Tue, Apr 05, 2011 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take



FX reserves hit record high

Seoul’s foreign exchange reserves rose to their third straight record high last month as the nation’s key buffer against potential financial turmoil steadily approaches US$300 billion. The country’s foreign reserves totaled US$298.62 billion at the end of last month, the central bank said in a statement yesterday. That was US$950 million higher than February’s record US$297.67 billion. The reserves have climbed since falling to just above US$200 billion in November 2008 as the nation’s monetary authorities used them to help fight a shortage of US dollar liquidity as credit dried up amid the global financial crisis. The Bank of Korea said strength in the euro and other currencies, which led to an increase in the US dollar value of the portion of the reserves denominated in them, as well as operating profits were behind last month’s increase.


CEO to donate US$120m

Japan Internet conglomerate Softbank Corp said CEO Masayoshi Son would donate US$120 million of his personal wealth plus his salary until he retires to help tsunami victims. Softbank, the only Japanese mobile carrier offering the iPhone, said yesterday that Son’s ¥10 billion donation to the Japanese Red Cross Society and other nonprofit organizations is the biggest by an individual to quake and tsunami victims. Son, 53, will also donate all of his annual salary each year to aid organizations until he retires. His salary was ¥108 million in the fiscal year that ended last month.


BP to sell aluminum unit

British energy group BP said yesterday it had agreed to sell its ARCO Aluminum unit to a Japanese consortium for US$680 million as it seeks to meet the costs of last year’s disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill. “Although a strong business, ARCO Aluminum is clearly a non-strategic asset for BP,” chief executive Bob Dudley said in a statement. “Today’s agreement will deliver an attractive price for the business, unlocking its value for our shareholders.” The US unit, which supplies aluminum sheet used to make beverage cans, is being bought by a consortium comprising five Japanese companies. Sumitomo Light Metal Industries is to take a 40 percent stake, Furukawa Sky Aluminum Corp 35 percent, Sumitomo Corp 20 percent, Itochu Metals Corp 3 percent and Itochu Corp 2 percent. BP is looking to unlock US$30 billion by the end of this year to meet cleanup and compensation costs linked to last year’s oil spill.


Oil prices too high: Kuwait

OPEC member Kuwait said yesterday that oil prices were too high because of unrest in the Middle East and Japan’s earthquake. “Although we are enjoying high prices, we would like to see lower prices ... We would like to see a normal oil price,” Faruq al-Zanki, chief executive of national conglomerate Kuwait Petroleum Corp, told reporters. He said a “normal oil price would be between US$90 and US$100” a barrel. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery next month rose US$0.29 to US$108.23 per barrel yesterday afternoon in Asian trading, topping Friday’s peak of US$107.93 and hitting its highest level since late September 2008. Brent North Sea crude for delivery next month advanced US$0.21 to US$118.91. Zanki said that unrest sweeping the Middle East, especially with the outage of Libyan oil supplies, had “pushed oil prices up by around 20 percent.”

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