Daily Archives: Feb 26, 2013

The war of the supermarket titans is back on.

Abilio Diniz, the chairman and former owner of Brazil’s biggest retailer, Pão de Açúcar, put out a statement on Tuesday accusing France’s Casino of “abusing its power” as the group’s new controller.

The latest source of contention between Diniz and Casino’s chief executive and key shareholder, Jean-Charles Naouri, is simple. Diniz plans to take on the role of chairman of Brasil Foods, the world’s largest poultry exporter, while remaining chairman of Pão de Açúcar. Naouri claims this presents a conflict of interest. Read more

Privatisations, today known by the euphemism of public private partnerships, started in Brazil in the 1990s to overcome inefficient public services. Known as the National Privatization Program (PND), the plan earned $40bn between 1990 and 2009.

But not all privatisations are the same. Some, in fact, require a lot of government backing – and footing the bill if the private sector gets its sums wrong. Read more

Mexico has turned the tide on foreign direct investment. Or, at least, so it seems. There are plenty of eddies in the rock pools.

Last year, foreign companies invested $12.7bn in Mexico, down from $21.5bn in 2011, the central bank reports. But Mexican companies invested $25.6bn overseas in 2012, more than double the $12.1bn reported in 2011. Read more

Further confirmation of the Hungarian government’s all-consuming drive for growth and jobs on Tuesday, as the central bank surprised nobody by lopping another 25 basis points off its policy lending rate, bringing it to 5.25 per cent, equalling a record low last seen in 2010.

But not everybody thought it was the right thing to do. Andras Simor, the central bank governor whose six-year term ends this week, said the vote for the move was by a “tight majority” – his usual way of indicating a 4 to 3 vote, with the external members outvoting the bank’s internal team in their quest to lower interest rates and boost growth. Read more

Tanzania is one of several African countries that have announced their intention to issue eurobonds this year, taking advantage of favourable conditions for frontier market sovereign debt.

But instead of going to market with a plain vanilla eurobond as expected, the east African country has surprised money managers with plans to issue a $500m, seven-year amortising bond this week in a private placement. Read more

Africa’s fast-growing personal care and beauty markets are prompting ambitious innovation plans from two of the sector’s giants, Unilever and L’Oreal, both looking to capture the expanding middle classes.

But you can’t just take all your western or Asian products and sell them in Africa – new, tailored ranges are needed. Read more

After buying a bank in Turkey last year it was a logical step for Sberbank to start borrowing in the Turkish currency. The Russian state savings bank raised 550m Turkish lira ($304m) in an inaugural lira-denominated eurobond this week and said it would use the proceeds to support the operations of its Denizbank Turkish subsidiary.

Sberbank placed the five year “eurolira” bond at 7.3 per cent, slightly below the 7.5 per cent price guidance for the issue that was executed on Monday after a one-day roadshow. Read more

If you’re an international energy major eyeing opportunities in Ukraine, you may want to speak with DTEK, the energy group owned by Rinat Akhmetov, the nation’s richest man (pictured).

He’s looking for a partner for a huge Black Sea hydrocarbon exploration project. Read more

Another auction, another disappointment for India’s Department of Telecommunications.

A second round of 2G auctions was scheduled for March 11 but when the “List of Applicants” was published this week, it didn’t actually qualify as a list. Only one possible bidder signed up. Read more

By Terrence Edwards of bne

Mongolia is following the footsteps of its largest trading partner, China, whose first western food chain in 1987 was Yum! Brands’ KFC. Now Mongolia’s Tavan Bogd Group has attained franchise rights to the restaurant chain, though the success of fast food in this fast-developing frontier market has so far been mixed. Read more

Phew. Predictions of a poor fourth quarter for South Africa failed to materialise as GDP growth came in at 2.1 per cent, quarter-on-quarter, making an increase of 2.5 per cent for 2012 as a whole.

It’s still far cry from the faster rowth of 2010 and early 2011, when 3.5 per cent and above was the norm, and is one of the weaker years of the last decade. But after months of strikes, labour unrest and political uncertainty, it will come as something of a relief. Read more

* IFC issues landmark renminbi debt

* China to tighten shadow banking rules

* Emerging stocks tumble to two-month low on China as bonds slump Read more

China has gained such fame for food safety crises that Chinese consumers are normally delighted to be told that what they are eating is imported rather than local.

But on Tuesday Ikea turned the tables by announcing that the Swedish meatballs in its mainland cafeterias are safe – precisely because they are Chinese. Read more

China is to rein in its fast-growing shadow banking system by requiring banks to provide extensive disclosures about the off-balance sheet investment products that they sell to customers, according to people briefed on the new rules.

The Chinese shadow banking system – credit flows beyond traditional bank loans – has increased fourfold in size since 2008 to about Rmb20tn ($3.2tn), or 40 per cent of gross domestic product. These flows were crucial in reviving the country’s growth last year, but banking analysts and rating agencies have warned that they pose an increasingly serious risk to Chinese economic stability.

 Read more

Tuesday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: Carlos Slim talks to the FT about his difficult year in Europe; Kenya’s high stakes elections; the implications of Belizean debt restructuring for Argentina; plus, Bulgaria’s shortage of Bulgarians, and beware Chinese walnuts. Read more

It’s not everyday that a conservative Gulf state is accused of copying American rapper and entrepreneur Dr Dre.

But wealthy Qatar is making waves with a branding exercise that has kicked up a social media storm. Read more

Beppe Grillo

The uncertainty surrounding the Italian election result has upset investors around the globe, not least in emerging markets. While Beppe Grillo, the comedian whose movement won 25 per cent of the vote, may be laughing, fund managers are not.

Following losses on Wall Street, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index fell 1.2 per cent on Tuesday. Closer to Rome, the impact was bigger, with the MSCI East Europe index down 1.9 per cent in early trading. Watch out for a nervous day. Read more

Thailand’s attempt to register around 1.5m illegal migrant workers by the middle of next month is causing more problems than it might solve.

The deadline for workers to apply for permits has been extended – but with employers reluctant to apply on behalf of workers, and workers forced to jump through several expensive bureaucratic hoops, there are still 1m yet to complete their registration. Hanging over the process is the threat of deportation – and worries for business. Read more

India’s cooks like their pepper. So much so, that the country, traditionally one of the world’s main exporters of pepper, has become a net importer of “the king of spices”. Read more

* Lower financing cost boosts Televisa profit

* Rio Tinto warned of possible rating cut

* Despite Venezuela homecoming, Chavez still out of sight Read more