Portfolio sets record
Singapore’s state investment giant Temasek on Monday said the value of its global portfolio rose to a record high of S$215 billion (US$169 billion) in the year to March thanks to a rebound in stock markets. Its holdings jumped 8.6 percent from the previous financial year, and are now more than three times larger than at the height of the SARS scare 10 years ago, the firm said. Temasek — which has stakes in global names including Standard Chartered bank, Spanish energy giant Repsol and DBS Bank — was boosted by an equities rebound as the US economy picked up and eurozone fears abated. “Last year, there were some signs of recovery in the global economy. The severe disruptive risks from the global financial crisis subsided,” Temasek chairman S. Dhanabalan said in a statement. “Despite the turmoil over the last decade, the Temasek portfolio value more than tripled from a trough of S$61 billion in March 2003, when the SARS epidemic hit Asia.”
Bank program unchanged
The Bank of England has opted to refrain from pumping more money into the UK economy in its first meeting since new Governor Mark Carney’s arrival. The Monetary Policy Committee kept interest rates at 0.5 percent yesterday and decided against expanding its stimulus program. The bank has so far pumped ￡375 billion (US$579 billion) into Britain’s economy since 2009. Under the program, the Bank of England buys bonds from financial institutions with newly created money. The hope is the extra money will boost lending, helping economic growth.
Firms cut formula prices
Swiss food giant Nestle and French food group Danone are cutting prices for baby formula in China by as much as 20 percent, they said after the government launched a investigation into alleged price-fixing by foreign firms. Nestle unit Wyeth Nutrition confirmed the investigation by the National Development Reform Commission, which has been reported by state media, and pledged to “immediately” cut prices on some formula products by 6 percent to 20 percent, according to a statement late on Wednesday. The firm promised not to raise prices on new formula products for a year and said it had improved marketing policies to ensure they were in line with regulations. Danone said that its subsidiary Dumex would also cut prices for baby formula in China. The moves came after reports on Tuesday that the commission had launched a probe of foreign baby formula makers for high prices, which it claimed resulted from a monopoly-like situation.
S Korean GM workers strike
Workers at General Motors’ (GM) factories in South Korea yesterday went on strike, demanding an increase in wages and the expansion of the company’s operations in the country, a union spokesman said. “This partial strike will go on indefinitely until we reach a compromise with the management,” a union spokesman Choi Jong-hak said. The 14,000-member union downed tools for six hours demanding a basic monthly salary increase as well as a one-off bonus. They are also angered by GM’s decision to excluded the South Korean subsidiary from its global plan to produce new Cruze compact cars, sparking speculation among workers that GM may reduce production in the country or withdraw altogether.