Banks ‘near’ tax info deal
A group of Swiss banks is lining up to deliver information to US authorities investigating tax evasion by Americans, potentially moving a long legal battle closer to conclusion, the Wall Street Journal reported late on Thursday. Last week, the Swiss Cabinet unveiled a program to let about a dozen banks being probed by the Justice Department hand over “leaver lists,” or aggregate data on US clients’ accounts that had been transferred to other institutions as the US began targeting overseas tax evasion, the Journal reported. Some of the country’s biggest banks are eligible to apply or already have applied for Swiss government approval to participate in the program, according to people familiar with the situation, the newspaper said.
Law overhauls central bank
Myanmar has introduced a new law to overhaul its central bank, the presidential office said yesterday, in the latest reform aimed at burnishing the country’s economic credentials. Details of the new legislation have not yet been published, but officials say the central bank will have more autonomy and will no longer operate as part of the finance ministry. “The significant thing is that the central bank will be an independent body,” a central bank official who did not want to be named said earlier this week. A presidential office spokesman said that Burmese President Thein Sein had signed the law on Thursday following parliamentary approval several days ago.
Strike halts production
South African gold producer Village Main Reef said yesterday that a wildcat strike had halted all production at its Murchison mine in the north of the country. It is just the latest in a series of work stoppages to hit South Africa’s mining sector as annual wage negotiations get underway. Village Main Reef, said it would consider a court interdict to stop the strike. A raft of pay rises in the wake of last year’s Marikana tragedy — which saw 34 striking miners shot dead by police on one day — has emboldened miners’ demands for wage increases.
Schneider in Invensys talks
Schneider Electric was in talks about a ￡3.3 billion (US$5 billion) deal for Invensys yesterday, sending shares in the British group soaring on hopes others could still enter the fray. Invensys, which makes control systems for chemical plants, oil and gas facilities and nuclear powers stations, has long been mooted as a takeover target in a sector dominated by larger industrial groups. A deal by Schneider would boost the French firm’s industrial automation business. The British company said in a statement late on Thursday it was likely to recommend Schneider’s offer of 505 pence a share, which would represent a 15 percent premium to the stock’s Thursday close on the London Stock Exchange.
Budget surplus surprises
The US government posted an unexpectedly large budget surplus last month, a further sign of the rapid improvement in public finances that has taken the heat off Congress to find savings and raise the nation’s borrowing limit. Rising tax revenue, public spending cuts and big payments to the Treasury from government-backed mortgage companies helped the government take in US$117 billion more last month than it paid out, the US Treasury said on Thursday. Last month’s surplus was the largest on record for that month.