US investigated paper
The US Department of Justice last year opened an investigation into allegations that employees at the Wall Street Journal’s China news bureau bribed Chinese officials for information, the newspaper reported on Sunday. According to the paper, the Department of Justice approached News Corp’s outside counsel early last year and said it had received information from a person it described as a whistleblower, who claimed one or more Journal employees had provided gifts to Chinese government officials in exchange for information. However, News Corp told the department that company officials suspected the informant was an agent of the Chinese government, seeking to disrupt the paper’s work and possibly retaliate against the Journal for its reporting on China’s leadership, the report said.
Lending growth declines
Cross-border lending saw its smallest growth in 13 years in the third quarter of last year, according to a report published on Sunday by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). Between June and September last year, the cross-border lending of banks that report to BIS rose by just US$33 billion, or 0.1 percent, from the previous quarter. The BIS, which is sometimes dubbed the central bank of central banks, explained in its quarterly report that the modest increase was driven by lending to non-banks, especially in US dollars, British pounds and non-major currencies, which rose by US$153 billion, or 1.4 percent. That positive development was however countered by a fall of US$120 billion, or 0.7 percent, in cross-border lending to banks.
Firms to split up venture
STMicroelectronics NV and Ericsson AB agreed to split up their unprofitable ST-Ericsson chip venture after failing to find a buyer for the business. Ericsson plans to take on about 1,800 of the venture’s employees and contractors in countries including Sweden and Germany, and is to continue developing ST-Ericsson’s modem technology, according to a statement from the companies yesterday. STMicroelectronics is to take on the venture’s existing products and 950 employees, mainly in France and in Italy, and incur costs of as much as US$450 million.
Tycoon welcomes reforms
Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim, whose wealth has taken a knock since the government yesterday unveiled a reform bill to overhaul the industry he dominates, said on Sunday he welcomed the plan as a boon for competition. Hailed as the biggest shake-up of Mexico’s phone and television market in decades, the bill aims to boost foreign competition and give regulators the power to force firms to sell assets if they have more than 50 percent of the market. Slim, the world’s richest man, controls about 80 percent of Mexico’s fixed line business and 70 percent of the mobile market through his phone company America Movil.
Coal India shares slump
Coal India shares slumped about 6 percent yesterday after a report said the government planned to “speed up” a stake selling in the world’s largest miner to reduce the country’s deficit. “The government is quickly pushing ahead [with] a blockbuster share sale” of 10 percent in a bid to raise 200 billion rupees (US$3.7 billion), the Economic Times newspaper said, without citing sources.