World Bank loans approved
The World Bank on Thursday earmarked US$245 million in credit and grant funding for Myanmar under an 18-month plan, the first lending to the southeast Asian nation in 25 years and another sign the country is opening up after years of military rule. The interim country strategy, endorsed by the World Bank board at a meeting in Washington, will guide the institution’s work in Myanmar. The bank also approved an US$80 million grant for community-driven rural projects. Pamela Cox, World Bank vice president for East Asia and the Pacific, said another US$165 million will be made available to Myanmar once the country has cleared its overdue debt to the bank, which totals about US$400 million. Talks on how the US$165 million will be allocated will take place in coming months, she said.
RBS facing LIBOR fines
Royal Bank of Scotland PLC (RBS) said it may face fines in relation to how it set LIBOR and other interest rates, and it is keen to settle the matter as soon as possible. RBS is under investigation by US and UK authorities over its part in the interest-rate rigging scandal and is expected to be one of the next banks to settle after its UK rival Barclays PLC was fined US$450 million in June. RBS chief executive Stephen Hester said it was difficult to know if RBS faces a bigger fine than Barclays, which is the only bank to settle. RBS made a third-quarter operating profit of ￡1.05 billion (US$1.69 billion), up from ￡2 million in the same period the previous year, as losses from bad debts fell. The part-nationalized bank set aside another ￡400 million to compensate customers mis-sold loan insurance, bringing its total provisions to ￡1.7 billion.
Starbucks raises forecast
Starbucks Corp on Thursday raised its forecast for the year after the coffee chain said more customers are going to its cafes, even in the challenging global economy. The Seattle-based company said global revenue at cafes open at least a year rose 6 percent in the fiscal fourth quarter, driven by higher customer traffic. The measure is a key gauge because it strips out the impact of newly opened and closed locations. Starbucks lifted its guidance for the year ending in September next year to between US$2.06 and US$2.15 per share. That was up from its previous outlook of US$2.04 to US$2.14 per share. Analysts expect US$2.14 for the year, according to FactSet. The company also lifted its quarterly dividend 24 percent to US$0.21. In the year ahead, Starbucks said it also plans to open 1,300 new stores, up from the 1,063 it opened in the just-completed fiscal year.
Japan Airlines eyes demand
Japan Airlines yesterday raised its full-year profit forecast to US$1.74 billion as the carrier, which only exited bankruptcy last year, released its first results since relisting on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The airline — whose collapse was one of Japan’s worst-ever corporate failures — said net profit would rise to ￥140 billion (US$1.74 billion) in the year to March as it cuts costs and sees heavy demand for new international routes, but it warned that a simmering trade spat between Tokyo and Beijing has weighed on revenue, as it trimmed its full-year sales target to ￥1.21 trillion from ￥1.22 trillion. Japan Airlines and rival All Nippon Airways both canceled thousands of flights in the wake of huge anti-Japan protests in China after Tokyo in mid-September bought a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea.