NatWest to buy back shares
NatWest Group PLC has agreed to buy back ￡1.26 billion (US$1.6 billion) of its shares from the British government, as the Treasury continues to sell down its stake after a bailout during the financial crisis more than a decade ago. The off-market purchase of 469.2 million shares would be made at Friday last week’s closing price of 268.4 pence, a statement said yesterday. The deal would mean the Treasury’s voting rights in the lender would drop to about 38.6 percent from about 41.4 percent. The government would “keep other disposal options under active consideration, including by way of accelerated bookbuilds, when market conditions permit,” it said. “This transaction reduces government ownership below 40 percent and demonstrates positive progress on the bank’s strategic priorities and the path to privatisation,” NatWest chief executive officer Alison Rose said in a statement.
UK advance sales drop
The proportion of new homes sold in advance in London dropped to 44 percent last year, tumbling from a peak of 71 percent in 2016, a report by Hamptons International said. That is largely due to an exodus of investors from the capital’s presale market, as their attention turns to higher-yielding regions such as the northwest of England. “With house price growth in the capital lagging the rest of the country since 2016, it’s meant they’ve increasingly been looking further north,” Hamptons senior analyst David Fell said. “Higher interest rates are likely to exacerbate this shift, with these cheaper locations offering higher yields.”
Inflation progress ‘modest’
The US Federal Reserve is likely to make only modest progress in its fight against inflation for the rest of this year, despite keeping its benchmark interest rate at a 16-year high, a group of business economists said in a survey released yesterday. The National Association for Business Economics’ survey of 45 economists found that the median forecast is for inflation to average 4.2 percent this year, up from a 3.9 percent forecast in the group’s survey in February. The economists expect the Fed to keep its key rate at its current level of about 5.1 percent, its highest in 16 years.
Demand to strain supply
Oil demand is set to pick up in the second half of this year, with as much as 2 million more barrels per day (bpd) needed due to Asian growth, independent oil trader Vitol SA president Mike Muller said yesterday. “We are going into a second half of the year where, largely on account of Asian demand growth, the world will need around 2 million bpd more,” he told the Middle East Petroleum and Gas conference in Dubai. Demand would rise seasonally, resulting in stock draws and less excess supply, Muller said.
Christie’s eyes Asia
Auction house Christie’s has appointed Kevin Ching (程壽康) as its Asia chairman, as competition heats up in the industry. Ching was Sotheby’s Asia chief executive officer for 15 years before retiring in 2021. He starts with Christie’s tomorrow, ahead of the firm’s spring auction season. “We’d be looking to develop business and increase Asia buying not only in Asia, but also globally,” Ching said in an interview yesterday. Hong Kong is well placed to remain Asia’s art and culture headquarters, he said.
South Korea would avoid capitalizing on China’s ban on a US chipmaker, seeing the move by Beijing as an attempt to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington, a person familiar with the situation said. The South Korean government would not encourage its memorychip firms to grab market share in China lost by Micron Technology Inc, which has been barred for use in critical industries by Beijing on national security grounds, the person said. China is the biggest market for South Korea semiconductor firms Samsung Electronics Co and SK Hynix Inc and home to some of their factories. Their operations in China
STATE SUBSIDIES: The talks over a factory in Dresden have a top end on par with what Japan is offering TSMC and outdo a cap other firms are being offered in Europe Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, is in talks to receive German government subsidies for as much as 50 percent of the costs to build a new semiconductor fab in the country, people familiar with the matter said. The government is in ongoing negotiations with TSMC, as well as its partners on the project — Bosch Ltd, NXP Semiconductors NV and Infineon Technologies AG — the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. No final decisions have been made and the final subsidy amount could still change. Any state aid must also
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) senior vice president of business development Kevin Zhang (張曉強) told reporters yesterday that talks over a possible plant in Germany are continuing and that the earliest decision would be in August. “I don’t want to get into the politics side of the thing, but I do think that there is a need for us to provide our customers with a diverse supply,” Zhang said, adding that Europe is a “very significant geography given the customer base ... [and] the demand.” Zhang did not confirm the size of subsidy or cost of the potential project or
POWER FORWARD: The US company’s bullish revenue projection also lifted the shares of Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC and Japanese equipment supplier Advantest Nvidia Corp’s forecast for surging revenue surprised even the most bullish analysts on Wall Street, propelling the chipmaker to the cusp of a US$1 trillion market capitalization and igniting a global jump in stocks linked to artificial intelligence (AI). The Santa Clara, California-based company gained as much as 29 percent in extended US trading, on course for a record high, after saying it expects sales to reach about US$11 billion in the three months ending July. That gain puts Nvidia on track also to rack up the biggest one-day valuation jump in US company history. Nvidia, the biggest supplier of the advanced