Tue, Mar 18, 2014 - Page 15 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

TELECOMS

Vodafone eyes Spain’s Ono

Vodafone has agreed to buy Spain’s largest cable operator Ono for 7.2 billion euros (US$10.01 billion), in the latest move by the British group to acquire fixed-line assets to rebuild its European operations. Vodafone yesterday said it expected to achieve cost and capital expenditure savings of approximately 240 million euros, before integration costs, by the fourth full year after completion. The deal for the private equity-owned group is Vodafone’s third purchase of a European fixed-broadband asset in two years, as the company seeks to improve its networks and shore up its European businesses after they were hit by fierce competition, the recession and regulatory cuts.

ENERGY

RWE offloads oil division

German energy company RWE AG says it plans to sell its oil and gas exploration and production division to LetterOne Group in a deal valuing the business at about 5.1 billion euros. RWE announced last year it had decided to abandon crude oil and natural gas production and was considering options for selling the RWE Dea AG unit. It said at the time that the move would remove pressure on future capital spending and improve its financial situation. A brief RWE statement on Sunday said the two sides had agreed on terms for the sale and “major contractual conditions” and would clarify further details “shortly” to conclude a sale agreement. It said the deal would require approval by RWE’s directors and authorities in several countries.

PROPERTY

Singapore housing sales up

Singapore’s home sales rose last month as developers marketed new projects, a government report showed. Home sales climbed 1.7 percent to 724 units last month compared with 712 in the same period a year ago, data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority released yesterday showed. Sales climbed 28 percent from January, the data showed. Fourth-quarter home prices slid for the first time in almost two years, trimming annual gains to the smallest since 2008. Housing values gained 1.1 percent last year, the smallest annual increase since prices slid 4.7 percent in 2008.

TAXATION

Germany targets tax evaders

Senior German lawmakers on Sunday called for tougher rules to make it harder for tax cheats to claim amnesty by turning themselves in, days after soccer manager Uli Hoeness was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for tax evasion. Recent news that Hoeness and other prominent Germans, such as feminist activist Alice Schwarzer, hoarded cash in secret bank accounts for years, have prompted calls for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to clamp down on tax dodging. Currently, people who avoid paying more than 50,000 euros in tax face a 5 percent fine and can apply for an amnesty under certain conditions.

BANKING

UniCredit to sell Pioneer

Italy’s biggest bank by assets, UniCredit SpA, plans to sell or float its Pioneer Investments asset management unit, valued at more than 2 billion euros, as part of a wider disposal program, the Financial Times (FT) reported. Pioneer is likely to be put up for sale or flotation as early as next year, the FT said on its Web site, citing people familiar with UniCredit’s thinking. The bank posted a record 14 billion euro loss last week due to huge writedowns on bad loans and past acquisitions as it acted to clean up its balance sheet before an industrywide health check by European regulators.

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