Australian bank posts profits
Australia’s largest lender, Commonwealth Bank, yesterday posted a 1 percent rise in first-half net profit to A$3.66 billion (US$3.77 billion), sending its shares to an all-time high. The bank’s result for the six months to Dec. 31 last year was up from A$3.62 billion in the same period the previous year. Commonwealth’s cash profit, a measure often preferred by financial institutions, rose 6 percent to A$3.78 billion, slightly above analyst expectations. The profit growth, due mainly to a stronger performance from its domestic and wholesale businesses, pushed its shares more than 2.6 percent higher in afternoon trade to A$67.27. Chief executive officer Ian Narev described it as a “a strong result which continues to demonstrate the benefits of the group’s consistent, long-term strategy.”
S&P downgrades Slovenia
Ratings firm Standard & Poor’s (S&P) downgraded Slovenia’s government bond ratings by a notch on Tuesday, citing the struggling eurozone country’s larger-than-expected debt burden. Slovenia’s long-term sovereign ratings was cut to “A-” to “A” and also removed the rating from a negative watch, where it was placed on Nov. 6 last year. S&P said the country’s outlook was “stable.” “The downgrade reflects Slovenia’s higher-than-anticipated debt burden, due to its announced support of its state-owned banks, amid uncertain growth prospects,” S&P said in a statement. The agency also noted rising risks to resolving economic and financial pressures. “In our view, this confluence of factors constrains Slovenia’s ability to further implement policy responses to help boost its banking system, public finances, and growth prospects,” S&P said.
Peugeot Citroen posts loss
PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe’s second-biggest carmaker, reported its first operating loss in three years as a contraction in the regional vehicle market caused its automotive division’s cash consumption to accelerate. The loss before interest, taxes and one-time gains or costs was 576 million euros (US$774 million) last year compared with profit of 1.09 billion euros a year earlier, Paris-based Peugeot said yesterday in a statement. The loss was narrower the 647 million-euro average of 17 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue fell 5.2 percent to 55.4 billion euros. Operational free cash flow was a negative 3 billion euros last year, Peugeot said, adding that it plans to cut the cash-consumption rate by 50 percent this year and reach the break-even level by next year.
CNOOC wins assets approval
CNOOC Ltd, China’s biggest offshore oil and natural gas producer, won approval to acquire the US assets of Nexen Inc, its last regulatory hurdle in the US$15.1 billion purchase of the Canadian energy company. The US Committee on Foreign Investment approved the deal, now expected to close the week of Feb. 25, Nexen said in a statement on Tuesday. The panel reviews takeovers by foreign-owned companies for national security implications. CNOOC’s acquisition of the Calgary-based company falls under US jurisdiction because of Nexen’s Gulf of Mexico oil and gas operations, which account for about 8 percent of its output. CNOOC’s acquisition, the biggest overseas purchase by a Chinese company, prompted changes in the way Canada reviews takeovers of oil sands operators by state-controlled companies.