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Sons of Guns: Violence Grows in the Void of Faith and Family February 22, 2018 While Americans try to cope with the losses in Florida, they're saying goodbye to someone else: America's pastor, Billy Graham. Never has our nation so desperately needed to hear the message of hope and healing ...
IN THE Russian business community Sergei Galitsky served as a rare example of a self-made billionaire who rose with relatively little state help and outside the natural-resources trade. He built his retail company, Magnit, from scratch into Russia's largest network; it has more than 16,000 stores. Rather than moving to Moscow, he kept his headquarters in his hometown of Krasnodar, where he also founded a football club. On February 16th he made a telling exit, announcing he would sell nearly all of his shares in Magnit—29.1%—to VTB, a state bank.That Mr Galitsky (pictured, above) decided to sell is the result of a tough business cycle and some strategic mistakes. More remarkable is that he found a buyer not on the domestic private markets, or from among foreign investors. Selling to a pubic-sector bank reflects the growing role of the state in the Russian economy. Russia's federal anti-monopoly service puts its share at 70%. Yet the retail sector had largely been insulated from the trend....Continue reading
OIL bears beware. On February 20thSuhail al-Mazrouei, OPEC's rotating president and energy minister of the United Arab Emirates, said the 14-member producers' group is working on a plan for a formal alliance with ten other petrostates, including Russia, aimed at propping up oil prices for the foreseeable future. If it comes to anything, it could be OPEC's most ambitious venture in decades.The result will not be, he insists, a “supergroup”. The notion of Saudi Arabia and Russia joining forces as the Traveling Wilburys of the oil world may be a bit jarring. It remains an idea in “draft” form. But whatever its chances, it attempts to shift a belief widely held by participants in oil markets: that non-American oil producers are helpless against the shale revolution.That belief has strengthened because of a renewed flood of American shale production in the latter part of 2017 after prices of West Texas Intermediate climbed above $50 a barrel. The International Energy Agency...Continue reading
The coffee's on usWHEN Maria Veikhman, founder of SCORISTA, a Russian credit-scoring startup, was considering expansion abroad, China immediately came to mind. She believes the scope there is vast, for two-fifths of Chinese have no credit records. Ms Veikhman settled in Tianfu Software Park, a state-owned incubator in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province where city authorities “offer almost everything for free”. Complementary facilities range from office space, basic furniture and logistics services to detailed guidance on entrepreneurial methods.Chengdu aims to catch up with Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, which at present are in a different entrepreneurial league—together they have over a hundred unicorns, or private startups worth over $1bn. The south-western city allocated 200m yuan ($30m) in 2016 to an innovation-and-startup fund for overseas founders, and hands out up to 1m yuan in cash to well-capitalised foreign startups and joint ventures. If the...Continue reading
TAKING a business onto the global stage is hard. Doing it with banks can be suicidal owing to their complexity and leverage. For over 100 years an assortment of adventurers and visionaries have almost always tried one of two approaches. Either they spread firms thinly over scores of countries and focus on servicing big companies and facilitating trade. This is the way of Citigroup and HSBC, and the path that China's big lenders are racing down. Or they focus on investment banking from hubs; think of JPMorgan Chase or Deutsche Bank in New York, Hong Kong and London. Both blueprints have often resulted in buckets of tears.In the 1990s a “third way” emerged from provincial Spain; creating a global retail bank with a deep presence in many countries, allowing true economies of scale. The pioneer was Santander, a middle-weight bank from the Bay of Biscay. Today it is the king of the euro zone: the bloc's largest lender by market value, with 133m clients, mainly in Brazil, Britain, Mexico and...Continue reading