Trade deficit widens
The trade deficit widened to ￥520 billion (US$6.5 billion) last month from a ￥478 billion deficit a year earlier as oil and gas imports surged after the nuclear crisis, the government said yesterday. Separately, the Bank of Japan yesterday left its key interest rate unchanged at near zero to support growth, as widely expected. The country earlier this year reported its biggest annual trade deficit ever for the fiscal year ending March. Exports grew nearly 8 percent last month from a year earlier on the back of recovery from the disaster, but imports also grew, rising 8 percent.
Banks on downgrade watch
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc’s main banking units and those of Japan’s largest lending groups were put on watch for a one-level downgrade by Fitch Ratings, after cutting the nation’s sovereign-credit rating. Banking entities under Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc, the country’s second-biggest lender, and Mizuho Financial Group Inc, the third biggest, were put on watch, Fitch said in a statement after lowering Japan by two levels to “A+” on Tuesday.
SAP buys Ariba
German business software giant SAP said on Tuesday it was acquiring US cloud-based e-commerce firm Ariba for US$4.3 billion, in a move boosting its arsenal against archrival Oracle. The companies said the acquisition would help combine Ariba’s successful buyer-seller collaboration network with SAP’s broad customer base. The Ariba board of directors has unanimously approved the deal, which offers a 20 percent premium to Monday’s closing price.
Mazda, Fiat build sports car
Japanese automaker Mazda Motor and Italy’s Fiat said yesterday that they have agreed to jointly produce a new two-seater sports car as part of a technology and product development alliance. The vehicle, which will use Mazda’s next-generation rear-wheel-drive technology, is to be sold under the Mazda and Alfa Romeo brands, the latter owned by Fiat, with some differences including an engine unique to each. Both are to be made in the southern Japanese city of Hiroshima, with production on the Alfa Romeo brand car scheduled to begin by 2015, they added.
British luxury brand Burberry posted a 26 percent jump in profit, as expected, and said it would invest up to ￡200 million (US$314 million) in new outlets and expanding existing stores in London, Chicago and Hong Kong. The company said yesterday it made an underlying pretax profit of ￡376 million in the year to March 31. Revenue rose 24 percent to almost ￡1.9 billion. Burberry said yesterday that it planned to increase retail selling space by 12 percent to 14 percent in the coming year, shifting to larger format stores and opening about 15 new outlets.
Lenovo posts record sales
Lenovo Group (聯想), the world’s second-largest PC maker, said yesterday its quarterly profit rose 59 percent over a year earlier on record sales. Profit for the first three months was US$67 million, or US$0.65 per share, the company announced. Quarterly sales rose 54 percent to US$7.5 billion. For the full year ending in March, Lenovo said profit rose 73 percent to US$473 million, on a 37 percent increase in sales to US$29.6 billion.