India, S Korea ink pac
gned a free trade deal yesterday that a minister said had the potential to nearly double the more than US$15 billion in annual trade between Asia’s third and fourth-biggest economies in the next decade. The deal requires ratification by South Korea’s parliament, but can take effect without further steps by India, South Korea’s trade ministry said. The deal will eliminate tariffs on three quarters of India’s imports from South Korea by value, and more than 80 percent of South Korea’s imports from India.
‘Free fall’ over, ECB says
The world’s economic “free fall” is over but “uncertainty” still remains, European Central Bank (ECB) chief Jean-Claude Trichet told RTL radio yesterday. “We are still in a period of contraction of the economic activity,” Trichet said. “We are coming out of the period of free fall.” But he warned against being too optimistic. “The zone of uncertainty in which we have been since the crisis intensified in mid-September 2008 is not yet behind us,” he said.
DBS profits slump
Singapore’s DBS Group Holdings Ltd said yesterday that profit in the second quarter fell 15 percent from a year earlier as bad debt charges jumped amid a sluggish regional economic recovery. DBS, Southeast Asia’s biggest bank, reported earnings of S$552 million (US$384 million) for the three months ended June 30, down from a profit of S$652 million in the same period last year. The bank said it took allowances for loans and other losses of S$466 million for the second quarter, up from S$56 million a year ago.
Sanyo to invest in solar
Japan’s Sanyo Electric Co said yesterday that it would boost its solar panel production capacity by 30 percent within the next two years to meet surging demand fueled by government subsidies. Sanyo will invest about ¥4.2 billion (US$44 million) in a domestic plant in Shiga Prefecture to double the facility’s annual production capacity to 200,000 kilowatts, company spokeswoman Kumiko Makino said. In total, Sanyo’s solar panel production capacity will rise to 450,000 kilowatts, she said.
Allianz 2Q profit advances
German insurer Allianz SE said yesterday its second quarter net profit rose 21 percent as its life and health insurance business improved and said it was adjusting to the “new normal” of reduced returns. The Munich-based company said it made 1.9 billion euros (US$2.7 billion) in the April-June period, up from 1.5 billion euros in the second quarter of last year. Revenues for the quarter were slightly higher at 22.2 billion euros, compared with last year’s 21.5 billion euros.
Top official resigns
Societe Generale SA says that a top executive whose career was damaged by the French bank’s multibillion dollar trading scandal last year has resigned. Jean-Pierre Mustier is the former head of corporate and investment banking and one-time boss of disgraced trader Jerome Kerviel. Societe Generale SA said in a statement on Wednesday that Mustier and Robert Day, a board member, were told by the financial watchdog AMF that its sanctions committee was opening an insider trading inquiry.