Apple buys WiFiSLAM
Apple Inc, whose mapping software has been criticized over misguided directions and inaccurate landmarks, bought startup WiFiSLAM to add location-identifying technology for when a user is inside a building. “Apple acquires smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said, confirming the deal. The purchase is among several Apple has made in recent years to improve its navigation capabilities as it competes with Google Inc. Last year, Apple introduced its own mapping software to replace Google’s, a switch that resulted in user complaints and negative reviews.
Seoul starts new debt fund
The government is launching a US$1.35 billion fund that will ease the debt burdens of college students and low-income households. The Financial Services Commission yesterday said in a statement that the fund would cancel up to half the debt of individuals who have been unable to make repayments for six months. The fund was one of President Park Geun-hye’s campaign promises. The government estimates it needs 1.5 trillion won (US$1.35 billion) over five years for the scheme. The plan includes longer repayment times for loans and reducing interest rates for those earning less than 40 million won a year.
Japan retains grip on ADB
Japanese Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs Takehiko Nakao is the sole nominee for the presidency of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Philippine Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said in a mobile-phone text message yesterday, ensuring that Japan will maintain its hold on the top post at the lender. ADB member countries are voting on the next president in an election that began yesterday and runs through April 24. The nomination period closed on Sunday. Japan has held the presidency of the bank since the institution was founded in 1966, and it is tied with the US in having the largest voting power at the bank.
BYD Co profit plunges 94%
Chinese electric car producer BYD Co (比亞迪), which is partly backed by US investment titan Warren Buffett, said its net profit plunged more than 94 percent year-on-year last year, hit by slowing growth in the country. The company, based in Shenzhen, said in a statement on Sunday that net profit came in at 81.38 million yuan (US$12.92 million) last year, down from 1.38 billion yuan in 2011. A subsidiary of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owns 9.56 percent of BYD.
Sinopec’s profits fall 12.8%
Chinese oil and gas giant Sinopec Corp’s (中國石化) annual net profit for last year fell 12.8 year-on-year, the company said, with high crude-oil costs and a slowdown in the global and Chinese economy weighing on its bottom line. Asia’s largest refiner by capacity said in a filing on late on Sunday to the Hong Kong stock exchange that its net profit for the year fell to 63.88 billion yuan from 73.23 billion yuan in 2011. The filing added that its revenue rose to 2.79 trillion yuan, an 11.2 percent increase from 2011’s 2.51 trillion yuan, but operating expenses rose 12 percent for the year, with a 16.4 percent increase in exploration expenses.