Aluminum firm to see growth
Alcoa Inc, the largest US aluminum producer, is to see global demand growth for the commodity recovering to 7 percent this year as China’s economic rebound drives demand for cans, transport and office buildings. Aerospace demand will increase by as much as 10 percent as planemakers face record backlogs, the company said on Wednesday in its fourth-quarter earnings presentation. It also predicted aluminum consumption may climb 19 percent in China’s heavy-truck and trailer industry, while US commercial building and construction expands for the first time in four years. Demand in China, the world’s largest aluminum user, will grow 11 percent this year to 23 million tonnes as stimulus spending announced by the country’s new leadership begins to show its effect, chief executive officer Klaus Kleinfeld said.
Sony to sell Tokyo building
Japanese electronics giant Sony plans to sell one of its main buildings in Tokyo to finance its business restructuring effort, a report said yesterday. Sony is realigning its operations as it looks to turn the page on a difficult few years, including selling off its chemical division, as it invests ￥50 billion (US$572 million) in camera and medical equipment maker Olympus. The sale of the building, which was completed in March 2011, is part of an effort to raise cash for the restructuring, the Nikkei business daily said, without putting a figure on its value. However, based on real-estate prices in Tokyo, it is expected to be more than enough to cover the cost of the Olympus investment.
Tesco posts Christmas cheer
Tesco PLC, the world’s third-largest retailer, showed that its turnaround plan was starting to work as it posted its highest sales growth in three years over the highly competitive Christmas period. Tesco, which also announced the appointment of Chris Bush as managing director to run its key British business, beat forecasts for sales growth in its home market, finally regaining an edge after a terrible performance during Christmas 2011 prompted the firm’s first profit warning in 20 years and a strategic re-think. Sales at British stores open over a year, excluding fuel and value-added tax (VAT), were up 1.8 percent in the six weeks to Saturday last week, part of its fiscal fourth quarter, compared with analysts’ forecasts in a range of up 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent and a third quarter fall of 0.6 percent. The firm benefited from easy comparative numbers and the impact of its ￡1 billion (US$1.60 billion) investment plan.
Mexico complex planned
Construction of the second-biggest retail complex for Chinese products outside China will begin in Mexico next month despite environmental and business concerns, a project leader said on Wednesday. The Dragon Mart will be built in a natural reserve near the beach resort of Cancun in eastern Mexico, with more than 3,000 retail spaces plus offices and 722 residences for employees within a 557 hectare area. Pushed by Chinese businessman Hao Feng (郝鋒), it will be the second Dragon Mart ever built, after a similar, bigger complex opened in Dubai in 2004. “Why Dragon Mart in [Latin] America? China is one of the countries with the largest, sustained growth in the past 10 years and Mexico and Latin America must consider east-west trade in addition to north-south trade,” the project’s director general Juan Carlos Lopez told a news conference.