US probes RBS traders
At least 10 senior traders at Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC have been contacted by US authorities investigating whether banks rigged LIBOR interest rates, the Times of London reported yesterday. The US Department of Justice in recent weeks has approached traders at the UK lender as a first step to seeking formal interviews, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified people. It is not clear whether the traders are potential targets of the investigation or sources of information, the Times said. UK prosecutors are poised to arrest former traders and rate setters at UBS AG, RBS and Barclays PLC within a month for questioning over their role in alleged LIBOR manipulation, a person with knowledge of the probe said.
RIM to launch new phone
Research In Motion (RIM) on Monday said that it will hold a launch event for its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones on Jan. 30. The new phones are seen as critical to RIM’s survival. The Ontario-based company said details on the much-delayed smartphones and their availability will be announced at the event. The announcement comes as the company struggles in North America to hold onto customers who are abandoning BlackBerrys for Apple Inc’s iPhones and Google Inc’s Android phones. RIM’s software is still focused on e-mail and messaging, and is less user-friendly and robust than iPhone or Android. It also lacks the apps that power other smartphones.
Carbon offsets put on hold
The government asked its largest emitters to make cuts at home before giving them credit for overseas spending to reduce greenhouse gases. The government will not allow so-called global carbon offsets until after 2020, according to an e-mailed statement from Prime Minister Lee Myung-bak’s office and other government agencies yesterday. The country agreed in May to start a cap-and-trade system in 2015 to rein in the fastest-growing emissions in the developed world. Offsets will not be permitted in the first phase of the nation’s emissions trading, scheduled to run from 2015 to 2017, the prime minister’s office said. They will also be banned in the second phase, which covers the period from 2018 to 2020, government guideline say.
US to be No. 1 oil producer
The US will become the world’s largest oil producer by about 2020, temporarily overtaking Saudi Arabia as new exploration technologies help find more resources, the International Energy Agency forecast on Monday. In its World Energy Outlook, the energy watchdog also predicted that greater oil and natural gas production — thanks partly to a boom in shale gas output — as well as more efficient use of energy, will allow the US, which now imports about 20 percent of its energy needs, to become nearly self-sufficient by about 2035.
Charge sinks Vodafone profit
Mobile communications company Vodafone Group PLC has reported a six-month loss as it booked a big charge on its Spanish and Italian operations. For the six months ending on Sept. 30, Vodafone made a loss of ￡1.98 billion (US$3.18 billion), compared to a net profit of ￡6.68 billion a year earlier. Revenue fell 7 percent to ￡21.8 billion largely because of adverse currency movements. The company yesterday said the ￡5.9 billion impairment charge for Spain and Italy reflected lower projected cash flows and increased discount rates.