Citi wants to pay bonuses
Citigroup Inc, which has received US$45 billion in federal bailout funds and potentially could have to raise more capital based on “stress test” results, is requesting permission from the Treasury Department to pay out special bonuses to certain workers, the Wall Street Journal said late on Tuesday. Citigroup is seeking Treasury permission to pay retention bonuses to workers it says are demoralized amid the company’s restructuring and the sharp drop in the value of its stock, the paper reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The Treasury Department hasn’t made a decision on the request, the paper said. The amount of bonuses requested wasn’t disclosed.
Bayer profits fall 44 percent
German pharmaceutical and chemical company Bayer AG said yesterday that its first-quarter net profit fell 44 percent as the global economic crisis cut sharply into demand. The Leverkusen-based company said net profit for the January to March period was down to 425 million euros (US$561 million) from 762 million euros a year earlier. Sales for the company fell 7.5 percent, dropping to 7.9 billion euros from 8.5 billion euros.
Sun’s losses balloon
Sun Microsystems Inc’s loss ballooned in the latest quarter as restructuring charges and a 20 percent drop in sales compounded the financial woes that Oracle Corp is set to inherit by acquiring Sun for US$7.4 billion. Sun, a server and software maker whose wobbly performance for most of the last decade pushed it into Oracle’s clutches, said after the market closed on Tuesday that it lost US$201 million, or US$0.27 per share, in the three months ended March 29. A year ago, Sun lost US$34 million, or US$0.04 per share.
Surplus hits record high
South Korea achieved a record current account surplus of US$6.65 billion last month as imports fell more sharply than exports, the central bank said yesterday. The figure was the highest since January 1980 when records began and sharply up on a revised US$3.56 billion surplus in February, the Bank of Korea said in a report. South Korea’s current account, which measures trade, service and investment flows between the country and the rest of the world, had been in the black between October and December before it swung into deficit in January.
Confidence bounces back
European business and consumer confidence has bounced back this month for the first time in nearly two years. The European Commission says businesses and shoppers in both the 27-member EU and the 16 countries that use the euro are more optimistic for the first time since May 2007. Officials say yesterday’s report indicates “a clear improvement in sentiment in industry and among consumers.”
Recession likely hit bottom
Singapore’s worst-ever recession likely bottomed out in the first quarter, but the city-state faces a tepid recovery as global demand for its exports struggles to rebound, the central bank said yesterday. The country’s economy could shrink as much as 9 percent this year as a “deep and prolonged” global downturn batters sales abroad, which account for about 60 percent of GDP. The economy contracted 11.5 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier.