7D | A Mexican Standoff?

On 7D, nothing will happen

On 7D, nothing will happen

Argentine media group Clarín announces a stay of execution.

It says it will not be required to comply with the 2009 Ley dos Medios until all appeals have been exhausted.

As soon as [the court] extended the stay in the case challenging the constitutionality of certain provisions of the media law, Clarín issued the following statement:

The Grupo Clarín has just been informed that the injunction has been extended until a definitive ruling on the constitutionality of provisions of the Media Law  has been arrived at.

As it has throughout the process,  Grupo Clarín will follow the law, respecting the Constitution, the law, and the findings of the courts.

Eric Nepomuceno of Brazil’s Observatório da Imprensa summarizes the case, below.

As it happens, and contrary to the image of a deeply polarized debate, there is internal disagreement among shareholders in the Clarín group over compliance — I will translate that, too. But first, Continue reading

Sambodia | Overflowing Stacks of Hack Attacks!

The Folha de S. Paulo practices the journalism of ante hoc ergo propter hoc.

A hacker invaded the personal e-mail of President Dilma Rousseff and copied e-mails she received during her victorious run for the presidency last year, according to a report by Matheus Leitão and Rubens Valente in today’s Folha (complete story available to subscribers of the Folha or of UOL, a company controlled by the Grupo Folha, which publishes the Folha.)

If you ask me, that lengthy bit of boilerplate about who owns who ruins the elegant punch of the lead. Nor does the nut graph inspire confidence.

The young man tried to sell the e-mails to politicians from the two opposition parties, the DEM-PFL and PSDB, but said he had no success. The Folha met with the hacker on Monday at a mall in Taguatinga, in the Federal District, 20 km from Brasília. He asked to remain anonymous, saying his name is “Douglas”, that he is unemployed, and that he is 21 years old..

Why is the Folha going to meet hackers with sensitive e-mails from Obama or Mitt Romney in a shopping mall in Ô do Borogodo? It does not by any chance reproduce any of those e-mails, does it? Read on past the pay wall to find out.

And now for something completely different.  Continue reading

The Return of the Great Turnoff

A huge rolling blackout hit the Northwest last week, prompting memories of the great Northeastern — U.S. — blackout of 2003, when I managed to use Neuza’s Lenny Kravitz love-oil lamp to incinerate the feather pillows.

ZH Dinheiro reports from the land of the cuia and bombachas.

The lamp was a brinde — gift to journalists — as the Nooz had recently gotten backstage passes to a show. The permissible value of brindes among we palefaces, as I like to remind friends, is $0. At one of Neuza’s former employers, it was recently lowered with great fanfare to R$100. BFD.

The quality of electric energy services to consumers has deteriorated in the last three years.

Or, since Dilma Rousseff left Mines and Energy to become chief of staff. The really bad blackouts of 2000-1 — laid to the account of Cardoso and his privatizations — explain a great deal about the success of the major adversary of his chosen successor.

The number of blackouts worsened once again after the deprivatization of the sector again in 2008, not meeting ANEEL’s goal for 2009.

Last year, the situation worsened further. In three years, the index of outages in Braxzil rose from 16 hours to nearly 20 [--per what amount of time? --Ed.]. In the Northeast, the indicator rose from 18 to 27 hours.

A pior situação foi verificada em Sergipe, onde o volume de apagões dobrou, de 22 para 44 horas. A Bahia também teve uma piora significativa: subiu de 14 para 20 horas.

Alguns Estados apresentaram melhora, como o caso do Maranhão e Piauí. Mas lá os indicadores ainda continuam altos, entre 22 e 44 horas.

Na opinião de especialistas do setor, a explicação está na falta de investimento adequado nas redes existentes de distribuição e transmissão.

.I recall the Enron-related blackouts of 2000 myself — heard from Gray Davis lately — while apparently Arizona residents are mad at the electric company, too.

Bloomberg reports that the U.S. will experience a spike in outages due to heavy weather this year as well.

I would really like the answer to my editorial query before closing. How many hours is power down during what index period? Is it months? “power outages” +statistics ought to do it in Google, but it is such a hot button issue that no page conveniently called “All You Have Ever Wanted To Know About the Electrical Grid” pops up.

Something called the National Enyclopedia shows Brazil as a light yellow zone in a hastily cooked-up Google Map.

Will the Energy Information Administration help me? It has a reporting form, but of course power companies do not like to report.

All I get is a spreadsheet telling me when the incident began and when it ended. The modest formula that would calculate duration the could not even prrogram in? It leads with a Louisiana blackout that lasted three days.

I would like to know where Zero Hora — cribbed from the AE wire — got its numbers and if it would send me a spreadsheeet that I could compare against other hard numbers. “Is worsening” is a subjective description whereas as “is missing generation quotas by an average of X per month” actually tells you something.

New Model Brasília

Source: Correio Braziliense/Portal ClippingMP.

For the first time in many years, Brazil’s Federal District — the famous jet airliner-shaped planned metropolis of Brasília — is not governed by one of two political factions which, although nominally aligned with opposite ends of the political spectrum, have basically just handed the keys to the self-same Cadillac of corruption back and forth during regime changes over the years.

The previous governor of the federal district, José Roberto Arruda of the DEM, had been touted as having the right stuff for the opposition vice-presidential slot.

National news magazines glorified Arruda as a world-class practicioner of the New Public Management.

Nationally televised video — above — of the man and his cronies running old school New Jersey-style garbage-collection kickback schemes put a humiliating end to both the man and the media myth.

Arruda’s political nemesis, Joaquim Roriz — an old-school PMDB machine politician forced by endemic corruption charges to join the Christian Socialists — then ran afoul of  recently passed “clean slate” legislation, barring the candidacy of public officials with criminal convictions that have been upheld on appeal.

Roriz dropped out to avoid losing his political rights, nominating his wife to run in his stead. Her portrait never even replaced the ex-govenor’s on the ballot. She was resoundingly creamed by the Workers Party — PT — candidate, Agnelo Queiroz.

And so — in addition to historically charged victories in Bahia and Rio Grande do Sul, a solid block of shared power with the Socialists in the Northeast, and a staunch ally in the City and State of Rio de Janeiro — the party of the federal situation gets its first chance to run a major model city since Marta Suplicy was mayor of São Paulo.

The PT grew up politically on ambitious projects for model cities, such as the famous participatory budget process installed in Porto Alegre — now back in the hands of the semi-allied PDT, a producer of some fine public humans, such as Senator Cristovam Buarque.

The opposition now governs 10 of 27 Brazilian states, although these comprise 52% of the population, largely due to the influence of the populous  São Paulo and Santa Catarina — in both of which states  the winning majorities were, however, within 50%+the polling margin of error — and Minas Gerais.

The PSDB has some interesting new model city-running proposals of its own, especially in Minas Gerais. One hears that Belo Horizonte — where the PT lost in 2008 to a PSB-PSDB coalition put together by Aécio Neves — has actually progressed and gotten more orderly. Neves seems inclined to put an end to the PSDB’s rightward drift and restore the party’s identity as the natural party of the center-left mainstream.

The party really needs a viable proof-of-concept to erase memories of the debacle in Rio Grande do Sul, where another redoubtable technocratic pushing through “public management shock therapy” was politically annihilated by failure and scandal.

But enough about politics. Can new management really drain the swamp? That is the real question.

My policy is to root for Brazilian swamp-drainers of all political persuasions.

The CB reports today, and I translate a portion,  Continue reading

Argentina | “All The President’s Organs”

“Newspapers are like revolvers: You keep them around jsut so you can pull them out when it’s time to open fire.”Julio Mario Santo Domingo

Happiness, is a warm gun, momma …

New and noted:

This episode surrounding a government lawsuit that challenges control of the newsprint monopoly Papel Prensa S.A. of Argentina is fascinating on so many levels — not least as a peek at political risk management as practiced by a major South American media group or two.

I am just going to translate to the file, underline the references to be googled …. maybe I will eventually work up a pauta — a “pitch,” I mean — for some magazine. Who is writing about this case in the Reuters-Bloomberg-DJ leagues, if anyone?

If they relied on Spanish Wikipedia — admit it, you peek, it’s okay — they are probably pretty well informed. Portuguese Wikipedia, not so much.

The scandal over the e-mails of Manuel Vázquez, former aide to ex-Transportation secretary Ricardo Jaime, keeps on producing headlines. Two of them involve media matters..

One concerned Jaime’s purported ownership of a  “multimedia” company in Córdoba which includes the La Mañana newspaper and radio station LV2.

The other appeared on Sunday in La Nación with the headline “The Telefé deal and the government’s war with Clarín”.

In the unsigned article, La Nación said: “Manuel Vázquez tried to take charge of the sale of Telefé to certain friends of Néstor Kirchner. Rumors of this deal circulated in 2008 and 2009, but were denied by Telefónica, owner of the open-to-air broadcaster.”

It added: “The e-mails show that Vázquez was maneuvering in 2008 with Juan Riva, a former Telefónica exec. ‘The person they recommended was the neighbor of Number One,’ Riva wrote to Vázquez on February 26. He was referring to Rudy Ulloa, a close friend of Néstor Kirchner. ‘The media is not just a business, it is a vast platform they use to do other things,’ he says. Vázquez responded as follows: ‘I have begun looking for investors and informed the government’. He added that ‘There are businessmen and bankers looking for an in with the Big Cheese.’

El mandemás, the guy who gives all the orders..

In the next paragraph, he reports, “Riva warned days ago that Telefónica did not want to sell, but could accept the deal if it came with ‘a change of regulations favoring their acquisition of TDT for their channels, rather than giving it to the  Clarín group.’ Vázquez saw the deal as difficult: ‘What weighs increasingly in the balance is NK’s good relationship with Clarín. Clarín is practically the president’s organ bank.'”

Televisíon digital terrestre or terrestrial digital TV, the acronym is the same.

This occurred “six days before Resolution 125 and the beginnings of the agricultural protest.” Later, “in April, Riva was enthusiastic about the rift between Clarín and the government, and sent Vázquez a note about Ulloa and Telefé. ‘I cannot see very well how we can intervene; they are already in direct contact’,  Vázquez told him on April 14.”

Colorful detail: the government’s man in charge of public-private partnerships accusing the two majority private-sector owners of giving themselves fat discounts off the books and spying on the credit card accounts of judges for the purposes of blackmail.

These things do happen, but I would just say at this point that we are watching one of those media-driven hurricanes of mutual public recrimination. Where it will make land, your guess is as good as mine.

Apax Enters Brazil

From time to time, I like to pretend I work for DealBook — recently cleverly  rebranded as DealB%k.

In my case, it is more a matter of “deal graffiti” — disjointed notes I manage to jot down before the Economic Reality Police catch me doing something I am not getting paid for. If were A. Ross Sorkin, moreover, I would not still be in my jammies at this hour.

I am guided more by personal interests and idle curiosity than by any overriding strategic picture, it should be said — though I have at times considered channeling all this energy into an alternative investment newsletter.

When and if I ever discover an entrepreneurial bone in my body, perhaps I will even give it a whirl. As it stands now, I am about four days behind the story — but then I have been busy with other wheelings and dealings.

Tivit will delist its shares from the Novo Mercado segment of the São Paulo Stock Exchange, paving the way the sale of a controlling 54.72% stake to Dethalas.

Tivit is the leading IT and BPO integrator in Latin America, with a portfolio organized into three main areas: IT Infrastructure, Applications Systems and Business Process Outsourcing. It currently owns 18 business units, located in strategic regions of Brasil, and possesses extensive infrastructure permitting scalability, reliability and information security.  TIVIT manages mission-critical operations for clientes that include 300 of the largest 500 Brazilian companies. It provides services to major banks, insurance companies, credit card operations, manufacturers, public concession-holders, and retail operations..

But who in the hell is Dethalas, which will up its stake from 43% in the tender offer scheduled for December 20 and priced at R$18.10 — US$10.50 — per share?

That’s  about R$873.8 million, or US$507 million.

Dethalas, according to the local press, is a Brazilian representative of the London-based buyout firm Apax Partners.

The Junta Comercial — analogous to Secretaries of State in the U.S. in the role of corporate registrar — has greatly improved, offering this basic information about the firm.

The Junta still demands the equivalent of your SSN in order to access more detailed information — which I tend to feel is pretty damned intrusive of my privacy.

Dethala’s paid-in capital is just a little over the proposed pricing of the tender offer.

Continue reading

Alstom: Foreign Corrupt Practices in the Holy Sambodian Smoking Hole?

In the wake of the Big Armadillo, holes to fill the Albert Hall. My mother-in-law lives on this street.

The French railway engineering firm Alstom has been accused in Brazil of paying bribes to acquire contracts here — including the São Paulo Yellow Line, a project marred by the Great Smoking Hole incident of 2007.

The company provides subway cars to the São Paulo Metrô subway system, and is in the running for the Rio-São Paulo high-speed service as well, I believe I read.

Today, according to the Monitor Mercantil (via Stanley Burburinho writing on the blog of Luis Nassif), support for these charges with the arrest of three Alstom executives in London.

The grand-daddy of all massive public works in São Paulo, Paulo Salim Maluf — ex-governor and ex-mayor — is now wanted by Interpol and will be arrested on sight in 181 countries.

The internationalization of the case began with an arrest warrant issued by the Manhattan D.A., who said something like, «We are not going to let this city become some Grand Caymans on the Hudson.»

O Departamento de Investigações de Fraudes Financeiras da Grã-Bretanha prendeu nesta quarta-feira, em Londres, três diretores que integram o Conselho de Administração do grupo francês Alstom sob a acusação de pagamento de propina e corrupção.

The United Kindom’s financial fraud department has arrested three board members of the French group Alstom on charges of bribery and corruption.

Em nota, o departamento do governo britânico afirmou que suspeita que as propinas foram pagas pela empresa para vencer contratos internacionais e que há lavagem de dinheiro e outros crimes associados ao caso.

In a press release, the government stated its suspicion that bribes were paid by the company in order to win international contracts, and that money-laundering and other crimes were associated with these crimes.

A Alstom, empresa especializada em infra-estruturas de geração de energia e transporte ferroviário, está presente em mais de 70 países e é investigada na Suíça e na França por suspeita de corrupção em negócios na América do Sul, particularmente no Brasil, onde teria feito pagamento a políticos através de uma empresa sediada no Uruguai, para obter vantagens na licitação para expansão do metrô paulista, segundo revelou o jornal Folha de S.Paulo.

Alston, which specializes in railway transport and electricity generation, operates in over 70 nations and is under investigation in Switzerland and France for suspected corruption in South America — and Brazil especially, where it allegedly paid off politicians through a Uruguayan corporation in order to win the São Paulo Metrô contract, according to the Folha de S. Paulo.

Já o Wall Street Journal publicou que policiais suíços se reuniram com policiais brasileiros para discutir um total de US$ 6,8 milhões que eles suspeitam ter sido pagos por funcionários da Alstom para ganhar o contrato de US$ 45 milhões para a expansão do metrô de São Paulo. Os policiais suíços também investigam cerca de US$ 200 milhões em pagamentos suspeitos feitos pela Alstom em projetos em Santa Catarina e em outros países da América do Sul.

The W$J, meanwhile, reported that Swiss police have met with Brazilian police to discuss a total of US$6.8 million they suspect was paid by Alstom employees to win the $45 million contract to expand the São Paulo subway system.

Continue reading

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