Tue, Aug 02, 2016 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

AIRLINES

Qatar ups stake in UK peer

Qatar Airways exploited the post-Brexit slump in shares at British Airways owner IAG to increase its shareholding to 20 percent, the Gulf carrier announced yesterday. In a statement, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker said his company had raised its 15.01 percent stake to 20.01 percent because of the current state of the market. “The recent market valuation of one of the world’s leading airline groups has provided what we believe is an attractive opportunity to increase our shareholding in IAG,” al-Baker said.

BANKING

Nedbank’s growth slows

Nedbank Group Ltd, the South African lender controlled by Old Mutual PLC, said first-half profit growth slowed to 2.1 percent after accounting for losses associated with its stake in Ecobank Transnational Inc. Net income rose to 5.44 billion rand (US$393.99 million) from 5.33 billion rand in the same period last year, the Johannesburg-based lender said in a statement yesterday. That compares with a 16 percent expansion in the same period last year. Earnings per share excluding one-time items climbed 1.6 percent to 11.19 rand and the interim dividend increased 6.1 percent to 5.7 rand per share. Nedbank and its peers are battling a South African economy on the brink of a recession, interest rates at their highest level since 2010 and inflation outside the central bank’s target range. Profit at its biggest investment outside of South Africa, Ecobank, declined after lower oil prices and rising impairments hurt lenders in Nigeria. Nedbank’s parent firm plans to spin off the lender by 2018 as part of a plan to split Old Mutual’s business into four units.

BREWERIES

Heineken beats forecasts

Heineken NV, the world’s third-largest brewer, reported first-half profit that beat analysts’ estimates and reiterated its forecast for year-on-year profit margin expansion. Adjusted earnings before interest and taxes rose 12.6 percent to 1.71 billion euros (US$1.91 billion) in the first half, Amsterdam-based Heineken said yesterday in a statement. That compares with 1.67 billion euros, the median of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. “Our first-half performance reflects a very good first quarter, also helped by softer comparatives,” Heineken CEO Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said in the statement. “Whilst Africa Middle East and Eastern Europe continued to be challenging, performance was strong in some key developing markets, such as Vietnam and Mexico.” Heineken has forecast that Asia will pace its sales growth amid a stagnant beer market in Europe and a weakening consumer environment in Russia and Nigeria due to low oil prices.

FINANCE

MAS steps up funds scrutiny

Singapore’s central bank yesterday formally launched a unit to fight money laundering, strengthening the financial hub’s safeguards against illicit fund flows. Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) officials have said plans to create the special unit predated a continuing scandal involving state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in Malaysia and banks operating in Singapore. “But these recent developments have indeed underscored the merits of bringing together supervisory resources from across MAS to give a centralized focus on combating money laundering,” a MAS spokesman said in June when it announced the creation of the unit. Singapore last year opened an investigation into fund flows linked to 1MDB. In May this year it expelled Switzerland’s BSI Bank for “gross misconduct” related to the Malaysian fund.

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