for each other and for other shareholders. The falling out at Rusal, the world’s largest aluminium group, isn’t the first such row, and it won’t be the last.

Viktor Vekselberg resigned as Rusal chairman late on Monday, declaring that the company was in “deep crisis” because of bad management and heavy debt. On Tuesday, Oleg Deripaska, Rusal’s dominant shareholder, hit back: the company announced that Vekselberg had “failed to perform his functions”, and not turned up to a live board meeting for a year. Read more

During the second half of 2011, Chinese property developers were pariahs of global bond markets. As fears mounted about the prospect of a Chinese property crash, mainland developers discovered that they were no longer able to sell bonds to foreign investors.

In recent weeks, however, the market appears to have reopened – at least for some of the stronger developers. Read more

Tuesday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: to engage modern China, foreigners should understand the country’s past; Lex on the mergers of Chinese video websites and European airports; why India’s forthcoming Union budget must focus on stoking domestic demand; and Nouriel Roubini and Ian Bremmer voice concerns about Moscow and Beijing. Read more

Equity analysts in the United Arab Emirates are puzzling over some unusual trading patterns in the Abu Dhabi stock market this week – and over a curious response to the affair from ADX, the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange. Read more

For foreign brands looking to add a little extra oomph to sales in China, going local is nothing new. Hermes did it with their Shang Xia brand, Swiss watchmakers have put dragons and phoenixes on various designs, while even the humble Oreo has adapted to Chinese tastes.

But Chateau Lafite, the French winemaker, is taking it a step further with work getting underway on a vineyard on Chinese soil. Read more

* China hints at halt to renminbi rise

* Brazil extends tax on foreign loans

* US to file WTO complaint over China’s rare-earth export caps

* EU set to suspend Hungary development funds on deficit overrun Read more

By Gwen Robinson and Leslie Hook

A hydropower project in Myanmar – one of the biggest in southeast Asia – is testing China’s capacity to influence its impoverished neighbour, and deal with a phenonomen rarely seen at home – the NGO.

The Chinese-led scheme was abruptly halted by the Myanmar government last September.  In a rare reference to concerns about the enviroment and local people’s welfare, Myanmar’s president Thein Sein said the project would not resume in his term, which ends in 2015.

Now, six months on, Chinese officials are calling for work to restart on the controversal $3.6bn hydroproject in Myitsone, in Myanmar’s remote northeast region near the Chinese border. Read more

Days after imposing new rules on foreign ownership in mining, Indonesia has announced complicated new regulations on foreigners working for wholly Indonesian-owned companies.

Ex-pat managers will be barred from 19 posts to give native Indonesians more chance in the jobs market. It sounds well-intentioned but its effects are unclear – and coming so soon after the legal upheaval in mining it does little to reassure foreign investors. Read more

Last weekend while Beijing’s rubber-stamp congress was in full swing, one event stood out among the press conferences and endless speeches that characterise the annual confab. The Chengdu government hosted a champagne brunch – for foreign journalists. Read more