Greek unions go on strike
Public and many private services have shut down across Greece as unions held a 24-hour general strike to protest further austerity cuts in the recession-plagued country. Yesterday’s strike disrupted public transport, halted ferry and train services, shut down state-run schools and left state hospitals and the ambulance service functioning with emergency staff. Dozens of flights were canceled or rescheduled as air traffic controllers were to walk off the job for three hours from noon in support of the labor action. The strike comes during tough negotiations between the government and debt inspectors from the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission over what measures are needed to plug a budget gap next year.
Microsoft to self-reinvent
Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer on Tuesday said the computer giant had to reinvent itself to avoid being “old and tired” as his company struggles to keep up in the mobile devices sector. “We’re finding ourselves having to start up again,” Ballmer said at a conference in Rome where he announced Italy had become the first country in which Microsoft phones were outselling iPhones. “Unless you’re constantly inventing something new, you’re old and tired. Today we’re having to remake ourselves,” Ballmer told his audience. Referring to the success of Microsoft against rival Apple’s iPhone in Italy, he quipped: “I don’t know how long it’s going to last.”
HK firm ventures into SA
Hong Kong property firm Shanghai Zendai (上海證大) took its first venture into the African market on Tuesday with a multimillion-dollar deal to develop a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa’s commercial hub. Shanghai Zendai purchased a 1,600 hectare parcel of land in the eastern Johannesburg suburb of Modderfontein for US$104 million and plans to redevelop it over the next 15 years into a commercial, residential and light industry hub. The firm said it selected the plot due to its strategic location between the city’s airport and Sandton City financial district, known as the richest square mile in Africa.
Condom debut surged 30%
Karex Berhad, the world’s top condom producer, surged more than 30 percent in its trading debut yesterday on Malaysia’s stock exchange, following a 125 million ringgit (US$39.2 million) initial public offering to bolster its market share. Karex shares jumped to 2.45 ringgit, up 32 percent from its IPO price of 1.85 ringgit. Karex, which has two manufacturing plants in Malaysia and one in Thailand, said it would use the IPO proceeds to double its current production capacity to 6 billion pieces a year by the end of 2015. It hopes this will help raise its global market share from 10 percent now to 20 percent by 2016.
US firms shrug off shutdown
Activity at US service firms accelerated last month behind a jump in sales and more hiring, suggesting businesses largely shrugged off the partial government shutdown. The Institute for Supply Management said on Tuesday that its service-sector index rose to 55.4 last month, up from 54.4 in September. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion. The expansion at service firms echoes an ISM survey of manufacturers released last week, which showed the fastest growth at factories in two years. Combined, the two reports suggest the private sector is showing steady growth and was not greatly affected by the shutdown.