Yesterday’s report on the Guinean President’s ultimatum to Rusal to use or lose the giant Dian-Dian bauxite deposit has drawn fresh sources with additional information, confirming the deterioration in Rusal’s hold on its concession agreement.
According to Vladislav Soloviev, Oleg Deripaska’s first deputy at Rusal headquarters in Moscow, his company is currently in talks with the Government of Guinea on terms for developing Dian-Dian. “We are ready to start to develop the deposit, but we need to solve the problems with infrastructure and agree on railroad use with the government,” Soloviev is reported as saying. (more…)
Now it’s official – the French, British, Americans, Chinese and Indians are all behind Guinean President Alpa Conde’s decision to revoke the Russian concession for the world’s largest unmined bauxite mining deposit, Dian-Dian, and hit the current concession holder, United Company Rusal, with back-tax and fraud claims, plus interest and penalties, for about $1 billion. (more…)
I have long wanted to comment on the investment climate, which was discussed at the meeting of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin with the international railway elite, representatives of financial institutions and investment banks in the framework of the Forum 1520. (more…)
Two US banks named in May by Phosagro as mandated arrangers of its initial public offering (IPO) walked away from the share sale attempt after finding little interest among international investors to buy the shares from Phosagro’s owner, Andrei Guriev. The Americans also had problems with verifying how Guriev came into possession of the property he is selling — what one American bank source today calls “the shadow of Yukos”. (more…)
If Phosagro, one of Russia’s leading phosphate miners and exporters, were a Mom and Pop store, the release this morning of the 441-page prospectus reveals that Mom Gurieva and Pop Guriev are selling a good part of the family jewels for cash. The only other seller of shares for the initial public offering (IPO) now under way in London is Maxim Volkov, 39, the chief executive since 2009; he is selling his entire 1% stake. (more…)
When the gravy train to China starts running, it can be educational for investors in the greater Sino-Russian iron-ore market to slow down, and patiently study how Australians, rivals of the Russians and other iron-ore suppliers, behave when the brakes are off – and the regulators appear to be going in another direction.
Australia’s newest iron-ore miner to start shipping to China, BC Iron (ticker BCI:AU),ought to be seeing the benefit of larger announced reserves, more rail and port capacity to ship cargoes, and a freshly minted report from KPMG confirming that a fair valuation of the company’s prospects is a share price between A$3.80 to $4.13. That should be good news too for Ukrainian metals mogul, Gennady Bogolyubov, who is the largest single stakeholder in BCI, with 21%. (more…)
In The Long Good-Bye, private detective Philip Marlowe says of the snob column in the newspapers, “I don’t read them often, only when I run out of things I dislike.” Some people feel that way about the weekly report from Emerging Portfolio Fund Research(EPFR). That is the Boston outfit which tracks the flow of investor funds into and out of emerging market destinations in the aggregate (GEM, EMEA), and in particular countries.
The bad news, out today in EPFR’s bulletin and Uralsib Bank’s weekly analysis, is that outflow of investor cash in Russian stocks and funds hit a record this week of $298 million. This was a big turnaround from the previous week’s positive inflow; though it makes just a small dent in the total flow inward to Russia since January 1 of $3.5 billion. (more…)
For those with a taste for the burlesque, politicians speaking for the cash interests of the perishable food trade are hard to match. The smaller the politician’s country of origin, the louder the petomane, and the bigger the pratfall.
Russia’s chief food inspector Gennady Onishchenko (left image) yesterday ordered the ban on imports of European Union-produced vegetables lifted with special conditions, following negotiations with EU public health officials in Moscow on Tuesday and Wednesday. Reacting to the outbreak of fatal e.coli infections from tainted food in Germany, and misleading information from the German and European Commission (EC) authorities in Brussels, the Kremlin first ordered a partial ban on imports of cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce on June 1. This was followed a day later by a ban on all European vegetable imports, backed by a warning from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on European “cucumber poison.” (more…)
A decade ago, when Oleg Deripaska trusted Gulzhan Moldazhova, his principal money-changer, to negotiate with China, the authorities in Beijing were reluctant to agree to permitting what was then called Russian Aluminium (Rusal) to open a representative office in Beijing. Until then Rusal had exported aluminium to China through international traders and warehousers in Hong Kong. The Chinese method for saying no to Rusal at the time was to say nothing – and delay. (more…)
Transneft, the state-owned Russian oil pipeline company, is now refusing to pay state-owned oil producer Rosneft $26 million in money Transneft claims that the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) should pay for pipeline deliveries of crude oil, but won’t or hasn’t.
The conflict has also revealed discounting tactics affecting all shipborne cargoes of crude oil between the world’s largest energy exporter and the world’s largest energy consumer. (more…)
Who would buy a share in a diamond-mining company whose board of directors lacks anyone with the career experience of mining anything; or of managing a public shareholding company; or of selling commodities in a global market? That’s not a question, the answer to which the Russian Finance Ministry cares if anyone asks; or cares to answer. The Finance Ministry supervises the Russian diamond sector, and the world’s largest diamond miner, Alrosa. And regarding its property, the ministry considers that to be as private as the Oppenheimer family regard De Beers, world’s second largest diamond miner. (more…)
When money is at risk, open stock markets generally insist on openness, although there are murky exceptions, especially in Canada.
It also turns out that business secrets are much harder to keep in the Russian market than elsewhere. That’s one reason the Russian risk discount is so high: the ability of Russian stakeholders to conceal material facts of asset value and title, related party transactions, and tax, transfer price and other administrative sanctions is far weaker than you will find in the developed stock exchanges or even in other emerging markets. (more…)
In Mother Goose’s original nursery rhyme, the trio at sea got there by jumping out of a rotten potato. Mother G. also didn’t rate highly their options for surviving at sea. But that’s kids’ stuff.
Buying shares in Russian transportation companies – rail, shipping, ports, containers – is a grown-up bet on the growth of the Russian economy. If gross domestic product (GDP), crude oil prices, real and disposable income are all rising, then it’s likely that moving container-loads of goods inward to feed consumer demand will also grow. Terminals to unload and load the boxes should prosper. That, at least, is what Russian port promoters would have you believe. On current prospects, with first-quarter GDP growth at 4.1%, crude oil up by 24% (Urals, year to date), and imports surging 41% over last year, investors don’t have to be gulled. (more…)
In European folklore, will-o’-the-wisps are lambent flames seen flickering over bogs and fens, and known by many different names and stories. Usually explicable as methane igniting, in some Baltic mythologies the will-o’-the-wisp is believed to signal buried treasure. In others, the ignition is believed to be the trick of a mendacious imp intent on leading unwary travellers to misfortune. (more…)
It’s impossible to celebrate independence of oneself. It is possible to take leave of your senses.
День России, Russia Day, for which Russians take off today, is one of those cynical inventions for which Boris Yeltsin was responsible. It was on June 12, 1990, when, manipulating his control of the Russian republic parliament, Yeltsin declared Russia’s sovereignty from the Soviet Union, i.e, the start of his destruction of Mikhail Gorbachev, and almost everything else. A triumph of meretriciousness over sanctimony. In time, the insecurity from which the one seemed to be offering liberation from the other will deserve a different quality of relief – and apter memorial. (more…)
In just a few hours this week, Rusal’s share price collapsed as a Bloomberg report confirmed what the stock markets have been suspecting for some time now – one of Rusal’s anchor shareholders might need cash so badly, he wants to sell his shares. According to Bloomberg, the requirement for quick cash comes to between $1.5 billion and $2 billion. That represents a sell-off of between 7% and 10% of Rusal’s 1.5 billion shares. On this news, published on Monday and Tuesday, the share price lost more than 10% of its value, dropping below last year’s IPO price of HK$10.80 to the lowest level this year. (more…)
Russia’s price watchdog, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), has announced that on its own initiative, it has opened a case against Novolipetsk Metallurgical Combine (NLMK) and its subsidiary, VIZ-Stal, charging that electric steel produced by the two mills has been priced in violation of Article 10 of the Competition Law of 2006. This article covers “prohibition of abuse of dominant position by an economic entity”. The provision charged in this case is Art 10, sect 1: “the establishment and maintaining of monopolistically high or monopolistically low price for a commodity.” (more…)
When one of the cleverest of international business intelligence agents retires from the secret world to write thrillers for a well-known London publisher, there are bound to be many in Moscow who are curious to know what he chooses to reveal about Russia’s oligarchs, their business practices and personal habits. If you leave out the long-legged Russian beauties yearning to unbutton themselves, and the fresh bloodspatter from the corpses of reporters, traders and lawyers eliminated for knowing too much, what conclusions does he draw from this phase of Russia’s history? (more…)
In an apparently unscripted exchange with reporters in Kursk last Thursday, Mikhail Prokhorov corrected the earlier impression he had given a fortnight before that, if elected by Russian voters in December at the head of the Right Cause party, he may not take his seat in parliament.
However, the garble reported by Interfax adds to the unbelievability of Prokhorov’s first national election campaign even before the party’s convention has selected him; or the first public opinion poll has been taken with Russian voters. (more…)
A fleet of between 200 and 1,000 vessels will be required to carry newly released Russian wheat and other grains to markets in the Mediterranean and East Asia, grain traders and port sources have told Fairplay, in the wake of the May 28 order from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Putin stole the thunder of other officials, announcing that the grain export embargo, due for extension or termination next month, will be lifted, and exports resume from July 1. (more…)
Gennady Onishchenko, the Russian government’s chief food inspector and head of the federal inspection agency Rospotrebnadzor, has ordered a ban on imports of vegetables, announcing: “we urge the population not to buy fresh vegetables from Germany and Spain. Buy Russian production.”
But this time the notorious protectionist of Russian farm, food and wine producers hasn’t gone too far. Instead, a spate of international reports claiming that in addition to cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce, Onishchenko has also stopped imported fruits turns out to be mistaken. (more…)
Alexei Mordashov, owner of the Severstal steelmaking and mining group (lapel button), has instructed the executives in his goldmining arm Nord Gold to prepare for another shot at selling their shares at an initial public offering (IPO) in London before Christmas.
He’s also told them that the sooner they can buy out the Canadian minority shareholders of High River Gold (HRG:CN), the sooner the IPO can go to market – and the sooner they can earn their bonuses. (more…)
Question: Candidates for the post of the IMF managing director are now being discussed. Whom would you support? And what is your attitude towards the scandal surrounding Dominique Strauss-Kahn? Was he framed for political reasons? (more…)
The Ukraine war is splitting the communist parties of Europe between those taking the US side, and those on the Russian side.
In an unusual public criticism of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and of smaller communist parties in Europe which have endorsed the Greek criticism of Russia for waging an “imperialist” war against the Ukraine, the Russian Communist Party (KPRF) has responded this week with a 3,300-word declaration: “The military conflict in Ukraine,” the party said, “cannot be described as an imperialist war, as our comrades would argue. It is essentially a national liberation war of the people of Donbass. From Russia’s point of view it is a struggle against an external threat to national security and against Fascism.”
By contrast, the Russian communists have not bothered to send advice, or air public criticism of the Cypriot communists and their party, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL). On March 2, AKEL issued a communiqué “condemn[ing] Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calls for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Ukrainian territories….[and] stresses that the Russian Federation’s action in recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk regions constitutes a violation of the principle of the territorial integrity of states.”
To the KPRF in Moscow the Cypriots are below contempt; the Greeks are a fraction above it.
A Greek-Cypriot veteran of Cypriot politics and unaffiliated academic explains: “The Cypriot communists do not allow themselves to suffer for what they profess to believe. Actually, they are a misnomer. They are the American party of the left in Cyprus, just as [President Nikos] Anastasiades is the American party of the right.” As for the Greek left, Alexis Tsipras of Syriza – with 85 seats of the Greek parliament’s 300, the leading party of the opposition – the KKE (with 15 seats), and Yanis Varoufakis of MeRA25 (9 seats), the source adds: “The communists are irrelevant in Europe and in the US, except in the very narrow context of Greek party politics.”
The war plan of the US and the European allies is destroying the Russian market for traditional French perfumes, the profits of the French and American conglomerates which own the best-known brands, the bonuses of their managers, and the dividends of their shareholders. The odour of these losses is too strong for artificial fresheners.
Givaudan, the Swiss-based world leader in production and supply of fragrances, oils and other beauty product ingredients, has long regarded the Russian market as potentially its largest in Europe; it is one of the fastest growing contributors to Givaudan’s profit worldwide. In the recovery from the pandemic of Givaudan’s Fragrance and Beauty division – it accounts for almost half the company’s total sales — the group reported “excellent double-digit growth in 2021, demonstrating strong consumer demand for these product categories.” Until this year, Givaudan reveals in its latest financial report, the growth rate for Russian demand was double-digit – much faster than the 6.3% sales growth in Europe overall; faster growth than in Germany, Belgium and Spain.
Between February 2014, when the coup in Kiev started the US war against Russia, and last December, when the Russian non-aggression treaties with the US and NATO were rejected, Givaudan’s share price jumped three and a half times – from 1,380 Swiss francs to 4,792 francs; from a company with a market capitalisation of 12.7 billion francs ($12.7 billion) to a value of 44.2 billion francs ($44.2 billion). Since the fighting began in eastern Ukraine this year until now, Givaudan has lost 24% of that value – that’s $10 billion.
The largest of Givaudan’s shareholders is Bill Gates. With his 14%, plus the 10% controlled by Black Rock of New York and MFS of Boston, the US has effective control over the company.
Now, according to the US war sanctions, trade with Russia and the required payment systems have been closed down, alongside the bans on the importation of the leading European perfumes. So in place of the French perfumers, instead of Givaudan, the Russian industry is reorganizing for its future growth with its own perfume brands manufactured from raw materials produced in Crimea and other regions, or supplied by India and China. Givaudan, L’Oréal (Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent), Kering (Balenciaga, Gucci), LVMH (Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy), Chanel, Estée Lauder, Clarins – they have all cut off their noses to spite the Russian face.
By Nikolai Storozhenko, introduced and translated by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
This week President Joseph Biden stopped at an Illinois farm to say he’s going to help the Ukraine ship 20 million tonnes of wheat and corn out of storage into export, thereby relieving grain shortages in the international markets and lowering bread prices around the world. Biden was trying to play a hand in which his cards have already been clipped. By Biden.
The first Washington-Kiev war plan for eastern Ukraine has already lost about 40% of the Ukrainian wheat fields, 50% of the barley, and all of the grain export ports. Their second war plan to hold the western region defence lines with mobile armour, tanks, and artillery now risks the loss of the corn and rapeseed crop as well as the export route for trucks to Romania and Moldova. What will be saved in western Ukraine will be unable to grow enough to feed its own people. They will be forced to import US wheat, as well as US guns and the money to pay for both.
Biden told his audience that on the Delaware farms he used to represent in the US Senate “there are more chickens than there are Americans.” Blaming the Russians is the other card Biden has left.
The problem with living in exile is the meaning of the word. If you’re in exile, you mean you are forever looking backwards, in geography as well as in time. You’re not only out of place; you’re out of time — yesterday’s man.
Ovid, the Roman poet who was sent into exile from Rome by Caesar Augustus, for offences neither Augustus nor Ovid revealed, never stopped looking back to Rome. His exile, as Ovid described it, was “a barbarous coast, inured to rapine/stalked ever by bloodshed, murder, war.” In such a place or state, he said, “writing a poem you can read to no one is like dancing in the dark.”
The word itself, exsilium in Roman law, was the sentence of loss of citizenship as an alternative to loss of life, capital punishment. It meant being compelled to live outside Rome at a location decided by the emperor. The penalty took several degrees of isolation and severity. In Ovid’s case, he was ordered by Augustus to be shipped to the northeastern limit of the Roman empire, the Black Sea town called Tomis; it is now Constanta, Romania. Ovid’s last books, Tristia (“Sorrows”) and Epistulae ex Ponto (“Black Sea Letters”), were written from this exile, which began when he was 50 years old, in 8 AD, and ended when he died in Tomis nine years year later, in 17 AD.
In my case I’ve been driven into exile more than once. The current one is lasting the longest. This is the one from Moscow, which began with my expulsion by the Foreign Ministry on September 28, 2010. The official sentence is Article 27(1) of the law No. 114-FZ — “necessary for the purposes of defence capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of health of the population.” The reason, a foreign ministry official told an immigration service official when they didn’t know they were being overheard, was: “Helmer writes bad things about Russia.”
Antonio Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), who attempted last month to arrange the escape from Russian capture of Ukrainian soldiers and NATO commanders, knowing they had committed war crimes. He was asked to explain; he refuses.
Trevor Cadieu is a Canadian lieutenant-general who was appointed the chief of staff and head of the Canadian Armed Forces last August; was stopped in September; retired from the Army this past April, and went to the Ukraine, where he is in hiding. From whom he is hiding – Canadians or Russians – where he is hiding, and what he will say to explain are questions Cadieu isn’t answering, yet.
Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, is refusing this week to answer questions on the role he played in the recent attempt by US, British, Canadian and other foreign combatants to escape the bunkers under the Azovstal plant, using the human shield of civilians trying to evacuate.
In Guterres’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 26 (lead image), Putin warned Guterres he had been “misled” in his efforts. “The simplest thing”, Putin told Guterres in the recorded part of their meeting, “for military personnel or members of the nationalist battalions is to release the civilians. It is a crime to keep civilians, if there are any there, as human shields.”
This war crime has been recognized since 1977 by the UN in Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention. In US law for US soldiers and state officials, planning to employ or actually using human shields is a war crime to be prosecuted under 10 US Code Section 950t.
Instead, Guterres ignored the Kremlin warning and the war crime law, and authorized UN officials, together with Red Cross officials, to conceal what Guterres himself knew of the foreign military group trying to escape. Overnight from New York, Guterres has refused to say what he knew of the military escape operation, and what he had done to distinguish, or conceal the differences between the civilians and combatants in the evacuation plan over the weekend of April 30-May 1.May.
By Vlad Shlepchenko, introduced & translated by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
The more western politicians announce pledges of fresh weapons for the Ukraine, the more Russian military analysts explain what options their official sources are considering to destroy the arms before they reach the eastern front, and to neutralize Poland’s role as the NATO hub for resupply and reinforcement of the last-ditch holdout of western Ukraine.
“I would like to note,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, repeated yesterday, “that any transport of the North Atlantic Alliance that arrived on the territory of the country with weapons or material means for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces is considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction”. He means the Ukraine border is the red line.
Here’s a story the New York Times has just missed.
US politicians and media pundits are promoting the targeting of “enablers” of Russian oligarchs who stash their money in offshore accounts. A Times article of March 11 highlighted Michael Matlin, CEO of Concord Management as such an “enabler.” But the newspaper missed serious corruption Matlin was involved in. Maybe that’s because Matlin cheated Russia, and also because the Matlin story exposes the William Browder/Sergei Magnitsky hoax aimed at Russia.
In 1939 a little known writer in Moscow named Sigizmund Khrzhizhanovsky published his idea that the Americans, then the Germans would convert human hatred into a new source of energy powering everything which had been dependent until then on coal, gas, and oil.
Called yellow coal, this invention originated with Professor Leker at Harvard University. It was applied, first to running municipal trams, then to army weapons, and finally to cheap electrification of everything from domestic homes and office buildings to factory production lines. In Russian leker means a quack doctor.
The Harvard professor’s idea was to concentrate the neuro-muscular energy people produce when they hate each other. Generated as bile (yellow), accumulated and concentrated into kinetic spite in machines called myeloabsorberators, Krzhizhanovsky called this globalization process the bilificationof society.
In imperial history there is nothing new in cases of dementia in rulers attracting homicidal psychopaths to replace them. It’s as natural as honey attracts bees.
When US President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke on October 19, 1919, he was partially paralysed and blinded, and was no longer able to feed himself, sign his name, or speak normally; he was not demented.
While his wife and the Navy officer who was his personal physician concealed his condition, there is no evidence that either Edith Wilson or Admiral Cary Grayson were themselves clinical cases of disability, delusion, or derangement. They were simply liars driven by the ambition to hold on to the power of the president’s office and deceive everyone who got in their way.
The White House is always full of people like that. The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution is meant to put a damper on their homicidal tendencies.
What is unusual, probably exceptional in the current case of President Joseph Biden, not to mention the history of the United States, is the extent of the president’s personal incapacitation; combined with the clinical evidence of psychopathology in his Secretary of State Antony Blinken; and the delusional condition of the rivals to replace Biden, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Like Rome during the first century AD, Washington is now in the ailing emperor-homicidal legionary phase. But give it another century or two, and the madness, bloodshed, and lies of the characters of the moment won’t matter quite as much as their images on display in the museums of their successors craving legitimacy, or of successor powers celebrating their superiority.
Exactly this has happened to the original Caesars, as a new book by Mary Beard, a Cambridge University professor of classics, explains. The biggest point of her book, she says, is “dynastic succession” – not only of the original Romans but of those modern rulers who acquired the Roman portraits in marble and later copies in paint, and the copies of those copies, with the idea of communicating “the idea of the direct transfer of power from ancient Romans to Franks and on to later German rulers.”
In the case she narrates of the most famous English owner of a series of the “Twelve Caesars”, King Charles I — instigator of the civil war of 1642-51 and the loser of both the war and his head – the display of his Caesars was intended to demonstrate the king’s self-serving “missing link” between his one-man rule and the ancient Romans who murdered their way to rule, and then apotheosized into immortal gods in what they hoped would be a natural death on a comfortable bed.
With the American and Russian successions due to take place in Washington and Moscow in two years’ time, Beard’s “Twelve Caesars, Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern”, is just the ticket from now to then.