G-Flex to debut in Europe
South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc said yesterday it would start selling its first curved-screen smartphone — seen as a first step to fully flexible products — in Europe next month. The “G-Flex” was introduced in Seoul in October last year and will hit the stores in 20 European nations, including France, Germany, Sweden and the UK, the firm said in a statement. The G-Flex is curved on the vertical axis of the handset, which LG says offers a more immersive viewing experience and fits the contour of the face. LG said the new phone — already available in Asia — would also be introduced in the US by the end of March. LG, the world’s fourth-largest smartphone maker, did not provide any pricing details. Curved screens are still at a nascent stage in display technology, which is shifting toward flexible panels that are bendable, or can even be rolled or folded.
Peugeot to raise funds
PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe’s second-largest automaker, is planning a two-step capital increase of 3 billion euros (US$4.1 billion) to shore up its financing as the unprofitable French manufacturer consumes cash. Dongfeng Motor Corp in the first phase may contribute funds through a sale reserved for Peugeot’s Chinese partner and then participate in a broader rights offering after that, the Paris-based automaker said. The French state may also buy shares in both sales, Peugeot said. The 118-year-old manufacturer is seeking a cash injection after burning through 4 billion euros in the past two years as demand in its European home region sank. The new funding is equal to 81 percent of Peugeot’s value and follows a share sale in March 2012 to raise 1 billion euros in which General Motors Co bought a 7 percent stake that it later sold.
Unilever beats expectations
Unilever, the maker of Magnum ice cream and TRESemme shampoo, reported fourth-quarter sales growth that beat estimates, led by a rebound in emerging markets. Revenue excluding acquisitions and currency fluctuations rose 4.1 percent in the three months through last month, the London-and Rotterdam-based company said yesterday in a statement. The median estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for growth of 3.9 percent. The quantity of goods sold gained 2.7 percent, more than the 2.5 percent forecast by analysts. The quarter benefited from an improved performance in emerging markets, where growth had been slipping. Sales in those regions rose 8.4 percent, better than the third quarter’s 5.9 percent gain. Unilever generates 57 percent of its revenue from countries such as India and China, and said on Sept. 30 last year that slowing growth would weigh on sales.
Shell sells gas project stake
Royal Dutch Shell said on Monday it had agreed to sell stakes in a gas project in Western Australia for US$1.14 billion as part of the oil company’s drive to improve its return on investment. Shell said it is selling an 8 percent stake in the Wheatstone and nearby Iago gas fields, as well as a 6.4 percent stake in the related Wheatstone liquefied natural gas (LNG) project to Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Co (KUFPEC). The move raises KUFPEC’s holding in the LNG project, in which the state company is already a partner, to 13.4 percent. “We are refocusing our investment to where we can add the most value with Shell’s capital and technology,” Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden said.