Thu, Dec 29, 2011 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

JAPAN

Industrial output shrinks

Industrial output shriveled last month, figures showed yesterday, as flooding in Thailand added to woes for companies already battling a strong yen and the global economic chill. Factory production dropped 2.6 percent month-on-month, worse than market expectations of a 0.7 percent fall, government data showed. A separate economic report showed yesterday that the nation remained mired in deflation, with its core consumer prices falling 0.2 percent last month from a year earlier. The reading was in line with market expectations. The core consumer price index edged down 0.1 percent in October.

UNITED STATES

Consumer confidence up

Improving labor market conditions lifted US consumer confidence to an eight-month high this month, as a report by the Conference Board on Tuesday showed the index of consumer confidence rose to 64.5 this month from 55.2 last month, beating economists’ expectations for a reading of 58.3. However, a separate report from Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller showed house prices in 20 major metropolitan areas declined 1.2 percent on an unadjusted basis in October after falling 0.7 percent the prior month, indicating that persistently weak house prices remain an obstacle to faster economic growth.

EQUITIES

Carlyle returns US$15bn

Carlyle Group LP, the Washington-based private-equity firm planning to go public next year, returned US$15 billion to its limited partners during the first three quarters of this year, the most the firm has ever distributed over a nine-month period, according to an investor. The amount includes equity plus gains on the capital, said the investor, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Carlyle deployed US$8.2 billion of capital in the first three quarters, the investor said. Carlyle’s distribution tops the US$5.6 billion New York rival KKR & Co returned to investors in the same period.

INSURANCE

MetLife to sell unit to GE

MetLife said on Tuesday it plans to sell its US retail deposit business to GE Capital as it moves away from being a bank holding company. Financial terms were not disclosed. MetLife Inc, which offers insurance and employee benefit programs, said in July it was exploring the sale of its banking operations to focus on its other business. GE Capital’s banking business, GE Capital Financial, would acquire US$7.5 billion in deposits. About US$3 billion in other deposits would be transferred in the next six months. GE Capital says the deal fits its plans to launch a US deposit platform.

MEDIA

New York Times to sell unit

The New York Times Co said on Tuesday that it would sell its group of 16 small, regional newspapers to Halifax Media Holdings LLC for US$143 million. “The sale of our Regional Media Group will enable The New York Times Company to continue our transformation to a digitally focused, multiplatform media company,” New York Times Co chairman Arthur Sulzberger said. Last year, the group accounted for 11 percent of The New York Times Co’s US$2.4 billion in annual revenue, according to the company’s annual report. The sale is expected to close in a few weeks and The New York Times Co will record an after-tax gain on the sale in the first quarter of next year. It estimates that the net after-tax proceeds from the sale will be about US$150 million, which it plans to use for general corporate purposes.

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