Tata optimistic despite EU
Tata Steel forecast improving global demand in spite of European woes, as the world’s No.7 steelmaker reported a bigger-than-expected drop in quarterly profit after being squeezed by weak prices, lower volume and higher input costs. The company, whose European operations account for two-thirds of its global capacity of about 28 million tonnes, reported that consolidated net profit for its fiscal fourth quarter plunged 90 percent. In the same period last year, a one-off gain had boosted earnings. “We expect global steel consumption to improve but production may dip again,” finance chief Koushik Chatterjee said. “Steel demand in emerging countries like India and China is growing, but in Europe it is expected to drop.”
Yahoo mulls Alibaba sale
Yahoo! Inc. may sell half of its 40 percent stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴集團) back to the Chinese Internet company for US$7 billion and consider a dividend payment, AllThingsD Web site reported. The deal values China’s biggest e-commerce operator at US$35 billion, and the closely held company is in the midst of raising funds to buy back the stake, the technology blog site reported today. Yahoo’s board is meeting today to review the transaction, it said. Alibaba stepped up efforts to repurchase stock held by Yahoo in September, when the US company fired former chief executive officer Carol Bartz, who opposed a transaction. Yahoo board member Daniel Loeb is expected to approve the transaction with Alibaba, according to the AllThingsD report.
EBRD elects UK president
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) shareholders on Friday elected senior civil servant Suma Chakrabarti as the bank’s first British president, in a process lauded for its open selection. Chakrabarti replaces Germany’s Thomas Mirow, president since 2008. Previous EBRD presidents have always been French or German. Chakrabarti, who was elected for a four-year term, is currently permanent secretary — the most senior civil servant — at Britain’s Ministry of Justice. He previously ran Britain’s Department for International Development where he worked closely with economies undergoing substantial reform in eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East and North Africa. “The success of a British candidate to lead this important European institution shows the strength of and support for Britain’s influence in Europe and around the world,” British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said.
Ireland says no second vote
Ireland’s government denied on Friday that it would stage a second referendum if voters decide this month to reject the EU fiscal treaty, as has happened the last two times the Irish put a complex EU pact to their people. Government leaders scrambled to limit damage to their campaign for a yes vote after Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton appeared to suggest that the treaty must be ratified even if that meant telling uncooperative Irish voters to try again. That is exactly what happened when voters rejected the EU’s previous two treaties in 2001 and 2008, leading to the widely held view that the Irish governments will not take no for an answer when it comes to European accords. Rejecting the treaty in the May 31 referendum could box the country into a cash-flow crisis.