Daily Archives: Dec 11, 2012

Ahead of Christmas, some people in the Andes and Europe are already cheering – probably with whisky. And they believe they have good reasons to do so after the European Parliament finally approved free trade deals with Colombia, Peru (and six Central American nations) on Tuesday.

“The already growing market for Scotch Whisky in Latin America receives a further boost today with the signing of two agreements to create fairer market conditions,” said the Scotch Whisky Association in a note. Read more >>

Looking for a new way to save? Nationalised energy company YPF wants to sell Argentines more than petrol and diesel. Now it wants to sell them bonds, too.

The company, seized from Spain’s Repsol in April, has been tapping the local capital market heavily in recent months. The new peso bond will be the first to specifically target small, retail investors. (In past issues, YPF has targeted institutional investors in pesos or in bonds issued in pesos but linked to the dollar.) Read more >>

Photo: Bloomberg

Commonsense would suggest that TNK-BP, in the process of being swallowed up by Rosneft, would be collaborating with Russia’s state oil company by now.

Instead the Anglo-Russian oil major went head to head with Rosneft at the auction of a big east Siberian oil field last month and came out on top. Read more >>

After the strikes, the fall out. The wildcat protests and stoppages by South African mine workers have had various effects, including the departure of one chief executive, the spin-off of its older mines by Gold Fields, and a rapid fall in production.

It seems the industry is caught in a spiral of higher wages, lower profits, lower production and falling numbers of mining jobs. But do the numbers bear that out? Chart of the week takes a look. Read more >>

There could hardly be a more poignant or devastating reminder of divisive instability that has spread throughout the Horn of Africa.

On Monday, I moderated a discussion panel on how arts and literature can help rebuild society in the Horn of Africa. But I shouldn’t have been there at all. Read more >>

Several key figures are out for South Africa in October on Tuesday and they paint a mixed picture. After several iffy bits of recent economic news, retail sales slowed but were still positive, manufacturing was up a bit – but mining was hit hard again, with gold production down a whopping 45 per cent year on year.

Gold miners stocks fell in response, with Gold Fields down 1.63 per cent and AngloGold Ashanti down 1.3 per cent on Tuesday, although Harmony was up just over 1 per cent. Read more >>

Fresh indications that all is not well with India’s economy: exports fell and imports rose in November, delivering yet another big trade deficit. And it’s likely to get worse before it gets better – not a great outlook for the currency or for equities. Read more >>

Students pour sugar into a coffee, as they learn about western diet in Chinese vocational schoolA mysterious white substance is being smuggled over the border from Vietnam to China in growing quantities.

But it is not quite as illicit as you might think. Sugar, the sweetener added to everything from mooncakes to ketchup, is increasingly in demand in China due to urbanization, changing diets and rising incomes. Read more >>

* Diageo ends talks with Cuervo tequila maker

* Xi stokes economic reform hopes in China

* South Korean IPOs: on hold Read more >>

As China grows in economic and political influence, Beijing is determined to turn the renminbi into an international force that might one day rival the US dollar as the world’s most important currency. The FT’s Simon Rabinovitch examines the motives and methods of the internationalisation of the RMB.

It has been a slow year for initial public offerings in South Korea. Many big companies have cancelled IPO plans as they fail to get satisfactory valuations during a stock market slump and the global economic slowdown.

South Korean companies raised only Won987bn ($917m) through IPOs in the first 11 months of this year, the least since 2008 and only a quarter of the total raised last year, according to Bloomberg. Read more >>

Tuesday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: the Syrian endgame begins; Russian authoritarianism signals fragility; and Mexico – no longer a security-problem-with-an-economy. Plus: AIG sells its aircraft leasing arm to a Chinese-led group; there are three, not two, parties in Egypt’s dispute; and India’s disinvestment program explained. Read more >>

By Primož Cencelj of KD Funds, Ljubljana

News clips broadcast around the world in the past fortnight of police and protesters clashing violently on the streets of Slovenia do not fit well with either the image nor the usual reality of this small Alpine state, the only fragment of former Yugoslavia (so far) to become a member of the European Union. Read more >>

By Paul Gillis of Peking University

The SEC last week charged the Chinese affiliates of Ernst & Young, PwC, KPMG, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and BDO with violating US securities law after the five firms allegedly refused to turn over audit work papers related to nine Chinese companies that are being investigated for potential accounting fraud.

But the accounting firms may not have the most to worry about. The action could lead to Chinese companies being kicked off US stock exchanges. Read more >>

A woman pulls her daughter behind her in a small raft as she walks along a flooded street, near to the overflowing Chao Phraya river on November 1, 2011 in Bangkok, Thailand.For the life insurance industry, there’s nothing quite like a national near-death experience to boost the balance sheet, as Thailand shows.

The country’s number two life insurer, Thai Life, is pondering the sale of a 20 per cent stake, which some analysts predict would fetch $500m, valuing the company at $2.5bn. If successful, it will be Thailand’s third big insurance deal this year after Prudential acquired Thanachart Life Insurance and Hong Kong based investor Richard Li bought ING Thailand. Investors should not be surprised if the trend continues. Read more >>