Think of Buenos Aires’ chic Avenida Alvear and you think of a rarefied world of timeless elegance, luxury boutiques and swanky hotels. Not something altogether more tacky: a supermarket.
Yet that may be the way things are going in the Argentine capital’s toniest shopping street, which has seen an exodus of big-name brands as a result of the Argentine government’s import restriction policy.
Here are a few back-of-the-envelope things to think about as we wait for Argentina to spell out its position in its brief to the court in the holdout saga on Friday:
1. This is, remember, a case in which there could be a technical default if money Argentina uses to pay the holders of bonds it exchanged in debt swaps in 2005 and 2010 – when it restructured nearly 93 per cent of the $100bn on which it defaulted in 2001 – is diverted to pay the litigants in the New York case, led by US hedge fund Elliott.
It might be a small issue, but it’s a first: Namibia has issued a $96m bond denominated in South African rand, the first such bond issued by another sovereign.
The question is – what to call it?
Zimbabwe hosted its inaugural diamond conference on Monday and Tuesday to promote the industry, but instead has become embroiled in fresh controversy around the country’s diamond sales and tax revenues.
There are conflicting reports around diamond sales. While the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and Ministry of Mines lament that sales are being hit by sanctions, critics argue that the companies are actually making huge sales but looting is rife.
Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s president
Banks in Ecuador are bracing themselves for a new tax on the sector designed to boost welfare payments by about $150m a year.
A bill paving the way for the tax is expected before Ecuador’s congress in the next few weeks, where it is likely to be waved through by legislators hoping to be returned to congress at general elections in February.
There’s nothing like talking to private equity folk to get a positive take on a country’s problems. Take the level of English spoken in Brazil, for example. According to the UK-based emerging markets fund Actis, less than 3 per cent of Brazilians speak English fluently. For most international companies in the country, it’s just one more obstacle to doing business. For Actis, it’s a great chance to make money.
Another episode in the collapse of Interbolsa, Colombia’s biggest brokerage: local investment firm Tribeca Asset Management has decided it will not, after all, snap up its investment fund division.
Two years ago, the world of microfinance was plunged into crisis by a wave of suicides among poor people in rural India unable to pay their spiralling debts. In the worst hit areas, lenders including SKS Microfinance, India’s only listed company in the sector, were ordered to halt operations.
Not all the problems have been solved. But confidence is returning and several deals have been done this year, as the industry responds to its challenges through consolidation. The latest and by far the biggest deal is Thursday’s announcement of a $105m acquisition of Boston-based Accion Investments by Bamboo Finance of Luxembourg.
Pipeline will be laid on the bed of the Black Sea
Gazprom has been putting the final investment agreements in place for the South Stream project, clearing the way for construction of the 63bn cubic metres a year pipeline to Europe to begin next month. Never mind that demand for Russian gas in Europe is falling, or the $19bn cost of South Stream. The pipeline will help free Gazprom from dependence on Ukrainian transit pipelines and improve European energy security.
Algeria’s powerful armed forces, which already run Africa’s biggest defence budget, have requested a 14 per cent spending increase for next year, as the country prepares for security threats on its southern border.
The Algerian defence ministry, still mostly run by the ageing generals who fought for the country’s liberation from France 50 years ago, has requested a $10.3bn budget for 2012, according to the South African news outlet, DefenceWeb. So what’s on the shopping list – and from whom?
The eurozone recession is biting hard in central Europe. According to flash data published on Thursday, third-quarter GDP fell in Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic compared with the previous three months, and rose marginally in Bulgaria.
The only country of the five reporting figures to do reasonably well is – ironically – eurozone member Slovakia, which posted quarter-on-quarter growth of 2.2 per cent. With Poland, which publishes its numbers on a different cycle, also slowing, the next few months look difficult for the region.
The London-Moscow Megafon IPO is back on track, with a whopping price tag and a keenly-awaited clarification of the ownership structure.
The Russian company, which postponed its offering last month, relaunched the issue on Thursday with plans to achieve a market capitalisation of up to $14bn and raise up to $2.1bn.
And it seems the ownership structure problems, which were publicised when the IPO was delayed, have been resolved – at least to the satisfaction of the British regulators.
There comes a time when a company needs a helping hand, and Poland’s Zelmer, country’s largest maker of smaller white goods, is getting one in the form of a 608m zlotys ($187m) takeover by Germany’s Bosch-Siemens Hausgeraete.
* Xi Jinping appointed new Chinese leader
* Megafon relaunches London IPO
* Qatar backs Glencore-Xstrata deal
India’s latest 2G telecoms auction was, as beyondbrics reported, a giant flop – it raised barely a quarter of what the government had forecast, as operators balked at what they felt were sky-high reserve prices.
Ratings agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor’s have both threatened sovereign credit downgrades if India doesn’t get its fiscal house in order, and the $7.3bn the government had been planning to raise through the auction was meant to be, at least partly, a measure of its ability to close up its massive fiscal deficit – estimated to be around 5.9 per cent of GDP.