Thu, Aug 22, 2013 - Page 15 News List

World Business Quick Take

Staff writer, with Agencies

RUSSIA

Growth forecast downgraded

Russia’s economy minister warned yesterday that officials will probably have to downgrade this year’s growth forecast for the second time in months because of a poor first-half performance. The Federal State Statistics Service reported on Aug. 9 that Russia’s economy expanded by just 1.4 percent of gross domestic product compared to the first six months of last year. The result fell far short of President Vladimir Putin’s promise of 5 percent growth for the year and the government’s own downwardly revised forecast of 2.4 percent.

MEXICO

Growth down 3.1 percent

The Mexican government has lowered its forecast for the nation’s economic growth this year to 1.8 percent. That is down from the 3.1 percent gain it predicted earlier this year. The National Statistics Institute says the country’s GDP expanded only 1.5 percent in the second quarter of the year, compared with the same quarter of last year. Compared to the first quarter, GDP actually contracted 0.74 percent in the April-June period. Growth for the first half of this year averaged 1 percent, due to weakness in the mining and construction sectors.

SPAIN

Bank to lay off 2,500 staff

Nationalized Spanish lender Catalunya Banc plans to lay off nearly 2,500 workers under a eurozone bailout deal for Spain’s banks, a union source said on Tuesday. A union representative in the company said the bank had drawn up a restructuring plan under which 2,453 of its 7,200 workers will be laid off and 450 of its 1,200 branches shut down. Catalunya Banc was formed in 2010 from the fusion of three savings banks in the Catalonia region.

ALCOHOL

Heineken earnings fall 17%

Heineken NV says first-half earnings fell 17 percent because of bad weather, weak “consumer sentiment” in Europe and the US, and slowing growth in developing countries. Net profit at the world’s third-largest brewer was 639 million euros (US$858 million), from 766 million euros a year ago. Revenues rose 3 percent to 10.4 billion euros, but that was due to Heineken’s takeover of Asian Pacific Breweries, the maker of Tiger beer. Chief executive Jean Francois van Boxmeer said yesterday the outlook for the second half is similar. The company plans to keep cutting costs.

TELECOMS

China Telecom profits grew

State-owned China Telecom (中國電信) says profits grew in the first half of the year as revenue from iPhone sales kicked in. China’s third-biggest mobile operator by subscribers said yesterday that profit rose 16 percent to 10.2 billion yuan (US$1.7 billion) in the January-June period. Revenue rose 14 percent to 157.5 billion yuan. The company is the second Chinese phone company to offer Apple’s popular iPhone.

RETAIL

Barnes & Noble posts loss

US bookseller Barnes & Noble on Tuesday reported a net loss of US$87 million in the quarter to July 27, while its founder announced the withdrawal of an offer to buy the retail arm of the struggling company. Revenues fell both in the retail book division and the Nook digital unit, which produces tablet computers and e-readers. In its quarterly earnings statement, the firm said chairman Leonard Riggio advised the board of directors that he has “suspended his efforts to make an offer for the company’s retail business.”

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