Japan output contracts
Japan’s factory output in November was weaker than first reported, with industrial production sliding 0.1 percent, revised data released yesterday showed, in the latest sign of slowing growth. The reading — which came after preliminary data had shown a 0.1 percent rise in output month-on-month — also marked the first contraction in three months. However, machinery orders — a key measure of capital spending — jumped 9.3 percent from October to a five-year high, suggesting a pick-up in corporate investment.
Hyundai starts CSCL contract
South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries yesterday said it had started construction on a Chinese order for the world’s largest container ships. China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL) awarded the contract for the five vessels — each with a capacity of 18,400 TEU (20-foot equivalent unit) container boxes — to Hyundai in May. Since the order was made, Hyundai said the vessels for CSCL had been further upgraded to a 19,000 TEU-capacity at the Chinese company’s request. Hyundai said in a statement that the first ship would be delivered in November. Each ship will boast a 400m long deck, while standing 30.5m high and 58.6m wide.
AB InBev to buy Oriental
The world’s largest brewer, AB InBev yesterday announced a deal to buy South Korea’s Oriental Brewery Co Ltd (OB) from KKR and Affinity Equity Partners for US$5.8 billion. The deal brings Oriental Brewery, the leader in the South Korean beer market, back into the AB InBev fold after it was sold in 2009 during efforts to reduce the debt incurred in the merger of InBev and US brewer Anheuser-Busch. “We are excited to invest in South Korea and to be working with the Oriental Brewery team again,” AB InBev chief executive Carlos Brito said in a statement. “OB will strengthen our position in the fast-growing Asia Pacific region and will become a significant contributor to our Asia Pacific Zone.”
Deutsche surprises with loss
Deutsch Bank, Germany’s biggest bank, announced late on Sunday a surprise net loss of 965 million euros (US$1.3 billion) in the fourth quarter because of litigation costs and weakening revenues. In a statement issued more than a week earlier than markets expected, co-CEOs Juergen Fitschen and Anshu Jain gave the loss figure, which amounted to 1.2 billion euros before taxes. The bank will post an overall net profit of 1.08 billion euros for last year, they said. The bank set aside 2.5 billion euros over the year to address lawsuits by US and EU market authorities over a raft of issues, including the rigging of interbank lending rates and alleged hiding of the risks of US subprime mortgages.
Aviva, PT Astra form venture
Aviva PLC, Britain’s second-biggest insurer, has formed a joint venture with Indonesia’s PT Astra International, competing with firms, including Prudential PLC, vying for business in Southeast Asia. Astra Aviva Life will provide Aviva products to Astra, Indonesia’s largest publicly traded company, and its subsidiaries, including PT Bank Permata, the London-based company said in a statement on Friday. The deal, subject to regulatory approval, is scheduled to start later this year. Aviva CEO Mark Wilson said the deal underlined Aviva’s commitment to Asia, which contributed about 3.6 percent of operating profit in the first half of last year.