Daily Archives: Oct 17, 2012

Has Argentine embarked on the controversial course towards pesification of its economy?

Or is an invitation by Jorge Capitanich, the governor of the province of Chaco, for his fellow governors to follow his lead and swap dollar debt into pesos a one-off? Read more

The chief executive of Rosneft will on Thursday finalise a deal with BP that will turn the Russian national champion into the world’s largest publicly traded crude oil producer.

Igor Sechin, who flew in to London from Moscow on Tuesday, is looking to acquire BP’s 50 per cent stake in its troubled Russian joint venture TNK-BP in a cash-and-shares deal worth around $28bn, according to a person familiar with the matter. It would be $15bn-$20bn in cash plus a stake of between 10 and 20 per cent in Rosneft, the person said.

 Read more

The base metals market is waiting for the leadership change in China and the outcome of the US presidential election, according to Andrew Michelmore, chief executive of MMG, the international miner majority owned by China Minmetals Corporation.

It’s a tough time to be a pulp producer – something at which South America excels: the eurozone crisis sent demand for paper plummeting in the second half of 2011 and things look set to remain bleak for a while with three major new projects due to come onstream in Brazil and Uruguay in the next year boosting supply further.

So Latin American companies – Brazil’s Fibria is the world’s biggest pulp producer and Chile’s Arauco and CMPC are also in the top five, with Brazil’s Suzano about seventh – would have to be mad to think of unleashing yet more capacity on a depressed market, wouldn’t they? Maybe not. Read more

Industries Qatar’s decision last month to increase the amount of shares foreigners can buy in it is raising speculation that more Doha-listed companies will follow the lead of the petrochemicals maker.

The company raised its foreign ownership limit in September to 12.25 per cent from 7.5 per cent, it said in a statement on Sunday, as it released its earnings results. The shares rallied strongly the following day and were the most traded on the Doha stock market.

 Read more

Forget sovereign debt for a moment. This is turning into the year of sovereign wealth, with Angola becoming the latest African country to create a fund to invest some of the proceeds of growing oil riches.

The sovereign wealth fund – known as Fundo Soberano de Angola (FSDEA) – will start with $5bn in assets, and look to invest primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. Angola joins Nigeria and Tanzania in launching or planning to launch a SWF in 2012. Read more

Some might say it was a good day for Saudi Basic Industries Corp, the world’s biggest petrochemicals maker.

When it announced on Wednesday that third quarter net profits fell 23 per cent from a year ago its share price in Saudi Arabia rose 1.4 per cent. Clearly, the numbers weren’t as bad as had been expected in the light of plunging world prices for petrochemicals. Read more

Hyundai Heavy Industries has won a $3.2bn contract from Saudi Electricity Company to build an oil-fired thermal power plant in Jeddah by 2017.

The turnkey project is important for both parties. Hyundai Heavy needs to make up for business lost in other sectors, notably shipping, and in other regions in the global economic downturn. And Saudi Arabia is using its oil revenues to boost the economy in an attempt to stave off any risk of the social unrest in surrounding Arab states. Read more

Hungary has seen a flurry of tax and legal changes in the past two years but the indications are “we are past the worst”, Eszter Gyuricsku of Deloitte, the professional services firm, told business people gathered in Budapest on Wednesday.

Unofrtunately for Gyuricsku, speaking at a seminar designed to champion Hungary as a location for shared service offices, barely 500m away Gyorgy Matolcsy, Hungary’s economy minister, was announcing that Hungary would not, after all, halve a special bank tax next year as planned and would, instead, double a financial transaction tax from 0.1 to 0.2 per cent on all bank transactions from January 1. Read more

Shares in JSW Steel closed down 2.76 per cent on Wednesday on news that India’s Central Bureau of Investigation had named the company’s chairman, along with other executives, among people accused of involvement in illegal iron ore mining that precipitated a ban on mining in the southern state of Karnataka.

The allegations relate to the political-business nexus that’s all too familiar to Indians, especially after a recent spate of graft scandal revelations, and involved the usual allegations of purchasing land at inflated prices, bribery and various forms of illicit political donations. Read more

The outline agreement by BP’s billionaire partners in TNK-BP to sell their stake to Rosneft for about $28bn is a very big deal indeed – Russia’s largest to date by value.

But it seems likely to pave the way for an even bigger one: Rosneft taking control of the whole of the joint venture by buying out BP’s 50 per cent stake too. Read more

By Zoltán Cséfalvay of Hungary’s economy ministry

Over the past fortnight, Budapest has been abuzz with talk about research and innovation.

The second annual international, high-level Conference on Cyberspace took place in the Hungarian capital at the beginning of October, focusing on the increasingly critical issue of digital security. From the host country, Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian prime minister, stressed the value of cyberspace as a ‘world without walls’, where freedom could flourish. Read more

European banks are scrambling to issue rouble-denominated bonds as they take advantage of moves to liberalise Russian capital markets as well as growing demand from domestic investors for unsecured bank debt, write Mary Watkins and Philip Stafford on FT.com.

HSBC’s Russian arm has applied to the Central Bank of Russia to issue the bank’s first rouble-denominated bonds. The programme would allow the bank to issue a maximum of Rbs10bn ($324m) in two tranches. Read more

Over the past five years, China has spent millions of dollars to promote its image overseas. The state news agency has rented offices in Times Square in New York and boosted the budget for English-language programming. Around the world there are nearly 400 Confucius Institutes teaching Chinese compared with none a decade ago. And last year when president Hu Jintao visited the US, China even ran a video ad in Times Square featuring famous Chinese.

Soft power, in other words, is something Beijing takes seriously. So as the popularity of South Korea’s quirky music video “Gangnam Style” soars around the world, its success has been met in China with a mixture of awe, envy, and soul-searching. Read more

“Croatia is clearly not yet ready for membership.” Not the message that Zagreb wanted to hear as it prepares for EU accession, particularly from a figure as senior as the speaker of the German parliament.

The statement by Bundestag speaker Norbert Lammert (pictured) , made in an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, comes at an unfortunate time, as Croatia faces growing scepticism over its EU membership bid and a Slovenian threat to block the process altogether. But despite the flak, Croatia still looks set to join the EU on July 1 2013 as planned. Read more

The shadowy world of Chinese capital flows has receded a little further into the dark.

Tracking speculative flows into and out of China has never been an easy task but new developments in the country’s markets have made it even more complicated. In the ensuing confusion, it can look as though Chinese investors are in a state of panic, rushing to the exit with suitcases full of cash. The reality is a little bit duller.

Health warning: We are about to dive into a lot of numbers and wonkery.

 Read more

scotchDiageo, the drinks producer behind brands such as Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker, is booming in emerging markets. Q1 sales growth figures, reported on Wednesday, show an expansion of 16 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 11 per cent in Africa. Read more

* Indonesia probes claims over Bumi unit

* CWC set to offload Macau group stake

* Costa seeks expansion in China

* China slowdown drags Coca-Cola sales Read more

Shares in BP jumped nearly 3 per cent on Wednesday on a report that its oligarch partners in TNK-BP, its troubled Russian joint venture, have agreed to sell out to state-run Rosneft.

Sky News reported that AAR, the three oligarchs’ consortium company, had agreed a $28bn deal for their half of the venture. The FT confirmed the story and said the British company could now find itself in a joint venture with Rosneft – or it too could sell out to Rosneft. But the deal isn’t final – even this may not be the last act of this long and tortuous dramaRead more

The debacle at Warsaw’s National stadium – where a Poland-England match had to be scrubbed on Tuesday night because the brand new ground failed to close its roof despite a deluge of rain – tested the talents of Polish and English Facebook and Twitter jokers.

The most popular photo shared online seemed to be a black-and-white one of men in flippers trying to kick a ball, but the football fiasco points to a deeper problem with Polish infrastructure. Read more