Greece to issue bonds
Greece, at risk of crashing out of the eurozone just two years ago, was to issue its first sovereign bond in almost four years yesterday, seeking to send a strong political and economic signal that it is on the way out of its debt crisis. International banks have been mandated to sell a benchmark five-year, euro-denominated bond under British law, with the sale to be completed “in the immediate future,” the country’s finance ministry said in a statement. According to sources speaking to Reuters and Thomson Reuters news and information service IFR, pricing was set for yesterday. Greece initially priced the sale at a yield of between 5 and 5.25 percent and has already attracted more than 11 billion euros (US$15.21 billion) of investor interest.
HP to settle over bribes
HP to Hewlett-Packard (HP) is to pay the US government US$108 million to settle charges that former employees paid bribes to officials in Russia, Mexico and Poland. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said an HP division in Russia paid US$2 million to make sure the company retained a contract with the federal prosecutors’ office there. A Mexican subsidiary paid US$1 million to secure a software sale to the country’s state-owned oil company, while US$600,000 in gifts and bribes were paid to a Polish government official to win contracts with the national police agency. The SEC says each scheme lasted for years, and that HP’s internal controls were not strong enough to stop the illegal payments.
Facebook moving chats
Facebook on Wednesday began pushing smartphone chats between friends to a stand-alone Messenger application. The move to make members of the world’s leading online social network resort to Messenger for text exchanges on the move comes shortly after Facebook outlined a strategy to focus on specialized “apps” for smartphones and tablets. Messenger was touted as a speedier and superior tool for chats. The switch also lets Facebook focus engineering resources on honing one application instead of dividing resources between two.
Beijing property sold
A company controlled by the family of Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing (李嘉誠), has sold a landmark Beijing property for more than US$900 million, it said, adding to speculation he is cashing out of Chinese property. Pacific Century Premium Developments Ltd (盈科大衍地產) — a firm chaired by Richard Li (李澤楷), the tycoon’s younger son — signed an agreement on Tuesday to sell Pacific Century Place for US$928 million. The deal is nearly 30 percent lower than the asking price reported last year for the well-located Beijing property. The deal is the fourth Chinese property disposal by Li’s family since August, it said, adding that the sales have fetched a total of nearly 18 billion yuan (US$2.9 billion).
JPMorgan CEO takes pay cut
JPMorgan Chase & Co chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon’s total compensation fell 37 percent last year to US$11.8 million as the largest US investment bank grappled with billions in legal costs and fines. According to regulatory documents filed on Wednesday, Dimon’s total compensation fell from US$18.7 million in 2012. Last year, JPMorgan was hit legal costs and fines stemming from the housing crisis and its US$6 billion “London Whale” trading loss.
NOT ALL GOOD: Analysts warned that other data for last month might be less rosy due to the virus and analysts expect the PMI to contract again next month Chinese factory activity saw surprise growth last month as businesses went back to work following a lengthy shutdown, but analysts said that the economy faces a challenging recovery as external demand has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, while the World Bank said that growth could screech to a halt. China is slowly returning to life after months of tough restrictions aimed at containing the virus, which put millions of people into virtual house arrest and brought economic activity to a near standstill. The strict measures saw a closely watched gauge of manufacturing plunge to its lowest level on record in February,
The output of the global smartphone industry this year is to contract by 7.8 percent on an annual basis as the COVID-19 pandemic ushers in a global recession, Taipei-based market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said in a report on Monday. The global production of smartphones is expected to fall to 1.29 billion units, as the pandemic dampens demand for consumer electronics, leading to a decline in shipments across Europe and North America, TrendForce said. With consumers delaying smartphone purchases and thereby lengthening the device replacement cycle, overall prices would suffer a setback that is expected to negatively affect the profitability of smartphone
ELECTRONICS Lite-On delays sale of unit Lite-On Technology Corp (光寶科技) yesterday said it would postpone the sale of its solid-state drives (SSD) business to Kioxia Holdings Corp, formerly known as Toshiba Memory Holdings Corp, due to disruptions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the Taiwan-based electronics components supplier struck the deal with the Japanese firm, agreeing to sell the unit for US$165 million. Citing unfinished integration work due to the pandemic, Lite-On has deferred today’s closing date until further notice, adding that the delay would not have a negative effect on the unit’s operations. AUTO PARTS Hiroca approves dividend Automotive interior parts supplier Hiroca
ALL ABOUT STRATEGY: The company is optimistic, saying that its gross margin should increase year-on-year, but it is scaling back on its plans to expand capacity Quang Viet Enterprise Co (QVE, 廣越), which makes down jackets and garments for sportswear and outdoor brands including Adidas AG, yesterday said that revenue might drop 5 to 10 percent annually this year as some customers trimmed orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That would mark its first revenue decline since 2016. Quang Viet posted record-high revenue of NT$16.26 billion (US$537.45 million) last year, up 22 percent from 2018. Down jackets made up 40 percent of it revenue last year. North Face Inc and Patagonia Inc are this year likely to reduce orders by 20 to 30 percent from a