World Business Quick Take

Agencies

Sat, Dec 22, 2018 - Page 10

SOUTH KOREA

Trade data slow

Trade data for early this month add to evidence that the US-China trade dispute and softening economic growth are taking a toll on global demand. Growth in exports and imports slowed sharply during the first 20 days of the month, preliminary data showed, with shipments to China, the nation’s largest trading partner, falling 14 percent, a second straight monthly drop. Semiconductor exports — a main driver of the nation’s growth — fell 9.8 percent. Overall exports rose 1 percent, the slowest rate since a decline in June. Imports rose 2.2 percent, the lowest in two years. Seoul expects economic growth this year and next year to be the slowest since 2012.

GERMANY

Consumers remain wary

Consumers remain in the mood to shop heading into next year, but concerns about external risks to the economy are mounting, a survey showed yesterday. Market research firm GfK said its forward-looking barometer stood at 10.4 points for next month, unchanged from this month, when morale dipped slightly on the previous month. The survey of about 2,000 people showed a mixed picture, as respondents were more optimistic about their income expectations, but their outlook for the economy fell to a near two-year low, GfK said.

INSURANCE

FTLife deal discussed

Chow Tai Fook (Holding) Ltd (周大福控股), a Hong Kong conglomerate known for its chain of jewelry shops across China, is in exclusive talks to buy FTLife Insurance Co (富通保險), people familiar with the matter said. Chinese investment firm JD Capital Co (九鼎投資), the insurer’s owner, and Chow Tai Fook are aiming to reach an agreement as soon as next week, the people said. A deal could value FTLife at close to US$3 billion, the people said. JD Capital bought Ageas SA’s Hong Kong life insurance unit in 2015 for US$1.38 billion and later rebranded it FTLife.

TOBACCO

Altria eyes Juul stake

US tobacco giant Altria Group Inc, maker of major brands such as Marlboro and Chesterfield, announced on Thursday that it would buy a 35 percent stake in popular e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc for US$12.8 billion. Altria has taken a US$14.6 billion loan facility to finance the Juul deal and a US$1.8 billion acquisition of a 45 percent stake in Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group announced earlier this month. The tobacco giant, which had revenue of US$25.6 billion last year, plans US$500 million to US$600 million in annual cost savings through job cuts and other measures.

AVIATION

Probe prompts Airbus slump

Airbus SE shares tumbled following a report that the US Department of Justice has officially started an investigation into the European planemaker in parallel with British and French bribery probes. The stock fell 4.4 percent, the biggest drop in two-and-a-half years. Le Monde reported that Airbus was informed at the end of the summer about the move by US authorities. The newspaper added, without saying where it got the information, that the company could face fines of several billion US dollars from the probes. “Airbus is cooperating with the US authorities in close coordination” with investigators in the UK and France, the company said in a statement.