Data shows contraction
Manufacturing activity in China contracted for the second straight month this month, early HSBC data showed yesterday, but the bank said a slight pick-up suggested an economic slump was less likely. HSBC’s preliminary purchasing managers’ index rose to 49.8 this month from 49.3 last month — which was the lowest level in 28 months and the first contraction in a year — according to a statement. A reading above 50 indicates the sector is expanding, while a reading below 50 suggests contraction. This month’s reading is subject to revision when the bank publishes its final figures on Sept. 1.
Treasurer nixes intervention
Treasurer Wayne Swan refused yesterday to intervene in the meteoric local dollar despite warnings from the manufacturing industry of a crisis which could cost thousands of jobs. However, Swan said he would examine claims that the country’s key mining sector was choosing cheaper Chinese steel and industrial products instead of Australian-made because of the stronger “Aussie.” BlueScope Steel, Australia’s largest steelmaker by output, announced on Monday it would cut 1,000 jobs and abandon its export business, warning of the worst crisis to hit manufacturing in decades.
Foster’s mulls buyback
Australian beer giant Foster’s said yesterday it will return more than A$500 million (US$519 million) to shareholders as it battles a hostile takeover bid from British-based SABMiller. The company, which owns Australia’s largest brewer Carlton and United Breweries, made the announcement as it posted a full-year net loss of A$89 million to June 30. Chief executive John Pollaers said Foster’s was considering a share buyback or a capital reduction, through which it could cancel shares, but which would involve seeking a ruling from the Australian Tax Office. The shareholder-friendly move helped push the stock up A$0.09 to a high of A$4.99 yesterday, a premium on SABMiller’s offer of A$4.90 a share.
Convatec bids for Kinetic
A rival bid for Kinetic Concepts Inc, a US maker of medical devices used in wound care, by medical technology firm Convatec is worth about US$6.5 billion, Swedish daily Dagens Industri reported yesterday, citing sources. Apax Partners LLP announced a US$5 billion offer for Kinetic last month. Under a so-called go-shop period, Kinetic had 40 days to seek higher offers. Bloomberg reported on Sunday that Convatec, which is owned by private equity firms Nordic capital and Avista Capital Partners LLC, had made a bid that exceeded Apax’s offer.
Goldman CEO hires lawyer
Goldman Sachs shares fell sharply on Monday following news that its CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, has hired a top Washington defense lawyer. Blankfein and other top executives at Goldman Sachs Group Inc are facing inquiries from the US Department of Justice and other agencies on the firm’s practices leading up to the financial crisis. In April, the Us Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a report that said Goldman “misled” its clients and the US Congress. The report said the bank profited from betting billions of dollars against the subprime mortgage market and then misled Congress during testimony last year.