Daily Archives: Mar 29, 2012

Kazakhstan is well known as an emerging oil power with a growing role in meeting the world’s energy needs. Less well known is the central Asian country’s huge agricultural potential and ability to contribute to global food security.

Against a backdrop of rising world wheat prices, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has chosen Kazakhstan as the destination for its first ever equity investment in farming. Read more

Where Chile has led, Peru will follow. Credicorp, Peru’s biggest banking group, said on Thursday it would buy 30 per cent of The Foodlinks, a Chilean B2B outfit that markets fruit, vegetables, wines, processed foods and other food products to Chinese importers.

Credicorp said it would use the investment to roll out The Foodlinks’ business model in Peru. Read more

Mexico is running out of oil, suffering from a drug war and has an uncompetitive economy. But John Paul Rathbone, Latin American editor, tells Long View columnist John Authers why he’s optimistic about the country.

HSBC may be cutting back in emerging markets that it sees as non-strategic. But in those it deems strategic, it is beefing up.

On Thursday it announced plans to buy the UAE-based onshore retail and commercial operation of Lloyds, the British bank which is under some pressure to bolster its balance sheet. It’s not a big deal by world banking standards, involving gross assets of just $769m. But when it comes to implementing a strategy every little bit helps, for both HSBC and Lloyds. Read more

Telecoms have been having a rough couple weeks when it comes to taxes. But Vodafone isn’t alone.

The simmering dispute between Norway’s Telenor and India’s Unitech over their telecom joint venture Uninor took a turn on Wednesday when the income tax department froze the Indian company’s shares in Uninor over a tax claim. Read more

Romania’s central bank cut interest rates on Thursday for the fourth time in as many policy meetings, taking rates down to a record low of 5.25 per cent.

The whole 1-percentage-point reduction has been achieved with a barely a twitch in the leu, which has moved little from the 4.35 level against the euro where it when the central bank swung into action in early November.

But this has been achieved against the global rally in emerging market currencies this year. Life will be much harder for the Romanian National Bank if there’s another sudden sell-off, as there was last spring. Read more

China’s move up the international value chain creates opportunities for the likes of Vietnam and Bangladesh which are fast developing their low-tech export industries in items such as clothes and shoes.

But for those just above China in the value chain, the technological advance of the Middle Kingdom is anything but good news. As a report from Capital Economics pointed out on Thursday, Malaysia and Thailand, among others, will face greater competition in global trade. Read more

Foreign institutional investors in India have been given yet another reason for taking care with their capital – last week’s budget tax provisions.

With international banks issuing a letter speculating that it could lead to a complete pullout of the more than $200bn foreigners have invested in India, investors are pressing finance minister Pranab Mukherjee explain his intentions before the tax bill goes into effect on April 1. Read more

As expected, Brics leaders ended their summit in New Delhi on Thursday with a broadside assault on the west over voting rights at the International Monetary Fund and cheap-money policies that threatened global economic stability.

In their communiqué, they agreed to work on plans for a Brics development bank plan and said a few words about energy, Iran and Syria. But on the World Bank presidency – the issue of the moment in development circles – there was only a lukewarm welcome for “candidates… from developing countries”. No mention of the leading emerging market contender, Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-IwealaRead more

* Brics summit: missed opportunity

* Talks over oil release push down crude

* Taiwan: tax plan prompts sell-off

* Mallya: throwing good money after bad? Read more

By Charles Okeahalam of AGH Capital

On most measures, the World Bank is the largest development finance institution. Its resources must be harnessed effectively at a time when the globe faces big long-term economic, social and enviromental challenges as well as the global financial crisis.

The implicit agreement in which the presidency of the World Bank is reserved for citizens of the United States therefore seems ludicrous. It is time to break with this out-dated tradition and choose the best-qualified candidate, irrespective of nationality. That candidate is the finance minister of Nigeria: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Read more

Akbank, Turkey’s second biggest bank by market value, is putting a brave face on bad news.

Citigroup, which holds 20 per cent of Akbank, recently said it would be selling more than half of its 20 per cent stake in the bank – for which it paid $3.1bn in 2007 – because of the impact of Basel III rules. So who’s in line to buy? Read more

Thursday’s thinking from the beyondbrics team: World Bank pitches; is the Brics good for anyone? Erdogan’s Turkey; richer Asians; oil addiction; and a new type of Nigerian scam. Read more

Why would you sell a large stake in a  very profitable drinks company in one of the world’s biggest markets? If you are Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya, the answer is – to prop up a failing airline – an airline that was started in the first place as a spin-off from one of your beers.

The FT reports that Mallya, the Indian billionaire, is close to selling a 13 per cent stake in United Breweries to Heineken. The FT’s James Fontanella-Khan suggested that the sale of the stake could be used to inject cash into the airline – and Indian commentators were in absolutely no doubt that it was the driving motive. Read more

The Brics nations made the right noises at their summit on Thursday in New Delhi. They expressed concern about global economic imbalances, the flood of cheap money rushing out of the west and hitting the currency markets, and the slow pace of reform at the International Monetary Fund.

They also agreed to devote more time to a potentially-useful plan for a Brics-run development bank.

But they were far away from doing the one thing that would give their summit real clout – backing a common candidate for the World Bank presidency from the developing world, even though there is a first-class contender in the race, Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-IwealaRead more