Daily Archives: Jan 24, 2013

Free trade warriors: stop wasting your time on battling trade tariffs from emerging markets. Streamlining your own supply chain is what you should focus on.

That is, in short, the message of a new WEF report, Enabling Trade, released this week in Davos. Read more

It is not easy being a bank in Ecuador these days.

Not only has the combined profit of the Andean country’s private banks dropped 21 per cent last year as the government of leftwing president, Rafael Correa, tightened its grip on the sector. But elsewhere, the industry is being probed for telling customers that a bank tax bill proposed by Correa to fund welfare programmes would undermine the country’s financial system. Read more

What do El País, the Spanish newspaper, and Clarín, the Argentine media group, have in common? Both are guttersnipes, according to Cristina Fernández, Argentina’s president.

Fernández’s animosity towards Clarín is legion. Her government wants judges to reject Clarín’s protests that a three-year-old media law that would strip the market-leader of scores of licences is unconstitutional, and to apply the anti-monopoly law pronto. Read more

South Africa’s central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged on Thursday, amid growing concerns about weakness of the rand, which has this week crossed through the R9 to the US dollar level and is trading at its lowest level in nearly four years.

Down by more than 7 per cent since the end of 2012, it has weakened far more than any other major emerging market currency this year. And it may have further to go. Read more

The landmark unconventional gas deal that Ukraine signed with Royal Dutch Shell in Davos on Thursday is not just a boost to its hopes of reducing its energy dependency on Russia.

It could give a much-needed fillip to its investment climate. Read more

Anyone wanting to gauge the mood among Mexican companies right now need look no further than ABC Aerolineas, operator of Interjet, which this week told Bloomberg News it was planning an initial public offering in September.

Mexico’s second-biggest airline is in a vigorous expansion phase as it looks to cover demand from the country’s rapidly expanding middle classes, who are prospering from higher economic growth – likely close to 4 per cent last year – underpinned by Mexico’s solid macroeconomic indicators. Read more

The sales are on this month in Europe – and Mahindra Satyam wants to go shopping.

Speaking to beyondbrics in Davos, CP Gurnani, CEO of the Indian IT giant, said his company would be actively looking for M&A opportunities in Germany and France this year. “I want to make an acquisition this year,” Gurnani said, “Germany and France are on my radar.” Read more

When Cyril Ramaphosa was elected deputy president of the governing African National Congress last month his re-emergence into the top echelons of South Africa’s politics was widely welcomed.

Yet as Ramaphosa has settled into his new job, the old rifts between public and private sectors have rapidly resurfaced, laced with bellicose language. Have we enetered a new period of ANC/corporate mistrust? Read more

The BNDES, Brazil’s government-owned development bank, lent more than it set out to last year, as loan requests and loans approved reached “levels without precedent in the history of Brazil”, as the bank itself put it.

Its triumphal tone will grate with those who believe the BNDES should be shrinking, not expanding. This applies even to Luciano Coutinho, the bank’s president, who told the FT two years ago the BNDES should be “crowding in” the private sector – rather than, as it is often accused of doing, crowding it out. Read more

Last year Africa comfortably outperformed other emerging markets for the first time since the financial crisis. Stephen Bailey-Smith, head of Africa research at Standard Bank, discusses with emerging markets assistant editor Rob Minto what’s behind this strong performance, and whether it’s sustainable.

The worm is really turning for the Polish economy, with yet more terrible data released on Thursday showing that the economic slowdown is a lot more sudden and sharper than most analysts had expected just a few months ago.

Retail sales in December fell at a 2.5 per cent annual rate – far below the consensus of a 1.3 per cent increase and a sign that the Polish consumers who helped keep the economy out of recession in 2009 have firmly shut their wallets. That means a lot of Polish children had meagre pickings for presents, as shoppers were more careful than expected even during the height of the Christmas season. Read more

While many multinationals see emerging markets as the future, Nokia might prefer to look elsewhere.

The Finnish phonemaker’s full year results are, on balance, grim. Any positives that can be taken out are mainly in the US. The negatives: Asia, LatAm and, especially, China. Read more

In September, the Indian government announced a spurt of policy initiatives greeted by commentators as a return to the reformist zeal shown in the early days of prime minister Mohamed Singh’s eight years in power. This “big bang”, designed to re-ignite economic growth, was also expected to reawaken interest in Indian equities among foreign investors. But investor interest in some Indian companies actually plateaued after the package was announced, according to new research.

How should equity investors respond? Read more

* Shares mixed on diverging data

* China manufacturing expands at fastest pace in two years

* Jaguar profit warning dents Tata Motors Read more

That EM companies don’t return enough cash to investors has been a commonly-aired grumble for some time. Things could be about to change in Shanghai, though, as the regulator moves to pressure listed companies into minimum dividend payments. Read more

As the Chinese proverb says, you must cross a river one stone at a time. And, according to WEF participant John Quelch, dean of the Chinese European Institute of Business Studies (CEIBS), the time for some Chinese state owned enterprises to cross the first stone towards privatization will come in 2013.

At the core of the privatization question lies the increasing cost of social security and health care in China, Quelch told beyondbrics in Davos. Read more

When Apple’s share price gets slammed 10 per cent, its suppliers should all suffer too, shouldn’t they?

Well, not quite. On Thursday, Apple’s disappointing results led to some falls in its suppliers’ share prices. But none was hit as hard as Apple, and some even rose. Read more

Thursday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: Li and Fung is a market darling, but a closer look reveals investors doubts; the diverging pathways of Nigeria and South Africa; Caterpillar learns the hard way about accountancy in China; plus, the end of luxurious living for Brazil’s middle classes? Read more

Photo: Bloomberg

Anyone ever stuck in Bangkok traffic is probably thrilled that Thai car sales are set to fall steeply this year but, perhaps surprisingly, car executives are still bullish on the country.

Why? Not because they think they can convince locals to keep buying cars for their slow commutes but because the country, despite devastating floods in 2011, is still an attractive manufacturing base for exports to the rest of the fast-growing Asean region. Read more

By Leif Eskesen of HSBC Global Research

China’s spectacular economic rise has had profound implications for the global economy and brought significant benefits to neighbouring countries, including the Asean-5: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. However, China has also gained from their economic climb. These two-way benefits have come from surging trade, investment and tourism flows in both directions. Read more