Macarthur mulls offer
Australian miner Macarthur Coal Ltd said yesterday it would hold talks with Peabody Energy after two major shareholders said the US firm’s latest takeover offer of US$3.8 billion was worth considering. Macarthur, a major producer of pulverized coal used by steelmakers, said it was not making a recommendation to shareholders on Peabody’s increased bid of A$16 a share — an improvement over previous offers of A$13 and A$14 per share — for a total of A$4.1 billion (US$3.8 billion). However, one of its major shareholders, the world’s biggest steelmaker ArcelorMittal SA, said Peabody’s latest offer warranted “due consideration,” while another shareholder, South Korean steel producer POSCO, offered “in-principle support” for the bid.
UK issues pricing fines
Two tobacco manufacturers and nine retailers have been fined a total of £225 million (US$348 million) for “unlawful practices” in the pricing of tobacco products, the Office of Fair Trading said yesterday. The fine is the largest-ever total imposed by the office, and relates to the pricing of cigarettes, cigars and rolling tobacco. Imperial Tobacco Group and Gallaher Group were slapped with fines of £112.3 million and £50.4 million respectively.
Nestle challenges taxes
The chairman of food and drinks giant Nestle SA said on Thursday that Switzerland was no longer the most attractive country for business taxes. “Today there are other more attractive locations with regard to tax, even within Europe,” Peter Brabeck-Letmathe said in a speech to shareholders of Nestle, which is Switzerland’s biggest publicly owned company. A Nestle spokesman said Brabeck-Letmathe wasn’t referring to “any specific list” of countries with more favorable tax conditions.
Videogame sales rebound
US videogame sales last month broke a losing streak blamed in part on tough economic times, new figures released on Thursday by NPD Group showed. Revenue tallied US$1.52 billion, 6 percent higher than the US$1.44 billion posted in the same month a year earlier, NPD said. Nintendo dominated the videogame hardware category, selling 557,500 of its Wii consoles and a record-setting 700,800 DS handheld playing devices.
Carrefour sales rise
French retail giant Carrefour SA reported on Thursday its first quarterly sales increase in 18 months, with revenue up 5.5 percent in the first quarter despite a “challenging” market environment. The world’s second-largest retailer behind Wal-Mart Stores Inc said revenues rose to 23.96 billion euros (US$32.52 billion) in the first quarter of this year, up from 22.7 billion euros a year earlier. Carrefour also announced a share buyback program of up to 6 percent of its capital.
China Eastern to join team
China Eastern Airlines (中國東方航空) said yesterday it would sign a preliminary agreement to join global airline alliance SkyTeam. The companies were to sign a memorandum of understanding late yesterday, said Luo Zhuping (羅祝平), a spokesman for the nation’s third-largest carrier. China’s top carrier, China Southern Airlines (南方航空), is a member of SkyTeam, while the nation’s No. 2, Air China (中國國際航空), belongs to the Star Alliance.