Olympus reports net loss
Scandal-hit Olympus yesterday reported a net loss of ￥33.08 billion (US$426 million) for the nine months to December amid a massive accounting cover-up that has tarnished the image of corporate Japan. For the full-year to March, the camera maker said it expected a net loss of ￥32.0 billion, owing to one-off costs unrelated to the loss scandal. The forecast is the first since the scandal broke last year, with the company previously saying it could not make a full-year projection because it did not know the full ramifications of the scandal. For the nine months to December, Olympus reported that operating profit fell 19.0 percent on-year to ￥25.9 billion on sales of ￥624.6 billion, which were up 0.1 percent.
Banks to help repay debt
Thailand’s banks will pay a fee equivalent to 0.47 percent of their total deposits to the Bank of Thailand starting in July as part of a plan to repay state debt, Thai Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said. Publicly listed banks will pay 0.01 percent of their total deposits into the national deposit-protection fund and 0.46 percent will be used to help pay long-term debt, Kittiratt told reporters yesterday in Bangkok. The government approved a plan last month to shift responsibility for repaying 1.1 trillion baht (US$35.7 billion) of state debt to the Bank of Thailand. Kittiratt said the move could save the government as much as 64 billion baht a year in interest payments and provide scope to finance flood defenses.
Avon execs in bribery probe
US prosecutors investigating whether US executives at beauty products company Avon broke foreign-bribery laws have presented evidence in the probe to a grand jury, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. Citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, the newspaper said that authorities are focused on a 2005 internal audit report by the company that concluded Avon employees in China may have been bribing officials in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Avon had earlier said it first learned of bribery allegations in 2008, the report said. The audit found several hundred thousand dollars in questionable payments to Chinese officials and third-party consultants in 2005, the paper said.
Quake boosts piano sales
Sales of pianos in Japan jumped 11 percent last year, the first rise in 17 years, as people replaced instruments damaged in the country’s devastating earthquake, a trade body said yesterday. Takahiro Ito of the Shizuoka Instrument Manufacturing Association said more than 18,100 pianos were sold last year, up from about 16,300 the year before. “Last year, especially in the Tohoku region, pianos broke down after the quake and some customers wanted to buy new ones,” he said. Tohoku was badly hit by the magnitude 9 earthquake and resulting tsunami of March 11, with huge swathes of the coastline destroyed.
SingTel profit falls 9.6%
Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (SingTel) said its quarterly profit dropped 9.6 percent due to losses at its Pakistan unit and an African telecoms company owned by its Indian affiliate. SingTel yesterday said that profit for the October-to-December quarter fell to S$902 million (US$717 million) from S$998 million a year earlier. Operating revenue rose 2.7 percent to S$4.8 billion from S$4.7 billion a year earlier. The company said a stronger Singaporean dollar also crimped profits from its regional units.