Shares soar on new rules
Shares of India’s gold-based finance companies soared yesterday after the central bank eased rules on amounts they could loan in return for gold deposits. The Reserve Bank of India on Wednesday allowed non-banking finance companies to lend up to 75 percent of the value of gold jewelry deposited with them, up from 60 percent. Manappuram Finance shares jumped 19.8 percent to a day’s high of 18.15 rupees and rival Muthoot Finance rose as much as 19.98 percent to 129.10 rupees on the Bombay Stock Exchange. The central bank said its easing of the rules was done “in view of the moderation in the growth of gold loan portfolios of these firms in the recent past.”
AmEx to appeal settlement
American Express Co (AmEx) said it is appealing a federal judge’s order approving Visa Inc and MasterCard Inc’s US$5.7 billion settlement that ended years of litigation with US merchants over allegations that credit-card fees are improperly fixed. American Express, in a filing yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, joined retailers and trade associations — including Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Amazon.com Inc, 7-Eleven Inc and Barnes & Noble Inc — that have already filed notices that they would appeal the decision. US District Judge John Gleeson approved the accord on Dec. 13, saying he was satisfied with the settlement, which was estimated to be the largest-ever US antitrust accord.
Wanxiang raises Fisker bid
Chinese auto parts conglomerate Wanxiang Group Corp (萬向集團) has increased its offer for Fisker Automotive, heating up the fight for the failed electric-vehicle maker. Wanxiang sweetened its bid with an additional US$10 million in cash. An attorney for Fisker’s official committee of unsecured creditors told a Delaware bankruptcy judge on Wednesday that Wanxiang may increase its offer even more if the judge approves a competitive auction for Fisker. “They have told us they have considerable room to go,” attorney William Baldiga said. However, Fisker wants the judge to approve a private sale to Hybrid Technology LLC, which is owned by Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li (李澤楷).
New CEO at struggling chain
Barnes & Noble Inc has promoted Michael Huseby, who has served as its chief financial officer and president, to chief executive officer as the chain struggles to retain customers increasingly shifting to digital books. Huseby also has been elected to the board, the New York-based company said on Wednesday in a statement. Barnes & Noble, which has more than 670 stores, has been heavily investing in its Nook digital unit to gain a foothold in electronic books. After some initial success with its Nook e-readers and tablets, the division’s sales slumped during the Christmas holidays in 2012 and have not recovered.
Qantas debt now ‘junk’
Embattled Australian carrier Qantas faces a further increase in its borrowing costs after Moody’s downgraded its credit rating to “junk” status yesterday, just weeks after Standard and Poor’s took the same action. Moody’s cited “a sharp deterioration in the company’s core domestic business” following the airline issuing a shock profit warning and slashing jobs last month. In cutting Qantas’ rating to “Ba2,” or junk status, from “Baa3,” Moody’s senior vice president Ian Lewis blamed competition from rival Virgin Australia.