BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE: NOVEMBER 20, 2000 ISSUE

International -- Readers Report

Running Out of Road in Latin America (int'l edition)

''Car power'' (Special Report, Oct. 23) does not address the serious limit to future growth for South American auto markets: the simple lack of road space. This problem is already visible in congested places such as Mexico City and Sao Paulo. Also, the lack of safe and efficient long-distance highways discourages the use of the automobile for medium and long-distance travel. Local governments simply do not have the resources for extensive new road building. Therefore, unless the auto industry starts involving itself in the creation of privately financed companies, it will soon reach a saturation point in Latin America.

Peter P. Kadur
Joinville, Brazil



How India's Stockholders Got Nicked (int'l edition)

Gillette Co.'s recent practice of destroying shareholder wealth in the U.S. has been repeated in India (''Why Bombay's blue chips are down,'' Asian Finance, Oct. 30). Another example of being a true multinational: The stock of the once blue-chip Indian Shaving Products Ltd. (ISPL) is down from $52 to $15 in just three months, vying for competition in the Internet space.

Behind this carnage is a nontransparent stock swap forced upon local shareholders by Gillette for the Indian shareholders to buy into the loss-making Duracell and Wilkinson Sword brands by surrendering their ownership in the profitable Gillette brands. This swap raises Gillette's stake in the Gillette brands in India through an unfair swap ratio. Three points to be noted:

1. The adviser on the stock swap was one of the big accounting firms. Is [Securities & Exchange Commission Chairman] Arthur Levitt listening?

2. If Gillette's new CEO decides to sell Duracell, will anyone pay as much as Indian shareholders paid?

3. ISPL's senior management has options on Gillette's stock and not on ISPL's stock, so do they care about the local stock price?

Atul Madhok
Bombay



An Elegy for Mexico's Passenger Trains (int'l edition)

We note the upsurge in Mexican railways through both privatization and professional management, not to mention capital investment (''Big payoff from a Mexican railroad,'' The Corporation, in some editions, Oct. 30). Unfortunately, the success achieved is one-sided, as practically all passenger activity has ceased.

Before privatization, passenger trains were a nonprofit venture. However, as trains were usually overcrowded, there was enough price elasticity to rune passenger service profitably. Not only for tourism--there are some really breathtaking stretches--but also because such service would alleviate the congestion on the roads. Mexico could thereby avoid the mistakes made in other countries.

Peter Lais
Winterthur, Switzerland



The Mideast: So Many Mistakes (int'l edition)

''Mortally wounded?'' (Special Report, Oct. 30) hardly answers its own question. The current problems are the result of a trend of mistakes and miscalculations by Israeli, Palestinian, and U.S. leaders. For example, these leaders negotiated for more than six years over a few kilometers here and there, leaving the most complex issues such as the refugees, settlements, water, and Jerusalem to be solved in the remaining few months. What the region needs are Israeli leaders who have the courage to withdraw from the occupied West Bank and Gaza strip and Palestinian leaders who are willing to build a democratic Palestine.


A.
Amin Mohamed
Indiana, Pa.





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LETTERS:
Running Out of Road in Latin America (int'l edition)

How India's Stockholders Got Nicked (int'l edition)

An Elegy for Mexico's Passenger Trains (int'l edition)

The Mideast: So Many Mistakes (int'l edition)

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