ASB Securities Morning Brief for Saturday, 19 April 2014
Saturday, 19 April 2014

New Zealand Headlines

New Zealand Market Report: New Zealand stock rose after shares in the partially privatised Genesis Energy soared as much as 18 percent in its debut listing on the NZX, buoying other listed energy companies in the process. Meridian Energy, MightyRiverPower, Contact Energy and TrustPower paced gains. The NZX 50 Index rose 12.799 points, or about 0.3 percent, to 5103.348. Within the index, 22 stocks rose, 17 fell and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was $149.6 million, which excludes Genesis, which is not part of the index as yet... Read more

The New Zealand dollar is heading for a 0.8 percent fall in a shortened week ahead of the Reserve Bank's rate review next Thursday. The kiwi dropped to 86.16 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 86.86 cents on Friday in New York, and from 86.27 cents at 8am and 85.87 cents yesterday. The trade-weighted index traded at 79.97 from 79.75 yesterday, and is heading for a 0.4 percent weekly decline from 80.26. A BusinessDesk survey of 10 traders and strategists on Monday predicted the kiwi would trade between 85.30 US cents and 87.80 cents in the short week. Four predicted the kiwi would fall this week, while one expected it to gain and five saw it largely unchanged... Read more

'Chipper' kiwis push up consumer confidence in April... Read more

Bank of New Zealand's incoming chief executive Anthony Healy expects the lender to benefit from the nation's burgeoning economy as he targets investment in higher growth areas such as agri-business. New Zealand's economy is expected to grow between 2 percent and 4 percent a year out to 2018, Finance Minister Bill English said this week, citing Treasury forecasts. "I'm very optimistic because the economy is picking up, it's not a narrow base, it's a very broad-based economic lift," said Healy, who will take over as head of the New Zealand unit of National Australia Bank next month. "I'm very optimistic that we are going to see continued growth from the economy but also from banks and institutions as we continue to fund that growth."... Read more

Not everyone agrees with the IMF’s verdict that we’re a rock star economy on the cusp of a boom. New York-based economic analyst Jess Columbo says NZ is experiencing an economic bubble that will end in disaster. Mr Columbo – credited by the Financial Times for predicting the GFC – says so-called safe haven economies, such as NZ, “are experiencing economic bubbles that are strikingly similar to those that led to the financial crisis in the first place.” Writing for Forbes, the analyst quotes data saying NZ property prices have doubled since 2004... Read more

Consumer and business confidence is so high they suggest the economy could grow as much as 6 per cent - though shop spending is likely to be solid, rather than bumper. But ANZ Bank says while its latest consumer confidence survey and business surveys flag an economy "ripping along", it does not think think it will boom to 6 per cent growth. "We're positive but not that bullish," the bank said. Its April survey showed consumers are "chipper" with its confidence index up 2 points to 134 despite rising interest rates... Read more

KiwiSaver tax rates world's 'most punitive', lobbyist says. New Zealand's tax system heavily penalises KiwiSaver while offering massive tax breaks to property investors and needs to change, says savings lobbyist the Financial Services Council. Its executive director, Peter Neilson, issued a plea to political parties on the issue, which sees New Zealanders relying on retirement savings to save nearly twice as much per week as necessary to secure a comfortable retirement. "At a practical level this means a person on an average income would have to save $16 a day rather than $27 (63% less) to achieve a comfortable retirement income," said Mr Neilson, a former Revenue Minister in the David Lange Labour government of 1984-90.... Read more

Can conditions get better for NZ equities?... Read more

NZ milk push in the Middle East. Alan Fitzsimmons still gets a buzz out of opening up new markets for Fonterra after more than two decades selling New Zealand dairy products to the world... Read more

Fonterra on Hong Kong shopping lists. The cross-border tourism trade from mainland China is a big part of the retail scene in Hong Kong. It's common for people from the booming southern China regions in Guangdong province to take a train trip to Hong Kong for a day's shopping. Daytrippers and overnighters flock to buy top brands such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci, both of which are well represented in the glitzy shopping malls of Hong Kong Central and Kowloon's Nathan Road. Aside from the big-ticket items, infant formula is likely to be on their shopping lists. In February last year, the cross-border trade in infant formula, which involved mainland Chinese stocking up on big quantities of the product, reached fever pitch. It got so bad that Hong Kong residents were faced with empty shelves when they went to replenish their own formula supplies.... Read more

SkyCity, Trade Me and Telecom are the best investment opportunities on New Zealand's share market, according to Morningstar. The research firm said the New Zealand market was looking fairly valued and investors should be cautious and stock selective. But it also said there were still opportunities to be found in the telecommunications, gaming and consumer sectors. Top of its list is casino operator Sky City Entertainment Group... Read more

Shares in the partially privatised Genesis Energy soared 18 percent at their debut listing on the NZX this afternoon, buoying other listed energy companies in the process. Genesis climbed 27.5 cents to $1.825 after listing, giving holders of the 49 percent that was sold an immediate gain of about $135 million. Heavy public interest in the last chapter of the government's partial privatisation programme briefly crashed the NZX website within half an hour of the listing. Fellow state-controlled gentailers Meridian Energy and MightyRiverPower also advanced after the listing, rising 1.7 percent to $1.175 and 0.9 percent to $2.205 respectively. Contact Energy, which was fully privatised in 1999, gained 1.6 percent to $5.59 while Infratil-controlled TrustPower gained 0.5 percent to $6.48.... Read more

English upbeat despite 'average' proceeds. Funds raised through the partial sale of Genesis Energy may be lower than they could have been, with taxpayers getting good value only "on average" over the sales process, the finance minister has admitted. The entire asset sales programme, which included three electricity companies and a small stake in Air New Zealand, raised just under $4.7 billion in total... Read more

Landmark Supreme Court decision protects 'outstanding landscapes'. The Supreme Court has upheld resource consents for three salmon farms to be developed in the Marlborough Sounds by the King Salmon company, but in an important win for the protection of "outstanding landscapes", it has ruled against a fourth site. The decision gives a major victory to the Environmental Defence Society, which took its appeal against the resource consent granted for a salmon farm at Paparua, Port Gore, because it believed the decision had failed to uphold important principles in the Coastal Policy Statement, which has legal force under the Resource Management Act... Read more

Crisis hits flagship Christchurch CBD development. Christchurch’s first big flagship central business district retail development is on hold. Rich Lister Antony Gough announced a “pause” in the Oxford St venture pending revised design options “against market demands and also supply chain costs, options and efficiencies.” Foundation work has been under way for several weeks. Mr Gough has been funding it from his own resources. His decision comes as more developers and investors complain the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority has stifled the rebuild with impossibly difficult rules and paying so much to acquire city properties that it makes commercial rents unaffordable... Read more

South Island growth may not soar quite as high in the future, because of a slower than expected Canterbury rebuild. That's the revised view of the Mainland Monitor's economist Robin Clements. A senior economist with UBS in New Zealand, he has lowered his estimate for future growth in the Mainland to 7 per cent from his original 7.5 per cent. Clements extracts the South Island numbers for The Press newspaper from several economic data sets to produce a "speedometer" estimate of current trend growth in the South Island and the outlook for trend growth in 12 to 18 months, and he does that every three months... Read more

Dick Smith slows NZ sales decline after shifting some functions to Australia, outsourcing. Dick Smith Holdings, the electronics retailer that went public last December, says it slowed the rate of sales decline at its New Zealand stores after shifting some support functions to Australia and outsourcing deliveries. The ASX-listed retailer posted what it called like-for-like sales, stripping out some items. New Zealand sales fell 18.8 percent to NZ$44.9 million in the third quarter, or a decline of 5.6 percent to A$138.4 million in Australian dollar terms, it said in a statement. That was an improvement from the 26.8 percent, or 18 percent decline respectively in the second quarter, it said.... Read more

Air New Zealand says claims withdrawn as other airlines settle over cargo cartel, seeks costs... Read more

Small cheesemaker looks to Asia. The Barrys Bay factory still makes cheese the traditional way. But that hasn't stopped them moving forward into a modern marketplace. Since Mike and Catherine Carey bought the factory nine years ago and introduced Barrys Bay to supermarkets, business has experienced 20 per cent growth year-on-year. But New Zealand independent cheesemakers work in a challenging environment, facing ongoing problems with the rising price of raw materials and challenging investment in ageing their cheese... Read more

Perception of bias obstacle to success. Kiwi women should "up the attack" on breaking into top executive ranks and boardroom roles rather than being discouraged by lack of success, according to a top US company director. Mary Cranston, the first woman to be chief executive at a global 100 law firm, says women need to educate themselves about gender stereotypes so they don't stop themselves from reaching the top... Read more

PlayStation partners with Kiwi design school... Read more

Easter trading restrictions reignite debate... Read more

Commerce Commission warns businesses about misleading Easter surcharges. Easter Saturday and Sunday are not public holidays, casual staff may not be covered under the Holidays Act and businesses must not mislead customers when applying a surcharge. That’s the message the Commerce Commission wants to reinforce with businesses, such as cafes and bars, contemplating opening over Easter. Commission General Manager Competition, Kate Morrison says it’s easy to think that the four days over the Easter period are all public holidays when they are not. “Easter Saturday and Sunday are not public holidays and traders should not apply a surcharge to compensate for higher wages on those days.”... Read more

Liquidator 'breached fundamental principles'. A liquidator who referred to South Island property developer Dave Henderson as a... Read more

Wife gets $900k from mansion sale. The wife of the man behind New Zealand's biggest fraud has pocketed nearly $900,000 from the sale of the family's former mansion. But investors have missed out on nearly $200,000 after the house sold well below its valuation, having gone to the market twice. David Ross, whose company Ross Asset Management fleeced at least 700 investors, was jailed in November for 10 years and 10 months for running a fraudulent scheme in which investors lost about $115 million. The sale of his mansion in Lower Hutt was confirmed in February. Yesterday property records showed it sold for $1.77m - nearly $400,000 below its rating valuation... Read more

Opinion - Fran O'Sullivan: Collins row a distraction from the real issue... Read more

Opinion/Analysis - Alistair Helm: Property trends get harder to forecast... Read more

Opinion/Analysis - Alistair Helm: Is there really a shortage of properties for sale?... Read more

Opinion - Brian Gaynor: Business break-ups can get very messy. The problem with Abano and Hutson is that a happy relationship has fallen apart and there appears to be little hope of reconciliation... Read more

Australian Headlines

Australian Market Report: The local share market has booked some solid gains in the lead up to the Easter long weekend, with banks and retailers among the best performers. The All Ordinaries Index gained 32 points to 5,445 and the ASX 200 closed 0.6 per cent higher at 5,454.... Read more

The Australian dollar has drifted lower as a boost from speculation of stimulus measures in China wore off, while activity was low ahead of the Easter holiday. At 1700 AEST on Thursday, the local currency was trading at 93.57 US cents, down from 93.64 cents on Wednesday. The Australian dollar started the day higher following media reports from China about measures to support growth there, Westpac senior currency strategist Sean Callow said. "That seemed to be the reason we rallied to 93.91 US cents," Mr Callow said. "But then it just fizzled and lost a bit of momentum... Read more

The young shunning soft jobs market. Participation in the labour market by Australia's youth is as low as it's been since at least 1978. That's as far back as the figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics go. But realistically, it's a safe bet that participation is a low as it's been since Arthur Phillip landed at Botany Bay with his 11 shiploads of convicts, guns and exotic news diseases in 1788. The Bureau's figures show participation in the jobs market by 15 to 24-year-olds averaged 66.6 per cent over the year to March, a record low... Read more

Australian business conditions have bounced back in the March quarter, reaching their highest level in a year and a half. Business conditions stand at 0 for the March quarter, which is an improvement on the -2 reading recorded in the December quarter. However, NAB's quarterly business survey shows that, despite the improved conditions, business confidence has slipped slightly during the first three months of the year. The survey reveals that sentiment slipped from a reading of 8 in the final three months of last year, to 6 in the first quarter of this year... Read more

Economists continued their efforts this week to identify signs that the economy was weaning itself off the mining investment boom. Rebalancing, as it's sometimes called. They were heartened that the RBA's equally determined efforts to look on the bright side in the minutes of its April 1 board meeting released on Tuesday. "The domestic economy is gradually making the transition away from being mainly driven by resources investment," Commonwealth Bank economists Michael Workman and Diana Mousina said in a report, echoing the RBA's sentiment... Read more

Small business has mixed response to Treasurer Joe Hockey’s first budget... Read more

A major bank's survey of real estate professionals and investors finds foreign purchasers now account for up to a quarter of buyers in some markets. National Australia Bank's quarterly residential property survey talks to more than 300 real estate professionals and property investors. It has found that an estimated 24.4 per cent of new dwelling sales in Queensland are going to foreign buyers, while sales to non-citizens or permanent residents amounted to 13.9 per cent of the market for new or off-the-plan sales nationwide. Perhaps more surprising is that foreign buyers were estimated to be the purchasers in 9.5 per cent of established property sales, and 12.7 per cent in New South Wales - there are tight restrictions on such purchases, which are generally only allowed to temporary residents while they are in Australia, with the property having to be sold once they leave... Read more

Outgoing high commissioner in London, Mike Rann, says the relationship between Britain and Australia remains "seamless" regardless of party politics in either country. Mr Rann on Thursday gave his first interview since the coalition officially announced it was ending his high-profile posting 18 months early. Former Howard government minister Alexander Downer in May will replace Mr Rann who in turn heads to Rome as Australia's next ambassador to Italy... Read more

Perseus Mining says it has resumed operations at its Edikan gold mine in Ghana seven days after a fire damaged the processing plant during routine maintenance. Managing director Jeff Quartermaine said work began on repairing the damage caused by the fire immediately after a thorough investigation into its cause. Perseus shares closed steady at 37.5 cents.... Read more

Padbury Mining has again delayed telling the stock exchange who will fund its plans to restart the stalled Oakajee port and rail project. Padbury last week said it had secured $6.5 billion to build the iron ore export project in WA's Mid West, but it refused to name the investors. The junior miner placed itself in a trading halt because it would not name private equity investors it said would fund the deal. Padbury was due to submit more information to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) on Tuesday but extended the deadline to Thursday. However, the company this morning extended its voluntary suspension, saying it would reveal more information by next Wednesday.... Read more

Brierty and Aboriginal joint venture partner Karlayura Construction Services have won a $9.9 million contract with Rio Tinto in the Pilbara. The joint venture company will build about 11km of access roads at the Rio's West Angelas iron ore mine. The eight-month project will begin immediately. Brierty shares closed up half a cent, or 1.43 per cent, at 35.5 cents.... Read more

Australia's biggest domestic gas producer Santos is likely to be exporting more than it supplies for local use by 2015. The company's two massive liquefied natural gas projects in Queensland and Papua New Guinea, built to produce higher priced exports, are on track to be operating within the next year. The good news about its growth projects and prospects overshadowed a flat first quarter production and sales performance that missed estimates... Read more

Woodside Petroleum could be forced to move quickly on a growth project in Canada after agreeing a three-year land use deal. The company has signed a land access agreement with the British Columbia government to conduct feasibility studies to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility at Grassy Point on the northwest coast of Canada. Its shares were up 33 cents, or 0.83 per cent, to $39.92 at 1358 AEST.... Read more

NRW says it has won a $200 million contract with Samsung C&T on the Roy Hill iron ore project. The proposed scope of works includes concrete and detailed earthworks for the processing plant, stockyard, overland conveyors and crushing areas. NRW shares closed up three cents, or 2.67 per cent, at $1.155.... Read more

Peru mine deal adds weight to MMG's towering ambition... Read more

Ellison cashes in on MinRes strength. Mineral Resources managing director Chris Ellison has netted $22.6 million from the on-market sale of two million shares at an average price of $11.30. The sale reduces his indirect holding in the iron ore miner and mining contractor to 25.1 million shares, representing a stake of about 13.45 per cent, worth about $294.5 million at current prices. Shares in the company closed steady at $11.74.... Read more

Shares up as Dick Smith boss talks up retailer’s turnaround strategy. Dick Smith shares have failed to wow the market since listing on the ASX late last year but CEO Nick Abboud hopes better times are ahead. Mr Abboud said the electronics retailer is continuing its turnaround, with stronger sales and earnings on the horizon, even though shareholders are yet to see any benefit. The company's share price has traded around or below its $2.20 list price for most of its first four months on the market, dipping as low as $1.99 on December 20, just weeks after its float. Encouragingly, the stock closed up 4¢ at $2.24 on Thursday, while the broader All Ordinaries index rose 32 points to almost 5445.... Read more

Eyes on Allity after Japara puts spring in step of age-care sector. Age-care operator Allity is thought to be mulling an initial public offering of its near $700 million business following the success of Japara Healthcare’s float. Japara made a strong debut on Thursday, with its shares closing out its first day of trade at $2.70, a 35 per cent increase on its offer price of $2, which was underwritten by Macquarie Capital. The rise lifted the value of Japara to $707m from $500m. Banking sources said the success of the Japara float was expected to give Allity greater confidence to pursue a listing... Read more

An economist who sparked the call for a rural bank claims farmers are facing a financial crisis that could force them off the land. QUT senior lecturer Mark McGovern said the farmers were trapped in a “double jeopardy” scenario which called for urgent institutional changes, such as a reconstruction and development board within the Reserve Bank, a type of rural bank. Dr McGovern said banks had been revaluing the properties and then writing them down which created security issues... Read more

Ingham assets sale draws global players. International and Australian investors are circling the $650 million sale of Ingham Enterprises' property portfolio after the first round of bids closed during the week. Private equity firm TPG put the two portfolios on the market last month, in what was described as a ''once in a generation'' sale and leaseback. The assets comprise 53 industrial and agricultural properties across Australia and New Zealand, with the cash to be reinvested in the business, one of the country's largest poultry companies... Read more

Big four dilemma looms but failure is not an option... Read more

James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch have paid $40 million to settle a long running dispute with creditors of the failed telco One.Tel. One.Tel liquidator Stephen Parbery said entities associated with Mr Murdoch and Mr Packer had resolved all litigation arising from the collapse of the dot-com company in May 2001. As part of the settlement agreement, Consolidated Press Holdings will pay $14.93 million, Crown Resorts will pay $11.77 million and News Ltd will pay $13.3 million to One.Tel. The main creditors of One.Tel are understood to be Telstra and Optus.... Read more

Earnings themes are emerging for Village Roadshow. Village Roadshow was once one of the ASX's most impenetrable big companies, known for its oversized executive pay cheques and a reputation for running itself with the secrecy of a family business. But it is now starting to win over investors, helped by the tearaway success of the company's Wet'n'Wild theme park in Sydney's west, growth in higher-priced cinema tickets, and a widening perception among analysts and fund managers that the company is shedding its old introverted ways. Gone too is the trademark long hair of long-time co-executive chairman Graham Burke... Read more

Prawns, fish and chocolates spurred a mini retail revival this Easter, with Aussie families expected to spend up to $24.4 million on seafood alone over the four days. Brisbane retailer Samies Girl Seafood Market had to pitch two tents to shade people queuing to get into their operation, with managing director Kristina Georges also doubling staff numbers to cope with demand. “We always put on extra staff for Good Friday, it’s the same (high demand) we see every year,” she said. “We’ve just been lucky. And 90 per cent of our seafood is Australian.”... Read more

Travel agency Flight Centre has appealed an $11 million fine for anti-competitive behaviour. Federal Court judge John Logan imposed the fine in March after the court ruled in December that Flight Centre had threatened to stop selling flights on several airlines in order to offer the lowest fares. In a case brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Flight Centre was found to have induced Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Emirates to stop offering international airfares that were lower than fares offered by the travel agency. The court found Flight Centre had broken the law on five occasions between 2005 and 2009. Flight Centre lodged an appeal on Thursday, saying the judgment contained "errors and inappropriate extensions" of the law.... Read more

Opinion - Malcolm Maiden: Watchdog observes light-speed probe on high frequency trades... Read more

Opinion/Analysis - Tim McArthur: 5 stocks so tasty you’ll know Easter’s here!... Read more

Opinion - Ross Gittins: Modern economists are clever with numbers but way out of tune... Read more

International Headlines

U.S. Market Report: Investors were ready for the long weekend, and it showed. Trading meandered around the breakeven mark for much of the day. Volume was light. The Dow fell more than 50 points this morning, but by the afternoon it was up more than 30 points. In the end the Dow finished with a modest loss while the S&P 500, and Nasdaq both had modest gains. For the week the Dow and Nasdaq were up more than 2% and the S&P was up nearly 3%. But today's rally masked the drama going on in some individual stocks... Read more

North/South Americas Market Report: North and South American markets finished broadly higher on Thursday with shares in Brazil leading the region. The Bovespa is up 1.78% while Mexico's IPC is up 1.01% and U.S.'s S&P 500 is up 0.14%... Read more

European Market Report: European markets finished higher on Thursday with shares in Germany leading the region. The DAX is up 0.99% while London's FTSE 100 is up 0.62% and France's CAC 40 is up 0.59%... Read more

Asian Market Report: Asian markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The Nikkei 225 gained 0.68% and the Hang Seng rose 0.28%. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.05%... Read more

Oil prices diverged slightly on Thursday as dealers weighed lingering concerns over the Ukraine crisis with a weaker-than-expected US stockpiles report, analysts said. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in May, edged up nine cents to $103.85 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for June eased 16 cents to $109.44 a barrel in London deals. Broker Phillip Futures said events in Eastern Europe continued "to peg crude prices at elevated levels" as markets closely tracked Geneva talks on Thursday between Ukraine, Russia, the European Union and Washington... Read more

Toymaker Mattel has a problem: Barbie's performance has not been very pretty of late. Sales of the iconic blond dolls tumbled 14 per cent in the first quarter, the second straight quarter to see a double-digit decline. Barbie's slump comes as Mattel and other toymakers contend with bloated product inventories and a cut-throat retail environment that has pinched profits and pushed toymakers into cost-cutting mode... Read more

Michaels hack hit 3 million. A security breach at Michaels Stores lasted eight months and affected about 3 million customers, the company said Thursday. The news comes three months after the nation's largest crafts chain told customers it learned of a possible hack. It's been investigating since then... Read more

Walmart has introduced a new, lower-priced money transfer service that could undercut the traditional players in the industry. Often, the millions of Americans who don't have bank accounts are forced to use wire services offered by companies such as Western Union that charge steep fees for moving money to family or friends... Read more

Ousted Yahoo exec gets $58 million golden parachute... Read more

Morgan Stanley's profits jump but Goldman Sachs's fall. Goldman Sachs' net earnings fell to $2.03bn from $2.26bn after a drop in revenues from its bonds, currency and trading business. However, Morgan Stanley's profit rose to $1.45bn, compared with $981m a year ago. Revenues rose in all of its three business segments... Read more

Bank of America Corp, the New York Stock Exchange and dozens of exchanges, brokerages and traders were sued over high-frequency trading by the city of Providence, Rhode Island. The city filed its complaint today in federal court in Manhattan... Read more

Barnes & Noble chairman trims stake to 20% by selling shares... Read more

Amazon's tax-free European profits drop after IRS clamp-down. The amount of money Inc reports through a tax-exempt vehicle in Europe has dropped sharply in the past two years, even as European sales jumped, after the U.S. tax authority tightened rules it felt were being abused to shift profits. Amazon minimizes its tax bill by having the U.S. unit which owns its technology licenses lease the rights to re-license the technology to a tax-exempt partnership based in Luxembourg... Read more

General Electric Thursday reported lower earnings but higher industrial profits, thanks to gains in its two largest industrial segments. GE's net income dipped 15 percent from the year-ago level to $3.0 billion. Last year's results included a gain from the sale of a GE stake in NBCUniversal. But GE's industrial sales rose from last year and the company grew profits in its two largest segments, aviation (up 19.1 percent) and power and water (up 23.5 percent). GE shares were up 0.8 percent to $26.34 in pre-market trade.... Read more

Lululemon yoga pants lawsuits in U.S. win final dismissals... Read more

Rajaratnam's brother loses bid to dismiss insider trading charges. Rengan Rajaratnam, the younger brother of imprisoned hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, on Friday lost a bid to dismiss some of the insider trading charges leveled against him last year. U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan ruled that the indictment adequately alleged the essential elements of the crimes charged... Read more

Former BP employee pays $224,000 over insider trading charges. A former BP employee, who oversaw the cleanup of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, will pay $224,118 to settle an insider trading charge. Keith Seilhan was accused of selling $1m of shares in BP after receiving information about the severity of the spill which was not publicly available at the time. BP shares fell almost 50% once the magnitude of the disaster became known.... Read more

Co-op Group reports £2.5bn loss after 'disastrous' year. The Co-operative Group has announced losses of £2.5bn for 2013, marking the worst results in the group's 150-year history. The group said most of the losses stemmed from the Co-operative Bank, which amounted to £2.1bn. That included a trading loss of £1.44bn for the year to December, when the group lost control of Co-op Bank to US hedge funds. Chief executive Richard Pennycook said 2013 had been a "disastrous" year.... Read more

Giorgio Armani settles 270m euro tax dispute with Italy... Read more

Luxury goods firm Mulberry has issued its second profit alert since Christmas and says it will look to introduce new "more affordable" products. It said profits for the year to 31 March would be about £14m, below City estimates of £19m. Mulberry is continuing to search for a new chief executive, following the departure of former chief Bruno Guillon last month. It is the fourth profit warning the firm has issued in two years.... Read more

Anglo trial: Pat Whelan and Willie McAteer found guilty. Two former Anglo Irish bank chiefs have been found guilty of making loans designed to illegally prop up the bank's share price. They are Pat Whelan, 52, former head of lending in Ireland and Willie McAteer, 63, the bank's former finance director. Both men had denied the charges at Dublin Criminal Court.... Read more

Russia bonds rally as Micex jumps on Ukraine crisis accord... Read more

Shell chief committed to Russia despite Ukraine. The head of Royal Dutch Shell has said that he is committed to the company’s energy investments in Russia during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin. Officials at Britain’s biggest company by market value said that the meeting which took place on Friday between chief executive Ben van Beurden and Mr Putin was not related to the recent dispute between Moscow and Western powers over Ukraine... Read more

Russia had revenues of $191-$194 bln from oil, $28 bln from gas in 2013 - Putin... Read more

Energy Needs Curb Eastern EU Hunger for Russian Sanctions. The European Union’s eastern members, once united in their opposition to Soviet rule, are now split over how to respond to Vladimir Putin’s Ukrainian incursion. In one camp, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his Baltic allies argue that the EU and NATO need to face up to their historic responsibility and respond to Russian aggression with tougher sanctions. Others argue that such a stance is unrealistic given Europe’s dependence on Russian energy... Read more

Remittance fees hurt Africans, says Comic Relief. Communities in sub-Saharan Africa are being "hurt" by high fees charged by money transfer operators, charity Comic Relief has said.... Read more

VimpelCom Ltd. agreed to sell a majority stake in its Algerian unit Djezzy to the North African country’s government, providing it with $4 billion in cash and dividends that will allow it to cut debt. VimpelCom, co-owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman and Norway’s Telenor ASA (TEL), agreed to sell 51 percent of Orascom Telecom Algerie SpA, or Djezzy, to the Algerian National Investment Fund for $2.64 billion, VimpelCom said today in a statement. Djezzy will also pay a $1.86 billion dividend to VimpelCom’s Global Telecom Holding SAE unit before the transaction closes... Read more

Brazil´s federal police have opened an investigation into former billionaire Eike Batista for financial crimes, including insider trading, manipulation of markets and money laundering, Brazilian media reported on Friday. If the police probe leads to criminal charges against Batista, it would be yet another major blow for a businessman once hailed as Brazil's model entrepreneur and symbol of its economic success. Batista´s EBX oil, mining and logistics empire, which two years ago was valued at $60 billion, collapsed last year in a mountain of debt and massive filings for bankruptcy protection... Read more

Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, has made its debut on the Nasdaq exchange with a 19.1 per cent jump despite an IPO that went out undersubscribed and at a lower priced than hoped. In a spate of buying that suggested Wall Street's waters are still welcoming to loss-making technology high flyers, and to Chinese firms as well, Weibo shares rose on Thursday from the subscription price of $US17 to as high as $US24.28, before settling the day at $US20.24. That is good news for Alibaba, the immensely profitable Chinese online commercial gateway that is preparing its initial public offering for the US market this year. Weibo sought to raise $US380 million by selling 20 million shares for as much as $US19 each... Read more

Remy Cointreau blames profit fall on China sales fall... Read more

Opinion/Analysis - Linda Yueh: Why China is doing better than its headline GDP figure... Read more

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