Majid Al Futtaim, the malls operator that brought an indoor ski slope to Dubai, is seeking to double revenues over the next five years by bringing Carrefour markets and mega-malls to more countries across the broader region.

Having expanded across 12 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and central Asia, the retailing giant is scouting four out of the 14 sub-Saharan African countries for which it holds Carrefour franchisee rights. Read more

By Nicholas Watson of bne

Road construction in the Czech Republic has long been a murky business. But insiders grumble that new depths for the industry have been plumbed following a barrage of criticism aimed at plans to renovate the country’s main D1 motorway and revelations from Prague city that the contract to build the now almost-complete €1.3bn Blanka tunnel complex was legally questionable from the start. Read more

With very little to brag about so far in economic terms, the one-year-old government of Enrique Peña Nieto, president of Mexico, is betting on a banner year in 2014.

Having learnt a tough lesson on the crucial role that government spending, particularly on infrastructure projects, plays in Mexico’s economic performance, the government is not just trying to avoid this year’s budget delays — it is already moving on with assigning projects that are scheduled to start in 2014.

At least it is doing so with Tuesday’s planned announcement of 15bn pesos (US$1.15bn) worth of public work projects it plans to assign through public bidding processes.

As a result, the authorities are hoping that by announcing these new projects as early as Tuesday, they’ll be ready to allocate them in the first weeks of January so that the winners can start their construction by late next month or early February. Read more

A Chinese company broke ground this week on the world’s tallest skyscraper only to stumble at the first hurdle when the government halted the project, saying building permission hadn’t been obtained.

The wild ambitions of Broad Group, which wanted to complete the skyscraper in less than a year, and the administrative edict blocking it make for a good story in their own right. But they also serve as a parable about the distorted development of the Chinese economy. Read more

By Verónica Taracena, Guatemala’s Presidential Commissioner of Transparency and E Government

Infrastructure investment in Latin America is expected to total $450bn for the period 2011-2015. The OECD has estimated that, globally, 10-30 per cent of investment in infrastructure is lost from mismanagement, inefficiency and corruption. Unsurprisingly, many Latin American countries are calling for greater transparency and accountability in public infrastructure. Read more

It is no secret that many multinational companies avoid Belarus because of the unfavourable reputation of the country’s authorities and western sanctions against them. But this, apparently, does not apply to the hotel business. Several big name hotel brands are springing up around the capital, Minsk. Read more

At first sight the figures are staggering. In the space of a single day last week Turkey signed an agreement on a $22bn new nuclear power plant and concluded a €22bn tender on building Istanbul one of the biggest airports on the world.

No wonder there were proclamations about record-breaking investments as soon as last Friday’s announcements were made. Read more

Indian markets are buzzing with gossip about Larsen & Toubro (L&T), the Indian conglomerate, over two possible deals.

Although nothing is confirmed, analysts are expecting some deal activity to materialise – and the share price is getting a bumpy ride. Read more

Poland is coming off the biggest construction boom in its thousand-year history and it does have a lot of roads to show for the effort – but there is one stark gap: Poland has not managed to produce any significant construction companies.

That was not the case in Spain, which underwent its own road construction boom that kicked off when it joined the EU in 1986. A new report by conultants Ernst & Young takes a closer look at just what went wrong in Poland compared to the Spanish experience. Read more

January was a scary month for China’s machinery makers and their investors. First, Zoomlion was accused by a “concerned investor” of booking phantom sales, then Caterpillar accused its own recently-acquired Chinese subsidiary of accounting misconduct and took a $580m write down on the value of the deal.

Time for a ghostbusting analyst to bring some rational rigour to the sector. Read more

Air travellers frustrated at delays in London, Paris and Frankfurt can put their woes in perspective – Warsaw’s suburban Modlin Airport looks like it will be shut for several months, playing havoc with the finances of the low-cost carriers using the new airport.

The reason is that Modlin’s newly-built but already crumbling runway is not fit to accommodate the large airliners that are supposed to land on it. The local building inspector is supposed to issue his verdict by Thursday but indications are that it will be closed until about May. Read more

Since a change of government just two years ago, Myanmar has thrown off its previous isolation to become a top regional tourist destination. Queues for visas at its embassy in Bangkok last week stretched down the street. “Do you know how many visas we issued today?” said a harried-looking consular official. “More than 1,200. It’s going crazy.” But the question that has remained unanswered is: where are these people going to stay? Read more

China’s banks are about to start installing CCTV cameras in steel traders’ warehouses to make sure those traders are using their bank loans to actually trade steel – such is the erosion of trust in that sector.

Banks realised at the end of last summer that things were not going so well for their exposures to the traders, perhaps because, as it turned out, many smaller and mid-sized operations had been using some of their bank loans for purposes other than buying and stocking steel products. Read more

Li Keqiang, China’s next premier, says the country must unleash urbanisation as its next big growth engine. That makes sense –China’s urbanisation rate is still just 50 per cent, well below the 80 per cent norm in developed economies.

But the government’s top-down push can play out in funny ways. If Li needs any reminder, he can look to his old stomping ground, the northeastern province of Liaoning. It is pioneering a new mode of development: start with the showcase monument, then build the city. Read more

A few months ago, Alexandre Tombini, governor of Brazil’s central bank, told beyondbrics that Brazil was finally “going horizontal”. Enough of picking winners and piecemeal, ad hoc measures, he said: it was time for across-the-board reforms that would deliver a more efficient economy and a level playing field for all.

So much for that. Back in the present day, Guido Mantega, optimist and finance minister, on Tuesday announced cuts in payroll and other taxes and a special line in finance for the construction industry. After Friday’s shocking GDP figures, it looks like a knee-jerk effort to get the economy moving – or at least its most labour-intensive sector. Read more

By Nicholas Watson of bne

In a shock announcement, Czech power company CEZ on Friday excluded France’s Areva from its multi-billion-euro tender to expand the Temelin nuclear power plant for failing to fulfill all the requirements, leaving Toshiba’s US unit Westinghouse and a consortium led by Russia’s Atomstroyexport as the two remaining bidders. Read more

Regular visitors to the Philippines may not have heard of SM Investment Corporation. But they have almost certainly seen or been into one of more than a dozen giant shopping centres it owns in metro Manila, the name given to the capital and its adjacent sprawl. They are hard to miss. Three of them, including the third and 10th biggest in the world, are located along EDSA, the main thoroughfare that bisects the metropolis. Read more

Good news for a change – but which bit of good news? The Shanghai composite index closed up 3.7 per cent on Friday. The ECB bazooka may be giving markets a boost worldwide, but in China, the bigger news is the Rmb1tn ($158bn) of infrastructure spending was given the green light.

Construction and cement stocks led the way, with Sany Heavy, China’s biggest construction-equipment maker, among the big gainers at 9.97 per cent. In fact, 25 stocks hit the 10 per cent upside limit on the market, with another eight stocks gaining between 9.90 and 10 per cent. Read more

The Polish economy is finally giving ground in the face of the blasts blowing from the eurozone. Having surprised economists with its resilience during much of the post-2008 global crisis, it delivered a bit of a shock on Wednesday with figures showing industrial production rose by only 1.2 per cent last month. Read more

It was all going so well. Jerzy Wisniewski rode up the ranks of Poland’s rich list on the back of his construction company, PBG. Its crowning achievement was to scoop up some of the enormous road and stadium building contracts that came with Poland’s co-hosting of the Euro 2012 football championships.

The result was disaster. PBG, which has 7,000 employees, recently filed for bankruptcy and Wisniewski, who owns about a quarter of the company’s shares, has been bounced from the job of chief executive. Read more