Oracle to pay US$2m fine
Software maker Oracle Corp has agreed to pay US$2 million to settle US federal civil charges of failing to prevent secret payments in its sales operations in India. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlement on Thursday. The commission said Oracle violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by allowing its Indian subsidiary to secretly set aside money that went to phony local vendors. Oracle ran the risk of the secret funds being used for bribes, the commission said. The agency said the violations occurred from 2005 to 2007. It said the subsidiary sold software licenses and services to the Indian government and kept some of the sale proceeds off Oracle’s books.
Facebook hits new low
Facebook’s stock plunged to a new low on Thursday after the expiration of a ban that had prevented some early investors and insiders from dumping millions of additional shares they own in the social-networking leader. Facebook’ stock traded as low as US$19.69 before bouncing back slightly. The shares closed on Thursday at US$19.87, down US$1.33, or more than 6 percent. Groupon’s stock also hit another low, days after the online deals company issued a lackluster quarterly report. Groupon Inc fell US$0.32, or 6 percent, to close on Thursday at US$5. Earlier it hit US$4.97, its lowest level since its initial public offering in November last year. The stock’s IPO price was US$20, so it has lost 75 percent of its value.
DOJ limits Verizon
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) unveiled limits on Thursday on Verizon’s effort to expand its wireless entertainment footprint, amid worries the firm was building a monopoly with other cable operators. After a seven-month review, the agency approved the cellphone and cable giant’s US$3.6 billion deal to buy wireless spectrum from major cable television rivals Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. However, regulators placed limits on the four companies’ plans to cooperate in their respective markets as part of the deal by bundling their products together. It also said Verizon, the country’s largest wireless phone carrier, would divest some of the spectrum to smaller competitor T-Mobile.
Current account surplus up
The eurozone’s current account surplus grew to 12.7 billion euros (US$15.7 billion) in June from 10.3 billion euros the previous month, European Central Bank data showed yesterday. The current account on the balance of payments, which includes imports and exports in goods and services plus all other current transfers, is a closely tracked indicator of the ability of a country or area to pay its way in the world. Over the 12 months to June, the current account showed a surplus of 49.9 billion euros, compared with a deficit of 18.8 billion euros a year earlier, the data showed.
Chalco posts first half loss
China’s largest aluminum producer, Chalco, posted a first-half net loss of 3.25 billion yuan (US$512 million) yesterday, reflecting lower aluminum and alumina prices amid a slowing domestic economy. In an interim earnings statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the company said revenue for the six months ended June 30 rose 9 percent to 71.70 billion yuan. The figures were unaudited and the company is expected to release its final first-half earnings report on Aug. 24.