Daily Archives: Oct 26, 2012

Carlos Slim has often been described as having a Midas touch but his very own gold mining company, Minera Frisco, didn’t make much money in the third quarter from producing the yellow metal.

Frisco did make a net profit of $89m, up from a loss that was almost twice as big a year earlier. But the net result would have been entirely flat had it not been for gains from financial instruments such as futures. Read more

Mexichem, the chemical industry conglomerate, on Friday reported a third-quarter net profit of $99m on Friday, up from $2.8m in the same period of last year, as earnings were buoyed by a wave of acquisitions.

And the buying spree shows no signs of halting. Read more

It is quite a usual picture when protestors burn the flag of this or that country as an expression of their political or religious anger. It is quite an unusual picture, however, when a local councilman burns up the flag of a mobile phone operator outside the city council.

The mobile operator in question is Claro, a unit of Carlos Slim’s América Móvil. And the flag burning underscores the simmering resentment over Claro’s 60 per cent lock over local market. Read more

Uruguay has announced price controls on a host of supermarket staples to try to rein in inflation. That’s the kind of thing neighbouring Argentina often does.

But spot the difference. Uruguay is actually concerned about inflation, for one thing. Read more

Another week, another iteration to Russia’s constantly-evolving privatisation programme.

At a cabinet meeting on Thursday, Russia’s economy minister announced that the government would now aim to raise Rb260bn ($8bn) to Rb270bn next year with the sale of up to 5 per cent of Russian Railways, 25.5 per cent of lender VTB and 7 per cent of diamond miner Alrosa. Read more

Pre-election machinations may be behind a decision by Bulgaria’s parliament this week to hold a referendum on a nuclear power plant.

The referendum, to be held in January, follows the government’s March decision to cancel the development of the Danube-side Belene nuclear power plant (NPP), in which Bulgaria had already invested 1.4bn levs ($925m), with one reactor already completed. Read more

Skyfall star Daniel Craig and director Sam Mendes, Istanbul

Istanbul is in many ways the perfect city for James Bond. Split between two continents by one of the world’s busiest waterways, the city buzzed with spies in the Cold War. It remains full of intrigue today, a centre of often secretive efforts against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

So it is entirely natural that the city features in Skyfall, the well reviewed new Bond film, now opening across the world. Indeed, this is the third time 007 has come to Istanbul, after its previous appearances in From Russia with Love in 1963 and The World is Not Enough in 1999. Read more

Photo: Bloomberg

For BP and its Soviet-born billionaire partners in TNK-BP, Rosneft’s mega deal to buy 100 per cent of the Russian oil venture is an enormous $55bn payday on an investment that has already paid out $38bn in dividends.

But minority investors in the main holding of TNK-BP risk being caught stranded – and indeed squashed – in the biggest deal in Russian corporate history, a state of affairs that investors say speaks volumes about the sorry state of Russia’s investment climate. Read more

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski (R) with Czech counterpart Vaclav Klaus

If the IMF wants hard proof that its previous focus on austerity was a mistake, all it has to do is take a look at central Europe’s two leading economies – Poland and the Czech Republic. Read more

Chinese automakers may have lost market share precipitately in their home market for the last couple of years – but it seems their profitability and their quality hasn’t suffered the same sad fate.

Lin Huaibin, manager greater China sales forecasting for IHS Automotive, told a conference in Shanghai on Friday that Chinese automakers are on the whole much more profitable – and their products more reliable – than their (mostly foreign) naysayers might imagine. Read more

By Gwen Robinson and Jake Maxwell Watts

Its fledgling – and tiny – stock market may only have two companies listed, the population barely amounts to 6.5m and the economy is invariably described as “sleepy”. But Laos is poised to realise a 15-year effort to join the World Trade Organisation, amid robust economic growth of 8 to 9 per cent annually over the last few years and a surge in exports and importsRead more

The plight of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban for publicly demanding the right of women to be educated, has shone a global spotlight on the failings in the country’s social development. Read more

* Cynthia Carroll resigns at Anglo American

* Bo Xilai stripped of official position

* Billions in hidden riches for family of Chinese leader Read more

Walmart Stores, the retailer that arguably took Chinese goods into most American homes, might prove to be among the early indicators that sales to China’s vast middle class are starting to slow.

That is one way to understand the company’s announcement in Beijing on Thursday that it would slow the rate of its new store expansion to 100 stores over three years – down from the 50 to 60 stores a year the American retailer was opening rapidly in China. Read more

If further proof were needed that India’s so-called “demographic dividend” isn’t turning out quite as planned, a new Gallup survey shows that just 26 per cent of working age Indians held full-time jobs in the first half of 2012.

The survey pours more water on the idea that India’s young population will be a panacea for its economic woes. An estimated 300m young Indians are expected to join the workforce by 2025, but at the current pace, there simply won’t be enough jobs in the country to absorb them. Read more

Friday’s picks from the BB team: Timbuktu’s only visitors are Islamic militant vandals; pre-election cheer in Ukraine; and what better model than Turkey for the emerging Arab democracies? Plus: the Jiabao family millions; state owned entropies in China; and secret reading in Sudan. Read more

PC-makers hit by concerns

Tech has had a rough week, between the worries surfacing about Microsoft’s Windows 8 and doubts about Apple’s newly unveiled iPad mini and disappointing second quarter results.

Those worries have taken their toll on supply chain companies and computer makers in Taiwan, for whom the fourth quarter is not shaping up to be the holiday-led recovery many hoped for.

PC-maker Acer has been having the roughest week, down 13.9 per cent since Monday, when it reported an 11 per cent fall in revenue. It fell again on Friday, a day after it held its investors conference and said it was uncertain how quickly consumers would start buying the new touch-enabled devices launched with Windows 8. Read more

Thailand last week completed a long-awaited auction for 3G mobile data spectrum amid widespread public criticism. But wiser players in the telco market know that now is not the time to complain loudly – mainly because there are far richer prizes in store. Read more

At struggling Kingfisher Airlines, staff haven’t been paid for seven months. Now it seems the airline’s woes are finally hitting the pocketbook of its owner, billionaire liquor baron and self-styled ‘king of the good times’, Vijay Mallya. Actually, make that “former” billionaire.

Mallya has slipped from 49th to 73rd place on Forbes magazine’s annual India’s Richest list, as his net worth fell from $1.1bn to $800m. Read more

* Billions in hidden riches for family of Chinese leader

* Putin seeks distance from TNK-BP deal

* Chinese groups flock to shale gas projects Read more