Daily Archives: Mar 21, 2012

What will it take to placate the Argentine government in its bitter battle with YPF to force the Spanish-controlled company to invest more and pump more oil?

Will this do it? The company, at a board meeting on Wednesday, agreed to invest 15bn pesos ($3.4bn) for 2012, a rise of 12.7 per cent on last year’s 13.3bn peso total, a Repsol spokesman told the FT. Read more

Is the currency war over? It may be, if you believe a fascinating analysis by Mike Dolan of Reuters published on Wednesday. He floats the idea that the renminbi may have peaked and could soon depreciate, bringing other EM currencies down with it.

Unthinkable stuff, to many. But it does make you wonder why Brazil, the world’s chief currency warmonger, has chosen this moment to escalate the conflict, when its own currency is some way off its peak and quantitative easing in the developed world seems to be on hold or at an endRead more

Russia’s market for luxury goods has bounced back from a lull during the global crisis and its big spenders are once again out in force. But rather than filling their baskets with pricey jewellery and beauty products, they are turning to fine wines and spirits. Read more

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That was one reaction to the budget speech delivered by George Osborne, the UK’s chancellor, or finance minister, on Wednesday. In fact it’s no longer true that Britain exports more to Ireland than the Brics, and hasn’t been for some time. Read more

Turkey has been feeling good about itself of late- its economy has been roaring ahead, its diplomatic role has grown and its government has enjoyed an enviable record of electoral success.

But three lists out this week – covering such diverse fields as Iranian sanctions, international financial centres, and freedom of religion –  signal that a correction of sorts could be in store for that booming sense of importance. Read more

Three bits of proof on Wednesday, if more were needed, that for most carmakers China is crucial to survival – let alone success.

First, Jaguar Land Rover announced a joint venture with Chinese manufacturer Chery. Then BMW and Volkswagen took hits to their share prices on negative comments about their China sales. And finally, Skoda (a VW unit) announced a boost in profits, driven by Russia and India – and China. Read more

By Kristina Mikulova in Bratislava

Markets are hopeful that Slovakia’s newly re-elected premier Robert Fico will back off from hacking away at earlier liberal economic reforms, but in a conversation with beyondbrics, he made clear he is sticking to his campaign promises. They include scrapping the flagship policy of previous centre-right governments, the 19 per cent flat tax, while protecting social benefits – disregarding the advice of a blue-ribbon panel of economists.

“If our economic reforms fail, the people will forgive us. But they will not tolerate being lied to,” Fico said, stressing that his voters gave him a his overwhelming mandate to protect social security. But how sharp Slovakia’s turn left will be remains to be seen. Read more

When it comes to selling things that take years to mature – like premium cognacs or Scotch whiskies – it pays to take the long view. Diageo is taking a very long view on the future of baijiu, otherwise known as Chinese firewater.

As a purveyor of Scottish firewater – also known as Johnnie Walker – Paul Walsh, Diageo’s CEO, says he can foresee a day when Chinese white spirit will have as broad a global footprint as Scotch whisky. To prepare for that day, Diageo said on Tuesday it would shortly launch a mandatory tender offer to spend as much as $1bn buying all remaining shares of Sichuan Shuijingfang, the baijiu company it took control of last yearRead more

China has started to ease its monetary policy, possibly heralding investment opportunities across the globe. So which countries should benefit most – and which seem overvalued? John Authors takes a look.

Poland’s eagerly-awaited estimate of its shale gas reserves, released on Wednesday, turned out not to be one fifth of the 5.3tn cubic meters originally hoped for but rather less: something between 346bn and 768bn cubic meters, according to the government’s geological institute.

But Poles shouldn’t be despondent. The estimate could yet be revised upwards to as much as 1.9tn cubic meters. And even the lower estimate would give Poland gas self-sufficiency for seven decades, the institute said. Read more

* Jaguar Land Rover in tie-up with Chery

* Kingfisher scraps international flights

* Carmakers slide on China sales fears

* Saudis battle to calm oil fears Read more

Samsung, South Korea’s biggest conglomerate, could do with some tips from Sweden’s Wallenberg family about how to become a loved company.

Marcus Wallenberg, chairman of Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken and a member of the powerful Wallenberg family, visited Seoul this week with a large business delegation and met Lee Jae-yong, the chief operating officer at Samsung Electronics and the group’s heir apparent. Read more

The scramble for Myanmar among Western investors has yet to extend far beyond scouting trips and vague statements of intent.

Not so with companies from Vietnam, which had few qualms about doing business with Myanmar’s military dictatorship before political and economic reforms of the last year. Many are moving ahead with investment plans. Read more

Wednesday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: Martin Wolf on China’s transition; Jamil Anderlini on re-evaluating Tiananmen; a turning point in the currency war; and how Chevron is becoming the BP of Brazil. Read more

Carson Block, founder and chief executive of the company Muddy Waters Research, which provides analyst coverage of under-researched Chinese stocks listed in North America, talks to the FT after winning the award for best newcomer at the 2012 FT ArcelorMittal Boldness in Business Awards.

Those who’ve saved up their frequent flyers to travel in luxury on the Kingfisher Airlines BOM-LON flight: don’t be fooled by the list of international flights apparently still available online. You’re out of luck.

On Tuesday night, billionaire owner Vijay Mallya told reporters that his debt-laden carrier would cancel all international flights starting on March 25, as rumours swirled that government regulators were mulling stripping it of its operating license. Read more

The most lucrative investment strategy in China? Go long vegetables – just be sure to pick the right one.

After the prices of garlic, mung beans and corn spiked at different times over the past few years, the humble onion is now getting its day in the sun. Chinese green onions, which resemble leeks and are a stir-fry staple, cost about Rmb7 ($1.10) per kilogram these days, five times more than a year earlierRead more

Phew. Chinese solar panel stock prices jumped after news that the US had imposed a lower-than-expected import tariff on Chinese solar panels.

Solar panel makers in China have breathed a sigh of relief at the low tariff rate, which has a maximum rate of 4.73 per cent. However the relief is likely to be only temporary as the panel makers await a second verdict, expected in May, that will determine whether antidumping tariffs are heaped on top. Read more

* Saudis battle to calm oil fears

* Latin America at $10.3bn record for fundraising

* Li Ka-Shing’s ARA said to plan yuan IPO as currency demand wanes Read more

The news on Tuesday that Argentina will seek to renegotiate a bilateral trade deal on cars with Mexico could hardly have taken anyone by surprise.

In recent months, Buenos Aires has tried to halt the rise of imports in an attempt to protect its trade balance. After witnessing Brazil’s successful renegotiation last week of its own trade deal with Mexico, it must have felt that it would be crazy not to try the same. Read more