Surplus to hit record: Ifo
The nation’s current account surplus is expected to have hit a new record of US$297 billion last year, overtaking that of China again to become the world’s largest, the Munich-based Ifo Institute for Economic Research said on Monday. That would be equivalent to 8.6 percent of total output, which means it would once again breach the European Commission’s recommended upper threshold of 6 percent. In 2015, the current account surplus stood at US$271 billion. The institute estimated China’s current account surplus last year totaled US$245 billion due to weaker exports. By contrast, the US is predicted to have the world’s largest capital imports, with a deficit of US$478 billion last year, the institute said. Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel on Thursday last week said that the country’s current account surplus is likely to shrink this year, because a slowdown in global trade is dampening export growth while strong domestic demand is pushing up imports.
Sony to take write-down
Sony Corp on Monday said that it would take a ￥112 billion (US$983.3 million) write-down in its movie business after reviewing the future profitability of operations. The company said it would book the charge in the fiscal third quarter and is examining how the charge will affect its forecasts. Sony said it would sell shares in the medical Web service M3 Inc to Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s Japan unit to offset part of the loss. The announcement came two weeks after the firm said that Sony Entertainment Inc CEO Michael Lynton would step down after a 13-year run. Sony warned in June last year that the division was at a risk of posting more losses. “The decline in the DVD and Blu-ray market was faster than we anticipated,” Sony spokesman Takashi Iida said by telephone.
Economy continues to grow
The economy last year grew 3.2 percent, according to preliminary figures released by the National Institute of Statistics on Monday, consolidating three consecutive years of strong growth and in line with the government’s expectations. Final figures are expected to be published early next month. The conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has put economic growth and boosting jobs at the center of its policies. It has pledged to recover the losses of the brutal financial meltdown and return this year to pre-crisis GDP levels. The institute said that GDP grew by 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, the same as in the period from July to September, but slightly down from the first half of the year, when the economy grew 0.8 percent each quarter.
Misys ready to go public
Misys Group Ltd is keen for the company to return to the public market, after the London-based provider of banking software was taken private in 2012 by Vista Equity Partners in a US$1.3 billion deal, CEO Nadeem Syed said in an interview on Monday. Syed declined to comment on potential timing. He said the company is targeting a host of new products, such as machine learning and peer-to-peer lending, a step away from the somewhat dry world of banking software for treasury and capital markets transactions. Misys is also branching out into machine learning, with a new offering, targeted for release in the next few months, aiming to help detect anomalies in trading patterns that will trigger alerts, he said.
THSRC hits rider record
Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) yesterday reported that it carried 252,250 passengers on Monday, the third day of the Lunar New Year, its highest-ever number of riders in a single day. The number broke the record of 250,423 passengers on June 12 last year, the last day of the four-day Dragon Boat Festival holiday, according to the company. THSRC said it carried 1.27 million passengers from Wednesday last week through Monday.
Aramex mulls UK downsize
Aramex PJSC, the Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based courier and logistics company, is considering minimizing its operations in the UK and serving Europe through the Netherlands or France if Brexit agreements do not favor free-trade flows, Aramex CEO Hussein Hachem said. “It depends on what kind of agreement the UK government would be able to reach with the EU,” Hachem said on Monday in an interview in Dubai. Aramex has about 200 employees in the UK. The company expects to make “a series of acquisitions” in e-commerce in Latin America next year in response to customer demand, Hachem said.
Shell to sell Thai gas field
Royal Dutch Shell PLC is to sell its stake in an offshore Thai gas field to a unit of Kuwait Petroleum Corp for US$900 million as the international energy giant continues hawking assets for cash in the midst of a years-long energy slump. Shell reached an agreement to sell two subsidiaries that own a combined 22.2 percent interest in the Bongkot field and adjoining offshore acreage to a subsidiary of Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Co, the unit known as Kufpec, Shell said in a statement yesterday. To win shareholder support for that deal, Shell has promised cost savings of US$2.5 billion, asset disposals of at least US$30 billion within four years and a share buyback of US$25 billion from this year through 2020. The field’s other owners are Total SA, with a 33.3 percent stake, and PTT Exploration & Production PCL, which has 44.4 percent share and operates the field.
India to grow 6.75% to 7.5%
India’s economy is expected to grow by between 6.75 and 7.5 percent in the coming fiscal year, the Indian Ministry of Finance said yesterday in its pre-budget Economic Survey. Asia’s third-largest economy should steady after a hit from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s November last year decision to scrap most cash in circulation in a strike against “black money.” “Economic growth is expected to return to normal as new currency notes in required quantities come back into circulation,” the ministry of finance said.
Lukoil eyes Iran oil fields
Lukoil PJSC is seeking opportunities for growth in the Middle East as Iran opens more of its oil fields to international partners, the Russian energy company’s regional head said. The Moscow-based company plans to add output from the region to existing operations in Iraq and Egypt, as long as it finds projects with production costs as low as those in Russia, Lukoil head of upstream for the Middle East Gati al-Jebouri told reporters in Dubai on Monday. Lukoil is in talks with state-run National Iranian Oil Co about the Ab Teymour and Mansouri oil fields in western Iran, al-Jebouri said.
From India to China to the US, automakers cannot make vehicles — not that no one wants any, but because a more than US$450 billion industry for semiconductors got blindsided. How did both sides end up here? Over the past two weeks, automakers across the world have bemoaned the shortage of chips. Germany’s Audi, owned by Volkswagen AG, would delay making some of its high-end vehicles because of what chief executive officer Markus Duesmann called a “massive” shortfall in an interview with the Financial Times. The firm has furloughed more than 10,000 workers and reined in production. That is a further blow
Answering to a reported request by Germany to help address a chip shortage in its auto industry, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday said that it was in talks with domestic chip suppliers. Foreign media over the weekend reported that German Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier had sent a request to Taipei to ask Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) to cooperate more closely with German automakers to provide microchips and sensors, to bridge a shortage that has emerged over the past few months. The MOEA said that it had not yet received the request and could therefore not elaborate
FOCUS ON FOUNDRIES: An analyst said that some investors would be disappointed because they were expecting a larger announcement of a partnership with TSMC Intel Corp’s incoming chief executive officer Pat Gelsinger on Thursday pledged to regain the company’s lead in chip manufacturing, countering growing calls from some investors to shed that part of its business. “I am confident that the majority of our 2023 products will be manufactured internally,” Gelsinger said. “At the same time, given the breadth of our portfolio, it’s likely that we will expand our use of external foundries for certain technologies and products.” He plans to provide more details after officially taking over the CEO role on Feb. 15, but Gelsinger was clear that Intel is sticking with its once mighty
AWARENESS NEEDED: The central bank urged lenders to know their customers before undertaking business for them and to seek funding in conventional ways The central bank yesterday said that it would take action against four foreign lenders for their involvement in helping companies trade in the deliverable forward market in contravention of foreign-exchange regulations. Some grain merchants newly based in Taiwan have since July 2019 been practicing questionable currency-trading activity, with the help of branches and subsidiaries of six foreign banks, the monetary policymaker told an unscheduled news conference. Affiliated firms as of July last year completed currency-related deals they referred to as trading that totaled US$11 billion, which was not in sync with their real business needs, the central bank said after wrapping up