Further stimulus likely
The government will announce about ￥12 trillion (US$136 billion) in fiscal stimulus measures to boost the nation’s shrinking economy, local media reported yesterday. The Yomiuri Shimbun and Kyodo News both reported the figure for extra spending in the fiscal year through March, with the Yomiuri saying that ￥5 trillion to ￥6 trillion will be directed to public works projects, without citing any sources. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told business leaders yesterday that he hopes to compile the measures this week. More than ￥4 trillion would be allocated for public works and the extra budget will also allocate around ￥2.6 trillion to fund pension payments, Kyodo News reported.
LG to boost investment
LG Group says it is increasing annual investments to record highs despite the uncertainty in the global economy and slow consumer demand. The conglomerate said yesterday it is boosting spending on facilities, and research and development by 19 percent this year, over a year earlier, to 20 trillion won (US$18.8 billion). LG says it has allocated 67 percent of the investment to its electronics units, LG Electronics and LG Display. The electronics firms will use 13.4 trillion won to build production lines for small-size LCD panels and advanced organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays. Part of the money will be invested in developing future displays, including flexible displays and transparent screens.
Japan’s vehicle sales soar
The number of vehicles sold in Japan last year jumped 26.1 percent from 2011, as annual sales of cars, trucks and buses, excluding mini vehicles — four-wheeled vehicles with engines under 660cc — came in at 3,390,274 units, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said yesterday. Sales of passenger cars totaled 3,014,651 units last year, up 26.3 percent year-on-year, while sales of trucks climbed 24.4 percent to 363,685 units. Bus sales gained 12.1 percent to 11,938 units, industry data showed. In 2011, Japan’s domestic vehicle sales dropped 16.7 percent after a tsunami and earthquake damaged factories and crippled automakers’ supply chains.
Toshiba ups US firm stake
Toshiba Corp has boosted its stake in US nuclear power plant builder Westinghouse Electric to 87 percent, the company said yesterday, as it eyes atomic opportunities outside Japan. The Japanese technology conglomerate said it paid about ￥125 billion for a 20 percent holding in Westinghouse held by US-based engineering firm The Shaw Group. The deal announced yesterday finalized an option that Shaw exercised in October last year to sell its entire stake in Westinghouse to Toshiba.
Air Berlin boss to step down
Germany’s second-biggest airline, Air Berlin PLC, says its chief is stepping down after leading a drive to turn around the company over the past 16 months. The airline said yesterday that chief executive officer Hartmut Mehdorn, who took over in 2011 after company founder Joachim Hunold quit, is retiring from the position “by mutual agreement.” Mehdorn will become a non-executive director. Air Berlin has struggled in Europe’s highly competitive travel market. Under Mehdorn, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has become its biggest shareholder with a stake of nearly 30 percent. It has cut some routes and sold a majority stake in its frequent flyer program to Etihad.