Interserve to retain RMDK
British construction and support services firm Interserve PLC yesterday said it had decided to retain equipment services unit RMDK as a core part of its business, following the conclusion of a strategic review that started in February. Interserve said the international business RMDK provided an “important element” of diversification for the group, which otherwise had a predominantly UK-based earnings profile and has been facing near-term uncertainty in some end markets. Interserve said it would incur nonrecurring charges of about ￡17 million (US$21.11 million) to carry out strategic changes at RMDK, which would include restructuring operations in a number of smaller, less attractive markets.
UK economy loses steam
Britain’s economy appears to be losing steam, with major business surveys showing a marked slowdown in the services sector and boardrooms beset by doubt about the future following the country’s vote to leave the EU. While the economy has fared better than most economists expected since June’s Brexit vote — largely thanks to upbeat consumers — yesterday’s surveys heighten concerns about its longer-term prospects. Key measures of business investment and turnover confidence hit four-year lows in the third quarter, the British Chambers of Commerce said in its Quarterly Economic Survey of 7,000 businesses — the largest of its kind. Separately, chief financial officers in major British firms reported only a partial rebound in business morale after a post-Brexit vote nosedive, accountants Deloitte reported. Investors have become increasingly concerned that Britain will lose many of the preferential trading terms it has with the EU — a so-called “hard Brexit” — pushing the pound to a fresh 31-year low against the US dollar last week.
Cimic eyes UGL Ltd
Cimic Group Ltd, the Australian construction company controlled by Germany’s Hochtief AG, offered to buy UGL Ltd in a deal valuing the engineering firm at A$524 million (US$397.91 million). Cimic, which took a 13.8 percent stake in Sydney-based UGL in a block-trade yesterday, offered A$3.15 per share in cash for the remaining stock, according to a statement to the stock exchange. That is 47 percent more than UGL’s last closing price on Friday. Cimic plans to delist UGL and reconstitute its board, according to the statement. It has received Foreign Investment Review Board approval for the offer, which will be funded through available funds or existing debt, Cimic said.
Bollore boosts Vivendi stake
Vincent Bollore’s investment company is increasing its stake in Vivendi SA to more than 20 percent as the billionaire tightens his grip over the French media conglomerate. Bollore Group is set to hold about 29 percent of voting rights in Vivendi by April 20 next year, taking into account the double voting rights attached to the shares it is acquiring, according to a statement yesterday. Bollore Group, based in Puteaux, France, held about 15 percent of Vivendi as of June. The activist investor, who became chairman of Vivendi in 2014, is cementing his control as he seeks to expand Paris-based Vivendi’s business beyond music, film and television. Under Bollore, Vivendi has accumulated a stake in Telecom Italia SpA and re-entered video gaming by acquiring Gameloft SE and buying a stake in Ubisoft Entertainment SA.
POOR INTERNAL CONTROLS: Insurance Bureau Director-General Shih Chiung-hwa said the company is expected to get back on track while its chairman is suspended The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) yesterday fined Shin Kong Life Insurance Co (新光人壽) NT$27.6 million (US$939,415) for a reckless investment that endangered its solvency, and suspended its chairman Eugene Wu (吳東進) for poor supervision. The penalty is the second-highest in a single case after Nan Shan Life Insurance Co (南山人壽) was fined NT$30 million in September last year and its chairman Du Ying-tzyong (杜英宗) suspended for two years, the commission said. In three rounds of special and regular examinations conducted since last year, the commission found that Shin Kong Life had given too much power to an asset and liability management committee
Nano-X Imaging Ltd, a start-up founded by Israeli investor Ran Poliakine, is joining forces with South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix Inc to build a machine that could disrupt a century-old X-ray industry. Valued at about US$2 billion after listing on the NASDAQ last month, Nano-X is seeking to transform a multibillion-dollar industry that has essentially relied on the same technology since Nobel Prize in Physics winner Wilhelm Roentgen discovered X-rays in the late 19th century. Nano-X’s device uses semiconductors instead of metal filaments to generate X-rays. The backing of SK Hynix, the world’s second-largest maker of memory chips, is a boost for
Continental AG, which makes control units for Daimler AG cars, cannot pursue antitrust claims against a group of patent owners, including Qualcomm Inc, which are seeking royalties on telecommunications technology, a federal judge in Texas ruled. Avanci LLC, a licensing pool formed by Qualcomm, Nokia Oyj, Sharp Corp and other owners of patents on technology standards, is not breaching antitrust laws when it negotiates license agreements with automakers rather than the component makers, Barbara Lynn, chief district judge for the Northern District of Texas, said in dismissing the suit in a decision posted on Friday. The licensing group charges US$15 per vehicle
Sony Corp has cut its estimated Play Station 5 (PS5) production for this fiscal year by 4 million units, down to about 11 million, following production issues with its custom-designed system-on-chip (SOC) for the new console, people familiar with the matter said. The Tokyo-based electronics giant in July boosted orders with suppliers in anticipation of heightened demand for gaming in the holiday season and beyond, as people spend more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the company has come up against manufacturing issues, such as production yields as low as 50 percent for its SOC, which have cut into