Daily Archives: Aug 31, 2012

By Ian Mount and Andres Schipani

It’s all in how you do the math.

As Colombian finance minister Juan Carlos Echeverry prepares to leave his position and apply for the position of IMF’s Western Hemisphere director in charge of monitoring the Latin American and Caribbean economies, he’s making big claims for his stewardship of Colombia’s economy.

Specifically, he’s claiming that under his watch Colombia surpassed Argentina to be the second largest economy in South America and the third largest in Latin America, after Brazil and Mexico. Read more

Manuel Sánchez, deputy governor of Mexico’s central bank, has been musing about the potential impact on the Mexican economy should the United States fall off its “fiscal cliff”.

In a conversation with US bankers, Sánchez highlighted the near-umbilical link between the economies of the US and Mexico “in terms of industrial integration, trade and investment.” About 80 percent of Mexico’s exports go the US, he added.

But is Sánchez right to be worried? Read more

When it comes to Brazil and GDP data, it’s always worth looking beyond the headline numbers.

On the face of it, the 0.4 per cent quarter-on-quarter expansion reported by the national statistics office on Friday was encouraging. It was the fastest pace of growth in a year and suggested that recent stimulus measures had kick-started the economy’s recovery.

Look a bit closer, however, and you will find that the headline number was mainly boosted by a 4.9 per cent expansion in agriculture. Look closer still, and you will see that was largely a result of higher corn production. Read more

It was nice while it lasted.

Like a harried engineer using his fingers to patch a leaky dyke, on Thursday the Argentine government announced yet another currency restriction aimed at stopping the bleed of foreign currency from its central bank.

This time the target was overseas credit card purchases, which up until now were not limited. Read more

By William Scott-Gall of Kroll

As the judgement in the Boris Berezovsky vs. Roman Abramovich case at London’s Commercial Court has shown (with victory for Abramovich) silent partnerships based on oral agreements can lead to unintended financial and reputational consequences. Abramovich may have won, but he has been forced to disclose uncomfortable details about his business practices, and investors have learnt of the extent to which business in Russia is reliant on krysha or protection. Read more

Turkey is seeking to become a regional and even global power, through diplomatic and commercial ambitions focused on the Middle East and beyond. Now another of the country’s ambitions is coming into view: to become a golfing power.

This week, Ahmet Agaoglu, head of the Turkish Golfing Federation, announced plans to host Turkey’s first big time golfing tournament, in the coastal resort town of Antalya and featuring big names including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. Prize money for the October 9-12 event, sponsored by Turkish Airlines, will top $5m, with $1.75m for the winner. Read more

August has been a tough month for mining in South Africa, and it’s just got worse. Shares in Gold Fields, the gold producer, tumbled by as much as 8.4 per cent on Friday on the announcement of a wildcat strike by 12,000 workers in the company’s KDC mine, before recovering to down 2.84 per cent.

The company’s statement said that the strikes started on Wednesday night, and two night shifts as well as two day shifts have been lost. While a Gold Fields spokesman said there was “no evidence” of any connection to the strikes that have hit Lonmin, the platinum miner, which resulted in 44 deaths, it’s hard to see how miners at KDC would be unaffected by or oblivious to events that have dominated South African headlines. Read more

After running into trouble with international sanctions in Iran, India’s top basmati rice exporter is focusing on Africa.

While Africa today consumes only small amounts of basmati, KRBL is seeing rapid growth – and it hopes to see much more in the coming years. As African consumers get richer, they are expected to develop a taste for more expensive imported foods. Read more

One of the most expensive court case in legal history came to a close on Friday, after a London judge rejected Boris Berezovsky’s $6.5bn claims against fellow Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.

While the case has captivated the UK and British tabloids, back home in Russia interest in the trial has been decidedly more subdued. Read more

Serbia’s new government is limbering up for what promise to be gruelling negotiations with the International Monetary Fund that could save the country from fiscal crisis.

On August 27, the local press reported that Serbia would be seeking a new loan agreement with the IMF in a meeting provisionally scheduled for mid-September. The government apparently hopes to replace a €1bn deal that was frozen in February after the country exceeded its debt and deficit targets on the previous administration’s watch. Read more

EM fund flows over the past week remain positive but stuck in a slight summer slowdown. While the sun shines outside (hypothetically), the brightspot for those at their desks has been EM fixed income funds, which continued a 12 week run of inflows last week – “a stellar achievement in an uncertain world”, according to analysts. Read more

Roman Abramovich has been declared the winner in his epic British High Court battle with rival oligarch Boris Berezovsky.

But Berezovsky is far from being the only loser. Russian business has suffered another damaging assault on its reputation. By shining a light on the ugly inner workings of Russian capitalism in the 1990s, the trial will serve as a warning to investors doing deals with oligarchs – beware of the past, it may come back and bite you. Read more

Big pharma often waxes lyrical about why it makes sense to do more and more R&D in China: the size of the market; the need to be close to that market (and learn about the diseases that affect it particularly badly); and the local talent pool.

According to a study out this week from McKinsey, Healthcare in China, 80 per cent of global life science groups will be conducting R&D in China and other emerging markets by 2016. But it’s worth debunking a few of the myths about Chinese pharma R&D. Read more

* Berezovsky loses against Abramovich

* India GDP rises but weakening consumer demand rings alarm bells

* Samsung trumps Apple in Tokyo court

* Merkel faces EU clash over China Read more

By Ben Bland and Nguyen Phuong Linh

After the arrest last week of the founder and chief executive of one of Vietnam’s biggest private banks sent shockwaves through the nation, rumours swirled earlier this week about which tycoons might be next.

In a sign of the feverish atmosphere and the lack of trust in official information in Communist-ruled Vietnam, a number of leading businessmen felt obliged to appear in public to prove that they had not been thrown in jail. Read more

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich on Friday won his $6.5bn UK court battle against rival oligarch Boris Berezovsky.

Berezovsky claimed Abramovich betrayed him and bullied him into selling shares in the Sibneft oil company for a fraction of their true value. But the judge rejected his claims of breach of trust and breach of contract. Abramovich denied being Berezovsky’s business partner and breaching any contract with him.

Friday’s picks from the BB team: confidence in the Egyptian stock market after the revolution; the deteriorating health of Chinese banks;  the UK student immigration furore; the regional ripple effect of the Syrian conflict; plus, Moscow’s Metropol hotel, host to everyone from Lenin to Michael Jackson, sold for $275m. Read more

Searching for warning signs in China’s economic slow down? Look at corporate cash flow.

Both at the macro-economic and company level, reports suggest that Chinese companies are increasingly short of cash – and are having to resort to ever more desperate means to get hold of it. The overall picture is hard to grasp, given a scarcity of data, but the evidence is multiplying. Read more

At least it’s not worse than last quarter. That was about the best that could be said about data released Friday which showed the 5.5 per cent GDP growth India posted for the three months ended in June was marginally higher than the first quarter’s 5.3 per cent.

“Not bad, I guess,” A Prasanna, economist at ICICI Securities, said. “One would have feared the worst, so compared to those fears, the numbers are fairly decent.” Read more

A sign of the optimism in southeast Asia, perhaps, is Nomura’s decision to start focused coverage of Thai equities, after years of lumping them into regional reports.

A growing number of brokers see Thailand as the comeback story of the year, as it bounces back from 2011′s disastrous flood crisis, with a predicted increase in GDP from near zero to 5-7 per cent.  Nomura is among them. Read more