Daily Archives: Dec 17, 2012

a demonstration in support of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, December 15, 2012It could hardly have gone much worse for Hugo Chávez’s opponents in Venezuela’s regional elections for state governorships yesterday, almost all of which were won by “chavistas”.

The one saving grace for the opposition was that their de facto leader, Henrique Capriles, scraped a victory in Miranda state, but it doesn’t leave him sitting very comfortably if presidential elections really do have to be held again any time soon.

And that seems to be a very real possibility, given the state of Chávez’s health – even if it is also perfectly possible that he recovers. 

Photo: Bloomberg

Ecopetrol, Colombia’s state-controlled but publicly traded oil company, is still aiming high, as demonstrated by its ambitious plan to invest more than $9.5bn in 2013.

“Investments for 2013 are consistent with the company’s medium and long-term strategy and in line with the production target of 1 million clean barrels by 2015 and 1.3 million by 2020,” said Javier Gutiérrez, chief executive. 

By Marcos Troyjo of Columbia University

The timid expansion of Brazil’s GDP in the past 12 months at under 1 per cent deals a hard blow to the notion that its policy makers had devised an economic model uniting high growth with social inclusion. This sweet dream is over. It is wrong to assume that the set of policies Brazil has put in place in the past few years to boost its economy and upgrade its social data are pillars of a new development model. 

As Kenya moves towards presidential elections next spring, there is nervousness that a closely fought campaign could reignite the violence seen in 2007 and a return to the economic collapse that followed. Katrina Manson, the FT’s East Africa correspondent, reports from the country’s capital, Nairobi.

India’s biggest initial public offering for two years has proved to be a modest success, with Bharti Infratel raising around $764m from the sale of 189m shares that closed on Friday.

At Rs210 ($3.83) a share for retail investors and Rs220 for investment funds, the pricing of the company – which operates telecoms towers for Bharti Airtel, India’s largest mobile phone provider – fell at the lower end of the Rs210-240 indicative range. 

Nairobi mobiles, Oct 2012

As telecoms companies know, emerging markets are not like developed ones. Many of them have leapfrogged over the complicated business of installing landlines and gone straight to mobile telephony. A parallel trend is playing out in the use of desktop internet and the mobile web.

Chart of the week takes a look at which countries are ahead, and which are playing catch-up. 

African National Congress (ANC) delegates, December 2012The tricky beast of nationalisation is on the agenda at the ANC’s Mangaung conference, where party members are meeting to elect leaders and discuss key decisions on critical policies.

A rejection of outright nationalisation has been set out, but analysts say that the looming alternative of higher taxation is a bitter a pill to swallow for investors and the country’s struggling mining industry. 

Photo: Bloomberg

Russian transport assets have been changing hands at a fast clip as investors bet on steady growth in cargo volumes across the world’s biggest country. Interested parties are a mixed bag that includes the usual Russian suspects – natural resources producers – as well as specialized railcar operators and more diversified investment conglomerates such as tycoon Ziyavudin Magemedov’s fast growing Summa Group. The latter has just closed one of the biggest deals of the year, buying the Far East Shipping Company for an estimated $1bn. 

* Hong Kong loses IPO crown

* Indian growth: rose tinted

* Islamists set for win in Egypt poll

* Asian stocks mixed after Japan election 

Photo: Bloomberg

India’s finance ministry has issued a new and gloomier forecast for annual economic growth, predicting that gross domestic product will rise 5.7-5.9 per cent in the fiscal year to March – compared with its original forecast for the year of 7.6 per cent.

In reality, however, the new numbers published in a mid-year economic analysis for 2012-13 paint an outlook even rosier than independent economists, the International Monetary Fund and government officials have been suggesting for the past several months. 

Monday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: China’s leadership may have changed but its economic policy won’t for now; bureaucracy and security fears are reducing investor enthusiasm for Iraqi oil; a special report on the economic challenges facing emerging Europe; plus, could the decade-long Islamic separatist conflict in the Philippines be coming to an end? 

Two men stand by Korea Aerospace Research Intitute's Smart trirotor unmanned air vehicle (UAV) at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) annual show in Washington on August 16, 2011.

No buyers?

Politics matter for Korean deals. The sale of a stake in Korea Aerospace Industries, the country’s sole aircraft maker, has failed again after Korean Air withdrew.

The airline said it decided not to bid for the $1.1bn stake in KAI because of the high price tag, although it was still interested in buying the aircraft maker at a “proper” price to nurture the country’s aerospace industries as its new growth driver. 

Apple's Biggest Flagship Store In Asia Opens In Beijing, OCt 2012All mobile phonemakers know just how important China is to their fortunes. With around a billion mobile phone customers, and many poised to upgrade to smartphones, the industry is at a crucial point.

So Apple followers and investors should be cheered by the company’s announcement on Monday that it sold over 2m units of its new iPhone 5 in China, just three days after the December 14 launch. Game over? Not quite. 

Chinese shoppers are known for their love of luxury goods, but as the domestic economy continues to slow many are discovering a taste for thrift. The FT’s Patti Waldmeir looks at the changing attitudes to luxury shopping and the growth of boutiques specialising in second-hand designer goods.

Pakistani stockbrokers talk on their phones as they watch the latest share prices during a trading session at The Karachi Stock ExchangeThe decision by Pakistan’s central bank on Friday to cut its discount rate by 50 basis points to 9.5 per cent was a widely-anticipated move – a measure meant to give an impetus to new investments, and part of an easing cycle of 250 bp this year. The interest rate cuts are helped by falling inflation which is forecast to stay below 10 per cent for the financial year to June 2013, down from 12-14 per cent a year ago.

But long term watchers of Pakistan’s economic trends are eager to note that new investments have plummeted in the past four years since president Asif Ali Zardari led the country back to democracy.