World Business Quick Take

Agencies

Thu, May 16, 2019 - Page 10

GERMANY

Economy rebounds in Q1

The economy bounced back in the first quarter from a weak second half last year, official data showed yesterday, with GDP adding 0.4 percent. The country had only narrowly avoided a technical recession last year, federal statistics authority Destatis also confirmed, shrinking 0.2 percent in the third quarter and remaining flat in the fourth. Last year, GDP expansion slowed from the previous year’s 2.2 percent to 1.4 percent.

CHEMICALS

German firms feel squeeze

Weaker manufacturing output in Germany and worldwide weighed on German chemical firms in the first quarter, the VCI industry federation said yesterday. German chemical and pharmaceutical makers reported that production was down 6 percent year-on-year and revenues were down 3.8 percent, at 48.3 billion euros (US$54.2 billion), VCI said. Falling prices counteracted a quarter-on-quarter increase in production, it said.

TURKEY

Foreign-currency tax revived

The country is to reintroduce a tax of 0.1 percent on some foreign-currency transactions, imposing the charge on the seller after keeping the levy at zero for more than a decade, according to a presidential decision published in the Official Gazette yesterday. The fee would not apply to the interbank market and credit transactions. Exemptions also include sales to the Ministry of Treasury and Finance, as well as transactions between banks or authorized institutions, and sales by banks to a borrower related to repayment of foreign-currency loans.

RETAIL

Walmart mulls Asda IPO

Walmart Inc confirmed that it is considering an initial public offering (IPO) for its Asda unit after UK antitrust regulators blocked a planned merger with rival J Sainsbury PLC. “While we are not rushing into anything, I want you to know that we are seriously considering a path to an IPO,” Judith McKenna, the company’s international chief, told employees at an internal event in Leeds, England, on Tuesday. She said that any preparations for going public would “take years.”

BANKING

Banco cuts Spanish jobs

Banco Santander SA wants to slash about 3,700 jobs in Spain, or about 10 percent of its workforce in the country, a union representative said on Tuesday. The eurozone’s largest bank by market value, which employs about 32,000 people in Spain, also wants to close 1,150 branches, about one in four, a representative of the UGT union said. With further meetings between the two sides likely in the coming weeks, the final figure for job and branch cuts would be known at the end of June, the UGT representative said.

BANKING

Lenders eye Commerzbank

ING Groep NV and UniCredit SpA are lining up advisers to investigate a potential takeover of Commerzbank AG after the German lender’s talks with Deutsche Bank AG broke down last month, people familiar with the matter have said. The Dutch bank is working informally with boutique investment bank Perella Weinberg Partners, while the Italian lender is working with JPMorgan Chase & Co, the people said. UniCredit also has a long-standing relationship with Lazard Ltd and the firm’s financial advisory managing director, Joerg Asmussen, a former German deputy minister of finance, they said.