Archive for the ‘BRIC’ Category

Brazil confirms hydrocarbon strategy

Santos basinMuch has been made of Brazil’s offshore hydrocarbon deposits particularly in the Tupi oil & gas reserves which have been touted by state owned energy firm Petrobras as containing up to 5-8 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

Tupi,which is located in the pre-salt region, is estimated to contain between 5 billion & 8 billion barrels of light crude, & is the world’s biggest new field since a 12-billion-barrel find in Kazakhstan in 2000. The pre-salt region covers an offshore area 800 kilometers long and 200 kilometers wide between the states of Espirito Santo and Santa Catarina, is estimated to contain up to 80 billion barrels of light crude under a thick layer of salt far beneath the ocean floor.

As discussed in a previous article, Petrobras (NYSE: PBR)  & partners including Repsol and BG Group discovered vast deposits of oil under more than 4,000 meters of water, rock and salt in 2006. These deposits are at previously untapped depths and will be costly to extract. It is thought that other reserves may be nearby in other as yet unexplored blocks.

To capitalise, Brazil’s regulatory agency the ANP has announced that it will be excluding Tupi from a new round of block concessions scheduled for spring 2010, as Brazil looks to protect it’s strategic reserves & is currently changing the concession framework for blocks in the area. According to proposed legislation, which is being heavily pushed by President Lula, Petrobras will operate all blocks in pre-salt areas with a minimum 30% stake. Output would belong to the federal government under a production sharing model & participating IOCs will receive a fixed share of the revenues.

This is a canny move & possibly a very good gambit to make, as IOCs are now on the backfoot with new capacity for exploitation becoming scarce. More tellingly, companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Chevron & Exxon Mobile have come under increasing pressure in countries such as Nigeria & Angola in recent months, especially from Chinese state firms.

Last month, CNOOC, made a bid to acquire concessions in 23 prime blocks in Nigeria, which could see the Chinese state-controlled oil giant securing more than 20% of Nigerian hydrocarbon assets. There has been some speculation that Nigeria may be using the Chinese approach as a heavy hammer to extract more favorable terms on concessions that are due for re-newal, however, it underlines the fact that oil majors must look for more stable environments in which to do business.

ANP Director Nelson Narciso has expressed confidence that oil majors will still be interested in new pre-salt areas despite market uncertainty over the new terms because of both economic & political stability.

“As long as the production sharing agreements are preceded by a fair competition, there is no reason for not being happy with Brazil,” he said. “I expect that if everything goes well, by the end of next year we’ll be in a position to start the bidding for the new pre-salt round”

Lula has a knack of getting his way, as he is seen as being instrumental in pulling Brazil out of the global recession via his socialist policies, which have been very popular with Brazil’s citizens. Our view is that the IOCs will be forced to accept these terms on the pre-salt fields, whilst picking up other concessions in more mature blocks as a sap. We have been bullish on Petrobras for a good while & we see no rason to change that view on the basis of this news.

 

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Nokia launches first handset on China Mobile 3G standard

nokia logoHere at Emerging Voice, we have been following the the whole Nokia / China Mobile / 3G story for a good while, you can pick up on some of those previous posts here : Nokia in China

Today, Nokia has finally launched it’s first TD-SCDMA compliant handsets the Nokia 6788, which was built from the ground up for China Mobile.


Nokia (NYSE: NOK) today announced the Nokia 6788, its first device for TD-SCDMA – China’s domestic 3G standard, at an event in Beijing. The Nokia 6788 is the result of close collaboration between Nokia and the world’s largest mobile phone operator, China Mobile.

Speaking at the event, said Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, CEO of Nokia: “Nokia sees TD-SCDMA as being central to the successful evolution of 3G in China, and so is fully committed to this 3G standard. With a wide range of integrated China Mobile applications, the Nokia 6788 marks a new level of collaboration with China Mobile and offers enriched experiences to China’s 3G users. Nokia plans to introduce more TD-SCDMA phones in the near future, further boosting the development of this 3G standard in China.”

“We are excited to see the launch of Nokia 6788,” said Mr. Lu Xiangdong, Vice President of China Mobile Communications Corporation. “With extensive experience in the China market, Nokia will provide Chinese consumers with TD-SCDMA solutions that are perfectly catered to their needs. Such cooperation between the world’s largest operator and the world’s leading mobile phone manufacturer will provide an important boost to the development of TD-SCDMA in China.”

The Nokia 6788 is specifically designed for China Mobile’s (NYSE: CHL) network and offers rich data services. It is an all-in-one device that provides its users with faster Internet speeds and download times. Featuring a 5-megapixel (2592 x1944) camera with a dual-LED flash, a 2.8″ QVGA display, and the hugely-successful Symbian S60 platform, the Nokia 6788 allows people to instantly share the things that matter to them most.

& here’s some pics

Nokia 6788

we apologise for the Engadget style of this post, but it’s been a long time coming !!

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ChiNext launch poses problems as well as opportunities

MARKETS-CHINA-STOCKS-RECORDThis week, China will be launching a ground breaking new secondary market & trading platform that hopes to help smaller technology companies attract investment in domestic IPOs.

Small & Medium Sized Enterprises (SME’s), are the mainstay of the Chinese economy, as they provide the largest employment base as China moves towards a more enterprise based economy. However, smaller companies have found it difficult to raise funding, as the large commercial banks concentrate on state owned enterprises.

Shenzen based ChiNext, which is being hailed as a Nasdaq style trading board will begin trading on Friday 30th October in the hope that traded entities will be able to take advantage of excessive liquidity, expecially in retail investment markets. It is believed that investors will be attracted to new opportunities to stake a claim in up & coming tech startups, but also by the more relaxed trading environment, as companies listed on ChiNext will not face the Byzantine rules that are applied to A & B class share issues in Shanghai.

“The launch of ChiNext represents a milestone in the development of China’s financial markets and is an important part of the government’s plans to boost support for small and medium-sized firms,” said Jing Ulrich, Managing Director of China equities at JP Morgan, Hong Kong. “The board will provide an additional source of financing for younger companies while broadening the options available to investors.”

More importantly, it is expected that ChiNext will also draw in private equity & venture capital firms, which are critical to helping startups gain a foothold in global markets. According to Jackson Wong from Tanrich Securities, these investment vehicles will be more likely to take part, since they have more routes to cash out on their investments, with an avid pool of retail investors ready to speculate.

“The launch of the growth enterprise board is an important step towards implementing the national strategy on promoting innovation,” Shang Fulin, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said last week. The first 28 companies to list on the board, ranging from software to medical equipment makers, have raised 16 billion yuan (US$2.3 billion) in their initial public offerings — more than double initial forecasts.

Well known China investor Jim Rogers (he of the dickie bow) according to this report from CCTV is watching the new bourse with great interest, although he hasn’t invested in any of the companies that will IPO this week, any move he makes in the near future is bound to be followed by Sinophile investors

So far, more than 9 million people have opened  trading accounts with the ChiNext platform, fuelling fears that there may be some price fluctuations in the offing. According to CCTV.com, the average price-earnings ratio for 28 companies  due to list on Friday is 56, which is a hefty premium on the average 25 encountered on comparable listings on the Shanghai A list.

Wang Yiwen, GM of Shanghai Deding Investment Management  said, “The IPO prices for those firms have been set very high. This will cause pricing and trading issues for the secondary market. Take the SME board at the A-share market as an example. When the SME board starting trading in June 2004, 8 firms got listed. Their share prices all opened and ended higher on that day. But prices soon started declining after 5 to 10 trading days, with some losing nearly half their values.”

So it would seem that we will see some initial decay, but all in all, this is an exciting move for China’s retail investors individually & global investors as a whole. Hopefully ChiNext will give some small domestic companies a financial springboard which will allow thenm to accelerate growth before performing secondaries in Hong Kong & on the NASDAQ & NYSE in the future.

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Growth in Russian economy, but no champagne corks yet

russian economyRussia’s economy may have expanded as much as 4% in the last quarter of 2009 following a timid return to growth in the third quarter, according to Deputy Economy Minister Andrei Klepach speaking at a conference in Moscow last week.

The economy may show “quite strong growth” of between 3% & 4% in the fourth quarter from the previous three months, Klepach said. This is an interesting claim, and doubly so given that Klepach has been quite cautious so far this year in his claims. Evidently the rising price of oil and the return of some financial flows into Russia is firing up optimism.

GDP expanded 0.6 percent in the third quarter as compared to the second quarter according to Economy Ministry data out this week. Whilst the economy also grew 0.5%  between August and September, with month-on-month growth being due to a “good grain harvest,” increased meat production and an improvement in manufacturing output, the Economy Ministry said.

Nonetheless the economy still managed to register an annual decline of 9.4%, compared with a 10.9%  record annual contraction in the second quarter.

Certainly foreign investment into Russia is on the rebound. On Oct. 19th Klepach predicted the country may see a small capital inflow this month, and no net outflow in the fourth quarter. This compares with a net capital outflow of $31.5 billion in the third quarter. In September, the net outflow was $6 billion, down from $16 billion in July. This indicates that foreign investors are returning to Russia’s capital markets, while Russian companies and banks are increasingly able to access international markets. However,  this improvement isn’t necessarily great cause for celebration. The increase in foreign investment is largely being driven by bank lending and portfolio investment, which can easily go into reverse.

This must most certainly be one of the reasons behind Russia’s central bank recent decision to lower key interest rates by half a percentage point for the second time in a month, in a bid to both stimulate lending & also to stem the inflow of funds & the rise in the value of the ruble which is making the work of restoring competitiveness to the manufactured sector all the more difficult.

Six million Russians were added to the government’s official poverty count in the first quarter. By the end of 2009, 17.4% of the population or 24.6 million people will be living beneath the subsistence level of $185 per month, almost 5% more than before crisis, according to World Bank estimates. Unicredit analysts forecast that the number of Russians with disposable incomes of more than $1,000 per month will fall 48% this year to about 13.6 million, or roughly 10% of the population.

Russia’s consumer prices were flat in August, the lowest monthly reading in four years, but annual inflation was still running at 11.6%. Producer prices, on the other hand, are falling fast, and declined an annual 10.8 percent in August, compared with a record 12.3 percent in July. Today’s decision follows the announcement earlier this month that the Russian economy suffered a record economic contraction in the second three months of the year and refelect the growing recognition that the country now faces a painfully slow recovery. Just how painful things might become will form the subject matter of this report.

The full report from Bank Rosii can be accessed here : Country Briefing Report

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Positive figures from Redecard will push Brazilian retail bank shares

redecardAs we have discussed in previous articles, Brazil’s retail banking sector has been enjoying a buoyant 2009 so far. This would seem set to continue as payment card processor Redecard posts an 18% jump in financial volumes.

This should be seen as a positive for Itaú Unibanco (NYSE: ITUB), which controls Redecard, as net income for the third quarter rose to BR$333M ($195M), with financial transactions across the payment platform registering BR$ 24.7Bn ($14.52Bn) & more interestingly, the debit card side rising in step by 17% to BR$12.2Bn ($7.13Bn).

Although there is general negativity on global credit card companies, particularly in Western economies, Brazil’s nascent credit sector has benefitted from a wave of bank consolidation over the last 18 months, the strength of the real versus the US dollar & one of the strongest economies to exit the finiancial crisis. Earlier this year, Visa affiliate VisaNet was the star IPO on the BOVESPA, with the launch being hugely oversubscribed by both retail & institutional investors, raising a record of $4.5Bn.

“We think the results were solid and highlight the strength of the credit and debit card markets,” reported Deutsche Bank which keeps a buy rating on Redecard. “While regulation remains a key risk, we think that it is already priced in.”

For Redecard, it is also very much a case of being seen as a Brazilian brand, which seems to be helping it’s positioning against VisaNet, which although no longer owned by Visa, retains the association. Redecard has the benefit of being able to position itself as a multi-brand entity & is more popular with Brazilian retail customers, especially in the growing debit card sector, whilst VisaNet is to some extent still regarded as a premium brand.

So, short term one-up for ITUB & we expect to see shares taking a ride higher over the next few days. VisaNet reports later this week (October 28th), so it will be interesting to see if Bradesco will be able to catch the same sentiment wave.

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Negative signals for Chinese economy, will they take heed

CHINA STOCKS FALLWhile the Chinese economy expanded 8.9% in Q3, propped up by easy credit & continued government spending programmes, Europe, US & Japan continue to flounder. The world’s 3rd largest economy has recorded 7.7% overall growth in the first 9 months of 2009, with officials saying they are confident that the much talked about annual growth target of 8% will be acheived.

Last November, as it became clear that the global economy was heading into a recessionary period, central government implemented a 4 Trillion yuan/$586 Bn stimulus package, aimed at cushioning the blow of decreasing exports on the economy whilst also improving industrial efficiency at all levels. Via this stimulus package, China has implemented a number of schemes that impact practically all sectors in the economy;  real estate/construction, transportation infrastructure, agriculture, social services, industry, earthquake reconstruction, technology advancement & rural development being amongst those receiving special focus.

The strategy has paid off, with growth rising to 7.9% in Q2 from 6.1% in Q1 2009. Figures show that industrial output has risen 8.7% in the first three quarters of the year, and 12.4% in July-September, which would seem to signal accelerated demand from domestic purchasers, keen to take advantage of low cost loans to invest in the expected turranround for China in 2010.

However, while surging purchases of coal, iron ore & other raw materials have helped mining majors such as Vale & BHP Billiton the impact of China’s comeback has mainly been one of improving global sentiment than of actually driving growth, according to Stephen Green, economist for Standard Chartered Bank in Shanghai.

“Exports remain the key weakness for the Chinese economy,” Moody’s Economy.com economist Alaistair Chan said in a report yesterday.

Our view is that it is time for those investing in China to pay attention to people like Chan, as investment via the stimulus package has accounted for nearly 88% of GDP growth this year. Central government  investment in factories, construction & national infrastructure has risen by one third in the first three quarters of this year to a record 15.5 trillion yuan (US$2.27 trillion).

As the economy “flourishes”, this heavy reliance on public works & other investments could be masking long term issues for the Chinese economy. Impressive as China’s ability to ride out the storm has been, companies desperately need to restart exports to offset the economies depenfdance on fiscal hand outs.

This week China’s leaders have also  signalled concern over these obvious imbalances in the economy, with the State Council saying policy must shift to dealing with waste and other associated problems of high growth.

“In the first three quarters, the pace of economic growth quickened,” the State Council said “At the same time, we also are clearly aware that there are still difficulties and problems in the economic and social development of our country.”

So it looks as though there are a number of challenges ahead for China in the near future. The stimulus package has obviously been deployed in a much more effective manner than in Europe & the US, however China has not had the crippling effects of masssive credit & huge write downs in it’s nascent financial sector. Although the Chinese have made a number of efforts to open new markets through bilateral trade agreements & an accelerated FTA programme with neighbouring countries in Asia & it’s BRIC partners, it cannot fully offset the real factor of dependancy on Western markets indefinitely.

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Baidu clinches mobile search for China Unicom

baidu9Baidu, Inc., the leading Chinese language Internet search provider, today announced it has entered into a strategic partnership with China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited to provide wireless search for China Unicom’s 3G mobile subscribers.

Under the agreement, Baidu’s wireless search service will be embedded in China Unicom’s 3G mobile phone modules. China Unicom’s mobile subscribers will be able to use preinstalled applications to access Baidu products including web search, Baidu Knows, Baidu Post Bar, image search, news search, MP3 search and other useful services. Baidu (Nasdaq:BIDU)will also provide search functions within China Unicom’s wireless Internet sites to service the carrier’s users.

”We are very excited to join hands with China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) today following our partnership agreement with China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) in May,” said Xuyang Ren, Baidu’s Vice President of Marketing and Business Development. ”As the leader in Chinese language search, we hope that Baidu’s cooperation with major telecom providers in China will accelerate the development of 3G services and allow us to provide the rapidly growing population of mobile search users better access to information.”

This can be seen as a major coup for Baidu, as it has once again managed to pip it’s major competitor Google at the post. For China Unicom this is also a boon, with the upcoming launch of Apple‘s iPhone on their 3G network.

Original editorial : MyStockVoice.com

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