Australian output rises 17%
Australia kept its position as the world’s second-largest producer of gold with a 17 percent increase in output of the precious metal last year, a research group said. Production rose 38 tonnes to 266 tonnes last year from a year earlier, Sandra Close, a director of Melbourne-based Surbiton Associates Pty, said in an e-mailed statement. Gold prices have risen for 10 straight years to reach a record US$1,432.50 an ounce on Dec. 7 on the Comex in New York. China was No. 1, with reported production of 341 tonnes, and the US would rank No. 3 with an output of about 240 tonnes, Close said. Australian output gained 12 percent to 70 tonnes in the fourth quarter, Surbiton said.
Toys R Us plans IPO for April
Toys R Us Inc is looking to raise around US$800 million in an initial public offering (IPO) in April, though a final decision has not been reached, the New York Post said on Saturday. The New Jersey-based retailer, which operates stores under its namesake brand and the Babies R Us and FAO Schwarz labels, had put off plans for an IPO last year. “Toys R Us took more market share from competitors last year than they have in the past 20 years,” said one source the Post described as close to the company. “But I don’t think they were satisfied with how they did on the profit level.” Toys R Us spokeswoman Kathleen Waugh said the company could not comment on the matter.
Brazil suspends dam project
A Brazilian court suspended work on a massive hydroelectric dam project in the Amazon jungle state of Para, citing environmental concerns. Federal Judge Ronaldo Desterro said in a statement on Friday that environmental agency Ibama erred last month when it approved work to begin on the Belo Monte dam, citing 29 environmental conditions that allegedly have not been met. The US$11 billion, 11,000 megawatt dam, to be constructed on the Xingu River feeding the Amazon, would be the world’s third-largest hydroelectric energy producer behind China’s Three Gorges dam and the Itaipu, which straddles the border of Brazil and Paraguay.
‘Overhaul’ needed: Draghi
Italy’s economy needs a “legislative overhaul” to end 15 years of sluggish growth that have left young people with incomes below their levels in the 1980s, central bank governor Mario Draghi said on Saturday. Draghi, a favourite to succeed Jean-Claude Trichet as head of the European Central Bank later this year, painted a stark picture of the state of the Italian economy, where growth was a lower-than-expected 1.1 percent last year. He also called for “bolder reform measures” to help businesses and said Italian firms were too small to compete internationally.
Dubai Electricity shelves IPO
Dubai Electricity & Water Authority, the state-owned utility, doesn’t have plans to sell shares in an initial public offering now, chief executive officer Saeed Mohammed al-Tayer said. “Not right now,” he said when asked about an IPO at a conference in Dubai yesterday. “We haven’t thought about it because it’s not required.” Dubai’s government will soon issue two decrees that will end the utility’s monopoly and allow private companies into the industry, al-Tayer said. Dubai Electricity has no problem in repaying debt and has no plans to issue debt this year, he said.