April 21st, 2011
04:38 PM GMT
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The gold price has hit $1,500 for the first time. However, it is unlikely South Africa, once the world’s largest gold producer, will reap the benefits of these prices.

South Africa’s gold mines are some of the deepest in the world and so extracting the precious metal has become more expensive over the years. Mines have closed down and retrenched many workers.

Even though commodity prices for gold, copper, coal and iron ore have been rising steadily, many say the South Africans may have missed opportunities to capitalize on these heady levels. Despite the boom times, the South African mining sector has contracted, admitted the government in parliament recently.

Negative perceptions have scared off potential investors for a number of reasons. Inflexible labor laws make employers think twice before setting up shop in South Africa. Infrastructure, like rail corridors to transport coal, for example, is woefully inefficient. Also, there has been much political noise about the possibility of the mines being nationalized. Government keeps on discrediting the calls but the worries still persist for international investors.

South Africa's leaders also point to the new rail links that are being built, the electricity supplies being upgraded and other benefits to doing business in Africa’s largest and most sophisticated economy.

That said, there is still the sense that South Africa is missing the boat.

Interestingly, many economists and mining experts say it’s other African countries that may benefit, because as commodity prices skyrocket, the appetite for risk increases.

The South Africans recently joined the BRIC club of emerging economies and the Trade and Industry minister says that they expect $17 billion of investment over the next three years because of this new relationship. Doors will be opened, new deals will be done, say the South Africans.

However, will it be too late to ride the wave of these boom times?



April 20th, 2011
06:41 PM GMT
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The Rolling Stones tell us you can't always get what you want… that is, unless you're the chief executive.

We've been shadowing three of our chief execs for our series. And their habit of seeing off obstacles has brought them multi-million dollar businesses.

And in this edition, Sarah Curran is in London and her colleague or her fellow boss, Michael Wu, in Asia, show why failure is not an option when you are the boss.

After the launch party for Sarah’s redesigned website, she’s facing a dilemma many bosses have: finding cover for a pregnant staff member.

It’s the first time Sarah has ever faced this situation, which means she also has to come up with a maternity policy.

Sarah shows us how she goes about finding and interviewing new employees – even if just temporary employees. And this brings out an unexpected insecurity in Sarah.

Michael Wu shows us how he’s expanding his business in China. And surprisingly he feels the biggest mistake he can make is to assume they know the Chinese consumer, even if his business is based right in Hong Kong.

Click here to watch previous episodes of  "The Boss."

Filed under: The Boss


April 20th, 2011
03:00 AM GMT
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David Kirchoff, CEO of Weight Watchers, talks to CNN's Maggie Lake about how to keep a company trim and profits healthy.

Filed under: Executive Insider


April 19th, 2011
07:03 AM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – It all began at about 3am. That’s when residents of Hong Kong housing complex Mei Foo Sun Chuen say they first heard the construction trucks arrive and a few of them rushed downstairs to see what was going on.

Resident Hewit Au describes what happened: “I asked the driver what he was doing. Then the driver said, ‘Go away - if not I will run you over.’ So I said, ‘Fine run me over.'

“Then I laid down in front of the truck.”

Au’s late night standoff kicked off a weeks-long stalemate between Mei Foo homeowners and Billion Star Development.

In Hong Kong, Au and his fellow residents have become more than just middle class homeowners with a complaint against a local developer. They have become symbols of growing level of dissatisfaction over skyrocketing property prices and the power wielded by some of the city's richest corporations, the property developers.

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Filed under: China


April 18th, 2011
06:48 PM GMT
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As a rule, Finnish elections don't tend to generate much international excitement – but last night’s election victory by the eurosceptic party True Finns has turned that rule on its head.

A normally stolid member of the eurozone with billions of dollars of exposure to bailout funds and loan facilities, the new-look Finland could potentially scupper any further bailouts and plunge the euro project into a new crisis.

Here's why: Bailouts - like the EU bailout of Portugal, expected in June - require the agreement of all 17 members. And Finland, unlike its eurozone partners, has to put all requests for bailouts to a majority vote in parliament.

That’s very bad news for Portugal, which just last month became the third eurozone member to ask the EU and IMF for a bailout.

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April 18th, 2011
04:32 PM GMT
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April 15th, 2011
08:15 PM GMT
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Irish houses sold at cut-price Friday in a massive auction that cleared out properties repossessed as the country’s financial crisis hit.

The auction in Dublin - seen as an example of the woes afflicting Ireland following the banking sector’s splurge on bad loans - proved prime pickings for bargain hunters.

Properties sold at a third of their peak price -– including a four-bedroom home in the prime area of Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. It went for €550,000 ($794,000), from a boom time estimate of between €1.5 million to €2 million. A three-bed penthouse flat in Dublin sold for €345,000 from a market peak of more than €900,000 – €1 million.

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April 15th, 2011
02:20 PM GMT
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French President Nicolas Sarkozy had a grand plan in mind to make the Union of the Mediterranean a hallmark of his rotating EU Presidency in July 2008.

The math was simple, the scale grand, up to 44 nations of Europe, Middle East & North Africa that, among other things, would foster trade with the Mediterranean Sea as its center of gravity.

The French President wanted to expand the original plan launched in the mid-nineties under what is known in Brussels as the Barcelona Process. The policy structure under the title of the Euro-Med was in place, but the actual building of this economic blueprint never got off the ground.
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April 15th, 2011
02:02 AM GMT
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New York (CNN) –
When Eric Schmidt announced he was stepping aside as CEO of Google he famously tweeted, “Day-to-day adult supervision no longer needed!” But investors aren’t so sure about that. In the weeks since Schmidt announced he was stepping aside as CEO, the stock has fallen 9 percent.

Larry Page, the founder and now CEO has a reputation as a brilliant innovator, a non-conformist and an introvert. Those attributes work for entrepreneurs, but often do not translate into good CEO’s.

I had a chance to sit down with Steven Levy, a veteran technology journalist who has just released a new book about Google, “In the Plex,” and asked whether Page has the ability to lead the company.

“He is a smart guy...we know he has a great vision of the future,” Levy said. “Larry has to step up not only in terms of great products, great vision, take on Facebook, but also make people feel okay about Google and not be scared of it.”

Page takes the reins at a critical time for Google. It is still making pots of money, but growth rates are not anywhere near the meteoric 40% pace of years past. Google has missed the rise of social networking. In his book, Levy details Google’s “Facebook panic,” describing how concerned they are about the vast information Facebook now controls.

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April 14th, 2011
07:03 PM GMT
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The BP shareholders’ meeting, held in London Thursday, fell almost a year after the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
 
The explosion killed 11 men, released the biggest oil spill in U.S.history and cost the company tens of billions of dollars.

The men were not forgotten, with the deaths prompting emotional exchanges between BP’s executives, including its new chief executive Bob Dudley, and shareholders.

At one point, an audience member read a letter from Keith Jones, the father of Gordon Jones who had died on the rig. The message to BP executives: “You were rolling the dice with my son's life, and you lost."

The meeting came the same day BP announced a last minute deadline extension for its $16 billion share swap deal with Russian oil giant Rosneft. The deal – which would allow exploration into Russia’s Arctic shelf – has been met with hefty resistance from shareholders in TNK-BP, BP’s Russian partner. The deadline has now been extended from Thursday to May 16, 2011.

And so BP’s troubles continue, with hopes the Rosneft deal might have signalled a new start now dashed.

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Filed under: Oil


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