Athens on credit watch list
Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s on Thursday placed Greece on a credit watch as it warned proposed changes to EU rules could hurt bondholders. “We believe that assigning ‘preferred creditor’ status to future official lending ... could be detrimental to the ability of non-official holders of sovereign debt to be repaid,” the firm said. The EU plan could see governments repaid first in the event of a default or debt restructuring.
Chinese imports soar
Gold imports into China, the world’s top bullion consumer, have soared this year as investors flock to the metal to safeguard their cash amid rising inflation, a report said yesterday. The country imported 209.7 tonnes of gold in the first 10 months of the year, up 480 percent from the same period last year, the China Business News said, citing Shen Xiangrong (沈祥榮), Shanghai Gold Exchange chairman. Individual Chinese investors purchased 973.8 tonnes of gold in the period, up 247.3 percent from a year ago and accounting for nearly 20 percent of total transactions, the report said.
Google to pay US$1 fine
Google has agreed to pay a Pennsylvania couple US$1 for trespassing on their property while taking photographs for its “Street View” online mapping service. Aaron and Christine Boring sued the Internet giant in 2008, seeking damages and an acknowledgment that a Google Street View car ignored a “Private Road No Trespassing” sign to take pictures of their Franklin Park home. Google admitted to trespassing and agreed to pay nominal damages of US$1 to the Borings.
RIM to acquire TAT
Research In Motion Ltd, maker of BlackBerry smartphones, said on its blog on Thursday that it will buy Swedish software developer The Astonishing Tribe, which specializes in making phone software more attractive and easy to use. The Astonishing Tribe, dubbed TAT for short, designs software that runs on smartphones and that lets people personalize the way the devices look. TAT said its software resides on 15 percent of all phones. It was founded in 2002 and has about 150 employees. RIM did not say how much it paid for TAT, nor when the purchase is expected to close.
EBay buys Milo.com
EBay Inc, owner of the second-most visited US e-commerce site, said it bought shopping engine Milo.com to help it reach more consumers looking for products in nearby stores and browsing for bargains with mobile phones. Milo.com helps consumers find items in stock at local stores and EBay will weave the technology into its existing marketplace and mobile applications, the San Jose-based company said today in a statement.
PepsiCo expands into Russia
PepsiCo Inc is buying a majority stake in Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods for US$3.8 billion, a deal that will make it the biggest food and beverage company in Russia. The deal is Pepsi’s largest international acquisition ever. It gives the company dominant position in the fast-growing Russian market and furthers its plan to build its global nutrition business. Combined, the companies will hold six of Russia’s 20 largest food and beverage brands and will be about twice the size of its nearest competitor in the country. PepsiCo said the deal will make Russia its second-largest market behind the US.
UNDERESTIMATED: The agency said that as its previous forecast was guided by the SARS crisis, it did not adequately account for disruptions caused by the pandemic The nation’s economy might grow just 1.67 percent this year squarely on the back of government expenditure and private investment, as exports and consumer spending have stalled, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday. The forecast is a sizeable retreat from an estimate of 2.37 percent growth made in February before the COVID-19 outbreaks became a pandemic. “The previous forecast was guided by the SARS crisis in 2003 and therefore underestimated the ongoing pandemic, which is hitting economic activity hard at home and abroad,” DGBAS Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) told a media briefing in Taipei. The agency now expects exports
‘SUSCEPTIBLE’: The timing of an intervention, rather than the amount of money injected to the market, is more important, the deputy minister of finance said The National Stabilization Fund would remain on stand-by to shore up the local bourse until the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided worldwide, Deputy Minister of Finance Frank Juan (阮清華) said yesterday. Although Taiwan has stopped the virus’ spread, the fund would remain active in light of fragile financial markets across the world, said Juan, the state-run fund’s executive secretary. The government activated the fund on March 20 after the TAIEX slumped from 12,000 points to 8,600 in a short period amid a panic selloff. The main board has since recovered, yesterday closing at 10,997.21 points on turnover of NT$180.767 billion (US$6.03 billion), Taiwan
‘EXTERNAL VULNERABILITY’: The city-state’s economy in the first quarter shrank 4.7 percent quarterly due to worsening external demand outlook amid the pandemic Singapore’s embattled economy could shrink by as much as 7 percent this year, which would be the worst reading since independence in 1965, with the government saying yesterday that the COVID-19 pandemic had throttled the key export sector. The Singaporean Ministry of Trade and Industry’s forecast — which was a downgrade from the 4 percent contraction predicted in March — came as official data showed that the economy shrank 0.7 percent year-on-year in the first three months of the year, while it contracted 4.7 percent from the previous quarter. The ministry said the new estimate was made “in view of the deterioration
South Korean prosecutors yesterday summoned Samsung Electronics Co vice chairman Jay Y. Lee for questioning in an investigation into alleged accounting fraud and a controversial 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates, dealing another legal blow to the country’s largest corporation. While expected, the decision marked a deepening of a long-running probe into the billionaire scion and his shipbuilding-to-smartphones Samsung Group conglomerate. The company’s de facto leader was called into Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office at 8am in relation to allegations over illegal acts in succession plans, the Yonhap News Agency reported. Lee has been at the center of a years-long scandal