Joe Leahy

Joseph Leahy is the FT's Brazil bureau chief. He was previously Mumbai bureau chief for four years and before that Asia companies editor and Hong Kong correspondent. He was also a correspondent in Jakarta for the South China Morning Post and Jakarta bureau chief of AFX.

Since the Brics first came together for their first annual summit five years ago, it has sometimes been easier to define them by what they are against than by what they are for.

They are mostly against, for instance, interference in other nations’ sovereign affairs, particularly of the unilateral sort. Continue reading »

Does Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff look for the first time like she might lose the October election?

Nomura economists Tony Volpon and George Lei think so. In a note released after a poll by research firm Ibope, they said Rousseff’s chances of losing to opposition candidate Aécio Neves were now 60 per cent. They point to figures that are among the president’s worst polling results since mass protests shook the nation last June. Continue reading »

And the winner is…

What will be the legacy of the World Cup for Brazil? Until now, most people have looked at this question in terms of bricks and mortar – how many new airports, metro lines and stadiums will be created for the tournament?

But Ricardo Sennes, non-resident senior Brazil fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank, believes the greater legacy will have been to crack open the stultifying politics of modern Brazilian democracy and set the country on a national dialogue towards reform. Continue reading »

Brazil’s economy may be weakening but sales of some luxury car marques in the country are soaring in a sign of the enormous pent-up wealth in Latin America’s biggest country.

Germany’s Audi said sales in the first five months of this year more than doubled compared with the same period last year to a record of more than 5,000 units while those of BMW were up 24-25 per cent in the same interval to 6,100. Continue reading »

Remember the days when Brazil’s former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva sought to make Latin America’s largest country the foremost foreign diplomatic and business presence in Africa?

Not only was he a frequent flyer there but Brazil’s corporate giants such as miner Vale and construction company Odebrecht invested, posing a challenge to other foreign powers such as China in the great game for the continent.

Today, however, Brazil is failing to take this push to the next level, if you believe a report from Safmarine, a South Africa-based international container shipping line. Continue reading »

For President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, the latest poll on her popularity offers from her perspective good news and bad news in equal measure.

The good news from the Pew Research Center is that 51 per cent of Brazilians view her favourably for the presidential elections in October compared with 27 per cent for Aécio Neves, the opposition candidate from the more pro-business PSDB party, and 24 per cent for her other opposition rival Eduardo Campos.

The bad news is that underneath these headline figures, there is a wealth of data showing Brazilians are becoming dissatisfied with their lot. Continue reading »

The monetary policy committee of Brazil’s central bank on Wednesday night voted to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 11 per cent.

The move ended a tightening cycle that began in April last year. Continue reading »

What is not to like about Banco Santander’s offer to buy the part of its under-performing Brazil subsidiary that it does not own?

For Santander, the deal looks opportunistic. Santander Brasil has been in the doldrums in recent years. Compared with its listing in October 2009, the shares had lost nearly half their value as of Monday, when they were trading at R$12.74, less than book value.

By buying back these shares using Santander parent stock, the bank gets a bargain while shareholders are being offered a 20 per cent premium to the present market price. With the outlook for the Brazilian economy continuing to look hazy, many minority shareholders will run for the exits. Continue reading »

Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff is considering replacing her finance minister Guido Mantega, with the head of the central bank, Alexandre Tombini, reports Valor Econômico, the business newspaper.

Mantega has been criticised for presiding over a period of low economic growth, leading to pressure on Rousseff, who will contest elections for a second term in October, to replace him and other members of her economic team. Continue reading »

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, under siege over late preparations for the soccer World Cup that starts in June, at last has something to celebrate.

The first of a series of major infrastructure programmes promised to the Brazilian public as part of the tournament has finally been inaugurated – or at least “the first phase of the first phase” of the project. On Wednesday, Ms Rousseff presided over the opening of a new terminal at the international airport in the capital, Brasília. Continue reading »

Brazil’s central bank holds its regular monetary policy meeting Wednesday and the market consensus has rarely been more uniform. Most analysts are forecasting a 25 basis point increase to 11 per cent in the benchmark Selic rate. Continue reading »

Normally investors buy on rumour and sell on fact. In Brazil this month, the reverse seemed to happen. Investors last week began buying stocks on a rumour that President Dilma Rousseff had fallen in opinion polls.

A polling agency, Ibope, then released a poll on voters’ intentions regarding candidates in the planned presidential election this October, showing her holding steady compared with her opposition opponents, disappointing the market punters. Continue reading »

It was not exactly spying on presidents, but revelations in Folha de S. Paulo, a Brazilian newspaper, that Brasília spied on the diplomats of some would-be close friends are a bit embarrassing. Of course everyone does it and of course, the Russians, Iranians and Iraqis – the alleged victims of Brazilian spying in the Folha report – were probably doing it to Brazil at the time when the incidents occurred back in 2003 and 2004.

But the problem here is that Brazil has been taking pains to appear shocked and violated by accusations this year that the US was spying not only on Petrobras and other state-owned companies but on President Dilma Rousseff and her staff. Continue reading »

In the world’s list of exciting jobs, you would think one company would hardly qualify – OGX, the flagship oil company of Brazilian tycoon Eike Batista that has just two days to meet a debt payment or trigger Latin America’s biggest default.

Yet OGX is still hiring and firing. What’s more amazing still, people are stepping up to accept the new jobs. The same day that OGX announced its voluntary debt restructuring talks with creditors had collapsed, it said it was appointing a new director of exploration, Gilberto Carvalho LimaContinue reading »

Brazil’s economy may be facing harder times but Marcelo Di Lorenzo, head of 3i Brazil, says the gloom is not affecting his investments.

The private equity group announced last week that one of these, Blue Interactive Group, a cable operator, has just completed two acquisitions, growing its subscriber base by 60 per cent since 3i spent R$100m on a “significant” minority stake in July last year. Continue reading »