CNNExpansion and Reuters
The prominent Mexican businessman Moises Saba Masri was killed Sunday along with other family members when the helicopter in which they were riding crashed in Mexico City, authorities said.
The accident killed at least five persons including the pilot, said Elias Moreno Brizuela, Mexico City's Secretary of Civil Protection, who confirmed the death of Saba Masri.
Saba Masri, 47, who presided over companies including Unefon, was a major shareholder of TV Azteca and even controlled a chain of cinemas. The Sabas also control pharmaceutical company Grupo Casa Saba.
He was not exempt from business disputes, from research in the United States to investor lawsuits. He was cleared on fraud charges brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2008. And the Saba family lost a fierce bidding war against U.S. bank Citigroup in 2007 to buy money-losing airline Aeromexico.
There is conflicting information about which family members were traveling with Saba Masri City authorities were not immediately available to confirm the information.
According to Reuters, Saba Masri was flying with his family and Alberto Saba and Judith Humberto Casal.
However, Notimex quoted Moreno Brizuela as saying the dead in addition to Saba Masri included Alberto Saba Jr. and Judith Adela Saba or Tauchi Casal and the helicopter's pilot Capt. Armando Fernandez, while the sixth victim has not been identified.
Reforma attributed to the security chief a statement that Alberto Saba Raffoul, Saba Masri's father, was not in the helicopter and had not died.
"Apparently it was the wrong time. One of the propellers of the helicopter hit a house and the aircraft fell into a ravine," said the official, who said there were no survivors.
Photographs of the accident showed the charred remains of the aircraft in a wooded area west of Mexico City.
Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard went to the site to coordinate the work of rescue teams and accompany relatives of victims.
Authorities are continuing to investigate the cause of the tragedy that occurred on a night in which rain and fog covering the area.
Carlos Orvañanos, the head of the delegation Cuajimalpa-in which the accident occurred, said the flight was coming from the central city of Toluca.
According to Moreno Brizuela, the Sabas returned from a trip from New York and had boarded the private helicopter at the Toluca International Airport to reach their home in Mexico City.
Global union group launches international campaign to condemn Calderon administration's anti-labor policiesSubmitted by mexbiznews on Sat, 01/09/2010 - 6:10am
By Carolina Gomez Mena
The International Federation of Chemical Industry Workers, Energy, Mine and General Workers Union (ICEM), announced the launch of an information campaign in 134 countries, including Canada and the United States, that condemns the "anti-labor policies" of Mexican President Felipe Calderón and his administration.
Persecution against Mexican workers and their unions is equal to that in countries such as Myanmar and Zimbabwe, nations in which the persecution of workers and their unions is unprecedented, ICEM deputy general secretary Joe Drexler said at a press conference Friday.
Drexler; Dave Coles, president of the Canadian Union of Communications, Energy and Paper (CEP); Fred Wilson and Ken Neumann, national directors of the United Steelworkers of Canada, and others vowed to make U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper aware of their accusations.
Calderon is "abominable," Drexler said, and repression is the main feature of Mexico's labor policy.
It "condemns to poverty millions of workers, who now have no guarantees to be able to join the workforce or to keep their jobs," he said.
Based in Brussels, the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions is a global federation of trade unions that as of November 2007 represented 467 industrial trade unions in 132 countries.
According to Wikipedia, it claims a membership of over 20 million workers in a wide range of industries, including energy, mining, chemicals and bioscience, pulp and paper, rubber, gems and jewellery, glass, ceramics, cement, environmental services and others.
The campaign criticizes the Calderon government particularly for its actions against union miners and the Mexican Electricians Union (SME).
It takes issue with the imprisonment of mining union leader Juan Linares Montufar and the persecution of Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, another mining union leader who has fled the country. The campaigns' leaders charged that the Calderon government's actions against the leaders and attempts to end work stoppages were complicit with employer Grupo Mexico's agenda to break the miners union.
Furthermore, they contended the government's dissolution of the Luz y Fuerza del Centro utility last fall was a prextext to break the power of the electricians union.
It would have been logical, said Steelworkers union leader Neumann, to use legal channels to act against the leaders instead of liquidating Luz y Fuerza and the entire union.
He said the United States and Canada should not tolerate a partner that does not treat its workers well.
From El Semanario, El Economista
Inflation overcame the challenges presented by an economy in recession and closed 2009 at a level not seen since 2005.
At the end of the year, an overall inflation rate of 3.57 percent was achieved by a significant decrease during the second half of the year. The rate dropped steadily in the seven months since hitting a high of 5.98 percent in May.
The rate was below that of various analysts and of the 4.0 percent inflation rate predicted by the Bank of Mexico.
The phenomenon of falling prices for many goods was evident in December, a month in which prices normally increase because of greater demand during the holidays. But the inflation rate rose only 0.35 percent, versus 0.82 percent for December 2008. Analysts had predicted a rise of 0.47 percent.
The 3.57 percent rate at the end of the year was the lowest since 2005, when the rate dipped to 3.33 percent.
Processed foods experienced one of the largest contractions, slowing from a 0.54 percent rise in prices compared to a 1.37 percent increase the year before. Price rises for other food goods also slowed, racheting down from a 0.36 percent increase in 2008 to to 0.20 percent in 2009.
But what pushed the inflation rate down the most were prices for services. The Bank of Mexico said this was a reflection in the deep discounts for tourism packages, air transport and hotel and restaurant prices in the wake of the H1N1 influenza outbreak in the spring.
Meanwhile, the cost of housing services rose only 1.31 percent and tuition 1.01 percent more than the previous year.
For businesses, some of the biggest cost increases were for copper, industrial electricity, and corrugated rods used in the construction industry.
The inflation picture might not turn out to be so rosy in 2010, as Mexicans confront higher prices on such goods as corn flour, cigarettes and electricity due to additional taxes, rising fuel costs and bigger pricetags on a variety of agricultural commodities.
Predictions of a "cuesta de enero" - hard January - has been extended to March.
"Additional pressures caused by the assimilation of fiscal costs will be reflected as in the first quarter," said Octavio Gutierrez, an analyst at BBVA Bancomer.
Banxico is forecasting an inflation rate of 5.25 percent for the year, a jump of slightly less than two points.
The Mexican government will being its auctions of mobile-phone airwaves in May and complete them before the end of June as part of the government's plan to boost competition in the mobile phone industry.
Regulators are relaying the information to prospective bidders this week, the Federal Telecommunications Commission, or Cofetel, said Wednesday. In a press release, Cofetel said it will announce the winners within 30 days after qualified investors submit bids on May 25. The total length of the auction will depend on how many rounds of bidding occur.
"The auctions will provide for the entrance of new competitors in the mobile telecommunications markets and promote the growth of existing operators," Cofetel said.
Regulators aim to use the auction to provide consumers with an alternative to America Movil, which has more than 70 percent of Mexico’s mobile-phone subscribers. Broadcaster Grupo Televisa SA and Axtel SAB, the country’s second-biggest land-line phone company, have said they might use the sale to enter the wireless industry.
Winners will need time to prepare the airwaves for service, so new competition would enter the market by 2011 or 2012, Federal Telecommunications Commission President Hector Osuna said last month in an interview.
The bidding rules for both auctions can be purchased for 20,000 pesos ($1,571) between Jan. 6 and Jan. 8, according to the agency.
Cofetel will auction nine blocks of spectrum in the 1850MHz-1990MHz frequency band in eight of the country's nine mobile telephone operating regions, including the capital, Mexico City.
Cofetel will also sell seven blocks of spectrum between 1710MHz and 2170MHz in all nine operating regions in a separate auction, which could give winners a nationwide presence with spectrum capable of supporting third-generation wireless services such as high-speed Internet.
Bidders must be approved by the Federal Competition Commission, or CFC, as the antitrust agency is known, to participate.
Bidders will have to pay annual fees of about $75 million over a 20-year period, or as much as $1.5 billion, according to legislation passed by Congress last year.
Winners of the national blocks will get a grace period through 2012 or 2013 before paying the annual fees, depending on when the airwaves are awarded.
Mexico's mobile telephone industry is largely in the hands of Telcel, a unit of America Movil, which is controlled by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.
Telcel had a 72 percent market share with 58.4 million subscribers at the end of September, with a subsidiary of Spain's Telefonica (TEF) a distant second with about 20 percent of users.
Grupo Iusacell, which recently delisted its shares from the Mexican Stock Exchange, and a unit of NII Holdings Inc. hold the rest of the market.
America Movil, based in Mexico City, has said it might bid for other airwaves to add capacity for its phone and high-speed Internet.
Formal number of unemployed Mexicans could reach 2.6 million this year with no program to address the issueSubmitted by mexbiznews on Wed, 01/06/2010 - 7:26am
As many as 2.6 million Mexicans are expected to be unemployed in Mexico during 2010 because the country's labor market will remain fragile.
Analysts are predicting that the unemployment rate will range between 5 and 5.5 percent, especially in the first part of the year.
"It is likely that the national unemployment rate will hover around 5.0 percent for several more months. In particular, we believe that companies will face strong difficulties to expand their workforce during the early stages of economic recovery," said Ricardo Aguilar, an analyst with Invex Casa de Bolsa.
Mexico's true unemployment rate is likely to be much higher since Mexico counts as unemployed anyone who has worked for any amount of time during the period measured, Thus, someone who spent a few hours working to repair a motor vehicle would not be counted as unemployed.
In the United States, which counts those applying for unemployment benefits, the unemployment rate is 10 percent. Mexico does not provide unemployment benefits, and many of those who lose their jobs join the informal economy to earn money.
Last year, an additional 1.3 million people were estimated to have joined the so-called Economically Active Population (PEA), which were considered part of the country's job pool.
Because of this situation, Onesimus Mariscal Delgadillo, a PRI legislator, has introduced in the Camara de Diputados a call for the Secretary of Labor to "coordinate and develop an employment program for youth in the country".
He asked the labor minister to report within three months on the actions and measures that have been taken to generate jobs.
Mariscal also asked the ministry to eliminate specifically the informal system in the country that erects barriers for jobseekers in breaking into the labor market. Among the challenges are requiring union membership or experience for positions without an opportunity to gain it.
The fact that the unemployment rate, for the first time in many years, has reached 6 percent and above indicates that there has been a considerable increase in the number of Mexicans who are unable to earn a living, Mariscal said.
He noted that the job program that the Calderon administration implemented three years ago has not only not produced results but has disappeared as the federal budget allocated funds to other programs.
El Semanario and Reuters
Remittances sent home by Mexicans living in the United States totaled $1.495 billion, the lowest amount since November 2004.
The Mexican economy used to receive a steady boost from regular cash payments from migrant workers north of the border, but the deep U.S. recession has hurt the earning power of Mexicans living in the United States and has trickled throughout the Mexican economy in lower remittances.
Although the November remittances were low, the 14.4 percent year-on-year decrease in the amount was a considerable improvement over October, when remittances plummeted 35.9 percent, the worst monthly drop in the history of the indicator.
The amount received in October totaled $1.691 billion.
The best month in the receipt of remittances was November 2006, when Mexicans living in the United States sent home $1.962 billion.
According to the Bank of Mexico, the so-called "migradólares" have been falling mostly because the U.s. construction sector has yet to recover from the subprime mortgage crisis. Most Mexicans living in the United States work in that sector, doing almost all of the framing, dry walling and roofing in some areas of the country.
November's results marked the thirteenth consecutive month in which remittances have declined over the same month in the previous year.
So far this year, remittances have amounted to $19.621 billion, or a decrease of 16 percent over the same period last year.
According to the financial brokerage IXE, the peso depreciation boosted the value of the dollars sent to Mexico but since October that has reversed, "and the exchange rate has ceased to be a support to the purchasing power of recipients, making recovery even more urgent in 2010."
for all of 2009 the decline in remittances can be 14% that observed for the whole 2008 (25.137 md).
According to forecasts, the flow of foreign currency entering Mexico remittances could total about $20 billion for all of 2009. That would be a 14 percent contraction from the $25.137 billion received in 2008 and the second consecutive year in which remittances have fallen after a long period of significant increases.
In fact, 2009 is likely to become the worst year for remittances ever since records began to be kept in 1995.
http://www.elsemanario.com.mx/news/news_display.php?story_id=30389; http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0424524020100104?type=marketsNews">eleconomista.com.mx/finanzas-publicas/2010/01/05/las-remesas-su-nivel-mas-bajo-2004; http://www.elsemanario.com.mx/news/news_display.php
By Noel Randewich
After a year in which Mexico's Bolsa de Valores staged a striking recovery, Mexican authorities are overhauling trading rules and expect brokerages to start services next year to tempt algorithmic traders and other sophisticated investors to do more transactions in Mexico.
"With the internationalization of markets, investors from Europe to Asia are looking to invest in emerging markets. We're competing with New York, with Brazil, to attract those funds," said Carlos Quevedo, the head of market supervision at the National Bank and Securities Commission.
Mexico's plan to launch direct market access and expand high-frequency trading follows Brazilian exchange operator BM&FBovespa, which in recent years has become one of the world's largest stock markets.
Brazil allowed algorithmic derivatives trading this year and BM&FBovespa is awaiting approval to offer the same for equities.
Despite strong gains in Mexican stocks, with the IPC index up about 45 percent in 2009, and optimism about returns in 2010, Mexico struggles to entice privately held companies to go public.
There have been no initial public share offerings since mid-2008, when personal care company Genomma Lab and the stock market operator Bolsa Mexicana de Valores, went public.
By comparison, two of the world's biggest IPOs in 2009 were from Brazil, Banco Santander Brasil and credit-card processor VisaNet, which has since been renamed Cielo.
Pedro Zorrilla, chief operating officer of Bolsa Mexicana de Valores, or BMV, told Reuters he expects more stock listings next year. No companies have revealed plans to do so soon.
The scarcity of Mexican IPOs springs partly from an economy dominated by industry giants and a tradition of guarded family ownership.
"Because the Mexican economy in many sectors is so highly concentrated and because it is so difficult to gain market share as a small company, it's almost impossible to think about entrepreneurs building successful businesses, with or without venture capital financing, private equity and the IPO market," said Matthew Cole of Miami-based North Bay Equity Partners.
Even when big firms list, most remain tightly controlled by insiders, limiting their attractiveness to investors.
Billionaire Carlos Slim's companies account for more than a third of the capitalization of Mexico's stock market.
His Telmex and America Movil dominate the telecommunications industry. Other major sectors like television, cement, bread and beer are also controlled by one or two massive, family-controlled businesses.
The entire energy sector is locked in government hands.
mexbiznews is taking the holidays off. We will resume publication on Jan. 4.
Thousands of people have been filling Mexico's stores for weeks as the country begins to emerge from its worst recession in seven decades. But it seems more an illusion resulting from aggressive holiday discount campaigns than a sign of real economic recovery.
While Mexico's recession officially ended in the third quarter, it has yet to regain growth.
As a result, the main shopping centers are betting heavily on discounts, and the temptation is great.
"There are some days left before Christmas, but I found good sales so I took advantage of them," said Teresa Saldivar, a 76-year old woman who lives on a small pension but was buying multiple gifts at a department store.
"It's Very convenient to buy right now," she said.
The holiday scene contrasts with the festive season last year, when anxious Mexicans spent extravagently in the face of the gloomy economic outlook foretold when the crisis erupted in the United States, Mexico's largest trading partner.
Although the economic slump in 2009 exceeded all expectations - a contraction put at 7 percent by the central bank - residents of the huge metropolitan area of Mexico City seem to have regained the desire to buy.
While retailers in the country are fueling that fever with their deep discounts, it might prove to be a risky strategy in which they are sacrificing profit margins in order to sell the highest volumes possible.
"Now we're offering three-day promotions on items that were sold in previous years without any discounts," said Gustavo San Vicente, a worker in a luxury department store in the western part of the city.
The increased sales do not mean that Mexicans have more money in their pockets.
"Stores can be jammed but what these people are buying? They're buying only items that have super discounts and been super promoted," said Raquel Moscoso, an analyst at Ixe Financial Group.
Although final figures for the Christmas sales won't be released until next year, department stores such as Soriana, the second largest retailer in the country, anticipate austere results.
"We don't see a great improvement" over last year," said Aurelio Adan, the firm's chief financial officer.
Last December ended up being a black month for retailers. A rise in unemployment and declining domestic production resulted in collapsing sales by 10.7 percent during the full holiday season, according to industry figures.
In light of that data and the behavior of the economy, the enthusiastic consumerism being seen this December might be a mirage rather than a sign of significant improvement.
By Enrique Duarte
Despite efforts by President Felipe Calderón to retain jobs in the midst of the economic crisis, the maquiladora industry and export manufacturing operations will close 2009 with a loss of 70,838 jobs.
The Figure represents a slight recovery, said Cesar Castro, president of the National Council of the Maquiladora Industry (CNINME). From October 2008 to October 2009, the industry had lost some 125,838 jobs, but it recovered about 55,000 between November and December.
A total of 50 of the mainly foreign-owned factories out of the 5,268 operating in Mexico closed, while others were merged into existing operations.
"Unfortunately, the recession had a massive impact," Castro said in a meeting with the media.
The number of people employed in manufacturing fell 9.3 percent in the ninth month of this year on an annual rate, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi).
In February, President Calderon launched a program of technical stoppages that allocated about $2 billion to allow firms to temporarily halt production without dismissing employees. Some 500 firms with half a million workers took advantage of the program.
According to Mexican government figures, slightly more than 450,000 workers had their work suspended temporarily under the program, which allowed the positions to be retained.
the program The latest figures from the Mexican authorities state that the program had benefited technical stoppages little more than 450,000 jobs.
Automakers and auto parts makers were the companies that benefitted the most as they saw demand for cars plummet in the United States, where nearly all of maquiladora products are sold.
Among the companies benefiting are the automakers, mainly from foreign investors, who resented the effect of lower U.S. demand.
The maquiladora and other export manufacturing operations expect to close the year with an overall decrease in exports of at least 20 percent.
Castro will leave the CNIMME presidency of the last day of this year. Mónica González, the first woman to lead the chamber, will replace him.
Gonzalez said that just as the manufacturing was among the first to reflect the impacts of the economic crisis, it also will be among the first to show a recovery, as the sector is closely related to industrial activity in the United States.
Indeed, she said, it already is exhibiting positive signs.