Home > Uncategorized > Business This Week from Economist: Highlights of new coverage from 5th – 11th March 2011

Business This Week from Economist: Highlights of new coverage from 5th – 11th March 2011

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The Economist
  Thursday, March 10 2011 twitter facebook linkedin rss  

Business This Week

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Highlights from The Economist online’s Business this week
» A massive insider-trading trial shakes Wall Street
» The Bulgaris sell up. Other Italian family firms are still holding tight

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» The trial began in New York of Raj Rajaratnam, the founder of Galleon, a hedge fund. Mr Rajaratnam is accused of operating a network of informers that provided him with illegal share tips between 2003 and 2009 in one of the biggest insider-trading cases in history; 26 traders and executives have been charged. See article

» Britain’s Serious Fraud Office arrested several men in an investigation into the collapse of Kaupthing bank in 2008. The bank was based in Iceland but a substantial chunk of its business came from Britain. Two of those briefly held were Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz, famous and fraternal property developers.

More Angst In The Euro Zone

» Moody’s downgraded Spain’s sovereign-debt rating by one notch, to Aa2, over concern about the cost of bailing out its banks, and lowered Greece’s by three notches, to B1, over worries it might need to restructure its existing debt after 2013. Meanwhile, yields rose once again on Portuguese government bonds to even more intolerable levels.

» America’s unemployment rate stood at 8.9% in February, the first time it has dipped below 9% since April 2009. Employers added 192,000 workers to the payrolls, the most since May of last year.

» There were more grumbles in Britain about bankers’ pay. Barclays revealed that the salaries and bonuses received by Bob Diamond, its chief executive, and the two bosses of Barclays Capital, its investment bank, totalled £30m ($46m). Stephen Hester, the chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, in which the government holds a majority stake, was given a pay package worth £7.7m, mostly in deferred shares.

» Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, raised a few eyebrows in the City when he criticised banks that make profits from “unsuspecting customers, particularly institutional customers” and said that banks which are “too important to fail” are tempted by excessive risk and bonuses because they know the state will bail them out. Last month the government reached a political truce over pay with big banks.

Metal Tops

» The price of gold touched a new nominal record of $1,444.95 a troy ounce and silver reached a 31-year high of $36.75, as investors continued to hedge against inflation.

» EADS reported a net profit of €553m ($732m) for 2010 on the back of a surge in orders for Airbus aircraft. The European aerospace company also had a net cash pile of almost €12 billion at the end of the year, which it could use to boost its business in America. EADS recently lost out to Boeing in a lengthy and controversial bidding process for a lucrative contract to build flying tankers for the American air force.

» Rolls-Royce and Daimler set up a joint venture to bid for Tognum, a German company that makes engines and propulsion systems for ships and trains. Parts of the company, including the MTU diesel-engine division, used to be owned by Daimler. At €3.2 billion ($4.5 billion), the acquisition would be its biggest since 2000, and the biggest ever for Rolls-Royce.

» A court in Bangladesh ruled that the country’s central bank did have the authority to force Muhammad Yunus to step down as managing director of Grameen, a bank he founded that has spearheaded microfinance lending programmes among the poor. Grameen said it was “very disappointed”. Mr Yunus insisted the move was political and lodged an appeal.

» The Bulgari family decided to sell its 127-year-old watch and jewellery firm to Moêt Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH), the world’s biggest luxury-goods company. The €4.3 billion ($6 billion) deal is the latest in a string of purchases of family-owned brands by Bernard Arnault, LVMH’s boss, though the Hermes family has so far resisted his overtures to buy it out of its high-end consumer-goods business. See article

Google Oops

» Google found at least 50 malicious apps being sold at its Android store, which customers downloaded on 260,000 smartphones before the breach was discovered. It is an embarrassment for Google; its procedures for pre-checking apps for its operating platform are considered to be not as robust as those at Apple and BlackBerry, relying more on user feedback. Android is the most widely used smartphone platform in America.

» Subway overtook McDonald’s to become the world’s biggest fast-food chain by number of outlets in 2010, selling its submarine sandwiches at 33,749 eateries compared with the 32,737 premises that dished out McDonald’s burgers. McDonald’s is bigger by sales and operates in more countries. Subway opened its first outlet outside North America in 1984, in Bahrain.

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