Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Cyprus nailbiter, Xi in Africa, German cyber-warriors

March 24, 2013
March 24, 2013

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The Cyprus drama goes down the finish line. Negotiations continued into the night Sunday in Brussels as Cyprus president Nicos Anastasiades tried to nail down an agreement with European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund leaders ahead of today’s deadline. Failure to reach a bailout deal could push Cyprus into bankruptcy, potentially lead to its eventual exit from the euro zone, and heighten economic uncertainty in other weak member states. Whatever the outcome, the situation is far from ideal. As one economist noted: “Just a thought – crisis meetings late on a Sunday dealing with technical detail may not be the best way to manage the euro zone economy.” The Guardian is liveblogging the latest developments here.

Dell directors are expected to indicate whether they’re seriously considering rival offers for the US computer maker. 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, or whether those proposals are reasonably likely to lead to a superior offer. Founder Michael Dell, who partnered with private equity group Silver Lake and Microsoft on a buyout deal, looks increasingly likely (paywall) to lose control over his own company.

Detroit becomes the largest US city ever to fall under state control. It’s the first day on the job for the US auto manufacturing hub’s state-appointed emergency financial manager, bankruptcy lawyer Kevyn Orr. His unenviable job is to pull off one of the most ambitious financial turnarounds in urban history. It would help if he could get the homicide rate under control as well.

China Construction Bank posts earnings. It’s the first major Chinese bank to report 2012 earnings. CCB is expected to show (paywall) slower profit growth because of slimmer loan margins and relatively modest domestic borrowing demand.

Over the weekend

The original age of Russian oligarchs came to an end. Boris Berezovsky, the self-made billionaire and archetypical Russian oligarch, 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.

China’s new leader spends Spring Break in Africa. President Xi Jinping began his tour of the continent in Tanzania Sunday, just before the fifth annual BRICS summit starting Tuesday in South Africa. It’s probably time to start talking about China’s unequal trade relationship with the continent again.

China’s state-owned energy companies posted lower profit for 2012. Sinopec, PetroChina and Cnooc together spent more than $35 billion last year on overseas acquisitions, and signaled more could be in store for 2013. The companies are expected to benefit from planned loosening of state gas and diesel price controls.

Pervez Musharraf returned to Pakistan. The former president, who came to power in a coup in 1999, left 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 (paywall) to an already fiery political scene.

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 and still feel perfectly green.

Deposit insurance exists for a reason. Though that might not mean much to Cypriots, whose deposits are insured—in theory, anyway.

Tax-free zones are a way to make culture thrive. China hopes to sprout arts and entertainment companies with the same playbook it used for manufacturing.

Surprising discoveries

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.

Germany scrambles to build a cyber-defense system. The government is hiring 130 professional cyber warriors to defend against hackers in China and elsewhere. “Cyber warrior” is an impressive job title.

Norway’s rainy day cash reserve is now worth $140,000 per man, woman and child. Oil wealth also means Norwegians take lots of three-day weekends.

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, cool job titles, or advice for better managing the euro zone economy to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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