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Showing posts from June 7, 2014

Spain's Metrovacesa agrees sale of Gecina stake

Spanish builder Metrovacesa said it agreed to sell its 27 percent stake in French peer Gecina to a group of investors as it unwinds a costly acquisition made during Spain's housing boom in an effort to pay down debt. _0"> The buyers - Norges Bank, Credit Agricole Assurances, U.S. fund Blackstone and Ivanhoe Cambridge - will pay 92 euros each for the 16.8 million shares, Metrovacesa said, implying a deal value of 1.55 billion euros ($2.11 billion). Gecina shares closed up more than 4 percent at 110.95 euros on Friday. Metrovacesa said the stake sale price represented a 10 percent discount to net asset value. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of September, Metrovacesa said in a statement late on Friday, provided "certain conditions" were fulfilled relating to the Spanish group's financial restructuring. Gecina welcomed the agreement, saying in a statement that it would "make it possible to continue putting in place a new sharehold

Gates Foundation sells stake in Britain's G4S - report

class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates has sold his entire stake in G4S Plc , the British security firm trying to bounce back from a series of scandals that have hurt its reputation and profits, Bloomberg News reported. _0"> The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust and Cascade Investment, an asset management firm owned by Bill Gates, had last June disclosed a stake in G4S, when its holding crossed the 3 percent threshold for the first time. A filing on May 28 showed the holding was reduced below 3 percent, and the news agency said a spokesman for the Gates family had confirmed it no longer held any interest. "Like other large foundations, the foundation trust evaluates its holdings regularly, both for performance and fit," spokesman John Pinette was quoted saying. "As a result of this, the foundation trust no longer holds an investment in G4S." G4S declined comment and the Gates Foundation could not immedia

UPDATE 1-Gates Foundation sells stake in Britain's G4S

class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates has sold his entire stake in G4S Plc , the British security firm trying to bounce back from a series of scandals that have hurt its reputation and profits. Cascade Investment, a firm owned by Bill Gates that manages assets exclusively for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, had last June disclosed a stake in G4S, when its holding crossed the 3 percent threshold for the first time. A filing on May 28 showed the holding was reduced below 3 percent, and a spokesman for the Gates Foundation told Reuters on Saturday it no longer held any interest in G4S. G4S declined comment. G4S, which runs services such as cash transportation and prison management in more than 125 countries, is in the middle of overhauling its sprawling class="mandelbrot_refrag"> business , shaking up management, cutting costs, improving customer service and restructuring weak divisions to help revive its fortunes

Kraft raises Maxwell House, Yuban retail coffee prices by 10 pct

Kraft Foods Group Inc said on Saturday it raised U.S. class="mandelbrot_refrag"> retail prices for its well-known Maxwell House and Yuban roast and ground coffee brands by an average of 10 percent due to rising green bean costs, effective June 6. _0"> The move follows J.M. Smucker Co's price increase of around 9 percent to Folgers and Dunkin' Donut roast and ground class="mandelbrot_refrag"> retail brands earlier in the week. These are the first official list price increases for both roasters since May 2011. ICE arabica coffee class="mandelbrot_refrag"> futures soared nearly 90 percent between January and April to the highest level in more than two years at $2.19 per lb, following a drought in top grower class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Brazil . Arabica futures prices have since dropped around 20 percent.   true       A Kraft spokeswoman said in an email that the company's instant coffees, single-serve pods

Huge Russia-China gas deal still leaves door open to Japan

For once, China looks to have done Japan a favour. In clinching a $400 billion deal last month to buy Russian gas, China may end up helping out its old political and economic rival in a way that matters hugely for Japan - energy security. The China-Russia agreement, the biggest gas deal ever, unlocks new gas supplies and could bring down gas prices across Asia, a development that would pay the biggest class="mandelbrot_refrag"> dividends for Japan, the world's top buyer of liquefied class="mandelbrot_refrag"> natural gas . Other big Asian gas buyers such as class="mandelbrot_refrag"> South Korea and Taiwan could also benefit. The deal, signed on May 21, cemented a dramatic shift in energy flows from the West to the East. Gas will be transported to China via a new pipeline linking Siberian gas fields from 2018, building up gradually to 38 billion cubic metres a year. China has massive gas needs, but access to more of the fuel is also

U.S. authorities extend deadline for Swiss banks in tax case

The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday extended for one month the deadline for so-called category two Swiss class="mandelbrot_refrag"> banks suspected of helping wealthy Americans evade taxes to turn over information by one month. _0"> More than 100 class="mandelbrot_refrag"> banks that have a reason to believe they may have committed tax offences, defined as category two banks, have signed up to the program. They are eligible for a non-prosecution agreement if they come clean and face fines. The banks now have until July 31 to turn over the necessary information. The Justice Department said it had extended the original June 30 deadline because some banks were having trouble verifying whether an account was undeclared or disclosed in a timely manner to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The Swiss government-brokered program requires the category two banks to hand over some previously hidden information and face penalties equivalent to up

GM top executives spared in internal report on safety failure

General Motors Co on Thursday issued a report detailing how for 11 years it turned a blind eye to an ignition-switch problem linked to at least 13 deaths but largely pinned the blame on what the report described as incompetent lower-level employees, leaving top brass untouched. The report, which will be the subject of upcoming congressional hearings, describes shortcomings of GM engineers, including a failure to understand "how the car was built." Meanwhile, according to the 325-page report, the highest levels of the company were not made aware. Providing a rare peek into the operations of one of the world's biggest automotive companies, the internal investigation said GM had a long-running corporate culture in which nobody took responsibility for problems. The "GM nod" was how CEO Mary Barra described that culture, "when everyone nods in agreement to a proposed plan of action, but then leaves the room and does nothing," the document said. In Feb

Asia offers muted applause for ECB, euro firm before U.S. jobs

class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Asian markets turned mixed on Friday as investors offered only polite applause for the European Central Bank's latest stimulus package, while the euro became an unlikely star following a sharp short-covering rally. Trading was hesitant as attention quickly shifted to the U.S. payrolls report due later on Friday where the outcome is considered even more uncertain than usual. While the median forecast is for a solid jobs gain of 218,000, estimates range from a little as 110,000 to as high as 325,000. ECONUS The ECB action provided enough of a boost to risk sentiment to generate a 0.3 percent lift in MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS. "From a broader perspective, the ECB's latest easing measures are important," said Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian economics research at HSBC. "They underline our call that global liquidity should remain highly accommodative for emerging mark

Economy needs to tighten up before rates can rise: Fed's Powell

Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell said on Friday that he wanted to see signs that the U.S. class="mandelbrot_refrag"> economy was tightening up before before interest rates could be raised. _0"> While acknowledging that employment in the United States had rebounded, Powell highlighted "significant" slack, referring to unemployed or underutilised workers. The Fed hopes to end its stimulus programme for the U.S. class="mandelbrot_refrag"> economy by the end of the year, clearing the way for it to eventually raise interest rates.   true       "I’m looking for some sign the economy is getting tight before we can start thinking about raising rates," Powell said at an event in London. Powell added there was a "significant amount of slack in the labour market" in the United States at present. In brief prepared remarks, Powell said the Fed's evolving statements about the future path for rates have played an imp

Strong Mercedes sales have yet to move it past Audi

Mercedes-Benz ( id="symbol_DAIGn.DE_0"> DAIGn.DE ) keeps delivering double-digit sales growth, but its overhauled line-up of luxury cars has yet to move it past German rival Audi ( id="symbol_VOWG_p.DE VOWG_p.DE ). _0"> Deliveries of Daimler's flagship passenger-car brand rose 10.4 percent in May to a record 134,031 vehicles, helped by 30 percent growth in class="mandelbrot_refrag"> China , the company said on Friday. _1"> That compared with 152,000 deliveries, or 10.8 percent growth, at Volkswagen's Audi which has outsold Mercedes every month this year. Having eclipsed Mercedes in 2011 as the world's No. 2 luxury carmaker behind BMW ( id="symbol_BMWG.DE_2"> BMWG.DE ), Audi sold 72,516 more cars than its Stuttgart-based rival in the first five months. Last year, the gap was 114,000. But launches in March of Mercedes's new C-Class saloon and the GLA offroader may pave the way for a second-half turnaround,

China to boost bank lending power, though IMF says no need

China aims to cut the proportion of cash that commercial banks must keep with the People's Bank of China, the banking regulator said on Friday, signalling further monetary loosening although the IMF and World Bank say the class="mandelbrot_refrag"> economy is doing fine. The China Banking Regulator Commission (CBRC) did not say when reductions in banks' reserve requirement ratios would be made, but it is the third time in as many months that Beijing has signalled a cut in RRRs, which would free up more cash for lending needed to shore up growth. The CBRC did, however, qualify its comments, saying RRR reductions would be available to those banks whose lending to small firms and the farm sector warranted the reward. It did not elaborate. The central bank also signalled on Friday that it would keep credit supply ample by letting China's main money market rate fall again this week. Aside from prospects for reductions in banks' RRR, two bankers told Reut

Canada's surprise light oil boom delights oil sands producers seeking diluent

Canada is enjoying an unexpected boom in production of ultra-light crude known as condensate, defying long-held predictions of dwindling supply. This surprising bounty from one corner of Alberta, better known as the home to Canada's vast tar-like oil sands reserves, is a boon for firms like Vermilion Energy Inc and Chevron who have built up positions in the Duvernay, now hotly tipped as one of North America's most exciting shale plays with vast reserves waiting to be tapped. It also is fuelling hope of cost relief for traditional heavy oil sands companies such as class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Cenovus Energy Inc , who in the past have paid premiums of up to $25 a barrel to buy imported condensate used to dilute their viscous oil sands production so that it can flow through pipelines. The change in outlook has been abrupt. A year ago, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers expected condensate production to shrink from 139,000 barrels per day to barely 100

Sears' Lampert met Ford's Mulally for turnaround advice

Sears Holdings Corp's controlling shareholder Eddie Lampert met with Ford Motor Co ( id="symbol_F.N_0"> F.N ) CEO Alan Mulally earlier this year to seek advice on how to turn around the ailing retailer, two sources familiar with the matter said. One of the sources said that Mulally, who is due to retire from Ford in July, was left with the impression that Lampert was gauging whether Mulally might be open to the possibility of becoming Sears' next CEO. The second source said Lampert, who is currently Sears' chairman and CEO, did not offer Mulally a job and there is no search process underway for a new CEO. Lampert, who is a billionaire hedge fund manager, flew to Dearborn, Michigan, where Ford is headquartered, in either February or March to meet Mulally, the sources said. In the meeting, Lampert asked Mulally about how he had turned around Ford and built an effective management structure at the No. 2 U.S. automaker, the sources said. Sears ( id="symb

Chrysler recalls 10,700 SUVs for cruise control defect

Chrysler Group LLC said it was recalling about 10,700 sport utility vehicles to fix a defect that leads to unintended acceleration in cruise-control mode. _0"> The vehicles being recalled are certain 2014 Dodge Durangos and Jeep Cherokees, Grand Cherokees and high-performance Grand Cherokee SRTs assembled between Jan. 16 and April 17. More than half of the recalled vehicles are with dealers or in transit to dealers, Chrysler, a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FIA.MI, said on its website on Thursday. ( ) About 6,100 vehicles are in the United States, 950 in Canada, 425 in class="mandelbrot_refrag"> Mexico and 3,200 outside the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) region, the company said. The company said it was unaware of any injuries, accidents or complaints related to the issue. Chrysler said it was found that when cruise control is engaged, and the driver overrides the system by pressing and then releasing the accelerator p

SEC charges Liquidnet, Wedbush with regulatory violations

U.S. securities regulators filed civil lawsuits on Friday against a "dark pool" trading venue and a major brokerage firm as part of a crackdown on market structure rule violations. In the first case, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged the New York-based dark pool operator Liquidnet with improperly using its subscribers' confidential trading information to market its services. The company is paying a $2 million penalty to settle the charges without admitting or denying them. In the second case, the SEC charged brokerage firm Wedbush Securities Inc and two individuals with a slew of violations, including failing to follow "market access" rules that require trading firms to have risk controls in place before giving their customers access to the market. The cases came just one day after SEC Chair Mary Jo White unveiled a sweeping series of proposed equity market reforms targeting high-speed traders, less transparent trading venues, traditional stock

Exclusive: As bank fines soar, U.S. threatened $16 billion BNP penalty

U.S. authorities negotiating with BNP Paribas over alleged sanctions violations at one point suggested that France's biggest bank pay a penalty as high as $16 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. While the sources said that number was only proposed as a negotiating tactic in response to an offer from BNP of about $1 billion, the dollar figures being thrown around demonstrate what bankers and their allies say is an alarming trend of ever-increasing record penalties. A $16 billion settlement would have pushed BNP's penalty above the biggest ever for a bank -- class="mandelbrot_refrag"> JPMorgan Chase & Co , which paid $13 billion last year to resolve a number of civil mortgage-related allegations. More recently, authorities have been discussing a settlement with BNP in the range of $10 billion, sources have said. U.S. authorities are probing whether BNP evaded U.S. sanctions relating primarily to Sudan between 2002 and 2009, and whether it

New UPS CEO plans expansion in emerging markets, services

The incoming head of class="mandelbrot_refrag"> United Parcel Service Inc UPS.N said on Friday the world's largest parcel delivery company will continue investing to build capacity in emerging class="mandelbrot_refrag"> markets and to expand its services, especially in healthcare, its fastest-growing segment after e-commerce. _0"> Chief Operating Officer David Abney, 58, named on Friday to succeed Chief Executive Scott Davis on Sept. 1, also said the company would make acquisitions to build its capabilities overseas, and didn't rule out large deals. Expansion in emerging class="mandelbrot_refrag"> markets is "our number one priority," Abney said in a telephone interview. Trade among emerging markets is growing rapidly and UPS expects that eventually 95 percent of consumers will be outside the United States. "We're going to continue to focus on making those (emerging market) investments," Abney sa

Big risks seen in Putin's idea to beef up Gazprom

President Vladimir Putin's idea of a massive boost to Gazprom's share capital has taken bankers and the energy industry by surprise, with some fearing it could further strain Russia's sanctions-hit class="mandelbrot_refrag"> economy and undermine the rouble. Putin floated the unexpected suggestion on Wednesday, hinting that a recapitalization of the state gas giant could be funded from Russia's gold and foreign currency reserves. Since then, sources have suggested the money could come from a 'rainy day' fund meant to cover the state pension deficit. On Friday he elaborated on the idea, saying the state could buy into a possible Gazprom share issue with the reserves, but adding that it was just one of several options.   true       The Kremlin has declined to give details of the plan, and analysts are questioning not only how it would be implemented, but whether Gazprom actually needs the extra funds at all. "The Gazprom story is rouble-n

U.S. consumer credit surges on increased credit card use

U.S. consumer credit surged in April as Americans ramped up their use of credit cards, a potentially positive sign for consumer spending. _0"> Total consumer credit increased by $26.85 billion to $3.18 trillion, the Federal Reserve said on Friday. That meant consumer debt was growing at a 10.2 percent annual rate, the fastest pace of growth since July 2011. Analysts polled by Reuters expected a more modest increase during the month of $15.5 billion. Revolving credit, which mostly measures credit-card use, jumped by $8.8 billion. Americans had not added that much revolving debt in any one month since November 2007. Non-revolving credit, which includes auto loans as well as student loans made by the government, rose $18.0 billion in April. (Reporting by Jason Lange ; Editing by Andrea Ricci )

Jobs report takes Dow, S&P to fresh record highs

U.S. stocks rose on Friday, with the Dow and the class="mandelbrot_refrag"> S&P 500 closing at records, after the May payrolls report provided the latest confirmation of improving economic conditions. The CBOE Volatility index, Wall Street's so-called fear gauge, ended down 8.1 percent at 10.73, its lowest level since February 2007. The VIX, which tends to rise when volatility increases or the market drops, has been on the decline for months and is well below its historical average of 20, which some see as a sign that investors are ignoring concerns that could derail the rally. The day's gains were broad and led by cyclical sectors, which outperform in times of economic expansion. Industrial shares jumped 1 percent while energy shares rose 0.8 percent. The only class="mandelbrot_refrag"> S&P 500 sector that fell was healthcare, a defensive group, down 0.1 percent. About 217,000 jobs were added in May, slightly fewer than expected, whi