Daily Archives: Jan 9, 2013

Carlos Slim is not one to waste any time.

Having only announced three months ago that Elementia, his building materials conglomerate, would enter the cement-making business, the world’s richest man on Wednesday announced plans to scale up the unit by teaming up with Lafarge, the world’s largest cement maker. 

By Joe Leahy and Vivianne Rodrigues

After it saved the day last year for Brazil’s mournful initial public offering market by holding one of the country’s few successful listings, BTG Pactual is back with a bang in 2013 with the first major Latin American corporate bond issue. 

gavelSome of the things that Luisa Estella Morales, the president of Venezuela’s Supreme Court, came out with on Wednesday were frankly puzzling.

At times the chavista apparatchik almost looked uncomfortable when making some of the tortured arguments relating to why Hugo Chávez doesn’t have to be sworn in for his third six-year term as president on Thursday. 

By Vivianne Rodrigues and Pan Kwan Yuk

Things just keep getting better and better for Mexico.

The country’s stock market is having a record-breaking run. Manufacturing is chugging along nicely. Consumer confidence is at a five year high. And now comes the cherry on the cake – long-term borrowing costs for Mexico this week fell to an all-time low. 

It looks like another tough battle is in store for one more foreign utility owner fighting back against Bolivian nationalisation.

Red Eléctrica, the Spanish power grid operator, is to seek arbitration at ICSID, the World Bank’s investment dispute settlement agency, after Bolivian troops marched in to take over Transportadora de Electricidad, which handles about three quarters of electricity transmission in the Andrean country, in May last year. 

Even by the standards of the region, 2012 was a turbulent year for the Middle East and North Africa, with wars, uprisings and messy post-revolutionary transitions to contend with. Despite this, it was the best year since 2008 for mergers and acquisitions, with deal value growing by 33 per cent over the year according to S&P Capital IQ. 

It didn’t take long for the ghosts of the violent labour unrest South Africa endured in 2012 to resurface.

The year is not yet two weeks old, but already pictures of police in riot gear dispersing hundreds of striking workers are being beamed across South African television channels. On Wednesday, more than 1,500 farm workers in the fruit growing Western Cape Province downed their tools to demand their minimum salary – a paltry R69 a day – is raised to R150. 

Abu Dhabi is touting for multinational tenants, in the latest of a wave of similar projects launched by Gulf governments as the competition to lure foreign companies grows stiffer, writes Camilla Hall.

While the western financial crisis is causing some US and European businesses to trim their overseas operations, the Abu Dhabi development is one of about 85 so-called cluster projects battling across the Gulf to attract companies from sectors such as the media, technology and finance.

The seventh in our series of guest posts on the outlook for 2013 is by Sergey Aleksashenko of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics

President Vladimir Putin has for more than a decade run the Russian economy through a combination of resurgent state power and crony capitalism.

Driven by higher oil prices, GDP has recovered rapidly since he first took power in 2000, but economic growth has come at a high price. As the state has become stronger in the economy, the institutional framework has become weaker: trust in the courts has plunged, bureaucratic corruption has mushroomed and officials have taken to milking money even from small companies.

Buoyed by his return to the Kremlin in 2012, Putin has now pledged to improve the business climate. But can a leopard change his spots? 

The Indian government has introduced a 20 per cent import tax on certain varieties of stainless steel from China, in a move to protect local industry.

The safeguard duty will be in place for 200 days and applies to “Hot Rolled Flat Products of Stainless Steel-304 ” and all grades containing Chromium or with a Nickel content over 6 per cent. 

With Dubai’s economy recovering, the emirate is rediscovering its mojo. That brimming confidence has already seen the return of large-scale development projects. Now the government is moving on to big concepts.

The ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on Wednesday oversaw the launch of an attempt to place Dubai at the centre of the ‘global Islamic economy.’ 

As expected, the Polish central bank on Wednesday cut its benchmark interest rate for the third month in a row – taking it down 25 basis points to 4 per cent – as it attempts to boost a flagging economy.

The monetary policy council’s (MPC) move was in line with analysts’ predictions. although there had been some speculation of a reduction of as much as 50 basis points: minutes from the December meeting showed four of the MPC’s 10 members had then voted for a 50-basis-point cut, including governor Marek Belka. But this time they stuck to 25 basis points. 

After years at death’s door, China’s so-called “B” share market may finally be put out of its misery. The 20-year-old experiment is set to be wound down as companies give up on this “zombie” market.

Late last month, China International Marine Containers (CIMC) became the first company to convert its Shenzhen-listed B shares into Hong Kong-listed “H” shares.

 

While some investors have gone sour on Vietnam amid a string of financial upheavals, stock market slides and poor economic data, one group which seems more optimistic than ever is KKR – at least on Vietnam’s manufacturing sector and the market for pungent fish sauce, chilli and soya sauces, instant coffee and noodles.

The US buyout group on Tuesday agreed to invest a further $200m in one of Vietnam’s largest food companies, Masan Consumer. The deal amounts to the biggest single private equity investment in Vietnam and follows KKR’s initial investment of $159m in Masan Consumer in 2011. 

* Zoomlion denies falsely inflating sales

* Emerging stocks rise as Alcoa forecast fuels China optimism

* Police fire rubber bullets at South Africa farm strikers