Daily Archives: Aug 15, 2012

Argentina’s government, which has settled with the holders of more than 90 per cent of the nearly $100bn debt on which it spectacularly defaulted in 2001, holds up “disindebtedness” as one of its central policy tenets.

But in the teeth of intensifying currency restrictions, which have made access to dollars highly tricky, companies are apparently opting to take on debt rather than give up their valuable greenbacks. Read more

Deep divisions have emerged once again this week over Igor Sechin’s bid to remain front and centre of the Russian energy industry.  They offer more public evidence – as if any were needed – of the growing conflicts between the camps of president Vladimir Putin and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev. Read more

You might think that Alexei Miller, the chief executive of Gazprom, had enough on his plate running the world’s biggest gas company without taking extra jobs on the side. But Russia’s top gasman has jumped into the saddle at Rosippodromy, the new state equestrian agency, tasked with reviving horse breeding and racing in Russia. Read more

South Africa’s mining industry is again confronted by labour unrest. Production at the Marikana platinum mining complex run by Lonmin PLC, the world’s third largest platinum producer, has been halted since August 10 by 3,000 striking rock drillers demanding higher wages. Read more

President Dilma Rousseff’s latest initiative to jump start the Brazilian economy is a case of “yes, but”. Read more

The sun-blasted walled city of Dubrovnik is one of the world’s leading visitor attractions, as can be seen by the international tourists shoving past each other along the Placa, the old town’s marble main street. But once visitors have walked the walls and visited churches, there isn’t much else for them to do, which is what spurred the idea of building a golf course above the arid hill that towers over Dubrovnik.

That was six years ago – and the $1.1bn project, Croatia’s largest potential greenfield investment, is still frozen, waiting for approval from local authorities who are reluctant to give the go-ahead for fear of spoiling the view. Read more

Finally, some good news for foreign investors in Ukraine.

It’s not enough to blot out the bad headlines generated by president Viktor Yanukovich’s standoff with the EU and US over the jailing of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko or by western concerns about a broader rollback on democracy.

But Ukraine’s long-delayed decision to open its doors to international energy groups  shows that the country isn’t entirely turning its back on the west. Read more

Brazil currently deserves its initial in the Brics acronym, and not just because it lost the Olympics football final to Mexico. Its economic performance is also a “B”. Growth is limping along at less than 2 per cent. Only two years ago, Brazil was scoring A-grades with a 7.5 per cent growth rate.

Hence the much-hyped stimulus package, with its centrepiece reportedly some R$100bn ($50bn) of infrastructure concessions, to be announced later on Wednesday. President Dilma Rousseff, a technocrat to her fingertips, wants to improve her grades. As ever, though, the package’s big number spells both good and bad news. Read more

The easy gains in emerging market credit ratings are over. In the wake of the global economic crisis and the slowdown in growth, individual countries will have to work much harder to raise their ratings.

That’s the message in a new report from UBS, with sobering implications for policymakers and for investors alike. Read more

Emerging markets haven’t quite lost their capacity to deliver a pleasant surprise. With the global economy slowing fast, economists had forecast 4.6 per cent for Malaysia’s GDP growth in the three months to the end of June.

On Wednesday, the central bank came out with a figure of 5.4 per cent year-on-year, and, for good measure revised upwards its estimate for the first quarter from 4.7 per cent to 4.9 per cent. Powering the way was investment, both private and public, with the government splurging ahead of parliamentary elections expected later this year. While that raises questions about the prospects for next year, for the moment, investors like what they see. Read more

Aim for the Hollywood sign, and then head about 9 miles southeast.

India’s Sahara Group is in the initial stages of talks to buy a majority stake in the Beverly Hilton Hotel. While he would not confirm the exact details, the Economic Times reported on Wednesday that the company was in talks to pay around $340m for a 55 per cent stake from US-based Oasis West Realty.

The hotel – whose ballroom holds the Golden Globe Awards each year – won’t be Sahara’s first foray into iconic luxury hotels. Earlier this year it bought a controlling stake in New York’s famed Plaza Hotel for $570m; the company also bought London’s Grosvenor House Hotel for $726m in 2010. Read more

* India’s Singh stands by Mars mission

* US accuses Iran of helping Assad regime

* China’s bear market lures foreign bids as locals pull funds  Read more

A modest example on Wednesday of how hard it is to read the current condition of the Chinese economy, not least its banks.

“China Soured Loans Rise for Third Quarter as Economy Slows,” says Bloomberg in the headline on its report on the latest bad loans data from the China Banking Regulatory Commission. “China banks’ Q2 bad loans steady, capital adequacy up,” says Reuters in its headline on exactly the same numbers. Read more

Wednesday’s picks from the BB team: if EM GDP is growing fast, why aren’t equity earnings keeping pace? Standard Chartered gets off lightly; how Chinese banks are helping Iran get round its sanctions; Acer takes the top spot as the world’s largest PC notebook seller; plus, how far Indian female literacy trails China. Read more

In his speech to the nation on its 65th Independence Day, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the “time has now come to view the issues which affect our development processes as matters of national security”.

But those hoping for the prime minister to unveil an ambitious new reform agenda to jumpstart the flagging economy – or really even hint at a single important reform – were left wanting on Wednesday. Instead, Singh acknowledged India’s many problems, and listed what his government has done to fix them and what further solutions the government proposes. Read more

London retailers keen to lure wealthy tourists from other European capitals have welcomed an £8m government campaign to treble the number of Chinese visitors to the UK over the next three years as part of a post-Olympics tourism “turbo charge”. Read more

Jamil Anderlini visits the Shaolin Temple in central Henan and meets the chief abbot, also known as the ‘CEO monk’. With over 2m visitors per year, the temple has become one of China’s strongest cultural brands.

* StanChart settles NY claims for $340m

* China reluctance on reserve cut signals inflation concern

* Investors shift money out of China Read more