Daily Archives: Feb 6, 2013

Who invented the airplane? Many argue it was actually Alberto Santos-Dumont, a pioneer aviator from the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.

Now it is claimed that Brazil also invented the iPhone before the US. Read more

The new kid on the cement block, Cemex Latam Holdings, made its quarterly earnings debut to warm applause.

The South and Central American offshoot of Mexico’s Cemex that was floated late last year on the Bogotá exchange reported sales in last year’s fourth-quarter of $404m, a 23 per cent year-on-year increase. Read more

King Canute commanding the waves to go back to Bosham

Inflation-hit Argentina has just agreed a new round of price freezes with major supermarkets, neighbourhood stores and white goods retailers until April 1.

Fine… except that even Cristina Fernández, the president, is sceptical that such accords actually work and even some of the participants see it as a futile, Canute-like exercise. Read more

Trying to carve out a Bolivian mining industry purely on his own terms is proving tricky for Bolivia’s leftwing President Evo Morales.

Recently, he was forced to give out some disappointing numbers about the performance of the Colquiri mine, which the government took over from London-listed commodities giant Glencore in June of last year, during a dispute between rival mining unions. Read more

A fall in Egyptian foreign exchange reserves in January might have been expected, but not this big. The drop of $1.4bn to a 15-year low of $13.6bn, announced by the central bank late on Tuesday, pushes the country closer to economic collapse.

The December foreign exchange reserve levels of $15bn were considered sufficient to cover only three months of imports – which the central bank in December called “minimum and critical levels” – and if it wasn’t already, the necessity of securing additional foreign assistance is now urgent. Read more

On Thursday, the Indian government will sell off 783m shares in National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), a 9.5 per cent stake.

A floor price of Rs145 per share has been announced, which is a discount over the current market price. But is this a good investment? And where does it leave the government’s disinvestment plan? Read more

The link between one of the world’s most powerful corporate leaders and a small bank in Ethiopia might not be immediately obvious. In this case, it’s an IBM server, which powers Awash International Bank. But soon it could be a lot more if Ginni Rometty (pictured) has anything to do with it.

Rometty, IBM’s chief executive, is spending a week in Africa with her top 15 executives. It’s the first time so many of them have been in one place outside New York. It’s also the first time IBM has convened its chief executives from all over the continent. Read more

Poland’s central bank cut interest rates for the fourth month in a row on Wednesday, dropping the benchmark rate 25 basis points to 3.75 per cent a year in an effort to revive a rapidly slowing economy.

It came as the Czech National Bank kept its ultra-low rate of 0.05 per cent in place, with growing speculation that the Czechs will start to intervene on foreign currency markets to lower the koruna in a bid to boost the economyRead more

The forint has got the wobbles again. A report that Hungary’s economy minister Gyorgy Matolcsy had been picked to succeed central bank governor Andras Simor, who steps down on March 6, sent the HUF tumbling by as much as 3 per cent against the euro on Tuesday.

A swift denial had the currency recovering rapidly and on Wednesday it was flat in nervous trading. But it’s clear that Matolcsy’s names scares investors – and even though he is the bookies’ favourite, his nomination isn’t yet priced into the market. Read more

* Egypt’s foreign currency reserves shrivel

* Tunisian opposition leader assassinated

* France plans Mali withdrawal from March Read more

SABMiller‘s latest Chinese acquisition has had a decidely mixed reception in the stock market.

The global brewer and its Chinese partner China Resources Enterprise (CRE) announced on Wednesday that they would pay Rmb5.38bn ($846m) for the beer operations of Kingway Brewery Holdings, a regional producer based in wealthy Guangdong province.

This is small beer for SABMiller and its shares barely moved on Thursday. But in Hong Kong, CRE fell 3 per cent while Kingway soared 16 per cent before closing 7 per cent higher. Read more

Wednesday’s picks from the beyondbrics team; Peru seeks to challenge Chile’s copper supremacy; Beijing gets serious about inequality; Sinopec acts like a western oil major; the latest on the Argentinian bond holdout saga; rebuilding the political system is the next challenge in Mali; plus, how football fans become the Muslim Brotherhood’s worst nightmare. Read more

The escalating row over some uninhabited islands in the East China Sea has already deeply hurt economic ties between Japan and China. As military and political tensions have risen, Japanese automakers have seen China sales plummet, business at Japanese restaurants and Japanese-owned department stores in China has suffered and travel in both directions is down.

But at least one group is trying to benefit from the dispute: Chinese fireworks makers, who are peddling colourful explosives on an anti-Japanese theme. Read more

If you believe in precedent, the Chinese Year of the Snake which begins this weekend could be very bad for your portfolio.

As broker CLSA says in a report, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index has dropped in four out of the five last Snake years. Worse, Snake years are often marked by shocks, such as the Russian revolution (1917), the Great Depression (1929) and the Twin Towers attack (2001).

But brokers don’t make their living by being gloomy. So CLSA finds reasons why 2013-14 will be different: it’s all down to the basic energies. Read more

South Korea’s big retail chains have been feeling gloomy in recent months, as low consumer confidence has squeezed their margins. And growing political pressure is giving them further cause for concern.

On Tuesday, the National Commission for Corporate Partnership, a panel that advises the government on business policy, recommended that companies with more than Won20bn in sales should not enter retail sectors including used cars, magazines, flowers, bicycles, or most sorts of restaurants. Read more

* China aims weapons at Japanese warship

* Argentina refuses Vale’s call for tax breaks

* SABMiller seeks China fillip with Kingway Read more

January was a scary month for China’s machinery makers and their investors. First, Zoomlion was accused by a “concerned investor” of booking phantom sales, then Caterpillar accused its own recently-acquired Chinese subsidiary of accounting misconduct and took a $580m write down on the value of the deal.

Time for a ghostbusting analyst to bring some rational rigour to the sector. Read more

Brazilian real notesPresident Dilma Rousseff encouraged markets last year when she decided to invite private sector investors to participate in the overhaul of the nation’s airports.

There was further applause when she announced subsequent infrastructure packages offering companies the chance to participate in concessions to build and operate highways, railways and airportsRead more