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Rene Lavanchy

London, United Kingdom
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About Rene
Experienced investigative reporter, editor and project manager with a track record of influential, agenda-setting investigations in financial and consumer media (theguardian.com/profile/rene-lavanchy)

Dependable breaker of exclusive, distinctive news coverage with a unique contacts book and an intuitive feel for building relationships and story-getting.

Unique insight across public policy, finance, politics, employment relations (especially trade unions) and infrastructure (both UK and international), and in print and digital. Always using my insight to get the stories behind the headlines.

Strong understanding of international public policy and finance. Highly familiar with UK media law.

Trained in shorthand to 100wpm.
Catalan English Spanish
News Gathering Feature Stories Content Writing
Fact Checking

A car that won’t start: obstacles to Mozambique’s electric vehicle potential

13 Oct 2023  |  zitamar.com
Mozambique has the potential to host the entire supply chain for electric vehicles (EVs) due to its rich graphite deposits, but faces significant obstacles. Experts express skepticism about the country's ability to become a competitive EV manufacturing center, citing the need for more investment in human capital and the improbability of creating an unsubsidized car manufacturing sector. The UNCTAD report highlights Mozambique's capital growth and graphite reserves but notes challenges in logistics, technology, and skilled labor. The geopolitics of EV production and competition between China, Europe, and the West further complicate Mozambique's entry into the market. Syrah, a company mining graphite in Mozambique, plans to refine and process it in the US due to logistical advantages. The failed example of Matchedje Motors, which ceased car production due to various constraints, illustrates the difficulties faced by the industry in Mozambique.

Has Frelimo finally killed democracy?

12 Oct 2023  |  Zitamar News
The article discusses the recent local elections in Mozambique, suggesting that the ruling party Frelimo has fraudulently claimed victory in nearly all municipalities except Beira. It highlights the disparity between official results and those reported by opposition parties, particularly Renamo, which claims to have won in several key cities. The piece criticizes Frelimo's control over government machinery and resources, implying that the election was neither free nor fair.

HS2: UK’s major infrastructure U-turn dismays global institutional investors

06 Oct 2023  |  realassets.ipe.com
The UK government's decision to cancel the northern leg of the HS2 high-speed rail project has sparked significant concern among institutional real estate and infrastructure investors. The move is seen as undermining trust in the UK's commitment to long-term infrastructure projects, with potential negative impacts on real estate investments in the North of England and the broader infrastructure market. Key stakeholders, including the British Property Federation and the National Infrastructure Commission, have expressed disappointment and concern over the decision's implications for economic growth and investor confidence. The article highlights the need for a review of infrastructure financing models and greater collaboration between the UK government and global investors.

Zitamar explains: what to expect in 2024

01 Oct 2023  |  Zitamar News
Key events in Mozambique for 2024 include Frelimo's leadership selection, the cyclone season, the potential restart of TotalEnergies' gas project, the possible withdrawal of regional forces, and the general election. Frelimo's dominance and electoral fraud are highlighted, with Celso Correia as the frontrunner for leadership. The cyclone season poses significant risks, and TotalEnergies faces multiple challenges in restarting its LNG project. The general election is expected to be contentious, with Frelimo likely to retain power despite opposition efforts.

Who or What Is Killing the British Pub?

01 Oct 2023  |  www.vice.com
The British pub industry is facing a crisis, with closures attributed to various factors including the smoking ban, rising property prices, and the business practices of large pub-owning companies known as 'pubcos.' The article explores the impact of these factors through personal anecdotes and industry statistics, highlighting the struggles of pub landlords and the changing social landscape. It argues that while social changes have weakened the British pub, the outdated and often exploitative ownership models of pubcos are a significant part of the problem. The article calls for a shift towards more community-focused ownership to ensure the survival of British pubs.

Regius Resources stalks new coal deposit for coal-to-liquids venture

28 Sep 2023  |  Zitamar News
Regius Resources Group is pursuing a new coal deposit in Mozambique for its coal-to-liquids project, according to executive chairman Cobus van Wyk. The project, which is expected to cost $2.2bn, aims to produce diesel and naphtha, generate electricity, and produce urea fertilizer. Financing is anticipated from Chinese banks, with the possibility of South African bank involvement. The project has faced no government delays and does not currently require carbon capture. Previous US financing plans were abandoned due to opposition to coal-based projects.

TotalEnergies looking to restart Mozambique LNG ‘before year end’

27 Sep 2023  |  Zitamar News
TotalEnergies aims to restart its Mozambique LNG project before the end of the year, according to CEO Patrick Pouyanne. He stated that Mozambican and allied forces have regained control of the situation in Cabo Delgado, as mentioned during a presentation in Paris.

Indonesia’s Pertamina to join in Búzi gas prospecting, as operator seeks power plant contracts

25 Aug 2023  |  Zitamar News
Indonesia's state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina is set to participate in the monetization of a gas block in Mozambique's central Sofala province. The operator is also seeking contracts for power plants.

Zitamar Week in Review, 19-25 August 2023

25 Aug 2023  |  Zitamar News
Mozambique's military has killed Ibn Omar, the leader of the insurgency in northern Mozambique, in intensive fighting in Macomia district. The death of Omar, a key figure for the Islamic State in Mozambique, is a significant blow to the insurgency but came at the cost of several Mozambican soldiers' lives. President Nyusi is meeting with Cuban counterpart Miguel Díaz-Canel. Health professionals in Mozambique have suspended all activities until their concerns are addressed. Nampula's mayor, Paulo Vahanle, survived an assassination attempt allegedly orchestrated by the ruling party Frelimo. Búzi Hydrocarbons plans to invest $120 million in gas production in Sofala province. The week also saw reports of political violence, environmental issues, and evolving international relations, particularly with Russia.

Two beheaded and homes burnt in Muidumbe attacks

16 Aug 2022  |  Zitamar News
Insurgents attacked the villages of Nampanha and Mandela in Muidumbe district, Cabo Delgado province on 9 and 10 August, resulting in at least two civilians beheaded and dozens of homes burnt. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, which included kidnapping a woman and shooting a local militia member in the leg.

Hydrogen: A new store of value?

21 Mar 2021  |  realassets.ipe.com
Hydrogen is being considered as a means to decarbonize economies, alongside electrification and biofuels, and there is a question of whether institutions should invest in hydrogen.

By scrapping plans to electrify regional railways, transport secretary Chris Grayling is undermining Chris Grayling

24 Jul 2017  |  citymonitor.ai
The Department for Transport announced the cancellation of plans to electrify 245km of rail routes in Wales, the Midlands, and the North, opting instead for bi-mode trains. This decision, made by transport secretary Chris Grayling, contradicts his own guidance on improving railway efficiency. Electric trains are cheaper and more efficient than diesel, and the cancellation is seen as a short-term saving that will increase long-term costs. The article criticizes the high cost and inefficiency of bi-mode trains, particularly those from Hitachi, and highlights the role of the Treasury in pushing for early project approval.

Public authorities should stop wasting money on hyperloop

30 Aug 2016  |  citymonitor.ai
Elon Musk's hyperloop concept, despite significant media attention and private investment, has not progressed towards becoming a commercial reality. Public entities like SNCF and a Russian sovereign wealth fund have invested in hyperloop companies, raising concerns about the misuse of public funds on an unproven and potentially infeasible technology. The article argues that governments should focus on existing, reliable technologies such as high-speed rail instead of being swayed by the hyperloop hype.

Who or What Is Killing the British Pub?

29 Jan 2015  |  www.vice.com
The decline of British pubs is attributed to various factors including beer tax, the smoking ban, rising property prices, and the practices of large pub-owning companies known as 'pubcos'. The smoking ban has had a mixed impact, with some pubs benefiting and others suffering. High street chains like JD Wetherspoon have grown, but they represent a small fraction of pubs. Pubcos, such as Enterprise Inns and Punch Taverns, have been criticized for their 'beer tie' model, which forces landlords to buy beer at inflated prices, leading to financial struggles and pub closures. The 2008 financial crisis exacerbated the situation, with pubcos selling off pubs for redevelopment. Despite these challenges, there is hope for the British pub if ownership models become fairer and more community-focused.

If London wants Crossrail 2, the Treasury will need to stump up a lot more cash

23 Jan 2015  |  citymonitor.ai
Crossrail 2, a proposed southwest-northeast railway in London, is facing a funding gap of several billion pounds, with an estimated cost of around £25bn. The project may not spur as much redevelopment or gentrification as the original Crossrail due to a lack of attractive redevelopment sites and lower expected property development. Transport for London, the Greater London Authority, and Network Rail, which are borrowing to fund Crossrail, face a challenge as only half of Crossrail 2's cost could be met by local funding, leaving the Treasury to cover a larger share. However, Deputy Mayor for Transport Isabel Dedring suggests public funding will be smaller, and with austerity and HS2 construction, this seems plausible. PwC's analysis indicates that incremental business rates income from new developments around Crossrail 2 stations would contribute minimally to funding.

Congestion-beaters or roads to hell: is there still a place for urban motorways?

08 Jul 2014  |  the Guardian
The article explores the historical and contemporary debates surrounding urban motorways, highlighting their initial promise of reducing congestion and symbolizing progress, contrasted with their eventual criticism for inducing demand and environmental degradation. It discusses various cities' experiences, including Manchester, Birmingham, San Francisco, and Portland, with urban motorways and their subsequent demolitions or expansions. The piece also touches on modern solutions like congestion charging and smart motorways, suggesting a balanced approach combining limited highway systems with advanced traffic management technologies.

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