South America

February 3, 2010

California Wine Shipment Drop for first time in 16 years

California shipments of wine have dropped in 2009 for the first time since 1993. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, sales figures show that consumption is up 2.1 percent nationally, but consumers are turning to cheaper imports from Chile, Argentina and Australia as global production exceeds demand.  ”

The numbers announced last week by Woodside wine research firm Gomberg, Fredrikson &amp Associates analyst Jon Fredrikson at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento. “As we basically had a financial heart attack, people just reined in their spending and were very cautious,” Fredrikson said. “They moved dramatically down to lower price points, below $5 and $7. Small wineries in the North Coast that sell bottles from $25 to $100 were basically shut out. Inventories backed up, and that just made it an ugly year.”

The biggest drop in wine sales is for bottles that retail for more than $20. Sales were off between 20 and 30 percent in 2009, Steve Rannekleiv, an analyst for Rabobank told the Chronicle.  During the same time, sales for wines that cost less than $6 a bottle rose 5 percent.

As consumers have tightened their purse strings, bulk wine imports from countries with lower production and land costs have climbed. Between 2007 and 2009, imports more than doubled to 13 million cases to capture 32 percent of the U.S. market. “Argentina is the sleeping giant,” Rannekleiv said. Argentina has 510,000 acres planted in grapes, compared with 480,000 in California, which produces 90 percent of the wine made in the United States.

Filed under Argentina, Wine by

August 14, 2008

Chevron will sell 2,000 Texaco stations in Brazil

San Ramon-based Chevron Corp. will sell 2,000 Texaco gas stations and some related businesses in Brazil for about $730 million. As reported in San Francisco Business Times:

Chevron agreed to sell the businesses to Ultrapar Participações S.A., based in São Paulo. The deal requires separating out Chevron’s lubricant and oil exploration businesses, which aren’t included in the deal. The separation will take until early 2009, according to Ultrapar. Pedro Wongtschowski is CEO of Ultrapar. The company will pay the price, which is subject to a working capital adjustment, out of its cash reserves.

Ultrapar is licensing the Texaco brand name for up to five years, during which time it will phase in the use of its own Ipiranga brand name. In this deal it will also get some equity in terminal operations. Texaco is the No. 4 fuel brand in Brazil by sales volume, with sales of about 120,000 barrels per day.

Filed under Brazil, Energy Industry, Mergers and Acquisitions by

June 17, 2008

California signs MOUs with Chile

Representatives for the State of California have signed a series of Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) the Republic of Chile. In a speech before the California Assembly, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet Jeria urged stronger ties between Chile and the United States. The two countries share a respect for freedom, human rights and fair trade, she said. Speaking of Chile, she said, “We aim to take a giant step and become a developed nation in the span of one generation.”. “We have not come to ask for aid,” she told legislators. “We have come to form a partnership for development.”

According to a press release from the Governor’s office, the first MOU was signed by officials from the Republic of Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and California’s Environmental Protection Agency, Resources Agency and Department of Food and Agriculture. It is an agreement establishing a California-Chile “Partnership for the 21st Century” that is based on the desire of both parties to open collaboration between their institutions, organizations, universities, research centers, companies and citizens.

Schwarzenegger, in a prepared statement, said that Chile and California are “natural partners, given our longstanding history of educational exchange, our excellence in agriculture and our similar geography and climate.”

“President Bachelet’s visit marks a continuation of our efforts to promote collaboration through cooperative actions and initiatives focused on issues of mutual interest, including education and workforce development, environmental protection, clean energy, agriculture, information technology and trade,” Schwarzenegger said.

Filed under Chile, Foreign Relations by

October 3, 2007

Sempra Wins $172M in dispute with Argentine gas companies

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington, D.C., has awarded Sempra Energy $172 million according to a report in the San Diego Business Journal. The award was to settle a 2002 dispute involving the company’s 43 percent ownership in two Argentine natural gas holding companies. “We hope that the government of Argentina will honor its legal obligations as we seek immediate enforcement of the award,” said Javade Chaudhri, executive vice president and general counsel for Sempra. Sempra had the interest in Sodigas Pampeana and Sodigas Sur. In a statement, Sempra says the dispute involved its efforts to recover the utilities’ diminution in value that occurred as a result of measures taken by the Argentine government in 2002.

Filed under Argentina, Energy Industry, Legal and Criminal Issues by

May 10, 2007

Draper Fisher Jurvetson launches Brazil affiliate

The San Jose / Silicon Valley Business Journal reports that: “High tech venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson said Wednesday it is opening a Brazil-based affiliate in partnership with FIR Capital Partners. Menlo Park-based DFJ said it will enter the Brazilian market with an initial $40 million and focus on funding ‘extraordinary entrepreneurs with the vision to build leading global companies.’ As part of the agreement the two firms will launch a $100 million fund, DFJ FIR Brazil Fund II, targeting offshore investors, which will invest in innovative Brazilian companies in high-growth industries. A timeframe for that launch was not disclosed. FIR is a Brazil-based investment banking, private equity firm focused on investing in high growth industries in Brazil and Latin America.”

Filed under Brazil, Venture Capital by

April 19, 2007

Google Opens Latin American Headquarters in Argentina

“Internet giant Google announced last week that it will open offices in Buenos Aires, reports Spanish news service EFE in Spanish-language newspaper El Diario/La Prensa. The Buenos Aires offices will serve as headquarters for all of Google’s Latin American operations. Latin America is the fastest growing market for the search engine giant, according to the report. Previously, Google’s only offices were in the United States and Ireland. The company made a foray into Latin America by opening offices in Mexico and Brazil, but now it will center its operations in Argentina. ‘Latin America is the fastest growing Internet business region in the world,’ said Google executive director Eric Schmidt. ‘It is growing faster than Asia, the U.S. and Europe.’ Schmidt said Buenos Aires was selected because it had the right ingredients for Google’s launch in the region.”

Filed under Argentina, Internet by

February 21, 2007

Vivendi Games buys Wanako Games

“Vivendi Games has purchased the largest game development studio in Latin America, the company said Tuesday. Financial terms of the deal with Wanako Games, based in Santiago, Chile, were not disclosed. Vivendi said in a release that the purchase will help its Los Angeles-based Sierra Online division to enhance its internal product development capabilities in the downloadable online games space. Sierra will keep Wanako’s developers… Los Angeles’ Vivendi Games is the interactive entertainment unit of France-based Vivendi SA.”

Filed under Chile, Entertainment Industry, France, Mergers and Acquisitions by

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