InBev picks underwriters
Anheuser-Busch InBev NV has selected JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley for a possible initial public offering of its Asian operations in what could be one of the region’s biggest listings this year, people with knowledge of the matter said. The world’s largest brewer is weighing Hong Kong as a listing venue, though it has not made a final decision, the people said. The Belgium-based company is considering adding more arrangers to the deal later, one of the people said. An IPO of AB InBev’s Asia business could raise more than US$5 billion, people familiar with the matter said last month.
Budget shortfall looms
Germany faces a 25 billion euro (US$29 billion) budget shortfall by 2023, unless it tightens spending, as tax revenues are set to fall and public sector wages are on the rise, Bild newspaper reported, citing an internal government document. The prospect of budget deficits would represent a dramatic deterioration in the finances of Europe’s biggest economy, which reported a 11.2 billion euro budget surplus last year. The warning came in a report prepared by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz to his ministerial colleagues as they prepare for a regular budget planning discussion.
Foreign sales buoy China
China’s sprawling services sector maintained a solid pace of expansion last month even though growth moderated slightly, a private survey showed on Sunday. The Caixin/Markit services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell slightly to 53.6 last month from 53.9 in December last year, but was well above the 50 mark separating growth from contraction. Overseas sales continued to support the sector, with new export business rising at the fastest clip in more than a year, thanks to efforts among Chinese services firms to attract foreign clients. Overall new orders also ticked higher, to 52.6 from 52.3 in December.
Building approvals slump
Australian building approvals suffered the biggest annual back-to-back drop in almost a decade as a housing slump deepens. Building permits fell 22.5 percent in December last year from a year earlier after plunging 33.5 percent in November, Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed yesterday. That is the worst two-month result since January-February 2009, during the depths of the global financial crisis. A separate private report from Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd showed job advertisements slid 3.7 percent last month from a year earlier, the first annual decline since April 2015.
Irish farmers to get aid
The European Commission has agreed to compensate Irish farmers for a collapse in beef and dairy prices in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Irish edition of the Sunday Times newspaper said, quoting Irish government and EU sources. Farmers would be in line for hundreds of millions of euros in emergency aid to offset a market collapse and the loss of British customers, the newspaper reported. Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said last month Dublin would seek that amount for its farming and fishing industry. The details of the scheme were finalized between Creed and the commission’s agriculture chief Phil Hogan, the report said.
Tonga sabotage considered
A director at Tonga’s undersea Internet cable operator said he cannot rule out sabotage as the reason the cable broke and plunged the Pacific nation into virtual darkness for almost two weeks. Repair crews found two breaks along the optic fiber cable that connects Tonga with the rest of the world, Tonga Cable Ltd director Piveni Piukala said yesterday. Several kilometers away, they found two more breaks and rope entangled on the separate domestic cable that connects the main island with some of Tonga’s outer islands.
Gig workers get holiday pay
Self-employed workers at Hermes Parcelnet Ltd, a UK-based delivery company, have won the option to get holiday pay and guaranteed earnings, as part of a deal with the GMB trade union that could have implications for Britain’s growing gig economy. The collective bargaining agreement is the first to recognize the rights of self-employed workers, the union said. A group of Hermes couriers won a legal battle in June to be classed as workers rather than self-employed.
Inflation hits 20.4% on food
A run-up in food costs halted a broader deceleration in price growth after two months. Inflation picked up slightly last month to 20.4 percent from a year earlier after a gain of 20.3 percent in the previous month, Turkstat said yesterday. Food and non-alcoholic beverage costs surged an annual 31 percent, the most since at least 2004. Shortages caused by floods in farming hub Antalya are making matters worse after the depreciation of the lira in August raised the cost of food imports and transportation.
FAB may raise foreigner limit
First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC (FAB) will follow regional peers and raise the foreign-ownership limit on its stock. The UAE’s biggest lender aims to raise the cap for foreign ownership to 40 percent from 25 percent, it said last week. Shareholders still need to approve the change at a meeting on Feb. 25. Investors from abroad held about 12 percent of FAB shares as of the end of last month, according to the stock exchange’s Web site. Qatar National Bank last year raised the ceiling for foreigners to 49 percent from 25 percent, while Emirates NBD PJSC plans to quadruple the limit for foreigners to 20 percent.
Reliance to file for insolvency
Billionaire Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications Ltd said it will file for insolvency following failed attempts to sell assets and repay about US$6.3 billion of debt. The company agreed to approach the National Company Law Tribunal after failing to pay lenders for the past 18 months, the company said. It blamed its decision to approach the court on a lack of consensus among its more than 40 lenders, as well as numerous issues pending before various agencies.
Powell ‘coming around’
US Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari said Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is “coming around” to the view to wait until wages and inflation rise before raising interest rates again, and that the Fed’s latest pause will help keep a “fundamentally healthy” economy on track. “There are more people out there who want to work; let’s let the economy continue to strengthen and if we see signs then, wages pick up, inflation picks up, we can always tap the brakes,” Kashkari said on Sunday. “Let’s just not tap the brakes prematurely,” he said.
DEVELOPING TALENT: The electronics contractor is looking to recruit people to work in core tech fields and emerging industries like electric cars and robotics Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), the world’s largest contract electronics maker, has launched a recruitment drive, offering a monthly salary of no less than NT$45,000 (US$1,485) to university graduates. For those with a master’s degree, the starting pay would be NT$52,000 per month at the minimum, while doctorate degree holders would receive at least NT$60,000 a month, Hon Hai said a statement issued early this week. The latest recruitment drive is aimed at attracting talent in core technology fields — artificial intelligence, semiconductors and next-generation mobile communications — and emerging industries — electric vehicles, digital healthcare and robotics, the
NEW CONSIDERATIONS: An airline manager said the idea is tempting, as demand for air cargo is strong, but issues such as training loaders would need to be addressed Taiwanese airlines might repurpose passenger jets to carry cargo in their cabins to offset lost revenue amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Airlines are considering applying to the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) for permission to transport cargo in passenger cabins after StarLux Airlines Co (星宇航空) last month became the first among the nation’s airlines to offer cargo-only flights using the normal cargo holds of its three Airbus SE A321neo passenger jets. “We are considering whether to increase our capacity by putting cargo on passenger seats,” Starlux spokesman Nieh Kuo-wei (聶國維) told the Taipei Times by telephone. “The advantage is that we can improve revenue,
GLOBAL CUTS: CEO Warren East said the firm’s focus was on strengthening financial resilience, so it would likely reduce salary costs by at least 10% this year Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC is scrapping its targets and final dividend to shore up its finances as the British aero-engine maker’s customers around the world ground planes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rolls-Royce, one of Britain’s most historic industrial names, which before the pandemic struck was trying to emerge from a multiyear turnaround plan, has suspended its dividend for the first time since 1987. The company’s engines power Airbus SE and Boeing Co’s widebody jets, but more than 60 percent of that fleet is now grounded, according to aviation data provider Cirium. Rolls-Royce is paid by airlines based on how many hours they fly. Over
PAINFUL CONTRACTION: Passenger loads in February on flights between Taiwan and China, Hong Kong and Macau fell by more than 90 percent compared with December Even with more than NT$450 billion (US$14.85 billion) in financial aid from the Executive Yuan’s expanded relief package, local tourism-related businesses are unlikely to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic any time soon, a central bank report released last month said. The NT$1.05 trillion relief package includes NT$472 billion in financial assistance for tourism and transportation sectors, such as airlines, hotels, travel agencies, taxis and tour buses. However, a March 20 central bank report said that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on global and domestic economies are far greater than that of the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic, despite any benefits from delayed purchases