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Alexandra Stevenson

Alexandra Stevenson is the FT's emerging markets reporter in London. She joined the FT in 2009 as a Sander Thoenes fellow and has reported from London and New Delhi for the paper.  Prior to the FT, she worked as a print and broadcast journalist in Beijing, China. She speaks Mandarin.

Emerging markets may have some catching up to do in economic terms, but they are often miles ahead of developed markets when it comes to adopting new technology.

Take contactless payments. In the majority of shops in the western world we continue to fiddle with pin numbers and receipts, while in far-flung cities like Istanbul consumers simply waive their mobile phones or plastic cards and a transaction is complete. 

Picture: Bloomberg

As markets wait once again for European leaders to bring the eurozone crisis back from the brink, there is one man who is more than happy to lend some advice: Jin Liqun.

What he thinks about Europe carries weight because the institution he chairs, China Investment Corporation, is one of the world’s most important sovereign wealth funds. 

Evo Morales has gone and done it again. The president of Bolivia has nationalised a local unit of Spain’s Red Electrica, “in honour of all Bolivian people.”

This is not the first time. Two years ago Morales nationalised four electric companies – two of which were foreign – at the “thunderous request of the people”.

In fact, one might argue May Day nationalisations are becoming something of a habit in Bolivia. 

Images of tens of thousands of Muscovites protesting in the streets have hit the rouble and the Russian stock market, but one Russian executive says the country’s risk profile has not suffered.

“We don’t feel any pressure,”  Alexander Abramov, chairman of Evraz, the country’s largest steel company,  told the Financial Times on Monday – the day the company made its FTSE 100 debut. Investors weren’t convinced and the stock fell 4.4 per cent amid general concern about Russian political risk. 

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Among the many reasons Anglo American gave for its willingness to pay $5bn for a majority stake in De Beers, the world’s biggest seller of diamonds, was the drastic shift it has helped bring about in Chinese wedding rituals.

Much has changed since the days when a bride’s worth was measured by the number of duvets her mother would supply the newly-wed couple. 

It’s as if the global economic rout never happened. 360Buy, the Chinese online retail giant is looking to raise $4-5bn in an IPO next year, according to IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication. It would be the largest Internet IPO ever in the US.

The announcement comes just over a month after Qiangdong Liu, the founder of the company also known as Jingdong Mall, said he anticipated “tough days” this year or next for e-commerce companies. What’s with the optimism? 

Emerging markets have been good to carmakers and South Africa is no exception. At first glance August vehicle sales figures published on Friday support the story of an ongoing boom – with overall sales up 11.1 per cent year-on-year in August, from 10.5 per cent in July. But parsing the numbers, it’s not all positive news.

Specifically, passenger vehicle sales are beginning to slow, a reflection of increasingly cautious consumer confidence. 

Turkey’s economic statistics might make the country look like anything but a safe bet among emerging markets.  The chronic savings deficit,  high unemployment, and an 8 per cent current account deficit trouble many investors. So does a stop-start economic record.

But in its latest EM report, Bank of America Merrill Lynch argues that the outlook for Turkey, when compared to other EEMEA countries, is actually pretty good. All that is needed is economic stability and a bout of serious reforms. Quite. 

Here’s a thought: if economic growth in developed markets were to fall off the cliff, would growth in emerging markets save the world economy? Would the penny-saving populations of Asia at least provide a backstop? In short, is there any hope of a growing market anywhere, for Western corporations which are faced with declining sales and revenues from their home markets?

In his most recent note to clients, Can Asia Save the World?, HSBC’s Frederic Neumann illustrates why it’s not all bad news. 

Well this news didn’t come as a surprise, but we almost missed it: Sino-Forest on Sunday announced the resignation of its chairman and CEO. The announcement came quiet as a mouse, after a very confusing news day for Sino-Forest investors at end of the trading week.

On Friday the Ontario Securities Commission ordered shares to “cease trading” on the Toronto Stock Exchange and called for the resignation of senior executives at the company. Later that day the OSC reversed its order, stating it does not have the power to make such an order without holding a hearing first. Excerpts from Sunday’s statement below the page break… 

(The OSC has reversed its order calling for the resignation of senior executives at the company, including chairman and chief executive Allen Chan.)

This just in: Sino Forest shares have stopped trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange following a “cease trade” order from the Ontario Securities Commission on Friday morning.

The reasons given by the OSC (after the page break) are not going to help Sino Forest’s case. 

Diageo on Thursday reported strong annual results and disclosed the bill for the acquisitions it made in the year to June in emerging markets – a full £1.6bn in countries ranging from China to Tanzania.

But shareholders won’t be complaining as emerging markets contributed the lion’s share of a 5.3 per cent increase in pre-tax profit to £2.36bn. The shares rose 6 per cent on the news, in a clear sign that the City likes the EM-oriented strategy. 

A rare opportunity for investors to invest in Mongolia outside its big natural resources companies comes with a foreign-run conglomerate involved in everything from real estate and cement to financial services and transport.

Asia Pacific Investment Partners, controlled by American businessman Lee Cashell, hopes to raise $30m through a placement of stock ahead of an IPO which could come next year. 

Where are the best beer markets in Africa?  Reports from two brokers this week come to the same conclusions – Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Nigeria  for sheer size,  rapid growth and commercial stability. Zimbabwe for recovery potential – the conflict-torn country once drank more than three times as much beer as it does today. 

Joe Biden in Beijing, ChinaUS vice president Joe Biden isn’t having an easy time of it in China – at least not with the public diplomacy involved in this week’s visit to Beijing.

First, his opening remarks at a key meeting with Xi Jinping, his Chinese counterpart, were interrupted by a kerfuffle involving Chinese officials and journalists covering the trip.

Next, a meal at a small restaurant in one of Beijing’s alleyways was criticised by Chinese bloggers who detected a note of PR phoney in what was made to look like a casual event. Finally, a goodwill China-US basketball match ended in a brawl.