Living standards tighten
Standards of living are under more pressure now than at any time in the past two-and-a-half-years and the squeeze is getting tighter. Adjusted for inflation, regular pay rose just 0.1 percent in the three months through February, the weakest figure since the third quarter of 2014, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday. Nominal earnings slowed to growth of 2.2 percent, a seven-month low. The combination of a pound-induced inflation surge and lackluster wage growth is eating into the spending power of consumers, the engine of the economy. Retail sales fell the most in six years in the first quarter, an industry survey showed this week.
Actility to enter industry
Actility, a European Internet of Things start-up has raised US$75 million from investors in a bid to win business in the industrial sector. Private-equity firms, including Ginko Ventures — the European investment fund of Foxconn Technology Group (富士康), as well as investments by operators of wireless networks like Koninklijke KPN NV, Orange SA and Swisscom AG. Actility raised US$25 million in 2015. It sells services like monitoring how much fuel Belgians have in their heating tanks at home, or alerting Amsterdam when the water is too high in its canals.
Qantas halts Zimbabwe sales
Qantas Airways Ltd told travel agents in Zimbabwe to stop selling tickets for its flights after the International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned it is getting harder to move funds out of the country, according to a circular sent by the Australian airline to agencies and seen by Bloomberg. The carrier is owed a “substantial” amount by Bank Settlement Plan Zimbabwe, the system that IATA uses to transfer local ticket revenue to airlines, according to the circular from Qantas’ regional manager for Africa Michi Messner. “We’ve been advised by IATA that the situation with the repatriation of funds out of Zimbabwe is worsening,” she wrote. Messner confirmed by telephone from Johannesburg on Tuesday that she had sent the letter, referring further questions to IATA.
Debt bond attracts bids
The government’s debut dollar-denominated Islamic bond, which was due to price yesterday, had attracted more than US$17.5 billion of investor orders as of Tuesday evening, people familiar with the matter said. The government plans to sell the five-year sukuk in the 115 basis points area over mid-swaps and a 10-year tranche at a spread of about 155 basis points, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Books for sale opened to investors on Tuesday.
Tesco’s profits rise
Tesco PLC’s annual profit edged above analyst estimates in a boost for chief executive officer Dave Lewis as he seeks to shore up support for the UK supermarket leader’s planned takeover of food wholesaler Booker Group PLC. Adjusted operating profit rose 30 percent to ￡1.28 billion (US$1.6 billion) in the 12 months ended on Feb. 25, the UK’s largest retailer said in a statement yesterday. The average estimate in a Bloomberg survey was ￡1.26 billion. The earnings provide a tonic for Lewis, as dissent over his proposed ￡3.7 billion takeover of Booker has spread from the boardroom to the company’s investors.
ELECTRONICS Lite-On delays sale of unit Lite-On Technology Corp (光寶科技) yesterday said it would postpone the sale of its solid-state drives (SSD) business to Kioxia Holdings Corp, formerly known as Toshiba Memory Holdings Corp, due to disruptions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the Taiwan-based electronics components supplier struck the deal with the Japanese firm, agreeing to sell the unit for US$165 million. Citing unfinished integration work due to the pandemic, Lite-On has deferred today’s closing date until further notice, adding that the delay would not have a negative effect on the unit’s operations. AUTO PARTS Hiroca approves dividend Automotive interior parts supplier Hiroca
NOT ALL GOOD: Analysts warned that other data for last month might be less rosy due to the virus and analysts expect the PMI to contract again next month Chinese factory activity saw surprise growth last month as businesses went back to work following a lengthy shutdown, but analysts said that the economy faces a challenging recovery as external demand has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, while the World Bank said that growth could screech to a halt. China is slowly returning to life after months of tough restrictions aimed at containing the virus, which put millions of people into virtual house arrest and brought economic activity to a near standstill. The strict measures saw a closely watched gauge of manufacturing plunge to its lowest level on record in February,
ALL ABOUT STRATEGY: The company is optimistic, saying that its gross margin should increase year-on-year, but it is scaling back on its plans to expand capacity Quang Viet Enterprise Co (QVE, 廣越), which makes down jackets and garments for sportswear and outdoor brands including Adidas AG, yesterday said that revenue might drop 5 to 10 percent annually this year as some customers trimmed orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That would mark its first revenue decline since 2016. Quang Viet posted record-high revenue of NT$16.26 billion (US$537.45 million) last year, up 22 percent from 2018. Down jackets made up 40 percent of it revenue last year. North Face Inc and Patagonia Inc are this year likely to reduce orders by 20 to 30 percent from a
Taipei 101, one of the nation’s leading shopping centers, is planning to reduce its business hours due to decreased demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Taipei 101 is to open daily at noon and close at 9pm from April 6, building management said in a statement on Monday. The shopping center has been opening at 11am and closing at 9:30pm from Sunday to Thursday, while closing at 10pm on Friday and Saturday. The restaurants in the food court — on the basement level — would adjust their business hours as necessary, but the supermarket would continue to open at 9am daily, management said. The shopping