Swedes turn more upbeat
Swedish households grew more optimistic on housing prices as the country’s central bank has signaled it might start reducing borrowing costs in the first half of this year. SEB AB’s housing price indicator for this month rose 6 points to 25, with 45 percent of respondents now expecting prices to rise, compared with 20 percent who anticipate a decrease, according to a statement published yesterday. The February print was the highest since April 2022. The reading comes as the Swedish Riksbank has signaled that it might cut its benchmark rate if inflation rates continue a downward trajectory. That could buoy a market that has weakened again in recent months, following a stabilization through most of last year. In the survey, respondents said they expect the benchmark Riksbank rate to be 3.77 percent in a year’s time, unchanged from the prior month.
Tod’s tries to delist again
The founding family of Tod’s SpA is teaming up with buyout firm L Catterton in a new attempt to take the company private, with a bid that values the Italian luxury brand at about 1.4 billion euros (US$1.5 billion). L Catterton, which is backed by French fashion group LVMH, is to offer to purchase shares from some investors for 43 euros apiece, it said in a statement on Sunday. The suitors said taking the company private will allow faster decisionmaking and give it greater flexibility to pursue growth. The Della Valle brothers, who currently own a majority of Tod’s, aim to keep a 54 percent holding after selling a portion to L Catterton, according to Sunday’s statement. L Catterton plans to spend about 512 million euros to gain a 36 percent stake, while existing investor LVMH would retain 10 percent after the deal.
Strike at Pilbara on Friday
Train drivers at BHP Group Ltd’s Pilbara iron ore operations in Western Australia have voted to strike on Friday morning for 24 hours, potentially cutting supply to the producer’s Australian export hubs. Workers plan to carry out a stoppage under a campaign aimed at securing better working conditions and pay in an enterprise agreement, according to the Mining and Energy Union. There are approximately 150 rail employees on-shift at any one time. Workers who strike will not be paid for those hours. BHP is “currently reviewing a revised set of claims provided by union representatives,” a company spokesperson told Bloomberg. “We believe that agreement can be reached without the need for protected action. We have contingency plans in place if action goes ahead.”
Novo to invest US$7bn
Novo Holdings A/S, the controlling shareholder of Danish obesity drugmaker Novo Nordisk A/S, plans to invest up to US$7 billion annually by 2030, the Financial Times reported yesterday. Novo Holdings chief executive officer Kasim Kutay told the newspaper that income from its 28 percent stake in Novo Nordisk and other investments would give the fund US$5 billion a year to invest in the next five years. Novo Holdings has 77 percent of voting shares in Novo Nordisk, the maker of blockbuster obesity drug Wegovy and diabetes treatment Ozempic. The move comes soon after Novo Holdings, the investment arm of Novo’s controlling shareholder, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, last week said it would buy Catalent, a key manufacturing subcontractor, for US$16.5 billion.
Daihatsu back after scandal
Japanese car maker Daihatsu Motor Co yesterday resumed part of its domestic production, more than a month after suspending all factory operations over a safety testing scandal. The Toyota-owned firm’s factory in Kyoto resumed manufacturing of the Probox van and Mazda-branded Familia van, a Daihatsu spokesman told AFP. Daihatsu is to resume production of 10 other models on Feb. 26, after the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism confirmed they met safety regulations, it said last week. Daihatsu said in December last year it had been manipulating safety tests since at least 1989, affecting 64 models.
UK eyes Anglesey site
The UK government is holding early-stage talks to buy a site in Wales to build a nuclear power plant, a move aimed at reviving Britain’s aging nuclear infrastructure, the Financial Times reported. State-owned Great British Nuclear is said to be holding discussions with Hitachi Ltd to buy a site in Wylfa in Anglesey, an island off north Wales, the FT said. The UK government would then aim to find a new private investor to develop the site, it said. Hitachi walked away from plans to build a new nuclear reactor at the Welsh site in January 2019 after failing to secure a financial agreement with the British government.
GDP expected to stall
Germany’s economy probably failed to grow again at the start of the year, according to a Bloomberg poll. Having already expanded during only one quarter of last year, analysts surveyed from Feb. 2 to 8 said they now expect GDP to stall in the three months through next month. That compares with a prediction of 0.1 percent growth last month. That new projection is in line with the Bundesbank, which has said that even if the situation around household income is improving, output might “stagnate at best” in the first quarter. A third of respondents in the Bloomberg survey are even more pessimistic, forecasting a contraction, which would in turn mean that Germany is in recession.
Giant deal in the works
Diamondback Energy Inc and Endeavor Energy Resources are in final discussions toward a deal that would create an oil-and-gas giant worth more than US$50 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said. Closely held Endeavor would be valued at around US$25 billion in the stock-and-cash deal, which could be announced as soon as yesterday, the people said. Diamondback has a market capitalization of US$27.2 billion. The Wall Street Journal reported on the discussions earlier on Sunday.
Founder aims to buy Believe
Believe SA’s founder Denis Ladegaillerie has partnered with investment firms to offer to take the company private in a deal that valued the French record label at 1.46 billion euros (US$1.58 billion) and follows a 36 percent decline in its shares after a 2021 initial public offering. Ladegaillerie, who is also the company’s chief executive officer, TCV, the company’s largest shareholder, and private equity firm EQT are offering 15 euros a share for the Paris-based company’s outstanding stock, the consortium said in a statement yesterday. The group has agreements to buy about 72 percent of Believe’s shares and has obtained offers from investors holding another 3 percent at the offer price, it said in the statement.
Intel Corp has landed Microsoft Corp as a customer for its made-to-order chip business, marking a key win for an ambitious turnaround effort under chief executive officer Pat Gelsinger. Microsoft plans to use Intel’s 18A manufacturing technology to make a forthcoming chip that the software maker designed in-house, the two companies said at an event on Wednesday. They did not identify the product, but Microsoft recently announced plans for two homegrown chips — a computer processor and an artificial intelligence (AI) accelerator. Intel has been seeking to prove it can compete in the foundry market, where companies produce custom chips for clients. It
The arrival of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) in Japan’s Kumamoto Prefecture marks the regaining of the area’s pivotal position established during the Meiji Restoration in the 19th century, a local business leader said in an interview with CNA. The first fab of Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Inc (JASM), TSMC’s majority-owned manufacturing subsidiary in Kumamoto, is set to open today. After the 1868 Meiji Restoration, Kumamoto was of key importance as it was home to a major garrison national defense. However, that position was ceded to Fukuoka after World War II as Japan turned to foreign trade for post-war economic development,
AI EFFECT: Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang moved up to 21st on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index on Thursday after his wealth skyrocketed by US$9.6 billion to US$69.2 billion The artificial intelligence (AI) mania sparked by Nvidia Corp’s sterling results has given a lift to Asia’s major chipmakers, but it has not closed the valuation gap with their US peers. A Bloomberg gauge tracking Asia’s top semiconductor firms, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) and Samsung Electronics Co, widened its under-performance against the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index this week. While the Asian index trades at 17 times forward earnings, the US measure is at 27 times, pushing the gap close to a record after Nvidia’s blowout revenue outlook reinforced investor conviction in the boom in generative AI use. Nvidia’s 8 percent
The sound of gentle tapping filled a jewelry workshop in southern China as a craftsman hammered pine-leaf patterns onto a soft slab of gold in the style of old ink paintings. Elaborate traditional pieces created by master goldsmiths have always been popular in China, bought as gifts for special occasions such as the Lunar New Year or simply as investments. But jewelers are now having to consider a new and fast-growing consumer base — younger people, who are increasingly keen to buy gold, seeing it as a safe investment in uncertain economic times. Key to gold’s popularity is China’s lackluster post-COVID-19 recovery, which