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.
Polytronics Technology Corp (聚鼎科技) yesterday announced that it is buying Henkel AG’s thermal clad dielectric material (TCLAD) business division for US$26 million as the Taiwanese firm aims to improve its technology, product portfolio and revenue performance. Polytronics, headquartered in the Hsinchu Science Park (新竹科學園區), is a supplier of protection components and heat dissipation materials. The firm entered the metallic heat-dissipation substrate market in 2007 and developed a unique solventless production process. Its board of directors approved signing an agreement with Henkel to acquire the German chemical firm’s TCLAD division in the US. The purchase includes all assets and business interests, including equipment,
SIZE MATTERS: Medium-sized hotels that do not have the support of parent groups are more vulnerable and are forced to take action, a REPro Knight Frank researcher said About 50 hotels across Taiwan are seeking to exit the market as they succumb to the bleak business outlook amid international travel restrictions imposed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Yomi Hotel (優美飯店) on Minsheng E Road, Sec 1, in Taipei is seeking to transfer ownership with an asking price of NT$950 million (US$32.15 million) and a pledge for a lease contract that guarantees a 3 percent return. The budget hotel, with room rates that start from NT$1,400 per night, maintains normal operations, but has been struggling since March, when the government placed restrictions on inbound and outbound travel. Occupancy rates for hotels in
With the US dollar expected to weaken in the next 12 months due to near-zero interest rates, investors should consider purchasing US corporate bonds, Standard Chartered Bank Taiwan Ltd (渣打台灣銀行) said on Thursday. The bank said that the US Federal Reserve since last month has been buying bonds issued by US companies to curb default rates. The US dollar is forecast to be weaker against the pound, the euro and the yen, as well as the Canadian dollar, the Swedish krona and the Swiss franc, as the greenback lacks high investment returns after the Fed in March slashed the benchmark interest rate
‘SENSITIVE MARKETS’: The previously unannounced project would involve the company handing over control of data to a third party to sidestep privacy concerns Google has abandoned plans to offer a major new cloud service in China and other politically sensitive countries due in part to concerns over geopolitical tensions and the COVID-19 pandemic, two employees familiar with the matter said, revealing the challenges for US tech giants to secure business in those markets. In May, the search giant shut down the initiative, known as “Isolated Region” and which sought to address nations’ desires to control data within their borders, the employees said. The action was considered a “massive strategy shift,” said one of the employees, who added that Isolated Region had involved hundreds of employees