Wed, Feb 26, 2014 - Page 15 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

INTERNET

Mt. Gox disappears overnight

Mt. Gox, once the world’s biggest bitcoin exchange, looked to have essentially disappeared yesterday, with its Web site down, its founder unaccounted for and a Tokyo office empty bar a handful of protesters saying they had lost money investing in the virtual currency. It was not clear what has become of the digital marketplace operator, which this month halted withdrawals indefinitely after detecting “unusual activity.” A document circulating the Internet and purporting to be a crisis plan for the exchange said that more than 744,000 bitcoins were “missing due to malleability-related theft.” It also said that Mt. Gox had US$174 million in liabilities against US$32.75 million in assets. Mt. Gox officials did not answer the telephone or respond to e-mail requests for information.

GERMANY

Berlin posts small surplus

The government clocked a small surplus in its public finances last year, federal statistics office Destatis said yesterday. “The federal state’s financing surplus amounted to 0.3 billion euros [US$0.4 billion] in 2013. It is the second year in a row that a small financing surplus has been achieved,” the office said in a statement. The financing surplus is the difference between the state’s revenues and spending, which amounted to 1.2334 trillion euros and 1.2331 trillion euros respectively last year, the statement added.

INVESTMENT

Icahn pushes EBay split

Activist investor Carl Icahn, who last month proposed that EBay Inc spin off its PayPal online-payment unit and nominated two employees to the board, criticized the online marketplace for “lapses” in corporate governance and asked shareholders to vote in favor of the split. In a letter to investors posted online yesterday, Icahn singled out two PayPal directors, Marc Andreessen and Intuit Inc cofounder Scott Cook, for competing with California-based EBay. The online marketplace disputed his criticism, saying Cook and Andreessen, who is not up for re-election this year, bring valuable technology expertise to the board.

BANKING

HSBC profit misses forecast

HSBC missed market expectations by only posting a 9 percent increase in annual profit as it warned of greater volatility in emerging markets this year. On Monday, HSBC reported a pretax profit for last year of US$22.6 billion, up from US$20.6 billion in 2012, but below the average forecast of US$24.3 billion in a Thomson Reuters poll. Closing businesses hit the bank’s revenues, which fell 5 percent. Stripping out the impact of disposals, underlying revenue was US$63.3 billion, up from US$61.6 billion.

AVIATION

Airbus seeks compensation

Airbus SAS is demanding 900 million euros (US$1.2 billion) in compensation from Germany for cancelling an order for 37 Eurofighter jets, the Handelsblatt business daily reported on Monday. The amount emerged in a closed-door parliamentary budget meeting last week in which the scrapped fighter-jet order was also reported to lawmakers, Handelsblatt said. However, industry sources put Airbus’ compensation demand at about 800 million euros, the newspaper said. None of the details have been confirmed either by the companies involved or by the German Ministry of Defense, but industry sources last week said that the downscaling had long been on the cards and was not unexpected.

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