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.