Lloyds to pay US$3.3bn fine
Britain’s state-rescued bank Lloyds said yesterday that it will pay almost ￡2 billion (US$3.3 billion) to cover so-called “mis-selling” claims. Lloyds will take a provision of ￡1.8 billion for claims relating to the sale of payment protection insurance, and ￡130 million relating to the sale of interest rate hedging products to small businesses, it said in an update before annual results on Feb. 13, adding it expects to make a “small” pretax profit.
Plant closures spur protest
Several thousand people have marched from a Spanish Coca-Cola bottling plant in a southwestern suburb to downtown Madrid to protest the company’s plan to close four plants in the country and lay off workers. Employees, family members, trade union members and sympathizers left the plant in Fuenlabrada and walked 24km on Sunday to Puerta del Sol square, giving away Pepsi cans and chanting: “No to the closures.” Coca-Cola Iberian Partners plans to close four of its 11 plants and lay off 1,253 workers.
Metalworkers plan strike
Metalworkers at the South African operations of Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) are to strike over pay, the country’s largest trade union said on Sunday in Johannesburg. Between 1,000 and 2,000 Amplats metalworkers were to begin the strike yesterday, the union said. South African miners for the world’s top producer of the precious metal are already on strike. The union demands double-digit pay increases and a doubling of the salaries of the worst-paid workers to 2,500 rand (US$224) per month, said Irvin Jim, general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa. Amplats already faces a platinum miners strike that also affects rival firms Implats and Lonmin.
UAE to decide on airline
The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) national airline suggested on Sunday it is nearing a decision on taking a stake in struggling Italian carrier Alitalia as a high-level Italian delegation promoted investment opportunities during a visit to the Middle East country. In Abu Dhabi, officials signed a number of accords on business deals ranging from energy projects to tourism and fitness centers. They also left Abu Dhabi hopeful that progress is being made in ongoing talks between Etihad Airways and debt-saddled Italian airline Alitalia. The airlines said they have “entered the final phase of a due-diligence process about a possible investment” into the Italian carrier. They will work toward developing a common strategy over the next 30 days, they said.
Fund sees record returns
The Future Fund, the country’s sovereign wealth manager, returned a record 17.2 percent last year as it increased its allocation to global equities at the expense of debt securities. The A$97 billion (US$85 billion) Melbourne-based fund, which was established in May 2006, boosted its allocation in stocks worldwide to 33.1 percent in the fourth quarter of last year from 23.4 percent a year earlier, it said in an e-mailed statement. It reduced its holdings of bonds to 12.2 percent from 19.1 percent over the same period. The returns last year were up from 12.8 percent in 2012, according to the fund.
ITRI makes heat fiber
The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, 工研院) has developed a fiber that it said is ideal for heat-generating apparel because of its ability to absorb light and turn it into heat. The Hsinchu-based research body said the fiber will mainly absorb infrared light from sun rays and lighting and even from body heat. Researchers who worked on the project incorporated inorganic nano powder in the fiber and used surface chemistry techniques to help the fiber absorb or reflect infrared light more evenly. As a result, the fiber is exposed to the infrared light for a longer period of time, which generates more heat and helps the resulting fabric keep people warmer. The ITRI said it has transferred the technology to manufacturers to mass-produce clothing with fabric using the new heat-generating fibers.