Morgan Stanley cutting jobs
Morgan Stanley said on Wednesday it would cut 1,000 jobs as the second-largest US investment bank trims its residential mortgage operations amid the continued deterioration of the mortgage markets. The firm said it would shutter its UK business that issues home loans and significantly scale back its mortgage business in the US. "Given the continued dislocation in the mortgage markets, we have restructured our residential mortgage business to ensure we are appropriately positioned for the environment going forward," Anthony Meola, chief operating officer of the US residential business, said in a statement.
Prosecutors raid Samsung
Special prosecutors raided Samsung Electronics Co, a company official said yesterday, as part of a widening investigation into a slush fund scandal at the conglomerate. Two officials from a special investigation team came to the headquarters of Samsung Electronics in Suwon, 45km south of Seoul, said James Chung, a spokesman for Samsung Electronics. He did not elaborate. The probe started last month after Kim Yong-chul, a former top legal affairs official at Samsung, alleged that the company created a 200 billion won (US$211 million) slush fund to bribe government officials, judges and prosecutors and purchase works of art.
Prices up on low US stock
World oil prices were higher in Asian trade yesterday after US crude inventories climbed at a slower-than-expected pace last week, dealers said. A dispute that resulted in Venezuela cutting oil supplies to US energy giant ExxonMobil continued to spook the market, they said. In early afternoon trade, New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery next month was up US$0.09 to US$93.36 a barrel after closing up US$0.49 at US$93.27 during floor trading on Wednesday at the New York Mercantile Exchange. The US Department of Energy said on Wednesday that crude stockpiles rose 1.1 million barrels to 301.1 million in the week ended Feb. 8, smaller than the gain of 2.38 million barrels forecast by analysts.
■ real estate
California home sales fall
Home sales in a six-county region of southern California plunged last month to the slowest pace for any month in more than 20 years, the latest sign would-be buyers remain reluctant to enter a housing market still mired in a steep slump and hobbled by mortgage lending constraints. A total of 9,983 homes were sold in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties last month, a drop of nearly 50 percent from the same month last year and nearly 25 percent from December, DataQuick Information Systems said on Wednesday. Median home prices fell in all the counties, driving down the region's median price to US$415,000 -- the lowest since January 2005, it said.
SocGen acquires Rosbank
French bank Societe Generale (SocGen) said on Wednesday it had finalized its acquisition of a majority stake in the Russian retail bank Rosbank. SocGen -- reeling from a massive trading scandal it said cost it nearly 5 billion euros (US$7 billion) -- said in a statement it now holds 50 percent plus one share in Rosbank. The acquisition makes SocGen one of Russia's leading banks, the statement said.
The Czech Republic’s Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution that supports a possible visit by the senate president to Taiwan. The resolution, initiated by Czech Senator Pavel Fischer, was passed with 50 votes in favor, one against and one abstention. The resolution blasts Beijing for having its Prague embassy send a letter to former Czech Senate president Jaroslav Kubera earlier this year threatening repercussions for Czech businesses if he visited Taiwan. The resolution shows the Senate’s support for a visit to Taiwan by Senate President Milos Vystrcil, accompanied by Czech business representatives, as the visit would be in the diplomatic long-term interests
The government and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday both spoke out against plans by the Chinese government to enact a national security law in Hong Kong. Chinese officials yesterday confirmed that the National People’s Congress would review a bill “on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security.” The Presidential Office said that the announcement was evidence that the “one country, two systems” framework fundamentally clashes with democratic freedoms. The de-escalation of tensions between Hong Kong and Beijing relies on the Chinese government’s willingness to respond to Hong Kongers’ demands,
STRONGER DEFENSES: The announcement could be considered tacit US support for the nation’s indigenous arms manufacturing program, Joseph Wu told lawmakers Just hours after President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) inauguration on Wednesday, the US Department of State’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced in Washington the possible sale of 18 MK-48 Heavy Weight Torpedoes to Taiwan. Reacting to the announcement, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday told a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee that the ministry applauded the US move, which would help to uphold the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). The TRA states that the US should “provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character … to maintain the capacity of the US to resist any resort
NPP WARNING: The NPP’s chairman said that a security law proposed by Beijing means it has renounced its promise to maintain ‘one country, two systems’ in HK The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) yesterday proposed changing the law to provide protection for those seeking political asylum. China at the opening of the National People’s Congress in Beijing on Thursday introduced a draft security law for Hong Kong to ban treason, subversion and sedition, with a review expected next week. TPP caucus whip Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿) said that the party is concerned about democracy advocates in Hong Kong and has taken action to support them. The party has proposed an amendment to Article 18 of the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (香港澳門關係條例), which stipulates that the government can offer