Tue, Apr 14, 2015 - Page 15 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

CRIME

Hackers spying for decade

Hackers, most likely from China, have been spying on governments and businesses in Southeast Asia and India uninterrupted for a decade, researchers at Internet security company FireEye Inc said yesterday. The cyberespionage operations dated back to at least 2005 and “focused on targets — government and commercial — who hold key political, economic and military information about the region,” FireEye said in a report, adding: “Such a sustained, planned development effort coupled with the [hacking] group’s regional targets and mission, lead us to believe that this activity is state-sponsored — most likely the Chinese government.” Bryce Boland, chief technology officer for Asia-Pacific at FireEye and coauthor of the report, said the attack was still ongoing, adding that the servers the attackers used were still operational, and that FireEye continued to see attacks against its clients, who number among the targets.

AUTOMAKERS

VW chair appears isolated

Ferdinand Piech, the grandson of the creator of the VW Beetle and the patriarch of the German automaker for more than two decades, is losing his grip on Volkswagen AG two years before his last term as chairman ends. Piech, 77, has found himself increasingly isolated after his hostile comments toward CEO Martin Winterkorn were quickly blunted by other power players at the Wolfsburg, Germany-based firm. The rebuttal may mark the beginning of the end of an era at Europe’s biggest carmaker. Volkswagen’s powerful works council, the state of Lower Saxony and even Piech’s cousin, Wolfgang Porsche, rallied to Winterkorn’s side after Piech escalated the power struggle by telling Der Spiegel in an interview on Friday that he was keeping himself “at a distance” from Winterkorn.

DEFENSE

Elbit shifts market focus

US military spending may be flat, but that is not proving to be much of a problem for Israeli defense company Elbit Systems Ltd. The company, long dependent on the US for much of its sales, has been shifting its focus to faster growing markets in Asia and Latin America. Elbit said last month that demand from those regions helped push up its backlog of orders to US$6.3 billion at year-end, an 8 percent jump from 2013. The US market accounted for 28 percent of sales last year, still the biggest slice from any single country, including Israel. However, unlike US defense contractors that focus on large programs like airplanes, ships and tanks, Elbit is succeeding with niche products and services in high demand in emerging markets, like upgrading aircraft systems and enhancing cyberwarfare capabilities.

MACROECONOMICS

Australia hurt by ore prices

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey yesterday said that the low iron ore price was shaving billions of dollars off government revenue forecasts, but he would not increase taxes to make up the shortfall. Hockey said that every US$10 fall in the price of a tonne of iron ore — Australia’s most lucrative export — cuts US$2.5 billion in tax revenue a year for the government. The price has fallen from about US$100 when Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s conservative government was elected in September 2013 to less than US$48 last week due to weakening Chinese industrial demand and increased production. Hockey signaled that plans to return the national budget to surplus would be delayed when he announces his economic blueprint on May 12 for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

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