Wal-Mart sues Visa
Wal-Mart Stores Inc has sued Visa Inc for allegedly conspiring with banks to fix transaction fees, the latest salvo of a multiyear legal fight between retailers and card issuers. The world’s biggest retailer seeks at least US$5 billion in damages for what it claims are violations of US federal antitrust laws that could triple that sum. Wal-Mart, one of dozens of large merchants that dropped out of a nationwide, multibillion dollar antitrust settlement with Visa and MasterCard Inc to pursue their own lawsuits, filed its complaint in federal court in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Tuesday. The settlement Wal-Mart withdrew from, initially valued at US$7.25 billion, was approved by a Brooklyn, New York, federal judge in December last year.
Rusal posts US$3.22bn loss
Rusal, the world’s largest aluminum producer, yesterday said its net loss blew out to more than US$3 billion last year as it was hit by record low metal prices and one-off restructuring charges. The Hong Kong-listed Russian giant said it lost US$3.22 billion, compared with a loss of US$528 million in 2012, while revenue slumped 10.4 percent to US$9.76 billion. However, chief executive Oleg Deripaska forecast an uptick in demand for aluminum over the next two years, in line with a global economic recovery. In a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange, Rusal said the price of aluminum had tumbled 8.6 percent last year to a record low of US$1,845 per tonne as demand tailed off. “2013 was another challenging year for the aluminum industry, despite consumption growth of 6 percent to 51.7 million tonnes,” Deripaska said.
Panasonic sets 2018 goal
Panasonic Corp plans to boost sales by about 34 percent during the next five years as it seeks to expand in areas targeted for growth, including its lithium-ion battery business. The consumer electronics company targets ￥10 trillion (US$98 billion) in revenue in the 2018 fiscal year, president Kazuhiro Tsuga told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday. That compares with the ￥7.48 trillion in the fiscal year ending on Monday, according to the average of 19 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Panasonic is a third of the way through its three-year plan to achieve an operating profit of at least ￥350 billion by the year ending March 2016 by focusing on growing businesses after consecutive record losses. The automotive and industrial systems unit, which supplies Tesla Motors Inc with battery cells, accounts for about a third of sales and is targeted for growth as the company ends production of plasma TVs.
Amazon eyeing TV market
Online retailer Amazon.com Inc plans to enter the battle for living-room viewership in the coming months, launching a free, ad-supported streaming TV service, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing anonymous sources. Amazon is likely to stream original, self-produced TV series and perhaps licensed programming for free to viewers, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The newspaper said it was unclear how such a service would be delivered to consumers. Amazon has said it will hold a press conference in New York on Wednesday next week, amid rife speculation that it will unveil a streaming device, such as a set-top box, to rival the Apple TV and Google Chromcast. Speculation is that Amazon is close to revealing a streaming device, a set-top box or a small plug-in device that can pipe video into the living room.