House rejects bank nominee
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s nominee to the Bank of Japan board was rejected by the upper house of parliament in a victory for lawmakers pressing for more monetary easing to spur growth and end deflation. BNP Paribas SA economist Ryutaro Kono was blocked by a vote of 127 to 111 in the house, where the ruling Democratic Party of Japan has a minority. Japanese stocks pared losses on the decision, which leaves the central bank with two vacant seats on its nine-person board and gives lawmakers a platform to urge Governor Masaaki Shirakawa to take bolder action.
PRC paper to list Web site
The flagship newspaper of the Chinese Communist party said yesterday it would raise 527 million yuan (US$84 million) by listing its Web site, becoming the first government news portal to tap the stock market. People’s Daily Online, operator of the Web site for the People’s Daily, will issue 69.1 million shares, it said in a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange. People’s Daily Online said it would start promoting the offer today, before selling shares to investors from April 17.
Chevron fined for spill
A Brazilian prosecutor is demanding that Chevron and the oil drilling contractor Transocean pay US$10.9 billion for a second offshore spill last month, the US oil giant said on Wednesday. The new penalty “is arbitrary, speculative and not based on facts,” Chevron said in a statement. On March 4, an oil spill was detected at a depth of 1,300m, not far from the site of a bigger spill that occurred in November last year in the Chevron-operated Frade field located off Rio de Janeiro State. State prosecutors had already filed legal action against Chevron and Transocean over the November incident, also seeking US$11 billion.
Ford optimistic on US sales
Ford Motor Co is raising its forecast for US auto sales this year, citing improving consumer confidence, employment, low interest rates and other factors. Ford Americas president Mark Fields said on Wednesday that the company now expects full-year US sales in the range of 14.5 million to 15 million. That is up from 13.5 million to 14.5 million at the beginning of this year. Fields said Ford would likely lose market share because it would not make enough vehicles to satisfy demand. The company may add production capacity in the fourth quarter, he said.
Covidien to acquire Oridion
Covidien PLC, a maker of healthcare products for clinical and home settings, has agreed to buy Oridion Systems Ltd, an Israeli medical-device maker, for US$346 million. The Dublin-based Covidien will pay about 21.04 Swiss francs a share, 75 percent higher than Wednesday’s closing stock price. The merger is expected to be completed in the second quarter, according to a statement. The acquisition of Jerusalem-based Oridion, a maker of devices for patient breathing safety, is intended to add to Covidien’s portfolio of devices to monitor “respiratory function for patients around the world,” Robert White, president of respiratory and monitoring systems at Covidien, said in the statement. Oridion had US$64.5 million in revenue last year. The boards of both companies have approved the deal, which is subject to Oridion shareholders’ approval, Covidien and Oridion said.