Factory output slows
Factory output slowed last month, government data showed yesterday, highlighting the weak state of the world’s third-largest economy and underscoring the size of the government’s task in sparking sustained growth. The unemployment rate also crept up last month, while consumer prices again fell, showing the difficulty of reversing years of deflation that has crimped private spending and corporate investment. Industrial production last month contracted 0.1 percent from January, marking the first month-on-month fall since November last year, although a survey of producers pointed to a pick-up in factory output for this month and next month. The economy ministry was also cautiously optimistic, saying yesterday that “industrial production has bottomed out and shows some signs of picking up.” The numbers come ahead of a Bank of Japan policy meeting next week as its new governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, talks up his plans to stoke the economy and reverse years of falling prices.
Sixteen paid US$98.6m
Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered PLC paid 16 top executives and bankers US$98.6 million last year, including US$12.2 million for the head of its investment bank, Mike Rees. The London-based bank was last year fined US$667 million by US regulators for breaching sanctions related to Iran and three other countries, which it said was reflected in a 7 percent cut in its bonus pool and lower bonuses for top executives. Pay for Rees, who has been the highest paid executive at Standard Chartered for several years, was down 9 percent from the US$13.4 million he received in 2011. The bank’s annual report, released on Thursday, showed his pay included US$1.2 million in salary, US$9 million annual bonus and US$2 million in a long-term share award. Another unnamed banker was paid US$9.4 million. The top 10 paid staff below board level were paid US$57.4 million. The bank’s top six executives received US$41.2 million.
Firms join Tele2 Russia bid
Russian mobile companies MTS and Vimpelcom Ltd joined the bidders for Tele2 AB’s Russian unit on Thursday, rivaling a proposal by billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s A1 investment group and an agreed deal with VTB Bank OAO. MTS and Vimpelcom are offering to buy the asset for US$4 billion to US$4.25 billion, including US$1.15 billion of net debt, they said late on Thursday, claiming their bid was at a premium of up to 30 percent over the agreed deal with VTB. State-controlled bank VTB agreed on Wednesday to buy Tele2 Russia in a deal that puts an enterprise value — or equity plus debt — on the business of US$3.5 billion. A1 said on Thursday it topped VTB’s offer with an all-cash bid of US$3.6 billion to US$4 billion and said it was also considering an offer for the whole of the parent, Nordic telecoms group.
Deficit level revised
Authorities have revised up the level of its deficit for the past two years, citing the deteriorating economy and a bank bailout. The national statistics agency says the deficit for 2011 was 5.3 percent of GDP, 0.1 percent higher than thought. Last year’s deficit was 4.8 percent. The government had been trying to reduce last year’s deficit to 4.5 percent. Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said yesterday that the nation missed its target because it gave struggling bank Dexia more money at the end of the year and growth was worse than expected.