Industrial output declines
French industrial production continued to decline in June, widening the economic gap with Europe’s largest economy, Germany. France’s national statistical agency INSEE said in a statement yesterday that French industrial production shrank 1.4 percent in June from a month earlier. That followed a 0.3 percent monthly drop in May. Within manufacturing, steep declines were recorded in food and car industries. France’s June figures stand in stark contrast to Germany, where industrial production grew 2.4 percent in June. Unemployment hit 10.8 percent in the first quarter, and some economists say it won’t peak until at least next year.
Danone buys yogurt maker
French dairy company Danone SA says it has acquired Connecticut-based yogurt maker YoCrunch in a move aimed to expand its presence in the US. M&Ms candies and Oreos cookie crumbs are among the tasty toppings YoCrunch has secured licenses for to include with its yogurts. Danone says the purchase, for an undisclosed price, “will advance Danone’s ambition to further develop yogurt consumption by notably expanding the various ways in which Americans can enjoy yogurt.” Last year YoCrunch, which is headquartered in the town of Naugatuck, had sales of US$110 million.
America Movil bids for KPN
America Movil SAB, owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, says it will launch a bid for the 70 percent of Dutch telecom company Royal KPN NV it does not already own. The 2.40 euros per share bid represents a 20 percent premium to Thursday’s closing price, and values the part of KPN that Movil does not already own at 7.2 billion euros (US$9.6 billion) and the whole company at around 10.3 billion euros. The bid is far above the 1.60 euros shares were trading at in mid-July before Telefonica Deutschland announced plans to buy KPN’s prized possession, its E-Plus unit, the third-largest mobile company in Germany, for around 5 billion euros worth of cash and shares. KPN spokesman Ward Snijders said Friday the company is “studying” the America Movil bid.
William Hill buys firm
An online gambling business founded by the son of Australian racing icon Gai Waterhouse was snapped up by Britain’s William Hill yesterday for at least A$34 million (US$31 million). Tom Waterhouse’s eponymous online gambling firm, established just three years ago, was purchased by the world’s largest betting company by market value in a deal that could be worth more than A$100 million, contingent on future earnings. William Hill paid Waterhouse, the son of renowned Australian horse trainer Gai, A$34 million up front.
Alstom in bribe allegations
French power company Alstom paid millions of dollars in bribes to secure lucrative contracts in Sao Paulo state in 1998, a Brazilian newspaper reported on Thursday. The Estado de Sao Paulo cited federal police documents saying Alstom executives were among 10 people facing charges in connection with the scandal. Two ex-state secretaries, two heads of the state energy firm EPTE also faced prosecution, according to the report, which comes five years after Brazilian federal prosecutors and authorities in France and Switzerland investigated Alstom for alleged payments of bribes to win contracts for metro equipment between 1995 and 2003.