Naomi Mapstone

Naomi Mapstone is the Andean correspondent for the FT, covering Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. She was previously the FT's deputy US news editor in New York and Americas news editor in London.

Peru has racked up a decade of rapid economic growth that has made it one of Latin America’s investment darlings.

But the weakness of its institutions – evidenced by recent street protests over a Congressional backroom deal to appoint key Supreme Court judges – remains a constant, niggling “investment risk” in the eyes of most analysts.

For Enrique Mendizabal, a researcher who has launched the country’s first national awards for think tanks in conjunction with the magazine Poder, the importance of homegrown research to drive policy is an important part of addressing that weakness. Read more

Peru’s biggest construction and engineering firm, Graña y Montero, showed the strength of pent-up demand for Latin American stocks on Wednesday with a $413m listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

“This transaction is going to open the door for upcoming Latin American IPOs,” NYSE’s head of Latin America, Alexandre Ibrahim, told beyondbrics. Read more

Pick a number, any number. You might just hit on the amount Peru’s government will have to pay out to the holders of 40-year-old “land bonds” that hark back to the leftist military regime of Juan Velasco Alvarado.

When General Velasco expropriated huge tracts of land off wealthy ranchers to redistribute amongst campesinos, landholders were paid in bonds which have since been stored hopefully in family safes or sold on to speculative investorsRead more

Graña y Montero is about to join a tiny group of Peruvian companies that are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Peru’s biggest construction and engineering group has filed for a $460m initial public offering to raise funds for investments in infrastructure, further acquisitions and expansion and land purchases. Read more

Latin America’s conglomerates have been busy border-hopping and snapping up regional assets sold by struggling European companies for some time now, so it’s no surprise to see confirmation of their rising fortunes in the form of two new rankings.

HSBC’s new Multilatinas report and America Economia’s latest installment of its regional conglomerate list both chart the recent growth of groups such as Cemex of Mexico, Ambev of Brazil, Alfa of Mexico and Nutresa of Colombia. Read more

Colombia’s Grupo Aval is on its way to Wall St.

The country’s biggest banking group by assets intends to list on the New York Stock Exchange with an initial public offering of $100m of preferred shares in the form of American Depository Shares (ADSs).

The $100m figure could well change, as Grupo Aval did not disclose the number of shares it plans to issue, or the price, in its SEC filingRead more

As Google, Starbucks and Amazon have learned to their detriment, companies that take advantage of legal tax-avoidance schemes such as the “Dutch sandwich” and the “double Irish” are right up there with bankers in the public’s estimation.

Peru’s tax office, Sunat, has found a way to help make the medicine go down, it seems, giving companies the option of paying part of their tax bill in the form of regional infrastructure works in some of the countries’ poorest regions. Read more

Spain’s economic crisis is writ large in the Inter-American Development Bank’s latest statistics on remittance flows to Latin America.

For years, thousands of Bolivians, Ecuadoreans and Colombians have been among those to seek work in Spain, legally or illegally. Whether young educated professionals, or poor maids, cleaners and construction labourers, these workers could see the advantages of saving Euros that would magically multiply back home into pesos or dollars or bolivianos. Read more

One day Ollanta Humala, Peru’s president, is unnerving investors with a hankering for state-run enterprise, the next he is making it easier for miners to push through projects despite community opposition.

According to Reuters, Humala is on the verge of reneging on his key election pledge to give Andean indigenous communities the right to better consultation over mining projects near their homes. Read more

Ollanta Humala, Peru’s president, likes to keep everyone on their toes when it comes to his ideology.

Having swapped his Hugo Chávez-esque rhetoric for an electorally palatable, Brazilian-inspired centre-left script as easily as if he was changing t-shirts, Humala has once again rattled investors with the suggestion that state-run PetroPeru should get back into oil and gas production by buying Repsol’s assets. Read more

Grupo Sura of Colombia has acquired a 50 per cent stake in Peru’s BBVA Horizonte pension fund for $514m.

Sura, which snapped up ING’s Latin American pensions assets in 2011 for $3.85bn and already controls another Peruvian pension fund, Integra, named Profuturo AFP, controlled by Scotiabank, as its strategic partner in the deal. Read more

Concrete returns are hard to come by in these troubles times, so Cementos Argos’s $1bn share offering is shaping up to be popular.

Colombia’s leading cement producer increased its profits last year by 5.9 per cent, to $218m, on the back of strong investments in Panama, the United States and Colombia. Read more

Tourists associate Bolivia with dizzy heights, blindingly white salt flats and Aymara women in flouncy skirts, plaits and tiny bowler hats. But haute cuisine? Not so much.

Unlike neighbouring Peru, which has pioneered a new Andean cuisine that has charmed Europe and the United States and attracted a valuable new class of tourist – the foodie – to the country, Bolivian “fine dining” tends to mean foreign food.

But Claus Meyer, the chef behind Denmark’s Noma, thrice named the best restaurant in the world, is determined to change that. Read more

For the eighth time in 10 months, Peru’s central bank has raised deposit requirements on dollar-denominated accounts to stem the flow of hot money into its fast-growing economy and dampen currency appreciation. Read more

“Chocolate” and “shortage” should never appear in the same sentence.

But as the Chinese say, in every crisis, there is opportunity.

And as Chinese taste buds are one of the biggest new drivers of global cocoa demand, it’s apt that a merchant bank focused on trade between China and Latin America has identified cocoa as a “very good bet” for long-term investors. Read more