Daily Archives: Jun 28, 2012

Never mind catching up with Mexican magnate Carlos Slim – it seems Eike Batista may not even be the richest man in Brazil any more.

Shares in his flagship oil start-up OGX slumped another 19 per cent on Thursday after plummeting 25 per cent on Wednesday. That’s about 40 per cent in two days. Taking into account the contagion effect on his other companies, which also suffered heavy losses, the last two trading sessions have wiped about $6bn off his personal wealth, according to Forbes.

That’s $6bn in less than 20 hours – not even Eike could spend his cash that fast. Read more

Panic set in overnight (okay, yes we are being a bit melodramatic) when Moody’s announced a downgrade of some of the biggest names in Brazilian banking.

Moody’s ratings actions affected the Brazilian subsidiaries of Spain’s Santander, HSBC and ING, as well as the local lenders Bradesco, Banco do Brasil, Itaú-Unibanco, Banco Safra, Votorantim and the exchange operator BM&FBovespa. They were downgraded by one to three notches, mostly to bring them nearer to the sovereign rating as part of a global overhaul of Moody’s view of the financial sector first flagged in February. Read more

It sounds good – an emerging powers’ pact in the form of free-trade deal between China and members of the South American cutsoms’ union, Mercosur – some of whom are already big trading partners. But will it happen?

Well, China this week did dish out the promise of a $10bn credit line to Latin America for infrastructure projects, as well as hope aloud about the Mercosur pact. Read more

What will 1,500 Turks be doing this year in the desolate space between Weldiya and Awash in Ethiopia? The answer is “building a railroad” following an announcement on Thursday by Turkish construction company Yapi Merkezi.

The contract is part of ambitious plans by the Ethiopian government to build a 5,000 km railway network – and a sign that Chinese companies increasingly face competition from other EM companies in the battle for Africa’s infrastructure. Read more

A substantial new Chinese loan deal for a Bosnian power plant indicates the progress that the country is making in realising its potential as an energy exporter. In a region in which several countries have a power deficit, Bosnia is leveraging its competitive advantages and drawing international investment to the electricity sector.

Energy Financing Team, a UK-based company active in Balkan energy markets, has secured a €350m deal with the state-owned China Development Bank (CBD) to construct a 300MW coal-fired plant in Stanari, northern Bosnia. Read more

By Nandita Parshad of the EBRD

As Mongolia goes to the polls for parliamentary elections the country – remote, still largely unknown, the most sparsely populated on Earth – is enjoying a rapid and well documented boom as it begins to exploit its vast mineral wealth. “We want to be Chile” – this is the mantra of many Mongolians. They are not after the Chilean climate or its wine but rather they aspire to join the ranks of those resource-rich countries that have managed to avoid the “resource curse” and achieve a sustainable, fair and balanced economy. Read more

If the world of central bank interest policy were a dance contest, the Czech National Bank would easily be out-limboing the European Central Bank as the Czechs on Thursday cut their benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to a record low of 0.5 per cent.

That sticks with a long-running policy of keeping rates below those of the ECB, whose benchmark rate is 1 per cent – although a recent Reuters poll found that 48 out of 71 analysts tipped the ECB to cut rates next week, most of them forecast a 25 basis point cut to 0.75 per cent. Read more

Hillary Clinton and Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics on June 28 (Ilmars Znotins/AFP/GettyImages)

Hillary Clinton and Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics

Visiting Latvia on Thursday, Hillary Clinton praised the Baltic state for taking “very difficult” austerity measures that would ensure a “stable, prosperous future”.

But is the Baltic austerity model everything it’s cracked up to be? In this post on The World blog, Neil Buckley examines the case. Read more

Emerging markets may have some catching up to do in economic terms, but they are often miles ahead of developed markets when it comes to adopting new technology.

Take contactless payments. In the majority of shops in the western world we continue to fiddle with pin numbers and receipts, while in far-flung cities like Istanbul consumers simply waive their mobile phones or plastic cards and a transaction is complete. Read more

A look at the wider significance of the Egyptian presidential victory by Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate. With FT commentators Gideon Rachman and Roula Khalaf.

Jakarta bound?

As wages continue to rise in China, is Foxconn, the huge Taiwanese contract manufacturer that makes iPads for Apple and laptops for Dell, looking to Indonesia as a cheaper alternative?

The Indonesian press, which has stories about Foxconn investing in Indonesia all over its front pages on Thursday, seems to think so. The reality is somewhat more prosaic. Read more

* Moody’s downgrades eight Brazilian banks

* Glencore ready to pull Xstrata merger

* Felda shares surge on first day of trading

* Turkey reinforces border with Syria Read more

To manage an 18 per cent pop on day one of a stock market listing is no mean feat in current market conditions.

That is what Felda Global Ventures, the Malaysian palm oil operator, managed on the Bursa Malaysia on Thursday morning. The shares opened at M$5.39, having been priced at M$4.55. Good news for Malaysian investors? Certainly, but to spoil the party, there are accusations of a “land grab” by FGV, disenfranchising small farm holders. Read more

Thursday’s further reading: Mexico waits for its Sherlock Holmes, China looks for good leaders, and Bo Xilai’s luxury London home. Polish contractors also scored an own goal, how Coca-Cola is betting on India, and China tests it’s Shenzhen “Hong Kong” ambitions. Plus, have privatisation scams come to an end in Russia? Read more

Rats. Raw sewage in the streets. Garbage to go. These are but of a few of the quality-of-life issues that continue to afflict many parts of major Indian cities like Mumbai.

And yet, few Mumbaikars – or Delhi-ites – would be surprised to learn that India has seen the biggest rise in housing prices of any country in the world in the ten years from 2001 to 2011, according to a study released by Lloyds TSB International this week. They need only look at their rent check, or downpayment. Read more

China’s dairy industry is the cow that keeps on giving – scandals.

Earlier this month it was mercury in the baby formula of Yili, the mainland’s largest dairy producer by revenue. In December, products of Mengniu, China’s second largest dairy, were destroyed after they were found to contain aflatoxin, which can cause severe liver damage. Four years ago it was melamine in milk: an industrial chemical added to boost apparent protein content, it eluded government quality control until hundreds of thousands of chinese infants had kidney stones from it.

So what’s the lastest? Read more

There was a sigh of relief among big retailers in South Korea last week when the country’s administrative court ruled against restrictions on their operating hours, citing procedural problems.

But the Korean government’s efforts to protect family-run shops and local markets by restricting big retailers isn’t over by any means. In all the legal wrangling, there’s one group who don’t seem to have a say: the consumer. Read more

* Glencore ready to pull Xstrata merger

* Brazil grants Vale licence for Serra Sul venture

* Priced-to-sell Felda jumps in IPO debut Read more

Is China’s slowdown worse than the government is letting on? That was the provocative claim in a New York Times article last week which reported that officials were manipulating data on everything from tax revenue to power production in order to present a rosier picture of the economy.

But two prominent analysts have now come to Beijing’s defence, arguing that Chinese statistics are reliable and concerns about falsification overblown. They say the truth is that the economy is slowing, not collapsing, and that the data have accurately portrayed this. Read more

Brazil’s Eike Batista this year boasted he would soon be the richest man in the world.

That looked even less likely on Wednesday after about R$10bn ($4.9bn) was wiped off the market value of his listed companies in just a few hours.

The losses were led by OGX, his oil firm, which slumped about 25 per cent after the company cut production targets at its initial project by as much as 75 per cent. Read more