Daily Archives: Aug 28, 2012

Billionaires evidently don’t win every time.

On Tuesday, Chile’s Supreme Court halted the planned $5bn Central Castilla thermoelectric power plant and port project. The court cited environmental concerns in its decision to put the kibosh on the power plant, a joint venture between Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista’s MPX Energia SA and Germany’s E.ON

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

That, apparently, is the mantra of the Argentine government when it comes to inflation. And woe to those who contradict it. Just ask the folks at Consumidores Libres, a non-profit that tracks prices and represents consumers in consumer protection lawsuits. 

Telling apart legitimate medicine from the fake is a big problem in many parts of the world, especially Africa. But as with many innovations in that area of the world, a simple text message may do the trick.

Bharti Airtel has partnered with US tech company Sproxil to crack down on counterfeit pharmaceuticals in Africa using just a mobile, a scratch-off label, and an SMS message. And the technology may extend to other businesses too. 

Pity MTS. On the eve of the Russian telecom group’s triumphant return to Turkmenistan – and on the day it reported an earnings margin of over 40 per cent – the company was forced to announce a $1.1bn write-off of its Uzbek telecoms business.

The write-off comes amid a fight between MTS and the Uzbek regulator, which has accused the telecoms group of owing the state over $900m in back tax payments. 

Which city’s stock market can boast that it has outpaced almost every other exchange in the world so far this year?

The answer is Istanbul, where the ISE 100 index of top listed companies has jumped more than 30 per cent year to date, leaving almost everywhere else behind, apart from frontier bourses such as Caracas and Cairo

Hungary’s forint fell sharply against the euro on Tuesday’s surprise 25 basis point rate cut to 6.75 per cent.

With the economy heading for recession, the central bank’s first rate cut in more than two years could be followed by others. Governor Andras Simor and colleagues have clearly decided that investors’ doubts about Hungary’s economic policies have eased enough for the bank to take a bit of chance with the foreign exchange markets. They are now more afraid of recession than they are of a run on the forint. 

For South Africa right now, it’s all about mining. The labour unrest that has hit Lonmin’s mines dominates the news from the continent.

Dig into the GDP data released on Tuesday, and mining is also the big story. GDP for the second quarter came in at 3.2 per cent up on the previous quarter when it was 2.7 per cent.  But any thoughts that South Africa’s economy is evading the global slowdown should be banished. The bounce back is all about the trials and tribulations of the local mining industry. 

By David Edgerly

The international jury may still be undecided on the development of Egyptian politics and economics, but local investors have already handed down their verdict of enthusiastic support. The Cairo Stock Exchange has been one of the stellar performers this year with a gain of over 40 per cent. 

Major automakers are considering raising diesel engine production capacity in India to capitalise on exploding demand for the highly-subsidised fuel.

Toyota Motor and Maruti Suzuki, India’s biggest carmaker, have both said in the last week that they are mulling expansion plans. Ford and Volkswagen are also looking to boost diesel engine production capacity. 

The economic gloom seeping out of western Europe is creating increasing difficulties for the small and open economies of central Europe – with both Hungary and the Czech Republic now in recession.

However, Slovakia, the smallest and most open of the three countries, is powering ahead, notching up 2.7 per cent annual GDP growth in the second quarter, thanks largely to the European motor industry. 

Philippine Airlines, the country’s flag carrier, announced on Tuesday it placed firm orders with Airbus for over 50 aircraft worth about $7bn in what the airline described as the “biggest aircraft deal in Philippine history”.

The new orders, which more than double the airline’s fleet from only 39 planes to close to 90 in a few years, is a crucial element in the airline’s efforts to reverse a steady decline in market share to low-cost local carriers and state-subsidised international airlines. Air travel is growing at a rapid clip of 16 per cent a year in the Philippines but PAL has been unable to catch up because financial troubles kept it from re-fleeting. 

* Singh hits out at auditor over coal report

* India: BSE regulatory action hits stocks

* Hungary to refrain from rate cut on inflation, bailout concern

* Apple seeks quick bans on eight Samsung phones 

Ask any investor or ordinary Indonesian about their biggest gripe and it’s likely to revolve around infrastructure, whether it’s lack of power or poor transportation. As in many other developing nations, complex bureaucracy, nervousness about the involvement of the private sector and a lack of financing have prevented Indonesia from building the roads, bridges, airports and power stations it needs to maintain economic growth at the current trend of more than 6 per cent a year. 

Tuesday’s picks from the BB team: Investors may do well to ignore the Samsung sell stampede; why the Indian government should focus on upholding the rule of law, not restricting freedom of the web; China’s non-performing loan problem could be worse than the government is making out; the obstacles in the way of Barclays attempt to unify its African operations; plus, how junk bonds may give a boost to Chinese SMEs

Lee Kun-hee, the 70-year-old chairman of Samsung Electronics and South Korea’s richest man, will have food for thought after the company’s legal defeat by Apple in California last Friday. But developments closer to home could soon give him a new headache: lawmakers are seeking to tackle the complex shareholding structures through which the founding families of South Korea’s chaebol conglomerates keep their grip on their corporate empires.