China’s Q1 growth slows
China’s economic expansion slowed in the first three months of this year, according to an Agence France-Presse survey, and remains on track for its worst annual performance in almost 25 years, as reform priorities trump growth concerns. GDP in the January-to-March period expanded 7.3 percent from the same period last year, the median forecast in the agency’s survey of 13 economists said. The result would mark the fourth slowdown in the past six quarters. China’s National Bureau of Statistics is scheduled to release GDP data for the first quarter tomorrow.
Seoul targets Big Tobacco
South Korea’s state health insurer yesterday said it was seeking an initial 53.7 billion won (US$51.9 million) from three tobacco companies, including the local units of Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, to offset treatment costs for diseases linked to smoking. The National Health Insurance Service said it was suing the two global cigarette makers, as well as local market leader KT&G Corp, in a local court. Only four tobacco lawsuits have ever been heard in South Korea, all by individuals or families, and there is no precedent of a successful action against a tobacco company.
Peugeot to slash lineup
PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe’s second-largest carmaker, will cut its model lineup by almost half and turn the Citroen unit’s DS badge into a separate brand in a bid to restore the automotive division to profitability. Operating profit from carmaking is to amount to 2 percent of sales by 2018, with the figure rising to 5 percent in the period from 2019 to 2023, chief executive Carlos Tavares said yesterday in his strategic review of the Paris-based company. The company said its strategy hinges on “aggressively” reducing the number of models to 26 vehicles by 2022 from 45 now, as well as a push into markets outside Europe.
ThyssenKrupp in unit talks
German heavy industry giant ThyssenKrupp yesterday said it is in talks with Saab of Sweden over the sale of its Swedish shipyards business. The operations, formerly known as Kockums, employ a about 900 people and the aim of the talks was to safeguard those jobs and retain activities in Sweden, ThyssenKrupp said. The German group said in a statement that the talks were respecting the Swedish government’s preference for national naval shipbuilding programs. ThyssenKrupp said it was focusing on its profitable naval shipbuilding activities in Kiel, Hamburg, and Emden.
Kuwait inks upgrade deals
The Kuwait National Petroleum Co (KNPC) on Sunday signed contracts worth US$12 billion with three international consortia to upgrade two refineries and invited bids to build a new multibillion-dollar refinery. KNPC chief executive Mohammed al-Mutairi signed the contracts with the groups led by Britain’s Petrofac Corp, US Fluor Corp and Japan’s JGC Corp. Most of the other companies in the consortia are South Korean. Mutairi said the project is due to be completed in early 2018. The cost of the venture — called the Clean Fuel Project — is expected to surpass US$13 billion if smaller preparatory contracts are added, lower than the previous estimated cost of US$16.4 billion, project manager Abdullah al-Ajmi said.