Fri, Feb 25, 2011 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

AVIATION

China plans huge investment

China plans to invest more than 1.5 trillion yuan (US$228 billion) in the aviation industry over the next five years to meet surging demand as its economy booms, the sector’s top regulator said yesterday. By 2015, the country is expected to have more than 220 commercial airports and its fleet size will expand to more than 4,500 planes, said Li Jiaxiang (李家祥), head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China. The country currently has 175 commercial airports in operation and keeps more than 2,600 aircraft in its fleet, Li said.

EXCHANGES

CBOE open to sale, merger

The Chicago Board Options Exchange’s (CBOE) parent is now formally open to “strategic transactions,” such as a sale or merger with another exchange operator, a person with direct knowledge of the company’s stance said on Wednesday. At a Feb. 8 board meeting, CBOE Holdings Inc management told directors that it would not be opposed to a transaction, though no specific possibilities were outlined, said the source, who requested anonymity, adding the board did not oppose this. The next day, two major exchange takeovers were unveiled. Since then, the source said, many e-mailed and verbal messages have been exchanged internally on how CBOE, the No. 1 US options market, will respond to the recent rash of global merger plans.

BANKING

RBS sees losses shrink

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Britain’s largest government-owned bank, reported a smaller annual net loss last year after returning to profit in the final quarter. RBS, which is 84 percent owned by the taxpayer after receiving a state bailout at the height of the credit crisis in 2008, yesterday posted a net loss of £1.1 billion (US$1.8 billion) for last year, compared with a £3.6 billion loss in 2009. The bank made a small net profit of £12 million in the final three months of last year, favorable when compared with a £765 million loss in the same quarter in 2009. RBS chief executive Stephen Hester said the bank’s recovery is “ahead of schedule” two years on from the global financial crisis.

CHEMICALS

BASF posts stunning results

BASF, the world’s biggest chemicals company, presented stunning results yesterday, including a net profit that leapt more than three-fold to 4.56 billion euros (US$6.3 billion). The group had suffered from the global economic slowdown in 2009, when net profit amounted to 1.41 billion euros. It bounced back last year, and despite problems in Libya, BASF chief executive Juergen Hambrecht was quoted by a statement as saying the group is now “optimistic for the first quarter [of 2011] and the year as a whole.”

INSURANCE

Allianz sees higher earnings

Allianz SE says its fourth-quarter earnings last year climbed 11 percent on a small increase in revenue and a more profitable core business. Allianz yesterday reported net earnings of 1.14 billion euros for the October to December period — up from 1.02 billion euros a year earlier. Revenues climbed 2 percent to 26 billion euros from 25.5 billion euros. The Munich-based company said the combined ratio at its property and casualty division was down to 94.9 percent from 95.3 percent. A lower ratio means an insurance underwriting business is more profitable. Full-year net earnings were up to 5.05 billion euros from 4.21 billion euros in 2009. Revenues grew to 106.5 billion euros from 97.4 billion euros.

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