Bird flu costs PRC US$6.5bn
China’s H7N9 avian influenza outbreak has cost its poultry industry more than 40 billion yuan (US$6.5 billion) as consumers shun chicken, the Beijing Times quoted officials as saying yesterday. The sector has been losing an average of 1 billion yuan a day since the end of March, the paper said, citing the National Animal Husbandry Service’s statistics. The outbreak has infected 130 people in China, killing 35.
Actavis buys Warner Chilcott
US-based Actavis has agreed to an all-stock takeover of Irish rival Warner Chilcott worth US$8.5 billion. The deal will create “a leading global specialty pharmaceutical company with approximately [US]$11 billion in combined annual revenue” — focused on women’s health, gastroenterology, urology and dermatology, the companies said in a joint statement yesterday. “The combination of Actavis and Warner Chilcott creates a strong specialty brand portfolio focused in therapeutic categories with strong growth potential, and is supported by a deep pipeline of development programs,” Actavis CEO Paul Bisaro said.
Apple to face Senate hearing
Apple Inc will be the subject today of a US Senate hearing on US companies’ offshore tax practices, two people familiar with the inquiry said. CEO Tim Cook will testify at the hearing of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, one of the people said. The committee has been examining firms that use various maneuvers to reduce their tax bills, including Microsoft Corp and Hewlett-Packard Co. Apple has US$40.4 billion in earnings outside the US on which it has not paid US taxes. If Apple brought that money back to the US, it would owe US$13.8 billion, according to public filings by the company.
Loan squeeze complaints up
The number of small firms complaining about bank loans to Britain’s Financial Ombudsman Service rose sharply last year, supporting persistent claims by companies they are being denied access to finance despite a government push to boost lending. The ombudsman received 17 percent more complaints last year compared with 2011, according to figures obtained by UK finance provider Syscap. Firms were most likely to complain about banks refusing to renew loans or overdrafts or renewing them with punishing interest rates or higher fees, Syscap said.
Ryanair net profit up 13%
Ryanair yesterday posted forecast-beating full-year earnings, buoyed by strong growth in fares and a sharp rise in charges for items such as baggage and in-flight refreshments. Shares in Europe’s largest budget airline jumped more than 6 percent to a record high of 6.764 euros. Net profit reached 569 million euros (US$730 million) in the 12 months to the end of March, up 13 percent and ahead of an average analyst forecast of 558 million euros in a company poll.
Hanoi warns of macro risks
Vietnam still faces “great risk” of macroeconomic instability, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told the National Assembly in Hanoi yesterday, as credit growth trails behind targets, while banks work to reduce elevated bad debt. The economy expanded 5.03 percent last year, the slowest pace since 1999, and the IMF last month cut this year’s forecast to 5.2 percent from 5.8 percent.