World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

Sat, Mar 28, 2009 - Page 10

■ AVIATIO

Air France expects loss

Air France-KLM, Europe’s biggest airline, said on Thursday it expected a 200 million euro (US$270 million) operating loss for its financial year, which runs to the end of the month. It would be the first time the group has posted a loss since its creation by a merger of Air France and Dutch group KLM in 2003. “The evolution of the net result will depend on the valuation of hedging instruments based on market values at March 31, 2009,” the airline said in a statement. “Financial year 2009-10 will begin in a context of unprecedented difficulty, with little visibility on how the economy will evolve and on the volatility of factors such as currencies and the oil price,” chief executive Pierre-Henri Gourgeon said in the statement.

■ AUTOMOBILES

Geely buys Australian maker

Geely Automobile (吉利汽車), one of China’s largest independent carmakers, said it signed a deal yesterday in Australia to acquire auto parts manufacturer Drivetran Systems. Geely said in the statement that the deal would help expand its product line and improve its capability to develop and produce gearboxes — a key technology that Chinese automakers need to develop to be globally competitive. The company did not provide any financial details of the deal, only saying that it had the support of both the Australian and Chinese governments.

■ STOCKS

Barclays may pass test

Shares in Barclays PLC rose yesterday following a report that regulators believe the bank may not need to sign up for government insurance against losses on bad assets. The Financial Times, quoting unidentified sources, said the Financial Services Authority was close to completing stress tests on Barclays books. The newspaper said the regulator has indicated that Barclays did not need a further injection of capital. The deadline for signing up to the insurance program is next Tuesday.

■ UNITED KINGDOM

Economy slows sharply

Britain’s economy slowed even more sharply than expected in the last three months of last year as construction output plunged, official data showed on yesterday. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the economy shrank by 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter, the sharpest decline since 1980. Analysts had expected an unchanged reading of minus 1.5 percent. The annual rate of decline was revised down to 2 percent, the sharpest fall since 1991. The ONS said a huge downward revision to construction output was the main reason for the revision. Construction output fell by 4.9 percent in the quarter, the biggest quarterly fall since Q4 1980.

■ ENGINEERING

Siemens units’ profit rises

Siemens AG, Europe’s largest engineering company, said profit from at its main industry, energy and healthcare units rose at least 10 percent in the last three months. Siemens is sticking to its earnings forecast for the year after the energy business doubled its profit margin in the first quarter, chief financial officer Joe Kaeser said on Thursday at the company’s Munich headquarters. The company is cutting purchasing and personnel costs and will “significantly” increase the number of employees working shortened hours from about 7,000 now, Kaeser said. The company expects to take in orders at a faster pace than sales for the quarter and has seen some order delays but no cancelations, he said.