Ouattara halts coffee exports
Ivory Coast’s internationally recognized leader Alassane Ouattara yesterday ordered a one-month halt to exports of cocoa and coffee, a statement from his office said. The government of the world’s top cocoa producer “informs economic operators of the immediate stoppage of all exports of coffee and cocoa” starting yesterday until Feb. 23, the statement read. Producers and exporters who violate the ban will be considered to be “financing the illegitimate regime” of former president Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to step down in the aftermath of his contest against Outtara in last November’s presidential elections, the statement added.
Dhaka probes market fall
Bangladesh has ordered a probe into the slump on the Dhaka Stock Exchange and unveiled a series of reforms to restore confidence in the market. The move follows the index’s 30 percent fall since it hit a historic high of 8,918.51 on Dec. 5, with the crisis being blamed on overheated valuations and poor regulation. The huge drops triggered violent protests by small investors, prompting the government to admit regulators had made mistakes in handling the issue. Bangladeshi Minister of Finance A.M.A Muhith said on Sunday night that trading, suspended since Thursday, would resume today.
Ho shifts holdings to family
Asian casino magnate Stanley Ho (何鴻燊) has transferred his 32 percent stake in gambling company Sociedade de Jogos de Macau Holdings to members of his family. A filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange yesterday said Ho now has only 100 shares in Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau SA, which is the controlling shareholder of Sociedade de Jogos de Macau. The changes are the latest step in succession plans as the 89-year-old billionaire passes the reins of his gambling empire to his children. Two years ago, he was hospitalized and had surgery for unspecified reasons.
Philips Q4 profit up 79%
Royal Philips Electronics NV, the world’s biggest lighting maker, yesterday reported that net profit rose 79 percent in the fourth quarter from the same period a year ago as the company reaped the benefits of cost-cutting and its margins improved. The company reported a net profit of 465 million euros (US$632 million) or 0.49 euro per share, up from 260 million euros. It said sales rose 1.6 percent to 7.39 billion euros from a year ago, but they would have fallen by 4 percent stripping out the impact of currency effects. “We rebounded strongly ... within the constraints of an economy that remained weak, with fragile consumer confidence in most mature markets,” chief executive Gerard Kleisterlee said in a statement. “Television profitability, however, remained a major issue that we are committed to resolve.”
US toxic asset funds up 27%
The US Treasury’s toxic asset funds have gained 27 percent since they were created to help revive the mortgage-backed securities market, according to data expected to be released later yesterday. As part of the government’s unpopular US$700 billion bailout program, the funds were set up to remove illiquid securities from banks by matching private capital with taxpayer money and Treasury loans via funds run by private investment managers. The eight toxic asset funds, run by asset managers such as BlackRock Inc, Invesco Ltd and Marathon Asset Management, are all profitable.