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. Read more
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. Read more
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. Read more
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. Read more
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. Read more
Mexico’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. Read more
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). Read more
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. Read more
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. Read more
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. Read more
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. Read more
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? Read more
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. Read more
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. Read more
Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s reformist leader, had an important phone call this week: it was with Barack Obama, and the conversation was to confirm that the US president would visit his southern neighbour during the first week of May.
The forthcoming trip, which Mexico’s foreign ministry has described as a working visit to cover everything from trade and competitiveness to security and education, is a big deal for both presidents, but in particular for Peña Nieto.
Not only will it add to political momentum at home, but the visit is also a chance for Peña Nieto to shift the discourse on the relationship between the two countries away from drug violence – and towards trade. Read more
Enrique Peña Nieto’s arrival to the presidency on December 1 last year has turned things around for just about everyone, it seems. Investors are showing a voracious appetite for Mexican government bonds and for the country’s stock market, where shares on Tuesday recorded their biggest daily gain in more than a year.
Even Carlos Slim’s América Móvil, which had taken a pounding this month after the centrist Peña Nieto announced a bill to shake up the country’s telecommunications sector, has sprung back into favour: shares in the company have gained more than 13 per cent in the last week or so.
Everyone, it seems, but for Mexico’s leading homebuilders. Read more
At what point do América Móvil shares start to look cheap? Investors have several ways of deciding the true value of the company controlled by Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man. But more than a few are doubtless mulling the question this week after shares in the pan-American telecoms company plunged 9.3 per cent since Monday morning. Read more
There’s a joke about Pemex, Mexico’s gargantuan state-oil monopoly. The new chief executive officer walks in on his first day, summons his top people and gives them the simple task of bringing him a grey pinstripe suit.
So the next day, when he receives a three-piece multi-coloured monstrosity, he asks them what happened that they should have twisted his instructions out of all recognition. “Well, sir,” they say, “we interpreted what you said, and felt that this suit was what you really meant to ask for.” Read more