UK Visa spending rises
Britons increased spending on Visa payment cards by 10 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, Visa Europe said yesterday. That was higher than the 8.4 percent annual increase in the previous three months, the company said, citing data compiled by Markit Economics Ltd in London. Shoppers spent about £82 billion (US$124 billion) on Visa cards in the period. Visa Europe’s UK Expenditure Index is based on payments with the 91 million Visa debit, credit and prepaid cards, which account for £1 in every £4 spent in Britain
Total to buy UTS stake
French energy giant Total SA said on Wednesday it would acquire a 20 percent share of a massive oil sands project in Alberta under a proposed takeover of UTS Energy Corp. The UTS board has agreed to sell the Canadian-based independent firm to a subsidiary of Total for C$1.5 billion (US$1.4 billion) in cash and shares in a new corporation. Total’s main purchase will be the portion of Fort Hills that’s owned by UTS. Suncor Energy owns 60 percent of Fort Hills but has indicated another project will be developed first. Total took a hostile run at UTS about a year and a half ago, ultimately walking away after its target repeatedly rejected its offer as too low. The cash portion of the deal is worth C$3.08 a share, which is 46 percent above the closing stock price on Tuesday.
Wal-Mart fights death fine
Wal-Mart Stores Inc is fighting a US$7,000 fine resulting from the stampede death of a temporary employee during a post-Thanksgiving sales blitz at a store on New York’s Long Island. Company spokesman Greg Rossiter said the retailer was being asked to take the blame for not obeying crowd control standards that weren’t on the books in 2008. That’s when a temporary worker at a Valley Stream, New York, store was crushed to death by a swarm of 2,000 bargain hunters who jammed into a vestibule. Wal-Mart did pay nearly US$2 million to avoid possible criminal prosecution over the worker’s death, but said it didn’t want the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to gain possible control over future sales promotions.
Carrefour not selling stores
French supermarket giant Carrefour has denied that its stores in Malaysia and Singapore would close following reports that it would shut down its Southeast Asian outlets. On Tuesday, produce industry Web site Fruit Net said the retailer planned to sell its interests in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand in a deal worth up to US$1 billion. “Carrefour Malaysia and Singapore denies any store closure in Malaysia and in Singapore, reminding that it is business as usual for every store,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
UK keeps rate unchanged
The Bank of England yesterday kept its bond-stimulus plan in place and left its benchmark interest rate at a record low to help prevent the economic recovery from stalling. The Monetary Policy Committee held the target for its asset-buying plan unchanged at £200 billion and its key interest rate at 0.5 percent. Officials are weighing the risk of inflation against the danger that government spending cuts to tackle the record budget gap will push the economy back into a recession. A split has emerged within the central bank, with Andrew Sentance voting for a rate hike last month, the first push for policy tightening in almost two years.
CAUTION: Taiwanese should be alert, even if they have just liked or shared posts that would breach Beijing’s national security legislation for Hong Kong, the council said Due to the newly implemented Hong Kong national security legislation, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has drawn up a list of what it described as “high-risk groups,” cautioning them not to travel to Hong Kong. People who support independence for Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang; those who are critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Hong Kong government and the “one country, two systems” concept; and those who donated to or voiced support for the Hong Kong anti-extradition bill movement are urged to refrain from visiting Hong Kong, the council said on its Web site. It released two posts on
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
NEW HONG KONG LAW: A visit to Beijing-friendly nations or those with weak judicial systems could leave people at risk of deportation to China, a former MAC official said Beijing could request countries with which it has extradition agreements to deport Taiwanese to China to face criminal charges following the implementation of national security legislation for Hong Kong, a former Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) official warned yesterday. Some developing countries, and those close to China because of the Belt and Road Initiative, are likely to accommodate Beijing’s requests to extradite Taiwanese to China, said former deputy MAC minister Chen Ming-chi (陳明祺), who served from July 2, 2018, until May 20, and then returned to his former post as an assistant professor of sociology at National Tsing Hua University. While Taiwanese
MORAL COURAGE: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the global community to face China’s intention to subdue Taiwan and reject such irrational requests The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday strongly condemned the Chinese government for meddling with US officials’ interactions with Taiwan after FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed China’s efforts to discourage US officials from visiting Taiwan. The greatest long-term threat to the US’ information security and intellectual property, as well as its economic vitality, is China’s counterintelligence and economic espionage operations, Wray told a video event at the Hudson Institute in Washington. Beijing is engaged in a highly sophisticated and maligning foreign influence campaign, with methods that include bribery, blackmail and covert deals, he said. Giving an example, Wray said that when a US official