French Connection | A Note on the Sugarcane Sector

Source: Bloomberg|EXAME

How about this for a lede graf: «As Brazil’s sugarcane sector consolidates and traditional family-owned sugarcane groups face extinction, fuel- and industrial-grade ethanol producers and processors diversify products though biochemistry».

This is a sector I have not regularly followed for a year or two, so caveat lector.

First, sugarcane miller and federal legislator João Lyra of Alagoas is pressured by creditors and is working to avoid the bankruptcy of his group — reported by Tatiana BAUTZER of ISTOÉ Dinheiro.

Second, several major sugarcane processors build capacity to diversify their by-products.

At 82, the richest sugarmill owner and  federal legislator ( PSD-AL) faces a legal tempest in a bid to retain control of his sugar and alcohol business. In late September, a state court declared the bankruptcy of Laginha Agro Industrial, which controls five processing plants — three in Alagoas and two in Minas Gerais. The group had been in reorganization since 2009 and has debts of R$1.2 billion. A batallion of lawyers, however, managed to overturn the ruling, alleging bias on the part of judge Marcelo Tadeu, who transformed the reorganization into a bankruptcy.

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BINGOs e Broncas | Kátia, Camila e a Lei da Floresta

Recomendo o artigo por Simon Romero do New York Times sobre a Lei Florestal.

Diferentemente do trabalho do antigo correspondente principal no País, Larry Rohter, o Romero parece buscar ouvir uma amostra mais ampla de vozes para ilustrar o conflito social, citando outras reportagens boas como as do jornal Valor Econômico.

Pode-se até dizer que a Dama Grisalha — alcunha carinhosa do secular diário — oferece melhor cobertura do que a imprensa nacional. Mas vou deixar aquele juízo para vocês.

O que me interessava em particular foi o retrato dos ruralistas no Congresso, liderados pela poderosa Kátia Abréu. Ela é a única legislador ou legisladora que conheço que chefia o lobby que pretende convencer os congressistas. Parece que recebe dois salários, o público e o privado, mas ainda não tenho certeza disso.

De qualquer jeito, segundo Romero, a Kátia está dando coices a várias BINGOs — sigla em inglês para «grandes ONGs internacionais».

«Há ONGs no mundo comprometido com os paises de origem, especialmente de Europa,“ ela disse, referindo-se as organizações não-governamentais e descrevendos suas atividades como «uma tentativa de paralisar o crescimento do setor agricultural brasileiro. [ ...]

Ainda outras vozes brasileias de destaque estão cantando a mesma ladainha … e raiva contra o projeto de lei já transbordou na consciência popular. Falando pela indústria de entretenimento, a atriz Camila Pitanga quebrou o protocolo em um evento nesse mes, chamando a Dilma, que estava presente, a vetar o PL. O video do seu discurso espalhou-se rapidamente nas mídias sociais.

Eu gostaria saber quais as ONGs internacionais apontadas como indevidamente intrometidas. Me lembro de ouvir a mesma crítica contra a Marina Silva.

E tenho a impressão — por minha leitura do blog de César Maia de vez em quando  – de que os DEM têm laços estreitos com ONGs como a Fundação Adenauer. …

Será que o discurso neonacionalista vai pegar no tranco?

ALL & Cosan | The Sugar Cane Train

Brasil Econômico reports on movements in the Brazilian in the invariably compelling sugarcane industry, dominated by dark horse Coopersucar and odds-on favorite Cosan.

Fitch Ratings has today — 24 Janurary — reaffirmed the rating assigned to Cosan, and Cosan subsidiaries Cosan Combustíveis e Lubrificantes; Cosan Overseas Limited; Cosan Lubrificantes e Especialidades; CCL Finance Limited; and Cosan Finance Limited should be affected by the agreement under which railroad concessionaire América Latina Logística (ALL) will buy shares in the company.

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The Empire of Orange Juice | Cutrale v. the MST

The pro-rural media is once again drooling its hatred for the MST, which yesterday returned to reoccupy land “claim-jumped” by Cutrale in Iaras, in rural São Paulo.

Altamiro Borges, a one-time editor of Vermelho — the party organ of the PCdoB — recites the litany: the commercial media in Brazil is systematically biased against the Landless Workers Movement, or MST.

The allegation has the misfortune of being painfully obvious, independent of which side you favor. I translate in the spirit of providing context for official diplomatic cables on the situation of the MST.

TV anchors and commentators denounced the “invasion” and ran archive footage in which orange trees were damaged …. footage dating from September 2009. Though Incra has ruled again and again that the land belongs to the federal union, the media insist on demonizing the landless workers movement .

The occupation of Cutrale was part of a day of action for agrarian reform, including an encampment with 4,000 participants in Brasilia and various actions in other states. The media aired not a single word of our grievances or the absurdities of land ownership in Brazil. The media prefers to hear from the “victim,” Cutrale – a fact that at least attracts attention, even if it is negative attention, to the problem of land entitlement.

A criminal omission

At critical moments, the hegemonic mass media always takes sides. It unfailingly takes the side of the powerful, including in this case the barons of agribusiness, against the side of the workers. It will even cover up events that it has already reported during a less eventful period. Cutrale’s is an emblematic case. The newsrooms know full well the irregularities practiced by this company, but prefer the criminal conspiracy of silence.

In May 2003, for example, Veja magazine — possibly for mercenary reasons –- did a long report on Cutrale. Veja recounted that Cutrale is one of the largest agribusiness concerns in the world and that it has built its empire on the basis of predatory and illegal practices. “The Brazilian José Luís Cutrale and his family control 30% of the world market in orange juice, a figure comparable to that of OPEC in the oil business”.

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Satanic Mills and The Pigs of Steel

A black-hat carvoaria in Piauí — entire debt-enslaved families engaged in illegal deforestation and the defrauding of carbon-steel production standards.  

It is a shame that Brasil Econômico is hiding today’s report on the black-market carbon industry behind its pay-to-play firewall.

Although it has taken some time to get up steam, the BE — which takes the place of the late, lamented Gazeta Mercantil — thoroughly explores the proposition that specialty steels used by automakers could not be produced sustainably without Brazilian slave and child labor and black-market carbon manufacture.

To be precise, the coverage is largely based on a 7-year study by the Observatório Social, whose methods and means are closely scrutinized. The Observatório titles its report “The Steel of Devastation.” It is itself a steely-eyed and devastating document.

The Observatório describes how companies dedicated, pro forma, to the use of legally produced carbon in their production of pig-iron are really just overlooking the illegal back-door introduction of slave labor-based, environmentally predatory carbon production into the supply chain of “certified” carbon producers.

The illegal facilities are generally located some 10km from the Potemkin villages that front for them — far enough away for plausible deniability, close enough for midnight runs with unmarked trucks with no onboard manifest.

Steel producers — unlike industries that scream for the economic sense and moral rectitude of “self-regulation” — claim that oversight of standards and practices is not their responsibility, Brasil Economico reports.

Again, the real grabber here is the claim that the entire industry would not be sustainable under any other regime now practicable — such as eucalyptus plantations for carbon production — if it were not for slave labor-produced predatory deforestation.

This report really ought to be Englished, and Englished proficiently, o quanto antes.

Law and Order, Sambodia | Nova Ipixuna

Sen. Katia Abréu, president of Brazil’s largest agribusiness lobbying group, says violent deaths in the countryside are mostly common crimes manipulated for propaganda purposes.

The Polícia Civil in Parana revealed the name of the principal suspect in the assassination of the environmentalist couple José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espírito Santo on May 24. Rancher José Rodrigues had a warrant for his arrest sworn out before the Justiça da Comarca de Nova Ipixuna.  According to police, it was he who ordered the activists murdered, paying: R$5,000 for the service.

Descriptions of the hitmen have been circulated by Polícia Civil based on witnesses who saw two men proceeding toward the settlement at 5h30 p.m. and returning several hours later. No arrests have yet been made. The two killers have probably fled the Rio Tocantins region.

Investigations shows that Rodrigues and the couple clashed over matters of land title. The rancher bought lots for the expansion of his cattle grazing operation, but the lands purchased had been consigned to settlers. José Cláudio reportedly told him the area could not be sold and that the sale would be annuled. Police say the leader ordered other settlers to remain camped in the area.

Accompanied by police from Nova Ipixuna, Rodrigues went to the settlement to expel the family farmers from the lots of land in question. When it learned of the situation, Incra,, the national institute of agrariar reform, ruled that the land belonged to the settlers. According to a witness, the rancher, irritated over losing the landds, said that José Cláudio and Maria would pay dearly for this.

The couple would not allow settlers to engage in illegal hardwood poaching — an attitude that divided the settler families.

Via CartaCapital.

Copersucar Ready to IPO

Copersucar’s booze-fueled Formula 1 model.

I told them so, but they only wanted to pay me $0.05 a word for the wisdom so I blew them off.

One of the largest ethanol and sugar exporters in the world, Brazil’s Copersucar has filed with the Brazilian SEC-equiivalent to go public and sell shares on the Bovespa stock market of São Paulo.

The company’s prospectus indicates it will offer both new shares (a “primary offering””) as well as shares currently in the hands of company shareholders  (the “secondary issue”) but does not specify the amounts it intends to raise with this action.

There is still not information on the timetable for the IPO, known in Brazil as an OPA.

In the preliminary prospectus, the company reports exporting 4.6 million tonnes from the 2010/2011 harvest, “or 10% of all the product in the world”, as well as  640 million liters of ethanol.

Goldman Sachs, Itaú-BBA, Bank of America and Credit Suisse will coordinate the offer, which is to be open to domestic and foreign investors alike.

Copersucar markets the output of 48 production units. In the first quarter, it presented net profits of  R$ 355.5 million, compared with a loss of  R$ 2.5 million in the same quarter of the previous year.

Gross revenue was R$ 8.3 billion, up from R$ 3.8 year on year. EBITDA was R$ 407 million, up from R$ 40 million on the same accounting basis.

via Jornal Documento | www.odocumento.com.br.

Behind the scenes there is a restruxturing going on so that partner cooperatives will not see their equity shares diluted by the IPO. I remember reading.

From the Thick Jungles of the South | BINGOs, GONGOs and the Empire of the Moon

It is a curious document: the conclusory findings of a Brazilian parliamentary commission of inquiry (CPI) that almost and essentially never took place.

In 2002, the lower house of the Brazilian congress installed just such a CPI to investigate the activities of NGOs, and foreign-operated and -controlled NGOs in particular, on its soil.

At the time, two cases were highlighted: the almost comically sleazy and cheep use of a sketchy anti-cancer NGO to lobby for the approval of an expensive drug to treat an extremely rare form of the disease, bankrolled by the Big Pharma farmer Novartis, and a giddy scheme by the Unification Church
to buy up land atop the world’s largest freshwater acquifer, along the Paraguayan border with Mato Grosso do Sul.

The commission’s brief account of the latter case deserves translation, and is appended hereto therefore, though for the life of me I cannot dig up any information on how the affair turned out.

The investigation went dormant during the election cycles of 2002 and 2006, threatened to flare up again during the election cycle of 2010, and finally was snuffed out for good amid promises of mutually assured political destruction: If one side holds the NGO where the president’s daughter works up to public scorn, the other will do the same for the daughter of the contender.

Even now, we await the installation of a GONGO — government-organized nongovernmental organization — to be chaired by the attractive wife of São Paulo’s sitting governor, Geraldo Alckmin.

Dubbed Fussesp, or “the solidarity fund of the State of São Paulo,” the thing was founded during the previous Alckmin governorship — 2002-2006 — but has yet to remove the “coming soon” notice from its Web site. Lu certainly makes for a gracious and lovely First Lady, but this sort of self-promotion using the publicly funded political machine cannot help but generate a certain, as they say here, malestar.

What, however, is our takeaway? As a general diagnosis of the post-Westphalia era, I found the conclusions of this 2002 draft report translation-worthy and gave it a little more attention than I usually do to blogged, you get what you pay for, examples of intelligent Lusophone life. Read on.

There are signs that the classic Nation-state, with its clearly defined territorial boundaries, its exclusive exercise of sovereignty over these territories, and its concentration of authority in a unitary government, is losing steam. Certain crucial and traditional attributes of the State are withering away, among them the privileged possession of information, diluted now by the ease of obtaining and circulating information provided by the new technologies.

At the same time, and as a result, three new kinds of agent are growing ever stronger: multilateral bodies, multinational corporations and nongovernmental organizations. There are millions of NGOs, scattered all over the world. Their exact number is difficult to ascertain. Part of their work is accomplished by volunteers and part by professional staff, sustained by private, corporate, government and multilateral donations. They engage in all sorts of humanitarian or ecological research and activity. Many are now large, rich and prestigious enough to influence the policies of sovereign states.

While these organizations often provide society with excellent services and complement the policymaking process in an extremely useful way, it must be remembered that NGOs are first and foremost a way of making a living for their managers and staff. Bearing in mind the influence some NGOs have over local and national governments and multilateral bodies, it is important to remember that they all have one trait in common: not a single one of them is democratically elected. The oversight and auditing of their use of funds is most often not available to the public, assuming such work is even performed.

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New From the Nose for Newsaphone

Learn how to fool search engines and optimize your sites and blogs

Just horsing around with the headlines this morning, as usual.
The Latin American digital convergence market is just about the most interesting game on the planet, if you squint at it correctly — a version of basequetball developed by soccer players, say.

Semealogy, meanwhile, where I registered that little note — it was the top non-BS headline in Valor Econômico today –  is nothing more than an instance of Semantic Wikimedia that lives on my rented server space. If I wanted it to, however, it could easily behave like an automatic news robot.

I saw one of these gizmos in action the other day: A company announcement broken down into its component factoids being pumped out at one twit per second (tps) into twitterspace, taking about five minutes to run through the cycle.

Twitter provided the widget and customized it with the branding of the client, then stuck it in a footnote to the page so that it would rack up impressions without anyone having to actually notice it or actively select it.

They call it churnalism. Bill Gates and George Soros each fork out $50 million a year to make it happen.

Among the worst examples I have seen was the Twitter user who became the talk of the twitterverse overnight by obtaining 185,000 followers in a span of about four hours.

No one was actually talking about the user — a poster child for some iSomething or other — but the decibelmeter was registering Beyond the Voice of God.

I was tracking the guerrilla marketers behind the campaign at the time — working out of a P.O. Box in downtown Goiânia and incapable of keeping straight their various noms de guerre.

That sort of blackhat SEO is kid stuff, though, in comparison with the sort of thing Valor Econômico did to readers during its ongoing promotion — we are getting it home-delivered for free at the moment, and have been for more than a month — just last week.

In a “special section” dished up with the exact same look and feel as the real newspaper, it ran sponsored content not identified as such, mixed in with bylined pieces from persons with ambiguous relationships to the reportorial staff and the subject of coverage.

In the middle of this hodgepodge, a stirring full-page message from your friends at British American Tobacco, swearing their allegiance to the theology of free will, free markets and an end to the traffic in Parguayan Marlboros.

Here in Brazil, this campaign comes joined at the hip with a push for self-regulation of the capital markets and a last-ditch effort to bring the mass media sector within the jurisidiction of the Brazilian FCC, CADE, the antitrust regulator.

It always makes me feel … greasy … when fellow foreigners go all Col. Kurtz on us like this, out here in the heart of darkness like this.

Sure, you CAN reduce your risk of negative news coverage to almost zero, but SHOULD you?  Do you really think people don’t notice?

The local villain to watch is Souza Cruz, the Brazilian Philip Morris behind several Cato Institute clients that one might mention.

When a film was made of the life story of President Lula a year or so back, for example, the fiery labor leader pointedly chain smokes from start to finish — as he used to in real life — and trade unionists only drink Brahma beer.

The film was financed in large part by Brahma and Souza Cruz.

During the military dictatorship, a man named Jean Manzon, editor of Paris-Match, pulled an almost identical stunt with a special propaganda section on the Brazilian miracle.

Manzon had helped found modern Brazilian photojournalism at Globo and produced a remarkable series of propaganda short subjects on behalf of the coup plotters, conditioning audiences for the state of exception to come.

Manzon is still celebrated as an example of Globo’s storied Standard of Quality.  I have some clipped material on the guy somewhere here on one of these 250 GB bricks ….

Novos Mercados-Máquinas: IBM e Febraban?

Aí, o jeito que o tempo têm de complicar as coiss.

No meio da década dos 2000, eu editava um jornalzinho sobre a indústria financeira. Tinha meu gabinete quase na esquina da Rua Wall com Water.

Na época, a NYSE — a Bolsa de Nova York — era a NYSE que sempre tinha sido, ou assim pensavamos, e além de uma “demumutalização” da bolsa, não havia muita gente esperando as enormes mudanças à vir. John Thain, ex-Goldman e mostrado acima à esquerda, parecia ser um homem esperto mas nunca espertalhão.

À mesma época, atraia atenção o model de consolidaçao  de pequenas bolsas pela ambiciosa e tecnicamente avançada OMX, a Bolsa de Oslo, em Noruega. Eu sempre isso um modelo que deveria interessar a BM&F, seguindo nos passos do seu grande amigo e mentor, o Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Da Nasdaq eu, pelo menos, eu não esperava senão que ia continuar sendo o Nasdaq, cotando os preços em letras dez metros de altura no Times Square.

Então, a fusão NYSE-EURONEXT, e a emergência de bolsas de valores e balcões de transação inventandas na hora, em vez de crescer sobre o curso de um século, como tinham feitas a Londres e a NYSE.

E agora?

Do Estadão | Nasdaq e ICE elevam proposta pela Nyse em US$ 350 milhões.

A Nasdaq OMX Group e a IntercontinentalExchange ICE melhoraram a oferta para comprar a Nyse Euronext, oferecendo-se para pagar US$ 350 milhões, além da proposta anterior de US$ 11,18 bilhões, se autoridades antitruste bloquearem o negócio. Às 11h25 de Brasília, as ações da Nasdaq subiam 0,22%, as da ICE caíam 0,20% e as da Nyse avançavam 0,98% em Nova York.A oferta melhorada foi apresentada numa carta formal para o conselho Nyse Euronext, que na semana passada rejeitou a proposta não solicitada por motivos estratégicos.”Nós acreditamos que o conselho da Nyse Euronext procurará aumentar o valor para seus acionistas, reunindo-se conosco, para avaliar a nossa proposta melhorada”, disse o chefe-executivo da ICE, num comunicado.Representantes da Nyse Euronext não estavam disponíveis para comentar a notícia.

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