Fiscal deadline postponed
A federal control board is giving Puerto Rico’s government more time to figure out how to confront its financial crisis. Saturday’s action gives the territorial government a little more time to negotiate with creditors and stave off possible lawsuits. The deadline for presenting a fiscal plan moves to Feb. 28 instead of Jan. 15. And the moratorium on lawsuits now extends to May 31 instead of Feb. 15. The US Congress created the board last year to oversee efforts to overcome an estimated US$70 billion debt that has expanded during a decade-long recession. The board has said Puerto Rico should raise revenues and cut costs.
Abraaj plans US$8bn fund
Buyout firm Abraaj Group is planning to raise about US$5 billion to US$8 billion from investors this year, people familiar with the matter said, in what would be the emerging-market-focused investor’s largest fund. The Dubai-based firm, which invests across markets from Asia to Latin America, is planning to raise the money from a pool of regional and international investors by the end of this year, the people said. The plans are in early stages, they said. A spokeswoman of Abraaj, which manages about US$10 billion in assets, declined to comment.
Starbucks raises boss’ pay
Starbucks Corp boosted chief executive officer Howard Schultz’s compensation 8.6 percent to US$21.8 million for fiscal 2016, his last full year on the job, after the company posted record revenue and earnings. Schultz received a US$1.5 million salary and US$3.19 million cash incentive tied to adjusted net revenue and adjusted operating income for the year ended on Oct. 2, according to a proxy statement filed on Friday. He also got equity awards worth US$16.9 million. Schultz is set to step down as CEO in April to hand the reins to chief operating officer Kevin Johnson. He’ll remain executive chairman.
United eyes LA expansion
United Continental Holdings Inc is targeting a major expansion at Los Angeles International Airport in an effort to reverse a slide that has left the airline languishing behind its biggest rivals at the busiest West Coast hub, said people familiar with the plans. President Scott Kirby discussed his vision for Los Angeles at a meeting of the Air Line Pilots Association in Rosemont, Illinois, earlier this month. He said the company needs more space and is studying plans to claim most or all of a future terminal, according to the people. Kirby did not discuss a timetable, the people said.
Associated wants Weetabix
Associated British Foods PLC is considering a bid for Weetabix, the cereal brand controlled by China’s Bright Food Group Co (光明食品), people familiar with the matter said. ABF could seek to combine the brand with its UK cereals business, the people said. Baring Private Equity Asia Ltd bought a 40 percent stake in Weetabix in 2015 in a deal that valued the brand at about ￡1.3 billion (US$1.6 billion). Bright Food owns the remaining 60 percent. Italy’s Barilla Holding SpA may also consider a bid, one of the people said. US breakfast cereal giant Kellogg Co could make an offer as well, though they may face competition issues, another person said. No final decisions have been made, sources said.
TAIEX passes 9,000 points
The TAIEX closed above the 9,000-point mark at the end of the Year of the Monkey for the fourth time in a lunar year since 2000, according to the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE). On Tuesday last week, the last trading day of the Year of the Monkey, the index closed at 9,447.95 points, up 1,384.95, or 17.18 percent, from Feb. 3 last year, the last trading day of the Year of the Goat. Due to the strong showing in the Year of the Monkey, market capitalization of the local main board rose about NT$4.17 trillion (US$133 billion), or 17.57 percent, from a year earlier to NT$27.89 trillion. Trading on the local main board is scheduled to resume on Thursday, the sixth day of the Year of the Rooster.
Apple joins AI partnership
A technology industry alliance devoted to making sure smart machines do not turn against humanity said on Friday that Apple Inc has signed on and will have a seat on the board. Microsoft Corp, Amazon.com Inc, Google, Facebook Inc, IBM Corp and British AI firm DeepMind last year established the non-profit organization, called Partnership on AI, which will have its inaugural board meeting in San Francisco on Friday. Apple “has been involved and collaborating with the partnership since before it was first announced and is thrilled to formalize its membership,” the alliance said. Major technology firms joined forces in the group, with stated aims including cooperation on “best practices” for AI and using the technology “to benefit people and society.”
HK housing starts up 80%
Hong Kong’s construction of private residential units reached a 16-year high last year, a year that the city’s leaders stepped up efforts to cool the world’s costliest property market. Developers started building a total of 25,500 private apartments last year, up 80 percent from 2015, the Transport and Housing Bureau said in a release on Friday. That was the highest since 2000, when housing starts were at 30,100 units. About 94,000 units will become available to buyers in the next three to four years, according to the bureau.
American Q4 earnings drop
American Airlines Group Inc said on Friday it sees a strong market for ticket sales as it reported lower fourth-quarter earnings but a rise in a closely watched industry benchmark. Net income in the fourth quarter was US$289 million, down from US$3.3 billion in the year-ago period. The fourth quarter of 2015 was boosted by US$3 billion in tax allowances. Revenues were US$9.8 billion, up 1.7 percent from the year-ago period. Chief executive Doug Parker cited a 1.3 percent rise in the ratio of revenue per available seat mile during the quarter.
JPMorgan fattens bonus pool
It is a good time to be a rates trader on Wall Street. JPMorgan Chase & Co, the world’s biggest investment bank by revenue, last year boosted its bonus pool for traders dealing in government bonds, swaps and other assets tied to interest rates by about 20 percent, according to people with knowledge of the matter. At Morgan Stanley, the bonus pool for rates traders climbed more than 10 percent, and at Bank of America Corp the average bonus for those employees increased more than 10 percent, other people said. Rates traders outperformed most of their peers in fixed income.
From the customer’s perspective, car rental is a straightforward business. The only uncertainty is whether the hire company will charge you for the scratch they discover when you hand back the vehicle. Hertz Global Holdings Inc’s bankruptcy protection filing on Friday last week was a reminder that today even the simplest business models are underpinned by a lot more financial complexity than meets the eye. The proximate cause of Hertz’s demise was of course the sudden collapse in bookings caused by COVID-19 travel restrictions. The company’s monthly revenue last month fell 73 percent year-on-year, a shortfall that even the most resilient
Uber Technologies Inc, Lyft Inc and Airbnb Inc have slashed thousands of jobs. Salesforce.com Inc and Visa Inc are letting employees work remotely for months; Twitter Inc and Square Inc are allowing them to do so for good. For the companies’ hometown of San Francisco, the moves are early signs of a dire blow. In a city with a long history of booms, busts and natural calamities, the COVID-19 pandemic has suddenly upended nearly a decade of prosperity. While municipalities across the US are grappling with economic fallout from the virus, San Francisco stands to take a deeper hit given its high
BULK PURCHASE: The French chain and Hong Kong-based Dairy Farm International reached a deal covering 224 stores, which is expected to be finalized by year’s end Carrefour SA yesterday announced it would acquire Wellcome Taiwan Co (惠康百貨) for 97 million euros (US$108.33 million), and bring all the Wellcome supermarkets (頂好超市) and Jasons Market Place stores nationwide under its banner within 12 months of the deal closing. The France-based hypermarket chain reached an agreement with Hong Kong-based Dairy Farm International Holdings (牛奶國際控股), the pan-Asian retailer that launched Wellcome Taiwan in 1987. The transaction involves 199 Wellcome supermarkets, which have average sales areas of 420m2 and 25 high-end Jasons Market Place stores, which have an average sales area of 820m2, as well as a warehouse in Taoyuan, Carrefour Taiwan (家樂福)
‘ONE-STOP SHOP’: A Miaoli official said that the factory in the Jhunan section of the Hsinchu Science Park would create more than 1,000 jobs and boost prosperity A new high-end IC packaging and testing plant planned by contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) in Miaoli County is expected to start operations in the middle of next year, Miaoli County Commissioner Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) said. Hsu wrote on Facebook that TSMC, the world’s largest pure wafer foundry operator, would invest NT$303.2 billion (US$10.1 billion) to build the plant, the largest-ever single investment in Taiwan. However, TSMC declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal, while a company board meeting on May 12 approved a spending plan worth NT$168.2 billion as part of its investment plans. Construction of the