Daily Archives: Oct 3, 2012

Anything can happen in politics, and even more so in Brazilian politics, but President Dilma Rousseff could hardly have hoped for better at this stage of her term.

From a shaky start with ministers falling like ninepins last year , to the faltering economy this year, things could have been far worse. Had she mishandled the corruption scandals of last year, or the Mensalão (big monthly allowance) Congress vote-buying scam presently making its way through the courts, or tried to bully her coalition partners, she might now be facing a very different scenario. Read more

There were a few nerves jangling at Mexico’s stock exchange last week. One well-publicised reason had to do with the public offering of Santander Mexico, the local arm of the Spanish bank.

The 25 per cent of the company offered to investors raised more than US$4.1bn and was the largest public offering in the history of the exchange, known by its Spanish acronym of BMV. The international portion of the offering, carried out in New York, was over-subscribed five times on an otherwise gloomy day for global stocks. Read more

With elections in Venezuela just around the corner, Hugo Chávez is pulling out all the stops. Grand new projects are being unveiled practically every day in the run-up to the poll on Sunday to remind people why they should vote for him, and not the other guy – who, he tells us, is a “fascist” and a “loser”.

What does it matter if the project itself isn’t actually ready, as is the case with BusCaracas, an urban transport system for the capital city which is being inaugurated with great fanfare todayRead more

Is there life after debt?

For La Polar, Chile’s fourth-biggest retailer, the answer is yes. Last June, it was reeling from fraud scandal after admitting to having restructured about $1bn of overdue credit without informing the 400,000 customers involved.

The scandal, which shocked Chile’s solid retail sector, wiped $1bn off the company’s market value. With debts of $1bn, the 90-year-old business was staring at the prospect of bankruptcy.

Yet this week, La Polar has pulled off an ambitious capital increase. By the October 2 deadline, more than 90 per cent of the targeted $250m had been raisedRead more

Remittances to developing countries recovered quickly from the fall of Lehman Brothers and are comfortably back above pre-crisis levels. The World Bank, among others, expects them to keep rising through the current crisis, as flows from other sources become less reliable.

Now, as industry experts explain to beyondbrics, the twin forces of regulation and technology are reshaping the remittances industry. Read more

Cheaper prices might please customers, but they can stunt investment. Many African governments keep power tariffs artificially cheap, and far from helping domestic business, this results in under-investment in the power sector.

The result is regular shortfalls, load shedding and blackouts. Businesses are forced to rely on private generators which cost about four times as much as a reasonable tariff might. But Kenya is showing the way forward, according to industry insiders. Read more

Platinum, then gold, then transport, now iron ore. Strikes in South Africa just keep on spreading.

The latest miner to be affected is Kumba Iron Ore, which is majority owned by Anglo American. On Wednesday 300 miners started a wildcat strike at the company’s Sishen mine in the Northern Cape. While it’s a small proportion of the total workforce, it’s a worry, and the share price shows it. Read more

Flights remain grounded at Kingfisher Airlines, owned by Indian liquor baron Vijay Mallya. Lex’s Vincent Boland and Julia Grindell discuss what has gone wrong and the challenges in India’s aviation market.

The Hungarian government has a record of annoying business people with surprise policy changes, in everything from telecoms to banking.

The latest victims are the country’s one-arm bandit operators: the government on Monday announced it was banning slot machines – and before you could shout “jackpot,” the law was passed via a fast-track procedure, which the companies involved say is “threatening 40,000 job dismissals from next Monday.” Read more

This week, the Polish finance minister Jacek Rostowski spoke to the FT’s Jan Cienski about the economy, the eurozone, and avoiding catastrophe. Here is the transcript: Read more

Jacek Rostowski, Polish finance minister, Sept 2011Poland’s opposition parties look at the country’s slowing growth and see a possible opening for attacking the government of Donald Tusk, in power since 2007 – as attested by a large street protest in Warsaw over the weekend which drew about 50,000.

But the window for such criticism may be small, if the slowdown proves to be short-lived – at least that’s the word from Jacek Rostowski, the finance minister. Speaking to beyondbrics earlier this week, Rostowski predicts that the economy could return to more robust growth by late 2013. Read more

Reliance Industries plans on investing upwards of $20bn in its petrochemicals, refining, retail and telecoms businesses over the next few years. But on oil and gas exploration – one of its most important businesses – it may not spend a penny.

The reason? In a word, Delhi. The government has not approved a single oil and gas project for the company – including additional capex at the blooming boondoggle that is the KG-D6 natural gas field co-owned with BP – and it maintains a tight hold on the price at which companies are allowed to sell natural gas. Read more

The Bank of Uganda slashed 200 basis points from the benchmark interest rate on Tuesday, bringing it down to 13 per cent. This is the seventh rate cut this year, leading to a cumulative reduction of 10 percentage points in the central bank rate since February.

In a statement the bank explained the monetary easing as the result of disinflationary momentum; headline inflation fell from 11.9 per cent year-on-year in August to 5.4 per cent in September. Read more

* Petrobras plans $6bn Gulf of Mexico sale

* PGE restarts biggest investment to build $3bn power plant

* S.Africa wildcat mining strikes spread to iron sector

* Slowdown reduces thirst for Scotch Read more

Since a spate of wildcat strikes erupted across South Africa, the headlines have been damning and the image of Africa’s most developed economy has been severely tarnished. But, so far, the country’s equity and bond markets have managed to buck the trend of negativity.

In the weeks since the unrest broke out in the country’s rich platinum belt and spread to gold, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange has hit new highs in rand terms and is up by over 5 per cent since August 1. Read more