Sony mulls spin-off proposal
The head of Sony told shareholders yesterday the company’s board was studying from “all sorts of angles” a proposed plan to spin off part of its profitable entertainment arm, but said it would not be rushed into a decision. US billionaire Daniel Loeb, who says his hedge fund Third Point has amassed the largest stake in Sony, last month made the call to hive off and list up to 20 percent of the arm, which includes a music label and Hollywood movie studio. Sony chief executive officer Kazuo Hirai told the firm’s annual investor meeting in Tokyo that the board will reach a decision by discussing and analyzing Third Point’s proposal from all sorts of angles. “We want to take our time and get necessary information from outside,” he said.
Drought drains GDP
Economic growth slowed to a crawl in the first quarter of this year as a major drought hit the farming sector, official data released yesterday showed. Statistics New Zealand said GDP expanded just 0.3 percent in the three months to March 31, about half the level the market expected. It said the drought meant agricultural output slipped 4.7 percent in the quarter and it would continue to weigh on growth. The agency said GDP growth for the 12 months to the end of March was 2.5 percent.
Aging population a concern
Nearly one-third of the nation’s citizens will be aged 65 or older by 2040, government data showed yesterday, confirming one of the greatest challenges facing Asia’s fourth-largest economy. The 65-plus bracket will make up 24.3 percent of the population in 2030, rising to 32.3 percent a decade later, Statistics Korea said. In 1980, those aged 65 and over accounted for just 3.8 percent of the population. Last year, the figure stood at 11.8 percent. By 2040, “every 1.7 working people will have to bankroll one senior citizen,” Statistics Korea said in a press statement.
Microsoft, Nokia talks falter
Microsoft Cort was in talks to boost its position in the mobile phone market by buying the devices business from Nokia Oyj, but failed to seal a deal, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. The Journal cited unnamed sources as saying the US technology titan and the pioneering Finnish mobile phone company were involved in serious talks that recently faltered. The two companies joined forces about two years ago in an alliance aimed at making inroads with handsets powered by Windows Phone software. Windows, boosted by the Windows Phone 8 introduced last year, boosted its US market share to 5.6 percent from 3.8 percent, according to a recent Kantar Worldpanel ComTech survey.
FedEx posts profit growth
Global package delivery giant FedEx on Wednesday reported a 7 percent increase in quarterly profits, as increased volumes of some North American deliveries offset declines in some premium international services. FedEx said profits for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, which ended on May 31, rose to US$679 million from US$634 million the previous fiscal year. Those figures are “adjusted profits” and exclude a US$0.98 per share charge related to a cost-saving downsizing plan and a US$0.20 per share aircraft charge. Revenues came in at US$11.4 billion compared with US$11 billion a year ago.