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Friday, 27 March

Expresso

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Jornal de Negocios

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The Economist

  • A big bite

    WARREN BUFFETT says he likes to buy companies that are easy to understand and are performing well. His latest deal, the $50 billion acquisition of Kraft Foods that was announced on March 25th, passes only one of those tests. Most people can get their heads around the slices of processed cheese and hot dogs that Kraft churns out—indeed Mr Buffett, known to favour plain fare, would probably like to get his lips round them, too. But as a business, Kraft is a bit of a mess.

    Last year its revenues were stagnant and its volumes and profits fell. Its chief executive left in December. It generates 98.5% of its sales in the mature markets of America and Canada, where, the suspicion is, a new generation of healthier eaters no longer aches to scoff a Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, followed by a plate of Jello and washed down by a Capri Sun drink.

    Kraft’s predicament is in large part a result of its turbulent ownership over three decades, in turn a testament to the hyperactivity of Wall Street’s dealmakers. It has been the subject of seven big mergers or spin-offs since 1980, including an unhappy spell under the ownership of Philip...

  • In the depths

    CHEAP energy matters most to poor people, and the coal industry’s hopes have rested on emerging economies burning the black stuff to fuel their modernisation. But growing energy efficiency, rising pollution worries and stiffer competition from other fuels mean that in most countries the tide is turning against coal. Prices have been sliding (see chart), political opposition growing and demand drooping. The Dow Jones Total Coal Market index has fallen by 76% in the past five years.

    High-cost deep mines in the rich world are worst-hit: in America 24 coal companies have gone bust in the past three years, and one-sixth of the remaining capacity loses money. But even Australia, whose low-cost opencast mines play a role akin to Saudi Arabia’s in the oil market, is jittery.   

    Stoking the gloom is China, once the strongest market. It is still the world’s biggest coal consumer, and has...

  • Firm beliefs

    WHEN Asia plunged into crisis in 1997-98, and the IMF was forcing Western economic medicine down the throats of Asian governments, it was also assumed that the region’s opaque and over-diversified business groups would be compelled to swallow the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism. Whether controlled by tycoons or the state, these outfits would become open, focused, responsive to investors and managed by professionals.

    Today the idea that corporate Asia will converge with the West seems quite mad. About 70% of Asia’s stockmarket value is represented by state-run firms or “business houses”—broad conglomerates that are usually family-controlled. Asian firms pay out just a third of their profits in dividends and buy-backs, compared with three-quarters for European firms and 90% for American ones. In 2014 Apple spent more on repurchasing stock than the top 500 Asian firms combined. East of Suez lies a continent that the modern doctrine of shareholder value never conquered.

    Indeed, to Anglo-Saxon types, corporate Asia often appears to be going back in time. Consider China’s supposed reforms of its state firms. In January CITIC, a...

  • The message is the medium

    “I PROPOSE, if and when found, to take him by his beastly neck, shake him till he froths, and pull him inside out and make him swallow himself.” It is not often that Silicon Valley’s denizens quote P.G. Wodehouse. But this is what Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz, a venture-capital firm, expects the success of messaging services could do to both mobile and corporate software.

    The most striking example so far of this process came on March 25th when Facebook announced at a conference in San Francisco that it has started to turn its Messenger service into a “platform” that can carry, and be integrated with, all manner of apps created by other software firms. So Facebook Messenger, which is itself an app for smartphones that run on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems, will then be competing with those operating systems’ services for buying apps and downloads. In plain language, it could become the app that ate Apple’s app store.

    ...

  • Land of temples and tech

    Blessed with the fruits of modern technology

    REMARKABLE views greet visitors to Phandeeyar, an open-plan office and events space which sits atop a tower block in the centre of Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city. Its north windows frame golden pagodas and colonial mansions; to the south weather-beaten cargo ships glide up the Yangon River. The room is much-loved by the gaggle of computer programmers, entrepreneurs and digital-media types who have lately begun to congregate there—but it would be better still if Yangon’s power were more reliable. It is a long way down when the lift is out of action.

    Just about every country, from Mexico to Malaysia via Montenegro, wants to create the next Silicon Valley. Myanmar does too, though it starts from a lower base than even most developing economies. Still, a few firms have begun to blossom since its ruling generals began opening up the economy in 2011. Back then, less than 1% of Burmese people could access the internet. But with wireless towers now popping up across the country, the government thinks 80% of citizens may have a mobile phone with a data connection by 2016. Small, local...

  • Serfs up

    THIS week the rank and file of the United Auto Workers union (UAW) met in Detroit under a logo of a clenched fist and the slogan, “It’s our time”. When they last collectively negotiated a big pay deal, it was in 2011 and General Motors, Ford and Chrysler were still crawling out of the worst recession in memory. What the workers got then reflected the firms’ feeble condition: for Ford’s hourly-paid UAW members that was an annual rise of just 1%.

    That deal expires this year, just as the motor industry is booming again. The big-three car firms complain that their wage bills are still higher than those of foreign rivals, and say they will resist pay rises. But together they made underlying pre-tax profits of $19 billion in 2014. Workers want their slice of the cake. The gathering in Detroit was to plan tactics ahead of talks with the car bosses in July.

    Carmaking is not the only industry where there is upward pressure on pay. In February Walmart, known for its stingy wages and lack of unions, said it would pay junior staff at least $9 per hour, which is above the federal minimum wage of $7.25. That will affect 500,000 staff and cost $1 billion, equivalent to 6% of net profits. This week Target, another retailer, was reported to have raised its minimum pay to $9 an hour. It so far refuses to confirm this.

    The Federal Reserve and many economists may...

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Financial Times — Europe

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Portugal-US Chamber of Commerce - slideshow image

Pan-European Days at the New York Stock Exchange, May 2014

Chamber board member Ricardo Caliço attended the event on behalf of the Chamber and reports back that the three-day conference was aimed at showcasing investment opportunities in Europe. This year, the program included the European Economic Forum at the New York Stock Exchange, featuring representatives from European Union, chief economists from major financial institutions, and other high-level thought-leaders to discuss the latest developments in the major European economies. The Program also included an investor conference at the Waldorf Astoria hotel organized by, ING, KBC Securities, Millennium BCP/Auerbach Grayson and Societe General. The investor conference provided opportunities for Euronext-listed companies from Portugal, Belgium, France, and Netherlands to meet privately with North America based institutional investors. The 13 Portuguese companies presented in the event were: BES, BPI, CTT, EDP, EDPR, Espirito Santo Saude, Galp, Impresa, Jerónimo Martins, Millennium BCP, Mota Engil, REN and Zon. The Portuguese Government was represented by Isabel Castelo Branco, Secretary of State of Treasury, and by the Treasury and Debt Management Agency. See more details here.

Posted on 2 Jun 2014
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Portuguese Artist Julião Sarmento to Exhibit in New York City

The Sean Kelly Gallery will host an exhibition by Portuguese artist Julião Sarmento, from March 28 - May 3, 2014. Further details can be found here.

Posted on 21 Mar 2014
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Chamber Attends Workshop on the New York Nonprofit Revitalization Act of 2013

New York State’s laws governing charitable and other nonprofit organizations date from the 1960s. The New York State Attorney General’s Office has undertaken revisions in the form of the New York Nonprofit Revitalization Act of 2013. The changes have two main purposes: reducing burdens on nonprofits through the modernization of statutory requirements; and increasing public trust in the nonprofit sector by strengthening board governance and enhancing Attorney General enforcement powers. Most provisions will take effect effective July 1, 2014. As a 501c4 nonprofit corporation, the Portugal-US Chamber of Commerce will also need to adhere to new regulations. More information about the Revitalization Act of 2013 can be found here.

Posted on 6 Mar 2014
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Vista Alegre Exhibits at the 2014 San Francisco International Gift Fair

Visit Vista Alegre’s booth at the San Francisco International Gift Fair, 15-18 February 2014. More information about the Fair can be found here.

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Posted on 17 Feb 2014
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Eight Portuguese companies to visit New York City, 4-6 February 2014

In collaboration with the Associacao Comercial de Lisboa (ACL) and the Confederacao Internacional de Empresarios Portugueses (CIEP), the Chamber is hosting eight Portuguese companies from the textile, technology, artisanal foods, olive oil, wine, spirits, shoe wear, and lighting design sectors. The firms will meet with U.S partners based in New York and New Jersey, and will also meet with Portuguese and U.S. officials and representatives of the Portuguese business communities. For further details, contact the Chamber at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Posted on 28 Jan 2014
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Our Organization

The Portugal–US Chamber of Commerce in New York was founded in 1979 to stimulate economic development, trade and investment, and cultural exchange between the United States and Portugal. As a member of the Association of Portuguese-American Chambers of Commerce (APACC), it works closely with its counterparts in Portugal, Canada, and across the United States to promote shared interests in Portugal and expose the vast economic opportunities of the country. The Chamber provides its members ongoing opportunities to network with individuals also engaged in Portugal-US affairs as well as numerous channels by which they can obtain essential bilateral support and information.

Membership Benefits

Membership in the Chamber is open to all individuals who are interested in building a strong economic partnership between Portugal and the United States. Current members range from small businesses to large corporations in the fields of banking and finance, construction, communications, education, import/export, law, and transportation, to name a few.

Membership benefits include:

  • Frequent Chamber events that promote networking and foster strong community ties
  • Access to prominent business and government leaders
  • Alerts of noteworthy cultural and social events in New York City
  • Business luncheons and seminars to expose members to exciting new economic opportunities
  • Access to online resources and members-only directory