Fri, May 04, 2012 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

AUTOMAKERS

BMW has best quarter ever

German automaker BMW said yesterday that the first quarter of this year was its best ever, with an 18.1 percent rise in net profits on a 12 month comparison to 1.35 billion euros (US$1.8 billion). Sales surged by 14.1 percent to 18.3 billion euros and earnings before interest and tax by 18.8 percent to 2.13 billion euros, also exceeding expectations. The firm, which makes top-of-the-range cars, said it expected to achieve sales and pre-tax profits records for the year.

INVESTMENT

Temasek ‘rebalancing’

Singapore state investment company Temasek Holdings said it raised about US$2.5 billion by selling part of its stake in Bank of China (中國銀行) and China Construction Bank (中國建設銀行). Temasek said in a statement yesterday that “the rebalancing move is partly to prepare for other opportunities that could arise in China and elsewhere.” Temasek said it still had about US$18 billion invested in Chinese banks after the sales. Temasek bought a US$2.3 billion stake in Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (中國工商銀行) from Goldman Sachs last month.

BANKING

SocGen earnings tumble

French bank Societe Generale (SocGen) said earnings dropped sharply in the first quarter of the year as it booked losses from dumping complex structured financial products in an ongoing bid to meet new international banking capital requirements. The bank said profit from corporate and investment banking, its largest division, slumped 40.6 percent in the quarter as the bank took losses disposing of 4.9 billion euros (US$6.43 billion) in collatoralized debt obligations and other risky, capital--intensive assets. In a statement yesterday, Societe Generale said that the steep drop in investment banking left its overall net profit down 20 percent at 732 million euros in the first quarter.

ALCOHOL

Diageo reports sales growth

Diageo PLC, the world’s biggest distiller, reported third-quarter sales growth, as sales in emerging markets and higher-priced spirits in the US offset declines in Europe. Organic sales growth, which excludes the effect of acquisitions and currency fluctuations, rose 6 percent in the three months to March 31, the company said yesterday. Sales grew fastest at Diageo’s Latin America and Caribbean unit during the first quarter, advancing 18 percent. North America showed a 5 percent improvement compared with last year as consumers drank more expensive spirits.

FINANCE

Visa’s Q1 profit rises 30%

Visa said on Wednesday that its profit for the first three months of the year was up 30 percent from the previous year, primarily because credit card use rose in the US and overseas. The company said Americans rang up 12 percent more on their charge cards for the quarter. However, debit card use grew by only 4 percent, the slowest growth in a year. For the quarter, Visa said its net income was US$1.3 billion, or US$1.60 per share.

PHARMACEUTICALS

Novartis to buy Fougera

Swiss pharma giant Novartis said on Wednesday it is buying dermatology generics group Fougera for US$1.525 billion, making it the new market leader in the field of generic dermatology medicines. Novartis said it would pay cash for the acquisition and that Fougera would be integrated into its generic pharmaceutical division. Fougera posted sales of US$429 million last year and employs about 700 people.

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