China's FDI up 26 percent
China's outward foreign direct investment rose 26 percent to US$6.9 billion last year, the Commerce Ministry reported yesterday, a much slower rate of increase than the year before. The government has been encouraging companies to pursue overseas acquisitions and other investments, part of a so-called "going out" policy aimed at countering the country's huge trade surplus and burgeoning foreign reserves. Chinese companies have been acquiring overseas oil and gas fields, manufacturers and other assets, but the pace of growth is already slowing. In 2004, foreign investment shot up 93 percent to US$5.5 billion.
Royal Philips' earnings drop
Royal Philips Electronics NV said yesterday its earnings fell to 332 million euros (US$401.2 million) in the fourth quarter, from 498 million euros a year earlier, mostly due to an impairment charge. Sales rose 6 percent to 9.52 billion euros at Europe's largest consumer electronics maker, on strength in its consumer electronics, medical equipment and semiconductor arms. But Philips took a 458 million euro charge on LG.Philips Displays, its money-losing joint venture making cathode ray tubes in South Korea. A year earlier Philips took an even larger charge of 576 million euros to write down the value of its MedQuist unit in the US. The company also said yesterday full-year earnings rose 1 percent to 2.87 billion euros from 2.84 billion euros a year earlier, led by growth in emerging markets.
Retail sales decline
Global music retail sales declined about 2 percent last year and the wholesale revenue received by record companies was little changed at about US$20 billion, the head of the music industry's trade group said. "We've undersold ourselves," John Kennedy, the trade group's chairman and chief executive, told journalists today at the Midem music conference in Cannes, France. "The retailers have been absorbing price changes. They're prepared to lower their margins." Retail sales of music were US$33.6 billion in 2004, down from US$39.7 billion in 2000, according to the federation. Kennedy didn't provide a numerical estimate of retail sales for last year, only the percentage change. Piracy and competing forms of entertainment such as video games have contributed to a decline over the last five years.
Singapore seeks investment
Singapore is aiming for manufacturing investments of up to S$8.5 billion (US$5.2 billion) this year as it seeks to attract more funds from China, India, Australia and the Middle East. The figure is in line with or slightly lower than last year's, said the Economic Development Board, the trade-promotion body. Companies engaged in nonfinancial services were expected to boost their Singapore operations at a faster pace with pledged total business spending likely to rise to up to S$2.7 billion this year, compared with S$2.4 billion last year. The S$8.5 billion in manufacturing investment commitments last year was higher than the S$8.3 billion the previous year, the board said. Investment commitments made last year were expected to contribute S$10.8 billion annually to the city-state's US$290-billion gross domestic product when fully implemented, according to the board.