Confidence at six-year high
British consumer confidence rose this month to its highest in almost six years, signaling further strength for one of the economy’s main drivers, a survey showed yesterday. Market research company GfK said its monthly consumer confidence index rose to minus-10 from minus-13 last month. It was the highest reading since November 2007 and above the consensus forecast in a Reuters poll for minus-11. The latest reading is well above the 12-month average of minus-22, suggesting consumers — who account for around two-thirds of British spending — will make another big contribution to economic output in the third quarter.
S Korea trade gap narrows
South Korea’s current account surplus narrowed last month from the previous month on weaker trade gains, the Bank of Korea said yesterday. The current account, the broadest measure of South Korea’s trade with the rest of the world, showed a surplus of US$5.74 billion last month, down from US$6.77 billion in July. It was the 19th straight month that the account has been in the black and brought the combined surplus for the first eight months of this year to US$42.28 billion.
UK’s Royal Mail is floated
The British government said yesterday it would offer shares in state-owned Royal Mail at between ￡2.60 pence and ￡3.30 pence each in its London listing, valuing the company at as much as ￡3.3 billion (US$5.28 billion). The government plans to sell between 40.1 percent and 52.2 percent of near-500-year-old Royal Mail, which is expected to make its market debut on Oct. 11. It has also agreed to give away 10 percent of the company’s shares for free to staff.
EBay to buy Braintree
EBay Inc reached a deal to buy online and mobile payments technology provider Braintree for US$800 million in cash. The company said on Thursday that it will operate Braintree as a separate business and expects to close the deal before the end of the year. Braintree’s payments technology is used by popular startups such as vacation rentals site Airbnb, cab-hailing app Uber and restaurant reservations site OpenTable.
Ford purchases Livio
Ford Motor Co said on Thursday that it acquired the startup company Livio in a bid to accelerate its efforts to help drivers safely access content on their smartphone while on the road. Livio, which is based in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale, Michigan, develops software that lets drivers connect to their smartphones through their car radios or dashboard infotainment systems. Ford paid less than US$10 million for the 11-person startup, Ford chief technical officer Paul Mascarenas said. Livio will keep supplying its current customers, including General Motors Co.
Olympus settles US lawsuit
Japanese camera giant Olympus said yesterday it has agreed to pay US$2.6 million to settle a US investor lawsuit stemming from a huge accounting scandal that hammered its shares. The claim was filed two years ago by an investor who claimed that a loss cover-up by Olympus executives was responsible for its plunging stock price. Olympus said yesterday it was embroiled in about 20 other lawsuits in Japan and overseas that had yet to be settled.