ANZ Bank to downsize
Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ Bank) is preparing to cut up to 900 jobs, according to a union that represents bank workers, as the lender trims costs in an economy where demand for mortgages has slumped to the weakest pace in three decades. Australia’s four biggest banks, which employ about 178,000 people, are among lenders around the world facing slower revenue growth as borrowing falls among consumers whose confidence has been battered by Europe’s debt crisis and market turmoil. ANZ Bank “said to us that due to cost pressures and expectations that revenue is going to be difficult to generate over the course of this year, they are going to embark on a fairly aggressive cost-saving regime,” Finance Sector Union national secretary Leon Carter said by telephone yesterday.
Central bank freezes rate
The Bank of Korea yesterday froze its key interest rate for the seventh straight month, amid concern in the export--dependent nation over the European debt crisis and a global economic slowdown. The rate has stayed unchanged at 3.25 percent since a 25 basis-point rise in June last year, despite persistent price pressure. Inflation remained above the central bank’s target range of 2 percent to 4 percent for a second straight month last month, at 4.2 percent. In his New Year address President Lee Myung-bak stressed that curbing price rises was a priority. The bank said it expected a “very moderate” pace of global economic recovery.
KIC to invest in China stocks
Korea Investment Corp (KIC), South Korea’s sovereign wealth fund, received approval from Chinese authorities to invest in the world’s third-largest stock market, according to an official familiar with the matter. The fund was granted a license last month under Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) status, said the official, who asked not to be identified ahead of an official announcement from Chinese authorities. Korea Investment, with US$43 billion in assets as of its latest annual report published in June, posted returns of 8.46 percent from bonds and stocks in 2010, down from 18.67 percent the previous year, according to the annual report. The fund was established in July 2005 to invest part of South Korea’s foreign exchange reserves overseas.
Google mulls LG deal
Google Inc is considering giving LG Electronics Inc first access to the next version of its Google TV software so the South Korean company can build a compatible television set, according to two people with knowledge of the project. The partnership would be similar to the arrangement Google has had with Samsung Electronics Co and HTC Corp (宏達國際電子股份有限公司) to create Nexus handsets for the Android operating system, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are not public. Google is working to build on momentum for its fledgling efforts in television as manufacturers led by Samsung introduce Web--connected sets. Google has said it plans to introduce the third version of its namesake television service by the end of this year, with more content and easier functions to find shows. LG, the world’s third-largest television maker, unveiled a set featuring Google software at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. LG plans to sell a 55-inch, wafer-thin TV using organic light-emitting diode technology and motion-sensing software.