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Showing posts from June, 2009

Chile's La Polar Falls Most in 7 Months After Merger Rejected

By Nathan Gill      June 30 (Bloomberg) -- Empresas La Polar SA, Chile’s fourth-largest department store chain, sank the most in seven months after saying it rejected a merger offer from supermarket chain Omega SA.      La Polar fell 6.4 percent to 1,960 pesos in Santiago trading, its steepest drop since Nov. 20. The stock jumped 24 percent from May 27 through June 26 after Omega, controlled by Southern Cross Latin America Private Equity Fund III LP, offered to merge its supermarkets with the retailer’s department stores.      Santiago-based La Polar rejected the deal because it wouldn’t “generate synergies,” President Andres Ibanez said in a statement posted on the Web site of Chile’s regulator on June 26, after the market closed. The country’s stock market was closed yesterday for a holiday.      “We’ll probably see a negative reaction in the shares,” Chile’s BCI Corredor de Bolsa wrote today in a note to clients. “Many investors were in the stock thinking about an eventual merger.…

Honduran Protesters, Soldiers Clash Outside Palace After Coup

By Andres R. Martinez and Nathan Gill      June 29 (Bloomberg) -- Hundreds of protesters clashed with riot police and soldiers outside Honduras’ presidential palace a day after the military arrested President Manuel Zelaya at gunpoint and put him on a plane out of the country.      Regional leaders, from market-friendly Mexican President Felipe Calderon to self-declared socialist Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, met in Nicaragua in a bid to restore Zelaya to office. The coup, the first in Latin America since a two-day ouster of Chavez in 2002, was condemned by the U.S. and European Union.      Security forces regained control of streets near the presidential palace in the capital, Tegucigalpa, even as roadblocks set ablaze by protesters smoldered. Earlier, gunshots were heard outside the palace, although it wasn’t immediately clear who fired them or whether anyone was injured. Demonstrators, some wearing face masks, threw rocks and banged on shields held by the police.      “All the people …

Latin America Leaders Call Summit to Restore Zelaya (Update 4)

By Nathan Gill and Joshua Goodman      June 29 (Bloomberg) -- Latin American leaders are gathering in an emergency summit to restore Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to office after his ouster by the military yesterday in a showdown over a referendum on term limits.      Regional leaders, from market-friendly Mexican President Felipe Calderon to self-declared socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, are meeting today in Nicaragua. The coup, the first in Latin America since a two-day ouster of Chavez in 2002, was condemned by the U.S. and European Union. The Organization of American States said it won’t recognize a new government.      “We can’t accept or recognize any government other than Zelaya’s,” Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said in his weekly radio program today. “If Honduras doesn’t reverse its position, then it’s going to be totally isolated in the middle of an enormous contingent of democracies.”      The military’s overthrow of Zelaya may threaten the cou…

Latin America Calls Summit to Try to Restore Zelaya in Honduras

By Nathan Gill and Eric Sabo      June 29 (Bloomberg) -- Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, ousted by the military, meets with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and regional leaders today in a show of support designed to restore him as head of the Central American country.      Zelaya said soldiers surrounded his house and forced him at gunpoint to board a plane for Costa Rica yesterday. His opponents accused him of seeking to change the constitution through a referendum in an attempt to hold onto power. Honduran lawmakers named Roberto Micheletti, the head of Congress, as president and accused Zelaya of “repeated violations of the constitution.”      The coup was condemned by the U.S., European Union and Organization of American States, which said they won’t recognize any new government. Regional leaders called an emergency summit today in Nicaragua’s capital, Managua.      “It appeared that the darkness of Latin American dictatorships had ended, but now that’s not the case,” Costa Ri…

Chavez Says Honduras Coup Will Fail, Vows Assistance

By Nathan Gill and Andres R. Martinez      June 28 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said a military coup in Honduras is “destined to fail” and that his nation’s armed forces are ready to help return President Manuel Zelaya to power.      Chavez, joined by Zelaya and the presidents of Ecuador, Nicaragua and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, spoke today to about fifty supporters in a convention center in Managua. He clarified later in his speech that Venezuela would “never invade” Honduras.      Newly appointed president Roberto Micheletti called on other nations to respect the Honduras government’s decision to oust Zelaya.      “I believe that no one like Barack Obama, much less Hugo Chavez, has the right to intervene militarily in our country,” Micheletti said today at a press conference in Tegucigalpa.

Honduras Military Is Creating a ‘State of Terror,’ Zelaya Says

By Nathan Gill and Andres R. Martinez      June 28 (Bloomberg) -- Honduras’ military is creating a “state of terror” by closing the country’s airports and borders after taking power, said Manuel Zelaya, who was deposed as president in the coup earlier today.
     Zelaya spoke in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, where he is meeting with other Latin American presidents to discuss the overthrow.

Zelaya Is ‘Constitutional’ President of Honduras, Ortega Says

By Nathan Gill and Andres R. Martinez      June 28 (Bloomberg) -- Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted from power by soldiers today, is the constitutional president of Honduras, according to comments broadcast on Telesur.     Ortega is meeting with Zelaya and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Managua, the Nicaraguan capital, to discuss the military coup that was mounted earlier today.

Moody's Coutino Says Honduras Coup May Jeopardize Trade With U.S.

By Nathan Gill      June 28 (Bloomberg) -- Alfredo Coutino, director for Latin America at Moody’s in West Chester, Pennsylvania, comments on the economic impact of a military coup in Honduras. Coutino spoke today in a telephone interview.
On the coup’s impact on Honduras’s trade:      “Its going to be a negative mark for Honduras, particularly from the U.S.      “The U.S. will put pressure for the restoration of democracy, if that doesn’t happen, we will see major economic consequences because then we will see that they can impose restrictions on Honduras trade.”
On which areas of Honduras’s economy will be the most affected by the coup:      “The sectors that would suffer because of trade restrictions are going to be the industrial sector and the agriculture sector.      “Honduras is an important exporter of manufactured goods to the U.S., particularly in the area of textiles.
On the potential affect of Honduras’s coup on the rest of Latin America:      “There is no reas…

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya Is Ousted in Coup by Military

By Nathan Gill and Jose Orozco      June 28 (Bloomberg) -- Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was ousted by the military today after his opponents accused him of ignoring court rulings and seeking to change the constitution through a referendum to hold onto power.      Zelaya, an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, was seized by soldiers at his house and forced to board a plane for Costa Rica. The military acted after the Central American nation’s Supreme Court overturned the president’s decision to fire the commander of the armed forces.      “The only reason that I wasn’t assassinated was that the soldiers are from the people,” Zelaya, 56, said in a televised interview from San Jose, the Costa Rican capital. He said he was awakened by shouts outside his house as his guards battled for 20 minutes with the military.      Electricity and telephone services in the country were cut, and government supporters took to the streets of Tegucigalpa, the capital. Leaders from around the wo…

Honduras’s Roberto Micheletti Sworn In as President, OAS Says

By Courtney Schlisserman and Nathan Gill      June 28 (Bloomberg) -- Roberto Micheletti, head of the Honduran Congress, was sworn in today as the central American nation’s new president following a military coup, said Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary-general of the Organization of American States.      Micheletti was sworn in following the ouster today of President Manuel Zelaya, who was arrested by troops and flown to Costa Rica. Insulza spoke today at an OAS emergency meeting in Washington

Honduras Military Detains Ambassadors, Minister Rodas Seized

By Nathan Gill
     June 28 (Bloomberg) -- Honduras Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas was seized today by masked soldiers and is being held, Venezuela Abassador Armando Laguna said in comments broadcast on Telesur.      Laguna and the ambassadors of Nicaragua and Cuba in Honduras were briefly detained after trying to defend Rodas against masked soldiers, Laguna said.

Chile Construction May Be Near Bottom, Chamber Says

By James Attwood and Nathan Gill      June 17 (Bloomberg) -- Chile’s construction industry may bottom out next quarter as unemployment in the industry peaks at 21 percent, about double the national rate, according to the country’s Chamber of Construction.      “In October we were falling without a parachute, and now we’re falling slowly,” Chairman Lorenzo Constans said today in an interview from his Santiago offices. “We’re closer to a trend reversal, but the recovery’s going to be very slow.”      Construction may contract about 2.5 percent this year while new housing sales, which rose 8 percent last year, slide as much as 25 percent, he said. Job cuts in the industry probably will reach 120,000 by September and end the year at 100,000, according to the chamber.      Real-estate developers such as Socovesa SA have rallied this year as the central bank slashed the benchmark lending rate to a record low and the government started spending savings from copper exports to cushion the eco…

Swine Flu Nations Briefed in Preparation for WHO Pandemic Call

By Nathan Gill and Jason Gale      June 11 (Bloomberg) -- Leaders of six swine flu-infected countries have been briefed by the World Health Organization in preparation for a “probable change” in the agency’s level of pandemic alert, Chile’s health ministry said.      Officials in Australia, Chile, Japan, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S. were asked for information on cases and measures taken to mitigate the disease, known as H1N1, before the WHO moves to the top of its six-stage pandemic warning scale, Chile’s Health Minister Alvaro Erazo said in a statement yesterday.      The WHO will declare the first flu pandemic in 41 years sometime in the next 10 days, three people familiar with its plans said June 2. Margaret Chan, the agency’s director-general, is trying to navigate a delicate path between raising alarm about a virus that in most cases causes little more than a fever and a cough, and underestimating a bug that could kill millions.      “This is to date a less-severe illness than …

WHO Met Global Public Health Officials on Flu Alert

By Nathan Gill      June 11 (Bloomberg) -- The World Health Organization spoke with authorities in Australia, Chile, Japan, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S. yesterday to prepare for a “probable change” in the agency’s pandemic alert scale to the highest level, Chile’s health ministry said.      The WHO sought information on the clinical protocols and measures those countries are taking to treat infections of swine flu, known as H1N1, before the alert is raised to level 6 from 5, Chile’s Health Minister Alvaro Erazo said in a statement on the ministry’s Web site.      The Geneva-based agency will declare the first flu pandemic in 41 years sometime in the next 10 days, three people familiar with the WHO’s plans said June 2. The United Nations’ health agency is using the time before the announcement to help member states prepare, the people said.      Chile, the country with the most infections outside North America, had 1,694 cases of swine flu as of June 9, up from 890 reported on June 5…

Swine Flu Cases May Increase Until July, Chile Says

By Nathan Gill      June 10 (Bloomberg) -- Swine flu cases in Chile, the country with the most infections outside North America, may continue to climb until early July, health officials said.      Confirmed cases reached 1,694, from 890 on June 5, the Ministry of Health in Santiago said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The number of people diagnosed with the new H1N1 influenza strain has quadrupled since the weekend, when officials began including cases reported by private clinics.      Most patients in Chile are children and adolescents ages 5 to 19 living in Santiago and the southern city of Puerto Montt, the ministry said. The World Health Organization is looking for evidence that the virus is taking hold in multiple places outside Mexico and the U.S., where it was discovered in mid-April, to determine whether it has touched off a pandemic.      “The majority of the regions have reported confirmed cases and are expecting an increase in walk-in consultations in the next week and…

Chile's Parque Arauco Rises to 1-Year High on Profit Outlook

By Nathan Gill      June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Parque Arauco SA, a Chilean shopping-center developer and operator, climbed to its highest in a year in Santiago trading on speculation that its expansion plans will boost earnings growth.      Parque Arauco rose 3.2 percent to 514 pesos, the highest closing price since May 28, 2008. The company has said it plans to double its locations for lease with the construction of 11 new malls in Chile, Peru and Colombia.      “We see good prospects for the company in terms of earnings in the next three years because of the strong expansion plan,” Diego Celedon, an analyst with Banchile Inversiones, said today in a telephone interview. “Also, the real estate company’s defensive characteristics in the current uncertain economic environment have caught our attention.”      Chile’s economic activity shrank by the most in a decade in April and the annual inflation rate fell to a two-year low, boosting expectations that the central bank will cut interest ra…

Chile Teachers March on Capital on 16th Day of Strike

By Nathan Gill      June 2 (Bloomberg) -- Thousands of Chilean public school teachers marched in the capital on the 16th day of a nationwide strike to press their demands for what they say are unpaid bonuses.      More than 5,000 teachers traveled to Santiago for the protest, said Jaime Gajardo, president of the Chilean Teachers’ Council, joining as many as 10,000 more marchers in the capital, according to Television Nacional estimates. The teachers say they will continue the strike that has kept more than a million students out of school until their demands are met.       “The bonus is a right, it’s written in the law and they haven’t paid it,” Gajardo said in a telephone interview from Santiago. “This struggle has opened the debate about the future of public education.”      The parents of some students are reopening schools and will take charge of classes until the nation’s 80,000 public school teachers return, Chile’s Channel 13 television station reported today.      Education M…

Chile's Copec Rises to One-Year High on Profit, Commodities

By Nathan Gill and James Attwood      June 1 (Bloomberg) -- Empresas Copec SA, Chile’s biggest forestry company, rose to the highest in almost a year as first-quarter profit matched some analysts’ estimates and raw-material prices advanced.      Copec climbed 1.4 percent to 7,190 pesos in Santiago trading, the highest since June 13. The stock extended a gain this year to 48 percent after tumbling 46 percent in 2008.      Copec’s first-quarter net income fell 69 percent to $80.6 million from $263.9 million a year earlier, according to data posted on the Web site of Chile’s securities regulator.       “Earnings were basically in line with what the market expected,” Hernan Guerrero, an analyst at FIT Research Corredores de Bolsa SA, said today by telephone from Santiago. The loss was less than the 71 percent drop the brokerage forecast, Guerrero said.
     The Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of 19 raw materials rose the most in two months today as the dollar weakened and manufacturing incre…