Business confidence falls
German business confidence unexpectedly fell from a 10-month high this month as Cyprus inflamed the euro region’s debt crisis. The Ifo institute in Munich said its business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, declined to 106.7 from 107.4 last month. That was the first drop in five months. Economists predicted a gain to 107.8, according to the median of 42 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. With the European Central Bank threatening to cut off emergency funding for Cyprus’ banks unless it agrees to the terms of an EU-led bailout, the Mediterranean island has reignited concerns about the euro and roiled financial markets. However, German investor confidence unexpectedly rose to a three-year high this month and the Bundesbank said the nation’s economic recovery remains on track.
Samsung mulls Dutch sale
Samsung Electronics Co, the world’s largest flat-panel maker, is trying to sell Dutch subsidiary Liquavista BV to Amazon.com Inc, according to a person familiar with the matter. Samsung is seeking a sale of the Eindhoven, Netherlands-based maker of electronic-reader display technology for less than US$100 million, said the person, who declined to be identified because the discussions are private. Samsung, based in Suwon, South Korea, acquired Liquavista in 2011. Liquavista, founded in 2006, specializes in a type of display technology known as electrowetting, mostly used in electronic readers, a shrinking market that is dominated by Amazon’s Kindle devices.
Steel firms urge China action
US steel companies on Thursday urged Congress and the White House to take action against what they said was a flood of unfairly traded steel from China, partly by reforming US trade laws to make it easier to win import protection. “The government of China’s continued subsidization of its steel industry and manipulation of its currency continues to threaten our future,” Edward Kurasz, an executive vice president at Allied Tube & Conduit, told a congressional panel. The plea came shortly before the US International Trade Commission approved steep punitive duties on stainless steel sinks from China that the US Department of Commerce had found were unfairly priced and subsidized. The decision was a victory for Elkay Manufacturing Co. The Illinois company has struggled in the face of rising imports from China, which totaled nearly US$118 million in 2011.
Rosneft closes BP deal
Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft closed a deal to buy TNK-BP from UK-based BP PLC and four tycoons on Thursday, releasing US$40 billion in cash to the sellers and making it a bigger oil producer than Exxon Mobil Corp. The US$55 billion deal, which also gives BP a near 20 percent stake in Rosneft, was announced last year after months of on-off negotiations. It is the biggest in Russia’s corporate history. It tightens the Russian government’s grip on the energy sector and is a victory for Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin, a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, creating a business with annual production of about 4.6 million barrels of oil equivalent, more than Exxon Mobil, the world’s No. 1 investor-owned company. The deal gives Rosneft an expert international shareholder and extra oil output revenue it can put to work to explore Russia’s reserves and to replace aging and depleting fields.