China threatens retaliation
China threatened on Thursday to retaliate if the EU formally opens an investigation into alleged anti-competitive behavior by Chinese mobile telecom equipment companies, reportedly Huawei (華為) and ZTE (中興). “If the European side insists on opening an investigation, the Chinese side will according to WTO rules and Chinese law take firm measures to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests, and the consequences must be borne by the party provoking the friction,” Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang (沈丹陽) said in Beijing. The case would be the first to be launched without a complaint by European companies, but rather by the European Commission itself.
Trader quits after losses
A senior trader with BNP Paribas left the French bank last year after his US-based unit traded losses of more than US$10 million, the Financial Times reported on Thursday on its Web site. Lionel Crassier, US head of equities at the time, was ordered back from New York in March after he lost the bank between US$10 million and US$25 million, according to sources cited by the newspaper. He subsequently left the bank.
Chairman faces charges
The head of Societe Generale’s Russian unit could face up to seven years in prison after investigators charged him on Thursday with soliciting a US$1.5 million bribe in what one banking source said was a possible setup to muscle the French lender out of the country. The charges were pressed against Rosbank chairman Vladimir Golubkov and senior vice-president Tamara Polyanitsyna after both were detained by police on Wednesday in a dramatic sting operation which found stacks of 5,000 ruble (US$158) notes laid out on Golubkov’s desk.
Downloads pass milestone
Apple on Thursday announced that the number of mini-programs downloaded from its App Store has surpassed the 50 billion milestone, and celebrated the moment with a US$10,000 prize. The California-based company said that it gave a US$10,000 App Store gift card to an Ohio man who downloaded the 50 billionth app — a free word game called Say the Same Thing. People are downloading mini-programs from the App Store at an average rate of 800 per second, Apple said.
Buffett’s firm downgraded
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc was downgraded by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Ratings Services on Thursday. The ratings agency dropped its investment-grade counter-party credit rating for the Omaha, Nebraska-based holding company and all the debt it guarantees by one notch to “AA” from “AA+.” However, all of Berkshire’s insurance subsidiaries kept their “AA+” ratings. S&P said its rating reflects Berkshire’s strong financial risk profile and strong balance sheet, and Berkshire still enjoys the highest rating of any insurance company.
ABN Amro to cut staff
ABN Amro Group NV, the third-biggest Dutch lender, said it plans to cut about 400 additional jobs to reduce costs after first-quarter profit tumbled 17 percent. Net income fell to 415 million euros (US$534 million) from 503 million euros in the year-earlier period, the Amsterdam-based state-owned bank said yesterday.