Fri, Jun 12, 2015 - Page 15 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

CONGLOMERATES

Samsung fends off challenge

The most powerful corporate family in South Korea got help from another dynasty in its campaign to fend off a challenge from billionaire activist investor Paul Elliott Singer. A unit of Samsung Group on Wednesday agreed to sell shares valued at more than US$600 million to a company with ties to the Hyundai conglomerate. That sale unlocks voting rights the Lee family can use to push through a merger that Singer’s Elliott Associates LP opposes on grounds the offer is too low. The deal escalates a battle between the Lee dynasty that controls a US$270 billion business empire and an investor known for taking on the likes of Argentina’s government. Elliott’s opposition threatens to disrupt a restructuring needed by the Lee family to solidify its control over Samsung. Samsung C&T Corp said it would sell all its 8.99 million treasury shares to KCC Corp, a company headed by a member of the Hyundai family.

FINANCE

Fitch questions HSBC plan

Fitch Ratings Ltd questioned HSBC Holdings PLC chief executive Stuart Gulliver’s three-year plan to boost the comapny’s profitability by expanding in Asia, saying it could spark a downgrade. The plan, which includes cutting as many as 25,000 jobs, would only have a positive impact if the lender “outperforms on the execution of its strategy” while boosting “capitalization significantly,” Fitch said yesterday. “In particular, how HSBC manages its significant planned growth in China and Southeast Asia could hurt the ratings if this leads to a higher overall risk profile and concentration.” Gulliver’s plan, announced on Tuesday, includes cutting staff by about 10 percent, selling operations in Turkey and Brazil, stepping up investment in Asia, and expanding asset management and insurance in places such as China’s Pearl River Delta.

AUSTRALIA

Unemployment rate falls

The nation’s unemployment rate unexpectedly declined to 6 percent last month, Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed yesterday, in a sign the economy could be starting to better adapt to the end of a mining investment boom. About 42,000 positions were added last month, much higher than the 10,000 predicted by analysts, as the jobless rate ticked down from an adjusted 6.1 percent in April. The increase in employment was driven by part-time jobs, which rose 27,300, while full-time roles were up 14,700, the bureau said. The fall comes on the back of data this month showing the mining-driven economy grew a stronger-than-expected 0.9 percent in the first quarter of the year, boosted by exports and consumer spending.

ENTERTAINMENT

Line launches music service

Mobile messaging giant Line Corp yesterday launched a digital music streaming service in Japan, stepping into a largely untapped market still dominated by sales of compact discs. The new business — which comes weeks before Apple Inc is expected to enter the Japanese market with its own streaming service — offers unlimited access to a collection of more than 1.5 million songs for ¥1,000 (US$8) a month. For those on a budget, a ¥500 fee buys 20 hours of listening time. Line said it would expand its music library to 5 million tunes by the end of the year and to 30 million next year. The service is to feature top-selling artists, from Sam Smith to Michael Jackson, as well as likes of Japanese diva Ayumi Hamasaki and South Korean band Big Bang.

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