The nation’s competition watchdog has warned that future power generation takeovers will face a tougher path, after its approval of AGL Energy’s takeover of the Loy Yang brown coal power station cut the number of southeast wholesale power providers down to five. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) approval of the takeover cleared the way for AGL to embark on a USD 900 million equity raising to fund an acquisition that will give it the nation’s equal-biggest power capacity, with Origin Energy.
Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was recently down 13.3 points, or 0.32 per cent, at 4092.9 while the broader All
Ordinaries index shed 14.5 points, or 0.36 per cent, at 4041.3. On the ASX 24, the June share price index futures contract was down 11 points at 4041, with 16,810 contracts traded. The main indices gained about 10 points when the market opened, but falls by miners and banks, the biggest stocks, sent the bourse lower. The early gains may have been caused by overnight comments by Italian Prime
Minister Mario Monti, who said Greece was likely to stay in the Euro Zone.
Bangladesh’s Finance Minister AMA Muhith may allocate a one billion taka fund for the development of women entrepreneurs in the national budget for 2012-13. The minister asked women entrepreneurs to submit a proposal soon mentioning the methods of expenditure of the fund, so that he can allocate the fund for them. The minister asked the leaders of Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry to arrange special training programmes for women entre-preneurs so that they can become successful.
Bangladesh’s economy is forecast to have grown at 6.32 per cent in the fiscal year to June, a slowdown from last year’s expansion, dragged by a saturated farm sector, officials said on Wednesday. The government had projected seven per cent growth in gross domestic product for the 2011-12 financial year, but a meagre two per cent expansion in the key agriculture sector means the growth has fallen short of expectations. The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) revised its figures for 2010-11 growth upwards to 6.71 per cent from a provisional estimate of 6.66 per cent. Industries remained the main driver of growth, expanding by around 10 per cent while services sector, the largest component in the impoverished economy, grew at six per cent. The BBS growth estimate was higher than the 5.5 per cent forecast made by the International Monetary Fund, but it is in line with the projections made by the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.
The Chinese government has given Baosteel Group the go-ahead to build a 10-million tonne per annum steel project at Zhanjiang port in south-eastern Guangdong province, according to a notice issued on Friday. The project, which also involves construction of power plants and port facilities, will require a total investment of 69.68 billion yuan (USD 10.98 billion) and was approved by the National Development and Reform Commission on Thursday. Baosteel, the parent of the Shanghai-listed Baoshan Iron and Steel and China’s third biggest mill
by production capacity, has been awaiting formal approval for the project since pre-liminary construction got underway in 2008.
China’s biggest banks may fall short of loan targets for the first time in at least seven years as an economic slowdown crimps
demand for credit, three bank officials with knowledge of the matter said. A decline in lending in April and May means it is likely the banks’ total new loans for 2012 will be about seven trillion yuan (USD 1.1 trillion), less than an estimated government goal of eight trillion yuan to 8.5 trillion yuan, said one of the officials. Banks are relying on small and mid-sized companies for loan growth after demand from the biggest state-owned borrowers dropped. The drying up of loan demand attests to the severity of China’s slowdown and may add pressure on Premier Wen Jiabao to cut interest rates and expand stimulus measures. The economy may grow in 2012 at its slowest pace in 13 years, as Europe’s debt crisis curbs exports, manufacturing shrinks and demand for new homes wanes.
Greece will probably remain in the Euro Zone, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Thursday, but demands made of Greece by its partners had been unrealistic and far-reaching economic reform could take decades to achieve. Greece’s Euro Zone partners had been wrong to insist on a process of reforms and fiscal adjustment which was too fast for the country to withstand, Monti said. He earlier told a news conference that he did not expect it would be long before European countries were ready to introduce common Euro Zone bonds.
A French judge on Wednesday asked a mediator to resolve a dispute pitting internet giant Google against anti-racism groups who object to the search engine suggesting users add ‘Jew’ to name searches. The conflict stems from Google’s auto complete feature that suggests what search people might want based on algorithms of previous searches.
Because users of Google frequently ask whether politicians, actors or other celebrities are Jewish or not, the word ‘Jew’ in French is frequently suggested as what those using the search engine might in fact be asking about. Under French law, it is illegal to record someone’s ethnicity in a database. Judge Martine Provost-Lopin accepted a request from all parties to appoint a mediator to find a solution, with a next hearing set for June 27.
In the steepest ever increase, petrol rates in Delhi were raised by a massive IRs 7.54 per litre on Wednesday, the first hike in rates in six months. This is the steepest hike in petrol price ever, the previous high being IRs five per litre. Oil firms had twice raised rates by IRs five per litre — on May 15, 2011 when prices in Delhi were hiked from IRs 58.37 a litre to IRs 63.37 per litre and on May 24, 2008 when rates were raised to IRs 50.56 a litre. The government had decontrolled petrol price in June 2010, but rates were last increased on November 4 last year. This despite oil price rising by 14.5 per cent and 3.2 per cent fall in value of Indian rupee against the US dollar. Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy had stated that the depreciation in Indian rupee had necessitated an immediate increase in fuel prices.
Reebok India lodged a first information report with Gurgaon Police alleging that its former Managing Director Subhinder Singh Prem and COO Vishnu Bhagat had stolen products by setting up secret warehouses, fudged accounts and indulged in fictitious sales to cause a IRs 87 billion dent to the company. If the allegations are found correct, this would be the second biggest corporate scandal after Satyam, where Ramalinga Raju is accused of orchestrating a IRs 140 billion fraud. In regulatory filings on May 1, Adidas, which owns the Reebok brand, had said that commercial irregularities in India had forced it to take a IRs 8.7 billion hit in addition to restructuring spend of IRs 4.7 billion planned in 2012. Reebok India’s turnover is estimated at around IRs 6 billion.
The nation’s 10 major power utilities and four gas suppliers will raise monthly charges starting in July, blaming higher fuel costs caused by the international tension over Iran’s nuclear programmes, according to informed sources. Monthly power bills for standard households are expected to rise 30 yen to 90 yen, while gas fees are expected to go up by 30 yen to 55 yen under the industries’ fuel cost adjustment systems, the sources said. In Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO’s) service area, the bill for the average household is projected to rise by 90 yen a month to reach 7,063 yen. That figure will reach 7,537 yen if the government approves TEPCO’s plan for a full-fledged rate hike involving pricing system changes. That level would be 564 yen higher than the planned rate for June.
Construction firms Hazama Corporation and Ando Corporation announced they have agreed to merge next April in the face of the sector’s prolonged economic downturn. The plan is designed to raise the new entity’s competitiveness by pursuing economies of scale and streamlining operations. The two mid-size firms, whose combined sales came to about 351 billion yen in fiscal 2011, will form a new entity under a planned ratio of 0.53 Hazama share to one Ando share.
Softbank Corporation plans to sell at least 50 billion yen (USD 629 million) in bonds next week, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter. Japan’s third-largest mobile phone company will offer 10 billion yen in three-year bonds and about 30 billion yen in notes due in five years, said the source, asking not to be identified because the information is private.
Malaysia has targeted 53 billion ringgit in earnings from the export of timber and timber-based products in the next eight years. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the government was confident that the figures could be met through the
National Timber Industry Policy (NATIP). Muhyiddin believed that steps taken by the ministry via NATIP would see a shift in wood-based industries towards own equipment manufacturing, own design manufacturing and own brand manufacturing. Meanwhile, Plantation Industries and Commodities
Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said for NATIP to achieve its target, the country had to overcome several challenges including the availability of raw materials, skilled workforce, and competition from other countries, innovation and also processing technology. The ministry will also undertake concerted measures to enhance the competitiveness of Malaysian wood-based industries.
Malaysia’s financial services sector contributed 11.6 per cent to the country’s real gross domestic product last year, the Economic Transformation Programme’s annual report said. The proposed development of the financial services sector takes on a holistic approach that encompasses both financial institutions and financial markets. It has targeted to raise Malaysia’s total gross national
income from 121.5 billion ringgit to 180.2 billion ringgit and create 275,400 jobs by 2020.
Pakistan stocks closed down on Wednesday but stayed above 14,000 points, with investors wary after a fall was seen across global markets, dealers said. The Karachi Stock Exchange benchmark 100-index ended 0.77 per cent, or 109.26 points, down at 14,032.82 on volume of 138.76 million shares, compared to Tuesday’s close of 14,142.08. The Pakistan rupee closed on a record low for the second day in a row to end at 91.97 over 92.02 to the dollar, amid higher import payments particularly for oil, compared to Tuesday’s close of 91.65 over 70. Overnight rates in the money market closed almost flat at 9.00
Pakistani rupees, compared to Tuesday’s close of 9.10 Pakistani rupees, because of increased liquidity.
Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) and Pakistan State Oil (PSO) have finalised the term price for their July to December gas oil
contracts, industry sources said on Wednesday. PSO will pay a premium of about USD 2.80 a barrel above Middle East quotes for the cargos, nearly 10 per cent more than its January-June term contract with KPC which was set at a premium of about USD 2.60 a
barrel, the sources said. Volumes will remain the same at about 1.5 million tonnes of 0.2 per cent sulphur gas oil, they added. KPC has been a key supplier of gas oil to Pakistan for more than three decades, and meets 75 to 85 per cent of the country’s requirements. Both companies signed a three-year deal at the start of this year for the supply of gas oil, and usually negotiate premiums every six months.
The Federal Board of Revenue on Thursday attached all bank accounts of Pakistan Mobile Communications Ltd (Mobilink) and blocked its imports on account of misdeclaration of sales tax and federal excise duty.
However, the Spokesman of the cellular company, Hussain Ali Talib, said the matter is sub-judice. Contrary to this, FBR Spokesperson Riffat Shaheen Qazi said that the cellular company owed 8.6 billion Pakistani rupees to the tax department on account of misdeclaration. The demand was created on account of non-payment of federal excise duty and sales tax on inter-connect charges of Mobilink. And the said demand for collection was upheld at both the appellate forums, the spokesperson said.
Arkady Gaydamak, best known in the UK as the father of the former Portsmouth FC owner Sacha, is suing his former business partner; diamond billionaire Lev Leviev, over claims that latter failed to pay dividends earned trading diamonds from Angola.
Gaydamak had previously received monthly payments from Leviev of on average USD three million from 2000 to 2003. The dispute centres on the pair’s interest in a diamond sales operation called Ascorp, previously thought to be jointly owned by the Angolan government, Leviev and Antwerp-based Omega Diamonds. Gaydamak claims he owned a secret stake in the business, which held an exclusive deal to market the country’s gems in an effort to prevent rebel fighters being funded from the proceeds of so-called blood diamonds. The opening of the case is the latest in a line of infamous skirmishes involving Gaydamak, who last year succeeded in getting a conviction for illegal arms dealing overturned in the Paris court of appeal.
However, charges of tax fraud were upheld.
AliExpress.com, part of China’s largest online retailer, Alibaba.com, may enter the Russian market soon. According to reports, AliExpress considers Russia one of its top priority markets and the retailer will search for possible partners. The Chinese company has already agreed to use Russia’s Qiwi electronic payment system to serve Russian clients and is now in talks with Yandex, which operates the leading internet search engine in Russia, to use its Yandex.Dengi service to pay for orders, he added. The number of Chinese retailer’s clients exceeded 65 million people in 2011. The Alibaba Group, which includes Alibaba.com and other subsidiaries, was founded in 1999 by Businessman Jack Ma to sell products from Chinese small mid-sized enterprises via the internet.
Royal Dutch Shell may join Russia’s Arctic Shtokman gas project, with Gazprom keeping its majority stake. Gazprom sources said earlier this week that there could be a departure from Shtokman, where the Russian gas giant has partnered with Statoil of Norway and Total of France. Citing its own sources, Statoil might leave the project, which has been mired in prolonged and pain-staking talks over investments, timing and configuration. Total owns 25 per cent, Statoil 24 per cent and Gazprom the remainder of Shtokman, one of the world’s largest gas fields with reserves of 3.7 trillion cubic metres located 550 kilometres offshore in the freezing waters of the Barents Sea. Shell and Gazprom are already partners at Sakhalin-2, Russia’s sole liquefied natural gas plant.
The recent road show to China yielded triple success in attracting Chinese investment, business match-making, and embracing the bilateral collaboration, according to Thai Industry Minister MR Pongsvas Vasti.
Following the road show, 16 leading companies in the infrastructure development, alternative energy, education and tourism sectors have discussed the business collaboration with Thailand. It is strongly expected that five large companies in the automotive, machinery, food flavouring and real estate industries are soon to confirm their plans to make over 65 billion baht investment in Thailand. At the same time, leading Thai businesses have signed business partnership agreement with Chinese partners, which will potentially lead to almost 73 billion baht investment in total. Moreover, the delegation had witnessed the signing of nine memorandum of understanding between Thai and Chinese companies.
The World Bank projects the Thai economy to grow 4.5 per cent this year, recovering from 0.1 per cent growth last year when the country’s economy was impacted by Japan’s tsunami, devastating floods and the Euro Zone debt crisis. Kirida Bhaopichitr, the World Bank senior economist for Thailand, said that Thailand’s 1.5 trillion baht post-flood rehabilitation projects are likely to support this year’s economic growth by 1.5 per cent. However, several risks remain, particularly the Euro Zone debt crisis, which directly impacts Thailand’s export sector.
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc, one of three owners of Archstone, has reached a deal to buy the last portion of the apartment
company it does not own for USD 1.58 billion, sources with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday. Lehman will buy the 26.5 per cent of Archstone that it does not own from Bank of America Corp and Barclays Plc. In January, Lehman bought half the banks’ stake, or 26.5 per cent of Archstone, for USD 1.325 billion. That came after Barclays and Bank of America struck a deal to sell the 26.5 per cent stake to Equity Residential, whose chairman is Sam Zell. Equity Residential was then also given the right to bid for the banks’ remaining stake.
A Senate panel voted on Thursday to authorise USD 631.4 billion in defence spending for the 2013 fiscal year, blocking plans to cut the Air Force and ordering offsetting reductions in Pentagon civilian personnel to stay within the president’s budget limits. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved a defence policy bill that would authorise a base Pentagon budget of USD 525.8 billion along with USD 88.2 billion for the Afghanistan war and other overseas operations. The panel also authorised USD 17.3 billion for Energy Department nuclear weapons programmes. The measure — the National Defence Authorisation Act — is expected to go to the full Senate in June at the earliest. After passage there, it would have to be reconciled with the version approved last week by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives before going to Obama for his signature.