News from Brazil

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Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on March 9, 2012 at 11:52 am

ECONOMY

Brazil’s economy grew just 2.7 percent in 2011 as soaring business costs and uncompetitive industries took the shine off of what had been one of the world’s most dynamic emerging markets, and data pointed to only a modest recovery ahead this year (Reuters).

Brazil’s government promised aggressive new stimulus measures after data showed the economy expanded just 2.7 percent in 2011, raising fears that one of the world’s most dynamic emerging markets is now slipping into a new era of mediocre growth. The sharp slowdown during President Dilma Rousseff’s first year in office saw Brazil underperform its peers among big developing countries as local industries struggled with soaring business costs and an overvalued currency. A rebound in consumer spending and strong agricultural exports only barely allowed Brazil to avoid recession during the second half of the year (Reuters).

Brazil’s Central Bank slashed interest rates by a larger-than-expected 75 basis points, stepping up its battle to revive struggling industries. In its boldest move since August, when it surprised markets and began the current round of cuts, the central bank lowered its benchmark Selic lending rate to 9.75 percent from 10.50 percent in a split decision (Reuters).

Brazil was the market that saw the highest increase in home prices among the different markets around the world last year, with an increase of 26.3 percent (Xinhua).

The latest economic growth figures from Brazil may not have been as strong as the government had hoped, but the country has still overtaken the UK as the sixth-biggest economy in the world.

South America’s largest country is one of the Brics, a group of emerging economies that also includes Russia, India and China, and which together provide a striking contrast to the current gloom prevailing over some of the more established Western powers. In fact this latest news allows Brazilians a moment of indulgence despite what was actually a year of quite sluggish growth (BBC).

BUSINESS

Brazil’s rapidly expanding middle class and complex intellectual property framework is creating a host of new opportunities and challenges for western firms, according to a new report published by Thomson Reuters. The report, “The Grown-Up BRIC: Innovation & Brand Expansion in Brazil,” tracks patent and trademark activity, as well as scientific literature output, over the last decade to benchmark current levels of innovation and brand expansion.   Here are some of the key findings of the new research.

Brazil’s Justice Ministry is pressing Google Inc for details about how it handles users’ personal information under its new privacy policy, potentially opening a new legal front for the company, already under fire from European regulators. The Brazilian ministry said it could launch an official investigation if Google did not provide a satisfactory response within 10 days (Reuters).

Pricewatercooperhouse has recently released a study revealing that in 2011 hackers have stolen  US$ 1 billion from companies in Brazil. On the top of that, BSA (Business Software Alliance) ranked Brazil the least prepared nation to adopt cloud computing technology among the 24 countries that account for 80 percent of the world’s information and communications technology (Forbes).

Carlyle, a Washington-based private equity firm, announced that it had acquired an 85 percent stake in Ri Happy, Brazil’s largest toy chain, for an undisclosed amount. The firm plans to invest 200 Brazilian reais ($116.8 million) in the toy retailer over the next three years (The New York Times).

Although the Chinese electronics company, Foxconn began making iPhones in Brazil last year at its new factory in Jundiaí (São Paulo), prices for the ´Made in Brazil´ phones remain high. The factory was originally built to produce iPads, but production of the tablet could not start because according to Evandro Oliveira Santos, director of United Steelworkers of Jundiaí, the manufacturer was still waiting on tax incentives from the so-called Lei do Bem (Goods Law) (The Rio Times).

Non-financial businesses in Brazil recorded a combined financial loss of R$15.3 billion last year. That’s R$11 billion more than the previous year’s R$4 billion. In the second half of last year, the appreciation of the dollar against the real — from R$1.562 to R$1.869 (up 19.65 percent) — took companies by surprise (The Rio Times).

AGRI ETC

J&F Participacoes SA, the holding company that controls meatpacker JBS SA, will name former Brazilian central bank president Henrique Meirelles its chairman. Meirelles, 66, will be the Sao Paulo-based company’s “strategist” and will create its board with Chief Executive Officer Joesley Batista. Batista will remain as chairman of JBS, the world’s biggest beef producer (Bloomberg).

AUTOMOTIVE

Brazil’s development bank BNDES may lend as much as 2.1 billion reais ($1.2 billion) to Fiat SpA to build a car plant in Pernambuco state (Bloomberg).

AVIATION

Chilean airline LAN expects a share swap that wraps up a takeover of Brazil’s TAM to be completed by the end of April or beginning of May, LAN’s President and Chief Operating Officer Ignacio Cueto said (Reuters).

BANKING & FINANCE

BTG has spent at least $1.5 billion on a series of takeovers in the past five months, eating up capital. The most recent deal, a cash-and-shares purchase of Celfin Capital, a Chilean brokerage, implied a valuation of $14.8 billion. The moment to list, it seemed, had arrived. With more cash, BTG will be able to continue its shopping spree without overstretch (The Economist).

Itau Unibanco Holding, Brazil’s most profitable bank, said on Wednesday that it received approval from Colombia’s financial superintendent to set up a representative office (Reuters).

Redpoint Ventures and BV Capital’s eVentures are launching a Brazil-based venture-capital firm, Redpoint eVentures, headquartered in Sao Paolo, the companies said (Reuters).

Brasil Distressed, the two-year-old financial firm also known as BrD, plans to raise as much as $100 million from investors to boost purchases of distressed assets from mid-sized companies (Bloomberg).

MINING & STEEL

Vale said it will go to the courts to fight a government claim that it owed back taxes on its earnings from foreign subsidiaries, after out-of-court efforts to settle the dispute failed (Reuters).

OIL & GAS

Oil prices are likely to fall as political tensions fuelling the rise ease, which would make any increase in Brazilian fuel prices unnecessary, the chief executive officer of Petrobras said. “We expect that prices will cool, as lower geopolitical pressure in the big petroleum producers is reduced,” CEO Maria das Graças Foster told Globo News (Reuters).

British oil producer BP Plc said it will buy a 40 percent stake in four exploration blocks owned and operated by Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, Petrobras, expanding its presence in one of the world’s fastest-growing oil regions (Reuters).

Norway’s Statoil is the front runner to buy the Brazilian business of oil and gas producer Anadarko Petroleum Corp for about $3 billion (Reuters).

Danish shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk’s offshore supply ship unit has won three contracts worth about 1.6 billion crowns ($284.81 million) in total from Brazilian oil company Petrobras , Maersk said (Reuters).

Barra Energia Petroleo e Gas, an oil startup with stakes in two projects near Brazil’s largest offshore discoveries, will consider a share sale among options to finance investments if it buys more assets. Barra will also sell a stake to a “strategic partner” or get additional financing from its two main shareholders if the company expands in Brazil’s South Atlantic (Bloomberg).

OGX Petroleo & Gas Participacoes SA, the oil company controlled by Eike Batista, is producing 15,000 barrels of crude per day after starting output at an offshore well in Brazil earlier this year, the billionaire said (Bloomberg).

President Dilma Rousseff endorsed Petrobras Chief Executive Officer Maria das Gracas Foster negotiations with Samsung Heavy Industries Co. for the South Korean company to buy the control of Estaleiro Atlantico Sul SA, Valor Economico reported (Bloomberg).

 

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Regional & Culture News

In Brazil on March 9, 2012 at 11:50 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the iconic Fortaleza Aquarium, to be built on Iracema Beach (Skyscrapercity).

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CULTURE

The creators have christened it Tropicália – a luxury beachside condominium in north-eastern Brazil boasting outdoor swimming pools, a private cinema and even a replica castle for youngsters. But the naming of the palm-flanked condo – intended as a tribute to the avant-garde movement that revolutionised Brazilian culture in the 1960s and influenced global musicians such as Kurt Cobain and Beck – has triggered a war of words between the construction firm and the pioneers of the genre (The Guardian).

If you want a decent return on your investment by learning another language there really is only one rational choice: Brazilian Portuguese. Brazil is big (190m residents; half a continent). Its economic prospects are bright. São Paulo is Latin America’s business capital. No other country has flora and fauna more varied and beautiful. It is home to the world’s largest standing forest, the Amazon. The weather is great and so are the beaches. The people are friendly, and shameless white liars. You’ll be told “Your Portuguese is wonderful!” many times before it is true (Intelligent Life).

Music is an indelible part of Brazil’s soul, a country which has nurtured and immortalized some of the world’s most distinct and renowned styles including samba, bossa nova and baile funk. Today, in Brazil at least, the sound of axé has swept the country with mega-stars like Claudia Leitte and Ivete Sangalo (The Rio Times).

FIFA WORLD CUP

FIFA president Sepp Blatter sought to defuse a war of words between FIFA and Brazil by personally apologising for disparaging remarks made by a top official about the country’s slow progress in preparing for the 2014 World Cup (Reuters).

Sepp Blatter and Brazil ‘s sports m inister pledged to mend relations after the FIFA president personally apologised for disparaging remarks made by a top official about the country’s slow progress in preparing for the 2014 World Cup (Reuters).

But Ronaldo defended FIFA’s Secretary General Jerome Valcke’s recent harsh words towards the Brazil’s delayed World Cup preparations upon his arrival for routine inspections (Xinhua).

The president of Brazil’s soccer confederation (CBF) and head of the country’s 2014 World Cup organizing committee Ricardo Teixeira has taken a medical leave of absence, Brazilian state soccer chiefs said (Reuters).

SPLIT SECOND POLL

AMAZON

Environmentalists and small farmers marched outside the National Congress to urge President Dilma Rousseff to veto changes to the country’s forestry code they fear will accelerate deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. The bill, which is backed by the powerful agribusiness sector, would allow huge areas of the country to be farmed if they were illegally logged before July 2008, and would allow farming along environmentally sensitive riverbanks (AFP).

RIO

Recent tests have shown that water emitted from chuveirinhos barraqueiros (beach showers) in Zona Sul (South Zone) are not treated and can pose serious health risks. Analysis conducted by microbiologists has exposed traces of sewage contamination in samples of water collected from showers on Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana and Leme beaches (The Rio Times).

Gearing up for the 2016 Olympic Games to be held here, officials celebrated plans for a futuristic “Olympic Park,” replete with a waterside park and athlete villages, promoting it as “a new piece of the city.” There was just one problem: the 4,000 people who already live in that part of Rio de Janeiro, in a decades-old squatter settlement that the city wants to tear down. Refusing to go quietly and taking their fight to the courts and the streets, they have been a thorn in the side of the government for months (The New York Times).

The reality of creating an Olympic legacy is a familiar problem for the residents of Rio’s Vila Autódromo, a favela community neighboring the site of the future Olympic Park. The future of the favela, however, is far from certain, despite the fact that a 2013 demolition date was announced by the press in 2011 (The Rio Times).

On March 1st, the new English language school – One English – celebrated their opening in the heart of Ipanema. Launched by Englishman Robin Ward, and Brazilian Paola Castilho Dunham, the school is unique in the sense that the majority of its English teachers are British nationals who teach the Common European Framework syllabus, internationally recognized and relevant regardless of age and objective (The Rio Times).

The pacification of Rio’s largest favela – Rocinha – as well as neighboring Vidigal in November 2011, has had a dramatic effect on the communities, causing much interest in real estate developers. Yet while the pacification has affected the sense of security in neighboring Leblon and Gávea, it has not had the same dramatic impact on the real estate market as the city has seen in other areas (The Rio Times).

Pão de Açucar (The Sugarloaf) sits impressively between the ocean and the riveting landscape that makes up Rio de Janeiro. One hundred years after its cable car inauguration in 1912, locals and tourists alike still marvel at its unique beauty and spectacular vantage point of the Cidade Maravilhosa (The Rio Times).

Celebrating the 90th anniversary of São Paulo’s Modern Art Week, Caixa Cultural Rio de Janeiro presents, from March 6th to April 29th,  “Modernismos – 90 anos de 1922”, an exhibit celebrating and importance of the modernist movement in Brazil. The show’s curatorship is by Daniela Name and Marcus de Lontra Costa, and it focuses on the several aspects of modern thinking and aesthetics (Rio Official Guide).

This article will point out the costs that a professional relocating to Rio de Janeiro must maintain the same standard of living. Have in mind that a European or American life style is not cheap in Brazil (The Brazil Business).

SAO PAULO

Fuel delivery truckers have ended a three-day strike that emptied many gas stations in South America’s biggest city. Drivers started delivering fuel to the city’s 2,000 gas stations under police escort, said Claudio Ferreira, a spokesman for the Sao Paulo truck drivers union (Washington Post).

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on March 2, 2012 at 11:36 am

POLITICS

Serra is back. São Paulo is Brazil’s biggest municipality, with 11m residents, and the country’s beating business heart. Its mayor matters. But the result of this election will now be especially important. It will affect the future of the PSDB, which at federal level is the main opposition to President Dilma Rousseff. It also has implications for the governing Workers’ Party (PT) and the next presidential election, in 2014 (The Economist).

Brazil’s lower house of Congress approved the main guidelines of a bill that caps government pension payments, a move that Moody’s Investor Service Inc. says may contribute to improving the nation’s credit rating (Bloomberg).

The government has charged a senator with keeping 35 workers in slavelike conditions on his ranch in the Amazon jungle state of Para, the Supreme Court said (New York Times).

Not every Brazilian loves Carnival. The phrase “I hate Carnival” is increasingly rebounding on blogs all over the country, as Brazilians post videos explaining why they don’t like the chaos, the drunkenness, the promiscuity and the sight of people urinating in the street. Does Brazil win or lose with the party (Bloomberg)?

SPLIT SECOND POLL

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INTERNATIONAL

While America’s halting path toward accepting the world’s new multipolar reality involves a step backward for every step forward, an exceptionalist violation of sovereignty for every bit of teamwork in places like Libya, other countries are actively working to establish new rules for all nations to follow in the new era. Among those at the forefront of this effort are Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her highly regarded foreign minister, Antonio Patriota. He was in New York last week to advance this effort at the United Nations, and David Rothkopf had lunch with him (Foreign Policy).

President Dilma Rousseff slammed rich nations for unleashing a “tsunami” of cheap money that threatened to “cannibalize” poorer countries such as her own, forcing them to act to protect struggling local industries. Rousseff’s words amounted to some of the highest-profile criticism to date of efforts by the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and others to spur their economies through low interest rates and cheap loans (Reuters).

Brazil has said that developing nations would be happy to provide more money to ease the eurozone’s debt crisis, in return for more power within the International Monetary Fund (IMF) (BBC).

Mexico hopes to reach a deal with Brazil next week to keep alive an automobile trade pact between Latin America’s top two economies, but Brazil is going to have to give some ground, Economy Minister Bruno Ferrari said (Reuters).

The upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) will focus on green economy and sustainable governance, Brazil’s Environment Minister Isabella Teixeira said (Xinhua).

The Uruguayan Navy and Coast Guard impeded 13 Brazilian flagged trawlers from entering sovereign waters to fish (MercoPress).

Uruguay’s Minister of Industry and Energy Roberto Kreimerman admitted that Brazil suspended the access of textiles from Uruguay alleging that they were essentially Chinese cloth rolls with minimum input but stamped as Uruguayan manufactured and dispatched to Brazil (MercoPress).

Brazil is eager to finalize a free trade agreement between the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and the Mercosur bloc but believes the petrochemicals sector will be exempted until further study after the signing, said Brazilian Trade and Industry Minister Fernando Pimentel (MercoPress).

Read the interview with Oliver Stuenkel (Post Western World) about Brazil’s international relations at Watershed.

Recognizing the importance of tourism to the U.S. economy, the Department of State continues to refine the visa process in major markets to help attract more visitors to premier U.S. travel destinations – without compromising border security. Streamlining visa processing supports the Department’s “Jobs Diplomacy” initiative to promote America’s economic renewal. Brazil, a key market for tourism to the United States, is a major focus of the Department’s efforts. Visa interview wait times now average just two weeks or less in Brasilia, Recife, and Rio de Janeiro, and less than 30 days in Sao Paulo, the Department’s busiest nonimmigrant visa processing post (State.gov).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

A decision by the United States to cancel a $355 million defense aircraft contract with Brazilian planemaker Embraer has surprised the government of Brazil which had hoped for the development of a bilateral defense program, Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said (Reuters).

The United States is still interested in acquiring a military airplane from Brazil’s Embraer despite cancelling a contract earlier this week due to problems with its documents, a senior U.S. diplomat said (Reuters).

U.S. Air Force officials must quickly redo a competition for 20 airplanes for the Afghan air force after substandard documentation forced the service to scrap a $355 million contract award to Embraer, the top Air Force general said (Reuters).

The reasons for the U.S.to cancel and reconsider the purchase of the Brazilian Super Tucanos derive from a series of factors, some simpler and another strategic. First, there are the American elections this year and much pressure from the local defense industry against any foreign agent entering its domains (Folha).

President Dilma Rousseff will decide by mid-year on a fighter plane for her country, a contract for as much as $4 billion that Boeing Co. (BA) is vying to win, according to a U.S. State Department official (Bloomberg).

A fire broke out at Brazil’s research station in Antarctica, killing two navy personnel and forcing the evacuation by helicopter of about 40 other people, the government said (Reuters).

It may seem odd that a Latin American country with no plausible enemies and vast social problems would be interested in increased military spending. But defense is increasingly occupying the Brazilian media as the country looks to enhance its international profile, realize its dream of a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and expand its domestic arms industry (Bloomberg).

SPLIT SECOND POLLS

 

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on March 2, 2012 at 11:35 am

ECONOMY

Brazil posted a record primary budget surplus in January, the latest evidence President Dilma Rousseff’s push for fiscal restraint is helping pave the way for lower interest rates (Reuters).

Concerns of a U.S.-style credit bubble in Brazil have been circulating in and out of the headlines for over a year now. This is because high inflation and high interest rates have impacted the ability of the Brazilian consumer to repay debt. But Marcelo Kfoury, Citi’s chief economist in Brazil doesn’t think it has a credit bubble (Business Insider).

The number of active Internet users in Brazil rose two percent in January and more than 11 percent over the past 12 months to reach 47.5 million, IBOPE Nielsen Online reported (AFP).

BUSINESS

U.S. real estate developers Related Group and Related Cos will invest $1 billion over the next three years in Brazil, where demand for residential and commercial property looks unabated despite waning economic growth (Reuters).

BASF SE, the world’s biggest chemical maker, is in talks with Royal Dutch Shell Plc to determine who should pay a 490 million-euro ($653 million) fine for contamination in Brazil. The site in Paulinia was “significantly” contaminated by the production of crop protection products, and BASF and Shell were jointly ordered in August 2010 to pay damages to former employees for medical treatment and personal suffering, BASF said in its 2011 annual report (Bloomberg).

The gap between academia and industry in Brazil arose out of political turmoil. An overview of science in Brazil published in December 2010 in the journal Science, suggests that Brazil’s military dictatorship from 1964 – 1985 was the root cause of the universities’ aversion to private enterprise (Txchnologist).

When you think of Brazil, you may think of it as the South American birthplace of music genres like the samba or bossa nova. But for the past few years, Brazil has become one of the meccas of electronic music too.  A title that it now shares with the likes of Germany, France and the United States, where e-music is not only a controversial topic (is it a form of art or not?) but also big business (Forbes).

The Survey of Accommodation Services is conducted by IBGE in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism. It has the purpose of portraying the accommodation capacity of the country by identifying the types and categories of the accommodation establishments and measuring the number of accommodation units and beds (IBGE).

AGRI ETC

Sugar output in Brazil’s Center South, the world’s largest producing region, dropped 6.6 percent after growers harvested the smallest crop in four years, industry association Unica said (Bloomberg).

AVIATION

Embraer said it had sold three E175 and one E190 aircraft to Estonian Air, which also contracted a further eight planes, four E170 and four E190, through leasing contracts with other companies (Reuters).

Gol received approval this month from Brazil’s civil aviation agency, known as Anac, to operate 14 flights a week to the U.S. and has a period of 180 days from Feb. 17 to request the routes it wants to operate (Bloomberg).

Getting Brazil’s overcrowded airports ready to play host to soccer’s 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games has run into an unexpected obstacle: airplane cemeteries on the tarmac (Wall Street Journal).

AUTOMOTIVE

Brazil car and light truck sales fell 6.6 percent in February from January and 8.9 percent from a year earlier, after the Carnival holiday helped reduced sales last month (Reuters).

BANKING & FINANCE

BTG Pactual, the investment bank controlled by Brazilian billionaire André Esteves, filed plans to sell shares in what is likely to be the country’s most coveted initial public offering this year (Reuters).

Locamerica, Brazilian car rental company, and its shareholders plan to sell shares in an offering, according to a securities filing. The company seeks to raise at least 200 million reais ($118 million) from the sale of new stock in a so-called primary offering (Reuters).

Banco do Brasil tapped its BB-rated Basel III-compliant perp, adding an additional USD750m to the already outstanding USD1bn. The new deal priced at 108.50 to yield 8.488%, which slashed 76bp off its original 9.25% yield. Overall it was a deft feat (Reuters).

The BNDES posted a net profit of R$ 9 billion in 2011. Gross earnings (before taxes and administrative costs) were influenced by the good performance of the credit and variable-income portfolios, which contributed 94% to profit. The treasury portfolio also had a positive impact, accounting for 6% of the Bank’s result in the year (BNDES).

BM&FBOVESPA in February obtained record average daily financial and trading volumes. The average daily financial volume was BRL 8,282.37 million, surpassing the previous record of BRL 7,777.83 million of October 2010. Average daily trading volume was a record 800,606 in February, surpassing the previous record of 705,855 of August 2011 (BM&F Bovespa).

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BIOFUELS

Brazil’s government announced an aggressive plan to raise flagging ethanol output over the next four years by showering the sector with 65 billion reais ($38 billion) in subsidized credit. The government will allocate funds via banks to mills and independent growers for the expansion and replanting of older cane whose yields have fallen. Credit will also be available to build up ethanol stockpiles (Reuters).

Brazil’s largest exporter of sugar and ethanol, Cosan, said it was buying Comma Oil and Chemicals, an automobile lubricants and additives company in Kent, England, from Exxon Mobil Corp Esso Petroleum Co (Reuters).

ENERGY

Brazil’s government is considering intervening in debt-ridden electricity distributor Celpa, a unit of Grupo Rede Energia, two senior government sources told Reuters, suggesting that the company’s financial woes will probably worsen.

State-controlled power holding company Eletrobras could help bail out debt-laden rival Grupo Rede Energia if requested by the federal government, Chief Executive José da Costa Carvalho Neto said (Reuters).

CPFL Energia, one of Brazil’s largest non-government electricity generation and distribution utilities, said it agreed to pay 1.06 billion reais ($620 million) for Bons Ventos Geradora de Energia, a Brazilian wind-power company (Reuters).

From a plateau created by a rock cut made in 1984, when Brazil first started construction on the 1,405-MW Angra 3 nuclear powerplant unit, there is a commanding view of the jobsite where work has now resumed after more than a two-decade lapse. Angra 3, built using the pressurized-water-reactor design, now is set to operate in 2015 at a cost of about $5.6 billion. It will join two other smaller units, Angra 1 and 2, that were completed decades ago (Engineering News).

MINING & STEEL

Brazilian mining output should rise 5 to 8 percent in value in 2012 and again in 2013, pushed by rising production volumes rather than higher metals and mineral prices, an official at the country’s mining industry association Ibram told Reuters.

The future of one of steelmaker CSN’s most cherished assets and $9.4 billion in mining and steel investments is in the hands of nine small-town lawmakers in southeastern Brazil. Many citizens of the rural town of Congonhas, population 50,000, want to limit iron ore extraction in its surrounding hills to protect its Baroque architectural heritage and its water supply (Reuters).

Brazilian iron ore startup Ferrous Resources, which hopes to become the world’s No. 4 iron-ore exporter by 2014, may resume plans to sell shares on the Sao Paulo stock exchange if it fails to find a strategic partner, a local newspaper said (Reuters).

Vale SA and the Brazilian government are close to an agreement on a dispute over unpaid royalty payments that may reach 7 billion reais ($4.09 billion), Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao said (Bloomberg).

Olacyr de Moraes, once the world’s largest soybean producer and known as ’Soybean King’ in the 1980s, is in talks with three foreign business groups to form a thallium mining venture in the country, Valor Economico reported (Bloomberg).

OIL & GAS

A federal judge in Brazil declined to grant an injunction suspending the Brazilian operations of oil major Chevron and offshore oil-rig contractor Transocean over a November oil spill northeast of Rio de Janeiro, providing temporary relief to the two companies (Reuters).

Spain’s Repsol and China’s Sinopec have made an oil discovery offshore Brazil that could be one of the biggest so far in the area (Reuters).

PORTS & LOGISTICS

Brazil’s impaired TGG soy and corn loading terminal at Santos is so far not having an impact on ship waiting times to carry grains from Brazilian ports to international markets, traders and vessel line-up data showed (Reuters).

Cargo transportation in Brazil is not cheap. Despite the existence of many navigable rivers and a large space to construct, or improve the railway network, the country still insists on working with a very expensive logistic system (The Brazil Business).

TELECOMS

Telefonica SA, Spain’s largest telephone company, plans to bid for airwaves in Brazil and Chile this year for building faster networks as it prepares for a boom in demand for mobile data in Latin America (Bloomberg).

 

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Culture & Regional News

In Brazil on March 2, 2012 at 11:34 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

The Rio local authorities recently inaugurated a new landmark bridge connecting the Linha Vermelha highway to Fundao Island in Guanabara bay (Skyscrapercity).

FIFA WORLD CUP

Ricardo Teixeira is to stay on as the head of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) despite recent calls for his resignation amid renewed corruption allegations. Local football federations voted unanimously to confirm Mr Teixeira in the post he has held for 23 years (BBC).

As Brazil struggles to modernize stadiums and airports in time for the FIFA 2014 World Cup federal justice officials are investigating Ricardo Teixeira, leader of Brazil’s 2014 World Cup Organizing Committee and boss of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) in connection with misappropriating $5 million in funds from a FIFA event (Huffington Post).

A Brazilian congressional commission has partially approved legislation covering the 2014 World Cup. But sticking points remain, including the insistence by Fifa that alcohol, currently banned, be sold at venues. Fifa, football’s world governing body, has pressed for the law to be passed soon but it still needs to go before the full Congress (BBC).

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CULTURE

Paulo Coelho became the greatest Brazilian writer of all time. Not the best, but the greatest: the best-selling books (140 million until last October), the most famous (released in 160 countries), the most translated (73 languages ), the most celebrated (he has 10.5 million followers on Facebook and Twitter) (Folha).

Opening on 20 April 2012, the 5th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, or IABR: Making City includes exhibitions at various venues across Rotterdam, Almere, São Paulo and Istanbul, a conference, debates and lectures, publications, and television and radio programmes (iabr).

AMAZON

For environmentalists, it’s possibly a deal with the devil. For government conservation groups with boots on the ground in the biggest jungle on Earth, it’s the only compromise to keep the Amazon safe, and expand Brazil’s reliance on clean energy. The problem is, that in order to build that clean energy, thousands of acres of pristine Amazon rainforest will have to be cut up and inundated with river water to build hydroelectric dams like Belo Monte, currently the largest ongoing hydroelectric project in the world (Forbes).

“Perhaps it’s the curse of Rondônia,” joked Ari Ott, referring to teething troubles with the first turbine of the Santo Antônio hydroelectric plant which was intended to kick off a new cycle of huge power projects in Brazil’s Amazon jungle region. The enormous turbine, designed to generate 71.6 megawatts of electricity, overheated during initial tests in December and the necessary repairs delayed its coming onstream, now announced for late March, by at least three months (IPS).

BAHIA

Petrobrás, Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, is suspected of inadvertently funding a political campaign of the ruling Worker’s Party (PT) through a contract with local NGO, Pangea, current affairs magazine Epoca reported last week (The Rio Times).

FORTALEZA

The already strong Canadian presence in Brazil’s retailing industry is growing, with the Ivanhoe Cambridge Group to announce an estimated $300-million shopping centre investment. The real estate wing of Quebec’s pension fund manager, present in Brazil since 2006, is to announce the construction of a 352,800 square foot shopping mall in the northern city of Fortaleza, along with the expansion of two existing malls (Montreal Gazette).

RIO

The announcement made by the state government’s Chief Secretary of Staff, Regis Fichtner, that the bonde, Santa Teresa’s tram system, will be relaunched in 2014 has been criticized by the Association of Residents and Friends of Santa Teresa (AMAST) (The Rio Times).

Since opening in 2009, the General Osório Metro station (the last stop of Line 1) in Ipanema has increased the accessibility to the area, connecting Praça General Osório with Copacabana Cantagalo Metro stop. However, due to further expansion of the new Metro Line 4, extending to Barra da Tijuca, the stations will close for eight months starting in December 2012 (The Rio Times).

When it comes to music in Rio, there is one place always on the tip of everyone’s tongue, for visitors and Carioca alike, Lapa. Arcos da Lapa (arches of Lapa, or just Lapa as it is commonly known) continues to be one of the best areas in Rio to enjoy good food, cold drinks, and great live music from all genres (The Rio Times).

Most guide books will say no trip to Rio is complete without a ride on the gondola, which used to refer only to visiting the Pão de Açucar (Sugar Loaf) for a view of the bay. Now more people are finding their way to the Complexo do Alemão favelas to enjoy a different type of high-ride experience on the Teleférico line in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone) (The Rio Times).

Rio needs to increase the hotel capacity to accommodate tourists who will be in the city for the 2016 Olympic Games, according to a study released by statistics agency IBGE (Xinhua).

They call it the Bridge of Knowledge – a spectacular £22m cable-stayed bridge at the entrance to the 2016 Olympic city, not far from Rio’s international airport. Designed by one of Brazil’s leading architects and erected by the construction conglomerate Queiroz Galvão, the bridge was inaugurated on the eve of this year’s Rio carnival, a monument to the rebirth of the seaside city, which is at the centre of a major economic boom after decades of stagnation. But drug traffickers who control the Complexo da Mare, a giant slum next to the bridge that tourists pass on their way from the airport to the southern beaches, demanded a $2m (£1.3m) bribe to allow its construction (The Guardian).

SOUTH EAST

Brazil’s high speed train connecting Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro will be ready by 2022, Transportation Minister Paulo Sergio Passos said. The government will auction rights to build and manage the railway between Brazil’s two most populous cities in two stages, Passos said in an interview from his office in Brasilia. The first stage, to be completed by December, will decide on the technology and operator for the train, while the second stage, in which the consortium that will build the infrastructure will be chosen, will happen in 2014 (Bloomberg).

At the Carnival celebrations in Rio, Salvador and Olinda – the country’s three best known — an influx of foreigners drives prices way up. But towns like São Luiz, wedged into the tropical green hills between São Paulo and Rio, attract mainly Brazilian tourists and provide a generally much cheaper and more intimate experience (New York Times).

SOUTH

A team of Brazilian archaeologists and divers who discovered the remains of a Spanish vessel off the southern state of Santa Catarina say the recovered fragments correspond to a shipwreck that occurred in 1583. The recovered pieces and the documentary review indicate the wreck was a supply ship for a fleet that left Spain in 1581 on a mission to build two forts on the Strait of Magellan to stymie the advance of English pirates menacing Madrid’s territories in the New World (Latin American Herald).

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