Zhongkun still eying Iceland
A Chinese real estate company says it still hopes to rent land in Iceland to build a vast nature retreat after an attempt to buy the land was rejected. The Zhongkun Group (中坤集團) yesterday said that it had initial approval from Iceland to rent the 30,640-hectare property, with a contract likely to be signed in the middle of next month. The Icelandic government rejected a bid by Zhongkun founder Huang Nubo (黃怒波) to buy the land outright because of restrictions on the purchase of land by foreigners. Huang’s proposed project was seen by some as a lifeline for Iceland’s struggling economy as it battles back from the collapse of its banking industry in 2008.
Q1 growth up 6.3%
The economy grew 6.3 percent from a year earlier in the first quarter of the year, withstanding headwinds from Europe and the US as industries such as agriculture and forestry expanded. The Central Statistics Agency yesterday said growth was driven by increases in the agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishing sectors. The economy grew 1.4 percent compared with the fourth quarter of last year. It grew 6.5 percent last year, the fastest rate since the 1997 to 1998 Asian financial crisis.
Industrial output declines
Industrial output contracted at a faster pace in March, official data showed yesterday, as the unemployment-scarred country returned to recession. Production by factories and power generators slumped 7.5 percent in March from a year earlier after smoothing out the impact of seasonal factors, the National Statistics Institute said in a report. That followed a decline in industrial output of 5.3 percent in February and a drop of 4.4 percent in January. GDP shrank by 0.3 percent in the first quarter of this year, equaling the slump in the final quarter of last year, the statistics institute said last week.
Lenovo eyes smartphones
Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想集團), the world’s second-biggest maker of personal computers, said it would invest 5 billion yuan (US$792 million) to set up a plant to research and produce mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. The plant in Wuhan, China, will open in October next year and create 10,000 jobs, Lenovo said in a statement yesterday. The plant will generate sales of 10 billion yuan by 2014, rising to 50 billion yuan within five years, it said. Lenovo, with headquarters in Beijing and North Carolina, had 13.4 percent of the global PC market in the first quarter of this year, trailing Hewlett-Packard Co’s 18 percent, according to data from researcher IDC.
CSM to sell bakery unit
Dutch food ingredient maker CSM NV plans to sell its bakery ingredients arm, which makes items such as bagels, English muffins, pizzas, tortillas and sweet glazes and had sales of 2.4 billion euros (US$3.1 billion) last year. The company said it does not have a buyer. The activities slated for sale had an operating profit before depreciation and amortization of goodwill of 127.5 million euros, and compete against General Mills Inc. CSM is keeping its lactic acid division, which has grown by 8 percent annually for a decade, as well as food processing enzymes and emulsifiers, where it has a better market position. CSM yesterday said an internal review concluded all business lines have fair prospects, but the company should only fund the strongest.