Jamaica might be best known for its sunny beaches, reggae music and world class athletes such as Usain Bolt. But this Caribbean island nation of 2.9m is increasingly garnering international attention for something less boast-worthy : its crippling debt crisis.
In a television address late Monday, the country’s prime minister Portia Simpson Miller said the government will launch a restructuring of its local debt – its second in three years – as it looks to stave off a “serious economic crisis” and secure a credit line from the IMF. Read more
Absa Group, the Barclays-owned South African bank, has promised to tread carefully in South Africa’s booming unsecured lending market as it announced an unexpected 9 per cent decline in full-year earnings on Tuesday.
While the drop in earnings was caused by mortgage impairments and bad property loans, the Johannesburg-based bank also said in its 2012 results that it had seen “significant losses in market share” for personal loans, but was “cautious of an aggressive expansion” to win it back. Read more
South African packaging company Nampak is to invest R1.6bn in its bottle and can production, in an ambitious move to grab a bigger chunk of the bottling market from bottling rival Consol and to capitalise on growth in the beverage sector. Read more
Uncertainty about the global economic recovery has left many investors wondering what direction the gold market will take in 2013. Russian gold miners are betting that the bad economic times will continue to roll, boosting the demand for the precious metal. Read more
Olam, the Asian agribusiness, is looking to test out an ambitious diversification plan in Africa. In a way, it shouldn’t be a surprise – Olam started in Africa as part of an Indian conglomerate producing cotton for Nigerian markets, before it began exporting agri-commodities, and eventually morphing into a fully fledged rubber-to-cashews business listed in Singapore.
It is in Africa where the company is looking to branch out into fertiliser plants, plantations and consumer goods, according to Ranveer Chauhan, managing director and regional head for Olam in Africa. Read more
Poland’s former telephone monopoly, TPSA, has long been a reliable money-spinner for its owners at France Telecom. But awful results for last year released on Tuesday sent the share price plummeting by more than 30 per cent in early trading on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. Read more
The cash-strapped Indian government’s plans to sell a chunk of the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) in the next few weeks as part of a fund-raising disposal of state-owned assets is running into headwinds.
The country’s biggest steelmaker, where New Delhi holds an 86-per-cent stake, on Tuesday posted disappointing quarterly results, increasing expectations that the government will have to offer the shares at a chunky discount – or delay the offering. Read more
The global mining industry could hardly be accused of being introspective. It’s a tough business, all about grade, costs and prices. Everything else is secondary. Nowhere has this attitude been more apparent in the past than at the annual Africa Mining Indaba in Cape Town.
This year, the obligations of the industry as a development partner were front and centre in the main auditorium; the debate was as much about people and politics as it was about mining. The agenda has clearly changed. Read more
* G7 seeks to defuse currency tensions
* India’s industrial output falls
* Hungary gears up for bond issue
* S Korea investors shrug off N Korea’s atomic blast Read more
After months of speculation Hungary is at last preparing to issue its first sovereign foreign currency bond in nearly two years, setting aside any chance that Budapest will pursue support from the International Monetary Fund any time soon.
The government, it seems, will grab the chance to stuff its coffers before campaigning begins for next year’s election, unfettered by budgetary constraints that might otherwise have been imposed by the European Union or the IMF. Read more
By Ivan Tchakarov of Renaissance Capital
Despite the chorus of complaint about high interest rates from president Vladimir Putin down, The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) on Tuesday stuck to its guns and left borrowing costs unchanged.
Courage under pressure? Perhaps. The bank’s made no secret about its concerns over inflation, notwithstanding the slowdown in GDP growth. But could the decision have as much to do with politics as economics? After all, Putin is due to nominate a new central bank governor next month. Read more
Tuesday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: currency war will be the hot topic at the Moscow G20 meeting, but should we even be using that phrase? Chinese companies seek to innovate rather than copy; a potential challenger to the ANC’s political dominance; high hopes for the Istanbul Stock Exchange; plus, a currency union for China and Hong Kong – could it happen? Read more
Like the boy who cried “wolf”, it seems North Korea is not getting much attention – at least from investors – by setting off nuclear explosions. The world’s only hereditary Communist dictatorship carried out its third nuclear test on Tuesday to worldwide diplomatic outrage but also to blank stares of indifference from South Korea’s financial markets. Read more
A glut of new investment products appeared in India over the weekend, designed to bring first-time retail investors into the country’s stock markets with a generous tax break. Good news, surely? Well, characteristically for India’s asset management industry, the truth is more complicated than it needs to be. Read more
India’s industrial production fell in December, disappointing analysts who were expecting a recovery. This is the sixth month of negative growth in the past nine months. Read more
* Fears of fresh N Korean nuclear test
* Russia eyes lifting grain import duties
* Kenya holds its first presidential debate Read more
The Philippines appears to be on a trajectory of rapid growth, bolstered by expectations it will finally get an investment-grade credit rating this year and attract more foreign investments. But investors already doing business in the country worry that the economy’s new-found vigor could be dissipated by sluggish decision-making in government. Read more
Will the next pope come from the developing world?
The bookies seem to think the odds are good. Within hours of Pope Benedict XVI’s shock abdication, major bookmakers started placing odds on his successor, with cardinals from Ghana and Nigeria among the early favourites. Read more