French bank makes profit
Societe Generale SA, France’s second-biggest bank, said it expected to report “slightly positive” net income in the second quarter, helped by its corporate and investment banking division. Net banking income will be hurt by a 1.3 billion euro (US$1.8 billion) writedown on credit default swaps used to hedge the bank’s loan portfolio and debt securities, the Paris-based lender said in a statement today. The bank’s Tier 1 capital ratio, a key indicator of financial health, should be close to the 9.2 percent it reported at the end of March, it said.
Societe Generale has raised 3.4 billion euros in state funds, half in subordinated debt and half through preferred shares, to offset writedowns and trading losses.
Citi announces new CEOs
Citigroup Inc named Stephen Bird and Shirish Apte as chief executive officers for the Asia-Pacific region, replacing Ajay Banga, who left last month to join MasterCard Inc. Bird, 42, and Apte, 56, will be jointly responsible for Citigroup’s business in the region, the New York-based bank said today in a statement released through Business Wire. Bird will be in charge of Northern Asia, while Apte will oversee operations in Southern Asia, the statement said. Citigroup also named Shengman Zhang (章晟曼) as its Asia-Pacific chairman. Bill Mills and Alberto Verme will become chief executive officers for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Bird joined Citigroup in 1998 and was most recently chief executive officer for North Asia including China, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan. Apte is moving to Asia after being chief executive officer for Central and Eastern Europe.
DoCoMo buys media firm
NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest mobile phone operator, said yesterday it spent US$45.5 million to take a 35 percent share in a US company that makes multimedia technology for its mobile phones. The cellular carrier made the investment in PacketVideo Corp, a San Diego-based company that makes a mutlimedia player that uses its handsets, the companies said in a press release. PacketVideo is a subsidiary of NextWave Wireless Inc. NTT DoCoMo said the purchase was made to strengthen its music and video services domestically. In Japan, where most phones come with digital TV tuners and software to play back audio and video files, operators have traditionally had strict control over the software and standards used in mobile phones on their networks.
State-owned deposits moved
The French government and state-owned Caisse de Depots plan to transfer stakes in companies valued at 14 billion euros (US$19.5 billion) to the government-created strategic fund, the finance ministry said in an e-mailed statement. The transfer will include the government’s 13.5 percent stake in France Telecom SA and 8 percent stake in Aeroports de Paris SA.
Fraud office to probe Rover
Britain’s Serious Fraud Office will probe the demise of historic car manufacturer MG Rover, which collapsed in 2005 with the loss of 6,000 jobs, media reports said on Sunday. The BBC reported on its Web site, without citing its source, that Business Secretary Peter Mandelson will announce the investigation before parliament on Monday.