Daily Archives: Aug 8, 2012

We all know about the backlash against the corporate chief executives who try to award themselves extravagant pay raises even after delivering rubbish financial results.

But what about employees of central banks who want pay raises to compensate for inflation even though they are meant to be the very people responsible for curbing price hikes?

That may sound strange but that is what is happening in Brazil. Read more

Another Argentine expropriation. Another which the government confidently expects “won’t cost the state a penny”.

After Cristina Fernández’s government took over energy company YPF in April (Congress approved the expropriation of 51 per cent of the company in early May), for reasons of national interest (and for which it hopes not to have to pay anything), now it is the turn of banknote-printing firm, Compañía de Valores Sudamericana (CVS). Read more

If only the economic performance of the Caribbean matched the sporting prowess of its athletes.

The Caribbean may be sunnier than Europe, but it shares many of the Old Continent’s problems – namely anaemic economic growth, uncompetitive economies and burgeoning debt burdens. Read more

Who owns the Russian equity market and how does ownership affect company performance? A new research note from Troika Dialog sheds some light.

The short answer to the first question is, the state, which is the single largest player with 30 per cent of equity ownership. This compares with a free float of 27 per cent owned by institutional and private investors. The answer to the second question is a bit more complex. Read more

Analysts and bankers are warning that South Korea could weaken volumes in its equity derivatives market, one of the world’s largest, with a planned transaction tax on options and futures.

Seoul’s ministry of strategy and finance announced on Wednesday that it planned to introduce a tax of 0.001 per cent on the value of futures contracts linked to the Kospi 200 index of the largest Korean stocks, and a levy of 0.01 per cent on the premiums for options. It expects annual revenue of $89m from the tax, which will be introduced in January 2016.

The China-Africa encounter is normally viewed through giant mining and infrastructure projects, multibillion dollar loans, and high-level diplomacy.

But the major state-owned enterprises aren’t the only Chinese businesses making inroads into the continent. Small-scale traders have established themselves as a part of everyday economic life. While Africa offers them opportunities, their presence has frequently generated a backlash. Read more

The news that India’s prime minister may use his Independence Day speech on August 15 to announce a program to provide free mobile phones to millions of Indians has a good ring to it (pun intended).

A grand gesture – and no doubt helpful to the Congress Party-led government’s image. As the Times of India put it, “its calling card for the 2014 [national] polls”. But beyondbrics asks: has the Indian government got its priorities a little out of whack? Read more

The eurozone crisis has garnered yet another victim – this time the investment real estate market in central and eastern Europe, which slumped in the first half of the year.

For the region as a whole, investment in the second quarter of the year came to only €327m, down from €834m in the first quarter, according to DTZ, a real estate company. Overall, activity for the first half of the year was down 47 per cent over the same period in 2011. Read more

A 50-year-old border dispute has reignited between Malawi and Tanzania over ownership of Lake Malawi, Africa’s third largest lake. The reason? Oil and gas.

Malawi’s late president, Bingu wa Mutharika, awarded an exploration contract to UK company Surestream Petroleum during mounting tension over entitlement to the lake last October. Surestream was one of seven companies to bid for hydrocarbon exploration licenses in the Lake Malawi basin. Read more

Aga Rangemaster, the company behind the quintessentially British range cookers, has entered the world’s largest market – China.

It might almost be going to Mars. The Aga name is synonymous with upper class British rusticity, where family and friends share the cosy conviviality of oak kitchen table, generous upholstery and the warmth emanating from half a ton of enamelled cast iron.

Upper class Chinese may well fancy the Bentley outside the window but it is hard to imagine Shanghai’s restaurant society entertaining friends at home, in the kitchen. Read more

* India picks ex-IMF economist as adviser

* S Korea set to overhaul key lending rate

* China reforms fail to end stocks’ bad run

* StanChart hits back at Iran claims Read more

It’s not all doom and gloom. Malaysian exports were up 5.4 per cent year on year in June, and up 5.9 per cent for the first half of 2012, beating market expectations comfortably.

Sales to China played a large part, up 13.2 per cent and representing nearly 14 per cent of all Malaysia’s exports. Read more

Wednesday’s picks from the BB team: India’s new finance minister has been given a warm reception but he faces a tough job; so does Alassane Ouattara, the Ivory Coast’s new president, as he tries to rebuild the economy after the decade-long conflict; addressing workplace discrimination in China; plus, did a twitter hoax move the oil market? Read more

In theory, India has laid out the welcome mat for ‘single-brand’ foreign retailers like Ikea to finally set up shop in the country of more than 1.2bn shoppers. But in practice, there are still big obstacles to foreign retailers getting in the door.

The requirement for foreign retailers to source at least 30 per cent of the products they sell from small and medium enterprises is a telling example of how India’s economic policy-making is often tied up in knots, which become totally self-defeating restraints on economic growth. Read more

For a picture of the dire situation most Indian telcos find themselves in, look no further than Bharti Airtel’s quarterly results, released on Wednesday.

Despite a customer base – the world’s fifth-largest – that grew to over 250m, Bharti reported a 37 per cent drop in net profits in the quarter that ended in June, down to $138.5m from $220.8m during the same period last year on $3.5bn in revenues. That fell far below analyst expectations of around $221.2m. Read more

* StanChart hits back at Iran claims

* US seeks $3bn for Sudan oil deal

* China’s president eyes ally for promotion to top body Read more

The party is finally over for telecoms companies in Brazil, it seems.

For the past couple of years, the likes of Italy’s Tim have enjoyed booming revenues and a relatively free reign over Brazil’s market – a welcome break from the misery back home in Europe.

But not even Brazil can offer much relief now. While a row with the industry regulator, Anatel, over poor service hangs over the companies, the country’s abrupt economic slowdown has also hit profits. Read more