Imagine you are a Latin American country with a dominant media group. You could a) whip out your “butcher’s knife” to chop it down to size, or b) try the more softly-softly approach of seeking to shrink its influence by expanding the market.
No prizes for identifying the former as Argentina’s favoured approach. Cristina Fernández, the president, has been hell-bent on curbing the reach and power of the arch-opposition media empire, Grupo Clarín, and its Cablevision pay-TV unit. Regulators in Buenos Aires last month passed a break-up plan. Continue reading »
This was supposed to be the year when Mexican growth got better, after last year’s dismal 1.1 per cent. Yet economists at Banamex have chopped a half-point off their 2014 forecast. What’s going on?
Let’s blame it on the weather. Literally. Here’s Banamex:
The main factor behind this revision is the effect that the exceptionally adverse weather conditions will have on activity in the US.
Continue reading »
Never mind all that “three amigos” stuff. A potential energy pipeline from Canada to the US could help those two Nafta members, but not the other, Mexico.
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline could spell bad news for Mexican oil company Pemex, which is losing its monopoly at home and is currently the third biggest crude exporter to the US. Continue reading »
Oil companies hoping that by March 21 they might have clues as to which oil and gasfields may be up for grabs in Mexico should not get their hopes up too high.
Pemex, the state company which is having its 75-year-old monopoly opened up to private competition in a historic reform, will face a new competitive environment. And that means learning to keep corporate secrets, it says. Continue reading »
Consumerism seems rife in Mexico – stores bustle with shoppers and promotions designed to lure customers and keep them hooked are legion. So it’s no surprise that retail sales rose in December, on an annual basis, more strongly than expected.
But compared with November, which was a strong month for retail sales because of the success of the annual “Good Weekend” sales spree, the picture was not so pretty. Continue reading »
One step forward, one step . . . well, if not exactly backwards, sort of sideways?
Mexican inflation data for the first fortnight of February looked a lot brighter than a month ago, when the impact of new taxes, including on fizzy drinks and junk food, pushed consumer prices to an eight-month high. Continue reading »
What happens when you put together three countries which account for nearly a quarter of the world economy, with trade exchanges worth $1tn a year? Ever greater competitiveness, prosperity and dynamism – that, at least, was the message from the leaders of the US, Canada and Mexico at their annual summit.
And Barack Obama, Stephen Harper and Enrique Peña Nieto – the “Three Amigos” – stuck relentlessly to the script, highlighting trade flows, the prospect for cooperation in security, competitiveness, greater educational and science exchanges, deeper integrated manufacturing supply chains. Continue reading »
One of Mexico’s reform plans is under attack and there are investors who want it derailed.
Don’t panic – it’s not energy, the crown jewel of the reform package pushed through by the government last year, for which a kind of steering committee of legislators and officials are busy drafting secondary legislation they hope to have ready by the end of the month.
Nor is it one of the other five big reforms passed last year: financial, tax, education, telecoms and labour reform. Continue reading »
Enrique Peña Nieto
Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s president, has another new strategy to combat crime in the volatile western state of Michoacán: throw money at it. Continue reading »
Mexican reforms have started to make themselves felt – though not in the way consumers would like.
Stoked in part by a new soda tax, a hike in VAT in border areas, and a reduction of fuel subsidies, Mexican inflation has hit an eight-month high. Continue reading »
Stop press: the two sides wrangling over who should foot the bill for $1.6bn cost overruns in the building of new locks as part of the Panama Canal’s $5.2bn expansion are talking – days after a deadline set by the Spanish-led construction consortium to down tools came and went.
But neither the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) nor Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), the Spanish-led consortium in charge of the $3.2bn lock project, would say what they were talking about. Continue reading »
Cemex, the Mexican cement giant, is breathing a little sigh of relief.
It had been biting its nails ahead of a ruling from an Egyptian appeals court on whether its 1999 purchase, in a privatisation, of Assiut Cement Company (ACC), should stand. Continue reading »
Lufthansa, the German airline, summed up the contract dispute raging at Mexico City’s airport this week: its boss said he had no clue with whom he should be signing a lease for rental of terminal space.
Why? Airport operator AICM and Fumisa, an infrastructure company controlled by international private equity fund Advent, are at loggerheads over contracts – and they’re now at the “we’ll see you in court” level. Continue reading »
Is Mexico’s Grupo Elektra going middle class?
The company, which has made its niche selling white goods and providing financing to low-income customers, has announced the 408m pesos ($31m) purchase of Blockbuster México, the film and video game rental brand and electronics retailer, in a clearly aspirational move. Continue reading »
The World Bank’s private sector lending arm has been very publicly rapped over the knuckles for its handling of an investment in Honduran palm oil company Corporación Dinant, which human rights groups allege has links with death squads and the killing and torture of peasant farmers who claim the land where it operates.
But if the shaming of the IFC in an independent audit by the Office of the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO) were not bad enough, Peter Chowla, co-ordinator of the UK-based Bretton Woods Project, says: “Some of the most damaging findings from this case are yet to come.” Continue reading »