Sun, Jun 16, 2013 - Page 15 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

TECHNOLOGY

Office ready for iPhones

Microsoft on Friday made Office available on iPhones for people who pay to use the popular productivity software as a service in the Internet cloud. A free Office Mobile application for iPhones hit the shelves of Apple’s App Store, but can only be used with subscriptions to Office 365 Home Premium or Office 365 ProPlus. Subscriptions to Office 365 cost US$100 a year and allow the suite of programs for documents, spreadsheets, presentations and other tasks to be used on as many as five devices — in a nod to modern, multi-gadget lifestyles. Documents or other files created using Office programs can be saved at Microsoft’s online SkyDrive.

COMPANIES

Wal-Mart could sell Vips

US supermarket chain Wal-Mart announced on Friday that it was weighing whether to sell its restaurant unit in Mexico, one of the country’s largest. Vips is a leading restaurant chain in Mexico, with 364 locations drawing 79 million customers a year. The division of Walmex, which is controlled by Wal-Mart stores, includes El Porton, Ragazzi and La Finca restaurants. Walmex said it “has begun a process to consider potential offers from third parties interested in acquiring its restaurant division Vips.” Vips has only just been put on the market and “it cannot be guaranteed that the sale will be carried through,” the company added in a statement. It said the restaurant unit accounted for 1.7 percent of Walmex’s consolidated sales and 1.6 percent of its net earnings last year.

BANKING

Swiss ‘should share data’

Switzerland should be ready to share data on foreign depositors with the EU even before a global standard is established, a government panel said on Friday, a move which would lift the last vestige of its tradition of banking secrecy. The world’s biggest offshore financial center, with US$2 trillion in assets, is under massive pressure from the EU and elsewhere, as cash-strapped states seek to stop tax evasion and close loopholes. Switzerland has recently come under increased pressure to fall into line with the EU after Austria and Luxembourg said they were prepared to share data on foreign depositors, but Swiss politicians remain deeply divided on the issue.

UNITED KINGDOM

Cameron to press tax havens

British Prime Minister David Cameron is to press the country’s overseas tax havens to sign up to an international transparency treaty in London on Saturday next week, before he meets leaders of G8 economies to push for coordinated global action on tax avoidance and evasion. He will ask 10 territories and self-governing regions, among the world’s top tax havens, to sign the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters — an initiative led by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a government statement released before next week’s talks said. Bermuda, one of Britain’s territories, said on Thursday it had agreed to back the treaty, which is signed by more than 50 countries and requires them to share information on individuals who hold bank accounts in their jurisdictions. Cameron is also seeking agreement from the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Anguilla, Montserrat, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

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