Novartis to take over Alcon
Novartis AG will take full control of Alcon Inc after agreeing to pay US$12.9 billion for stock of the eye-care company it doesn’t already own, ending an 11-month dispute with minority shareholders. The payment will be a combination of Novartis shares and, if necessary, a cash value to result in a total of US$168 a share, the Basel, Switzerland-based company said yesterday in a statement. Alcon’s Independent Director Committee recommended approval of the merger agreement to the Alcon board, Novartis said. The Swiss drugmaker in January exercised an option to buy Nestle SA’s 52 percent stake in Alcon for an average of US$180 a share in cash, giving it 77 percent of the company. It also offered to purchase stock held by the public at a lower price.
Indian firm buys coal mine
An Indian infrastructure company has bought a thermal coal mine in Australia in one of India’s largest-ever investments in the country. The company, Lanco Infratech, said yesterday it had reached a binding purchase agreement with the administrator of the failed Griffin Coal company that operated the mine in Western Australia state. It didn’t disclose a price. The coal will fuel power stations in fast-growing India. The Australian newspaper without citing a source said Lanco paid up to A$850 million (US$850 million), beating out rival bidders from Japan and China.
TRU to buy Aussie assets
Hong Kong utility CLP Holdings Ltd said yesterday that its Australian subsidiary is buying energy assets from the New South Wales state government for A$2 billion (US$2 billion). CLP said its Australian unit, TRUenergy, agreed to buy state-owned EnergyAustralia’s energy retailing business, electricity trading rights for state-owned Delta Electricity’s coal fired power stations and development sites for three future power station projects. CLP said in a statement that the deal is expected to be completed by March. It will more than double TRUenergy’s customers in Australia to 2.76 million and double the company’s power generation capacity in the country to 5,446 megawatts from 3,046MW currently.
Electrolux to cut 2,100 jobs
Swedish appliance maker Electrolux AB says it plans to cut 2,100 jobs in Europe and Canada in the next three years as it continues to trim its costs. The Stockholm-headquartered group will close a cooking product plant in l’Assomption, Quebec, at the end of 2013. The plant has 1,300 staff and production from it will instead be transferred to a new facility, starting in 2012. The company also says it plans to lay off 800 employees in Europe next year and in 2012. The staff cuts will be made within its Major Appliances industrial operations, but will lead to no factory closures.
RBS to transfer clients
The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) will transfer its retail and commercial banking clients in three of China’s largest cities to Singapore’s DBS Bank, it was announced yesterday. Under an agreement between the two lenders, an estimated 25,000 RBS customers in Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen will be given the option to transfer their accounts to DBS, the Singapore bank said in a statement. It said the transfer process was expected to be completed within six months, and some employees would also move as part of the deal.
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