World Business Quick Take


Thu, Dec 18, 2014 - Page 15


Exports ease Japan deficit

Japan’s trade deficit last month shrank by nearly a third from a year ago, helped by higher exports and falling oil bills, although the volume of shipments to foreign markets remained weak, official data showed yesterday. The Japanese Ministry of Finance data showed trade deficit came in at ¥891.9 billion (US$7.6 billion) last month, down 31.5 percent from a year ago and below a median forecast of ¥996 billion in a survey by the Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun. The value of exports rose 4.9 percent, but imports fell 1.7 percent in their first downturn in three months, as the cost of crude oil and petroleum purchases plunged.


Apple halts sales in Russia

Apple Inc has halted online sales of its iPhones, iPads and other products in Russia amid financial turmoil triggered by the steep decline in the nation’s currency. The ruble plunged by as much as 20 percent on Tuesday, even after Russia’s central bank increased interest rates sharply in an attempt to shore up the currency. The ruble’s value has fallen by more than 60 percent since January. Apple on Tuesday said that the ruble’s instability has made it too difficult to set its prices in Russia, prompting the closure of its online store there.


Chrysler changes name

US automaker Chrysler on Tuesday unveiled its new name — FCA US LLC — said to reflect its subsidiary status to newly renamed Italian parent, Fiat Italy SpA. The company was known as the Chrysler Group. It was gradually acquired by Turin-based Fiat after emerging in June 2009 from a US government bankruptcy restructuring and bailout. Fiat renamed itself Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in October, when it switched its headquarters to the Netherlands and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. On Tuesday, FCA announced that it had changed its name to FCA Italy SpA, effective on Monday. It trades in New York under the ticker FCAU.


Dutch firm eyes Volcano

Amsterdam-based technology company Royal Philips NV says it is to pay US$1.2 billion for US medical equipment maker Volcano Corp, a deal that would beef up its presence in technologies that allow physicians to see inside patients’ hearts and veins. In an agreement backed by Volcano’s management, Philips is to offer US$1 billion for Volcano stock, or US$18 per share, reflecting a 57 percent premium over its NASDAQ closing price on Tuesday of US$11.49 in New York. Philips is also to assume US$200 million of debt. Philips, a major maker of medical imaging equipment, said the deal would allow it to sell its own products to Volcano’s customer base, and vice versa.


GE plans payouts, buybacks

US industrial conglomerate General Electric Co (GE) on Tuesday said that it plans to distribute US$40 billion to its shareholders next year and in 2016 in the form of dividends and share buybacks. The announcement, made at an investors’ conference, marks a relatively ambitious plan for shareholder returns, representing 16 percent of the company’s total capitalization of US$246 billion at the market close on Tuesday in New York. GE projected adjusted earnings per share this year in a range of US$1.70 to US$1.80.