Daily Archives: Dec 19, 2012

If you think you’ve had a bad day, spare a thought for poor old Vale.

The Brazilian mining giant on Wednesday announced tax losses of nearly R$1bn ($483m) relating to cases in Brazil and Switzerland.

Early in the morning, Vale said it had settled a dispute with the Swiss authorities over what it called “differences in interpretation” of the federal tax breaks granted to Vale’s international business in 2006. While the company had already set aside $37m for the Swiss claim, it said it would now have to pay almost six times that amount – 212m Swiss francs ($232m). Read more

Photo: Bloomberg

Bancolombia, the Andean country’s biggest individual bank, is still thinking big.

Its Panamanian affiliate has reached a deal to buy a 40 per cent stake in Grupo Financiero Agromercantil, or GFA, owner several banking and financial institutions in Guatemala.

“The negotiation of the Grupo Financiero Agromercantil is essential to continue our international growth plan. The Central American financial sector has evolved significantly in recent years,” said Carlos Raúl Yepes, Bancolombia’s presidentRead more

Italian energy company ERG Group is at present predominately an oil and gas operation – but like many of its competitors, it wants a bigger piece of the green energy action. Perhaps emerging Europe is the place to look?

In its €500m 2013-15 investment plans announced on Wednesday, ERG outlined a shift in priorities towards growing its wind power activities. and it is seeking expansion in the Romanian and Bulgarian markets. Both offer attractive investment opportunities thanks to state support, but how long will that last? Read more

Men speak on mobile phones at the Adjame market in Abidjan

GDP calling

GDP growth is thought to be correlated to everything from conflict risk to whiskey consumption. And the current slew of positive stories about Africa are driven, in part, by the impressive GDP statistics posted by countries across the continent.

But these numbers are poor estimations of economic development, says Morten Jerven at Simon Fraser University. His argument is not that GDP does not say much about happiness, equality, environmental sustainability. It’s a more technical point: many figures are, well, just wrong. African GDP might actually be growing faster than we think. Read more

Gulf banks are betting on Egypt despite anti-government protests continuing in several cities, writes Camilla Hall.

Hot on the heels of Qatar National Bank’s deal last week to buy Société Générale’s Egypt’s unit for $2bn, Dubai government-controlled Emirates NBD is looking to buy BNP Paribas’ Egyptian retail banking business, according to people familiar with the deal. Read more

By Bernd Braasch of the Bundesbank

The financial crisis has clearly revealed a growing emphasis on short-termism in international finance, just when the global economy needs a new financial architecture in which long-term finance and sustainability play a central role. Read more

sunset seen from near DakarRating agency Fitch is ending the year with predictions that sub-Saharan Africa will be “a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy world in 2013″. With growth expectations of above 5 per cent, the region is set to benefit from rising investor interest, and upgrades may be in order.

Among the agency’s 15 rated sub-Saharan sovereigns, nine have stable outlooks and three positive. So who are the ones to watch? Read more

For the past few months the Tehran Stock Exchange has looked like a green island surrounded by lava flows. State-run media have boasted of growth unprecedented in the bourse’s 46-year history, as the main index, the Tedpix, has leapt 45 per cent since September, sending the market capitalisation of traded companies to a run of record highs.

On that evidence, you would think the country’s economy was prospering – and not facing unprecedented sanctions and international pressure over its nuclear programme. Read more

* India steps up bank liberalisation

* South Korea’s Park seen winning tight presidential election

* Emerging stocks advance to eight-month high on growth outlook Read more

Research in Motion is set to unveil another disappointing set of quarterly results on Thursday. There’s the bad news. Anything happier to report?

Well, there’s the launch of a new BlackBerry 10 smartphone coming soon, which the company hopes will stem its falling market share in the US and UK. But the Canadian group is also looking to exploit other regions with strong growth prospects – particularly in AfricaRead more

Wednesday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: the difficulties in cleaning up central Africa’s mineral trade; the chances of 2013 being better than 2012 for India; the high price of cheap clothes from Bangaldesh; why the outcome of Romania’s recent election could lead to a new power struggle; Hollande looks to do some business with Algeria; plus, what rapid economic growth means for Thailand’s monks. Read more

Sergei Guriev, rector, NES

It’s not easy running an independent institution in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Nevertheless, one of the country’s first private university-level academies has won a worldwide reputation, with US president Barack Obama among its fans. Read more

Euh Yoon-dae

Photo: Bloomberg

Euh Yoon-dae, chairman of KB Financial Group, must be frustrated that the lender’s board rejected his plan to buy ING Groep’s life insurance unit in Korea for $1.2bn.

Euh (pictured) has been keen to acquire the insurance business to diversify KB’s business portfolio, as profits in the banking sector have suffered during a slowdown in Korea’s economy. Read more

* Asian shares rise further on expectations of US budget deal

* Chinese imports from Japan fall further

* Chávez stable despite infection

* Czech central bank debates koruna sales

* Yahoo to shut China music service

* Markets: up Read more

The World Bank’s upward revision of China’s growth prospects for 2013 ought to be unalloyed good news. The bank’s forecasters believe that China’s slowdown has “bottomed out”, basing their optimism on quarter-on-quarter growth in the third quarter of 9.1 per cent.

The bank has revised its GDP growth target for China to 8.4 per cent in 2013, up from an earlier forecast of 8.1 per cent. Read more