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What to watch for today
Cyprus will not leave the euro. Cyprus and the “troika” of the EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund reached a deal to save the country’s banking system at a contentious meeting last night. Deposits below €100,000 will remain untouched, but bigger account holders at the country’s second-largest bank, Laiki, will have their funds frozen as the bank is effectively shut down. The euro rose on the news, as did shares in Australia, Singapore, Japan and across Asia.
Meanwhile, life goes on in Brussels. Shinzo Abe will talk to the chiefs of the European Council and the European Commission, kickstarting negotiations for a free trade agreement between Japan and the EU. The leaders were meant to meet in person but because of Cyprus they will talk over the telephone instead.
Dell’s board will indicate whether it’s seriously considering rival offers. The special committee of Dell’s board is expected to announce whether it needs more time to assess the preliminary offers by private equity firm Blackstone Group and the billionaire Carl Icahn, which could result in founder Michael Dell losing control of his company.
China’s new leader woos Africa. President Xi Jinping began his tour of the continent in Tanzania last night and is expected to make several announcements today, including a $10 billion port project. The visit is part of his first foreign outing since becoming president; Xi started in Russia and will go on to the fifth annual BRICS summit in South Africa, which starts Tuesday, before ending his trip with a visit to the Republic of Congo.
Detroit becomes the largest US city ever to fall under state control. It’s the first day on the job for bankruptcy lawyer Kevyn Orr, the state-appointed emergency financial manager. His unenviable job is to pull off one of the most ambitious financial turnarounds in urban history.
Over the weekend
Blockbuster UK got a lifeline. More than 2,000 people will keep their jobs and 264 rental stores will remain open after Gordon Brothers, a private equity firm, agreed to buy the British arm of Blockbuster, which has been under administration.
China Construction Bank posted higher earnings. The first major Chinese bank to report 2012 results beat analyst estimates, suggesting that pessimism over bad loan charges may be overblown. But improved profits don’t necessarily mean that Chinese banks are healthy.
China’s state-owned energy companies want to go shopping. Sinopec, PetroChina and Cnooc together spent more than $35 billion last year on overseas acquisitions, and signaled more could be in store for 2013. That’s largely because their domestic businesses are losing lots of money.
Deutsche Bank prepared for a hefty fine for doing Iran-linked business. A German paper on Sunday reported that the bank has set aside more than $390 million as it prepares for US authorities to impose stiff penalties for breaching sanctions on Iran. Last year Standard Chartered paid $667 million for violating US sanctions.
Pervez Musharraf returned to Pakistan. The former president ended his self-imposed four-year exile abroad in hopes of finding a place in politics once more. As the country gears up for elections in May, Musharraf’s return adds more fuel to an already fiery political scene.
The age of the original Russian oligarchs came to an end. Boris Berezovsky, the self-made billionaire and archetypical Russian tycoon, died at the age of 67 in London, where he had lived since falling out with the Putin-led Kremlin more than a decade ago. For a period in the 1990s, no one in Russia seemed more wealthy, powerful, and politically connected than the flamboyant Berezovsky.
A tycoon took the lead in Paraguay’s election polls. Horacio Cartes, a millionaire businessman and political newbie, held a lead over career politician Efrain Alegre in polls released Sunday.
Quartz obsession interlude
Tim Fernholz on why so few Indians have Internet access at home: “It’s still notable that only 150 million Indians have [home] internet access in a country of 1.2 billion. That’s significantly lower than other emerging markets. Consider this Gallup survey from January, which polled citizens around the globe about whether they have home internet access: While only 3% of Indians answered ‘yes,’ in China, 34% confirmed home internet access, with 51% penetration in Russia and 40% in Brazil…The country spends about 1% of its GDP on technology, compared to 2.5% around the world.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Cyprus is the ball in a geopolitical ping-pong match between Russia and the European Union.
Businesses should be able to pay employees what they choose. Or banks should be able to, at least.
Driving a Ferrari is good for the earth. A hybrid sports car might let drivers go 218 mph (351km/h) and still feel perfectly green.
Tax-free zones are a way to make culture thrive. China hopes to sprout arts and entertainment companies with the same playbook (paywall) it used for manufacturing.
Global warming paradoxically could mean more soccer games in blizzards. The US and Costa Rica teams’ snowy World Cup qualifier match could well just be the beginning.
The Chinese Dream: a license plate.
Norway’s rainy day cash reserve is now worth $140,000 per man, woman and child, and that may not be a good thing. Oil wealth lets Norwegians take lots of three-day weekends, but it may be slowly throttling the economy.
Canada produced 63.4% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2011. It’s hydropowering ahead.
The Beatles didn’t have a business model. It helps to be “part sexual, part showman”.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, ideas for cultural start-ups, and tips for managing an unstable monetary union to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.
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