Rusal refuses to sell stake
United Co Rusal rejected OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel’s offer to buy a US$12.8 billion stake it holds in the Russian nickel mining company, saying it wouldn’t be in the best interests of its shareholders. The board “approved the committee’s recommendation to reject the proposal to sell the company’s 20 percent stake,” Rusal said in a statement. Billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who owns 47 percent of Rusal, has rejected three offers since October to sell out of Norilsk, the world’s largest nickel producer, even as Rusal investors Mikhail Prokhorov and Viktor Vekselberg push for a sale.
Bright Food promotes bid
China’s Bright Food Group (光明食品) has said a tie-up with France’s Yoplait would bring expansion opportunities in the massive Chinese market, as it promotes a bid for a stake in the French company. Switzerland’s Nestle and General Mills of the US are also among those interested in buying a 50 percent stake in Yoplait, which is owned by private equity firm PAI Partners, a person familiar with the situation said last month. Last year, the Chinese company failed in a bid for the sugar and biofuels unit of Australia’s CSR. It also reportedly abruptly ended acquisition discussions with US nutritional product retailer GNC and Britain’s United Biscuits.
Goldman CEO may testify
Goldman Sachs Group Inc chief executive Lloyd Blankfein has agreed to testify for the prosecution at Galleon Group LLC co-founder Raj Rajaratnam’s insider-trading trial set to begin next week, according to a person briefed on the matter. Blankfein, 56, may end up not testifying because prosecutors often line up potential witnesses before a trial who are not called to testify, the person said. Rajaratnam is accused of earning US$45 million in illicit profits from information leaked by corporate insiders, hedge fund traders and others. He denies wrongdoing and said his trades were based on Galleon research.
WPP posts strong results
A rebound in the US advertising market allowed WPP, the world’s largest ad group, to follow its peers and post strong full-year results yesterday and a solid outlook for this year. WPP, whose ad agencies include JWT and Ogilvy & Mather, posted fourth-quarter organic revenue growth of 8.5 percent and said the solid performance had continued into January, with revenue up more than 8 percent. The strong finish to the year helped WPP to post a full-year figure of 5.3 percent, with both the fourth quarter and full-year figures ahead of forecasts. This year, it expects the key industry metric of like-for-like growth of 5 percent and operating margins to rise 0.5 margin points to 13.7 percent.
Bombardier, ICBC seal deal
Canada’s Bombardier, the third-largest aircraft maker in the world behind Airbus and Boeing, says it has secured an US$8 billion financing deal from a Chinese leasing firm. Under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the two firms, ICBC Leasing will provide customers of Bombardier with advance payment financing, delivery financing and leasing solutions for some commercial and business jets. “This MOU provides mutual benefits to Bombardier and ICBC Leasing, since it addresses both parties’ objectives of providing optimized aircraft solutions to operators in China and elsewhere,” Bombardier Aerospace president Guy Hachey said in a statement on Thursday.
RECORD BUDGET: TSMC does plan to raise its proposed capital expenditure a lot, and could benefit if Intel outsources more of its production to foundries, analysts said Intel Corp’s earnings conference call on Thursday is expected to clarify the US semiconductor giant’s outsourcing production plans, which would be crucial regarding Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (TSMC, 台積電) performance, analysts said. “TSMC stands to benefit if Intel outsources more of its fabrication to foundries,” SinoPac Securities Investment Service Corp (永豐投顧) analysts said in a note on Friday. Yuanta Securities Investment Consulting Co (元大投顧) was more cautious, saying that Intel’s contribution initially would be limited, but its outsourcing plans would still highlight TSMC’s leadership in technology, it added. “Intel will continue to manufacture server or high-end central processing units [CPUs], which have higher
MediaTek Inc (聯發科) yesterday announced it would give incentive bonuses totaling NT$1.7 billion (US$59.7 million) to its employees and those at the firm’s major subsidiaries, after the smartphone chip supplier’s revenue hit US$10 billion last year. This is the biggest incentive bonus the Hsinchu-based handset chip designer has ever distributed in its 23-year history. About 17,000 full-time employees of MediaTek and five of its subsidiaries, including Richtek Technology Corp (立錡科技) and Airoha Technology Corp (絡達科技), would receive a “red envelope” of NT$100,000 each, the company said. “Surpassing US$10 billion is just the beginning. We will continue to [grow] on this basis,” MediaTek
TO SPUR REVENUE: The contract chipmaker expects its profit to grow 15 percent this year, outpacing the foundry industry’s projected advance of about 10 percent Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday raised its projected capital spending for this year by 62 percent, a new high, in an attempt to satisfy customer demand for advanced technologies in the production of central processing units, high-performance-computing (HPC) devices and 5G applications. After investing US$17.24 billion last year, TSMC this year plans to spend US$25 billion to US$28 billion on manufacturing equipment and new facilities, including a fab in the US. About 80 percent of the budget would be allocated for developing advanced technologies including 3, 5 and 7-nanometer technologies, the company said. The larger-than-expected capital spending prompted speculation
Norway’s oil and gas reserves have made it one of the world’s wealthiest countries, but its dreams for deep-sea discovery now center on something different. This time, Oslo is looking for a leading role in mining copper, zinc and other metals found on the seabed and in hot demand in green technologies. The country could license companies for deep-sea mining as early as 2023, the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy said, potentially placing it among the first countries to harvest seabed metals for electric vehicle batteries, wind turbines and solar farms. However, that could also place it on the front line of