Merrill Lynch sees last day
New York City investment bank Merrill Lynch has seen its last day. As of yesterday, the company became part of the North Carolina-based Bank of America Corp. At the closing bell on New Year’s Eve on the fifth floor of the World Financial Center in Manhattan, Merrill Lynch & Co’s employees held what’s known as a clapoff: Hundreds of them stood and applauded solemnly to pay tribute to their company. Merrill Lynch lost billions of dollars in the subprime mortgage crisis.
Ricoh, IBM team up
Ricoh Co and IBM Corp will tie up to sell products such as copiers and computer servers in the US, sharing their marketing networks, the Nikkei Shimbun reported. Marketing staff from both companies will conduct joint visits to clients in the US starting early this year, the newspaper report said, without citing a source. With the tie-up with IBM, Ricoh is aiming at boosting its sales by ¥100 billion during the next two to three years, the Nikkei report said. The two companies will also jointly develop software to be used for Ricoh’s copiers and printers, the report said.
Kookmin to offer new loans
Kookmin Bank, South Korea’s biggest, will provide 1.5 trillion won (US$1.2 billion) in new loans to small and medium-sized companies to ease cash shortages as the economy slows. The bank will lend 500 billion won to manufacturing clients with stable credit, Kookmin said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. A further 1 trillion won will go to small and medium-sized enterprises whose credit is more than 95 percent guaranteed by state-run loan guarantors. Starting tomorrow, Kookmin will also enable companies to get larger discounts on interest rates and will defer the repayment of principal on foreign-currency loans made to invest in facilities.
China may issue bonds
The Chinese government may issue bonds on behalf of local authorities next month to raise funds for projects to spur growth and increase employment, the China Business Journal reported, citing unnamed sources. The Ministry of Finance will make an official announcement at the central fiscal work conference on Jan. 5, the newspaper said. The State Council will determine each local government’s quota on Jan. 20 and the bonds are scheduled to be sold on Feb. 1, the report said. The bonds will be traded on China’s interbank and securities markets, the report said. The National People’s Congress will monitor how local governments spend the money raised in the debt offerings.
PM pessimistic on 2009
The economy cannot avoid being hit by the global economic recession and will face difficult prospects this year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) said in his New Year’s message on Wednesday night. The global economic recession, the most serious in 60 years, would be followed not by a quick rebound, but by several more years of slow growth, Lee said. He said he expected the first half of this year to be difficult for the country, with more companies downsizing, resulting in job losses. The country registered 1.5 percent economic growth, which was below the widely projected 2.5 percent growth, Channel News Asia reported yesterday.