Copper Mine Glut Puts Brakes on Latin America’s Clean-Power Boom

The global copper slump is helping to tap the brakes on Latin America’s fastest-growing renewable-energy market.

Chile, the world’s biggest copper producer, has been adding solar panels and wind turbines for two years to supply power-thirsty smelters that process ore from remote mines in the sun-baked northern desert. But with metal prices half what they were five years ago, output fell and energy demand slowed. That’s compounding an electricity glut in a self-contained power grid thousands of miles from population centers in the stick-shaped South American country.

Read the full article on Bloomberg.

What Airbnb Can Teach the Fortune 500 About Cuba

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky (center) with a Havana host couple, in front of a wall festooned with signed notes from their Airbnb guests. Photo: Courtesy of Airbnb

A “measured approach” is key.

Last month, timed to President Obama’s historic visit to Cuba, a glut of U.S. companies announced plans to operate in the country.

Tourism industry players like Carnival Cruises,Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, andMarriott International announced their expansions into Cuba. Payments companies PayPal and Stripedid likewise. Google is planning to offer its Fiber internet service on the island, Cisco is opening an IT academy there, Caterpillar signed a deal to distribute equipment in the country, Verizon isoffering roaming cell phone service, and General Electric is working on a deal with the Cuban government.

For now, many of these announcements are symbolic. A trade embargo is still in place. President Obama wants to lift it, but doing so would require Congress to pass a law.

Until that happens, the U.S. government is making exceptions for American businesses that want to move into Cuba. Business is the easiest way to “normalize” relations between the two countries after 56 years of a trade embargo, according to the White House. Progress on political issues such as Cuba’s human rights record has been slower-moving.

There’s one American company that has been doing real business in Cuba for the past year: Airbnb. After the U.S. made American travel to Cuba legal (a special educational travel visa is required), the home-sharing startup made Cuba a priority. In its first year, the company hosted 13,000 travelers in 4,000 homes across 40 cities. Cuba is the fastest-growing market Airbnb has ever entered. (For more on Airbnb’s expansion, read “How Airbnb Pulled Off a Coup in Cuba.”)

Read the full article on Fortune.

Brazil’s Rousseff going to U.N. over impeachment; cabinet in crisis

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff gestures during a news conference for foreign journalists at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil April 19, 2016. REUTERS/UESLEI MARCELINO

Beleaguered Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will travel to New York in a bid to rally international support against her impeachment, leaving behind a Cabinet paralyzed by political crisis as another minister defected on Wednesday.

Rousseff aides said the leftist leader will attend a United Nations event on Friday in New York where she will denounce as illegal the attempt to impeach her, a process that could see her forced from office within weeks in a process she calls a “coup d’état without weapons.”

Energy Minister Eduardo Braga said he was quitting her government following orders from his centrist PMDB party, Rousseff’s main coalition partner until it abandoned her last month to back her ouster. Rousseff’s impeachment would end 13 years of rule by the leftist Workers Party.

Nine ministers in Rousseff’s 31-member cabinet have now resigned, leaving important portfolios without politically appointed heads, including the Tourism and Sports ministries only four months before Brazil hosts the Olympic Games. Rousseff may not even be president by the time the Games start.

Vice President Michel Temer, who would take over if Rousseff is impeached, met with close advisors in Sao Paulo to study plans for a new government that, aides said, would move quickly to restore economic confidence and growth.

The crisis has paralyzed Brazil’s ability to revive the economy from its worst recession in decades in the midst of a massive corruption scandal involving state-run oil firm Petrobras.

Read the full article on Reuters.

Grupo Bimbo to buy General Mills business in Argentina

Grupo Bimbo announced today an agreement with General Mills for acquiring the frozen bread business in Argentina, a transaction that is subject to the approval of regulatory authorities.

Through this acquisition –that does not represent a material amount for the Company – Grupo Bimbo will continue consolidating its presence in the South American market, complementing its supply in the category of frozen bread that the Company is already manufacturing under the Bertrand brand. The portfolio includes products such as French baguettes and croissants.

Grupo Bimbo started operations in Argentina in 1995 and is leader of the bread industry in that country with five plants and a portfolio of products under emblematic local and global brands in the categories of bread loaves, buns, tortillas and sweet rolls, among others.

Heineken Beer Shipments Exceed Expectations in Latin America

Heineken has announced its beer shipments have exceeded analysts’ expectations in the first quarter thanks to growth in Asia and Latin America. The world’s third-biggest brewer revealed beer volume had rose 7 percent, more than double the 2.4 percent that analysts had expected.

Reports had projected the global lager market to grow at a steady CAGR of 4.2% by 2020, but these figures released by Heineken come as a surprise. According to reports, the most prominent factor driving growth in the market is the increasing demand for premium lager products. Vendors have responded to this demand with the launch of premium products marked as authentic or genuine. As well as its flagship beer, Heineken also produces two other well-known brands – Tiger and Sol.

Read the full article on PR Newswire.

Fidel Castro bids farewell to Cuba’s Communists as he says he will die soon

Fidel Castro sits as he clasps hands with his brother, Cuban President Raul Castro CREDIT: CUBADEBATE/AP

Fidel Castro has made what is likely to be his final speech to Cuba’s Congress, telling the assembled politicians that he would die soon but that the revolution’s ideals would live on.

The 89-year-old spoke after his brother Raul, 84, was re-elected as head of the Communist party – a position the younger Castro has said he will hold until retiring in 2018.

There’s a global banana crisis

The humble banana is under attack by a disease that is spreading around the globe, and threatening Latin America’s all-important export industry.

The industry is so worried about it, that it moved this week’s International Banana Congress from Costa Rica to Miami at the last minute so that attendees wouldn’t transport the disease to the region with the contaminated dirt on their shoes. Latin America is the primary source of bananas for North America and Europe.

The disease — known as “Panama disease” or “Fusarium wilt” — has already spread from Asia to parts of Australia, Africa and the Middle East. It specifically affects the Cavendish banana, which is the fruit that consumers in the West are accustomed to eating.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization warned this month that the $36 billion banana industry must act “to tackle one of the world’s most destructive banana diseases.”

An earlier strain of the Panama disease wiped out what had been the most popular banana variety in the 1960s, the Gros Michel. Producers subsequently adopted the Cavendish banana, which was deemed an inferior product but was resistant to the disease.

Read the full article on CNN Money.

Venezuela oil minister says U.S. ruined deal in Doha

Intense pressure from the United States was one of the reason why OPEC and non-OPEC producers failed to reached a deal on freezing oil output in Doha on Sunday, Venezuelan Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino told reporters.

“The United States was behind the pressure. They have a problem with Venezuela, Russia… They are doing this for political reasons and are ignoring their own people suffering. Ask any oil company in the U.S. — they are all very sad because of what happened yesterday,” he said

Full article here on Reuters.

Mexico finmin, Pemex CEO to meet investors in New York

The chief executive of Petróleos Mexicanos and Mexico’s finance minister will travel to New York early next week to meet with investors, two officials said on Friday.

The trip follows the announcement this week of measures by Mexico’s federal government to improve the ailing finances at the state-owned oil company, which is widely known as Pemex, including a $4.2 billion liquidity injection.

“They will take part in a roadshow with investors,” said one Mexican official, adding that Pemex CEO Jose Antonio Gonzalez Anaya and Finance Minister Luis Videgaray will be joined by Juan Pablo Newman, the oil company’s chief financial officer.

Another official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the meetings would take place and said they would be closed to reporters.

Pemex has faced two years of steep budget cuts as world crude prices plunged and its output has declined by over a third to an average of about 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from 3.4 million bpd in 2004.

Read the full article on Reuters.

Mexico announces over $4 billion in aid for struggling Pemex

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The government announced more than $4 billion in aid Wednesday for state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, whose finances, production and exploration projects have been hit by the fall in crude prices.

The package will include a direct infusion of $1.5 billion to the company better known as Pemex, the Treasury Department said in a statement. The government will also provide over $2.6 billion to pay company pensions and retirements this year.

In return, the government wants Pemex to commit to reducing its liabilities and debt by the same amount.

“The adverse economic conditions that the hydrocarbons sector is going through on an international level and the depletion of different wells have weakened Pemex’s financial situation,” the department said in the statement.

Pemex reported in March that it had secured lines of credit to pay 85 percent of its vendors. The company closed 2015 with around $8.4 billion in debt, of which it paid $1.1 billion in the first quarter.

In late February, Pemex announced it was cutting about $5.5 billion from its 2016 budget, mostly in exploration and production.

Mexico’s oil production peaked in 2004 at about 3.4 million barrels a day but has since slid to about 2.2 million a day today.

President Enrique Pena Nieto sought to modernize the company and improve production by pushing through legislation that opened up Mexico’s energy sector to some private investment for the first time in decades. But the law was followed closely by the global plunge in oil prices, crimping the country’s oil ambitions.

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