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The (Big) State of Brazilian Journalism

estadao_ok

Pitiful, how the Estado de S. Paulo metro daily has taken to the production of quasi-fake news of late, in the form of topical coverage of conference events produced by the newspaper itself for its various clients and then reported on as if objectively newsworthy.  Continue reading

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Ich Bin The Champion | Of Tournaments and Pyramids

copadopa

Above, a lovely match-by-match tournament illustration by the Estado de S. Paulo, dated prior to the beginning of sudden death matches.

nature06830-f2.2

Above, from Hierarchical structure and the prediction of missing links in networks: Nature,  453, 98-101 (1 May 2008). Notice the cut-vertices and bridges, which may be the locus of critical social stress and loss of cohesion, or as informal but intentional departures from formal rules in pursuit of collective goals.

As part of my own ongoing reading project on the subject, then, I wonder: What does social network theory have to say in such cases: a directed network  in which the loser transfers structural prestige to the winner, who parlays this relationship of winner and loser –if that is the proper way to say it? — into moving onward and upward.

Continue reading

AES Eletropaulo and AES Tietê | Two of a Pair

Eletropaulo

What a coincidence: Here I am reading an article on the business practices of AES Eletropaulo and boom! another transformer explosion like the one that ravaged the motherboard of my other machine — the one that runs on Linux.

Windows users, I cannot understand how you can bear it.

Source:  Brasil de Fato.

One of the practices engaged in by most electrical energy distributors in Brazil to increase profits is for different companies to negotiate buy-sell contracts among themselves.

This is the case with contract signed between distributor AES Eletropaulo and generator AES Tietê, both controled by the American AES Corporation. These are the so-called “billion-dollar’ contracts which, shamefully, have been autorized by ANEEL, the federal energy regulator. Continue reading

Globopar and the Virgins | Material Events

globo

Source: Blog da Cidadania

Between 2001 and 2002,  Globo Comunicações e Participações Ltda. (Globopar) organized a financial scheme to acquire the transmission rights to the World Cup of 2002. The federal tax authority found the scheme to be fraudulent and criminal. The company was punished  with heavy fines and other penalties.

Globopar had acquired a company in the Virgin Islands that was dissolved just one year later. The funds traced to this company by the tax authority were used by the Marinho family holding company to pay for the transmission rights.

The tax authority brought charges against the company, finding that the transaction had resulted in the evasion of the Income Tax for Corporations [IRPJ] and demanding the payment of the principal, together with adjustment for inflation and a fine. In all, the company was presented with a bill for some R$ 600 million.

All of this took place at a time when news of Globo’s financial problems were widely reported in Brazil and around the world.

In October 2002,  Globopar, a shareholder and operator of the NET cable TV network — an asset it would later sell to the Mexican group Telmex — announced it would renegotiate the deadlines for settling the debt generated by its participation in NET.

At the time, market experts viewed the manuever as a sort of  [“blank  settlement”] by Globo.

Continue reading

Latifúndio | Counting the Beans

Senator Kátia Abréu: "Miss Deforestation"

Senator Kátia Abréu: “Miss Deforestation”

Source:  Brasil de Fato

At least six of the major foreign and domestic groups in the agribusiness, mining and firearms industries invested  R$ 1.395 million in the 2010 election campaigns of nine of the 17 federal deputies who signed  PLP 227.

The bill weakens protections of indigenous rights to ownership of their traditional territories.

Data from the federal elections tribunal (TSE):  See the complete list of campaign donors to the 17 authors of PLP 227.

Dozens of other companies and multinationals involved in grain, pesticides, meatpacking, mining and construction are well represented among the principal donors of the lawmakers who signed PLP 227. As the Parliamentary Agriculture Front denounces the supposedly corrupt interests of native peoples and environmentalists, without ever naming names, the TSE donation figures indicate who should really be questioned about conflicts of interest. Continue reading

M&A Deals |Turner and Esporte Interativo

Acquisition

Source: EXAME

São Paulo – The number of M&A transactions in the Brazilian market fell 4% in the second quarter relative to the same periodin 2012. Between April and June, 213 deals were sealed, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

In the first quarter, 397 deals were announced, down 1.5% from the first quarter of 2012. The IT sector deals formed the largest bloc of transactions, with 54 deals done in the second quarter.  The services sector was close behind, with 47 deals, and 40 deals involved the retail sector.

The prospects of the 3rd quarter are most cautious, with a tendency to spend more time and analysis on transactions, possibly affecting the annual total. “We see opportunities for companies and investors that are able to take advantage of the moment to strengthen and consolidate” their businesses,” the  report said.

The magazine goes on to list the deals done.

An interesting deal I missed out on, closed June 10, 2013:

 Turner Broadcasting, the TV division of Time Warner, announced its acquisition of a minority share in the Brazilian channel Esporte Interativo (EI), which operates on the Internet as well as open to air TV broadcasting and cable TV. The deal went for R$ 80 million.

The companies did not reveal the size of the participation acquired. With this deal, Turner gains two seats on the board of directors of EI, which has 7 seats.  The Brazilian channel will continue to function as an independent company. Management decisions will remain with the original controlling group. “Pay TV is growing in Brazil and the country will host major sporting events in the next few years. This is a market we want to invest in,” said Alex González, VP Corporate Development and New Media, Latin America, to Valor.

This is the third investment of this type by Turner. In 2007, the company bought seven channels from the Claxson group of Argentina, for US$ 234 milhões. In 2010, it spent US$ 150 milhões to acquire Chilevisión. The current deal is its first direct investment in a sports channel anywhere in the world.  Turner owns transmission rights to various sports, but content is delivered on its ther channels.

The executive says the purchase of Esporte Interativo will help Turner learn more about the Brazilian market, and especially the open to air broadcasting business, where Turner had no presence until now. He says he believes that the other 13 channels that Turner owns in Brazil will results synergies  between content and publicity with the new channel.

Created in 2007, the Brazilian channel employs 350. Its audience is an estimated 33 million per month on TV and 10 milhões on the  internet.

Prior to the sale to Turner, EI was structured as follows:  A controlling bloc with 52% shared among 9 partners, a 25% bloc of other partners, a bloc of 15% owned by BNDESPar (which invested R$14 million in 2009) and 8% in the hands of the Corcovado Capital investment fund.

Diniz says none of the original partners left the company with the entry of the U.S. company. The deal results in the dilution of shares. [?]

The company has no IPO plans.

Deals on Wheels | The Railway Pipeline

estacao-luz-antiga

Source: Portal ClippingMP.
Authorship: Guilherme Soares Dias | Valor Economico

I have recently received an incentive to closely and constantly keep an on the Brazilian transportation sector as a whole — not just what the ALLs and LLXs are up to.

Intercity passenger trains are being readied to circulate again in at least nine Brazilian states with plans under active study. In most of these cases, the intention is to reuse existing freight lines for medium-velocity passenger service. The plans provide for management by private sector concessionaires and ticket prices competitive with intercity buses, in a attempt to take some of the strain off crowded highways.

Brazilian roadways — constantly subject to apocalyptic weather conditions, let it be said — are a nerve-wracking way to get around, although mirabile dictu the rodoviários — bus stations — hum industriously all year long, and especially around Christman, when Northeastern families make the trek to be temporarily reunited.

In all, 1,900 km of so-called “regional trains” will get off the drawing board sometime this year. The federal ministry of transport has detailed plans for six stretches of railway, while SUDECO — the Superintendency of  Center-West Development examines two rail lines in the Brasília region. The state of Minas Gerais is studying three new lines and São Paulo is planning another five.

After a study by BNDES, the national development bank, issued a list of  64 railway lines that could be used to move passengers, the transport ministry chose 14  priority project for evaluation in 2011. Two years later, six of these are underway under the auspices of BNDES and one another, under construction by the state of Minas Gerais, should be ready by the the end 2Q13.

After the studies are conducted, the proposals will be opened up to public discusion, after which the transport ministry intends to assess tender offers for projects starting in 2014. Bids closest to completion so far include the Londrina-Maringá connection, in  Paraná, and the Bento Gonçalves-Caxias do Sul connection, in Rio Grande do Sul, where feasibility studies have been conducted and public audiences will begin next month in which residents and local governments will have their say.

According to Euler Costa Sampaio, coordinator of studies on regional and passenger rail in the transportation ministry, the rail lines will likely operate on the basis of a Public-Private Partnership or a concession model. “We want to take advantage of the new rules for the railway sector, which instituted right of way [for passenger trains] on freight train lines,” he said..

Along certain stretches, such as the connection  Londrina-Maringá, the plan is to create a double-track road, given the heavy cargo loads resulting from the line’s proximity to the Porto of Paranaguá. Studies will show that demand will be sufficient for an all-passenger service, says Sampaio. Estimated demands runs around 36,000 passengers a day and 13 million passengers a year.

Another challenge for the regional lines will be entering urban zones, in places where they might cross paths with municipal transport. “We will have to provide quality and accessibility in order to compete with the interstate bus lines. Fairs will have to be in line with what it costs to travel by bus”, a Transportes official said.

In some cases, such as the Salvador-Alagoinhas connection in Bahia, whose study will be filed in June, indications are that the rail line can be extended another 40 km to Feira de Santana. With its  568,000 inhabitants, the city is the second most populous of Bahia state and is connected to Salvador by Highway BR-324, which sufferes from intense passenger and cargo traffic.

Another stretch of track featured in the  Sampaio reporte is the São Luís-Itapecuru-Mirim triangle, in the northern state of Maranhão, where the largest petrochemical center in the Northeast is under construction.

In addition to the six rail linkages already under study, the transport ministry expects to contract studies for another six: São Cristóvão—Laranjeiras (SE), Recife—Caruaru (PE), Campos—Macaé (RJ), Itajaí— Rio do Sul (SC), Campinas—Araraquara (SP), Santa Cruz—Mangaratiba (RJ), and Bocaiúva—Janaúva (MG).

Os projetos preveem que os trens atinjam de 80 a 140 quilômetros por hora para encurtar, em alguns casos, o tempo de percurso atual. É o caso do trecho entre Brasília e Goiânia que teria viagens de 50 minutos, enquanto as de carro e ônibus duram de duas a três horas. O trecho é estudado pela Sudeco. A linha seria de uso misto, sendo aproveitada para transporte de cargas, com ligação da Ferrovia Norte-Sul em Anápolis (GO), onde está prevista uma parada.

O diretor-superintendente da Sudeco, Marcelo Dourado, ressalta que 6 milhões de pessoas moram no entorno da futura linha e devem ser beneficiadas pelo novo modal de transporte. Ele destaca ainda que haverá melhora no escoamento de produção do agronegócio. A região concentra o segundo Produto Interno Bruto (PIB) meso-regional só perdendo para Rio-São Paulo.

“Essa ligação mais rápida vai incentivar a industrialização e a conurbação da região”, acredita Dourado. Os estudos estão sendo concluídos e a intenção do órgão é que a licitação ocorra até o fim do ano, as obras comecem em 2014 e sejam concluídas em até sete anos. O custo estimado é de R$ 1 bilhão. A Sudeco estuda ainda a ligação entre Brasília-Luiziânia (GO), onde já existe linha férrea e seria necessária adaptação para o trem de passageiros. “Essa seria uma intervenção mais rápida e barata. Seriam necessários dez meses e R$ 90 milhões de desembolsos para viabilizar a linha”, afirma Dourado. O trecho seria atendido por um Veículo Leve sobre Trilho (VLT). De acordo com o superintendente da Sudeco, os dois projetos têm chegada prevista na rodoferroviária da capital federal e devem desafogar as rodovias do Distrito Federal.

O governo federal prevê ainda estudos de um trem ligando as cidades do Triângulo Mineiro e outro mais ousado, da Superintendência do Desenvolvimento do Nordeste (Sudene), que planeja o “Trem da Costa Dourada”, linha de 2 mil quilômetros ligando Salvador ao Delta do Parnaíba (PI) pelo litoral, passando pela maioria das capitais do Nordeste. Apesar do apelo turístico do projeto até mesmo os estudos encontram dificuldade para sair do papel. “O Ministério do Turismo tinha se comprometido a bancar, mas ainda não conseguimos a liberação da verba. Agora estamos negociando com o governo espanhol para financiar os estudos”, diz o superintendente da Sudene, Luiz Gonzaga Paes Landim. Ele garante que o trem é viável e afirma que o projeto poderia ser “fatiado”, com início nos trechos de maior apelo turístico como Salvador -Praia do Forte (BA), Recife-Porto de Galinhas (PE), Natal-Praia da Pipa (RN) e Fortaleza-Canoa Quebrada (CE).

Para o coordenador de transporte de passageiros do Laboratório de Transportes e Logística (LabTrans/UFSC), Rodolfo Philippi, os projetos atuais estudados pelo Ministério dos Transportes terão viabilidade reforçada pelo transporte urbano, uma vez que o aproveitamento de linhas já existentes vai possibilitar estações no centro das cidades. “Em locais maiores como Londrina, Maringá e Caxias do Sul poderá haver mais de uma estação incentivando o locomoção das pessoas dentro das cidades”, diz.

Já o presidente da Associação Brasileira da Indústria Ferroviária (Abifer), Vicente Abate, recorda que nas décadas de 60 e 70 os trens de passageiros chegaram a transportar 100 milhões de passageiros por ano. “Com o desinvestimento do governo na rede, os trens de passageiros foram perdendo competitividade e começaram a ser desativados e foram substituídos pelo transporte de rodovias. Agora devemos ter novo momento de retomada do setor”, considera.

Hoje, apenas duas linhas férreas recebem transporte de passageiros no país: a Estrada de Ferro Carajás, entre São Luís-Carajás (PA), e a Estrada de Ferro Vitória-Minas entre Vitória e Belo Horizonte. Ambas são mantidas em projetos sociais da Vale e movimentam juntas 1,5 milhão de passageiros por ano.

Good fodder for a private Wiki on the subject.