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Daimler escapes charges

Daimler escaped criminal charges in a longstanding US probe into the German automaker’s habitual bribing of foreign officials, in a deal presented to a judge on Wednesday. Daimler admitted to making hundreds of improper payments worth tens of millions of dollars to foreign officials in at least 22 countries between 1998 and 2008, according to a deferred prosecution agreement filed in a Washington court. Prosecutors recommended that the judge impose a US$93.6 million fine and accept the guilty plea of two Daimler subsidiaries. Daimler will also pay a US$91.4 million fine to settle an investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.


Moody’s maintains UK rating

Britain’s “AAA” sovereign credit rating and stable outlook remain solid following a budget that suggests the country’s efforts to rein in its high deficit will not flag following upcoming elections, credit rating agency Moody’s said. The content of British Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling’s final budget ahead of an election expected in May “suggests that the considerable fiscal challenge faced by the government has not changed materially,” Moody’s Sovereign Risk Group senior vice president Arnaud Mares said on Wednesday.


Economy grew 0.8% in Q4

The nation’s economy grew by 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter of last year in the strongest rise for two years, official figures showed yesterday. The 0.8 percent rise from the previous three months followed a revised increase of 0.3 percent in the September quarter and a 0.2 percent rise in June, which came after five straight quarters of decline. Compared with the same period in 2008, GDP grew 0.4 percent in the December quarter, while average annual GDP last year fell 1.6 percent from 2008, Statistics New Zealand said.


Sentiment stabilizes

German consumer sentiment has stabilized after a five-month slide, helped by government efforts to limit the damage from the global economic crisis on employment, the GfK research group said yesterday. GfK said its consumer confidence index was steady at 3.2 points for next month. GfK acknowledged consumer confidence might just be taking a breather from a downward trend that began with November’s reading, but said both economic and personal income expectations had improved among the roughly 2,000 people surveyed.


Central bank raises outlook

The central bank raised the country’s economic forecast for this year, pledging that its monetary policy would continue to support growth even as it begins to “normalize” interest rates amid an “uneven” global recovery. Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy may expand 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent this year after shrinking 1.7 percent last year, Bank Negara Malaysia said in its annual report on Wednesday. The government said in October that GDP would expand 2 percent to 3 percent this year.


Electrolux eyes Daewoo unit

Swedish giant Electrolux, the second-biggest producer of electrical appliances in the world, has made an offer to buy South Korea’s Daewoo Electronics, an Electrolux spokesman said on Wednesday. “I can confirm that we have made an indicative offer on the appliance part of Daewoo,” spokesman Anders Edholm said.

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