Samsung to invest $380 mn in new plant in US

28 Jun

Samsung plans to invest $380 million and hire nearly 1,000 workers for a new manufacturing plant for home appliances in South Carolina, the company announced Wednesday.

Samsung Electronics America described the plant as a “state of the art” facility and alluded in a news release to incentives granted by the state government as a factor in the decision.

The factory starting next year will build premium home products, including washing machines, and will be staffed with craftsmen, engineers and operators, the company said.

“For nearly 40 years, Samsung has steadily expanded our operations in the United States,” said Tim Baxter, chief executive of Samsung Electronics America.

“With this investment, Samsung is reaffirming its commitment to expanding its US operations and deepening our connection to the American consumers, engineers and innovators who are driving global trends in consumer electronics.”

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who has led President Donald Trump’s “America First” manufacturing and trade strategy, applauded the announcement and appeared at a signing ceremony with South Carolina officials.

The commerce department of the southern US state said it approved job development credits for the project by the South Korean technology giant.

The project also will receive $2.75 million in incentives from Santee Cooper, an electric utility owned by the state, the Post & Courier newspaper reported.

The South Carolina facility, located in between the city of Greenville and capital city Columbia, will take over manufacturing now being done in Mexico, the Post & Courier reported.

UK supermarket Tesco axes another 1,200 jobs

28 Jun

Supermarket giant Tesco on Wednesday announced plans to cut about one quarter, or 1,200, of its head office positions as part of a cost-cutting drive at Britain’s biggest retailer.”Today we have shared with colleagues across Tesco changes that we plan …

Brexit to blow 20 bn euro hole in EU budget: commissioner

28 Jun

Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union could leave the remaining 27 countries with a 20-billion-euro hole in their budget to fill, a commissioner said Wednesday.EU Budget Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, of Germany, called on the bloc to improve …

Japan-EU trade negotiations at crucial moment: Japan FM

28 Jun

Japan and the European Union are at a crucial moment in their attempt to sign a free trade deal, Japan’s foreign minister said Wednesday, with tariffs on European cheese a key sticking point.The comments from Fumio Kishida come after four years of talk…

Rotterdam container terminal goes manual amid cyberattack

28 Jun

One of Europe’s largest container terminals was Wednesday forced to return to using manual operations to thwart a wave of cyberattacks targeting global computer systems.”We are open and working. We have two terminals, so instead of normal computerised …

China’s Alibaba boosts stake in SE Asia online sales

28 Jun

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said Wednesday it would inject another $1 billion into Southeast Asia’s Lazada, as the cashed-up company increases its stake in the region’s nascent online shopping market.The investment will raise Alibaba’s holding in …

Eurozone households borrow more in May

28 Jun

Growth in borrowing by households in the eurozone hit an eight-year high in May, European Central Bank data showed Wednesday, as policymakers talked up new confidence in the single currency area.Loans to households grew 2.6 percent last month, the ECB …

Philips buys US cardiac-implant firm for 1.9 bln euros

28 Jun

Dutch electronics giant Philips Wednesday announced it was buying for 1.9 billion euros ($2.2 billion) a specialist US company manufacturing ground-breaking treatments for heart and vascular diseases to broaden its health portfolio.The Amsterdam-based …

ChemChina completes $43 bn takeover of Syngenta

28 Jun

ChemChina has completed its $43 billion takeover of Swiss pesticide and seed giant Syngenta, the companies said, in the biggest overseas acquisition so far by a Chinese firm. The deal combines Syngenta, a global leader in seeds and crop protection, wit…

S.Korean cars recalled in China as row hits sales

28 Jun

Chinese authorities have announced the recall of more than 44,000 South Korean-branded vehicles over “potential safety risks”, in another setback for the South’s automakers already hit by a diplomatic dispute.Authorities on June 23 announced a recall o…

Asian markets hit by fears over Trump economic agenda

28 Jun

Asian markets turned negative on Wednesday as Republicans’ struggle to push through controversial health care legislation fuels concerns about the chances of Donald Trump passing his much-vaunted economic agenda.Global markets soared in the months afte…

Toshiba says deal to sell memory chip business delayed

28 Jun

Toshiba said Wednesday it has not yet reached a deal to sell its prized chip business to a consortium of US, Japanese and South Korean investors, as the troubled conglomerate holds a shareholder meeting.The sale, reportedly worth some 2.0 trillion yen …

NAFTA foes, supporters debate renegotiation

27 Jun

With talks to begin in August to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, dozens of industry, agriculture, labor and economic officials offered their views to the Trump administration on Tuesday. The US Trade Representative opened three day…

Big investor payouts seen at US banking giants

27 Jun

As they await this week’s stress test results, US banks face a dilemma their European counterparts can only dream of: what to do with a pile of excess cash?

The answer is expected to become clearer on Wednesday after US markets close, when the Federal Reserve weighs in on plans by large US banks to pay out dividends and buy back stock in the final part of the two-phase stress tests.

Large US banks are widely expected to get the green light on their plans after the Fed last week said all 34 banks it examined could withstand a severe recession.

If the Fed approves the banks’ plans, payouts are expected to be especially rich at the largest American institutions, including Citigroup and Morgan Stanley, which analysts estimate could return all of their profits to shareholders.

“Banks will make significant increases in their payouts this year,” predicted Richard Bove, an analyst at Rafferty Capital.

But he said the stream of dividends and buybacks have a downside: If companies are returning money to shareholders, it means they are not investing in their businesses.

“These guys don’t know how to use it,” he said. “They have excess funds sitting in the banks that are doing nothing.”

– ‘Red flag’ –

The Fed released the first half of the bank stress tests last week, which revealed American banks hold $357 billion in excess capital, said Morgan Stanley analyst Betsy Grasek.

She predicted bank payouts would be the loftiest since the 2008 financial crisis.

According to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices, the financial sector doled out $29.5 billion to shareholders in the first quarter, more than the $27.5 billion paid by technology companies.

Gregori Volokhine, president of Meeschaert Financial Services said the financial condition of American banks has become “very clean” in the wake of tougher regulations imposed after the crisis.

Yet some question the message behind the bank’s paying out large dividends rather than putting the funds to work in the core business at a time when new fintech technologies are becoming more viable.

“This should be a red flag,” said Neil Barofsky, partner at Jenner & Block, a former inspector general of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, which was enacted at the height of the 2008 crisis.

The payouts are generally welcomed by shareholders, who analysts say are being shortsighted.

“The message seems to be ‘You the banks are in good shape, now give us your money,’ instead of, ‘Now that the banks are doing better, let’s lend more to stimulate the economy,'” Volokhine said.

Analyst Bove said it would be better to see the banks put money into fintech to enable them to compete with companies like PayPal, Square or Apple Pay. Another option could be acquisitions, although the regulatory appetite for US deals is unclear.

“But you don’t throw away money and that’s what they are about to do,” he said.

Pandora CEO out in shake-up at internet radio pioneer

27 Jun

Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren on Tuesday stepped down as chief executive and from the board of directors, as the internet radio pioneer strives to win more listeners in the face of competition from Apple and Spotify.Chief financial officer Naveen C…

Britain forms Brexit business group

27 Jun

The British government on Tuesday said it was forming an advisory group, reportedly made up of the country’s main business lobby organisations, as it negotiates its exit from the European Union.Business Secretary Greg Clark said “the government is crea…

S. Africa’s neighbours ban poultry imports over bird flu

27 Jun

Four of South Africa’s neighbours have banned poultry imports from the rainbow nation following a serious outbreak of a highly contagious strain of avian influenza.Namibia on Tuesday became the latest country to ban South African chickens — live and u…

Ryanair says ready to make Alitalia bid if shake-up comes

27 Jun

Budget airline Ryanair is ready to make a bid for a majority stake in Italy’s Alitalia if administrators of the troubled carrier undertake four key reform steps, its CEO said Tuesday.”If significant changes are implemented we are interested in making a…

Bank of England tightens capital requirements as debt surges

27 Jun

The Bank of England on Tuesday said retail lenders need combined capital reserves of £11.4 billion ($14.5 billion, 12.9 billion euros) by the end of next year as UK household indebtedness surges.

As expected, banks are from Tuesday increasing the UK countercyclical capital buffer rate from zero percent to 0.5 percent, or by £5.7 billion, the BoE’s Financial Policy Committee watchdog said in a bi-annual report.

It added that the FPC expects to increase the rate to 1.0 percent in November, with binding effect a year later.

“The increase to 0.5 percent will raise regulatory buffers of common equity Tier 1 capital by £5.7 billion,” the report said.

“This will provide a buffer of capital that can be released quickly in the event of an adverse shock occurring that threatens to tighten lending conditions.”

The BoE noted that consumer credit for items such as cars jumped by 10.3 percent in the year to April — “markedly faster than nominal household income growth”.

In a press conference following the report’s release, BoE governor Mark Carney warned lenders against “forgetting the lessons of the past”.

However, he insisted also that Britain’s banking sector was strong, and “significantly” more resilient since the financial crisis of almost a decade ago.

At the same time Tuesday, the BoE’s report expressed concern about the mortgage market and called on banks to tighten affordability tests for home loans.

“Consumer credit has increased rapidly,” the report said.

“Lending conditions in the mortgage market are becoming easier. Lenders may be placing undue weight on the recent performance of loans in benign conditions,” it added.

While British economic growth has held up well since the vote for Brexit a year ago, recent official data showing soaring UK inflation is putting pressure on the BoE to raise its main interest rate from a record-low 0.25 percent — a move that would put further pressure on consumers’ affordability.

British inflation surged in May close to a four-year high at 2.9 percent, as a Brexit-fuelled slump in the pound pushed up import costs.

Transatlantic tussles: EU cases against US firms

27 Jun

The EU’s decision to impose the biggest anti-trust fine in its history on Silicon Valley giant Google is the latest in a string of competition cases against US firms.Here are the main European Union competition investigations targeting the US that Wash…

ECB sees ‘newfound confidence’ in EU, but urges prudence

27 Jun

The European Union is experiencing a newfound confidence that could unlock demand and investment, ECB president Mario Draghi said Tuesday, while insisting on “prudence” in any monetary adjustments.Speaking at a central bank forum in the Portuguese reso…

China to meet growth targets, says Li

27 Jun

China can meet its economic growth targets this year, Premier Li Keqiang told an international gathering Tuesday, batting away concerns about risks in the country’s financial sector.There are fears the world’s second-largest economy will lose momentum …

L’Oreal finalizes sale of The Body Shop

27 Jun

French beauty products giant L’Oreal said Tuesday it has a signed a contract to sell The Body Shop, which it has owned for over a decade, to Brazil’s Natura Cosmeticos for one billion euros ($1.1 billion).L’Oreal said in a statement that it signed the …

Anti-euro voices have faded over past year: ECB chief

27 Jun

Anti-euro sentiment has faded over the past year since the British referendum to quit the European Union, according to European Central Bank president Mario Draghi. Speaking late Monday at an annual forum organised by the ECB in Sintra, just outside th…

Samsung to sell off refurbished Galaxy Note 7s: reports

27 Jun

The world’s biggest smartphone maker Samsung will next week start reselling refurbished Galaxy Note 7 devices after a humiliating recall over exploding batteries last year, news reports said Tuesday.Samsung Electronics declined to comment on the report…

Sprint exploring Charter-Comcast collaboration: report

27 Jun

US telecommunications firm Sprint is exploring a possible alliance with cable companies Comcast and Charter Communications that could boost their wireless plans, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

An agreement for exclusive talks between the companies in the coming weeks has put merger talks between Sprint and T-Mobile on pause, according to the report, which cited people with knowledge of the discussions.

Under the potential arrangements, Charter and Comcast could get advantageous terms for using Sprint’s wireless network.

A source close to the matter told AFP it was a matter of negotiating a “network use agreement.”

Merger talks between T-Mobile and Sprint, a subsidiary of Japan-based SoftBank, were expected to pick up after the brief break.

Sprint and Charter declined to comment on the report.

In April, Comcast announced it had made an initial foray in the wireless market with an Xfinity Mobile service aimed at customers using its home internet service.

With lifestyles shifting increasingly to accessing the internet from mobile devices, Comcast and Charter would be working to stay in tune with users and taking on telecommunication titans such as AT&T in the process.

Streaming television, films or other video online from Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime or other services has also grown increasingly popular, as consumers shun traditional packages sold by cable companies.

Comcast and Charter formed an alliance recently to offer wireless service by partnering with Verizon Communications.

‘Transformers 5’ tops box office, opens at franchise low

27 Jun

“Transformers: The Last Knight” smashed its way to the top of the North American box office, data showed Monday, but it was comfortably the weakest opening the franchise has seen.The fifth installment of the blockbuster series took in $44.7 million in …

US imposes second round of tariffs on Canadian lumber

27 Jun

The United States slapped a new anti-dumping tax on Canadian softwood lumber, the latest escalation in a trade dispute that began with an initial set of duties on exports from America’s northern neighbor.The US Commerce Department announced preliminary…

China agrees to fight corporate hacking in Canada

27 Jun

China has pledged not to carry out state-sponsored cyberattacks against the intellectual property of Canadian firms, the two sides said Monday.The agreement was reached as part of ongoing bilateral security and trade talks.Western governments have accu…

Russian media group settles with oil giant Rosneft

26 Jun

Russian media group RBK on Monday said it has reached a legal settlement with Rosneft and its influential chief Igor Sechin, apologising for publishing “damaging” information about the oil giant, a move which ends a lengthy court case.Rosneft had sued …

Waymo teams with Avis to keep self-driving cars going

26 Jun

US car rental giant Avis Budget on Monday announced it will team up with Waymo on the self-driving cars being tested on Arizona roads.The rental company said it would provide support and maintenance for Waymo, a subsidiary of Google-parent Alphabet, to…

Arconic shares fall on scrutiny after Grenfell Tower fire

26 Jun

Shares of US aluminum company Arconic tumbled Monday after it announced it would no longer sell cladding for high-rise buildings following the deadly Grenfell Tower fire in London this month.Arconic, which was spun off from Alcoa last year, dropped 6.0…

Cyprus signs deal for Europe’s largest casino: minister

26 Jun

Cyprus signed a deal Monday with Macau’s Melco International and America’s Hard Rock for the construction and operation of the biggest casino of its kind in Europe, a minister said.The casino resort — estimated to cost 600 million euros ($672 million)…

Dutch bank bonus caps scaring off Brexit business: bosses

26 Jun

Tough rules capping annual bonuses for banking bosses may cost The Netherlands 17,000 jobs and a billion euros in lost revenues after Brexit, a Dutch employers organisation warned Monday.Now the VNO-NCW is calling for the Dutch parliament to reverse a …

EU to slap Google with record fine this week: sources

26 Jun

The EU’s powerful anti-trust regulator will slap Google with a record fine as early as Tuesday in another European blow against a US tech giant, sources said.Led by hard-charging European Commission competition chief Margrethe Vestager, the EU will imp…

Nestle and L’Oreal shares boom after Third Point move

26 Jun

Nestle and L’Oreal shares rose on Monday after US hedge fund Third Point bought a one percent stake in the Swiss food giant and immediately urged it to sell its large holding in L’Oreal.Third Point has a reputation for aggressively pushing for change a…

EDF reviewing Hinkley Point costs and calendar

26 Jun

EDF is carrying out a “full review” of the costs and schedule of Britain’s controversial Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, the French energy giant said Monday, after a press report of major budget overruns.

The project to build Britain’s first new nuclear plant in a generation, awarded to a French-Chinese consortium, has been dogged by controversies, with Britain’s National Audit Office (NAO) warning on Friday that the government had committed to a “risky and expensive” deal.

EDF said Monday that “a full review of the costs and schedule of the Hinkley Point C project is in progress”, as had already been indicated in the company’s annual financial report.

The company said the review would be finished “soon” and results would be published when it was completed.

France’s Le Monde newspaper on Saturday said the “first conclusions” of the review pointed to building costs overrunning the £18 billion ($23 billion, 21 billion euros) budget by one to three billion euros.

The NAO, which audits British public spending, said on Friday that the price guaranteed to EDF under the deal could add an extra £30 billion to energy bills of UK customers.

Critics of the project — which is expected to provide seven percent of the country’s power needs — have focused on an electricity price guarantee to EDF of £92.5 for every megawatt hour of power produced by Hinkley for the next 35 years, rising with inflation, despite falling energy prices.

Environmentalists are also strongly opposed, urging the government to instead focus on renewable sources like wind and solar power to meet Britain’s future energy needs.

German business sentiment ‘jubilant’: Ifo

26 Jun

German business confidence soared to a “jubilant” new high in June, having already reached a quarter-century peak the previous month, a survey said Monday.The closely watched Ifo business confidence index set a new record of 115.1 points, defying expec…

Russian billionaire buys Holland & Barrett

26 Jun

Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman has bought British health food retailer Holland & Barrett for £1.8 billion ($2.3 billion, 2.0 billion euros), his investment fund said on Monday.

L1 Retail, which is a division of Fridman’s holding company LetterOne, said it has purchased Holland & Barrett from parent company Nature’s Bounty — which is owned by US private equity firm Carlyle.

“Holland & Barrett is a clear market leader in the UK health and wellness retail market, with attractive growth positions in other European and international markets,” said LetterOne managing partner Stephan DuCharme in a statement.

Holland & Barrett is Europe’s largest health food chain with more than 1,150 outlets and a workforce of some 4,200 people.

The group was founded in 1870 and is headquartered in Nuneaton in central England. Its annual revenues last year exceeded £610 million.

Australia’s Crown Resorts staff face trial in China

26 Jun

A Chinese court opened a trial on Monday for 19 current and former employees of Australia’s Crown Resorts company who were charged with promoting gambling, including three Australians and a Malaysian.The accused arrived at the Baoshan District Court in…

China’s hydropower frenzy drowns sacred mountains

26 Jun

Towering walls of concrete entomb lush forests on mountainsides in southwest China as workers toil on the dry riverbed below to build the country’s latest mega-dam.The colossal construction site in Sichuan province swallows three rivers, providing anot…

Bermuda banks on lasting America’s Cup benefits

26 Jun

Bermuda, with $77 million invested in the 35th America’s Cup, is hoping the buzz of yachting’s most prestigious event continues to ripple through its turquoise waters long after the regatta concludes.It was a massive outlay for a country of 65,000 peop…