Citigroup appoints new COO
The world's largest banking group, Citigroup, announced new management on Monday as it vies with competitor Bank of America, which is aggressively expanding its turf. Citigroup said in a statement that it had appointed Robert Druskin, 59, as its new chief operating officer. Druskin will report directly to Citigroup chief executive Chuck Prince. "One of his [Druskin's] first tasks is to undertake a comprehensive review of our expense base," Prince said.
Giants join forces
South Korean steel giant POSCO and Japanese rival Nippon Steel have agreed to jointly conduct purchasing operations for iron ore in the next contract year, officials said yesterday. The aim is to secure a stable supply as China's growing appetite for raw materials causes shortages and pushes up costs, POSCO spokeswoman Ko Min-jin said. The next contract year starts in April, she said. Nippon Steel and POSCO, the world's second and third largest steelmakers by output, forged a partnership based on a cross-shareholding arrangement in 2000. In October they agreed to increase stakes in each other's company by March next year.
Ministry approves sale
China's Ministry of Commerce has given a green light for a Goldman Sachs unit to buy China's biggest meat processor, Shuanghui Group (雙匯集團), the company said yesterday. Rotary Vortex Ltd, which is 51 percent owned by Goldman Sachs Group Inc, will buy Shuanghui and a stake in its publicly traded unit, Henan Shuanghui Investment and Development Co, for a total of ?2.57 billion (US$325 million), Shuanghui said in an announcement posted on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange's Web site. Rotary Vortex's plan to buy a 100 percent stake in Shuanghui was among several high profile foreign acquisitions that raised criticism about the growing influence of foreign businesses in key industries.
Japan to cut bond issuance
Japan will make its largest ever cut in bond issuance to trim budget spending for the fiscal year beginning in April, the government's top spokesman said yesterday, part of an effort to reduce the country's huge national debt. The government plans a deeper cut in new bond sales than the ?4.4 trillion (US$37.8 billion) reduction for the current fiscal year, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki told reporters. That would bring total bond issuance for the year to below ?25.5 trillion. Japan's combined outstanding central and local government debt is expected to stand at around 150 percent of GDP at the end of this fiscal year through March, the highest among major industrialized nations.
■ Mobile phones
Prada and LG team up
Italian luxury goods designer Prada has tied up with South Korea's LG Electronics in hopes of developing the ultimate mobile phone fashion accessory, officials said yesterday. LG said in a statement that distribution of the phone would start in early next year in Europe, followed by Asia. It will be available in South Korea in the second quarter of next year. The company said it would develop a unique, sophisticated and elegant phone, with an advanced-touch interface which eliminates the conventional keypad.