Adam Thomson

Adam Thomson is the FT's Mexico and Central America correspondent. He was the Southern Cone correspondent, Colombia correspondent and was also assistant features editor in London.

Almost like Pavlov’s dogs, journalists and business commentators covering Carlos Slim only have to mention the name before they find themselves following it with the phrase “the world’s richest man”. But as of this week, the Slim watchers out there are going to have to resist their conditioned response.

On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that the Mexican telecoms tycoon had been toppled from the number-one spot on the news agency’s all-time rich list. And guess who’s back in front….yep, it’s Bill Gates. Continue reading »

Last week, Humberto Benítez, Mexico’s attorney-general for consumer protection, told the press that the thought of handing in his resignation “never even crossed my mind”. On Wednesday, Benítez was clearing out his desk, the latest symbol of a more transparent, and more accountable country. Continue reading »

Mexico on Friday posted its worst monthly industrial production figures since the 2009 recession brought on by the US financial crisis.

The figure shrank 0.3 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms compared with February, and by a spine-chilling 4.9 per cent compared with the same month of 2012. Analysts had expected the March number to fall a far more modest 1.4 per cent. Continue reading »

On Wednesday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto received a welcome piece of news: Fitch, the rating agency, said it would upgrade Mexico’s foreign-currency debt one notch to BBB+.

The timing of Fitch’s announcement, which came on the same day that Peña Nieto unveiled a financial reform bill, is nothing if not interesting. Inspired by the administration’s dynamic reform agenda since taking office in December, it nevertheless comes well before Peña Nieto takes on the most important reforms of all: energy and taxation. Continue reading »

On Thursday, as he greeted the press in the company of US President Barack Obama, Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico characterised the bilateral relationship as having reached “a new level of understanding”.

That is probably an exaggeration. But several important things may have come from Obama’s visit to Mexico City, the first to Mexico since his re-election. Continue reading »

As news broke Tuesday that the Mexican government was postponing its long awaited banking-reform bill for political reasons, the country’s biggest domestically-owned bank was preparing to report a tidy 27 per cent rise in first-quarter profits.

Banorte, Mexico’s third-biggest lender and the largest domestic bank in a sector dominated by foreign names, said that profits climbed between January and the end of March to 3.1bn pesos ($253m). It didn’t give the peso figure for the comparable quarter of 2012. Continue reading »

Enrique Pena Nieto, governor of the state of MexicoMexico’s reformist administration suffered its first significant setback on Tuesday as political infighting forced it to back-peddle on plans to unveil a banking-reform bill. But how serious is the scrap? And how will it impact the rest of the government’s reform programme?

Investors need to have a sense of both answers because they have been pouring billions of dollars into the country in the hope that centrist President Enrique Peña Nieto can transform Mexico into one of the world’s most successful emerging markets. Continue reading »

If there were ever any proof of the need for structural economic reform in Mexico, you could do worse than to look at February’s retail sales, which came in far below expectations.

On Monday, the government’s statistics agency reported that sales were down 0.1 per cent in February compared with the previous month in seasonally adjusted terms, and a chilling 2.6 per cent down on figures for the same month last year. HSBC had predicted a 1 per cent increase, and Banamex, Citi’s Mexico arm, had expected a 0.5 per cent increase). Continue reading »

Just when the gloom seemed to be getting too much for Homex, the leading homebuilder in Mexico by revenues, there was light: the company’s shares and bonds rocketed on Friday after it announced a deal to sell a chunk of its prisons business for 4bn pesos ($326m).

And guess who bought it…telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim. Continue reading »

Herminio Blanco’s push for the post of director-general of the World Trade Organisation is anything but a solo effort.

Rather, it is the result of a concerted and co-ordinated effort by Mexico’s new administration to recast the country’s image internationally. Continue reading »

How far can the share price of Mexico’s biggest homebuilders fall?

That must be the question on investors’ minds this week as they continue to see the market capitalisation of Urbi, Homex and Geo evaporate. Continue reading »

Mexico may be growing at close to double the rate it experienced during the first decade of the 2000s, but not everyone is having a good time of it. On Monday, Homex, one of the country’s biggest homebuilders, said that it was seeking to boost liquidity as it copes with rising debt.

The statement follows the news last week that Urbi, the country’s third-largest homebuilder by sales, has hired Rothschild as its financial advisor with a view to a possible debt restructuring. Continue reading »

Mexico’s industrial production figures, published Thursday, don’t make for particularly fun reading. Output in February fell 1.2 per cent compared with the same month last year. That is the biggest fall in more than three years. Could it be that Mexico’s impressive economic recovery since 2009 is coming to an end? Continue reading »

Tuesday’s announcement that Mexico has signed an agreement with Japan’s Mitsui Corporation to construct a gas pipeline for $460m was accompanied by the idea that the deal would provide cheaper and more abundant energy for Latin America’s second-largest economy. Continue reading »

You have to read to the end of a JPMorgan report published this week to find out what the bank thinks are the most promising investment opportunities in Mexico over the coming months and years. But when you get there, it makes a lot of sense.

The bottom line (literally, in this case) of the report is that investors should look to invest in new stock-market listings and non-dominant companies operating in areas that the new government wants to make more competitive. Continue reading »