Berkshire profit falls in Q1
Berkshire Hathaway Inc, the insurance giant run by billionaire Warren Buffett, on Friday said its profit fell 12 percent in the first quarter, hurt by a hefty loss on investments. The company also said that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sent a so-called Wells notice to a senior vice president of its General Reinsurance subsidiary on Monday, warning that the SEC staff may recommend bringing civil action against this individual for alleged violations of federal law. The alleged violations of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 are connected to a reinsurance transaction between General Re and American International Group Inc, which has acknowledged that its accounting for the transaction with General Re was improper. Berkshire, which said it and its subsidiaries are fully cooperating with ongoing investigations being conducted by the Department of Justice and other agencies, did not name the executive who received the SEC warning. Berkshire's results included losses of US$384 million from its investments in the latest quarter, compared with a gain of US$156 million the year before.
■ Health care
Virgin moves into insurance
After planes, trains and mobile phones, British tycoon Richard Branson's Virgin Group announced on Friday its debut in the US health care market with a new insurance product aimed at the millions of Americans who are out of shape or too poor to afford coverage. The company unveiled an alliance with leading US health care provider Humana Inc to sell a Virgin-branded health insurance product that is linked to its efforts to get Americans fitter through a training incentive program. The insurance policy will be the first venture of a new US unit called "Virgin life care" and is scheduled to launch in Florida and Texas early next year, before rolling out across the US later, a Humana spokesman said.
Amazon embraces weddings
Amazon.com Inc, the world's largest Internet retailer, has opened a wedding registry and planning service on its Web site to compete with online wedding planners such as The Knot Inc. Amazon's registry will give gift buyers access to millions of products, Kerry Morris, an Amazon.com merchandising manager, said in a statement. Couples have so far registered for more than 70,000 different items, Morris said. The site also links to local vendors, including photographers, florists and caterers. Amazon.com chief executive officer Jeff Bezos has been adding categories such as sales of wine and musical instruments, to offer customers almost anything that can be purchased on the Internet. The company also offers a gift registry for babies and "wish lists," customer creations that can be shared with friends and relatives.
■ Food industry
Chinese red berries recalled
A California-based marketer and distributor of Asian foods is recalling Chinese red berry because the herb may contain undeclared sulfites, which can be deadly to people allergic to them. Walong Marketing Inc of Buena Park, California, said the recall covers 227g packages of the Asian Taste brand of Chinese red berry and 369g packages of the Sinbo brand. The products were distributed nationwide, mostly to Asian food markets. New York state food inspectors discovered the unlabeled sulfites, though no illnesses have been linked to the product, the company said.
Softbank Group Corp plans to keep a stake in the chip designer Arm Ltd, even if it sells a partial interest to Nvidia Corp, the Nikkei reported. The companies are negotiating terms, the newspaper reported, citing sources. Softbank might take a stake in Nvidia after it buys Arm, the report said. Nvidia and Arm might also merge through a share swap, and Softbank would become a major shareholder in the combined company, it said. The two parties aim to reach a deal in the next few weeks, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Nvidia is the
Gold surged to a fresh record on Friday, fueled by US dollar weakness and low interest rates, while silver headed for its best month since 1979. Spot bullion is up more than 10 percent this month, as US real yields lingered near record lows. While the ferocity of rallies in gold and silver cooled in the middle of the week, most market watchers predict there might be more gains ahead. Both metals have added about 30 percent this year, with gold and silver exchange-traded funds boosting holdings to a record, as concern about the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic fuels demand for
MOVING FROM CHINA? The article did not name the company, but Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron were among firms chosen for a production-linked incentive plan in India An Apple Inc vendor is looking at shifting six production lines to India from China, which could result in US$5 billion of iPhone exports from the South Asian nation, the Times of India reported, citing people familiar with the matter who it did not identify. The establishment of the facility would create about 55,000 jobs over about a year, the newspaper reported, not naming the Apple vendor. It would also cater to the domestic market and expand operations to include tablets and laptops, the newspaper reported. Samsung Electronics Co and Apple’s assembly partners are among 22 companies that have pledged 110 billion
MediaTek Inc (聯發科) has hired a former US Department of Commerce official to help it navigate worsening US-China tensions that have already ensnared its customer Huawei Technologies Co (華為). Patrick Wilson, who most recently served as director of the department’s Office of Business Liaison, has been appointed vice president of government affairs at MediaTek USA to lead its public policy initiatives, the chip designer said in a draft press statement seen by Bloomberg News. Wilson previously worked at the Semiconductor Industry Association, where he led the trade group’s dealings with the US federal government. Technology companies with ties to or operations in China