Economy grows 2 percent
South Korea’s central bank confirmed yesterday that the economy grew just 2 percent last year — the slowest rate in three years — on weak export growth and consumer demand. The growth figure was in line with the Bank of Korea’s preliminary estimate made in January. Exports, which account for 50 percent of GDP, grew 4.2 percent last year, down from 9.1 percent growth the year before. The central bank recently slashed its forecast for economic growth for this year to 2.8 percent from the 3.2 percent it estimated in October last year.
Growth forecast slashed
An influential panel of top economic advisers to the government downgraded its growth forecast on Monday, saying Europe’s top economy would only expand 0.3 percent. In November last year, the panel, known as Germany’s “Five Wise Men,” had predicted an already very sluggish growth rate of 0.8 percent for this year and next, blaming a recent downturn and shrinking demand from abroad. The government has predicted 0.4 percent growth this year after slowing down to 0.7 percent last year.
Suzlon restructures debt
India’s troubled wind energy giant Suzlon said yesterday that it has raised US$647 million by selling bonds, which will be used to repay loans as part of its debt restructuring plans. Suzlon, once a star of India’s green technology sector, called it an “important milestone” for the group and a key requirement in its corporate debt restructuring plans with its creditors. State Bank of India, the country’s largest bank and a lender to Suzlon, had issued a letter of credit — or a guarantee — to potential bond buyers, which helped Suzlon to gain easier access to bond markets.
Germany eyes Brazil
Germany is keen to boost its already substantial investment in Brazil ahead of next year’s soccer World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics, the new president of the Brazil-Germany Chamber of Commerce said on Monday. Thomas Schmall, the head of Volkswagen’s Brazil unit, who has just been elected chamber president for a two-year term, told a press conference that about 1,500 political and business leaders from both countries would meet in May to discuss investment opportunities.
Hyundai wins Total order
Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s largest shipbuilder, said yesterday it had won a US$2 billion order to build two offshore platforms for French energy giant Total. Under the deal with Total’s Republic of the Congo unit, the South Korean company is to build and deliver by early 2016 a drilling platform, and a floating oil and gas production platform, Hyundai said. The two platforms will operate at the Moho Nord field 80km off the southwestern coast of the Republic of the Congo, which is believed to have a crude oil reserve of about 3 billion barrels.
Hutchison beats forecasts
Hutchison Whampoa Ltd (和記黃埔), the company controlled by billionaire Li Ka-shing (李嘉誠), posted full-year profits that beat analysts’ forecasts on earnings from retail and investments. Net income fell 53 percent to HK$26.1 billion (US$3.4 billion), or earnings per share of HK$6.13, the Hong Kong-based company said yesterday. Growth in retail and property, as well as foreign exchange gains boosted operating income, the company said.