GM to expand in South Korea
General Motors Co’s (GM) South Korean unit plans to invest 8 trillion won (US$7.3 billion) over five years to expand in a country where it made four of every 10 Chevrolets sold worldwide last year. GM Korea Co will boost manufacturing facilities and double the size of its design center this year to the company’s third-largest after the US and Brazil, the Bupyeong, South Korea-based company said in an e-mailed statement. The automaker is increasing investment at the unit from 1 trillion won a year as it starts building new models to compete with a resurgent Toyota Motor Corp. The maker of the Prius regained the top spot in global sales from GM last year. “GM Korea will continue to play a major role in our global growth plans,” GM international operations head Tim Lee said in the statement. The bank also disclosed about US$30 million of stock awards for other executives, based on Thursday’s closing share price of US$42.35.
Business confidence rises
Business confidence rose to its highest level in 10 months this month, data showed yesterday, amid growing optimism that Europe’s top economy has put the worst of the region’s debt crisis behind it. The Ifo institute’s closely watched business climate index for Europe’s top economy rose to 107.4 points this month — its highest reading since April last year — from 104.3 points a month earlier. Economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires had been pencilling in a more modest rise to 14.7 points. “The German economy is regaining momentum,” Ifo president Hans-Werner Sinn said.
CEO to receive US$11.5m
Citigroup Inc, whose shareholders rejected its former leader’s pay package, gave new chief executive officer Michael Corbat an US$11.5 million compensation deal for last year. The payout includes a US$4.18 million cash bonus and US$3.14 million of so-called performance share units, or PSUs, according to a regulatory filing on Thursday. Citigroup introduced the PSUs as executive compensation after discussions with almost 20 shareholders, the New York-based lender said. Shareholders rejected former CEO Vikram Pandit’s 2011 pay plan last year amid complaints it was too easy for him to collect his US$15 million package plus long-term incentives that could have been worth about US$40 million. After promising to reconsider, the board ousted Pandit, 56, in October last year and promoted Corbat, 52.
Wal-Mart projects Q1 profit
Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, projected first-quarter profit that trailed analysts’ estimates as an increase in the payroll tax and delayed refunds curtail spending by its lower-income shoppers. Earnings per share in the current quarter will be US$1.11 to US$1.16, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said on Thursday in a statement. Analysts projected US$1.19, the average of 18 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Chief executive officer Mike Duke is working to keep prices low amid delayed refunds and a payroll-tax break that expired Dec. 31, causing Americans to pay 2 percentage points more in Social Security. The company increased its dividend for the next fiscal year by 18 percent to US$1.88 a share. The first quarterly dividend of US$0.47 will be paid April 1 to shareholders of record as of March 12. Wal-Mart said it returned US$13 billion to shareholders through dividends and stock buybacks in its previous fiscal year.