Economist 10/15/14

  1. Private security is big business in Nigeria. The country suffers bombings in the north, sectarian violence in the centre and simmering insecurity in the oil-producing south-east. Red24, a Scottish security firm, says more than 600 people are kidnapped in the country every year, putting it among the five worst for that sort of crime.Between 2007 and 2009, while an insurgency seethed in the fuel-rich region, Shell splurged $383m, 40% of its global security budget, in Nigeria. For about $1,500 a month, khaki-clad police units escort fat cats through the grinding Lagos traffic. Police and army stand to attention outside fortified embassies in Abuja or oil installations in the Niger delta.Because they cannot legally carry weapons, armed units must be hired from national forces.Private companies pay the security forces handsomely. But that also encourages commanders to hire out their men.
  2. Somaliland, a breakaway region which declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991. Unlike Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia proper, Hargeisa is broadly safe, and undergoing a remarkable economic boom. On its dusty streets, goats compete for space with Land Cruisers; new businesses such as “the English Beauty Salon” and “the Scandinavian hotel” are everywhere. In cafés Somalis with accents from London, Minnesota and Amsterdam sip frappuccinos. The boom is an indicator of how successful other parts of Somalia could be if the fighting could be stopped.Recovery began with refugees sending money home through the hawala system (see related article). It accelerated dramatically in 2009, when Saudi Arabia lifted a nine-year ban on imports of livestock from Somalia. Last year some 5m animals were exported, more than for 20 years.African neighbours such as Ethiopia, whose troops guarantee security in much of the rest of Somalia, will not approve either; nor, for that matter, will the West. No country has yet recognised Somaliland’s self-declared independence.
  3. AT HER home in a quiet residential compound, Sanda Samanthie Ahubudu runs a thriving business. She sells her clients lists of suggested names for everything from shops to babies. Staff are almost constantly on the phone to customers.Demand, says Ms Ahubudu, is growing for the service, for which she charges 500 rupees ($3.56). Her patrons are mostly Buddhists, who make up a majority of Sri Lanka’s population. But they also include Catholics, Hindus and Muslims.Some are actors and actresses, politicians or media workers who want new names for themselves, believing (as many do in Sri Lanka) that names can shape destinies.When a child is born many consult an astrologer, who will suggest auspicious letters to be used in the baby’s name. Parents then choose names beginning with the letters.Naming has not always been so commercial. Traditionally a family elder, the chief priest of a local temple or an erudite villager would provide the service.
  4. The secret of Spain’s success in stemming illegal immigration was co-operation with transit countries such as Senegal, Morocco and Mauritania, says Gonzalo Robles of AECID, the government’s aid agency. As a former secretary of state for immigration, Mr Robles drew up agreements that helped block Morocco as a departure point both for the Canaries and Gibraltar. They included joint maritime patrols backed up by a sophisticated radar system that could detect boats leaving Morocco’s Mediterranean coast.Spain has achieved this with only a few dozen of its own frontier police deployed in Africa. Most work is done by local police, who receive Spanish money, equipment and training.the agreements signed in 2006 have been renewed each year, blocking the path to new migrants from Syria, Eritrea and elsewhere.
  5. In September SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer, said it was the target of a takeover by its bigger rival, AB InBev.If it is completed, the £69 billion ($106 billion) merger would be the third-largest in history. The combined brewer would earn about half the industry’s profits and sell one in three pints worldwide. But agreeing on a deal price was, in relative terms, straightforward. Executing the merger, let alone running the resulting behemoth, will be more difficult.The acquisition of SABMiller offers a quick way to reach new markets: the firm earns 29% of its profits in Africa, for instance, where AB InBev does little business. An acquisition would also let the famously frugal AB InBev unleash its cost-cutters on another company.Under the terms outlined this week, AB InBev would pay a mix of cash and shares to SABMiller’s biggest stockholders—Altria, a tobacco firm, and Colombia’s Santo Domingo family—to help them avoid a hefty tax bill.It will take much longer to win regulators’ approval. Antitrust concerns may force AB InBev to sell SABMiller’s stake in MillerCoors, in America, and in CR Snow, China’s biggest brewer.SABMiller’s other partners may also present trouble. The firm is an important bottler for Coca-Cola in Africa. The soda giant is unlikely to want a partner to be controlled by AB InBev, itself a bottler for PepsiCo in Latin America.
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